“The world's most agreeable girl”
Christian Marquand . 1969
“It was like the finals of a beauty contest,” said the girl who became "the world's most agreeable girl." Swedish Ewa Aulin was 18. She had been the 1965 Miss Teen International had made two Italian films with Jean-Louis Trintignant - brother-in-law of Christian Marquand, who got this mis-managed sex-comedy rolling by persuading his longtime lover, Marlon Brando, into a role. Any role! Brando then talked Burton into any other role. For $50,000 a week - “one week and out!” - and a cut of any profits
“It's a great responsibility discovering a girl for a role like this,” Marquand told me in London. “Ideally, she should really play Candy and disappear.” Aulin took him at his word... fleeing the screen for life as a wife and mother rather than being “just a publicity thing!”
After being hit on so earnestly by Brando, “using all the weapons in his arsenal,” said James Coburn, Ewa couldn't stop laughing in scenes with Brando in his Indian guru fright-wig and she had to undergo a sleep cure in Taormina. (As well as Marquand, Brando contented himself with bit-player and actress wannabe Jill Banner, Iowa-Irish, who joined his LA harem until her car-crash death in 1982).
First published in Paris in 1958, the book eventually topped the US best-sellers for more than a year. No royalty fortune, though, as it was never US-copyrighted. Bad news for the author ...
Terry Southern was once described as
one-part Mozart, one-part Aristophanes
and two-parts grass
He wrote the book with Mason Hoffenburg as a parody of erotic literature.
“It's not so much of a parody, either,” admitted Southern, who died at 71 in 1995. “Candy represents a kind of American girl I've noticed. She is big-hearted, gives herself as a humanitarian gesture, is always getting into situations - an unwise virgin.”
Although clearly no virgin, Marianne Faithful was everyone's first choice. She refused.
“That's when I really completely screwed my film career. That and refusing Women In Love and Performance. I did Girl On A Motorcycle. instead. And I knew that was going to be exploitative bullshit. It was a masochistic desire to torment myself. If I'd met [French stage-screen director] Patrice Chereau in the '60s instead of Alain Delon, I would've had a different film career. I would have had a film career! But it was the '60s and I was only expected to fuck the star. Which I didn't!”
The Movie That Never Ends was scenarist Buck Henry's name for Candy. “We stopped shooting through sheer exhaustion.”
Much the same could be said of the endless Rome tests of lissome, swinging 60s mini-skirted babes with endless legs... Susanne Benton, a topless standout in Robert Altman's That Cold Day in the Park and Catch 22 , was among the Hollywood girls. A tad too buxom.
So was Playboy’s August 1967 Playmate DeDe Lind. Anyway, she turned it down - and every other movie hat came her way. (Apart from two Playboy documentaries, she never made any films). In her landmark book, “I’m With the Band.” Groupie Pamela Des Barres said that she was in the mix. So were Twiggy and Joey Heatherton. (Pamela later appeared in Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels with Candy’s gardener, Ringo Starr).
Marquand said the only American girl who could have played it with the right style was Michelle Phillips. of the Mamas and The Papas singing group. He was so right. She was Candy. First husband Papa John Phillips called her the only flower child he'd met, “the quintessential California girl. She could look innocent, pouty, girlish, aloof, firey.” She regarded free love as perfectly normal, as proved by affairs with all of John's pals, plus Hollywood's horniest young turks: Warren Beatty, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson.
However, making the movie was impossible. The Female Warren Beattty was pregnant...
Next? Pamela Des Barres, Dede Lund and Leslie Horbny… better knownn to the wide world as the model and Swinging London ikon: Twiggy - and just too, well, thin (er, everywhere) for such a sexpot.
Linda Hayden’s mother fretted about her being in Rome for tests. “She was so glad when she thought I was going to work with Tony Newley [she also auditioned for his Can Heironymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness, 1968]. If you do Candy, she said, you will be branded as Candy for the rest of your life - like the Lolita girl. I wouldn’t have minded!” She became Baby Love instead... seducing an entire family: father, mother and teenage son. “Took all my engery, a lot of hard work.”
First Swedish choice, Pia Degermark, turned down $250,000, although it was nearly 200 times her salary as the memorable Elvira Madigan . “I will not play in a dirty picture. I wish to show only goodness in women.” Her father added: “Isn't that adorable for a girl of her age.” “Oh father,” said Pia, 21, “Tyst !”
British blonde Vanessa Howard recalls flying to Rome for a day of tests - she stayed three weeks. “We were all in the same hotel - the YWCA of Rome. The Young Women's Candy Association. We used to joke about collecting money in the street for the Candy Benevolent Fund as we had no money. Oh, it was just a shriek, darling!
“They just wanted long blonde hair and blue eyes
- and found them anywhere. Took one girl off the street...
she couldn't even speak English. A farce!”
"I was just having fun. I never wanted the film. Candy goes around with a blank expression all the time. I prefer making faces."
Roman Polanski considered Connie Kreski the perfect Candy. Her test had Candy arriving at a big hotel, “all innocent and dumb, chattering on about how she's come to the big city for love,” the 1969 Playboy Playmate of the Year, told me in London. “And, well, the bellboy tries to give her some! She kicks him and he makes out he's hurt more than he is. And, just like Candy, she helps him into her bed, even takes off her blouse because she says her buttons are rough on his face...
“It got down to three girls and I was one.
Then, two girls and I was still one... ”
Then, Ewa Aulin got it. She had the drama experience and I hadn't.” Instead, Connie (later James Caan's lover) became Mercy Humppe to nymphette her way through Tony Newley's Candyesque sex comedy, Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?
Another American in Europe, Sydne Rome quit trying “when they wouldn't tell me how many nude scenes. If you take everything off in your first film, what do you do next? They're not going to want to see you putting it all back on.” She used her test to win Italian films, including her What? , Polanski's spaghetti-Candy (she was more naked, and for more screen time, than Ewa ever was) with the one name Marquand never landed among Charles Aznavour, James Coburn, Walter Matthau and Ringo Star - Marcello Mastroianni.
Syd lost the role but told me she was paid $500 a week to live with Ewa Aulin and Americanise her. “She had the most superb body I'd ever seen. Like a man's. Firm, I mean. One day she asked about my religion. Jewish, I said. Oh, she said, I think my religion is making love.” Syd also recalled visiting Marquand's trailer: “I found Brando sitting around nude. Took him minutes to pick up a cushion and cover himself. Of course, he'd been Marquand's lover for years.”
Britain's Susan George went on to be Twinky opposite a surprisingly elegant (if thoroughly embarrassed) Charles Bronson. She later became a British producer after going from Straw Dogs to such Hollywood dross as Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and... Kiss My Grits .
Vanessa Howard became Girly in the British Candy -like tale, Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly . The only contender to wind up on Broadway, Vanessa was all set to leave Rome after her day of tests - “Thanks, fellas! Super!” - when told to stay in town for the decision.
“I can't,” she said. “Only got one pair of knickers with me.”