THE BLOG

he Hard Efforts of Independent Filmmaking... Chiquita Banana and... Ingrid Bergman

06/18/2015 02:49 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone...The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials," said Chinese writer Lin Yutang.

•LOTS OF speculation these days about how to get a small movie made, since the big Hollywood powers are throwing everything they've got into big brash action sequels that outstrip even the basic creation.  And they don't balk at the millions being spent because usually any sequel at all will beat anything else to pieces at the box office.
     
The exception? You might get something small made on your reputation, or the reputation of your star, that is if you are aiming for an Oscar or Golden Globe.  Then, you night get a good picture like The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Someone at the party where this was discussed asked, "What is the antidote for those wanting to make an extraordinary little movie? How do you finance it?"

The maven who was speaking, shrugged: "Get yourself a big billionaire or a high finance genius who wants to be seen in the movie business, to rub shoulders, or be invited to those "parties" and have fun meeting the stars. Take him to Sundance where he will see how much fun and desperate movie-making is for those outside the "studio system."  

Question to myself. Do I know any philosophical billionaires who I could talk into this?  Yes to the first part, no to the second.  But maybe there is someone who wants to be, on the side, in 'the business.' To meet the famous. To find a tax bracket for their money.  As Jack Benny said to the robber who is pointing a gun yelling 'Your money or your life!'

Jack Benny:   "I'm thinking.   I'm thinking..." 

•WE WERE in the beautiful glamorous outdoor garden of Barbetta on West 46th Street, Restaurant Row, it's called.  This is the oldest single family-owed eatery in New York City.  Upon leaving, I ran into tobacco's chief enemy, Joseph Califano and his wife, Hilary. He, of the LBJ inner circle; she, the daughter of the late William Paley of CBS. Those two look just the same as when I scooped their romance back in the 80's and they have stayed married since 1983.  So there is something to be said for happy marriages after all.

•Recently, there was a bit of nostalgia on the death of 93-year-old Monica Lewis, a name better known in advertising than in the movies.  It was Monica who shot to a kind of Mad Men fame for singing the song that put bananas on the map -- "Chiquita Banana."
     
Believe it or not, I had been listening to this for so long, that when I inherited baby-sittingroutines, some 15 years ago, I used to sing this captivating song because I didn't know any of the then popular lullabies for youngsters. It became my charge's favorite:

"I'm Chiquita Banana and I've come to say
Bananas have to ripen in a certain way
When they are fleck'd with brown and have a golden hue
Bananas taste the best and are best for you
You can put them in a salad
You can put them in a pie-aye
Any way you want to eat them
It's impossible to beat them
But, bananas like the climate of the very, very tropical
equator
So you should never put bananas in the refrigerator"

• Then I was reminded that the late great actress Ingrid Bergman will be celebrated this August in Sweden to memorialize her 100th birthday and I remembered another version of the "Banana" song, with lyrics by two young Bergman fans.
         
        They were Audrey Clinton and Iris Love who, as 12-year-old students at Brearley, hounded Miss Bergman as only childish movie fans can.  Their truncated version of "Chiquita Banana" went like this:

         " I'm a Bergman fan and I am here to say,     
          " You have to treat Miss Bergman in a certain way!
    
           "When she is hot and tired
             it isn't fair, to bother her with questions
             or to sit and stare.

             "But remember...Miss Bergman likes
              the climate of a very very frigid Sweden--
              if she could ...
              So never, never put Miss Bergman 
              back -- in Hollywood!

(spoken)  "No, No, No, No!"

Misses Clinton and Love were so devoted in their fandom that they finally met Miss Bergman through her agent and she was charming to them, backstage at "Joan of Lorraine" on Broadway.  

This all inspired Nora Johnson and her father, Nunnally Johnson, to work together to create a 1964 movie titled "The World of Henry Orient" -- about a musician driven mad by obstreperous little girls.  
 
The great comic Peter Sellers plays the musician -- the Ingrid Bergman character! Angela Lansbury and Peter Duchin are also in this movie and the latter surprises us by appearing as a sex symbol in the nude.