Mary Pickford: “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Mirror: “I said that you really shouldn’t leave the house wearing such a mess. Especially if you plan to flop your hands around like that. You’re not six years old anymore, honey.”
Mary: “But I’m America’s Sweetheart!”
Mirror: “Well, you look like America’s Simpleton. Go change. There’s no tea party here, Alice.”
Mary paused briefly, unsettled, then she burst into tears and raced off the stage, wailing and lamenting and rending her fake hair, because melodramatic silent-film stars never did anything with even a modicum of reserve. Three seconds later, shouting ensued as Mary accused the young gossip-columnist Hedda Hopper of destroying her career. This was the absolute worst thing that Mary could do, as Hedda hadn’t been on the set for any malfeasance other than to swipe some shrimp puffs from the craft services table. Now, however, Hedda’s intentions quickly veered from crustacean-crimping to personal vendetta. Mary was about to find out that Sweethearts had expiration dates that could easily be adjusted by the venomous typewriter of sexually-repressed columnists.
As the verbal fireworks intensified, Joan Crawford stepped out from behind the mirror, laid a microphone on the now-vacated wicker bench, and smiled slyly. Then she turned and exited the stage in the opposite direction, now intent on the next phase of her nefarious plan to conquer Hollywood.
The director, having witnessed all of this without anyone noticing because movie stars rarely understand who is truly responsible for their ascension, turned to his assistant. “I think we need to rework the script if we’re going to salvage this movie. Go find a writer who can craft a story where a major star gets killed off in the first twenty minutes of the movie. It’s never been done before, but our choices are limited since Sweetheart’s career is toast as soon as Hedda’s next column hits the newsstands.”
Assistant: “Actually, sir, I’ve already written just the script you need. We’ll have to change one of the character names to Norma Bates, but otherwise it should work splendidly.”
Director: “That sounds rather smashing. You’re a good man…uh… sorry, I’m not sure of your name. Production Assistants come and go around here like virginity at a barn dance.”
Assistant: “Oh, I believe it. I plan to fire many of them in the future. The name’s Hitchcock, sir. Alfred Hitchcock.”
Director: “Hitchcock? That sounds like something that will never get past the censors.”
Alfred: “Trust me. I can get around those censors.”
There was a sudden clatter offstage, and then Joan Crawford raced back on the set. “Just so you know, I’m perfectly willing to appear in a nude shower scene.”
Director: “I didn’t see that coming.”
Alfred: “And neither will the shower.”
Categories: Past Imperfect