...or any other modern Hollywood executive. But back in 1935, things were, ah, different. Warner Bros., then as now headquartered in Burbank, had a policy of putting communications on paper. In fact, at the bottom of each WB interoffice memo was the following:
Verbal messages cause misunderstanding and delays (please put them in writing.)
So executives did. And the following memorandum, written by WB's production head Hal Wallis, probably focussed the attention of director Michael Curtiz when he read it (the memo deals with the feature Captain Blood, the Pirates of the Caribbean of its day)...
Subject: Captain Blood
I have talked to you about four thousand times, until I am blue in the face, about the wardrobe in this picture. I also sat up here with you one night, and with everybody else connected with the company, and we discussed each costume in detail, and also discussed the fact that when the men get to be pirates that we would not have "Blood" dressed up.
Yet tonight, in the dailies, in the division of the spoils sequence, here is Captain Blood with a nice velvet coat, with lace cuffs out of the bottom, with a nice lace stock collar, and just dressed exactly opposite to what I asked you to do.
I distinctly remember telling you, I don't know how many times, that I did not want you to use lace collars or cuffs on Errol Flynn. What in the hell is the matter with you, and why do you insist on crossing me on everything that I asked you not to do? What do I have to do to get you to do things my way? I want the man to look like a pirate, not a molly-coddle. You have him standing up here dealing with a lot of hard-boiled characters, and you've got him dressed up like a God damned faggot...
I suppose that when he goes into the battle with the pirates (the French) at the finish, you'll probably be having him wear a high silk hat and spats.
When the man divided the spoils you should have had him in a shirt with the collar open at the throat, and no coat on at all. Let him look a little swashbuckling, for Christ sakes! Don't always have him dressed up like a pansy! I don't know how many times we've talked this over...
I hope that by the time we get into the last week of shooting the picture, that everybody will be organized and get things right. It certainly is about time.
Today, of course, the wording of a production memo like this would no doubt be a little different. Nobody would use the word "molly-coddle." Nobody would even know what it means.
Errol Flynn without the velvet coat, by Al Hirschfeld