Maybe Ridley Scott Should’ve Read This Memoir Before Replacing Spacey With Plummer

Everyone is terrible, even Captain von Trapp.
Christopher Plummer is stepping into the scenes that had been filled by Kevin Spacey in "All the Money in the World." What's rich is that his own attitudes are, well, questionable.
Christopher Plummer is stepping into the scenes that had been filled by Kevin Spacey in "All the Money in the World." What's rich is that his own attitudes are, well, questionable.
John Lamparski via Getty Images

Earlier this month, director Ridley Scott and Imperative Entertainment decided to drop Kevin Spacey from the upcoming “All the Money in the World” and reshoot scenes with Christopher Plummer in Spacey’s role. Plummer later told Vanity Fair that he thinks “it’s very sad what happened to him. Kevin is such a talented and a terrifically gifted actor, and it’s so sad. It’s such a shame.”

It is a sad situation, certainly — just not for Kevin Spacey. But perhaps Plummer is not exactly a moral authority on the subject of lechery and predation. For evidence, look no further than his 2008 memoir, “In Spite of Myself,” in which Plummer posits that a dancing 16-year-old “nymph” had to have been “triple-jointed for she was able to do the most amazing and unprintable things.”

That does not even begin to get at the astounding, horrifying mess that is Plummer’s overwrought, 700-page ode to himself, which for some unholy reason prompted The New York Times to write that Plummer “writes and reports almost as well as he acts.” Oh? Here is a representative sentence: “As I looked across the table at these two minxes, both of them flushed with the innocence of English roses, I realized that between them they’d had more lovers than Napoleon’s army.” If Plummer acted as well as he wrote that sentence, he’d be doing dinner theater in Stouffville.

But the book is full of this stuff — blithe, purple prose about things people stopped being blithe and purple about long before 2008. Witness the time he played Michelle Pfeiffer’s wealthy father, in 1994′s “Wolf,” but became “so hypnotized” by “those deep limpid eyes of hers” that he forgot how to fake-slap her and instead “let her have it with full barrels.” Or the way he refers to mixed-race people as “half-breeds.”

There is, of course, much, much more. We’ve picked out some of the more atrocious parts below. Everyone is terrible, even Captain von Trapp.

On Underage Girls

Recalling his schoolboy days:

News of massive import hit Montreal High School like a tornado that one of the girl students across the quad wore no pants. It turned out she herself was largely responsible for this hot little scoop as she never ceased to inform the world of that fact. She was raunchy, petite, cheeky with a galvanizing little body and was thoroughly enjoying wreaking havoc with the male students and their concentration. One day, a bunch of us fellows passed her as she was reclining on the school steps, smoldering away seductively to herself. She saw us ogling her and at once began sinuously to spread her legs, lifting her skirt ever so casually at the same time. At the apex of two pale, graceful, well-shaped young limbs was the biggest black bush anyone is ever likely to see.

When Plummer was 23:

Among others there was a sneaky scene-stealer called Eric House and a merry, sexy little fifteen-year-old apprentice named Waverly (stepdaughter of John Steinbeck and daughter of film star Zachary Scott), whom Kate at once took under her protective wing.

[...] Bad habits were forming. We were too relaxed, too easily distracted. Our eyes began to wander—mine particularly. Fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Waverly, our adopted mascot, had blossomed considerably; there was no mistaking it. The slight crush I already had was growing rapidly by the moment. Kate, however, always the chaperone, in her best Mother Cabrini, wagged a “Don’t touch” finger at me and I was forced to play possum. The fact that Waverly’s father had arrived to be our new “star” made any sort of tryst all the more unlikely, so I transferred my attentions to a much easier target, the voluptuous young assistant stage manager with the great boobs who provocatively made it her constant practice to sit on everyone’s lap.

When Plummer was in his mid-20s:

One stripper in particular caught our immediate attention. She wasn’t in the least coarse like the others; her features were delicate, fine. She had pale skin and long blonde tresses, and from head to toe she was perfectly formed. The very picture of a tiny angel untouched, unsullied, she was, as Keats might say: “Full beautiful, a faery’s child / Her hair was long, her foot was light / And her eyes were wild.”

She must have lied about her age—she was only sixteen, the waiters told me. […] This nymph who seemed so pure and innocent would not have recognized an inhibition had she met one head-on. [...] I’ve never seen anyone attack her work with such passion and fury. She clearly couldn’t wait to take everything off as she tossed aside each minute particle of clothing with careless abandon and instinctive grace. The combination of devil and saint was proving too irresistible—it was most apparent her intentions were not just to taunt us but herself as well and the crowd began to see signs of approaching turbulence. If San Francisco was a breeder of earthquakes, please let them be like this one. Caught up in our excitement for her, she would dance this mad dance of hers, naked as nature had made her, or slither and roll along the floor, reflected in its shiny surface striking every suggestive pose imaginable; she had to have been triple-jointed for she was able to do the most amazing and unprintable things.

When Plummer was 40:

We were served langoustines and champagne and some pasta with white truffles and I noticed a very beautiful seminude French girl seated apart at one of the gambling tables—very knowing, ultrasophisticated. “What’s she doing here?” I whispered to Kurt. “Oh, her? She’s a cardsharp, a pro. She’s only sixteen, you know. Sam likes to keep her around when the games get heavy—and maybe for other things too—who knows?” Another conspiratorial wink.

On What Women Bring To The Table

He also had the good taste to employ a young dark-haired beauty from New Orleans to play the part of Memory Mellons, a half-breed native who wasn’t required to speak or be spoken to but only to be looked upon. This turned out to be no chore, for with what she had to offer, and what she was wearing, she became known to all of us as “Mammory Mellons.” Her real name was Cynthia and she was eighteen or thereabouts.

On Job Perks

To further pamper me, the “powers that be” had given me an assistant to be at my beck and call. She was twenty or thereabouts and her name was Bambi. Apart from being generous, tremendous fun and immensely smart (she spoke Greek fluently), Bambi was pretty easy on the eyes. She had a very sexy face and her long thin legs seemed never to end—that illusion further enhanced by the shortest of miniskirts. When she would stand over me at breakfast awaiting instructions for the day, it left next to nothing to the imagination. [...] Bambi and I rented a small cottage on the beach from a retired crusty old English army major. We had the whole beach to our-selves—no one was about. We simply indulged our days, mostly nude, swimming and guzzling the crayfish that only Greece seems to produce—the sweetest, pinkest and most succulent ever. It was just the two of us—Robinson Crusoe and his Girl Friday.

On Rape

She was also a diabolical tease. Scantily clad always, she deliberately never wore underpants and made certain that wherever she sat, on a bar stool or on a couch, she positioned herself in such a way that everyone could get a first-class view. We christened her “Miss Snatch.”

That night I noticed for the first time that Miss Snatch was missing. Someone told me she’d packed her things that very day and had left the island in a great hurry. We decided there had always been something a little shifty about her, a girl her age, traveling alone, and so on. She looked so dissatisfied, so discontented most of the time, okay—she was after something all right. Whether she ever got what she came for, I’ll never know; but I was to know one thing for sure—she got Billie.

It didn’t take me long to find out. It seemed our young lady friend had enticed him to her room on some pretext or other. Once he was inside the door, she must have flashed him and I guess poor Billie couldn’t help himself. I know as sure as I know my name that Billie was too shy with the ladies, too simple, too innocent, to have done anything harmful or rash—he probably just touched her where he shouldn’t have and that was all. Whatever happened, when he left the room, she called downstairs to the desk, threatened the hotel with one hefty lawsuit and demanded the police. When they arrived, she told them he’d raped her.

On Imagined Rape

What taxed most of my brain power was what they would look like without any clothes. Each one I passed on the street, no matter what age, I would rape with my eyes, positive that whatever she was wearing would instantly fall from her like lead and there she would stand, for all the world to see—Ha! Ha! without a stitch!

On Homosexuality

Binkie, who was camp as a row of tents, used this as a means of recruiting young actors who hopefully were as gay as he. The easiest way to find out was to stick ’em in the lift with one of his gay stage managers who then would give the master a full report. Every ambitious young gay actor in town, talented or not, who knew about that lift looked upon it as their bread, bed and butter. This same scenario was hilariously parodied many years later in Mel Brooks’s classic film comedy The Producers.

I zonked out and woke up much later to find someone standing at the foot of my hospital bed busily shaving away my pubic hairs. It was a male orderly. Well, I’m not certain—male is perhaps not too accurate a term. It seemed to be wearing a red wig slightly askew, was chubby, with fat little hands, had albinolike skin covered in freckles and was very, very nervous. Every time it shook, its hands slipped, taking another jab out of me with its razor. I looked down. I was bleeding away happily in several areas.

Also the orderly never stopped talking—it simply wouldn’t shut up. “Lithen, I wouldn’t wanna be thtuck with what you’ve got! You’ve gone and got yourthelf an iddy-biddy nathty kidney thtone up there. I bet I know whooth not gonna by playin’ Henry The Fiff tonight? Yeth thir! You’re gonna thtay thtuck in your bed and retht and firtht thing t’morrow you’re goin’ to be thtrapped thtraight onto the operating table where they’ll thtick a long thin peeth of wire up yer lil Henry the Fiff. Oh yeth—that’ll get rid of the lil thun of a bitch, you’ll thee!”

I was at the miserable creep’s mercy and it was enjoying every minute. The job accomplished, the creep finally minced out, leaving behind a trail of cheap, heady perfume that lingered in the room long after with a suffocating stench.

On Laurence Olivier’s Othello:

This was a real, honest-to-God black Negro, blacker than any Cameroonian—a half-naked warrior with curly matted hair, bare feet and anklets and large, voluptuous lips that folded back in a grimace, a smile or a snarl covering his whole face (he even painted the roof of his mouth and his tongue white, I remember), not to mention the strange wild animal sounds that erupted from deep inside him. In an age when black actors are expected to own the role, he presented a shocking and quite salacious image. [...] His dresser was having the deuce of a time trying to remove the makeup—it wasn’t coming off at all easily. What could this mean? Black Equity’s revenge?

On Uhhhh:

She was a pure-skinned, raven-haired, Semitic beauty from Blighty and her name was Bloom.

In composing her ironclad contracts, however, she was more ruthless and thorough than any lawyer or agent I have ever known. Her speech was hard-core New York Jewish.

It was just as well for the choice of restaurants in the town was, to put it mildly, limited. There was the Golden Bamboo and Ellam’s Diner, and that was just about it. The Golden Bamboo was a Chinese restaurant which had not improved since the owner’s ancestors built the railroads. In fact, we occasionally took our washing there, justifiably mistaking it for a laundry.

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