Another Lethal Dose Of Wald
The Story On Page One Pushes 1959 Envelopes
Jerry Wald's 1959 sizzler for 20th Fox release. He was a genius producer-writer-idea man who died too young (50) and early (1963) to be noted by emerging film study. Just as well, Wald would probably laugh it off anyhow. He was 100% get-it-done minus refinements, other than turnstiles and how to make them twirl. Go to best Warner releases from the late 30/40's and chances you'll find Jerry's name, either in writer or producing capacity. Wald belongs but short tier down from Selznick, Wallis, Goldwyn, but no one's dug deep on him yet (do papers survive, and in what archive?). Wald was full-out always, had so many brainstorms to threaten short-circuit. Maybe that's what killed him. He was the sort studios kept round when they wanted big profits, which made him welcome everywhere (at height addresses: WB, RKO, Columbia). The town could have used two dozen Jerry Walds. Dancers on his grave said Jerry was the model for Sammy Glick in Budd Schulberg's acidic What Makes Sammy Run?, but that could as easily be any number of Hollywood go-getters, or composite of plenty, which I suspect was case.
Groucho might have put Wald among those vaccinated with a phonograph needle, because he never stopped talking. One occasion of shooting his mouth off nearly started fistic brawl with AIP's Jim Nicholson, Wald crashing an exhib luncheon during a Theatre Owners Of America confab in October 1958. Jim and Sam had paid for the feed, did a major burn when Jerry hopped up and said AIP pics were "injurious to the industry." Arkoff replied that was funny coming from the guy who'd just made
The Story On Page One is half-speed Wald, a junior varsity Anatomy Of A Murder, but engaging and up-front with sex theme that got gears grinding. Wald knew pushing boundaries was what sold through industry's fight to a finish with television --- give them what tubes did not dare. In this case, it is Rita Hayworth as adulteress in Gig Young arms, the two implicated when her husband falls during struggle for a gun. Anthony Franciosa as reluctant defense lawyer (again as with Jim Stewart in Anatomy --- no pay!) who doubles down on explicit Q&A re hotels, "intimacy," what not, that we'd only recently begun hearing in courtroom drama (one courtroom gladiator makes tactless reference to "fornication"). It all dates, sure, but everyone's game for the showdown, Hayworth a glamour-gone standout, as is Gig Young, sans humor and effective, Franciosa demonstrating high-octane method acting when this was still a new and exciting thing. There's no DVD or streaming that I've come across. FXM runs The Story On Page One, but it's an old transfer, letterboxed but not anamorphic, a hark-back to 80/90's way of broadcasting movies. It deserves an upgrade.