Loves Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, The Beatles, The Who, The Monkees, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Dean Martin, etc. Definitely born in the wrong era.
29 year old girl from the east bay area in California (read as: nowhere on the map) and also loves all things craft-wise. Is an avid cross-stitcher, knitter, crocheter, photographer, writer, loves drawing, and generally anything that involves making something pretty.
Also loves nostalgia. Both from the 60's/70's, from her own childhood in the 80's/90's, and some even older stuff. You've been warned.
Liza Minnelli singing, I’ll Never Fall in Love Again sweetly.
Arthur is the world’s richest drunk. And perhaps its most amiable.
But his convivial carousing may be coming to an end. His family has threatened to cut off his inheritance - three quarters of a billion dollars - unless he marries a cloying debutante and gives up the shoplifter he loves.
It’s a situation which would drive a man to drink - if he weren’t there already.
"Arthur," starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli and John Gielgud, was written and directed by Steve Gordon. The film is a Rollins, Joffe, Morra, and Brezner Production for Orion Pictures released thru Warner Bros. and was produced by Robert Greenhut with Charles H. Joffe as executive producer. Music by Burt Bacharach.
For Moore, the hilarious comedy marks a happy reunion with Orion Pictures, the studio which sent him after Bo Derek in “10” and thereby put his career in orbit.
"Until then, there was a minimum height requirement for leading men," he admits. "It was like joining the police force or the fire department. I was once up for the part in a detective thriller, but they were afraid I would shoot the villain in the ankle. So I think Orion showed terrific courage when they looked me up. Or in my case, when they looked me down."
But it was more than gratitude that led him to “Arthur”… or the fact that when the title was first mentioned, he thought Orion was talking about King Arthur and “Excalibur.”
"There are very few genuinely funny scripts around these days," he says. "The usual ratio is the same as gin and vermouth, one laugh for every ten pages. This script was just the opposite."
As Arthur Bach, Moore’s lifestyle is established in the film’s opening scene when his chauffeured limousine rolls up to a Times Square street corner where two ladies-of-the-evening are waiting for business to pick up. Perched on his tousled head is a top hat. In his hand is a tumbler full of scotch.
"Would the more attractive of you please step forward?" he requests.
They stare contempuously. He has made a faux pas.
"In that case, would the one who finds me the most attractive please step forward,” he offers gallantly.
She does. And moments later, she is ensconced at the best table at one of New York’s most exclusive restaurants, where Arthur has introduced her as the princess of a country so small that “it takes only 85 cents to go by cab from one end to the other.”
She admits that she became a hooker because her mother died when she was six and her stepfather raped her at twelve.
Arthur sees only the bright side. “At least, you had six relatively good years,” he points out.
If Arthur’s approach to acquiring friends - and bedmates - is unorthodox, it’s in keeping with his surroundings. He has never wanted for anything because everything he ever wanted has been for sale. When other kids got toy trains, he received a scale version of Amtrak’s ten-year-plan, which still chugs through his bedroom and toots him to sleep.
His bathroom is an art deco replica of a Radio City Music Hall powder room, except for an inlaid marble tub, with gold taps, where he sips his morning martini. His liquor cabinet would satisfy the ‘happy hour’ at a political convention.
But all good things must end. He has one month to marry the most boring blonde on Long Island, or be disowned.
"Marry her," insists John Gielgud as Hobson, his valet and best - if only - friend. "Poor drunks do not find love, Arthur. Poor drunks have very few teeth. They urinate outdoors. They freeze to death in summer. I can’t bear to think of you that way."
It’s a convincing argument. After all, it’s not as aif Arthur is in love with anyone else. At least not yet. But while buying out the shirt department at Bergdorf-Goodman, he witnesses a “perfect crime.” An attractive Brunette helps herself to a necktie and casually saunters out past the cash register.
And now he is in love.
"She’s not really a shoplifter," says Liza Minnelli in defense of Linda Marolla, the character she portrays. "She’s a waitress and acting student who wants to give her father - who’s out of work - something special for his birthday.
Outside Bergdorf-Goodman’s Fifth Avenue entrance, Arthur saves the stranger from arrest, extracts a long, grateful kiss in return and persuades her to leave a Queens-bound bus in favor of his Rolls Royce.
The sequence started filming on one of those sweltering days on which New Yorkers casually inform each other, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” before they pass out.
During the next week, the heat wave continued - while the crowd grew.
"We became a tourist attraction," recalls writer-director Steve Gordon. "People would say, let’s visit the Plaza and the Statue of Liberty and on the way back to the hotel, we can stop at ‘Arthur.’
"Dudley was incredible. When he wasn’t working for us, he was putting on a show for the spectators."
"He wasn’t even bothered when the fight broke out and the police came."
"Someone in the crowd decided to break into the movies without being asked. Someone else tried to hold him back. You know how it is on a hot day in New York… tempers blow. Our main concern was protecting Dudley; he’s not the easiest guy to find in a crowd."
When order was restored and filming resumed, Liza squeezed onto a packed bus, then inched back off when she learned that Arthur was both rich and single.
The brief sequence took nine takes, the best of which was blown when someone in a passing van shouted through the window, “Hey, are you people making a movie?”
Liza was unfazed.
"Some actors complain about re-takes," she said. "But when you’ve done a lot of stage work, you accept that repetition is the key to getting inside a character."
Dudley Moore agreed. “I like repetition,” he said. “Eating is repetitious. Sex is repetitious. Waking up in the morning is repetitious. Things which aren’t repetitious are apt to be dangerous, like swimming in shark-infested waters or doing your own stunts.”
John Gielgud was amazed at the way Gordon and his crew, eighty strong, had literally taken over one of New York’s busiest thoroughfares.
"They would never let us do this sort of thing in Piccadilly Circus," he observed dryly, just after the police had broken up the brawl.
As the venerable Hobson, whose acerbic wit is matched only by his affection for Arthur, Gielgud is in his element. When Arthur asks Hobson to keep him company while he lolls in the bathtub, the valet politely declines. “Bathing is a lonely business, sir,” he points out. “Rarely is there a lifeguard on duty.”
Later, when Linda Marolla wonders aloud what to wear to a festive evening with Arthur, Hobson helps out with his customary sangfroid.
"Steal something casual," he suggests.
Filming “Arthur” in New York returned Sir John to the Theatre on Broadway in 1936 that he played “Hamlet,” in a production which “revolutionized the audience’s concept of the character” (according to critic Howard Kissel), and broke John Barrymore’s record of consecutive performances in the role. That mark would, in turn, be erased by Richard Burton under Gielgud’s direction.
"There was a period in the mid-1950’s when I thought my career was done," he admits. "All the emphasis was on the ‘angry young men,’ and what had seemed sweet and romantic in my youth was now called old-fashioned.
"It was a very dispiriting time because my whole life has been the theatre. Otherwise, I’m quite helpless. I’ve never been good at games or sports. I have no hobbies. I can’t even drive a car."
But Gielgud’s fears proved premature at best. During the past two years, he has been lured no less than nine times from the sanctuary of his home - a carriage house outside Oxford - to travel ‘round the world for major film roles. Included have been the award-winning “The Elephant Man,” Wadja’s “The Conductor” (filmed in Warsaw), “Sphinx” (filmed in Cairo), “Lion of the Desert” (in Libya) and the eagerly-awaited “Chariots of Fire.”
New York remains one of his favorite cities.
"It’s terrifying," he says gently. "But if it weren’t terrifying, it wouldn’t be New York."
Like Gielgud, Geraldine Fitzgerald has been acting for nearly a half-century. In the 1930s, she was England’s most popular ingenue, playing “bright young things who were invariably named Allison or Meg,” she says. “I was preppie before there was preppie.”
Now, having aged gracefully, she portrays Arthur’s fey grandmother, who represents his last hope of a marital reprieve.
As Linda Marolla’s father, a layabout who encourages his daughter to marry Arthur - he’d welcome Caligula if he was rich - Barney Martin is reunited with Liza Minnelli. They appeared together briefly during the Broadway run of “Chicago,” in which Martin portrayed Liza’s husband.
Jill Eikenberry, seen as Susan Johnson, the saccharin socialite Arthur must marry, is perhaps best known as James Caan’s helpless helpmate in “Hide in Plain Sight.” To Arthur, Susan is an erotic cipher. But she clings to him like velcro.
"I know how alone you are, Arthur," she quavers during their engagement supper. "I hate how alone you are, but don’t be afraid. YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN."
Perhaps the most difficult role to cast, says Steve Gordon, was Susan’s father, Burt Johnson, a tycoon with the manners of a mafioso and the mind of a bourgeois Borgia.
When Stephen Elliott, an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Repertory Company, read for the role, Gordon recited Arthur’s lines.
"You can’t stand Arthur," the director told Elliott. "He is everything you despise - weak, charming, drunk, friendly, generous. It’s all you can do to keep from hitting him."
Halfway through the reading, Elliott did just that. He punched Gordon.
"He couldn’t restrain himself," recalls the director. "I knew then and there I had the right actor."
From the outset, Gordon intended to film as much of “Arhtur” as possible in actual locations, in and around New York, building only a few studio sets (“mostly bedrooms”) at the Astoria Studios in Queens.
Thus, Arthur’s confrontation with his future father-in-law was staged at the De Seversky Conference Center in Long Island’s horse country outside Glen Cove. Grandmother Bach’s morning room was the parlor of a picturesque mansion in Old Westbury, Long Island, modeled after one of England’s stately homes.
The interior of a library at Fifth Avenue and 78th Street was camoflaged for Arthur’s engagement party while a mile furthur south, at Park Avenue and 51st Street, St. Bartholomew’s Church served as the site of his on-again, off-again nuptials.
These locales were “a breeze,” says Gordon, compared to finding a first-class restaurant which would open its doors - and disrupt its kitchen - for the film crew.
"Thank heaven for the Plaza Hotel," he goes on. "We had already finished filming there when the management of a world-famous restaurant said it wanted no part of us. So we returned to the Plaza where we were welcomed with open arms.
"Now I tell everyone who’s going to New York, ‘Stay at the Plaza. Eat there. Make a movie there. They’re terrific people.’"
As a first-time director with an admittedly ambitious shooting schedule, “almost every day was a new adventure,” adds Gordon. But the one which stands out most vividly in his mind was the jittery meeting between Arthur and the bullying Burt Johnson.
The sequence begins when Arthur is welcomed to the Johnson manse by an aged butler with dewlaps and the expression of one who has just caught his first whiff of a foreign odor. “Are you sure you really want to be a night club comic?” Arthur asks him, as he enters a room dominated by an enormous stuffed moose head. When Johnson appears, it is clear that what happened to the moose could easily happen to Arthur.
"Dudley was on a roll that day," says Gordon. "He was inspired. We did a dozen takes and each one was different. He cowered, he cringed, he did double takes, he worked the moose like a straight man. Even the crew caught the spirit. One of our lighting people laughed so hard, he fell off his ladder.
"It was awful."
"Absolutely. There I was in the editing room, a few days later, with twelve different versions of the same scene, no two alike, and each one funnier than the next. To toss any one of them away was an injustice to Dudley."
After two weeks with very little sleep, Gordon finally zeroed in on one take.
"But just once, I’d like to show the picture with all twelve versions of Dudley and the moose. It might throw the pace off. But I think it would be worth it."