Liz Smith: The Enduring (And Growing!) Legend

“YOU’LL be here, too?” says Fred MacMurray to Barbara Stanwyck in the classic movie, “Double Indemnity.”

Stanwyck, at the door: “I guess so, I usually am.”

MacMurray: “Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?”

Stanwyck: “I wonder if I know what you mean.”

MacMurray, as she closes the door: “I wonder if you wonder.”

I was out in the Hamptons of Long Island recently and we movie fans tried to remember all the great dialogue from all those old black and white movies. This one — written by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler — is possibly one of the greatest film noirs ever. (It is based on the James M. Cain novel, and Wilder directed the movie, too.)

SO FAR, at the trendy Monogram Shop, owned by the exquisite Valerie Smith in East Hampton, right off Main Street — Mitt Romney is outselling Barack Obama by about 900 cups, napkins, or whatever Valerie is offering.

Valerie admits that in the past, this kind of “polling” did not always indicate the political reality.

I lived happily in the Hamptons for 18 years when things were simpler and more bucolic, with a great guy, the cookbook king Lee Bailey. We never thought we were the indicators of anything except writing, editing, acting talent and drinking/eating. So I don’t know what’s what these days. The Hamptons are always changing.

But in some ways, it stays the same. Recently, I went to a party at the Meadow Club in Southampton. (I knew this club had more grass tennis courts than just about any place on the Eastern seaboard, but never mind…) My partners and I had been there often before but when we attempted to find it, in the dark, there wasn’t a light; there wasn’t a sign and so, we were indeed about 30 minutes late for dinner.

When we asked for our host, named Epstein, the man at the door stiffed us, saying there was no such person listed. When we offered his wife’s name — Miller — we were ushered right in. I assume this has no social meaning, so let’s just forget it. But — everything old is new again!

JUST saw a man listed in Vanity Fair with a lot of other popular “current men to conjure with.” I didn’t know and had never heard of Uke Ude but there he is on page 253 for September and he is listed as an “artist.”

Mr. Ude looked quite outre and avant garde in his “custom tuxedos,” but mainly, he caught my eye because he listed as his style icon — Robert de Montesquiou.

I could socialize all day and I would meet people who are buddies with the Kardashians but I’d probably not meet too many souls who know about the Baron of Proust’s epic “Remembrance of Things Past.”

The Baron de Montesquiou was the one who said: “Every party must be given against someone.” He spent his days in Paris searching for grey flowers to put in the room with his Whistler paintings. I love the outrageous Baron so I’d probably like Mr. Ude. It’s nice of Vanity Fair to hark back to ye olde Paris!

And, I will say, all this crap is just to take your mind off — for a moment — of what’s really going on in the world.

THIS YEAR has been one big media blitz about my pal, the late lamented former governor of Texas — Ann Richards. And next year might be just as big!

She’d have been 79 years old last Saturday. But esophageal cancer ended her life and so in 2006, there I was, speaking, along with Hillary Clinton, at Ann’s memorial in Austin.

Ann had lived the last years of her life in New York City, moving here as others moved away, right after 9/ll. (These were some of the most active, funniest and fruitful years of my life because Ann was a brilliant companion and it was my joy to introduce her to everyone I knew.)

The Jan Reid biography on Ann —Let the People In, will be out in October from the U of T Press … a reportedly good documentary on her — “Ann Richards’ Texas” — has been making the rounds of the current film festivals and headed for commercial release … The A.R. School for Young Women Leaders is booming in Austin and its first senior class graduates in June under the tutelage of her daughter Ellen (If you could make a contribution to Box 684746 in Austin — zip 78768 — that would do much to cheer Ann’s spirit) … Ann’s other daughter Cecile is the fighting head of Planned Parenthood so one can’t say Ann didn’t leave a legacy.

But my favorite “Ann” is the coming play about a part of her life, written and acted by my friend the Emmy-winning Holland Taylor. (You have seen Holland as the over-sexed mother of Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.” Her acting is super.)

The play is already legendary. I saw it at the Kennedy Center and it has so far appeared in five cities. It will come to Broadway after the New Year when a theater opens up for it.

CLINT EASTWOOD is all-but a literal god in Hollywood. He is worshipped and can do no wrong; an elder statesman of the show biz community. But I thought his distracted, hesitant and unscripted appearance at Mitt Romney’s nominating night might have clipped his wings a bit.

It reminded me that back in 1994, this columnist took the side of his beleaguered mistress Sondra Locke. Sondra — an Oscar nominee for “The Heart is A Lonely Hunter” — cohabited with Clint for 14 years. He made her an inescapable part of his film history, starring her in six famous films. But then things got messy and he was determined to be rid of her, using Warner Bros. to give her a contract for a three-picture directing deal if she’d drop a palimony suit. Only one of Sondra’s movies came to fruition — “Ratboy.”  But she was aced out of the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy, eventually realized by Universal as “Junior.”

Naturally, Hollywood lined up behind Clint, Warner Bros. and Universal. Not much has been heard from Sondra since. (The last film of hers I can track down is something called “The Prophet’s Game,” back in 2000.)

Clint Eastwood may be a great movie star and filmmaker, but he is no angel — no public speaker either. He’s a shaky 82-year-old man who derailed the dignity of what had been a fairly positive outing for Republicans. And he even descended into bringing the phrase “Go ___ yourself!” into an important, albeit “religious” political event.

This column originally appeared on on 9/4/12

8 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Laura Ward says:

    Clint Eastwood’s many children from different mothers says what Clint is about. However, it looks like he got undeservably lucky marrying two wives with class.

  2. avatar Dorothyt says:

    Sorry, Liz.  You didn’t like Clint’s speech because you are a far left democrat.  And I guess you need to be in the business you’re in.  I loved it, and I’m a democrat.  Refreshing, funny, real, spontaneous, a speech for the people.  He will always be the coolest.  And as for Sondra Locke, she is only one of so, so, many who have been cast aside by Hollywood stars.  He will always be the coolest guy in the room.  Bravo, Clint!

  3. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Democrat, Republican, or independent who votes based on the candidate, not the party, Clint Eastwood’s performance ***was*** hysterical…but not real or refreshing. Unless you’re going to use it as an advertisement for the profound effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia. He had his facts incorrect, he was rambling and incoherent, and he made an excellent representation of the bizarre combination of lies, misstatements, myths and vagaries that far too many adherents to the current GOP believe not only about Barack Obama, but about the United States’ current situation and last two decades of history.

    Those things are not funny. I am not “far left”, I am not party affiliated, and there was a time when I thought Mitt Romney might be a viable candidate. That was until he began rapidly flipping his stance on a number of key issues at dazzling speed, pandering to the fanatical religious right, revealed himself as not only lacking any understanding of the middle class, but having no interest in supporting the majority of citizens in the US…and picked Paul Ryan as a running mate. Clint Eastwood, in the sense of being a darkly humorous one-act play for the ethos and ideology of the GOP’s current platform certainly was “real”.

  4. avatar Briana Baran says:

    That was supposed to read, “To any Democrat…”. I don’t know what happened there. Wish there was an “edit” feature”.

  5. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Ann Richards was fun. But as governor, well, not all that. But she certainly left a legacy of snappy one-liners and “bulls-eyes.”

  6. avatar Briana Baran says:

    I would sooner have Ann Richards, with ALL of her faults, than Rick Perry, who is nothing but one massive hair-ball of epic stupidity and failure. Goodhair and his legion of Tea Baggers, neo-cons and revisionist religious fanatics with their misogynistic, anti-intellectual/critical-thinking/education platform are the absolute nadir of Texas politics.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I think Rick Perry should plan on moving on. He really hasn’t been that bad as a governor. But he really is not much of a pastor….

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Blargh. Let’s talk cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood, supporting the Tea Party (have you EVER actually tried to have an intelligent discussion with any of those, ahem, “morans”? I have. No signs of evolved life), cutting funding to education, supporting the religious right and their dedication to revoking womens’ rights, revising textbooks for schools…o, you know, I could go on.

        Baby, I really do respect you. But it isn’t all about conservation (Rusty and I are very conservation and environmentally aware, we live a very green lifestyle, and we are extremely conscious…up to and including the fact that his job as an IT administrator is with a petrochemical company…and he’d still be willing to see the whole industry suffer if a valid alternative were found. He does NOT work for BP, and he knows exactly what happened on their rig. His company has a the equivalent of a 5-star rating. They can’t hide anything from him…he’s the IT guy). It’s also about people, and civil and human rights, and the middle class, and reality. Rick Perry is a clueless idiot, a Luddite, anti-intellectual and a jingoist.

        He does suck as a pastor…but I’d rather have a pastor that couldn’t lead his flock of sheep than one who had his shuck and jive down to a snake oil science.