“… and she did some other movies, too,” I told the class at UNLV. “It wasn’t just the Bob Hope movies, although that’s what everyone thinks of.”
(Now I have an admission to make — I have never seen any of the Phyllis Diller/Bob Hope movies: “Boy, Did I get a Wrong Number,” or “Eight on the Lam,” or “Did you Hear the One about the Traveling Saleslady?” Really, there’s no excuse except that I’m not a movie-goer. If I see more than two movies a year, that’s a lot.)
“Like what?” the instructor asked.
“She made called ‘The Adding Machine.'”
“Who knows what an adding machine is?” he asked the class. Nearly all of them raised their hands, this being a class of mostly retired people. I wonder what the response would be from a regular college class. Probably not much!
The plot, as I recall, was that Phyllis was married to a man who loved his job which seemed to consist mostly of punching numbers into an adding machine. He became obsessed and nothing else mattered except his job. I suppose you could say he was the prototype workaholic.
Phyllis was quite pleased with the movie and I remember being rather impressed with her as a serious actress. I think she would like to have done more of that type of movie but really, with her stand-up career, she didn’t have time. And I can’t imagine people taking Phyllis Diller seriously any more than they would, say, Lucille Ball in a dramatic role.
The instructor, Kevin, was intrigued and searched the internet for copies of the movie, but it didn’t seem to be available. I e-mailed Phyllis’s son, Perry, who put me onto Phyllis’s manager, Milt, who did some digging and came up with an obscure company that sold obscure movies for (what I considered to be) an outrageous price. Really? $42 for a decades old black-and-white movie that nobody had ever heard of? I passed the information on and don’t know for sure if Kevin shelled out the money. But heck, it would almost be worth it to see Phyllis Diller as a serious actress. Maybe.
In the meantime, I need to dig out those free movie tickets I have on the bookshelf and see if there isn’t something I’d like to see. I’m afraid “Saving Mr. Banks,” has come and gone and I’d heard the costumes in American Hustle were worth a look, but it’s probably too late for that, too.
Maybe I’ll just content myself with re-runs of Wheel of Fortune — I can solve all the puzzles in no time and don’t have to pay $8 for a bag of popcorn.