Friday, April 10, 2009

From Cahiers du Cinema December 1963/January 1964, the the American Cinema special issue:
In a discussion of the growing tendency in Hollywood to make films based on best-sellers, Jean-Luc Godard says:

"Even the life of Christ is adapted based on a best-seller and not directly from the Bible: they paid some guy four million dollars to amle the life of Christ"


Friday, March 14, 2008

The Italian? style

In early 1957, the journalist/novelist Michel Cournot spent the entire shoot of Henri-Georges Clouzot's film Les Espions on the set. From that experience, he was able to bring forth Le premier spectateur; histoire vraie. This work could be called a "nonfiction novel" (to borrow a term which Truman Capoté used to describe his masterpiece of the genre In Cold Blood). The following scene where Clouzot prepares to rehearse two of his actors - Gérard Séty and Curt Jurgens - is translated from that book. (page 20, my translation)

"Today, we are going to rehearse in the Italian-style"
"The Italian-style?" Séty said.
"Yes, sitting in easy chairs. Only the text. . ."
"The Italians are incapable of rehearsing in the Italian-style," said Jurgens, "they are too restless! Only the English can rehearse in the Italian-style."


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Marin Karmitz on Alain Resnais

This is quoted from the interview with producer Marin Karmitz on the DVD for Alain Resnais's film Mélo. It is spotted at about 3:40 into that interview.

I saw Alain arrive. He's very shy. How can I explain? He respects others, and his terrible shyness is due to his respect for others. It's very impressive and interesting because it's his respect for others that makes respectable himself. With him exchanges are intense due to his attitude of respect and trust.

Labels: ,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Curtis Harrington anecdote concerning James Whale

This anecdote is reported by Curtis Harrington in the documentary Universal Horror which is on Disc Two of the Frankenstein Anniversary 75th Edition concerning the film's preview in 1931.

"After the preview, he [Frankenstein's director James Whale] was sound asleep about 3 AM when suddenly the phone rang from the desk and they said, 'It's someone wants to speak to you, Mr. Whale'. And a voice came on and said, 'Are you the guy that directed that picture that they showed tonight'? And he said, 'Yes'. He said, 'Well I can't sleep and I'll be god-damned if I'm going to let you sleep'."

This anecdote occurs at about 49:37.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Noel Coward learns a lesson in privilege

I do not have any documentation for this anecdote. It is one that I remember Noel Coward tell on Dick Cavett's late night talk show on ABC in the early 70s.

When Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor of New York City, Coward attended the opening night performance of a play involving a close friend of his. After the performance, he went to the telegraph office in Times Square to send the friend a mock congratulatory telegram. He signed the telegram "Fiorello LaGuardia". When the clerk for Western Union saw the signature, he told Coward that there was a company policy requiring that all telegrams be signed by the sender. So, Coward crossed out LaGuardia's name and wrote down "Noel Coward" in its place. The clerk then said to Coward that the problem was not that he had used LaGuardia's name but that he had not signed his own name. Coward told the clerk, "But I am Noel Coward". And the clerk said to him. "In that case, you can sign it Fiorello Laguardia"

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The fleeting fame of James Cagney

Frank "Pop" Mankiewicz, the father of director Joseph L Mankiewicz and screenwriter Herman Mankkiewicz was a high school teacher and later college professor in New York City. One of his students had the actor James Cagney. This anecdote is quoted from Pictures will talk : the life and films of Joseph L. Mankiewicz by Kenneth L. Geist.(page 107)

Joe loves to tell the story of how James Cagney, at the height of his thirties stardom, had stopped by their table at the Brown Derby one evening to pay his respects to his former Stuyvesant High School teacher. Pop's dedication to his academic pursuits had left him little time for seeing movies other than those made by his sons. In response to Cagney's query about whether the professor remembered him, Pop replied, "Yes, indeed, Mr. Cagney. Tell me, what are you doing now? "

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Materialism and The Razor's Edge

from The Secret Life of Tyrone Power by Hector Arce

The studio boasted that a record one hundred shooting days were spent on the production: its budget $4.000.000 including $250,000 for the screen rights to [Somerset] Maugham's book. It built eighty-nine sets costing $641,800 and gathered $800,000 worth of props to be used, including so much silver for a wedding scene that two Pinkerton men were hired to guard it during the filming. A single love scene between Ty [Power] and Gene Tierney cost $121,000, the studio proudly proclaimed. For the first time since the days of silent films, an orchestra was engaged to play on the set during rehearsals, to get the stars into the proper mood. The love scene was accompanied by Strauss waltzes; Clifton Webb died to funeral airs.
Overlooked was the contradiction in all this, the concerns for sumptuous settings in a film about irrelevance of materialism.