Monday, August 6, 2018
Now Let Us Praise Audrey Totter
I don't wrote much in the summer because TV is all reruns these days.
But one full day of reruns is something I'm looking forward to --Monday on Turner Classic Movies it's Audrey Totter day.
There will now be a moment's silence for you to ask "Who the heck is Audrey Totter?"
I first met the great Totter on the set of her MGM series Medical Center in 1974 and we set a day for lunch the next week --I was in Los Angeles at the TV Crirtics' Convention.
I'd been fascinated by Totter's acting skills ever since I'd watched the 1046 MGM classic Lady In The Lake on Elwy Yost'\s TVOntario show.
"I got the part because I was from radio and in this one I had to look straight at the camera for most of the movie. The camera stood in for our leading man Bob Montgomery and it was called the subjective manner. Bob was behind the camera and added the dialogue but we saw everything through his eyes."
Totter was so busy maki g LITL that when Universal offered to borrow her for The Killers opposite Burt Lancaster "MGM said I was too busy and sent over Ava Gardner instead and that part made her a super star."
Lady In The Lake is on at midnight but at 1:30 there's Any Number Can Play (1949) with Totter vo-starring with Alexis Smith and Clark Gable.
"We had a hot romance for a bit but I could see he still loved his dead wife--Carole Lombard. :
At 6:30 there's Totter's master piece The Set Up (1949) opposite Robert Ryan.
"It's considered the best ever boxing film and was made in real time. But it came out after another boxing sagas called Champion and bombed at the box office."
At 6:30 there's High Wall (1948) with Totter a psychiatrist trying to solve Robert Taylor as a psychotic war veteran.
"We filmed late one night --no supper --and all the restros were closed by the time we finished. So Bob drove me to his home and hollered for his wife (Barbara Stanwyck) to get out of bed and fix us some bacon and scrambled eggs. "
Totter's favorite film The Unsuspected (1947) comes on at 1 a.m. --and stars Claude Rains as a murderous radio star and Totter as his lascivious niece.
"Claude was 5 feet two inches and I towered over him so the next day he comes in wearing shoes with lifts and I still towered over him."
Totter was making Medical Center when MGM's That's Entertainment was released in 1974 amd she was invited to the premiere although she never made musicals.
"At the reception Ava Gardner ran up to me and said 'You have everything I ever wanted --a husband and a child.' And she's right --try sleeping with a career."
The last time I visited with her she was at the Motion Picture home battling old age and boasting "I had one husband and my family came first. But I still made half a dozen greatish pictures."
Audrey Totter died in 2013 aged 95 but I think she'd be tickled pink TCM has finally saluted her.