Dorothy tests for Bonnie in “The Battered Spouse”

Clint arranged for Dorothy Winters to test for the part of Bonnie in “The Battered Spouse”. It was a big day for Dorothy. She arrived at Columbia at six o’clock for make-up and wardrobe. The make-up man had to put bruises and a create a swelling and a cut over her right eye for the scene. When he finished, Dorothy examined her face in the brightly lit mirror. What she saw looking back was a dumpy, nervous looking woman with a face that had been almost deformed from a supposed beating. The image put her into the character she was playing.

The wardrobe lady helped her slip into a plain-looking housedress, and she walked on the set. The scene took place inside a house trailer on the sound stage. They had taken out a wall to open the trailer up so they could move the camera around for the action that was to take place.

Dorothy walked over to Hal, the director, a middle-aged, old-time Hollywood master-maker of woman’s pictures. He said to Dorothy. “I like it. Stay with the feeling you have.”

Dorothy nodded and went to her position on the set. Campbell, who played her husband in the scene, came on the set dressed in a tee shirt and jeans. His hair was uncombed, and he wore a four-day beard. A cigarette hung from his crooked mouth. The prop man handed him a fifth of whiskey, which was half empty.

Clint had gotten up early that day to come to the studio to watch his new client Dorothy Winters in her test and to give her moral support.

He walked on the set and stayed in the background as he heard the assistant director call out. “Lights! Quiet on the set!” the sound man yelled, “Rolling”. Hal said, “Action.”

The sound of a radio blared. Dorothy stood at the small sink washing up some dishes. She was crying and picked up a cloth and applied it to the cut on her face.

The door to the trailer opened and Campbell walked in; he picked up some kids clothes off the floor and said. “This place looks like a pig-sty. What the hell did ya mother ever teach you about keeping a place clean?” he yelled.

“I’m sorry Kip, I didn’t feel like doing much and I couldn’t go to work today. It’s my eye. I can’t see out of it. Does it look bad?” She held her face for him to see.

“Nothing wrong with ya that another good beating wouldn’t cure.

Ya know you are the laziest old woman I ever had the privilege to meet.

My ol’ daddy told me when I married ya you’d be trouble, cause you ain’t educated … yer stupid. Dinner ready yet?”

“It’s in the oven.”

“Where’re the kids?” he asked.

“I sent them to ma’s for the evening.”

“You’re always sending them to your ma’s. Who in the hell’s kids are they anyway, mine or your ma’s?”

“I’m sorry Kip. I didn’t think you cared,” she said as she opened up the oven and took out a casserole of macaroni and cheese, put it on a plate and set it in front of him.

“What! This crap-a-do again. Can’t ya feed me anything else? Why are ya always giving me this shit?”

“It’s all I can afford on what you give me for household.”

Kip got up from the table and hit her with his fist. She fell back against the stove. The teakettle turned over and hot water spilled on her.

She let out a scream. Kip punched her in the stomach. She collapsed on the floor groaning with pain. Kip went back to the table and sat down.

He poured whiskey into a glass and gulped it down. He continued eating his dinner.

Dorothy crawled to the back of the trailer. The camera followed her on the dolly. She reached under the bed and pulled out a paper bag. She reached in and pulled out a .38 caliber handgun. She stared at it and turned her head toward Kip. She got to her feet and walked back into the small room. Kip sat with his back to her. She pointed the gun at the back of his head. With no expression on her face, she pulled the trigger three times. Kip’s head fell onto the table, and Dorothy stood over him in a daze.

Hal, the director yelled. “Cut.” He went on the set to Dorothy and said:

“Perfect for me. How was it for you?” Dorothy nodded.

“How about you, Campbell?”

“I’m happy.”

“Good,” said Hal. To the cameraman. “Set up for close-ups.”

Clint walked up to Hal.

“What do you think of my new star?” he asked.

“She’s got a lot going on behind that sweet face.”

“You mean she has talent.”

“There’s no question about that. She is a very talented young lady, but there is something else. That girl is capable of almost anything.”

Clint quizzed him further. “Could she murder someone?”

Hal peered at him. “What an odd question. Are you worried she might kill you? I heard a few actresses tell me they like to kill their agents but I haven’t heard anyone who has. Don’t push it,” and walked away. Clint laughed to himself as he did.

Clint found Dorothy in her dressing room.

“Great scene. Where did you learn to act like that?”

“I’m so glad you got to see it. I studied with Michael Chekhov. He taught me the Stanislavski method. Marlon Brando uses it. It’s called method acting.”

“It’s strong. You’re constantly full of surprises. If you don’t get the part, it’ll have nothing to do with your acting. It will be politics.”

Dorothy smiled at him and said. “Maybe I can do something about that too.”

“What does that mean?”

“You’ll see.”

“They’re ready for your close-up, Miss Winters,” said the assistant director.

Dorothy gave Clint a strange smile and walked onto the set.

About William Louis Gardner

William Louis Gardner was born in Minnesota and finished school there. He joined the US Air Force and worked at the Pentagon in the Target Library of the world. Went on to the Pasadena Playhouse to learn television and movie making. He got a job with actress Marion Davies at her home. There He met a movie agent and started a career in Hollywood. William Louis Gardner has worked in Hollywood as the agent, personal secretary, PR advisor and manager for for Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Jill St.John, Bobby Van and director, John Huston. William Gardner is the author of two books, "Confessions of a Hollywood Agent," and "The Games End." William on GooglePlus
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