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NOT LONG AGO A CHAP from the publicity department was strolling down one of the studio streets at 20th Century-Fox Film emporium. The man was whistling, an activity that prompted a passing friend to inquire, "What makes you feel so good? Ugly great aunt die and leave you a pound of butter?"
"Simply a swell morning," responded the maligned one. He added, strictly as an after-thought, "Incidentally, did you know that Ty's back? Up in his old dressing room, getting ready to go to work in The Razor's Edge next week."
"Oh -- great!" said the other, and passed on the word to the first person he met.
DOWN IN THE MAIL ROOM, one girl called to the other, "How heavy is it this morning?"
"Plenty. Seems like old times now that Ty is getting a sack of fan mail every day. Just look at 'em come in!" was the answer.
In the makeup department, one of the face-savers paused in mid-eyebrow to remark, "I saw Ty in the Commissary this morning -- he looks wonderful. Sure seems nice to have him around again."
If the foregoing gives you the idea that Tyrone Power, erstwhile Lieutenant Power of the Marine Corps, is held in high esteem on his home lot, don't let it worry you. You're quite right.
One of the many facets of his personality that has endeared Tyrone Power to his fellow workers is his sense of humor. He joined the Marine Corps in the fall of 1942, but was allowed to finish Crash Dive before he reported for duty. He was in New London, Connecticut, when he heard that Henry Fonda had also joined up. Promptly Ty wired his fellow actor, "I see that the James Boys are into it again."
Before he went overseas in January, 1945, he happened to be in a bookstore near his home base. Although he had no idea at that time of the interweavings of fate that would cast him eventually in the title role of The Captain from Castile, he was intrigued by the jacket on the book -- the pictorial buildup indicated an exciting story -- so he bought the Shellabarger novel.
Eventually he found himself established in a fale (pronounced, as Mr. Power says "with justice", folly) with four other men. As he was flying regular missions with the TAG (Transport Air Group), he had occasional hours for reading and these he devoted to Captain from Castile.
The other men in the quarters, impressed with such devotion to the printed page in preference to the sack or gum-beating sessions, craved to know wherein lay the fascination. Ty undertook to brief them on the plot as far as he had read. "Well, get going," they told him. "Don't waste time; read. We want the book next." And they tossed a coin to determine in what order the book should be inherited.
At this point, confusion crept in. Ty discovered that page 45 followed page 100. Checking back, he made certain that about 45 extra pages had been inserted. Ty hopped over the duplicated pages and plunger deeper into the story. Eventually he came to that portion of the book from which 45 pages had been dropped. It was an infuriating situation -- completely out of hand. Hastily, he wrote to the author, saying that he was quite sure his roommates were equal to handling any military emergency that might arise; as a corollary to this assumption, Ty added that he did not care to face these angry men when they learned that 45 of the most important pages had been deducted from the book. He solicited prompt reinforcements.
Mr. Shellabarger dispatched a substitute volume at once. His covering letter said that, out of a printing of nearly three hundred thousand books, Ty had come into possession of the only ONE that was defective. This statement only deepened Lt. Power's gloom. To his roommates he said, "I hit a three-hundred-thousand-to-one shot, and this has to be the year when the Irish Sweepstakes are NOT being run."
The fale (named after a native type of abode and not in honor of the uselessness of opposing a Marine) was something special in the hut department. Under the auspices of moonlight requisition, the boys had come into possession of a red parachute and this had been installed in the top of the tent, imparting a harem-esque flare to the decor. A red glow permeated the premises at all times, causing some confusion: it was impossible to tell whether a man was embarrassed, enraged, sunburned or feverish. Observed Lt. Power, "We were as seductive as Saturday in a perfume bar."
Over his sack, Ty had placed the pictures of his family; over his nearest neighbor's bed hung a pair of ballet slippers in honor of the man's wife, who had danced at the Roxy; over the sack of the youngest member of the quintet hung the world's finest collection of pictures of June Allyson. When she married Dick Powell, great was the consternation of her Saipan admirer. His friends worked hard to console him. They suggested that the red interlining be dyed black; they applied themselves to all incoming magazines and newspapers in an earnest attempt to find allusions to the honeymoon of Miss Allyson and Mr. Powell. These were posted in a conspicuous place near the med of the mourning swain.
As is always the case when a group of men live and work together, and come to know one another well, some of their antics took a sentimental turn. They were as eager to salute the emotional moment as to plot some new japery.
To explain the sentimental moment, one must know that the group with which Lt. Power went overseas was ordered to fly its own planes. This made it possible for the pilots and crew to take along that group of personal possessions calculated to make it a bearable war. Ty used his spare space to transport a portable phonograph and a mellow collection of recordings.
One day he came in from a fairly rough run and was greeted by his tent mates with the happy news that they had a new recording. At that time it didn't occur to Ty that, since the number of record shops on Saipan was negligible, the point of origin of this new recording might be open to interesting speculation.
"Yeah? Let's hear it, he said, dropping down on his cot.
When the needle was put down an orchestration sang out, then settled to background music over which, clear and sweet and utterly lovely, came Annabella's voice. She was reciting her letter to her husband.
The package containing the recording had arrived that morning, having come safely all the way from Paris to Saipan. The men, scrutinizing all mail that arrived, correctly guessed what might be in the parcel, opened it, and introduced it to Ty with proper buildup.
Lt. Power, meditating upon the fact that a girl he had married in the United States and established a home with in Brentwood was now sending him, based on Saipan, a recording made in Paris, came to the conclusion that the world was no bigger than an apple. A n apple much bruised on the outside, certainly, and with probably a worm, lying along its core, but still an apple appealing to the possessive Adam in man.
Somewhat later -- shortly after VJ Day - Ty had another experience that persuaded him of the smallness of the world, a smallness modified by complexity.
Based, by that time, at Omura on the island of Kyushu, Ty was given the job of ferrying a transport plane to Japan. Omura had been, during the Japanese occupation, a Nipponese Naval Proving Ground, and among the equipment captured by American forces were three "Georges", a new type of pursuit plane. Because the Air Technical Intelligence Department wanted to take a look at the Georges, it was decided that three Japanese pilots would fly the planes to the mainland, accompanied by one transport (in which the Japanese were to be returned to quarters where they were to be kept as prisoners), and four American fighter pilots.
One of the greatest double-takes in unrecorded pictorial history was given by Ty as a result of this bizarre situation. He had been pretty busy on takeoff because the weather was nothing to package and sell for June weddings, and in general preoccupation of watching the instrument panel and navigating, the exact nature of his mission sifted into the back of his mind. Briefly he forgot that the war was over and that the skies were peaceable.
Once he had attained the proper altitude, he settled back and inhaled a fine large breath. Then, from the tail of his eye, he caught sight of the three Georges snuggling up close under his port wing. The solid person of Lt. Power did not leap eighteen inches into the air, nor squall like a scaled cat, nor undertake instant evasive maneuvers, but the psychic person of Lt. Power had a nasty ten seconds before full realization allowed him to inhale another fine large breath.
The Georges were delivered without further incident, but on the return trip Lieutenant Power was ordered to land at Kyota on official business. Obeying orders, he landed on an airstrip which had never previously been used by anything larger than a fighter plane. This turned out to be an embarrassing situation because the transport plane, fast and heavy, used up all of the runway and settled sullenly in the sand.
Everyone piled out, including the three Japanese pilots who were riding the transport back to base, and made impractical suggestions for getting the plane back on solid footing. Through the interpreter, one of the Japanese suggested that a group of local Jap eager-beavers be enticed into pushing the plane over the strip. Said Pilot Power to the interpreter, knowing that the crack couldn't be translated, "The first time I revved up the motors, neighborhood prophets would see plenty of straws in the wind. The prop wash would scatter little characters all over the countryside.
Ty climbed back into the ship to meditate over the situation, at which point of one the Japanese pilots approached and handed Ty a small, bound volume. "Ootograph, please?" he said.
The man whose wheel prints were on the sands of Japan, and whose footprints were on the concrete of Grauman's forecourt, placed his pen prints on a page in a pilot's autograph book.
As Tyrone returned the book, the Japanese pilot carried the affair into opera bouffe by saying glibly, "Merci beaucoup."
Hanging onto his hat, Ty asked, "Parlez-vous Francais?"
"Mais oui, certainment!" answered the Japanese eagerly, continuing with the explanation that he had lived and studied in Paris for six years directly before the war.
He and Ty carried on a long, reminiscent conversation about places each knew; restaurants, museums, quaint streets.
It was not until much later that Ty, once again, began to muse upon the compactness of the earth. To be an American pilot sitting in a momentarily stranded American transport on a Japanese airstrip, speaking in French to a vanquished Japanese fighter pilot, gave Tyrone Power the feeling that he was a pixie living in Burton Holmes' beard.
As it turned out, the entire party was stranded in Kyoto for four days, awaiting the assistance of of a caterpillar that was loaned by a nearby Army installation. Ty made good use of the four days. He bought two kimonos to bring back to Annabella. He also bought five hand-carved ivory figures. These are worth an explanation. They are about four inches tall, sculptured in the form of lucky goddesses, flowers, and other traditional Japanese art subjects. The back of the figurine is perforated in such manner that a cord can be run through in much the way a fob is fastened on a watch-chain. Geisha girls string cord through the figures, fasten the other end of the cord to a coin purse, and stuff the purse into the obi (sash) that serves as a cumber bund around their kimonos. The figure serves as a pull as well as an ornament roughly equivalent to our lapel clips.
In addition to his other duties, Ty was also entertainment officer, which meant that he lined up both the live and the projection machine shows for his particular group. Because their projector was sixteen millimeter, they were on the army movie circuit; because of the number of customers enjoyed by the theatre, the image was beamed from 110 feet. And, finally, because of these handicaps, any movie scene originally shot in low-key lighting was almost invisible to the audience, which was not too grimly disturbed; some literate observer always took up the narrative, when action faded into background, and gave it some fillips that would have turned the Hayes office green.
One evening Ty got the projectionist started, then withdrew to the Officers' Club. He was unhappy about the quality of the evening's motion picture, so confided this apprehension to a few fast beers.
Somewhat later the projectionist reported. "I don't think they cared much for the picture tonight, sir," he said softly.
"No? What did they have to say about it?" inquired the entertainment officer.
"They didn't say much, sir," sighed the projectionist. "They just STONED the booth."
It is Tyrone Power's solemn intention to do all in his power, now that he is back in Hollywood, to prevent that sort of picture from being made. He has acquired no soap box, and he intends no crusade, but -- having done time on a such-and-such island, and having attained the G.I. viewpoint -- he is eager to make only those pictures guaranteed to preserve the paint on a projection booth.
Twentieth is cooperating nicely; The Razor's Edge will bring Tyrone Power back in a fine vehicle. Incidentally, he wants everyone to know that The Razor's Edge is NOT a sequel to the advertisements for Spellbound.
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