The post down below led me to muse on these stories about labor contracts, work, and leverage.
Tale the first: Clark Gable was a movie star for twenty-eight years. For most of that time, he had it written into his contracts that he worked until 5 p.m. and no later. Comedian Don Rickles relates the following story about the WWII drama Run Silent, Run Deep, on which Rickles was a supporting player and Gable (along with Burt Lancaster) was the star. It goes like this:
...Burt Lancaster, a serious man, says to me, "This is a serious movie, Don. You really need to know about submarines. It will help you in your character development if you know the intricate workings of the submarine."
Burt says all this as if we're about to be ordered to our battle stations.
Meanwhile, Gable is one of the most relaxed movie stars in the history of the business.
"Look," he tells me. "I'm a five o'clock guy."
"What does that mean, Mr. Gable?" I ask.
"It means, kid, that my day ends at five. Regardless. Five is scotch-and-soda time. And then I'm on my way home."
Every day at five, Gable sticks to his guns. Five o'clock comes and he's in the trailer. He enters as a Navy commander and exits as a Brooks Brothers model. Driving off the lot in his Bentley convertible, he waves goodbye as he passes through the security gates.
Because he's a producer of the picture, Lancaster is far more intense and worries about overages.
...Most of the action isn't done on location but in the studio. One scene involves a series of explosions followed by a deluge of water. The mechanics are tricky and the technical guys work on it all day. They can't quite get it right. Finally, at about five to five, it all comes together -- the bombastic explosions and a deluge of water.
Gable and I are in the battle scene, the climax of the film. [Director] Robert Wise signals action and all hell breaks loose. The special effects are spectacular.
In the midst of this drama, Gable says, "Sorry, boys, Mr. Five O'clock is done for the day."
And then, with the grace of a European prince, Gable struts to his trailer.
Lancaster chases after him.
Clark," says Burt, "we finally got this thing to work. It'll cost a fortune if we dismantle it. We gotta film it now."
Ever the gentleman, Gable looks at Lancaster sympathetically. "Relax, Burt," he says. "I'll dive with the submarine tomorrow."
-- Don Rickles' Book; Don Rickles with David Ritz; pp. 76-78.
Okay. So you can look at the above and think: That damn movie star. Only cared about himself. Not a team player..."
Or you can say to yourself: "Good for him. He had a contract, and he followed it."
But either way, your basic reaction probably is: "It's Clark effing Gable. He can do what he damn well wants."
Now consider this second story: During the long string of Disney feature hits, from the late 1980s to the turn of the century, the animation checking department at WDFA took every break and every lunch that they were entitled to. At precisely the same time each day, they got up and walked out.
They didn't work past five unless they were getting overtime.
People in another department in the feature building (who will go unnamed, along with the department) didn't do these things. They worked through breaks. And many lunches. And sometimes worked after five whether they were authorized for overtime or not.
Yet despite all their extra effort, they were laid off at exactly the same time as the animation checkers. That is, when the studio stopped making hand-drawn films (for the first time).