Kate Hepburn StoriesWritten by Stephen Schochet
Katherine Hepburn came to Los Angeles in 1932 and like Calista Flockart, had a theater person's snobbish view towards Hollywood. In person, she impressed no one with her looks and style, and executive David O. Selznick worried about her "horse face". She finished her first film, Bill Of Divorcement with John Barrymore and told him," Thank God we're finished. I never want to act with you again". The Great Man replied," My dear girl. I wasn't aware that you had".
Many of Miss Hepburn's co-stars couldn't stand her. The movie Stage Door (1936) called for her to make a speech which would cause Ginger Rogers to cry. The director Gregory La Cava knew that Conservative Ginger Rogers hated Liberal Hepburn, so he called Ginger to set alone. "Babe I got terrible news. Your mother called, your new house burned down." After filming Ginger's tearful reaction, La Cava excused her, and Hepburn was called to set to make her speech.
Another film that gave Hepburn problems was comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938) with Cary Grant. She didn't at first understand concept of playing comedy straight, letting script dictate humor. Her meddling and constant suggestions drove director Howard Hawks to distraction. Finally he confronted her on set. "Katie, will you please shut up!" Hepburn replied calmly," Howard, you shouldn't talk that way to me. I have many friends on set. They might arrange for an accident to happen to you." Hawks looked up into rafters at one of film techs manning a huge spotlight. "Hey Joey, who would rather drop that light on, me or Miss Hepburn?" "Get out of way, Mr. Hawks."
Hepburn at one point was declared box office poison and thought her career would be saved by playing Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind, which she was willing to do for free. Mindful of what reaction from South would be to a New Englander playing role, David O. Selznick cruelly rejected her by saying," I can't imagine Rhett Butler chasing after you for 10 years."
Low Budget Horror StoriesWritten by Stephen Schochet
Filmmakers have found horror genre to be a potentially low budget, high profit way of breaking into business. Standing in a long line at a hardware store, Tobe Hooper imagined taking a chainsaw off wall and cutting his way to front, inspiring his creation of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). George Romero found a local butcher in Pittsburgh to finance and provide blood and guts for his zombie thriller Night Of The Living Dead (1968). Wes Craven combined a nasty bully named Freddy that he knew in grade school with a frightening old hobo he saw hanging around his Cleveland neighborhood to create dream killer Freddy Krueger for A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984). And producer Val Lewton was given credit for saving RKO studios (teetering on bankruptcy because of overspending Orson Welles) by producing highly profitable Cat People (1944), keeping budget way down by showing shadows rather than cats.
Low budgets can mean small paydays to horror actors. Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle became disenchanted by movie stars demands for perks and high salaries. Horror movies were an antidote, if Invisible Man or Mummy demanded too much you could hire someone else and public wouldn't know difference. One casualty was Boris Karloff who endured having make-up applied by Jack Pierce for four hours a day to play Frankenstein's Monster. Although he loved creature Karloff, who founded screen actors union, complained publicly about Frankenstein movies," I was only in three of them but I get blamed for all nine." He also said," I get all fan mail but somebody else gets check." Each Halloween Boris's resentment grew when neighborhood kids in Beverly Hills would ask him to go trick or treating.
Karloff's influence was felt in Berkshire, England during making of Hammer Film's The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957). Fearing that any resemblance to Universal's Monster would cause a lawsuit, make-up artist Philip Leakey worked hard to make Christopher Lee's creature gruesome and unique. Former cavalryman Lee became so angry at Leakey's painful experiments on his face, he threatened to run him through with his sword. The make-up man disappeared for several days delaying filming. Later a calmer Lee lamented to his co-star Peter Cushing who played Baron Frankenstein," Playing creature is horrid. I have no lines." "You're lucky. I've read script." replied Cushing. The film was horribly reviewed and highly profitable.