Beat the Devil

Via Regular Shadowplayer Chris Schneider I’ve had the pleasure of being cybernetically introduced to the niece of Veronica Lake (not a direct blood relative, but she called her “Aunt Connie” which is good enough for me), Gloria Mann Craft. I’m hoping to get her input for the SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS FILM CLUB on Friday the 23rd of this month, but prior to that I received an amusing, if slightly grotesque, true story, which naturally I will now share with you.

“Mr. Huston ‘summoned’ Aunt Connie to his office, (I think it was on the Fox lot at the time, not sure), she decided to go, (although as she put it: ‘I don’t take kindly to being summoned, AND I don’t care a whit who is doing the summoning’). When she got to his office, his door was ajar and no secretary was around.

“He asked her to come in and to ‘please close the door behind her.’

“She did. She sat down and noticed a rather thick telephone book on his desk, but thought nothing of it in the moment. Suddenly without warning he unzipped his ‘fly’ (as she called it), pulled out his schlong and placed it on the desk right in front of her.

“Without missing a beat she grabbed the thick telephone book in her hands and smashed it down on…yes, his schlong. He let out a scream, she replied ‘THAT’S A WRAP’, turned to leave, and heard the words ‘Ronnie you’re hired!’

“Needless to say she DID not take the job.”

I wonder if this is why Huston’s bio is called An Open Book.

Apart from Mitchell Leisen’s rather acerbic memories recounted in Hollywood Director, most of what I’ve read of Veronica makes me like her even better than I already did when I first saw I MARRIED A WITCH, aged 16, and fell in love  with her.

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14 Responses to “Beat the Devil”

  1. Veronica Lake almost single-handedly redeems the genre of blonde for me. Wow.

  2. “You could put all the talent I had into your left eye and still not suffer from impaired vision,” she said. As Fiona points out, just to come up with a line like that takes talent.

  3. “There’s nothing like a deep dish movie to drive you out into the open.”

  4. Randy Cook Says:

    Talent or not (and I thinks she protests far too much) she had a breathtaking watchability. SULLIVAN’S was my introduction to her, at age 18, and I was likewise smitten.

  5. I think possibly her instinctive approach made her undervalue what she was capable of. She wasn’t really trained, so in a way all she had was talent — and amazing glamour.

  6. Gloria Mann Craft is, herself, a very talented actress. I got to know Gloria while writing about theater in San Diego. There were two fine shows directed by Robert Woodruff: HEAT at U.C.S.D. and Horvath’s FIGARO GETS A DIVORCE at the La Jolla Playhouse. I also have fond memories of her in the female lead of Sam Shepard’s TOOTH OF CRIME at the San Diego Rep.

    You might have encountered her as “Fierce Woman” in Kathryn Bigelow’s POINT BREAK. (See photo at IMDb)

  7. Christopher Says:

    ..She may be little….but shes the GOODS!…..Its always embarrasing to me as a man to hear stories about perverted moguls…
    aunt connie to the reescue..aunt connie to the reeeescue..GO aunt connie Go aunt connie

  8. I’m reminded of Arianne Ulmer’s story of auditioning for Roger Vadim, who was sat on a throne, wearing a short dressing gown, otherwise naked, and SPLAYING. She kept a cool head and concluded that this was just some kind of weird test. “I mean, he wasn’t FIDDLING with himself or anything.”

  9. David Boxwell Says:

    It’s fun to watch SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS to see how Sturges could convincingly shoot around her enormous (on that petite body) pregnancy.

  10. Most little women don’t show pregnancy as ginormously as average-sized ones do. I think you can see a little bulge when she’s first in male drag, but otherwise you’re right, he keeps it well hidden. And she inisted on doing her own stunts. “A pregnant woman can do anything a man can do…”

  11. What’s magical about Veronica Lake is that she looked like a movie goddess, yet sounded like a woman you’d meet in everyday life. That plus her smoothly casual style of playing made her extra special.

  12. Christopher Says:

    think its funny the way they liked to team her with Alan Ladd..snicker snicker..calling Darby O’Gill

  13. Christopher Says:

    ….like David says..the last couple of times I saw her in something..I couldn’t help recalling some of the witchy chicks I knew in my early drama classes and in theatre ..just plain good ol’ gals..

  14. My initial assumption was that Lake was discovered as a match for Ladd, someone to make him look taller without having to stand in a ditch opposite him. But in fact she was thoroughly established before them. And I’d forgotten that despite his problems with her on I Wanted Wings, Leisen used her for a cameo in Hold back the Dawn.

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