Dear Musicals.Net Posters,
I recently read about the fact that nearly the entire main cast of the movie musical "Singin' in the Rain" suffered severe physical discomfort...in the name of entertainment! The guy who performed "Make 'Em Laugh" drove himself to such exhaustion that he was bed-ridden during the two days that followed the shooting of that scene. Gene Kelly had a fever while he was performing "Singin' in the Rain". Debbie Reynolds was pushed to be so perfect during the song "Good Mornin'" that her feet became bloody!
I already knew about the ribs that Nicole Kidman broke during "Moulin Rouge", but I had no idea how much those "SitR" actors had suffered!
Of course, I was recently talking to an acquaintance of mine; I told them about the aforementioned information, and they told me a story that few people have ever heard...the story of a movie musical that was never even made, due to a nearly homicidal incident that resulted from a threadbare actress' nervous breakdown!
THE STORY: During the 1950s, a movie studio (My acquaintance wouldn't even reveal the name of the studio, for fear of making the studio look bad) decided to make the movie musical to end ALL movie musicals; the picture was to be a pull-out-all-the-stops-type of rags-to-riches movie musical called "The Lemonade Gal", and it was to be released during the summer of 1955.
The plot of the movie was as follows: A 10-year-old blonde girl named Faye is picnicking with her parents near the train tracks. When the wind blows her mother's hat away, the mother and the father go to retrieve it, and they BOTH get killed by the train; Faye watches in horror (The deaths of the parents are shown through the child's reactions only), and poor Faye panics. She runs until she comes to the nearest town, and she begs for help. When the police from the town get the news about Faye's parents, and they realize that her surviving relatives are either dead, or too close to the ends of their lives to care for her, a kindly man and his childless wife take her in.
Faye lives with her new parents for two years without complaint...and then, her adoptive mother's niece arrives; the new girl, named Pernilla, has just lost her mother to an epidemic, and her father has become too depressed to care for her. Pernilla isn't exactly mean, but Faye's adoptive parents begin playing favorites, pampering Pernilla, ignoring the maturing, 12-year-old Faye, etc. Then, when Faye sneaks up to the attic to look for her birth mother's locket, which her adoptive mother swore to have repaired for Faye someday, Pernilla catches her, helps her look for the locket, and admires it when it's found, going so far as to rush it downstairs to show to her aunt. The woman actually decides that Pernilla needs to be further nurtured and encouraged, and she gives the locket to her for her Sweet 16, prompting a heartbroken, betrayed Faye to run away from home...disguised as Pernilla, so that nobody will look for somebody who looks like Faye.
Faye comes upon a carnival, and she tries to pass herself off as one of the lemonade sales girls, but the REAL sales girls push her out into the street, where she is nearly accosted by a nasty group of teen guys, and then "rescued" by a man who has dirty intentions. He takes her to his cigar sales tent, but the kindly ring toss man, "Chive" Charlie Smithson catches up to the two of them, angrily claiming that Faye is actually HIS kid sister! He takes the scared girl to his tent, lets her live with him...as his "sister" (with no ill intentions), etc. She becomes his assistant, and when he finds out that she wants to be a Lemonade Girl, he talks the management into letting her have her way.
Four years pass, via a cool montage. We discover that Faye is now 16. She has worked her way up to being the head Lemonade Girl, and, because of her position, she ALSO gets to "bark" about the lemonade in the performance tents, in order to advertise it! She and Charlie have gradually been falling in love, and they've made certain to avoid the cigar salesman at all costs, so they're surprised when he shows up one day with a new product (A ruby red beverage)...AND a new girl...PERNILLA (Now aged 20).
Faye tries to talk to Pernilla, because she thinks that she looks familiar, but the cagy girl won't say a word. Faye threatens to write to her adoptive parents, demanding answers, should Pernilla refuse to talk, so Pernilla drags Faye off into the night, in order to tell a sad, sad story about herself. She tells about how her uncle's business went belly up, and about how her aunt then had to pull her out of the fancy school that she was attending. She cries about the suitable boyfriend who suddenly went cold and dumped her, and about how, after her aunt bullied her for complaining, she ran away with a broken heart...to make her way in the world...in an inevitable station. She reveals that the cigar salesman, Ace, is really smooth, sophisticated, successful, etc., and nothing that Faye says can change her mind. The two young women part as slight frienemies.
The next day, Faye boldly approaches Pernilla, and, in front of Ace, she says, "If you'll join Charlie and me, we'll somehow get some money together for your family!" Ace takes this opportunity to flirt with Faye, trying to convince HER to join HIS beverage-sales team, because it's "superior" to the lemonade stand. Faye flatly refuses, but Pernilla has already been made jealous, and she is about to catfight-smack Faye down, when Charlie arrives, realizes what the trouble is, and starts a fight with Ace, who actually beats Charlie up pretty thoroughly.
Charlie and Faye have it out, with Faye trying to explain herself to an angry, blame-happy Charlie. Faye cries bitterly, snarling, "That's the problem with EVERYBODY in the WORLD, Charlie! Not ONE of you goons has EVER even TRIED to understand me!" She declares that Charlie can fight Ace and Pernilla alone, but when she tries to leave the carnival for good, Charlie tries to stop her. She fights back, saying "You didn't care enough to hear me out, so don't try to kiss me NOW!", and she runs away, determined to find a new life for herself.
Back in Ace's tent, Pernilla tries to convince Ace that he's better off with HER, but he declares that "Younger is better, Baby...and YOU'RE only going to get OLDER! HOW old is your cousin? 16, or so? Yes, SIR! I'll need a YOUNGER salesgirl, in order to hawk THIS new summer thirst-quencher!" He teasingly tells her that he'll phase her out gradually, and when she tries to quit, he grabs her, throwing her down angrily. Charlie comes to her rescue, and, at first, she fights him, but, eventually, she agrees to be his new Lemonade Girl.
That plan doesn't work out too well. The next best Lemonade Girl, Tess, declares that SHE should be the leader, because FAYE, NOT Pernilla, was the rightful leader. When Charlie announces that he's going to try Pernilla out as the leader (Secretly knowing that she needs the money for her family), Tess defects, going to Ace's side. Since Tess is 16, Ace suddenly forgets about Faye, and the ruthless competition begins anew...with the less experienced Lemonade Girls now in flux.
Meanwhile, Faye is riding the rails, trying to return to her cruel adoptive parents, all the while wishing that her real parents were still alive. Along the way, she meets a sweet, handsome guy named Patrick, who is actually headed to the carnival to sell the whirlygigs that he makes. Patrick convinces her to become his assistant, since she already knows well the atmosphere of the carnival.
When they get to the carnival, Patrick introduces Faye to his old friend...CHARLIE! Faye and Pernilla try not to scowl at each other, and Patrick falls in love with Pernilla at first sight! Charlie senses Pernilla's return desire for Patrick, so he encourages them to get to know each other, while he patches everything up with Faye, who asks him if it's so bad for these carnival men to show a little compassion for ladies who just want to succeed in life. Faye soon has her old job back, and she and Charlie are beginning to learn to love each other all over again.
Everything goes well for awhile. Faye and Pernilla are even "cousins" again, and Patrick and Charlie couldn't be happier. The carnival is about to move on to the next town, but then...something goes wrong.
Ace decides to finish Charlie off, once and for all, so he spikes the lemonade mixture in the night, and when the customers begin to get sick, their loved ones get angry. The police are called in to drag Charlie away, despite protests from Faye, Patrick, and Pernilla. Then Tess comes forward. She knows that she will lose her job, and that she will never be Ace's favorite again, but she bravely confesses to having been suspicious when she awoke to him sneaking about, throwing empty packets away, etc. She offers to take the rap for him, but the cops, and everybody else, decide to ransack Ace's tent, and they arrest him.
A happy ending ensues for all. Tess becomes a Lemonade Girl again. Patrick and Pernilla get engaged. Charlie and Faye decide to wait on marriage...for awhile...and everybody knows that their growing money piles will help Faye and Pernilla to prosper for many years to come.
What could be so bad about all of THAT, RIGHT? Well, the director was a major pain in the rear. He shot all of the carnival scenes in the blazing sun...ON LOCATION...DURING THE SUMMER! The actress who played Faye was the one who had the breakdown. After being forced to jump from moving trains for real, being told to "try not to sweat out those costumes" in the sun, being pushed to get more physical during her emotional scenes, etc., she finally snapped. She had worked through heat exhaustion, slaps of punishment from the director, yelling, a near-concussion, freezing water dunks (for some of her poor girl scenes), starvation diets, makeup that practically made her break out into hives, melted wax applications (to make her face look even sweatier than it was during certain scenes), sprays of dirt, sprays of dust that made her sneeze, a leap up onto a stage that she missed once (she almost broke her leg), and re-takes of the "nearly accosted" scene that were so violent that they left her bruised and sick to her stomach.
Then there was that final musical number, during which "Charlie" was to pick her up, throw her into the air...so that she spun around once, catch her, and flip her towards him, so that her legs straddled his waist. Well, the director had dillusions of grandure about that scene, because on the first take, "Faye" was thrown so high, so awkwardly, that she came down violently, her shoe bloodying "Charlie's" nose. The second take saw "Faye" landing on her back, so that she was unconscious for an entire week.
After "getting well" in a hurry, "Faye" returned to the set, only to be told that there were three scenes (INCLUDING the final musical number) that would have to be re-shot. Well, "Faye" went insane; she removed her high heeled shoe, and she rushed at the director's eye with it, threatening homicide, should she be made to perform without a reasonable break.
The rest of the cast agreed with her, and they ALL walked off of the set, suddenly bold enough to tell the director that THEY had suffered far too much, as well.
The producer was so humiliated that he told everybody in Hollywood that whatever they'd heard about this movie was a lie; he said that the shoots had all been tests for ANOTHER movie IDEA that he'd had all along, and that these actors had been VOLUNTEERING.
The actors agreed to stick to THAT story, because the movie studio paid them to keep quiet.
Thanks in advance for your replies.