A few years ago David Ehrenstein and I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with---no, not Dolores Gray---Hank Moonjean. Now retired, Hank has had a distinguished career as a producer, going out on top with Dangerous Liasons. He began, however, most inauspiciously, as an assistant director at MGM, starting with Bhowani Junction.
Obviously, he had stories to tell. Including a humdinger about Lana Turner and a reflexively tumescent Edmund Purdom filming The Prodigal. " CUT!!"
Hank was also on hand for the shooting of Kismet and witnessed Dolores Gray (in her MGM prime) and. . . her mother. According to Hank, Dolores' mom made Gypsy's Mama Rose look like she was standing still. Not a nanosecond of La Gray's performance went by without Dolores looking off to the sidelines for Mama's approval. Like all good stage mothers, Dolores' ma sat in a nearby chair doing her knitting with seeming calm. However, a quick jerk of the head, almost imperceptible to all but those in the know, could either keep the shoot going or bring it to a screeching halt.
Hank especially remembers the day when Dolores was filming Kismet's “Not Since Ninevah.” The take completed, an overwhelmed Vincente Minnelli rose from his director's chair and in his most effusive, warp-speed style exclaimed: “Dolores, Darling. I laughed, I cried, I loved every minute of it. I don't know how you do it.” Only to discover Dolores' face frozen in anguish. Apparently, Mama had given THE SIGNAL. “No, Vincente, no,” DG wailed, “I was terrible, I was awful. I know I can do better. Pleeeeease, give me another chance.” And a thoroughly perplexed Minnelli gave in. Now that is a star!
Few who are true devotees of the great Gray would disagree that her ultimate screen moment was the belting out of the Andre Previn - Betty Comden - Adolph Green number "Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks" in one of the last (if not, in fact, THE last) of the great MGM musicals, It's Alway Fair Weather. Unfortunately, it is seldom if ever performed nowadays due its somewhat dated references. Take a listen to the Dolores Gray original (link removed) ---with its alternately non-pc and passé references to the likes of silver blue minks and Clifton Webb--- in IAFW, and I think you'll see what I mean. Timeless for certain, but a trifle before-time I'm sure you'll agree.
Now, however, I'm delighted to announce that it has been been oufitted with a whole new set of lyrics updated for our brave new metrosexual millennium by Chris Schneider of San Diego, CA (I feel just like Franklin P. Adams). Here's HIS version:
THANKS A LOT, BUT NOT THANKS
I'm watching and waiting,
(spoken) Hello Sean, hello Tom.
I'm waiting and watching,
(spoken) Hello Kurt, hello Burt,
I hope and I yearn
(spoken) Hello Bill, hello Phil ... hello Leo!
Just for his return.
(spoken) HIYA FELLAS!
[Refrain] Thanks for the PETA-sanctioned, self-skinning furs;
Thanks for the castles marked "His" and "Hers";
Thanks for the pistol that was once Aaron Burr's --
Thanks A Lot, But No Thanks.
Thanks for the silver case of special Zoloft;
Thanks for that business they *called* Microsoft;
Thanks for the poster signed by Seals & Croft
For I am just a faithful dude-ette
Waiting for her faithful dude;
And there's no means, however crude-ette
By which this dude-ette can be wooed.
Thanks for the membership at Aspen's best gym;
Thanks for the lightbulbs that never go dim;
But I'm the schnook whose sole Address Book is *him*
Thanks for the news;
And thanks for the oilwells that ooze;
And thanks for those Savion Glover shoes
Thanks for last year's best stock;
And thanks for the keys to your lock;
And thanks for the X-rated photo of Ethan Hawke
Thanks for losin' your mind,
And thanks for Fort Knox, sealed and signed;
But I got a guy who's V.S. Naipaul and Johnny Depp combined
Copyright © 2001 Chris Schneider
Here's hoping that Mister Schneider's efforts will help breathe new life into TALBNT.
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