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george Bancroft - the drag net

There’s an old Hollywood parable that very appropriately sums of the Huckster’s philosophy of life. He was riding the crest of success and towering over those who would be his peers — the biggest names in Tinsel Town. With three feature films, three television pilots and a Broadway play all in the works at the same time, he felt invincible. And for a while he was. Then the realities of success took hold.

That famous telling incident took place long before the Huckster was born, but it’s pertinence summed things up pretty well. Understand it and you understood the Huckster.

In the waning days of silent films, popular actor George Bancroft was at the top of his game. He was cast in the lead of the 1928 film The Drag Net about  a fictional gangster.

The film was being directed by the famed and legendary tough guy director, Josef von Sternberg. He gave his star the following directions:

“George, start walking up the stairs, I will say bang, you clutch your chest and fall. Got it? OK, action.”

Bancroft took three steps up the stairs. “Bang!” shouted von Sternberg. No reaction. The director shouted, “Bang” again. Still with no stopping the determined actor. “Bancroft, didn’t you hear me? I said “Bang!” Bancroft continued up the stairs. “Bancroft, you are ruining the shot. BANG!!!”

The actor reached the top of the stairs and turned to the director. “Remember this, pal! It takes more than one bullet to kill Bancroft!”

von Sternberg got the last word, though. He succeeded to “execute” his star in the editing room, and with one shot.

And so it was with the legend of the Hollywood Huckster. You could tell Kevin to do one thing yet he’d only do what he wanted and his way — at least until life’s Josef von Sternberg took him out.

You can read more here: HOLLYWOOD HUCKSTER.