Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: What Happens Backstage Never Stays Backstage

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Noises Off” (1992):

When I was writing the section on Hamlet’s interaction with the actors, another wonderfully, comic play on film came to mind. Peter Bogdanovich’s film of of the play, “Noises Off”, is any theatrical director’s nightmare. That is to say that the farce probably occurs more than you’d like to think.

While we’re saying, “It’s a hit”, the director and the actors most likely are saying, “I will never, under any circumstances, work with those people ever again.” And they say it adamantly to themselves as they reveal in interview after interview, “This was such a wonderful company. I have never, in my long career, worked with such delightful people.” Then they are asked, “So you would work with these people again?” Their response, “At the drop of a hat.” All the time, cursing under their breath.

Michael Caine is the director of the cast from hell. It’s the dress rehearsal for the opening in Des Moines. Carol Burnett can’t get her lines right, even though she is being encouraged by John Ritter. It’s those darn sardines. And the newspaper. And the telephone.

Then there’s the problem with the doors. They don’t open and close the way they should. And there’s the actor with the drinking problem. And more sardines. One minute they are there and the next they are missing, and then they are back again. And the actor who needs an explanation why he will take the groceries into the study. Unfortunately the sardines and the newspaper is stuck to his hands. Plus it’s hard to do a quick change without a dresser. There are more problems with this production than there were with the Titanic. Wonder if the Titanic had problems with sardines?

“We’re two lines away from the end of Act 1,” the director encourages the actress to do the two lines, hoping against hope that the gods will put him out of his pain and soon. And, oh, the stage manager, Julie Hagerty, is pregnant with the director’s baby.

In Miami, Carol Burnett breaks up with John Ritter and locks herself up in her dressing room. Carol went out the previous night with Christopher Reeve, listening to all his problems. Christopher Reeve is dating Marilu Henner, so there’s nothing between Carol and Christopher.

That isn’t the way John Ritter sees it.  Then the curtain rises for the matinee. John Ritter is about to make Christopher Reeve’s life hell during the performance. And the drunk gets hold of the wine that the director meant for the blonde, Nicolette Sheridan. What’s worse is the drunk can’t keep his pants up.

As you can imagine, the performances backstage are much more hilarious than what is going on onstage. It’s amazing how much those darn sardines get around.  It’s enough to make a director turn to the bottle himself. One thing is for sure. One should not bring a cactus backstage in times like these.

Then it’s on to the final horror. Cleveland.

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6 thoughts on “Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: What Happens Backstage Never Stays Backstage

  1. I always wonder about this… When you hear an actor interviewed and they gush. That’s why it was so shocking Leo and Kate didn’t hold back on how tyrannical James Cameron was on the set of Titanic.

    Were you ever in theater? It seems so . . .

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