Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #457 (A Random and Unrequited Crusty Pie Marathon)

Casting director at the initial movie production meeting: “So we have several actors to choose from and I’ve arranged their photos on this wall so we can-”

Producer: “That one, right there. That’s gonna sell a movie. Who is he?”

Casting director: “Oh, he’s a nobody, but his name is Gary something. Cooper, maybe?”

Producer: “Get his agent on the horn. He might work out for a picture or two.”

Costume designer: “Oh, I hope we get him. What I could with that tasty bit of chest hair poking out.”

Production assistant: “Producer Man, a messenger boy just handed me something.”

Producer: “What does it say?”

Production assistant: “I don’t know. I haven’t opened it.”

Producer: “Well, if you want to continue being an assistant, I suggest you do so.”

Production assistant: “Oh, right. Sorry. It’s my first day and I didn’t know I would have to open things. And I’m not used to being near you when you actually have clothes on. Thanks for the job by the way.”

Producer: “How about we talk less and open more.”

Production assistant: “Oh, right.” Sounds of extremely unprofessional letter-opening, with ripping and such. “Okay, it’s from that gossip columnist, Hedda Clodhopper.”

Producer: “Ugh. I can’t stand that woman. Such an ignorant piece of trash.”

Production assistant: “She starts out by saying that she really enjoyed the last movie you produced, Rebecca of Sonny’s Broke Farm.”

Producer: “Love that woman to death. Have my secretary send flowers.”

Production assistant: “Then she says that the man on the wall is not Gary Cooper. It’s Paul Newman.”

Gasps filled the room.

Costume designer: “Wait, who the hell is Paul Newman? Does he have chest hair? Because that’s all I really care about in the end.”

Producer: “We have to get to the bottom of this. I can’t move forward without having all the facts. I’m not a Republican.”

Casting director, sighing and whipping out a smartphone: “Everybody settle down. I’ll get to the bottom of this.”

Gasps filled the room.

Costume designer: “What the hell is that? I’ve never seen one before and I go to a lot of bars.”

Producer: “Is that coming out of my budget? We have to have some type of regulation around here. I’m not a Libertarian.”

Casting director: “Relax. I stole this from a draft Past Imperfect story that hasn’t been published yet. Okay, it says here on Wickedpedia that Paul Newman was born just three years ago in Ohio. Now, they might grow em big in Ohio, but that man on the wall is older than three.”

Costume designer: “The chest hair alone is more than three years old. Trust me, I’ve studied these things. Most nights of the week. Twice on Sundays.”

Producer: “So, Hedda Clodhopper is trying to pull a fast one once again. Production Assistant, send an immediate rebuttal to the Clod.”

Production assistant: “Rebuttal? I’m not sure… is that what we did last night when you-”

Producer: “Less talking, shut up more. Tell Hedda I’m calling her on her lies and I will not put up with it. I don’t play nice when the other side refuses to do so. I’m not a Democrat.”

Casting director: “Alrighty, then. After all this completely useless dialogue, are we in agreement that I should call Gary’s agent? I have the agent on speed dial.”

Costumer designer: “What the hell is speed dial? I’ve never heard of that before and I’ve been to Amsterdam.”

Production assistant, turning to Producer: “Is that what we did last night when you had me plug in that vibrating-”

Producer: “How about we all go in timeout until the casting director performs Wiccan magic on the shiny flat thing that nobody understands. It’s got to work better than what’s happening in American politics right now.”


Originally published in “Crusty Pie” on 11/08/16.  Considerably changed and extended, partly inspired by the Gary/Paul controversy during the last Clam Bake. (See? I take notes, crossing my fingers that I can actually find those notes later.) By the way, in my imagining of this, the Producer is female and the Production Assistant is male. How many of you assumed the genders were the reverse, and what does that say about our gender perceptions in society? Cheers.


28 replies »

    • Yup, I know about Coop and his dyed wool. In fact, there’s another Past Imperfect which addresses that very thing. And now that I think about such, it’s been a while since I posted that one. It might just become my post for tomorrow, meaning I won’t have to fret tonight over what to do next. Thank you! You have done great service with your visit today. Please take a complimentary smartphone from the props department as a token of my gratitude… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I thought it was Paul at first, but after your clues on the other post rechecked and sure enough, you can tell by his mouth it’s Gary.
    And for the record, in my head both the Producer and the Production Assistant were male. It reads rather well that way. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there is the angle that my “mild desecration” of these photos can jack a bit with one’s memories, but there is so much drama, even in the stills, that the stories just pour out of me. I’m sure you know the sensation…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was guilty of the gender assumption. My bad. Because when Gary or Paul or Steve or Harry or Dick (yeah I had to go THERE), was a fledgling actor with or without his hairy chest; male producers were the THING. Female producers were in the present and women with that kind of guts and pull weren’t around. Well from what I’ve seen anyway. I wasn’t around until some twenty or twenty something years AFTER this shot was taken. And I’m going on rumor, having viewed a film from roughly the same time period with a cast that is not remembered (I saw it last night and I can’t tell you a single one of the people’s name IN the thing). In last night’s film the story line concerned ‘escort services’ in 1940 and the astonishing lack of graft and sin associated with such a thing. ‘Escorts’ (female or male) were merely that, a date for the evening with no hanky panky or associations with porn, hookers, pimps, madams, sex or even heavy petting. Which, as we all know, leads to seat wetting. And I digress. Back to Gary (is that really and for true Gary Cooper? He looks astonishingly like a very young Paul Newman. But I said that before, as did several of my co-commentors, which led to your revision here). My point about the film and this actor. In that time frame women ‘knew’ their place and were patted on the head and told to go home and bake something like a chocolate cream pie or darn some socks. Dishes needed washing and female executives? Were assumed to have ‘issues’ with same sex attraction. Um. Thank you for the clarification of the female producer and the male assistant. He sounds as if he’s one of those pretty but dumber than a rock persons who are attracted to powerful people (gender irrelevant). If the power person is ORANGE, the dumb but physically appealing hanger on might count on being kicked out of doors. Maybe right soon. But no worries. If they have gorgeous ‘blue’ eyes and chest hair? They’ll land on their feet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew someone would push back on my blatant and too-easy attempt to instill a wee bit of guilt, and I’m glad it was you. Of course most folks are going to make the first assumption, as that was simply life in those days (and to some extent, these days). There were, of course, a few exceptions to the rule in the golden years. (Mary Pickford, for example, was head of a production company for a bit, thought it soon merged with… I don’t recall at the moment now, one of the larger companies that soon became a powerhouse. Still, I couldn’t resist the little poke so that some folks might go “oh…” Of course, CJ gently got me back by suggesting that it didn’t have to be two people of opposite sex…

      Now, this “escort service” movie. Perchance do you recall the name of it? It sounds like I might be able to mine some movie stills from such a thing and then distort them into Crusty Pies…


  3. When I first glimpsed this fellow pulling his best ‘Blue Steel’ I fleetingly thought he was Peter O’Toole (perhaps pouting because there were only three bottles of Jamiesons a day written into his contract for Larry of Alabia) …. Hedda is clearly deluded if she thinks she can pin a Paul in their … Newman’s best have been my pinups since my teens 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your lovely commentary made me realize that I don’t think I’ve ever done Peter O’Toole. (In the Crusty sense, of course. One would hope that I would remember if things had actually been physical.) I must rush forth and find some possibilities. Right after I finish my beverage. Priorities, of course…


  4. Favourite line, of which there were many contenders; “Now, they might grow em big in Ohio, but that man on the wall is older than three.”
    Had both producer and assistant as male. Maybe if someone else had written it……. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My fav movie with Coop is Saratoga Trunk, which is way better than the Ferber book. He and Ingrid were having a flaming affair at the time and it comes across on the screen. Speaking of Commie haters, had a friend who made a movie with J. Wayne and had his heart broken to discover our American hero was a hawk, draft dodger, wore a head rug, and a fan of Sen. Joe M. But then Ronnie Reagan loved the greasy senator from WI too. He did a commercial for Joe. I saw it once and it magically disappeared. Hmm…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never seen “Saratoga Trunk”, at least not that I recall, but the pairing sounds wonderful. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I haven’t seen “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, either. (Again with the caveat of “not that I recall”. I watched an enormous amount of vintage movies during my college years, but I also drank a lot, so….)

      I have always had an issue with the “American Hero” idealization of J. Wayne (“Marion” to his momma). He was certainly not, but hey, that’s the magic of the silver screen…

      Liked by 1 person

    • There were actually several women who had a surprising amount of power in the early part of the Golden Years. Perhaps you can help me with a name. Who was the female scriptwriter (and eventual director) who became so influential that she was essentially a producer. It’s on the tip of my tongue, if you’ll pardon the weak expression…


        • OK, you’re the brain. I’m still waking up with the first cup thing. Last night watched a wonderful doc on Hedy Lamarr that acknowledges all her inventions, especially the one ignored during WWII by the Navy that would have saves lives and now is used for internet, gps,military and more. They patted her on the head like a cute puppy, used it, never paid her, which in today’s bucks is 30 billion worth. It’s also said she came up with the idea of radar. Time for second cup before toddling off the church.

          Liked by 1 person

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