A little left overs? On the heels of our interview with actress Catherine Hicks about the 1980 telefilm MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY we had a bit extra left over with Hicks talking about the 1985 unjustly maligned final film of the great director, Richard Brooks.
TV STORE ONLINE: FEVER PITCH...Was that something you had to audition for?
HICKS: That was my brush with old Hollywood actually. The famed Producer Freddie Fields had seen me in GARBO TALKS (1984) and he had told Richard Brooks about me and I got the job based on that recommendation.
TV STORE ONLINE: So who was this character "Flo" character to you? How did you find her?
Well, she was in the similar vain of the lonely blond character that I play sometimes. That character got her start in a television movie I did with Annette O'Toole and Lisa Eilbacher called LOVE FOR RENT (1979). I played a little polka-dotted blond that takes her own life... I was thinking about the film PICNIC (1955) when I was doing FEVER PITCH. I kept thinking of the theme song from that film "Moonglow". We shot FEVER PITCH in Las Vegas, and that piece of music
seemed to fit the loneliness of Vegas with its trains in the background. I think I was trying to capture that feeling with that character in FEVER PITCH that you felt in that theme music from PICNIC. I also thought about Marlene Dietrich too, because I wanted Flo to have that sort of tough edge to her. What's funny about it....Everytime I see ELMER GANTRY (1960), I'm reminded of working with Richard Brooks on FEVER PITCH. He helped with that character too. He would tell me that she was just like Shirley Jones in ELMER GANTRY, and he would give me little things to do like how I wore my shawl in the film...
TV STORE ONLINE: Right, I was going to ask you about that shawl scene in the film...
That was something that just happened unintentionally.
TV STORE ONLINE: FEVER PITCH was such a labor of love for Richard Brooks...
HICKS: I don't know, and to be honest, I didn't think that it was a very good film. I just wanted to work with Richard Brooks and Ryan O'Neal. I think Richard had been alone a lot by that point, and as he had gotten older I think he gave in to entropy a bit. I just thought that the entire film was run over by its simplicity in message.
TV STORE ONLINE: I'm a huge admirer of FEVER PITCH...For me it feels like a film out of the '40s...But the film is cut so fast. It has this hectic pace about it, where it makes you lose your breath when you're watching it...
That's interesting. I guess you could say that it adheres to modern conventions with it's editing style then.
TV STORE ONLINE: And FEVER PITCH is so wonderfully surreal....I love that sequence with Ryan O'Neal where he starts to attack those guys with that telephone as if it were a lasso...
HICKS: Yeah, it's kind of like an acid trip.
TV STORE ONLINE: What do you remember about shooting that sequence in the dressing room with Ryan O'Neal? I love that sequence because it just goes on and on and Brooks shoots the entire thing in a mirror...
What I remember about shooting that scene was that I stayed up all night going into it. I wanted her to feel exhausted when she had to deal with Ryan O'Neal's character. One thing I remember about working with Richard Brooks on FEVER PITCH was that he used to always yell at the extras. He used to say, "These young people...They don't listen!" It was interesting because it was like he had picked up on the start of the techno age and how technology has changed our culture today. There were some hairy moments on the set of FEVER PITCH, but he liked me and he like Ryan O'Neal.