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

Series of Nine Articles

Part Six: Cukor Makes Changes

 

The sets had been originally designed according to Robert Mulligan's specifications, but Cukor didn't want to shoot in a small set and subsequently everything was made bigger and slicker.  Cukor redecorated Merry's suite at the Waldorf, putting the piano in the middle of the huge room.  He also painted Liz's apartment into white, to lighten up its previously dreary look. “He glamorized the sets considerably,” said Bergen, “He got a bigger house and furnished it much more lavishly.”          

 

Mulligan wanted to do a film that was darker and more realistic, but Cukor saw it as a fast-paced comedy with a cutting dialogue and glamorous feel.  Bergen felt that if Mulligan directed, the film would have been less of a comedy and more of a portrait of a love/hate friendship.  “Jackie saw it more as a portrait, but I was more comfortable with the tone that Cukor wanted.”

 

Bergen wanted to wear a wig at the beginning of the film, but Cukor hated wigs.  When Bisset wouldn't change her hairstyle and insisted on wearing wigs, Cukor screamed again, “No one wears wigs in my film!”  This was an old obsession of Cukor–one of his contributions to “The Wizard of Oz” was to get rid of the horrible blonde wig that had been designed for Judy Garland.

 

When the L.A. sequences were completed, the shooting moved to NY.  A special effects team had to blow 40 tons of crushed ice all over the sidewalks to look like snow.  Cukor thought he was prepared for the cold weather of NY, making jokes about having enough clothes for cold climate from his stint in Russia.  But he was wrong. It was so cold that his lips turned blue–the cameraman had to lift him off the curb to the warmth of the waiting truck.