Wicki the Stickler

Bernhard Wicki was a stickler. He is rumored to have actors wear costumes for the radio plays he directed. He started off playing romantic foils for woman stars in the George Brent fashion. Wicki was usually the understanding physician, who waits for Milady, while she was engaging in hijinks with a shallow-minded Lothario.

Bernhard Wicki

When Wicki became serious, he became serious, and good films resulted like The Bridge.

Marlon Brando insisted on bringing him to Hollywood to direct Morituri, which starred “the great one” and “versatile” Yule Brynner.

In this film, the Germans are the good guys and the Americans are the bad guys, who even stoop to rape. Good Nazis were Brando’s habit. Remember The Young Lions! In that one a blonde Brando was outraged at every atrocity committed by Maximilian Shell, his commanding officer.



However, once Brando had Wicki, he turned his life into hell. Stickler Wicki lost control of the film. Brando kept revising and rewriting the script and the film turned out to be typical Hollywood fare. Brando knew that it was an artistic disaster, and maybe he knew that he had helped make it that.

At any rate, he blamed Wicki and showed his contempt by using him as a fireplug.


A Film by a Toughie

In Apache, directed by toughie Robert Aldrich, Burt Lancaster is an Indian on the run, who has had to kill in self-defense. A ruthless posse rides at his heels, and he leads them on a merry chase to, of all places, his adobe, when they close in on him, his crops are ready for harvesting, his squaw gives birth and there’s the cry of his newborn son.

The men of the posse realize that from now on, this Induian brave will harvest his crops, bring up his son and lead a peaceful life. So instead of closing in for the kill, they ride of and let Burt take care of his domestic chores.

The original ending had been changed for a Hollywood solution. Reality had given way to fantasy.


The Way Babs and Bob Were

I wasn’t exactly a fan of Barbra Streisand. I wasn’t one until I recently saw The Way We Were. She’s a Jewish girl who’s an idealistic Lefty. Yes, she wants to change the world and make it livable.
Does that sound familiar?

She falls hook, line and sinker for Robert Redford, who’s a handsome blonde WASP. Bob is ambling through life. He’s a writer who intends to use his trade to enable himself to continue the pleasant life he’s leading. The prestige that comes from being a successful writer will fit in well. But of course Barbra wants him to write “the great American novel” – and follow that up with more of the same.

Barbra, my dear, he’s a casual WASP, he’s not an intense Jew. He wants to have all the good things in life with no sweat and no strain. The sweat and strain are for people like you. And having you as a partner is going to mean sweat and strain for him.

But like all dreamers who fall in love, you want to have your cake and eat it too.

No, Bob is not going to change his spots. But Babs the hunter fells him, and they get hitched.

Of course the marriage is doomed and the doom does not take long to come. But not before Babs is pregnant. Bob hangs around until the birth – at her request. Then he’s off for a life of success in his trade. And that’s it. Being what he is, he can’t miss, and he won’t miss Barbra. Basically Bob gives people what they want, and it’s hard to fail at that.

The break is complete. He doesn’t drop in to see the daughter.

Time goes by.

Then they meet by chance. He’s coming down the Plaza steps on 59th Street with a beautiful blonde at his side. She’s beautiful in the sense of what elegant men want a partner to be. They are a perfect couple.

Barbara is across the street on the Central Park side agitating with women like her to “Ban the Bomb.” They see each other.

He’s the one she loved and still loves. He’s the love of her life, and he always will be. He will be till the day she dies. She has a man at home who’s what she wants a man to be, but Bob is the man who can make her heart beat faster.

Does this all say something about love? Seeing this scene breaks my heart. I have loved in this way. Notice I’m using the past tense, but that’ not accurate.

Why can’t Cupid’s bow hit the mark of those who match us? It’s always the prince or the princess.

Princes are handsome and princesses are beautiful and they’re charming, but charm and superficiality always seem to go hand in hand. It’s the tinsel that fascinates us.



to be continued . . .

– Herbert Kuhner