Rich and Famous: The Making of George Cukor's Very Last Film–Part Seven

Series of Nine Articles

Part Seven: Cukor's Most Sexual Film


The sexuality in “Rich and Famous” was much more explicit than it was in the 1943 film or, for that matter, in any previous Cukor film.  There were two embarrassing scenes in the picture.  In one, Bisset picks up a man (Michael Brandon) on an airplane, they have sex in the restroom and become members of the infamous “Mile High Club.”  Initially, Cukor wanted it out; it was a lapse of taste. 


The second scene showed Bisset picking up a hustler (Matt Lattanzi) on Fifth Avenue. Allyn was not allowed on the set, because of the scene's sexual explicitness. Bisset had a nudity clause in her contract, and insisted on wearing a bras. “Jackie pretended as if she has never had intercourse,” Allyn recalled, “She rehearsed it loud, walking around and saying, 'first, I have three moans, then I come.'” Mortified by what he saw, Cukor just said “camera and shall we cut.” 


“Cukor was reasonably shy in that area,” Bisset said, “He kept saying 'Aren't we being modern,' putting his hand up by his mouth and going 'hee hee' kind of thing, like aren't we being naughty boys.  Bisset thought that Cukor was quite scared of all the love scenes: The scene in the airplane, the scene with the hustler, the scene with the boy by the fireplace. “He staged them from a distance, he just kind of let us get on with it.”  Still, it was Cukor's idea that the hustler should take his clothes off, and  technically, the scene is very good, displaying Cukor's masterly mise-en-scene and expertise in conveying erotic tension.


There was some discussion whether to take the scene out. Allyn was against that scene because “rhythmically” it was wrong. Hepburn, who saw a rough cut, also found the scene to slow down the story.  But asked for an advice, she said, “I wouldn't presume to tell you what to do.” In the end, the editors kept the scene in protection of Cukor, who was not that involved in the editing.