What Makes Sammy Run? – Original Cast Album 1964
ACT I As Al Manheim (Robert Alda) tells it, it all began back in the old days in the City Room of the New York Record. Reporters and writers in shirt-sleeves sit at their desks typing their stories for the day. As each yells “Copy!” the sheet is whisked away by the eager new copy boy, Sammy Glick (Steve Lawrence), as Al Manheim remembers him, “a ferret of a kid, sharp and quick.” That’s Sammy, quick and in a hurry – whether rushing copy to the composing room or “helping” Al by pointing out to Managing Editor O’Brien (Edward McNally) a misspelling in AI’s drama column. Helpful, too – like selling tickets he got for free at a discount to one of the reporters. But what can you do with a kid who takes the money and buys “A New Pair of Shoes,” the first pair he’s ever owned that were not hand-me-downs, but “Argentine, gen-u-ine imitation alligator”? The kid insists he’s “no loser.” In a typical, no-nonsense newspaperman’s bar a few months later, Sammy tells AI he has knocked out a radio column and wants Al’s approval of it. Al points out that it has been plagiarized from a book Sammy “borrowed” from Al’s desk – by a writer named Kit Sargent. When O’Brien tells Al that he is cutting Al’s drama column to make room for Sammy’s new radio feature, Al proposes a toast “to Sammy Glick, the imitation alligator with genuine teeth.” Sammy pleads that he was only trying to help Al improve the entertainment page. “You Help Me,” all right, sings Al, “Like Flit helps flies.” Dropping his humble-helper act, Sammy lashes out at Al in counterpoint: “Drop dead twice!” Sammy now shares the drama cubicle with Al, who tolerates him with alternating amusement and amazement. He watches Sammy’s lethal swagger as he cons Julian Blumberg (George Coe), a talented writer, into placing a radio script with Sammy’s “agent.” When Blumberg leaves, Sammy browbeats Al into recommending the best Hollywood agent, phones him using Al’s name as a lever, and threatens that if he doesn’t read the script, there will be no more favorable mentions for any of his stars in Al’s column. Most amazing of all, the bluff works. Through the agent, Sammy sells the script to a big Hollywood producer, Sidney Fineman, under Sammy’s own name. Sammy leaves the paper to go to work in Hollywood and is soon a scriptwriter at World-Wide Pictures. On the set of the super-colossal, pseudo-Biblical sex epic, “The Queen of Sheba,” he meets Rita Rio, star of the movie (Graciela Daniele), assistant director and tough-guy Sheik Orsini (Barry Newman), and the writer of the film who is none other than Kit Sargent herself (Sally Ann Howes). Kit tries to get Sammy to join the Screen Writers Guild but he balks at the small print. She confesses to herself that she has “A Tender Spot” for problematic men. Sammy consents to join the Guild if he can immediately be elected president. Al Manheim arrives at World-Wide Studios, looking out of place in his conservative Eastern suit. Sammy, in a loud striped jacket, ascot, and yellow loafers, walks right by without recognizing him. Al stops him and explains that he’s in town to adapt his own script for the pictures; Sammy claims to have been responsible for Al’s opportunity. Sammy tries to introduce Kit and Al, but they have met before, in New York. In a roast of conventional scriptwriting, Sammy, Kit, and Al improvise parodies of trite movie plots in “Lights! Camera! Platitude!” Alone, Sammy steals onto an empty soundstage, seats himself in a canvas director’s chair, and imagines himself the producer of a film extravaganza: “Quiet on the set! Mr. Glick’s talking!” Sidney Fineman (Arny Freeman), the big producer, unseen in the shadows, witnesses the whole scene, then shows himself. Hollywood is a tough town, he warns, but Sammy is thrilled to be there – sleazy, trite, shallow, and double-crossing as it is, he has finally found “My Home Town.” He ingratiates himself with Fineman by suggesting a “new” movie plot – which is basically an idea plagiarized from Somerset Maugham’s Rain (1932, Joan Crawford). The new movie Monsoon, starring Rita Rio, goes into production with a script supposedly by Sammy, but actually written by his ghostwriter, Julian Blumberg. Outside the producer’s private screening at Sammy’s palatial mansion in Beverly Hills, Al and Kit find Julian and Sammy talking together; Al offers to drive Julian to his hotel. Sammy and Kit, left alone together, fall into a clinch. The private audience emerges from the screening: Fineman, Sheik and the director, Rita Rio and her co-star, and H.R. Harrington (Walter Klavun), prospective buyer of a controlling interest in World-Wide stock. Enter Laurette (Bernice Massi), Harrington’s spoiled, potentially lethal daughter, and Sammy begins to see that he may be able to kill two birds with one stone: if he can get hooked up with Laurette, he will have put himself in position to take over the company. For her part, she imagines squashing Sammy like a bug (“I See Something”). Kit and Al are sharing a drink – but not the romance Al hopes for – on her terrace overlooking Hollywood (“Maybe Some Other Time”). Sammy bursts in; Monsoon has done so well that Fineman has given him his own production unit. When Al, disgusted, decides to go back to New York and leaves, Sammy proposes to take Kit to Tijuana for the weekend (“You Can Trust Me” / “A Room Without Windows”). The phone rings and Kit answers: it is Laurette asking for Sammy – she got Kit’s number from the operators at the studio. Laurette demands that Sammy escort her right now to the hot spots on Central Avenue, so Sammy makes a transparent excuse to Kit. But no sooner does he come to pick up Laurette, than Laurette makes her own excuse in turn: an old friend has come to town and Sammy wouldn’t like her. Al calls Kit from the airport but she, thinking it is Sammy, will not answer the phone. At the end of Act I, everybody is frustrated (“Kiss Me No Kisses”). ACT II It’s opening night at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where Sammy’s latest picture, Paint a Rainbow, has drawn a glittering gala crowd. A columnist asks Sammy Glick (who is now flanked and echoed at every turn by Sheik Orsini) how he feels about his staggering achievements. “I Feel Humble,” responds Sammy in his maroon tuxedo, breaking into an incongruous country clog, “aw, shucks.” Kit has sworn never to work with Sammy again, but Sammy wants her to write his next picture, Sob Sister. So Sammy and Sheik fly to New York and buttonhole Al Manheim in Joe’s Bar. Somehow Sammy engineers it so that Al calls Kit in Los Angeles and proposes to her; now they will both work for Sammy as partners. Kit – unaware of the full implications of her new relationship with Al – feels she has “Something To Live For.” At a wild penthouse party Sammy throws to celebrate his movie’s New York opening, his brother Seymour (Mace Barrett) – obviously a lower-class New Yorker – shows up. It seems his Momma is expecting Sammy to attend the family gathering on the anniversary of his father’s death, but Sammy won’t leave the party. Seymour slaps Sammy, Al goes home to pack, Sheik herds the guests into the banquet room next door. Only Laurette remains, who remarks that she’s never met anyone whose callousness matches her own (“You’re No Good”). Back in Los Angeles, Kit is surprised and dismayed to learn that she is working for Sammy against her will. She and Al vow to write just one picture, but somehow one follows another and another, even though they both know they can’t marry and be happy until they are free of Sammy Glick. Sammy, for his part, keeps Laurette at arm’s length in spite of her efforts to seduce him (“The Friendliest Thing”). Meanwhile, Fineman’s unit is producing nothing but flops, and he gets next to no “help” from Sammy when H.L. Harrington decides to fire him. Sammy is now head of World-Wide Studios. At Sammy’s mansion, a vulgar costume-epic palace, guests and bridesmaids are celebrating the “Wedding of the Year” of Sammy and Laurette. Amidst the lavish festivities, Sheik brings word that Fineman has committed suicide. Even Sammy is abashed and postpones his honeymoon. Al and Kit, finally sickened beyond endurance by the tragedy that Sammy’s insatiable lust for power has brought about, free themselves for good from Sammy and leave Hollywood. Climbing the great staircase of his house to the bedroom, Sammy finds Laurette in an embrace with a newly imported French film idol. She callously reminds Sammy that if he leaves her, her father will fire him: “You don’t own World Wide Pictures yet – you’re still expendable.” Fineman is dead, Kit and Al – the only friends Sammy ever had – have left him, Laurette has taken this marriage of convenience literally. Sammy’s reaction? “Some Days Everything Goes Wrong.” As the curtain falls, Sammy is still running.
– Curtis F. Brown, Lucy E. Cross
Al Manheim: Robert Alda Sammy Glick: Steve Lawrence O’Brien: Edward McNally Julian Blumberg: George Coe Rita Rio: Graciela Daniele Sheik Orsini: Barry Newman Kit Sargent: Sally Ann Howes Sidney Fineman: Arny Freeman H.R. Harrington: Walter Klavun Laurette Harrington: Bernice Massi Seymour Glick: Mace Barrett