Michael Caine: “We’re all deaf in one ear.”

Excerpt from Michael Caine’s awesome book Michael Caine – Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making.

Richard Widmark once gave me a piece of advice about large noises in film. He said:

“Watch the special effects when you’re working, especially in Westerns.”

I said, “Why is that, Dick?”

“What?” he said. “Can you talk into my other ear?”

So I said, “Why is that, Dick?” into his other ear.

He says, “You know all those scenes in pictures where you see the cowboy and he ducks back, and the explosive goes off in the rocks? You talk to any one of us. We’re all deaf in one ear.”

Henry Fonda, who was also there, joined in then and asked, “What did he say?”

So I said, “You made a lot of Westerns, too, didn’t you, Hank?”

“Yeah, I did,” he said.

Another Henry Fonda anecdote from Michael Caine:

Some stars are very particular about what they want from lighting. One day I was doing the off-camera part for Hank Fonda during his close-ups. I was standing there and we’re about to do the scene, and Fonda says, “Where’s the inky-dink? Where’s the tiny light?” The lighting guy says, “Oh, I forgot, Mr. Fonda. Sorry.” And he goes and brings it in.

You always wondered about the wonderful way Hank looks in close-ups? He had a gleam in his eyes and a slightly watery, sad look. Well, it was thanks to the inky-dink. Instead of looking at my face, he put this tiny light where my face was and stared straight into that light while I talked behind it.

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