There’s a wonderfully dark little tale in this week’s Radio Times, about the background to filming the classic noir movie Angel Face.
Apparently during one particular (somewhat notorious) scene, director Otto Preminger insisted that Robert Mitchum slap star Jean Simmons across the face over and over again, in the interests of ‘authenticity’ and getting the footage right.
Simmons was probably getting upset (I know I would) and the story goes that Mitchum snapped, turned round and whacked Preminger with exactly the same amount of force. The director promptly fled, and later tried to insist that Mitchum should be sacked. Luckily saner voices prevailed, Mitchum stayed, and the film is, of course, brilliant.
Even the experts at the Radio Times don’t know if the tale is apocryphal or not. But it makes a nice point about being prepared to take what you give out, as well as giving us some eye-opening behind-the-scenes details of the process of creating a classic movie.