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Not for Nothing

01 Mar

February 29, 1940

Sidney Skolsky
Watching Them Make Pictures

If you wait long enough on a Michael Curtiz set, you’re bound to hear a Curtizism. The other afternoon on the set of The Sea Hawk I had a long wait. In fact for the first time I thought reliable Mike was going to fail me. Director Curtiz had Errol play a scene over and over. And everytime he gave an order I expected him to pull a gem. But he didn’t.

Finally, Errol did the scene the way Curtiz wanted and reliable Mike came through. He said: “Errol, you worked hard. But it’s alright. You can’t get anything for nothing unless you pay for it.”

— Gentleman Tim

 

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  1. David DeWitt

    March 1, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Worth the wait! What a brilliant Director! Should be more of a household name …

     
    • Gentleman Tim

      March 2, 2021 at 4:51 am

      I agree, David! rom Robin Hood to Boots to Casablanca to Yankee Doodle Dandee – not to mention in Europe – he was amazing. Yey, somehow, he’s not listed in the top100 directors list. Perhaps because he was so versatile, not an “auteur”?

       
  2. barb

    March 2, 2021 at 3:51 am

    Hadn’t heard that one before .. great line!

     
    • Gentleman Tim

      March 2, 2021 at 4:47 am

      “You can’t get anything for nothing unless you pay for it”, barb? ..I think Mike may have first heard that line in Europe …when he was dating Lili! ( :-)

       
  3. Karl

    March 2, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Another, of course, became a title for a Niven book:

    “Bring on the empty (riderless) horses.”

    Here are some more as reported in the local papers of the day of what came to be known as “Curtizisms”:

    “The next time I send some dumb guy, I go myself.” (4/28/36)

    For a thrilling scene in Robin Hood, Errol Flynn tossed a 15 pound spear across a room and is supposed to make it stick in the opposite wall. Flynn threw the spear but his aim was poor. Lucky for director Michael Curtiz that he ducked in time. The spear nipped off his hat pinning it to the floor of the stage. “Are you hurt?” screamed the frantic Flynn. “No I’m alright”, replied Mike “but look at my hat – she is dead”. (12/24/37)

    “We don’t make historical pictures, we make history.” (12/28/37)

    “The next time you bring me flashbulbs, test them first.” (3/14/38)

    “Make it more like high society. Look bored.” (3/23/38)

    “If there’s grease on that chair, I’ll let you eat it.” (3/23/38)

    “Pull out the horses. They sneeze and spoil everything.” (5/1/38)

    “In this scene I want that the dog should bark from right to left.” (6/7/38)

    “You speak with two much afternoon tea accent.” (7/17/38)

    “He love her. She love him. The father comes in the door and smells fish.” (7/17/38)

    “Sit a little more feminine.” (7/17/38)

    “Sherry (Shourds),“ he says, “in this scene behind EF and Olivia de Havilland should go by some boy cows.” “Okeh, Mike” replies Shourds, who promptly rounds up some of the

    2000 steers that are working in the picture. “No, no Sherry,” exclaims Curtiz. “Boy cows I want.” “Well,” replies Shourds, puzzled, “those steers certainly aren’t girl cows.” “What I want to pass by in the scene,” explains Curtiz, “is the fellows who ride the horses- the boy cows.” “Oh” replies Shourds. “Yeah,” chuckles Mike. “Cowboys. I’m backed up again.” (11/24/38) 88b

    “You should show more Essex-appeal.” (6/16/39)

    When he says “Essex”, it comes out “Issacs.” (6/10/39)

    “You are a bum. But I know why you get such a big salary. Your profile is so disgustingly beautiful.” (12/27/39)

    and finally (with a date):

    “Errol, you worked hard. But it’s all right. You can’t get anything for nothing unless you pay for it.” (2/29/40)

     
  4. Karl

    March 2, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    Another, of course, became a title for a Niven book:

    “Bring on the empty (riderless) horses.”

    Here are some more as reported in the local papers of the day of what came to be known as “Curtizisms”:

    “The next time I send some dumb guy, I go myself.” (4/28/36)

    For a thrilling scene in Robin Hood, Errol Flynn tossed a 15 pound spear across a room and is supposed to make it stick in the opposite wall. Flynn threw the spear but his aim was poor. Lucky for director Michael Curtiz that he ducked in time. The spear nipped off his hat pinning it to the floor of the stage. “Are you hurt?” screamed the frantic Flynn. “No I’m alright”, replied Mike “but look at my hat – she is dead”. (12/24/37)

    “We don’t make historical pictures, we make history.” (12/28/37)

    “The next time you bring me flashbulbs, test them first.” (3/14/38)

    “Make it more like high society. Look bored.” (3/23/38)

    “If there’s grease on that chair, I’ll let you eat it.” (3/23/38)

    “Pull out the horses. They sneeze and spoil everything.” (5/1/38)

    “In this scene I want that the dog should bark from right to left.” (6/7/38)

    “You speak with two much afternoon tea accent.” (7/17/38)

    “He love her. She love him. The father comes in the door and smells fish.” (7/17/38)

    “Sit a little more feminine.” (7/17/38)

    “Sherry (Shourds),“ he says, “in this scene behind EF and Olivia de Havilland should go by some boy cows.” “Okeh, Mike” replies Shourds, who promptly rounds up some of the

    2000 steers that are working in the picture. “No, no Sherry,” exclaims Curtiz. “Boy cows I want.” “Well,” replies Shourds, puzzled, “those steers certainly aren’t girl cows.” “What I want to pass by in the scene,” explains Curtiz, “is the fellows who ride the horses- the boy cows.” “Oh” replies Shourds. “Yeah,” chuckles Mike. “Cowboys. I’m backed up again.” (11/24/38) 88b

    “You should show more Essex-appeal.” (6/16/39)

    When he says “Essex”, it comes out “Issacs.” (6/10/39)

    “You are a bum. But I know why you get such a big salary. Your profile is so disgustingly beautiful.” (12/27/39)

    and finally (with a date):

    “Errol, you worked hard. But it’s all right. You can’t get anything for nothing unless you pay for it.” (2/29/40)

     
 
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