Greenbriar's Imaginary Attendance at MGM's 25th Anniversary Luncheon --- Part Two
This luncheon is colossal. I thought it would be mainly the eighty of us from the meetings, but it turns out they set tables for seven hundred. Loads of press was invited, along with independent showmen and circuit heads from all over the country. No wonder Metro’s got all their best merchandise on display. George Murphy is introducing each star as they enter this gigantic room. Guess Mayer told them they’d better be there. Some don’t look that happy. I keep seeing Errol Flynn starting and stopping outside the doorway. Doesn’t he work for Warners? George announces Kathryn Grayson and here comes Flynn instead. Doesn’t look juiced or anything. Maybe he’s just mixed up.
They’re all seated at the tables now, facing us like mannequins in a store window. I’ve tried making eye contact with a few, but they’re focused on each other to avoid us staring at them. Clark Gable said something that made Ava Gardner laugh. Bet it was off-color. I hear she likes naughty jokes. Ava’s shaping up to take over the torrid parts Lana Turner used to do, and by the way, where is Lana today? Someone said that Gable will be fifty in a year or two. The way he drags those cigarettes and (I hear) puts away the booze, you wonder if he’s not already there, or at least looking it. Wish Clark still had that old pep from before the war. Wish we all had that old boxoffice like before the war …
There’s Judy Garland with Fred Astaire. Why does she keep turning around when they try to photograph her? I hear this girl’s been having a lot of trouble. That’s too bad, because she’s one of the few sure money-getters MGM has. Hard to believe it’s just ten years since Wizard Of Oz. Her recent one with Fred, Easter Parade, was a honey. Big grosses all around. He’s coming back what with these younger leading ladies. The new one with Rogers should click, never mind that she’s slipped of late. Even folks in the sticks come out to see Astaire dance.
Flynn and Greer Garson are in their Forsyte costumes. I’ve got a bad feeling about this one. There was nary a sword or horse in what we saw filmed this week, and history has taught me that Errol can’t be sold any other way. Metro sure loves their fancy décor. Wish patrons felt the same. Garson was red hot while the boys were off fighting, but since they’ve been back, she’s ice cold. Desire Me was a stinker. Would it help to team her with Pidgeon for another Miniver pic? I’m surprised they’re not sitting together today. Walter’s all the way across at another table. Come to think of it, I was hoping to see Bill Powell and Myrna Loy show up. Things have sure changed since MGM’s 20th birthday five years ago.
Here’s some new with the really old. Claude Jarman was the boy in The Yearling. Remember how he cried in that show? Knowing what happened to poor Buster Keaton would reduce most anyone to tears. Buster used to be Metro’s top comedy man. Long time ago. There’s his ex-partner Jimmy Durante a few chairs down. He kind of stole Keaton’s thunder toward the end. Now they use Buster to dream up gags for guys like him and Skelton, though word is they cast Keaton in a support part for Judy Garland's latest musical. I’m almost surprised Metro brought Buster in among all their name players. Mayer probably figured a lot of us old-timers would remember him.
There’s J. Carroll Naish and Reginald Owen, having what looks like the best time of anybody. Must be great to have all the work you want and not have to worry about staying "on the top." These two have been character-acting their heads off ever since pictures started talking. Seems like they show up in everything we sell. If I were in this performing business, Carroll and Reggie’s would be the spot I’d want. You don’t hear about fellows like these crashing cars and chasing off wives. Even if they’re up to all that and more, people aren’t going to bother much talking about it. I’ll bet Hollywood character people get away with a lot.
Louis Mayer and Dore Schary are deep in conversation. I hope it’s about ways to improve this year’s business over the punk one we just had. Schary worries me for wanting to explore social problems. Seems to me we’ve got plenty of folks to do that in the court systems. Let’s keep theatres out of the reform movement! I understand Mayer agrees with me there, even if the old man tilts too far back otherwise. Given his druthers, we’d still be booking Andy Hardys. Our public is getting to where they can’t tell some of Metro’s new stuff from their reissues. Meanwhile, a lot more are staying home nights to mow grass and play baseball. And I don’t care what Mayer says about television not being a threat. Every time I walk past a bar, customers are crowded in to watch fights on the tube. Someday those things are going to get into houses and that will sure as hell cook our geese.
Look at Wally Beery with all those drones working away behind him. Is he even aware of who they are or what they’re doing to make him look good? These stars have no idea what we go through to build them up. I’ve noticed how few of them actually eat the food they’re served. Nobody wants to be caught by a photographer shoveling grub into their mouths. I can sit here and eat my chocolate Leo and not worry about a thing, except how to justify the week I spent at this sales conference. Speaking of Beery, he’s another one that’s been around since the early flickers. Funny thing, his act still works, even though he’s repeated it a hundred times. Big Jack in April is next for Wally. He ought to be good for another ten starring years …
How do they keep that dog sitting still in his chair for so long? It’s supposed to be Lassie, but look at all the hims and hers rotated through that part since the first one, and there’s no knowing for sure which is the genuine article. I hear Jeanette MacDonald's co-starring with the hound for one coming up. Lucky for her that place cards didn't seat them together. A word to the wise, Jeanette: When they start teaming you with Lassie instead of Nelson Eddy, it may be time to throw in your dice and retire.
Go HERE to read Greenbriar's 2006 April Fool post and personal favorite of all 632 so far published ...