In the first year of this blog, I wrote a post about the film Mommie Dearest. (TypePad is doing some overhauling of the system ... if you're reading this within a day or two of its being posted, that link may not work.) In that post, I talk about how awful the film was, but also note that Faye Dunaway "is up to something in this movie," namely that she bulldozes her way over the movie's awfulness, because "what is she supposed to do?" I then told an anecdote about Gregory Peck and The Boys From Brazil (it makes sense in the context of the original post).
Well, I was just searching myself via Amazon's "search all the books in our store" thingie ... yes, I'm vain like that ... and I find the following, on page 377-8 of the book Gregory Peck: A Charmed Life by Lynn Haney:
Around this time journalist Steven Rubio confronted Greg with an intriguing question. 'At one point, thinking of the awful Boys From Brazil, I asked Mr Peck if he ever got into a movie, saw it was going to stink and decided that at least he could have some fun with his role. No, he assured me, that would be unfair to the audience. His job was to do his best, no matter what the circumstances; his audience expected no less... But his answer explained the problem: he was so worried about his audience that he never allowed for the possibility that in a piece of shit like The Boys From Brazil, we were all in on the joke, and soon he ended up looking foolish for trying to do his best. Meanwhile, in the same film, Lawrence Olivier tarted up his role as if it was more fun than having a three-way with Vivian Leigh and Danny Kaye. The result? Olivier is the only thing worth seeing in the entire film.'
The quotes are, of course, from my old blog post. Haney doesn't get everything right, which makes you wonder ... how hard is it to cut-and-paste, anyway? She changes a couple of words and messes with some of the punctuation, and while it's a matter of contention these days whether or not bloggers are journalists, I don't think of myself as one. What's even weirder is the part that introduces the anecdote, "Around this time." The context is the critical reaction to Boys From Brazil, which came out in 1978. (On the same page, Haney includes an extended quote from Pauline Kael's review of the film ... yes, I'm on the same page as Pauline Kael! That can be taken two ways, of course ... we're both on page 377 of Haney's book, and we're both on the same page regarding Peck's performance.) But I didn't meet Peck and ask him that question until sometime around 1990 ... I don't remember the exact year, but it was while I was in grad school. I most certainly wasn't a journalist then, just a guy sitting in the audience while Peck took questions about acting.
Then I look further at the Amazon listing for Haney's book, where people leave reviews. And guess what I find? A John O'Dowd writes:
As actress Barbara Payton's biographer, I was dismayed to see some of my material on Barbara's life used, without permission or acknowledgment, in Lynn Haney's book. True, she does credit me with the story of Barbara being found unconscious under a dumpster in Hollywood, but some of her other statements about Miss Payton have been lifted directly from my Internet article on Barbara's life and times.
Ms. Haney, I am very easy to get in touch with (my contact information, in fact, appears with the aforementioned article). May I ask WHY you didn't seek me out to ask for permission to use my work in your book on Mr. Peck's life? Believe me, I would have happily granted you permission (with appropriate credit given to me, of course)if you had only taken the time, and care, to ask.
Not good, Ms. Haney. Not good at all!
Price of fame, I guess. Guess it's my turn to write a little something over on Amazon.