Show Business: Elliott Gould: The Urban Don Quixote

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hard to hang your hat on him." Yet she also found him to be "a cool, attractive guy," an appraisal that might alarm his insecure male fans, who soothe themselves with the comfortable notion that Gould has all the sex appeal of a sated salmon swimming downstream. "He's a lot of fun in the tub," confides Paula Prentiss, who played a bathroom scene with him in Move. "He's very easy to love. And he always knows his lines." Some might say too well. A couple of other M*A*S*H stalwarts believe that Gould and Sutherland hogged all the best bits of comic business, and one, who maintains that Elliott is on a big star trip, insists that he will never work with him again.

Despite such isolated gripes, Gould is known almost universally as a very professional and highly resourceful performer. "He's an excellent actor," says Alan Arkin, who directed him in Little Murders. "The character he plays has a kind of brooding intensity that Elliott doesn't have. He had to work very hard for that. But he was completely successful." Candy Bergen reports that she had never had such fun working in films before co-starring with him and adds: "He was the first person to teach me to enjoy acting." One of Elliott's lessons consisted of standing off-camera while Candy was doing a closeup for Getting Straight and mugging furiously to get her to respond. "He never throws a tantrum, never gets into a snit," says Bob Altman, who made M*A*S*H. "He knows exactly what he wants and how to get it."

All of this takes a certain kind of detachment—a detachment Gould maintains by living and working as much as he can on home territory in Manhattan. His street in Greenwich Village gives him "a nice sense of neighborhood." He leases two floors of a house that is large, respectably old and fairly bursting with the kind of tchotchkies that he and Barbra used to collect—a United Cigar plaque in the downstairs hall, for instance, and a Breyer's Ice Cream sign that hangs in the doorway. The living room contains a Correct Weight penny scale (still functional), a large wall sign advertising PIERCE BROTHERS/ FUNERAL PARKING ONLY/ALL OTHERS WILL BE TOWED AWAY AT OWNER'S EXPENSE, and a big old copper shoeshine stand. Gould has resolved to amass a private collection of film classics, but his only acquisition thus far is a dubious item called The Monkey, which he unreels for son Jason. Also militating against the success of the Gould film library is the fact that its founder and chief benefactor becomes easily intimidated by the intricacies of threading the movie projector.

Gould is so busy making movies that he has little time to watch them; occasionally, he has to sneak out of business meetings just to get in an hour on the basketball court. Brodsky-Gould Productions has already produced one movie (Feiffer's Little Murders) and has an enviable list of properties waiting —Bernard Malamud's The Assistant, for example, and Bruce Jay Friedman's new novel The Dick. The partners plan to make at least four more films by the end of next year, including a freeform adaptation of that bestselling catechism, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex. Elliott even talks about taking advantage of some of Charlie Lowe's singing lessons by giving a concert of songs by Bob Dylan,

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