Excerpts from Baby Doll : An Autobiography by Carroll Baker
The most important scene we had together was filmed in Hollywood. It was the one in which the older Jett Rink proposes marriage to the now grown-up Luz Benedict II. We did that one scene, take after take, for three entire days! It was incredible. George Stevens believed in extensive coverage, but no other scene had gone on that long. The repetition wasn't because of mistakes, because as far as I could see, there were none. Jimmy and I had rehearsed and were both word perfect. Because we were competitive, there wasn't one take in which either of us was anything less than concentrated and intense; there were no tech- nical hitches because the camera set-ups were simple (the action of the scene took place in a booth of a deserted restaurant in Jett's about-to-be inaugurated hotel). Later I discovered that George Stevens had deliberately allowed can after can of film to be used to record what he was quoted as having called "a great boxing match between actors." George kept the outtakes and played them at home for his friends.
It went something like this: Jimmy sat back in the booth ... I stretched forward, I sat back . . . Jimmy slumped to one side, I sipped my drink . . . Jimmy rolled his cigarette, Jimmy tossed his head ... I took the rose out of the vase and twirled it . . . and on, and on, and on, take after take, during twenty-one hours of filming!
Jimmy and I didn't break the mood between the rounds. The challenge was far too exhilarating to deaden with small talk. While the camera reloaded, we each retired to our own corners.
We were well into the third day of this acting marathon when Jimmy suddenly made a foul play. He hit me below the belt, so to speak. He slid one of his hands under the table. He clamped that hand right up between my legs and squeezed with all his mighty strength.
He didn't remove his hand or loosen his grip. He also didn't miss a beat of the scene.
And what did I do? I was so shocked and embarrassed, I didn't know what to do. I gasped. I wiped the tears of pain and humilia- tion from my glazed eyes. I looked at George Stevens for his help as referee, and when he made no sign to intercede, I finished the scene.
Previously George had praised both Jimmy and me after each take. This time he ignored Jimmy and praised only me. When I was settled into my chair, a few tense moments passed in silence. Then Jimmy walked from his corner over to mine. He threw his arms around my neck and clung tightly to me in a long, sad embrace. I patted his back. No words were necessary. Be- cause it was Jimmy, I could forgive him anything.