A couple of days ago I picked up a copy of Graydon Carter ‘s Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood: Rebels, Reds, and Graduates and the Wild Stories Behind the Making of 13 Iconic Films (Penguin), an anthology deal that came out two months ago. It includes Sam Kashner‘s account of the making of Sweet Smell of Success, which first appeared in an April 2000 issue. And when I got to page 87, I nearly collapsed.

The above excerpt makes it unnecessary to summarize or describe except to say that the anecdote came from the late Ernest Lehman, who shared screenplay credit with Clifford Odets.

This is not an endorsement of Burt Lancaster‘s indicated behavior or attitudes about women. The guy was obviously a bit of a pig in this regard. But there’s something hilarious about a man of great force and accomplishment — an actor-producer with a rep that everyone respects and admires — sounding like an asinine 15 year-old, an unregenerate lout. I can imagine him beaming as he said this, the same way he turned it on time and again for the cameras. I suppose that the humor comes from being reminded that actors really are children deep down.