Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fleischer on Dino

A Memoir by Richard Fleischer

As you entered the small lobby of the office building you were confronted with a profile view of the De Laurentiis logo, a two-foot-long bronze statue of a magnificent lion. It stood on a waist-high pedestal dead center in the room. Arrogantly displayed under its raised tail was a splendid pair of very shiny balls. There was a superstition (probably promulgated by Dino) that rubbing these burnished testicles brought good luck. Absolutely noboy passed by them without giving them a rub, so they were always highly polished.*
*The lion with the shiny balls followed Dino when he moved to New York years later, and then on to Hollywood where their efficacy, but not their luster, finally dimmed, probably from too much rubbing.
There aren't many people in the world who are immediately recognized by their first name alone, but Dino is one of them. Even in the fifties all you had to say was "Dino" and everyone knew whom you meant. He seems, somehow, to have been born a legend.
An impeccably tailored bundle of raw energy and volatile emotions, he is not only a legend, but also a character. The impact of meeting him for the first time is something akin to sticking your finger into an electric light socket. Short, dark, high forehead, steely black eyes with bushy eyebrows that sweep up satanically at the ends. The word "gravelly" was invented to describe his voice, which he uses to bark out short, staccato, exclamatory sentences. His personality is the same as his speech: curt, abrupt, brusque.
And then there is his smile. It can be open and winning, even disarming. But it can be something else, too. He can give you a smile with his lips only, the rest of his face immobile. It is like looking into the face of icy Death. I know. He did it to me once.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I'll never see Dino's name again without thinking of those lion balls!