Rogue Male

Mogambo_Ava

Not the Geoffrey Household novel (highly recommended) which became the Fritz Lang movie MAN HUNT and was later filmed under its own name with Peter O’Toole (more on him in a moment). This Rogue Male, which I found in the Edinburgh Book Fair and snapped up on a whim, is the memoir of Geoffrey Gordon-Creed, a commando in Greece in WWII, leading resistance fighters behind enemy lines and blowing up an important viaduct. It’s a rollicking, amoral yarn and Gordon-Creed is a humorous, ruthless, scurrilous narrator.

There are a couple of movie anecdotes when we get to the author’s post-war life in Africa — one involves a bit of kis-and-tell told by John Loder about Ginger Rogers, which I would feel kind of grubby repeating.

The one about Ava Gardner is just about OK though, I think. Just this week I read about her three-in=a=bed romp with O’Toole (told you) and Richard Burton. The lusty Geoff bedded her shortly after she’d finished shooting MOGAMBO ~

My current love at the time was working on the film so I had occasion to visit her on location once or twice. Everyone on the set adored Ava — in fact the world appeared to be in love with her and some even reckoned her the most beautiful woman on this planet.

Anyhow, once filming was through many of the cast came up to Nairobi for some fun. I happened to be there and met Ava again, and the chemistry was mutual and compelling. She laid it on the line. If I so wished she would be my woman, and only mine, for one week. After that I would never hear from her again, nor would she expect to hear from me. No calls, no whining, no nothing. Finito!

‘You want? No?’

‘I want.’

She was the perfect lover and courtesan. Not another man even existed in the universe while I was in the saddle. I was privileged. In the end I had eight days.

But it did bother me a bit to think that I was related, ‘by injection’ as it were, to that cretin actor Mickey Rooney and that wop Frank Sinatra and certainly scores of others. But enough! She was memorable.

 

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5 Responses to “Rogue Male”

  1. Jim Cobb Says:

    Ava was a very underrated actress. As for the MGM SHOWBOAT, not a great film but no way to deny the power of that finale.

  2. And Ava’s singing was arguably better than the voice they dubbed her with — it’s like MGM simply couldn’t believe someone so beautiful could sing too.

  3. My favorite real-life Ava story happened a considerable number of years back. She was at the “Formosa Inn” on Melrose, knocking back a few with a group of friends. The “Formosa” is right next to the “Warner Hollywood” lot — which used to be the Goldwyn lot. For years there was a “Frank Sinatra Productions” office just below the screening room. He was often there personally. On this occasion Ava got wind from the kitchen that an order had been placed and was to be taken over to Frank. So she paid for it and signed the bill “From an admirer”

  4. Interesting changes from the play:

    Onstage, Julie simply vanishes — presumably to sink into oblivion — after sacrificing her last chance gig for Magnolia. Gaylord and Magnolia are almost accidentally reunited much later, when their daughter has grown into a 1920s Broadway star.

    The MGM movie shortens the passage of time: The daughter is still a child, and the film is still firmly in The Ole South. This allowed them to bring back a fallen but non-decrepit Julie as the conscience that makes Gaylord return to his Home — which Julie can’t go back to.

    The James Whale version hewed somewhat closer to the play. Rather than count on coincidence, they had Gaylord become the old doorman at the theater where the grown-up daughter performed. He kept his identity secret until Magnolia realized who he was.

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