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One-Take Woody

The director "One-Take Woody" Van Dyke was famed for his ability to get a film -- any film -- finished on time and under budget. One day on the set of one of the Thin Man movies (starring William Powell and Myma Loy) Woody began to set up for a shot down a long refectory table at which he had seated many of MGM's famous character actors. At the head of the table, a bespectacled veteran began to deliver a long speech as the camera tracked along, recording the reactions of the other actors. "And that's all I've got to say," he declared as the camera reached the end. He wasn't kidding. "You'd better get Doc Jones," another man exclaimed as he realized that his colleague was dying. The studio doctor was promptly summoned and the actor in question pronounced dead. "Better get him out of here," Jones added, and began to have the body moved. "Hold it! Hold it!" someone interrupted. It was Woody. Producing his viewfinder, the director got down behind the actor's body and got an over-the-shoulder shot. "All right," he finally said, "take him out, but leave the coat." And he kept on working...

[Before entering the movie business, Van Dyke worked as a gold miner, lumberjack, railroad worker and mercenary.]

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