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  1. It’s hilarious to finally see “Rage in Heaven” after reading Christopher Isherwood’s account (from his published diaries) of the troubles they had making it — specifically Robert Montgomery’s “sabotage” and how they finally dealt with it:

    ‘Montgomery sulked from the beginning. He disliked the script — chiefly, I think, because Gottfried hadn’t invited him to sit in on our story conferences…. When the front office ordered Montgomery to play in the picture, on pain of suspension, he became sullen, snooty and obstructive. He did all his scenes deadpan, speaking in a dull, weary voice. When Sinclair tried to remonstrate with him, he snapped back: “What do you expect me to do? Chew up the scenery?”

    ‘Finally, Arnold, the president of the Actors’ Guild, was called in to see the rushes. His verdict was, “Sure, that son of a bitch is sabotaging you, but you’d have a hard job pinning it on him legally.” Gottfried wanted to release Montgomery from his role, but the front office was mad by this time and insisted that he stay, even if the picture could never be shown….

    ‘After the sneak preview, we had to have a lot of retakes. Thoeren and I had the idea of writing in a scene in which the psychiatrist, describing Montgomery, says: “At first, you might think he is quite normal, quite sane. But, if you watch him carefully, you’ll notice a curious lack of expression in the face, a tonelessness in the voice, an air of listless fatigue-” This speech served a double purpose. It explained away Montgomery’s bad performance and made it seem deliberate. (So effectively that many people told me they thought his underacting was simply brilliant.) And it was our private message to Montgomery himself. It told him exactly what we thought of him. The picture was actually quite a fair success. As Gottfried put it, “We escaped with a black eye.”’

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