By ERSKIN JOHNSON
HOLLYWOOD – NEA – Producer Hal Wallis is introducing a slick French chick named Corinne Calvert as Burt Lancaster’s leading lady in “Rope of Sand.”
It is Wallis’ belief that Corinne is the hottest thing in Hollywood since they burned Ingrid Bergman at the stake.
“Honest,” one of Wallis’ press agents said, “this gal will raise your blood pressure. Come on over and we’ll show you some scenes from the picture.”
The press agent was mighty clever about it. A Paramount nurse named Lillian Rock was there to take my blood pressure while I looked at Corinne on the screen.
Nurse Rock is a professional lady, so of course she thought it was rather ridiculous. She smiled friendly like while she unpacked her blood pressure gauge, but her eyes told me her heart was not in it.
She took my blood pressure – “128 over 70,” she said.
Then I sat back and saw a sequence from the picture in which Corinne rips off part of her dress, trying to compromise Claude Rains in a hotel room. Corinne is might easy on the eyes indeed, and I was sorry that the film ended so quickly.
Nurse Rock took my blood pressure again.
“A hundred and forty-five over 76,” she said. The disbelief was gone from her face. “I’ll be darned,” she said, “it really did go up.”
I’m not sure whether it was because of Corinne or those onions I had for lunch.
“Mr. Stinks” is back from the Army and there’s a murderous gleam in the eyes of every producer and director in Hollywood.
“Mr. Stinks” is a Hollywood character who has gone to almost every sneak preview in the past 15 years. He gets an audience reaction card and writes, whether the picture is good or not, “It stinks.”
There can be 128 cards saying the picture is sensational but there’s always that one ego-deflator from Mr. Stinks saying, “It stinks.”
Then came the war and “Mr. Stinks” was drafted. He wound up in the South Pacific, and liking every motion picture they showed him. But now he’s back.
Director Robert Siodmak showed me a batch of audience reaction cards on his latest film, The Great Sinner.” Two hundred cards raved about the film.
One was in familiar handwriting.
It read: “It Stinks.”
“I wish,” Siodmak said, “that he was back in the South Pacific.”
Note from reader Howard Harris:
” I don’t mind people eating popcorn in movie theaters, but the other night I went to see the French picture, ‘Symphonie Pastorale,’ and the guy in back of me was eating French toast.”
The James Masons’ book, “the Cats in Our Lives,” will hit the book stalls soon. Some of the cats are of the two-footed variety….
Albert Dekker, once a California state assemblyman, is finished with politics. His wife says so.
Aside to pedestrians: Pioneertown, the new Hollywood for western films near Palm Springs, has a law set down by movie star president Russell Hayden. You can’t drive your car on the main street. It’s unpaved, will remain that way, and only for horses and people.
Claudette Clobert has a reputation for being as good a businesswoman as she is an actress, I asked her how she did it.
“When I’m in front of a camera,” she said, “I try to be a full-time actress. When I’m in back of the camera, I try to be a full-time businesswomen.” Many a producer who has faced Claudette across a desk will attest to this
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Radio Daily’s Main Street column give this travelogue of a gag:
A 13-year-old high school humor editor originates a joke. Press agent clips gag. Joke appears in a Broadway column. Bennett Cerf reprints as anecdote which happened at Alex Woollcott or John Barrymore.
Famous toastmaster picks it up and relates it as happening on his way to the dinner. Radio gag writer at dinner swipes same for his next week’s radio show. Night club comic hears it on the air and tells it as his cafe. High school teacher attending cafe hears joke and tell it to the principal of the school.
Principal remembers seeing it in school paper and drops 13-year-old editor from paper for printing old jokes.
Boy quits school and becomes a $1,000-a-week gag writer.