In 1989, The Abyss sank, partly because many moviegoers didn’t know what an abyss was. Some notable fumblings toward more commercial titles:
Paul Newman insisted the 1966 film Archer be renamed Harper because his last two ”H” movies, Hud and The Hustler, had been hits. It didn’t work: Harper‘s box office was ho-hum.
Just before its debut, the 1965 Beatles movie called Eight Arms to Hold You was renamed HELP! (No, Paul Newman was not involved.)
Woody Allen’s original title for Annie Hall (1977) was Anhedonia, a term denoting the inability to experience pleasure. United Artists demanded a change, and cowriter Marshall Brickman suggested Me and My Goy, A Rollercoaster Named Desire, and It Had to Be Jew before Allen finally picked Annie.
A 1982 Dustin Hoffman movie was Would I Lie to You? until the star suggested Tootsie, his mother’s pet name for him when he was a boy.
Lines You Only Thought You Heard
Myth: ”Play it again, Sam.” — Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1942)
Reality: Ingrid Bergman says, ”Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.”’ Later, Bogie says, ”You played it for her, you can play it for me.”
Myth: ”Come weeth me to zee Casbah.” — Charles Boyer in Algiers (1938)
Reality: Boyer often pointed out, crankily, that he never said this line in this or any other movie. He held a press agent responsible for coining it.
Myth: ”Ooh, you dirty rat.” — James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931)
Reality: Cagney says, ”Why, that dirty, no-good, yellow-bellied stool.”
Myth: ”Judy, Judy, Judy.” — Cary Grant
Reality: Grant never said this except when imitating his imitators. Actor-impersonator Larry Storch (TV’s F Troop) put the words in Grant’s mouth in the mid-1930s, because ”You always imagined him talking to a woman,” says Storch, ”and the name Judy has a lot of spark.” The device stuck after he coached Tony Curtis and Sammy Davis Jr. in the art of imitating Grant in the 1940s.
We pay to see the stars, but behind the front credits is a corps of artists just as creative — and sometimes more so. Here are some you should know.
Fred and Ginger got all the credit, but dance director Pan told them where to plant their dancing feet in most of their classic ’30s musicals. He also choreographed Silk Stockings and Kiss Me Kate.
Irony in action: a singing unsung heroine. Nixon provided the pipes for the stars, and when Audrey Hepburn opens her mouth to sing in My Fair Lady — or Natalie Wood in West Side Story, or Deborah Kerr in The King and I — it’s really Nixon you’re enjoying.
Next time you watch Citizen Kane, keep in mind that Orson Welles worked out every breathtaking shot with this great cinematographer — and that Toland jumped at the chance to break the rules. He also shot Wuthering Heights and The Grapes of Wrath.
A chief costumer at MGM, he designed diaphanous wrappings for such stars as Garbo, Crawford, Harlow, and Hepburn in films including Anna Christie and Grand Hotel, influencing what women in the audience wore, or at least dreamed of wearing.
A few rules for table-hopping at Mortons: Spielberg is always Steven and Elizabeth Taylor is never Liz. But most big stars — for example, our close, personal friend Sly Stallone — like to be addressed by their nicknames while among friends. Here are the proper ones to use when name-dropping:
Lauren Bacall — Betty (her real name)
Alec Baldwin — Alex
Mikhail Baryshnikov — Misha
Candice Bergen — Candy
Stockard Channing — Susan (her real name)
Sofia Coppola — Sofie
Macaulay Culkin — Mac
Robert De Niro — Bobby
Angela Lansbury — Angie
Martin Scorsese — Marty
Talia Shire — Tally
Elizabeth Shue — Lisa
Neil Simon — Doc
John Travolta — Johnny
Robert Wagner — R.J.
Sigourney Weaver — Siggy