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Act One

Act One(1963)

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teaser Act One (1963)

Celebrating his motion picture debut in Crime and Punishment (1959), Hollywood newcomer George Hamilton treated himself to a trip to Jamaica, where, while billeted in a Montego Bay hotel, he made the acquaintance of playwright Moss Hart and Hart's wife, actress Kitty Carlisle. Taking the actor under his wing, Hart declared Hamilton to be the perfect choice to play him in a film adaptation of his bestselling theatrical memoir, Act One. Made under the auspices of Warner Brothers, Act One (1963) was the only feature ever directed by longtime Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executive Dore Schary and boasts an exceptionally fine cast. In addition to Jason Robards, Jr., in the role of Hart's acerbic writing partner George S. Kaufman, Act One provided early paychecks for such up-and-coming players as Jack Klugman, George Segal, David Doyle, Kenneth Mars (in his film debut), and Bert Convy (as Archie Leach... aka Cary Grant), as well as the more seasoned likes of Eli Wallach and Sam Levene. (To modern eyes, the most interesting casting choice might be Jonathan Lippe, later Jonathan Goldsmith, a long-time Hollywood character actor who is best known now as "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in TV spots for Dos Equis beer.) Though the autobiographical film charts Hart and Kaufman's success with the stage play Once in a Lifetime, Act One was not a success. Next up for George Hamilton was yet another biopic, Your Cheating Heart (1964), which chronicled the brilliant career and sad demise of country-western singer Hank Williams.

By Richard Harland Smith

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