‘FIRE DOWN BELOW’–ED SULLIVAN VISITS MITCHUM/HAYWORTH/LEMMON

Here’s a neat little five minute interview promo for the 1957 film ‘Fire Down Below’, starring Robert Mitchum, Rita Hayworth and Jack Lemmon. Ed Sullivan seems to have schlepped down to the films Trinidad location and filmed this little pre-EPK segment for broadcast on his show–it can’t be live, can it? I ask only because you hear the studio audience laugh at one of Lemmon’s lines. (No, I’m sure they just showed the pre-filmed clip on air). Mitchum gets the most time and is weirdly normal–he chats amiably, doesn’t seem bored or annoyed, refrains from his usual press interview responses (he loved saying to reporters ‘you want to suck what?’) and isn’t obviously drunk–one wonders what calming herbs were used in the Island’s hashish. Rita gets very little time but Lemmon makes the most of his short slot. At the end the films director, Robert Parrish, shows up and sits back to camera, not even making an effort to grab a little on-screen face time. I recall seeing the movie years ago on commercial (non-cable) TV, squeezed into our Zenith black and white and chopped up with commercials, and thinking that those three stars deserved a better vehicle. But times change and sometimes movies that looked faded thirty years ago look better with age…and vice-versa.

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