The State Department had sent me on a goodwill tour of Europe, and I was assigned on this particular day to be a special guest at a circus. We did our best to convey to the foreigners that we needed to get to the circus, and by some fluke we got to one, only to find that it was going to be filmed for a movie. As an international dignitary I was introduced to the director. I know my movies and I knew he'd done some back home. "I liked one very much," I told him, "What was it's name?... Letters, wasn't it? Yes! Letter to Three Wives! An excellent film. Congratulations, sir!"
"No, no." he demurred.
"No false modesty, friend. Only I don't see how you end up making documentaries about a circus after that. It's a shame if you're a Commie. I mean that you can't keep working in Hollywood because you are one. If you are, that is. But I suppose I'm only in your way here and you're obviously a busy man."
"Actually," he said, "You're just what I need for this scene I'm filming."
"Oh, I'm no camera hog, Mr. Offals. I don't want to call attention to myself in the middle of your movie and all."
"But you are just right! And you'll be in color and Cinemascope, too."
"You've got Cinemascope?" I was flabbergasted. "We thought you were years away, unless your side has someone inside Fox, that is."
"Have you even been in a Cinemascope film, sir?"
"Why, I was made for the wide screen. Academy ratio can't hold me; just let 'em try! Heck, Cinerama's what you need to get all of me on screen. But no, I haven't."
"Well, that's just why I want you. I need a subject that can fill the screen, and I see you as the first person the people see when they come to my movie, your vast continental embrace welcoming them to the circus. You must do this for me."
Pictures don't lie, so as anyone can plainly see I was cajoled out of my usual modesty. I got to see that circus several times over. But I didn't get to see the movie until about 35 years later, and imagine my surprise! They put in all these extra scenes from outside of the circus. I guess it was to explain how that lady ended up joining the circus. But it fouled up the narrative flow of things, I thought, and some of my best scenes got cut. That's show business, I suppose, and it's why I stick to meatpacking.
Cinemascope gives Martine Carol and Will Quadflieg (as Liszt) room to stretch out more comfortably in their deluxe carriage. Below, the slowest painter in Bavaria extends Lola's stay at the court of King Ludwig (Anton Walbrook, left).