Sunday, July 8, 2012

50'S FOCUS : THE WAYWARD BUS .... 1957 ...



JOAN COLLINS as Alice Chicoy
JAYNE MANSFIELD as Camille Oakes 
DAN DAILEY as Ernest Horton 
RICK JASON as Johnny Chicoy 
DOLORES MICHAELS as Mildred Pritchard 
LARRY KEATING as Elliott Pritchard 
KATHRYN GIVNEY as Bernice Pritchard 
DEE POLLOCK as Ed Carson 
WILL WRIGHT as Van Brunt 

    Assistant Director - William Eckhardt           Director Of Photography - Charles G Clarke A.S.C
Art Director - Lyle R Wheeler & Walter M Simonds     Music by Leigh Hartine  Edited by Louis Loeffier
      Screenplay by Ivan Moffatt  Based on the Novel by John Steinbeck    Costumes by Mary Wills
                             Produced by Charles Brackett       Directed by Victor Vicas

A group of people are stranded when a bus heading for San Juan is grounded in a storm, Passion and Conflict come to the surface...With each one of the assembled harboring trouble and strife.. Will all their troubles be resolved before departure for the final destination of The Wayward Bus? .....

(C)   1957  20TH CENTURY FOX   ... B/W ...   89 MINS ...

Like "Sea Wife" and "Island In The Sun", "The Wayward Bus" is another of Joan's films that was based on a novel that could never be fully realised for the screen.. It too, like the previously mentioned films had to be sanitised before it could be filmed.. It did provide Joan with a much less glamorous role than she had been used to, but it also gave her the opportunity to really act, as the blowsy drunken wife of a bus driver, played by Rick Jason. But the film's director Victor Vicas, Russian by birth and residing in France, was not an experienced feature film maker.. He had only previously been known for documentaries. He had the good fortune to meet Daryl Zanuck at a party on the Riviera and somehow convinced him he was an experienced director. Zanuck offered him a three picture contract and "The Wayward Bus" was the first of the three..The film was shot on location in the remote hamlet of Las Virgenes, beyond Agoura in the San Fernando Valley. Fox employed some old time actors as extras in the bus depot scenes. Ann Luther who was a contract star of the early twenties, along with twenties western star Mina Cunard and Minta Durfee, actress and widow of Fatty Arbuckle. These old timers who probably due to the advent of the talkies were given unaccredited roles to keep them in the business. It wasn't just the extras who were old timers! The barn used in a key love scene was originally built for the 1932 Will Rodgers / Janet Gaynor film "State Fair". But some love scene's proved deadly as Jayne Mansfield found out when she came into contact with poison oak and she broke out in a rash and had to stay away from filming for three days. This was Fox's press release on the incident...The truth was that Jayne needed time off to do a photo shoot for "Look" magazine and they could not wait for her to finish the film. She did do her bit for public services by taking a bus from the Hollywood Bowl to Downtown Los Angeles, to publicise perimeter parking. This scheme aimed to get the bulk of traffic away from the city, by having drivers park on the outskirts and take a bus to the centre of the city.. A concept that still exists today but now we call it park and ride.. Something I am sure Jayne would have no trouble in promoting!!
Even though director Victor Vicas was nominated for the Golden Bear Award at the 1957 Berlin International Film Festival, it was not all plain sailing on the picture for him. When principal photography had been completed and the editing process had begun, the film's editor Louis Loeffier almost quit. He discovered that Vicas was going back into the editing room, after hours and reediting the film again, undoing all Loeffier's work. Eventually producer's Charles Brackett and Buddy Adler took a look at the cut and decided to pay off Vicas and send him back to France. The film did not turn out the masterpiece that had been hoped.
THE NEW YORK TIMES ... Bosley Crowther ..
" In "The Wayward Bus", actor's Rick Jason as the driver of the bus, Joan Collins as his moody helpmate, Jayne Mansfield as the stag party girl, Dan Dailey as the traveling salesman and maybe a half dozen more. It looks as if it is being delivered by a stock company that might be traveling on the bus!"
Joan was delighted with the good reviews she received for her work on the film as the alcoholic Alice, downtrodden and stuck in her dead end cafe, a side of her the public had not seen before. She had been set to do a western with Richard Widmark called "The Last Wagon", but she hated the script and refused to it, as she felt it was just another worthless, love interest role. Her refusal cost her a suspension for a few weeks and the role was filled by Felicia Farr.Joan although friendly to all the cast, had not made an impression on her co-star Rick Jason, who wrote in his auto-biography that Joan was friendly but seldom spoke to him, well only long enough to proposition him! This according to Joan, was pure fabrication, the book was quickly withdrawn after his death in 2000, the same year it was published! Joan did get the opportunity to fly in a helicopter for the first time, she spurned the use of a stunt double, so she could experience it for herself!
For all it's faults, it is an interesting film, with good performances. Alas it is seldom screened today, however a limited edition blu-ray dvd release is currently available.. order from link on side bar! Well worth getting!!

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