No corrections yet
"COLOR ME DEAD": The film
By NAN MUSGROVE
. "Color Me Dead," the Goldsworthy Produc- tions film which, it is expected, will be a boost to the Australian movie industry, is one of the few films I have wtfched being made. On its budget of $SOOflOO it is an accomplishment and more than pleasantly surprised the experts.
MADE in Australia
with American stars
Tom Tryon, Rick Jason, and Carolyn Jones,
"Color Me Dead" is the
story of a man who
knows he has been
poisoned and has only 24
hours to live.
I must say I was very impressed with Tom Tryon. I don't know any woman of any age who wouldn't be.
He is a darkly handso'me man of 38. He stands 6ft. 3in. tall, his manners are good, he is worldly, easy to get on with. He is en- thusiastic, has no illusions about himself, and doesn't think acting is a God-given gift, but just a lot of hard work. Hard work is some- thing Tryon excels at.
Movie-making is a brou
TOM TRYON, the much praised handsome hero of "Color Me Dead."
haha that is wild confusion to an onlooker.
I thought TV production was one of the most wearying jobs on earth, but for Grade A exhaustion I give you film production. It starts from 7 a.m. and goes on well into the night.
I met Tom Tryon on the set in the Ajax film studios
at Bondi, N.S.W.
Outside it was a grey day with a cold wind. Inside it was a Sydney strip club, a "Smoke-filled" nightclub with
hundreds of extras at the
tables and two strippers
I didn't arrive till about
10 a.m. Everyone else had been there for hours, being made-up, dressed, and re- hearsing with the strippers, two blondes: one very thin and shapely, one very lushly plump.
It was a good day for the cigarette manufacturers. All the smoking extras had to puff hard and harder to get the required atmosphere.
While tl e strippers were rehearsing and revealing themselves (naked for the overseas version, wearing pasties for Australian audi- ences), I talked to Tryon in his dressing-room.
Tom Tryon is his real name. His surname, origi- nally Trion, is Norman French, although he claims only English, German, and Irish forebears, and is proud to be Conn xticut Swamp
As well as being an actor, he's a writer (busy on a book he won't talk about), a car- toonist, and a serious painter, an academic who likes doing landscapes and still-lifes.
He w as mad that he didn't I have time to paint here. Hfl I I heard about the quality 0[ [
Australian daylight, coulflj I
believe it till he saw it.
He thought the light in the late afternoon early evening was rather the light in Paris, "Uki
inside of a shell, nacre a, light you find in Par the autumn.
"Daylight here vibrat« is amazing."
I was worried a taking up so much of time, thought perhaps
should be out with the st pers, rehearsing.
"They'll come and
me," he said, "don't wor i
As he spoke, Tom grin in a reminiscent sort way, so I asked why.
He told me that letting them come and get him was something he lived by, something that had been dinned into him by famous actress Gertrude Lawrence, whose life story, played by Julie Andrews, is now being
shown in "Star!"
Gertrude Lawrence saved him from an actor's fate worse-than-death.
l'l was working as a sign painter at this summer theatre in Dennis, a Cape Cod town," he said. "Gert- rude Lawrence used to come to Dennis every summer.
"She had a place there
with her husband. She didn't act the big actress, was just one of the residents.
"One night when they were doing Shaw's 'Caesar and Cleopatra' they were short of a spear-ear-rier, a Roman centurion, and they talked me into it.
"I swear to you that I
had no intention of becom- ing an actor before that night. I never thought of myself as being that kind of
r that proves Australian knowhow
SCENE in which Jason, furious with his girlfriend (played by his new real-life wife, Patricia Connolly), slaps her face. He later knocks her down. Jason is cast as a big-time black-market operator in uranium.
\f "I swear to you this is
true, too, although it sounds s so corny - damned if after
li I'd carried the spear, and
was working at getting the i body make-up off, this ? Hollywood talent scout Û comes up to me and says
" he'd been in the audience, 1 I'd be good in movies, and
J how about signing up with 1 Howard Hughes and RKO? i "I said 'No' straight off, le and he said he'd come back
I some time later. Then the if acting thing snowballed, I 1 got bigger parts. By this time " I thought immodestly, in fact
I knew, that I had talent.
"I talked to Gertrude Law
l renee and she lent me her
i vocal coach. She was called
I Miss Brooks, and we used to ¿ go out on those Cape Cod
sandhills, and I used to make with the pear-shaped tones.
"Just when I thought I was right on top of it, and able to out-act anyone, the agent came back.
"What saved me was an impulse to talk to Gertrude about it.
"THEY'LL COME AND GET YOU"
"She listened to me and then she let me have -it.
'There's lots of money in it, ducks,' she said, 'but don't go to Hollywood. Go to New York, enrol yourself in a good acting school, and learn something about acting.
" 'When you've learned to act, they'll come and get you.'
"I took her advice and did
just that. It was bloody hard
work, and hungry work at
"I worked and waited. It was four years until they came and got me. But they did."
Tom has made some notable films. He's on the way up, fast.
The best known in Aus- tralia is the famous Otto Preminger film "The Cardi- nal." Tom loathed working for Preminger, known as "Prussian Preminger," who believes he gets the best work out of his actors when he keeps them rattled and on edge.
Ibm's performance as the Cardinal was outstanding.
He's a real professional,
Tom. He told me that he never could get used to wear
RICK JASON, in his bright pink shirt and jewellery, is a tar cry from helmeted Lieut. Hanley of "Combat." Note the wide, wide collar. Jason is rather "flash" in his dress.
TOM TRYON, the poisoned hero, with his secretary/girlfriend ( played by Carolyn Jones, Morticia of the "Addams Family") in a touching scene from
"Color Me Dead."
Pictures by Don Cameron, except that of . Rick Jason,
which is by Bill Payne.
R EC ON ST RUCTION (left) of the Pink Panther strip club for "Color Me Dead." One hundred extras, with cigarettes provided, pro- duced a smoke - filled atmosphere as two
"COLOR ME DEAD": The film
that proves Australian know-how
From page 9
ing a cassock, the long black gown worn by the clergy - couldn't get used to the feel of the material flapping
round his feet.
He felt he didn't move in
it as a prelate used to it would, so he bought himself one and wore it all the time at home.
Tom and I were deep in talk about "The Cardinal" when fiery-haired Warwick Freeman, assistant director of the movie, "came and got
"I told you they'd come," he said to me, grinning, and I tailed along to see him in
It was quite amazing. It was just a small scene. The script called for him to leave his seat at the nightclub table, move across to the bar and order a drink, speak to a girl at the bar, then move out of camera range.
Tom was the only one there who didn't look as if he were acting. He looked real. He was definitely showing the result of that four years' study at the New York
He never got tired, doing the scene over and over again as American director Eddie David rehearsed and rehearsed, till I thought I'd
It was quite a job. The strippers had to be at a certain stage of undress, the music had to be synchronised, the nightclub had to be smoke-filled to the right depth, the light had to be right before the cameras
I left about 3 p.m. The Australian pictures were in the bag, and they were about
to do the overseas version.
Eddie Davis had called for reinforcements of cigar- ettes, wanted heavier smoke clouds. There was more
smoking; people were drink- ing large quantities of black coffee; and I was tired.
Some people on the set were getting frayed at the edges, but not Tom. Nothing seemed to fray him.
The next time I saw him, a few days later, the other American star, Rick Jason,
There was a bit of Holly- wood about the atmosphere at Ajax that day, a certain tenseness in the air, a hint of temperament. There was only the one star-type dressing room, striped curtains, couch, big mirrors, and a fan as well as a radiator. Jason was in possession.
Tom arrived, and he had to sit in a canvas chair with the mob on the edge of the set while somewhere was found for him. He under- stood and he didn't care.
Jason would have per- formed properly about such a situation. As it was he was inclined to think the dressing room wasn't grand enough,
He was a very different type from Tryon.
Jason was suave, smooth, with a new wife on his arm, and completely unrecognis- able as the TV serial '"Com- bat" character Lieut. Hanley.
I wished he'd worn his Combat helmet and stubble instead of the bright, shocking-pink shirt with the collar so wide it was up under his ears, though the points came well down on
The other thing that sur- prised me was that he was so like Don Lane, all 6ft. 4in. of him. He's got something about him, the same kind of slickness, although he is 44 and gives Don a good ten
Jason, too, is a competent actor, and did a professional job. but he is what I'd call
a flash man. He was rather
put out when I said that, reading the cuttings about him, I had noticed he'd always been a "poor little rich boy."
He said with some choler that he had never thought of himself as a Mike Todd, but no one could ever say he'd been poor.
I explained that "a poor little rich boy" was merely an ironic description of someone who had been raised without the character building properties of having insufficient money, but he still went on. "Poor" is evidently a dirty word to Jason.
Jason was born into a rich family, and early in the piece his dad set him up with a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, but Jason wouldn't play.
He left home to battle for himself and worked as a
barkeep, a liquor salesman, sold magazine subscriptions, cooked hamburgers, washed dishes, waited on table - all to learn the value of a dollar.
He learned it, he said, so he went on to spend it. He has always had money in some quantity and "for me, money is something to spend."
He has simple taste - simply likes the best of every- thing. He has married four
Jason reckons following his first three, Aria, Uta, and Shirley, his present wife, Patricia Connolly, whom he married in a Shinto ceremony in Japan shortly before he came to Australia, is the one he'll stay with.
Jason told me they had the Shinto ceremony because, although it was his fourth marriage, he wanted it to have meaning and ceremony,
as he felt it was his most
"No marriage ceremony I
can remember had such a
touching effect on me," he said. "It was a very beauti- ful ceremony in its simplicity.
"Now here I am in Aus- tralia for 'Color Me Dead.'
My wife has a part, too.
"In the scene you are going to watch I am being paid to beat up my wife. What a honeymoon job!"
Jason had contracted to do every scene he was engaged in in the movie in one day, for a fee of $3000, he said. The contract stated that even
if he raised a finger in front of the camera the next day, he had to be paid another full day's pay.
Everything was geared to get Jason through his part in that day, and Jason co- operated.
He played scenes over and over, he knocked down his beautiful wife, who was wear- ing a striking dress-a black and-white mini over long, skinny, black pants.
She told me it was
specially designed for res-
taurants and clubs in America where pants weren't allowed. If it were necessary, you took the pants off in the Ladies' and you were acceptable, dressed in a mini-skirt.
It was eye-opening to see the Americans at work. They left our boys for dead with their ease and their compe- tence. They make everything look as if it's really happen- ing, not being acted.
Time and time again Jason would walk over to the telephone, talk, pick up a cigar, light it, put it down, argue with his wife, and knock her down with a zap
Cameras would grind,
Eddie Davis would have
something to say or suggest, and, if necessary, Jason would come up to scratch again, and run through the scene without a complaint.
I thought he might have bunged on some Hollywood star temperament, but he didn't. He was entirely tract- able, charming, co-operative.
I think the only trouble Jason has is that he really is
For instance, once he had three wives in 12 months, and loves to tell you about it
And when I talked to his new wife and asked her
about the Shinto ceremony, which seemed rather strange to me, she told me the real
"Rick was making a film in Japan," she said. "We wanted to get married there and go off travelling to- gether. I wanted a religious ceremony - it's my first marriage-but we are both Jews, and one thing the Japanese are short of is Jewish rabbis.
"We compromised with a civil ceremony, and a Shinto one following it. We
both wore traditional Shinto dress, kimonos, and white make-up, and so on, and later, as Jason said, the Jap- anese 'gifted' us with the
kimonos we were married in."
Mrs. Jason is a very pretty girl, with stars in her eyes; and a competence about her
acting, too, small though ^
She was emoting rout. with Tony ("Hunter" Ward, who took over hon Don Lane when shooting schedules made it impostibl for him to take thc role.
Tony plays the dastardl
type who actually gave th, poison to Tom Tryon.
Jason was a villain, too but not a murdering 0"f He was a big-time operator in black-market uranium.
Patricia played his g^. friend, who was a ru0. timing, good-time gj,^ partial to Tony as well ls
My final hassle witt "Color Me Dead" was or board the huge Lloyd Triestino liner Galileo a; Circular Quay, Sydney.
Tom Tryon and Tom Ward were doing one of th( final scenes in which Tryon chases Ward up and dowe and all round the ship finally cornering him in the engine-room.
I was only told about this because, as well as the cast, the cameramen, the movie- making crew, the directors, and prop men, there was me, staff photographer Doj Cameron, and, at a conser vative estimate, about 100( Italians chasing them to set the film stars and get their autographs.
It was a hot night, and even the luxurious ship wit! its air-conditioning am Neapolitan music seem«
unequal to the situation. I
Headquarters for "Colo!
Me Dead" seemed to be ? passageway between tU lounges, where all the timi some member of the cai
was resting, getting fresh! or a renewed make-up. Ii was certainly where every- one wanted to be.
Whenever the chan ceased for some reason a
other, all the passengers! well as the stars converged on the passageway. .9
I saw many strange sights. Tom Tryon buyini lemon squash for a mob ol kids, autographing boola and menus furiously; Rici Jason, very conscious of hi long, lean look in a dinned jacket and ruffled shirt, on to make a TV appearance Tony Ward, mashing Pat-" ricia Connolly on cue for the cameras, in a secluded
I saw Tony later fighting with Tryon. He's a good man in a fight.
One thing that horrified
me was an Italian woman trying out her fountain pen before she got an autograph by scribbling with it all over one of the Galileo's murals
Carolyn Jones was decorative and charming as Tom's secretary - girlfriend, desperate over the whole
Just as she had finished
her role and was relaxing,
ready to be interviewed and see a bit of the country, she was called back urgently on other commitments 1,1 America.
She is an amazing woman, as anyone who has seen TV's "Addams Family
knows. Pretty as a picture, too, as you'll see in "Color