MARLON BRANDO RETURNS
On one of my very first blogs I told the story of “MY SHORT HOT SUMMER WITH MARLON BRANDO.” I had gone to London back in the late 60s to shoot some film for my TV show. Marlon Brando happened to be at the airport meeting his attorney who was on the same plane as I. We immediately hit it off.
I told the story of how I was invited to the set of “The Countess From Hong Kong,” starring Brando, Sophia Loren, and directed by Charley Chaplin. Recently re-reading my blog, I realized the point of the story was completely missed. An important joke was involved and I never told it. Instead I wrote, “Unfortunately I can’t write out the joke on this page. It’s just too visual, with lots of hand gestures. So, you’ll just have to take my word that it’s funny.” My Brando story fell as flat as a road spiked tire.
That was before I knew how to add pictures. Now that I can, here’s the missing-joke story re-told ...
During a break in the filming, Brando and I were sitting off-stage, side by side in tall director’s chairs, and I told this joke:
A man walks into a bar, sits down, and starts talking to the guy next to him. He says, “You should have seen the gal I was out with last night.” Then he holds his hands up to his chest … like this.
Marlon couldn’t stop laughing. Then, as if on some kind of off-stage cue, he suddenly stopped and turned quite serious. “I’ve got to tell that joke to somebody and I’ve got to do it right now,” he said as he jumped down from his chair and rushed over to the other side of the set to interrupt a lone gaffer busily adjusting a light. He was too far away for me to make out exactly what he was saying, but I could see his lips moving and his hands making the correct gesture.
After he delivered the punchline the gaffer just stared, turned and continued his work. Brando looked perplexed, but not undaunted.
He next rushed over to Chaplin’s son Sidney, who was also in the film. More animated this time, it was Brando at his best. He accentuated the two-hand gesture as if an Oscar would be the result. Nothing! No laugh. Not even a smile.
Like a scene from a movie within a movie, Marlon returned and climbed back next to me on to his chair. During the few moments it took for him to carefully prepare his next line, the gaffer’s well-positioned key light provided me with the famous Brando profile.
When ready, he slowly turned and looked directly at me with dramatically hooded eyes, “Lloyd,” he said, “ I guess it’s just you and me.”
It was pretty obvious to me that he had blown the punch line. But, who cared? To me, it was pure Brando and I will always cherish that moment. Here we were, sitting close together, just like in the backseat scene in “On The Waterfront.” But instead of Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger, it was Marlon Brando and Lloyd Thaxton. He may have turned to me and said, “Lloyd, I guess it’s just you and me.” But I’ll swear to my dying day that what I heard was: