George’s Hidden Talent

George Raft has a bath in NIGHT AFTER NIGHT.

Highly recommend the late Eddie Fowlie’s autobiography, David Lean’s Dedicated Maniac: Memoirs of a Film Specialist. It lives up to the title. Here’s one of the  milder anecdotes from the set of the 1951 Italian-shot B picture I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS, starring George Raft.

“George Raft had been a discrete presence for much of the shoot but one incident more than made up for it. One evening during a lull in filming a few of us, including Raft, got together for a few drinks and some banter. As the night wore on the laughter got louder and the boasts about sexual exploits more improbable, until George suddenly stood up and said, “I’m going to show you guys how I got to be a success,” whereupon he undid his trouser buttons and laid his ample member on the table. He was quite right — it was obvious why he had been a success. It also put a swift end to some of the unlikely claims which had peppered the conversation up to that point, most notably from the Italian bright sparks who shut up altogether upon witnessing George’s hidden talent.”

This surprised me because I’d heard the exact same story told about Burt Lancaster on the set of LOCAL HERO, the punchline being “And THAT’S how you survive in Hollywood,” the story passed down from one Scottish crew member to another until it reached me. So possibly it was a repurposed George Raft anecdote given a Scottish slant by overzealous nationalists. Or possibly both incidents really happened, independently, both Burt and George having the same impressive physical attributes and exhibitionist tendencies. Or just possibly, Eddie Fowlie told the story to Burt on the set of THE CRIMSON PIRATE, which happened to be his very next film. And Burt filed the story away for reenactment thirty years later, the meaty slap of dick on tabletop echoing through cinema history…

6 Responses to “George’s Hidden Talent”

  1. La Faustin Says:

    With Georgie, it wasn’t the meat but the motion:

  2. La Faustin Says:

    Although that anecdote sounds way out of character for Raft, who had wistful aspirations to class (see NIGHT AFTER NIGHT on the subject, as a matter of fact).

  3. I suspect George might have set his aspirations aside while drinking with crewmembers. He also liked having his pack Mack around as a connection to his origins.

    But who knows? Eddie Fowlie was party to enough real shenanigans that he shouldn’t have had to make any up, but maybe he got confused — maybe it WAS big Burt who did it, both times?

  4. bensondonald Says:

    Back when I worked at a newspaper, somebody in the Features department (a big room full of people who produced the entertainment and lifestyle sections) photocopied and posted an anecdote from a book about Forrest Tucker sinking a putt with his personal equipment. Some days later there were dozens of photocopies of the same portrait of Tucker (head and shoulders) taped up everywhere, some of which remained for a long time. I never did learn the backstory of this curiously expressed admiration, if that’s what it was.

  5. Wow. So Tucker joins the “hung jury” of his day along with Uncle Milty and Roddy McDowall.

    Someone once challenged Milton Berle to a comparison in the men’s room. “Let’s get them out and see who wins.”
    “I tell you what,” said Uncle Milty, “You get yours out. And then I’ll get just enough of mine out to win.”

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