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LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER???


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In the index of the TCM Guide for March, "The List Of Adrian Messenger"---one of my favorite movies---

is listed for 3/5, but this cannot be found on the inside pages for this date, nor for any other date during March.  In addition, it's not listed in the TCM site online schedule.   This movie has rarely, if ever, been

shown on TCM.   Anybody know why it was pulled from the schedule?

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Wow, you are certainly diligent to cross-reference the index of your guide against the content on the pages!

 

As for List "rarely if ever" being shown on TCM, you're definitely right about that. It last aired on the network 15 years ago!

 

It's a movie I've never seen but have been intrigued by. There used to be a debate on the now-defunct imdb message boards about the cameos. Like I said, I haven't seen it, but from what I've read about it (Spoiler alert!) during the course of the movie, Kirk Douglas encounters a lot of people in crazy, heavily made-up disguises. Then, during the final minute or two of the movie, we get close-ups of all those disguised people peeling their disguises off to reveal they were all big-name celebrities - look, it's Frank Sinatra! Look, it's Tony Curtis! Look, it's Burt Lancaster!

 

However, according to the message board debate, there was some controversy over whether those actors actually appeared in the movie, other than they obviously appeared to reveal themselves at the very end. But that they were not actually in the scenes within the storyline of the movie in which they were walking and talking and interacting with Kirk Douglas, that unknowns actually appeared in those scenes. They were all so heavily made up, there's no way the audience could have told.

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I love this movie and it's on Youtube.  Luckily, I recorded it last time it was shown on TCM.  I wish they did play it more often because, even with the controversy about if Sinatra, Curtis, and Lancaster actually did more in the movie than the "end movie reveal", it is an enjoyable movie.   

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I guess I'm in the minority here, but I really did not enjoy the movie.  The reason is that I had read the novel at least twice before seeing the movie.  It's a very intriguing novel, one of my favorites.  If I had seen the movie first, I'm sure I would have a different opinion.  But for most people, it definitely is worth watching.

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Mitchum was definitely in his scenes.  Lancaster mostly absent; I think Dave Willock subbed for Sinatra. And I believe Jan Merlin did many of Kirk's disguise scenes. I think the gimmick may have helped the box office but it hurt the picture, which is a very fine mystery.

 

Jerry Goldsmith's score is outstanding.

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Mitchum was definitely in his scenes.  Lancaster mostly absent; I think Dave Willock subbed for Sinatra. And I believe Jan Merlin did many of Kirk's disguise scenes. I think the gimmick may have helped the box office but it hurt the picture, which is a very fine mystery.

 

Jerry Goldsmith's score is outstanding.

 

What do you mean by 'Lancaster mostly absent"?    That the director substituted someone that wasn't Burt but tried to trick the audience into thinking it was Burt?     I.e. that is the gimmick?

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James, refer to my previous post on this thread. The "gimmick" was there are a lot of heavily made-up actors in the film. In the final minutes, these actors peel off their disguises to reveal themselves to be famous actors. However, it appears some of those famous actors didn't actually film the scenes in the actual story of the movie, just the very brief bits where they reveal themselves.

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What do you mean by 'Lancaster mostly absent"?    That the director substituted someone that wasn't Burt but tried to trick the audience into thinking it was Burt?     I.e. that is the gimmick?

 

Yes. Those scenes were all shot on location and Lancaster was definitely not in the frump makeup.  By "gimmick" I meant the entire business of using stars en masquerade. Especially since they were often doubled.

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James, refer to my previous post on this thread. The "gimmick" was there are a lot of heavily made-up actors in the film. In the final minutes, these actors peel off their disguises to reveal themselves to be famous actors. However, it appears some of those famous actors didn't actually film the scenes in the actual story of the movie, just the very brief bits where they reveal themselves.

 

Thanks to both Ray and you for the insight.   Yea, I knew about famous actors being in disguises but not the use of doubles.   If I paid to see the film in a theater and found that out I would want at least a bag of free popcorn and some jellybeans! :lol:  

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So the surprise is not that the billed actors were in the movie, but that they weren't!

 

Well, even though I watched it recently, I sat through it again.  Not an entirely painful experience, considering the participation of Mr. Scott, Mr. Brooks, and Dana Wynter, and the direction of John Houston (if indeed he did direct it!)

 

I have to say, considering the claims, I can see no reason for doubting the participation of all the billed actors.  You can layer latex on the face, and pad out bodies, and dub in voices, but you can't disguise posture, carriage, and mannerisms.  Those qualities in the characters in the movie, and the actors as they reveal their identities at the end appear the same to me.  The only hesitation I have is for Burt Lancaster.  There isn't quite enough of his avatar in the movie for me to feel settled about it.

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Picture+2.png

 

Burtless Lancaster?

 

 

 

You certainly see that it is a smiling Burt when he takes off the makeup at the end of the film. Whether it's him earlier in the film, as well, it's difficult to tell with all that latex disguising his features.

 

Unlike Robert Mitchum's latexed character, it's certainly never obvious that the animal rights frump is played by Burt. I wonder what source of information Ray has, though, to be so certain that it's not Lancaster.

 

75863418.png

 

I'm not certain if this is a publicity still or a shot actually taken from the movie. But here, to me, it does look like Lancaster (and looking quite a bit different from the above image, I must say).

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Messenger is a Universal film, and you'll grow old waiting for TCM to play it. There is a cheaply priced DVD set called "Kirk Douglas: The Centennial Collection" that you can get for under 20 bucks on Amazon  that has eight movies on five discs. One of them is "The List of Adrian Messenger".  It was put out by Universal so hopefully the quality is decent.  Here's the link:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Kirk-Douglas-Centennial-Collection/dp/B01DKC2A2U

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75863418.png

 

I'm not certain if this is a publicity still or a shot actually taken from the movie. But here, to me, it does look like Lancaster (and looking quite a bit different from the above image, I must say).

 

 

You are right, TomJH.  It does look like it is not Burt Lancaster in the movie.  Maybe that's why there was so little of the character he made up as.  I'd take a closer look at the organ grinder and the Romany horse trainer, but there's a button I have to sew on a shirt cuff.

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Ray is 100% correct. I just took a look at my DVD of Adrian Messenger (from which I took these snapshots).

 

The makeup on the animal rights frump is completely different from when the character appears at the end of the film to reveal that it's Lancaster. Take a look at that shot of her I posted earlier in the thread is see the huge difference. There is also a real woman's voice coming from that character, as well, in her scenes.

 

Burt only appears in the film's final seconds for the "big reveal" which, in itself, is a con on the audience since it is Lancaster's ONLY appearance in the film in makeup.

 

By the way, the film has a fox hunting sequence in which director John Huston makes his own appearance (without makeup) astride a horse, with a couple of lines of dialogue.
 

 

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Don't let the film's gimmick of stars in disguises distract you too much, though. The List of Adrian Messenger is a fun if, for me, a little bit complex, thriller that is definitely worth viewing.

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