This is the thirtieth in a series of examinations of legends from movies and the people who make them and whether they are true or false.
Click here to view an archive of the previous movie urban legends.
MOVIE LEGEND: Pretty in Pink originally ended with Andie and Duckie together.
My pal Lisa was telling me this one the other day (right after berating me for failing to recall the fact that Samantha’s sister gets high on painkillers on her wedding day in Sixteen Candles), and it’s definitely a good one for the column.
Pretty in Pink was a 1986 John Hughes romantic comedy starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, James Spader and, of course, Jon Cryer.
The film centered on Ringwald’s working class Andie and her relationship with Andrew McCarthy’s upper class Blaine, countered with her relationship with her best friend, Duckie (played by Cryer).
Besides perhaps the soundtrack (and James Spader’s awesomeness as the villain of the flick), the film is best remembered for the best friend who wished he could get the girl, Duckie.
The film ends with Andie and Blaine together, but originally, Duckie actually DID get the girl!
The movie’s original ending was similar to the actual ending, except that, well, Duckie and Andie actually stay together at prom.
They dance to David Bowie’s “Heroes.”
Test audiences were not particularly pleased, so they quickly re-filmed a new ending. The problem was that Andrew McCarthy had already begun a stint in a play, The Boys of Winter, where he played a soldier during Vietnam.
So they put McCarthy in a wig. Still, though, if you look at the scenes from earlier in the movie compared to the re-shoots, McCarthy looks noticeably different.
A couple of years back, they released a special edition of the DVD that had commentary discussing the original ending (bizarrely withOUT the actual original ending, though!), called, of course, Pretty in Pink: Everything’s Duckie Edition…
Cryer discussed the changes in an interview with Entertainment Weekly’s Mandi Bierly…
I was disappointed. You sorta go, ”Oh, guess I’m not the leading man.” But I think it was kind of appropriate. Duckie always thought he was the leading man, and that was his fatal flaw. I got it at the time. I understood that John was trying to do something about crossing class lines and felt that with the ending as it was, it was sort of saying, ”You know what? Class lines aren’t worth crossing.”
Amusingly enough, the next year John Hughes came out with Some Kind Of Wonderful, a gender-reversed Pretty in Pink, with Eric Stoltz in the Ringwald role, Lea Thompson in the McCarthy role and Mary Stuart Masterson in (basically) the Cryer role.
In THIS film, though, the working class lead eschews the rich girl in favor of his working class best friend.
Don’t feel bad for Ducky, though.
As Lisa noted to me, at least he ended up with Buffy at the end of the film…
So he’s got that going for him.
Thanks to Lisa for the suggestion, and thanks to Mandi Bierly and Jon Cryer for the cool quote!
MOVIE LEGEND: Mel Blanc was allergic to carrots.
Mel Blanc was a famed voice actor, known for voicing many famous characters in many different cartoons over the years.
Most famously, though, has to be his job voicing Bugs Bunny, the most popular character from the extremely popular Looney Tunes film shorts from Warner Brothers during the 1930s through the 1960s (Bugs himself debuted in 1940).
So for a guy whose most famous role was a rabbit, it’d be pretty darn funny if he was allergic to carrots, right?
“Sadly,” it is not true.
However, the story could just as easily be told with “Mel Blanc, voice of Bugs Bunny, did not like eating carrots.”
That, in and of itself, is interesting AND true!
The whole “allergic” story likely started because of something Blanc would do while recording Bugs’ voice. As Bugs often chomped on carrots, so, too, did Blanc when he did the voice. As you might imagine, though, if you are chomping on carrots that much, it will affect your ability to deliver your lines, so that’s why Blanc would bite a provided carrot, take a few bites and then spit it out. This was done for efficiency’s sake, but has been extrapolated over the years into “He spit out the carrots because he was allergic to them so he didn’t want them in his mouth for a long time.” An alternative myth was the more simpler “he spit out the carrots because he hated the taste.”
In a great bit on the great website, The Straight Dope, a friend and former co-worker of Blanc’s, Chuck McKibbin, confirmed that while yes, Blanc was not a great fan of carrots, he did not mind them to the point of refusing to eat them – it was simply a matter of time management.
So there you have it!
Thanks to The Straight Dope for the, well, straight dope, and thanks to Chuck McKibbin for the information!
MOVIE LEGEND: Edward Bennett Williams turned down 10% of the production company that made Vera Cruz and Marty.
STATUS: Basically True
Edward Bennett Williams was one of the most prominent trial lawyers of the latter half of the 20th Century.
Based in Washington D.C. (he originally wanted to be a politician), he not only was a brilliant attorney, but he was also quite a businessman. His strategy when it came to taking clients was basically that he would give ANYone a defense, provided, of course, that they paid him (in HIS defense, his retort would be that he simply was a dedicated follower of the 6th Amendment right to a fair trial).
He was able to purchase both the Washington Redskins AND the Baltimore Orioles, so the guy was extremely wealthy.
Williams was close to both Democrats and Republicans, making for some interesting mixes when it came time for him to represent folks. For instance, he defended Senator Joseph McCarthy during the latter’s censure hearing (plus later trials over tax issues and claims of libel). But at least partially due to his close relationship with McCarthy and his people, Williams was in prime position to help those called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
He drove very tough bargains, but he almost always kept his client from being blacklisted. He almost represented Carl Foreman (writer of High Noon), but his demands (which included $50,000 and 10% of Foreman’s next picture) were not met. Foreman ended up getting blacklisted.
Williams’ main strategy in these cases were to insist his client name whatever names it took to get him off the blacklist. Interestingly enough, on at least one occasion, Williams played “hardball” and got Howard Koch (co-author of Casablanca) off of the blacklist without naming names, but rather through the threat of libel prosecution. Williams knew enough of what went on during the collection of the blacklist that his threats were imposing, so Koch was off of the list the next day. However, while Williams knew he COULD use leverage if need be, he seemed happier to not alienate HUAC and almost always went with counseling people to name names (assisting Koch might have actually been a personal favor on Williams’ part, hence the different strategy).
Anyhow, this was how Williams met Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster.
Hecht was an agent and producer who had recently made a bold gamble by forming his own independent production company along with Lancaster (who Hecht had “discovered” after the War and introduced to Hollywood). The pair used Lancaster’s box office appeal (as well as Hecht’s connections) to secure financing for their own films in exchange for Lancaster working for studios on THEIR films.
Remember what I said about how Williams counseled his clients to name names? An (for Williams’ sake, let’s say “unintentional”) unintentional consequence of this strategy was that Williams would soon gain NEW clients as his OLD clients would name names and then Williams would represent the people who got named!
This is what happened when one of Williams’ clients named Hecht’s name.
Hecht hired Williams, who successfully got Hecht off of the blacklist. During the course of his representation, Williams became good friends with Lancaster (who had some issues of his own with HUAC, although never to the point of being threatened with blacklisting).
As I mentioned earlier, Williams would often ask for percentage points of people’s films as part of their fees.
When he got Hecht off the blacklist (Hecht named names, naturally), Hecht offered Williams 10 percent of his and Lancaster’s production company in lieu of his fee. Williams turned them down.
The next two films Hecht and Lancaster made were the MASSIVE box office success, Vera Cruz…
which made over $11 million at the box office (a TON of money in 1954)
and then a little film that was adapted from a TV movie by
Paddy Chayefsky (who Hecht gave a sweetheart deal on agreeing to do the movie version – Chayefsky got total script approval, if he didn’t want them to change a single line, they couldn’t do so) called… Marty.
Marty, of course, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Film and for Best Actor (Ernest Borgnine) as well as being the last American film to win both the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival AND the Academy Award for Best Film.
Naturally, Williams could not have known that this small production company would have such big hits coming (especially Marty – did ANYone predict a box office success there?) but it made Williams even more insistent in the future on getting a percentage of the gross of the films of his clients.
So when he then represented director/producer Robert Rossen in front of HUAC (the second time in front of the committee for Rossen – the first time he ended up sort of blacklisted), he got Rossen off of the blacklist (Rossen named over FIFTY names), but he also got 10% of Rossen’s next epic film, Alexander the Great…
which, of course, promptly flopped.
Thanks to Evan Thomas’ brilliant biography of Williams, The Man to See, Edward Bennet Williams for the great insight into the legendary lawyer.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Academy Awards, Alexander the Great, Andrew McCarthy, Baltimore Orioles, Bugs Bunny, Burt Lancaster, Duckie, Edward Bennett Williams, Ernest Borgnine, Harold Hecht, James Spader, John Hughes, Jon Cryer, Looney Tunes, Marty, Mel Blanc, Molly Ringwald, Paddy Chayefsky, Pretty in Pink, Vera Cruz, Washington Redskins