January 24th, 2013

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March-ing towards his leading ladies

carole lombard nothing sacred 65a

Watching the delightful "Bedtime Story" (1941) on Turner Classic Movies last night not only reminded me that Loretta Young was more adept at comedy than she's usually given credit for, but that co-star Fredric March had a reputation of pawing his leading ladies. Not sure he tried it with the prim Loretta, but we know he made the moves on Carole Lombard in the 1937 classic "Nothing Sacred." She gave March his comeuppance in a rather, uh, not-safe-for-work way (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/30900.html).

By that time, however, March's moves were no secret to his co-stars. For proof, we turn to David Chierichetti's excellent tome, "Mitchell Leisen: Hollywood Director," and one of Leisen's early triumphs (and March's too), 1934's original "Death Takes A Holiday":



That's Evelyn Venable sharing an embrace with March, and in the Leisen book, she's quoted as saying when the cameras quit rolling, he didn't:

"Acting with Fredric March was a pleasure until we got to the love scene. We rehearsed and did a couple of takes, and when Mitch said print it, I was expecting to get up from the couch. March kept making love to me, under the lights and with everybody watching! He touched my bosom. I was so shocked I hauled off and slugged him. He ran to his dressing room and I ran to mine and neither of us would come out. Mitch ran back and forth, trying to make peace. I said I wouldn't come out until he apologized and eventually Mitch got him over and he mumbled something. I said, 'That doesn't sound like you actually mean it.' So he said it again and we went back to work."

But there's a postscript, according to Venable:

"After I had married Hal Mohr, he was photographing 'Anthony Adverse' and I visited him one day on the set. I saw Olivia de Havilland who I knew from the play of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' I said, 'Is Freddy giving you any trouble?' And she rolled her eyes and said, 'Oh yes.'"

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