Two Fox films have been released on Blu-ray disc for the first time. The first, Zorba The Greek, the Academy Award winning film starring Anthony Quinn from Fox Home Entertainment and second, The Wayward Bus. The two films have significance in that Zorba was an Academy Award winner and The Wayward Bus was from the novel written by famous author John Steinbeck (This BD is a limited edition of 3,000 copies from Twilight Time available through Screen Archives Entertainment and here on the site through the Amazon Marketplace). Here is some background information and graphics on these two classics from the Fox vaults.
ZORBA THE GREEK
The film version of a famous novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, "Zorba The Greek" was produced and directed by Michael Cacoyannis from his screenplay and filmed on location on the island of Crete, the actual setting of the novel. Zorba The Greek is about a young British writer, played by Alan Bates, who journeys to the island of Crete to take charge of a lignite mine bequeathed him by his Greek father. In the course of his traveling through Greece he teams up with Zorba, a grizzled old Greek ruffian with a keen sense of adventure and romance The film recounts the escapades of the ribald Zorba and his youthful, intellectual companion and employer as they try to revitalize the lignite mine.
Zorba The Greek was photographed by Walter Lassaly, who is famous for his work in "Tom Jones," "A Taste of Honey," "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner," and "Electra." Michael Cacoyannis is the most renowned of all Greek directors and has been acclaimed for his stage and screen productions which have been presented all over the world. Prior to filming "Zorba The Greek," Cacoyannis directed Euripides' "The Trojan Women" at the Festival of two worlds at Spoleto, and then re-staged this classic in New York where it had a long run at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
Poster from Poland
Anthony Quinn felt right at home in Greece where he starred with Alan Bates and Irene Papas in Zorba The Greek. Another of his great successes, "The Guns of Navarone" was filmed there and he has been made an honorary citizen of the island of Rhodes. Quinn owns 600 acres on Rhodes, where he planned to build a philosophic center. In Zorba The Greek Quinn plays Alexis Zorba, a 65-year-old giant with the zestful appetites of a 20-year-old and the wisdom of a man whose eyes have witnessed a world of pain and suffering. His exuberant spirit remains untouched and infects all with whom he comes in contact. Said Quinn, "I've wanted to play Zorba from the moment I finished reading the novel on which it is based. 'Zorba The Greek' is a great book by Nikos Kanzantzakis and the title character seems to dance right off the pages, he is so bursting with life. Kazantzakis is Greece's greatest author and I can't understand why he never won a Nobel Prize."
Anthony Quinn with Director Michael Cacoyannis
Quinn had been one of the worlds busiest actors since "Navarone." From Greece he traveled to Jordan to play an Arab chieftain in "Lawrence of Arabia," went to France for Fred Zinneman's production, "Behold a Pale Horse" with Gregory Peck, journeyed to Rome for "The Visit" with Ingrid Bergman, and then to Yugoslavia to play Kublai Khan in "Marco Polo." One day after he completed that last role he took a train (he hated to fly because of claustrophobia) to Athens to begin "Zorba The Greek." "People always ask how I can go from one characterization to another without a day's rest in between. But I played a lot of repertory which trains an actor to switch easily from one role to another," Quinn said. He also believed in thorough preparations for each part. For "Zorba," Quinn traveled through small Cretan villages, sitting in cafes and observing people, joining in Greek dances and celebrations. This kind of perfectionism had made him perfect for the role.
Quinn's most successful role was in Federico Fellini's "La Strada," which won awards. After "La Strada," he starred with Kirk Douglas in "Lust for Life" and won a second Academy Award for his portrayal of painter Paul Gauguin. His first Academy Award was for his performance in "Viva Zapata" with Marlon Brando. Asked during filming if there is a role he still wanted to play, Quinn answered: "Yes — Don Quixote. I hope to do a play, 'Don Quixote in England' by Henry Fielding, on the stage in London next fall, and film it afterwards." Anthony Quinn's philosophy toward his work was summed up in his acceptance speech for the 1956 Academy Award: "Acting has never been a matter of competition to me. I am only competing with myself."
Anthony Quinn had a broken foot during filming, and thus couldn't perform the dance on the beach as scripted, which called for much leaping around. Instead, he did a slow shuffle. Director Mihalis Kakogiannis asked Anthony Quinn what the dance was, and Anthony Quinn made up a name and claimed it was traditional.
Young Greek actor George Voyadjis was too shy to walk into the Athens production office of Zorba The Greek. As he was waiting outside on the stairs, a man came walking by, paused to ask the lad his business, and ushered him inside. He summoned other people in the office to look at Voyadjis, while the young man grew increasingly nervous. "Why are you looking at me like that?" Voyadjis finally summoned courage to ask. "Read something for me," countered the man, handing Voyadjis a small scene. In the middle of the reading the man shouted suddenly, "STOP!" and young George jumped. "That's it! That's the nervous quality I'm looking for," said the man and then introduced himself as Michael Cacoyannis, director and producer of "Zorba The Greek." Within ten days George Voyadjis found himself in Chania, Crete, on location with Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas and Alan Bates. He was cast in the role of Pavlo, a young man in love with a beautiful but withdrawn widow (Irene Papas). Pavlo meets strong competition from Basil (Alan Bates), a British writer of Greek parentage who comes to Crete to claim his inheritance.
Director Michael Cacoyannis cast Alan Bates in the role of Basil, the shy, intellectual British writer who befriends and employs Alexis Zorba, and then embarks on a series of adventures with him on the island of Crete, where the motion picture was filmed on location. Alan Bates was ranked with Albert Finney, Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris and Tom Courtenay as Britain's top "New Wave" actors. He arrived in Crete to assume his "Zorba" role with rave notices still ringing in his ears for his performance in his previous starring film, "Nothing But The Best." The 5' 11", 160-pound actor hardly had an idle day in his profession since he graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London at the age of 21.
He then joined a repertory group, the Midland Theatre Company, and played a variety of roles in productions that were staged in four different cities. He then went to London where he slowly built his reputation in such plays as "Look Back in Anger," "The Country Wife," "Long Day's Jorney into Night," and "The Caretaker." His first film role was opposite Laurence Olivier in "The Entertainer," and followed this with "Whistle Down the Wind," "A Kind of Loving" and "The Running Man," which marked his debut in an American movie.
Original Danish program
For his role in "Zorba The Greek," Bates had to learn the folk dances of Crete. His dance teacher told Cacoyannis, "He picks it up so fast, I think I can turn him into an authentic citizen of Crete within one week." Of the character he plays in "Zorba," Bates later said: "This is someone I understood. I was once as shy and inhibited as Basil. I think that's why I turned to acting, which is, after all, the relationships between people, understanding a character well and making a comment on the world through him." Born February 17, 1934 , in Derbyshire, England, Bates was the oldest of three boys born to a cellist father and pianist mother. His family set him to studying piano also, but he rebelled. "One day I up and said I wanted to be an actor," he explained. "My family had their doubts about show business as a means of livelihood and made me promise to change work if I wasn't able to earn a living at it by my 26th birthday." Fortunately, his drive and native talent found him firmly established in both theatre and films by that date and his career continued to rise ever since.
The director on the set
Irene Papas, the famous Greek actress was reunited with producer-director Michael Cacoyannis in "Zorba The Greek. Her first collaboration with Cacoyannis, "Electra," brought her the "Best Actress" award at the 1962 Salonika Film Festival, worldwide acclaim and a deskful of offers to do other films.
"Zorba The Greek" also marked her third motion picture with Anthony Quinn, who plays the title role of Alexis Zorba. She has previously appeared with Quinn in "Atilla the Hun," and "The Guns of Navarone." Miss Papas was pleased to be offered the role of the mysterious widow in the screen drama. "It' was a wonderful role," she said, "because so much had to be conveyed in silence, rather than through dialogue, and that's always a great challenge to an actress."
The role was a rigorous one as well, calling for Irene to trudge through downpours of rain and to face stoning from the angry villagers in the story. "Zorba" was filmed on location on the island of Crete, and this fit in with the actress's concept of herself. "I'm not an international actress; I am national," she explained. "I wanted to work in Greece as much as possible, to create something exciting and worthwhile here in films and in the theatre. I had no personal ambitions, I didn't desire wealth, furs, jewelry, but I wanted to experiment, to grow and develop as an actress, and to give Greece something exciting and new. An actress has to be a social phenomenon."
Born to parents who were both teachers in a small village near Corinth, Irene Papas says she decided to become an actress out of jealousy. "I was a gangly, strange-looking girl," she said, "and had to watch other girls in school being pursued by boys for dates, while no one turned to look at me. One day a girl came to my house and began reciting a scene which required tears. I looked at her and hated her, out of jealousy. I decided to show her that you don't cry so easily. I was 12 at the time and enrolled in a dramatic school, even though my parents tried to discourage me." Irene's first job was singing and dancing in a variety show. From this she went on to stage and movie roles, until she finally gained the fame and recognition. She disdains any talk of hobbies. She said, "I believe an actress, if she wants to play well, doesn't have time for anything else but preparation for her roles, reading, studying and observing."
"Living Paintings" is the term one onlooker used to describe the "Extras"in Zorba The Greek.
Personally chosen by Producer-Director Michael Cacoyannis, these people were citizens of Crete, where "Zorba" was filmed. Strong of face and character, they were recruited from the waterfront cafes of Chania, from fishing vessels, outdoor markets and restaurant kitchens. Many were found along the Cretan countryside, where they were tending sheep or tilling the soil. Although extras seldom spoke lines of dialogue, they were required to act and react in scenes. In one scene, they taunt Irene Papas in a cafe scene by laughing and making cat-calls. In another they disembark from a boat on which Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates were also passengers. These extras are woven throughout the whole fabric of "Zorba The Greek," Cacoyannis had a sharp eye for the unusual face, the colorful costume. He found in Crete dozens of handsome, striking faces, each looking as if it stepped out of a portrait frame.
The music score of Zorba the Greek became widely popular and its theme is always recognized.
Some times it was a costume, like the Turkish-influenced pantaloons and decorations that bearded men of Chania still wore in the 1960's. Or the soft folds of a native head-dress that add majesty and grace to a woman bent over an open pot. Soon these dignified Cretans found themselves playing scenes with Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates and Irene Papas. "The Cretans, like the Italians, are natural actors," said Cacoyannis. "You don't have to explain at length what you want from them. Besides, the story of Alexis Zorba is a legend they know very well in Crete. The author of the novel, Nikos Kazantzakis, was a native son of this island, and the people are familiar with the characters of the book, many of whom are based on real people." And when Cacoyannis and his film company departed, the Cretan citizens no doubt went back to being busy themselves for years with stories about how they were in the movies.
Zorba the Greek was filmed completely in Crete, Greece. The picture was filmed in 1.85:1 aspect with a mono soundtrack in 35mm. The Los Angeles premiere took place on December 17, 1964, the same date as the New York premiere.
Original release poster style B
Reviews following the premieres were a director's and studio's dream. The New York Times wrote that, "If ever the abundance of life force in man has been poured forth on the screen — and, goodness knows, many efforts to do so have been made over the years—it is done in the brilliant performance given by Anthony Quinn in the title role of the film that Michael Cacoyannis has made from Nikos Kazantzakis's classic novel, "Zorba, the Greek." But out of the whole accumulation of colorfulness and vitality towers the singular, monumental portrait of Zorba, as evolved by Mr. Quinn. And it's this unforgettable portrait that justifies the film.Incidentally, the principal dialogue is in English—and very rich and racy it is!" Variety Magazine called it "Superb film-making." The Chicago Tribune said, "One of the most delightful films to come out in some time, and Quinn gives his best performance yet."
20th Century Fox trade advertisement
When award time came around, the film was nominated for seven Oscars. It was for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lila Kedrova), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (Walter Lassally) and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White (Vassilis Photopoulos). Anthony Quinn would not take the Best Actor award, losing to Rex Harrison. It won the David di Donatello Award (Golden Plate,Mihalis Kakogiannis), received fivew Golden Globe nominations, a Grammy nomination for best original score (the Zorba theme has become a popular hit of music themes from film), but Quinn did win the Best Actor Award from the National Board of Review.
Zorba was turned into a Broadway musical which opened at the Imperial Theatre on November 16, 1968 and starred Herschel Bernardi (who received a Tony nomination). The score is available on CD and is an outstanding selection of musical numbers written by Kander and Ebb. Anthony Quinn would open in his own version in October 1983, but that version did not gain prominence with the Broadway community and the public, though there is an available recording of that score as well, the better of the two being the 1968 edition. The film has been released in a restored version for Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Fox 75th Anniversary poster with Zorba the Greek
THE WAYWARD BUS
John Steinbeck's novel, "The Wayward Bus," which Twentieth Century-Fox transformed into a drama in CinemaScope, has been released by independent label Twilight Time on Blu-ray disc. In the star roles are Joan Collins, Jayne Mansfield, Dan Dailey and Rick Jason, a personable young actor who achieved his first star billing. The picture also introduced Dolores Michaels from Kansas City, the first graduate of the company's talent school to make her screen debut. A strange group of people take the ride on the beat-up, broken-down bus on which most of the story takes place. Miss Mansfield plays the role of a bubble dancer traveling incognito to fulfill a playdate and Dan Dailey is the brash salesman of cheap novelties, who romances her. Jason is the bus driver, who is so tired of his wife's tantrums that he falls ready prey to the first girl who comes along. Miss Michaels is the girl who woos him in a convenient hayloft when the bus breaks down. Larry Keating and Kathryn Givney are her disturbed and disapproving parents.
John Steinbeck, Author
John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, and was of German/Irish ancestry. His mother was a schoolteacher who encouraged his love of reading. After youthful employment as a hired hand at local ranches, he enrolled at Stanford University. He always worked alongside studying, and, after erratic attendance left to become a freelance writer in New York in 1925. He tried for a few years to establish himself, but failed and returned to California in 1928 and took up work as a tour guide and caretaker at a fish hatchery and there he met his first wife Carol Henning. They wed in January 1930 and during the great depression they lived in a cottage owned by Steinbeck's father. His family gave him free housing, free paper and from 1928 loans that enabled him to give up a warehouse job in San Francisco and focus on his writing.
His first novels – 'Cup of Gold', 'The Pastures of Heaven' and 'To a God Unknown' – were not well received. His first real success came with 'Tortilla Flat', in 1935. A humorous sketch of Monterey Paisanos life, it won the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal, for best novel. As his career progressed, his work grew more serious and powerful in its social criticism. In 'Dubious Battle', the stories of 'The Long Valley' and especially 'Of Mice and Men'(1937), he carved out a distinctive moral and social voice. In 1939 he wrote 'The Grapes of Wrath', which many consider his masterpiece. The story of Tom Joad became legendary, and won him the Pulitzer Prize. The Wayward Bus was written in 1947. His later works included 'East of Eden' (1952), 'The Winter of Our Discontent' (1961) and the sociological travelogues of 'Travels with Charley' (1962), the product of an extensive three-month truck tour through forty American states. Elia Kazan worked with Steinbeck on the author's last written work, the screenplay for the 1975 film 'Viva Zapata!' Bruce Springsteen, who is also known for his leftist politics, wrote a song called 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' after the main character in 'The Grapes of Wrath' in homage to Steinbeck. Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, and died in New York City on 20 December 1968 from heart disease.
Miss Colins plays the important role of the hysterical bibulous wife of the bus driver and other important players in the picture are Betty Lou Keim, as a movie-struck teenager, who is fleeing her job as a counter girl in the roadside cafe; Dee Pollock, as an earnest, girl-struck young man, and Will Wright, a superannuated grouch enroute to claim himself a bride. The working out of the Freudian problems which beset this bus load of characters furnishes the drama and suspense is added by a near-hurricane, a rock slide and a washed out bridge which imperils the bus and its passengers throughout its 60 mile trip between Rebel Corners and San Juan in rural California. Producer Charles Brackett, who produced "The King and I" and Director Victor Vicas chose the remote hamlet of Las Virgenes, just beyond Agoura in the San Fernando Valley, as the locale for the picture. The California Sierra mountains also furnish a rugged backdrop for the dramatic action of the picture. The weather-beaten barn, the setting for the hayloft love scene, was a prize relic at the Twentieth Century-Fox studio. In 1932 it housed Will Rogers and a brood sow for the first filming of "State Fair." "The Wayward Bus" was adapted for the screen by Ivan Moffatt and Charles G. Clarke, ASC, handled the CinemaScope nampras.
At a wayside lunchroom and service station, Johnny Chicoy (Rick Jason) is working on his bus, which makes the 60-mile run from Rebel Corners to San Juan in California. His wife, Alice (Joan Collins), who runs the lunchroom, is on her way to an angry day and Johnny knows it. She snaps at "Pimples" Carson (Dee Pollock), Johnny's young employee, and shouts at Norma (Betty Lou Keim), her counter girl. Alice measures out a slug of whiskey and gets maudlin as the Grey Fox bus pulls in with a load of tired passengers. They are Elliott Pritchard (Larry Keating), his wife Bernice (Kathryn Givney) and their comely daughter, Mildred (Dolores Michaels), a traveling salesman, Ernest Horton (Dan Dailey) and Camille Oaks (Jayne Mansfield). Radio reports are that the highway to San Juan is in a dangerous condition from the storm. The rain turns to a real cloudburst. A roadside sign warns of a slide area and falling rocks. Johnny announces a comfort stop at Breed's General Store, but Van Brunt (Will Wright), a man in a hurry, demands to keep going. At the general store, the passengers discuss what to do. This sets up the drama for the rest of the film.
Original advertising copy for newspapers
From candy counter girl in a Los Angeles neighborhood movie theater to stardom on Broadway and in Hollywood had been the breathtaking ascent Jayne Mansfield accomplished in a little less than three years. Her provocative role of a down-and-out bubble dancer in The Wayward Bus was her second starring role for Twentieth Century-Fox and she would then start on her third, "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" the role which brought her fame on Broadway. In the screen version of John Steinbeck's novel Jayne does all her live acting in the picture in a decorous traveling costume, but Director Victor Vicas found a way to give generous glimpses of her famous figure. A scandal magazine plays an important part in the story and in it Miss Mansfield is depicted doing a bubble dance at a stag show. She is as scantily clad in these photos as the law will allow. For one who has been the photographer's favorite for cheesecake pictures posing in everything from a leopard skin to a mother hubbard, in publications ranging from "The Princeton Tiger" to the "Daily Racing Form," the layout in the magazine was the "hottest" photo sitting ever posed for by Jayne.
During the filming of The Wayward Bus, Miss Mansfield contributed her services to help public authorities break the traffic stranglehold on Los Angeles and other leading cities of the nation. To plug the cause for "perimeter parking," whereby motorists park their cars in the outskirts and ride busses into the center of the city, Miss Mansfield took a day off and rode a bus from the Hollywood Bowl to downtown Los Angeles. Needless to say that, with the resultant publicity, she had little trouble in getting a following of male passengers. It was truly a busman's holiday for her since she spent almost three weeks doing scenes in a dilapidated bus, which was the center for most of the drama in the film's story. But her bus rides, according to Mansfield herself, gave her a perspective on those who regularly use bus for travel and was able to use that experience in her role.
Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield's menagerie has grown so that the blonde star was worrying about having to take out a zoo license During the filming of The Wayward Bus to suggest a name for it. Here was the way Jayne's pet farm shaped up: one Great Dane dog. Lord Byron; one toy poodle, Migonala; one toy Scot-tie, Marooney; two Chihuahuas (married), Philip and Charlsa; one Siamese cat, Sable; one orange Persian cat, Butterscotch; one tortoise-shell Persian, Roses; two parakeets, Lox and Bagle. Next on Jayne's intended list were one English bulldog and one spider monkey, the latter only if guaranteed housebroken.
Joan Collins scored a couple of "firsts" in her screen career in the picture. She took her first ride in a helicopter for a scene in the picture, and for another, she took a tub bath in full view of the audience. Unlike Anna Held, however, she bathed in water and soap bubbles and not milk. She spurned a double for the helicopter ride, thus enabling Director Victor Vicas to make a direct recording of her dialogue as the whirlybird hovers low over a stalled bus. As the tempestuous, stay-at-home wife of Rick Jason, the bus driver, Joan proved that she could play a straight American role without a trace of an English accent. Born in London and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she came to Hollywood a few years prior with a tell-tale accent.
Joan Collins on the set
However, after five films, including Darryl F. Zanuck's "Island in the Sun," which she completed before going into "The Wayward Bus" cast, she had become completely de-Anglicized in her speech. But Joan confided that she would continue to stick stubbornly to her contract which permitted her to make one picture a year in England, where she would resume her English pronunciation. "After all," she said, proudly on the set, "I am British, you know." Her British-made picture for that year was "Sea Wife," produced by Andre Hakim with Richard Burton, Basil Sidney and Cy Grant, and had yet to be released in this country. Although Miss Collinswas one of the most glamorous of the imported stars in Hollywood, sporting a 38-23-37 figure, she wore an old blouse and jumper for "The Wayward Bus." She said she was happy to be dressed this way to "show off her acting talents."
After some 75 picture roles, Dan Dailey, who co-stars in The Wayward Bus, was excited on the set to get a chance to fulfill his burning desire to play a cowboy role. He confided to his friends at Twentieth Century-Fox during filming that Producer William Hawks had lent him the screenplay of "The Actor," with Dan in mind for the title role. It is described as a has-been Western star who becomes a stunt man to make a living. Dan considered himself aptly suited for the part since he is the owner and rider of seven saddle horses and is Master of the Fox Hounds of the West Hills Club. In The Wayward Bus Dailey plays a straight role, that of a brash traveling salesman, who goes on the make for Jayne Mansfield, a fellow passenger on the bus. During most of his career Dailey had been a song-and-dance-man on the screen and his chance to vary the pattern was most acceptable to him. Dailey was so happy with his role that he brought along his own hat to wear and thereby gave the wardrobe department the willies. Every piece of wearing apparel the stars wear in a picture has a duplicate to prevent delay if something should happen to it. Dan's nondescript brown hat with a pork-pie crown and turn-down brim was a Christmas gift from his friend, John Ford, and came from a San Francisco shop, which couldn't supply another like it. Fortunately nothing happened to Dan's hat during the rough-and-tumble bus ride the players have to take.
Rick Jason, then a tall, dark and handsome young actor, came to stardom in his own right in the key role of the bus driver in The Wayward Bus. He had been five years reaching his goal and during that time he became Hollywood's third most popular actor personality, based on a report of the International Fan Club League. Only two other actors, Gene Autry and Rock Hudson, received more fan mail. Jason won the World Theatre Actor Award for his first Broadway appearance in "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep." This alone would have launched him into a top movie career with a fat salary, but Fate had other plans. He couldn't accept any of the contracts offered him by four major studios, because he'd already signed to play a small role in "Sombrero" before the play opened. When the Broadway play closed, Rick went to Hollywood. He spent one year there after his initial picture but never got another role. He learned the do-it-yourself manual from cover to cover during his idle time. And he was one of the ablest handymen in the country when he went back to New York to crack the hard surface of show business forgetfulness.
Rick Jason and Joan Collins publicity still
By the time MGM beckoned Rick for the lead opposite Cyd Charisse in "The Saracen Blade," he'd learned some lessons in handling a career. The big one was never sign a contract unless you're sure of your footing. So, on a free-lance basis, he made two more films, "This Is My Love," and a feature role in "The Lieutenant Wore Skirts" for Twentieth Century-Fox. In between these assignments Rick appeared in just about every big TV show on the channels. When he ultimately signed a long-term contract with Twentieth, he felt he had his foot in the right door. Pick's Bohemian temperament invited him to many artistic outlets, so it's not surprising that he played the guitar and sang, wrote comedy verse, spoke Spanish, French, Italian and some Chinese, and played such a sharp game of chess that many experts considered him tournament material.
Pre-premiere teaser ads
In his early days in New York which is, incidentally, his home town, he had to buck family opposition in his choice of an acting career. His parents had planned a Wall Street future for him and educated him in that direction. But when he was discharged from the Air Force after service, he used his G. I. Bill of Rights benefits to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. There he found his true vocation. He refused to go into the business world and worked at such jobs as riding instructor, soda jerk, hotel clerk and bartender to get money to live on. One night Hume Cronyn stopped him in the audience of a theater and asked him to try out for a difficult role in "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep," which started him toward stardom. During the lean years he married Aria Allen, an actress-writer. They have spent most of their professional fives commuting between Hollywood and New York but when Rick went under contract at Twentieth Century-Fox, they built a California home. Since Rick was apt at carpentry, plumbing, upholstering, electronics, leather-craft, photography and even cooking, all things he mastered from the do-it-yourself manual during that idle year, he figured he could pretty well build a house with his own hands. And that he did.
Commenting on the set about his role in The Wayward Bus, Rick was thrilled to play Johnny Chicoy. "The role had spark in it, and I was very happy Fox put me on-board. Being cast as one of the main roles was a thrill for me, and my interaction on-screen with the other players was an incredible experience. So far, this is my favorite role. Luckily our director has allowed me to put a little of my personal self into it."
Stars Young and Old
Quietly and without any fanfare, the motion picture industry took care of its own, the once-famous film personalities to whom continued employment in movie-making spelled the difference between easy living and possible privation. Evidence of this was found in the large "atmosphere" call for extras and bit players for The Wayward Bus. Employed in scenes with them in the important bus depot crowd-shots were Ann Luther, a Fox Films (the predecessor company) top star of decades ago; Myna Cunard, a star of Western films at the old Universal; Minta Durfee Arbuckle, actress-widow of the late great comedian Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle; and famous stunt men George Bruggman, Irving Richardson, Duke Richardson, Duke Greene and Charlie Phillips, some of whom were recuperating from accidents sustained in movie-making, and grateful for less perilous interim employment.
Four decades of movie-making were spanned in Hollywood as two previously unacquainted actresses worked shoulder to shoulder in a single scene. One was Dolores Michaels, playing her first featured screen role, as a principal of The Wayward Bus and the other was Ann Luther, a contract star of the 1916-17 era, for the old Fox Films Company, predecessor of the present company, who returned to the company employ for a small role in this picture. Miss Michaels came to pictures since the first of the year, via a role in a Broadway musical and numerous TV leads. Miss Luther was the widow of the notable show business figure Ed Gallagher, of the famous comedy team of Gallagher and Shean. She retired from pictures in 1923, but had resumed her work before the cameras for Fox. It added up to 40 years since the film debut of the one trouper and only a scant four weeks for the other.
Betty Lou Keim
Betty Lou Keim emerged from compulsory school age with her first grown-up role in The Wayward Bus. During the filming of the picture, Betty Lou became 19 and said goodbye to her studio teacher. She would be remembered for her important role in "Teenage Rebel" and her performance in its stage counterpart, "A Roomful of Roses" on Broadway. In The Wayward Bus Betty Lou plays the role of a waitress in a roadside cafe, who has stars in her eyes for Hollywood. Finding things pretty tough, she appeals to Dan Dailey, to use his influence in Hollywood so she can become a star. On the set she was quoted as saying, "Production on films is amazing. This isn't what I expected. For one scene we did 24 takes, and wow, one tends to get worn out during that process. But I have tremendous pride working for a studio like 20th Century Fox and being cast in a drama like this. And honestly, my role was not that difficult for me because I had taken the journey, in part, that my character wants to take. We had something in common. I was also thrilled to be in a Cinemascope picture, I had seen some while in New York, was at the premiere for The Robe which was an incredible experience, and was thrilled with the wide screen and the sound from all about the theater. I think all films fill end up being made this way, it would be foolish not to."
Dolores Michaels, an actress from Kansas City, believed in Missouri's "show me" slogan. It won for her a long-term contract with Twentieth Century-Fox and a featured role in The Wayward Bus. "I'd heard that once an agent takes you on the rounds of all the casting directors in Hollywood, you're through for about a year if nothing happens," she explained. "I felt merely seeing and talking with me was relatively unimportant. I wanted to show what I could deliver on the screen. And the only place I felt I might get a test, as an unknown, was with Ben Bard, who is in charge of Twentieth Century-Fox' new talent school. I prepared the swing scene from 'Baby Doll' and ran into my only difficulty when they tried to talk me out of doing Tennessee Williams. I insisted it provided me with the best showcase, so they allowed me to go through with it."
The result was that Miss Michaels was the first graduate of the company's million-dollar training program to win a contract at the studio. Proof that Dolores had what it would take lay in the fact that immediately after her work in The Wayward Bus, she was borrowed by Richard Widmark to play a lead in his first independent production, "Time Limit." Miss Michaels, the daughter of a retired Chicago Cubs ball player had studied dancing since she was 5 and joined the "Brigadoon" company as a dancer when her older sister, Gloria, came through her hometown with the national company. Dolores, who was 16, traveled one year with "Brigadoon," then returned home to attend Kansas University at Lawrence where she was a Kappa Kappa Gamma.
In New York she studied both ballet and drama, worked in stock and on the straw hat circuits. Steady experience in TV, where she appeared with such shows as "Studio One," "Suspense," "Schlitz Playhouse," The Jimmy Durante Show, and almost continuously with the Victor Borge Show, preceded her arrival in Hollywood. There she worked as fashion and photographic model and studied at the Actors and Directors Workshop. At the time she was married to Maurice Martine, consultant in interior decoration and they built a home at Laguna Beach. In The Wayward Bus, Miss Michaels' role is comparable in importance to that of the players in the picture who get star billing. Her portrayal of the love-hungry girl, who lures bus driver Rick Jason into a hayloft love scene, stamped her as one of the most promising newcomers in Hollywood. Jayne Mansfield became good friends with Michaels on the set and the two would spend much time together off the set.
From the set
The weather-beaten barn on the Twentieth Century-Fox back-lot, which was erected in 1932 so that Will Rogers and a brood sow might play scenes in it for the first filming of "State Fair," had, after a quarter-century, finally housed a scene of tender romance. It was the setting for the big love scene in The Wayward Bus, in which Dolores Michaels and Rick Jason fall into each other's arms in the hayloft. Most of the film was done on the Fox lot through small communities in the surrounding Los Angeles area were also used. The film took 63 days to film.
Jayne had some ill luck, too, during her performance in the picture. While playing a sylvan love scene with Dan Dailey, she came in contact with poison oak. By an ironic twist, their dialogue as they made love behind a tree foretold the ailment at the same time that their action brought it about. Dailey broke a blossom off a bush, shook the rain from it and handed it to Jayne with this comment: "These big-time florists never take the trouble to dry off their flowers. Hope these aren't poison ivy or something." To which she replied: "They're wild lilacs." She was wrong as the resultant rash that broke out all over her face and body proved. Director Vicas had to rearrange his schedule to shoot around Miss Mansfield for three days while she was recovering.
Trade ad from Boxoffice Magazine May 18, 1957
The Wayward Bus was released on May 27, 1957. It was filmed in Black and White and 4-track stereo Cinemascope (2.35:1). It was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear at the 1957 Berlin International Film Festival. On the DVD, "Hollywood Screen Tests: Take 2 you can see some of the screen tests from the film. It is now available for the first time on Blu-ray in a limited edition from the Twilight Time label.
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