The Confessions Of Rock Hudson
Back before we all got so damned ironic about everything, magazines used to run silly spreads like this, with major stars willing to enter into the spirit of fun. Here’s one that Rock Hudson and Doris Day did in the mid-sixties, and for what publication, I don’t know, but since Rock was something of a film buff (and collector) himself, I imagine he got a kick out of recreating "old time movie" moments for the sake of general publicity. Being uncertain as to a specific date on these shots, I’m going to assume they tied in with the campaign for Send Me No Flowers, the last feature these two did together. That Min and Bill pose would not likely have had much resonance with youthful sixties readerships, nor I suspect would the Rock and Doris/Nelson and Jeanette take-off. My favorites are the Laurel and Hardy Beau Hunks tribute (both of them got the expressions nicely, I think) and Rock assuming the role of all three Marx Brothers. Too bad they didn’t do a full-length movie revolving around these impersonations --- it might have been more entertaining than Send Me No Flowers.
Speaking of film collector Rock, I came across a really interesting interview he did in 1968 where he spoke very candidly (surprisingly so considering the legalities involved) about his favorite hobby. I have a print of just about every film I’ve appeared in, he said with what the mag reported as "boyish pride", all in 16mm. The only ones missing are the MGM’s. You can’t get them from MGM, they won’t let any of their prints go. It’s company policy, because somebody once charged for showing them at home and they couldn’t bear the thought of that. Rock, whose Metro pictures as of 1968 included only Something Of Value (1957), went on to make the shocking assertion that the only way of getting them was in the black market (wow --- pretty ballsy, Rock!). The interviewer then asked about his latest, Ice Station Zebra, for Metro release. The contract demands presented by Hudson to the studio included a provision that he receive a 16mm print upon the film’s completion. MGM approved every clause in the agreement except that one. It had worked with all the other companies, he said, but not with them. Rock finally had to surrender when they threatened to withdraw the offer altogether (as it is, he had been a last minute substitute for Gregory Peck). Some day, he added darkly, I’ll find a way. Bravo to that, Rock --- spoken as a true, never-say-die collector --- you go, big guy!
Hudson’s ritual for entertaining at home was to invite guests over for dinner, then show a movie following the meal, usually a Rock Hudson movie. He ran the 16mm projector himself --- none of those lavish 35mm booths for him --- besides, using 35mm equipment required the services of a union operator at $35 an hour (I never knew that before reading the interview). His most requested title? I guess I’ve run Giant fifty times since settling down in the house. The movie is three and one half-hours long, and this does not include the time it takes to change reels (I know how you feel, Rock --- my old 16mm Giant was on seven 1200’ foot spools!). The intervals run quite a bit as people repair themselves to the bathroom, and you mix fresh drinks and all that, so it’s usually four or five in the morning before they take off for home, everybody bombed. Boy, does this sound like fun or what? Other guest requests included Pillow Talk and A Farewell To Arms (wonder if they were scope prints).
Sometimes Rock liked to surprise company with a couple of dogs (those were held in reserve for double-feature nights). His favorite of these was Taza, Son Of Cochise --- the movie is terrible and I’m terrible, and they don’t know whether to laugh and be possibly very impolite or keep those straight faces --- and they say futile little things at the end like "that was a very good picture" or "you were marvelous in it." Actually, Rock, your friends may have had something there --- Taza, Son Of Cochise is not at all a bad picture (it’s a Sirk!), and if you’d had interlocking dual 35mm Naturalvision projection equipment set up in the den for those shows, you could have knocked them out of their recliners with those spectacular 3-D effects (your union operator would have sure earned his $35 for this show)! As to the eventual disposition of Rock’s film collection, I have no idea. Other collectors usually hear about a celebrity’s stash going on the market, but I don’t recall this one being mentioned. Maybe it went to a college or something. Rock Hudson also had "thousands" of stills from his films --- "complete sets" on everything he did. Those would sure be great to run across at a yard sale, but again, their fate is a mystery. Anybody know?