Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 96

Slr: 11:211 1 1 3

Movie Books from Little, Brown


Yon Barna
EISENSTEIN. Foreword by Jay
Leyda. Paperbound, $3.95
Donald Chase for the American
Film Institute
FILMMAKING:
THE COLLABORATIVE ART
Clothbound, $9.95
Laurence Kardish
REEL PLASTIC MAGIC: A History
of Films and Filmmaking in
America. Photographs, ages 12 up.
Clothbound, $7.95, paperbound,
$2.95
Books by Pauline Kael:
THE CITIZEN KANE BOOK
Photographs, Clothbound, $15.00,
paperbound , $4.95
DEEPER INTO MOVIES.
National Book Award in Arts and
Letters, 1974. Clothbound, $12.95,
paperbound, $3.95
GOING STEADY. Clothbound,
$6.95
I LOST IT AT THE MOVIES
Clothbound, $7.50, paperbound,
$3.95
KISS KISS BANG BANG
Clothbound, $9.95, paperbound,
$3.95
Atlantic Monthly Press Books.
Nathaniel Benchley
HUMPHREY BOGART. Illustrated,
Clothbound, $12.50
Gavin Lambert
GWTW: The Making of Gone
With The Wind. Photographs. An
Atlantic Monthly Press Book.
Clothbound, $7.95
Kevin MacDonnell
EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE: The
Man Who Invented the Moving
Picture
Photographs. Clothbound, $12.50
Hortense Powdermaker
HOLLYWOOD THE DREAM
FACTORY. Paperbound,
$3.25
Herman G. Weinberg
THE COMPLETE
WEDDING MARCH OF
ERICH VON STROHEIM
Photographs. Clothbound,
$19.95
At all bookstores
LITTLE, BROWN i"
and COMPANY
pueLl SHERS
34 Beacon Street
Boston, Mass. 02106
'";,
American Film. The American Film
Institute reaches out in a new form to
people with an interest in film and tele-
vision or. as The New Yorker might
phrase it. to those with 'more than a
routine interest.'
We intend to be lively and informative.
to treat the entire range of our subject,
and to confront the moving image for
what it is-oneofthe most pervasive
influences in contemporary life. Most
of us made our first contact with film as
entertainment. Later for many or us it
became a profession, and now for all of
us it is a force which is never far from
the center of our lives. The moving
image faces us via television in the liv-
ing room (and bedroom, guestroom,
playroom), in theaters. in schools. and
factories, by cable. cassette, video-
disk, Super 8. 16, 35. and 70. It is all
over the place, and it affects educa-
tion, politics, manners, morals. and
the economy.
The editors of American Film will ex-
plore all aspects offilm and television.
They are expected to roam through the
highways and byways of communica-
tions, and ever underthe surface will
be root questions on the role offilm
and television in American life.
There has certainly never been a force
to compare with film and television.
and there has never been a magazine
quite like this one. In these pages
thoughtful writers will explore the
past, the present, and the future of the
moving picture. its associated art and
technology.
American Film is an extension of the
original mandate of The American
Film Institute which was established
to advance the arts offilm and televi-
sion. Their limitless potential for art,
entertainment, and education, and the
ever-widening public interest in these
fields cause us to launch this project
with high hopes.
George Stevens. Jr.
Director
The American Film Institute
DirKtor. TlwAlWrkulfllmlllJlhllCt
GeOf'JC Stevens . Jr.
loud fII TI'UItHI
Chllrman. Charhon Heston
Ellecuti"e Committee Chairman.
Richard Brandt
Treasurer, John Macy
Betic
Moelon f'i.clureand Tde"ision Executive
ShanaAleunder
Wnter
"Maya A",elou
Wnler'D,reclor
Ted A)bley
orthe Board
Warner Bros Inc.
RIChard Brandt
President . Tran'J<Lu .. Corponllion
"David Bro"'n
PanMund o.rC'('tor
The 7..anucklBrownCompany
JoanGanlCoonC'y
President. Chlldren' s
Ttlc .... slOfl Workshop
Barry Ddler
Chairman onhe Board
Paramount Pictures Corporation
'"Raymond Fickli n,
Professorand Fi lm Scholar
EmanutlGcrvd
WarncrCommunications . lnc
Mark Goodson
Qood$OnTodman ProductIOns
John Hancock
Film DirectOl'"
Deane F. Johnson
Putner. O Melveny.t. Myers
LaTry Jordan
Independent Filmmaker
M.,,,in Josephson
Chairman. International Creati"e
Manap:ment
Fay Kan,n
Wnlet
John KOI'1y
Indepudenl Filmmaker
"DavJd Mallery
Dtrec;lf;lfofSll.idte!
National Assotialion of Independent
School,
Waller Mlmch tn officio)
Pruldenl
Acadcmyof Moeion Picture Ar15 &:
ScielKn
8ernllfl1 Myen.on
Pus.dent . t.oe"'sThtalen
ElcanorPeny
n"'Tlier Produccr
David PIcker
Presiden!. T .... o Roads Producti()fl\ Inc.
HtnryC. Roaet's
Chlllrlnaro. ROSCn & Co .... n. Inc
Paul officIo)

NalJonal Anoc:ialion ofThealtrO ... nen;
Franklin Schaffner
Film D,reclor
Damel Sebnlck
Producerand Partntf
Sellrolck'Ghckman Production\
Georle Sle"ens. Jr
tuofficiol
Gordon Stulbcr,
Mitchell . Silberbcrs& Knupp
CltelyTyson
AClren
Jlck Va!enl1
PreSIdent
MOIlon P,cture Au.ociation of America

Director of Graduatt Cintma SIIKhe,
TheOhioStalt University
Paul Ziffren
Partner. ZllTren &. Ziffrcn
'PuhhcallonsCommlt!cc
October 1975
Volume I . Number I
Editor: Holli s Alpert
Sellior Editor: Stephen Zito
West Coast Editor: James Powers
Educatioll Editor: Samuel L. Grogg. Jr.
Art Direclioll: John Beveridge
Editor. Dialogue 011 Film: Rochelle Reed
AFt MI' 11Iber N",,'s: Mel Konecoff
Assistant Ediror: Victoria Vcnker
Editorial Assistallt.' Antonio Chemasi
Advertising Repr(' S(' IIrati"l': Nancy Well s
Membership Secrelary: Winifred Rabbitt
SlafI Di ana Ei sas. Janelle Jones .
Dale Newson
Cover photograph by Stanley Tretick.
American Film: Journal o/the Film and
T(' /e visioll Arts i s published ten times a
year by The Ameri can Film Institute .
Signed articles herein do not necessaril y
reflect official Instit ut e policy. Copyright
1975 byThe American Film Institute .
All rights, including reproduction by
photographi c or electronic processes and
translation into ot her languages, reserved
by the publi sher in the Un it ed States,
Great Brit ain , Mexico. and all countries
partici pating in the Int ernat ional
Copyright Convention. Editorial. pub-
lishing. and advertising offices: The
American Film Institute . ThcJohn F,
Kennedy Ce nt er for the Performing Arts.
Washingt on. D.C. 20566. Printed in the
Unit ed States of America. Yearly
subsc ription-$15 per ycar-i ncludes
membership in The American Fi lm
Institut e.
The American Film Institute is an in-
dependent. no n-profit organizat ion serv-
ing the publi c int ere st. establi shed in 1967
by the National Endowment for the Arts
to advance the arts offi lm and televi sion in
Ameri ca. The Institute preserves films.
operates an advanced conservatory for
filmmakers. gives assi stance to new
American filmmakers through gran ls and
intcrnships. provides guidance to film
teachers and ed ucators. publishes til m
books. periodi cals and reference works.
supports basic research. and operates a
national film repertory exhibition program.
Contents
NoClue 9
Or Learning to Write for the Movies Larry Mc Murtry
Hollywood and the Newsroom 14
Each Has Glamorized the Ot her Deac Rossell
NewsThat's Fit to Film 20
Park Row Was Not the Place
This Director Knew Samuel Fuller
Filming It Like It Was 25
Watergate Goes Hollywood Harry Clein
Volleyball , Square Dancing, and Cinema 27
New England's Busy Film Study Ce nter Patrick McGi lligan
The Black Years of Dalton Trumbo 30
He Wrote Much More Than We Knew Bruce Cook
Silence: The Unique Experience 55
Silent Comedy Reconsidered Walter Kerr
TV: The End ofthe Beginning 60
The Prospects Before Us
The Apotheosis of Bruce Lee 67
From Kung Fu to Cult Figure
Dialogue on Film 37
David Brown and Ri chard Zanuck.
Charl es Champl in
Kenneth Turan
The Greystone Seminar-a continuing se ri es of discussions
between AFI Fellows
and prominent filmmakers.
Focus on Educalion 2
Where Do Film Teachers Come From?
Festival Report 4
Garbo in Berlin
Lost and Found: The BioI 71
Member News 73
Explorations 78
On Hest er Street
The Participat ory Film
Books 75
Americaand Movie Myths
Bogart and Bacall
Directors of the Seventies
Bl acks in American Film
Periodicals 87
Samuel L. Grogg. Jr.
David Robinson
Anthony Slide
Mel Konecoff
Joan and Raphael Silver
Tom Gunning
Arthur Schlesinger. Jr .
Alex Ward
Antonio Chemasi
Thomas Cripps
J o urnal of the
Filmand
Television Arts
.,.
I
Sam L. Grogg, J r.
One Mi dwest uni versity professor
expl ains it t his way." 1 was teaching
full time in t he Engli s h de pa rtment.
Courses in compositi on and litera-
ture. I was also tr yi ng despe ra tely to
fini s h my doc toral di sse rt ati on on
Herma n Melvill e. My receiving te n-
ure de pe nded o n compl eting t he de-
gree.
" I couldn 't keep up with the class
preparations. though. and time was
running out. The local publi c li brary
had a great coll ecti on of feature
fi lms-heavy in fi lmed ve rsions of
novels a nd plays. When I could n't get
it togethe r for class. rd run down a nd
c heck o ut a film.
" The stude nt s loved the movies. I
ma naged to fini s h t he di sse n ati on.
a nd I do n' t think r ve ta ught a lite ra-
ture course since. Onl y fi lm. First in
tha t same English de pa rtme nt. now
here. Some other teachers from other
department s and I formed a depart -
ment of cinema studies about four
years ago.
The story is not .as unusual as it
probably s houl d be. Most teache rs of
film have simil ar (lccidnllal ori gi ns.
In the mid- a nd late-sixt ies. film
leaching was . for many. a result and
matt er of pedagogical improvisati on.
Says t he professor. " The stude nt s
were demandi ng courses more rele-
vant to their life experience. Movies
and television were. and are. a maj or
part of that experi ence. Most of li S
who bega n teac hing fi lm played it by
ear using what we had learned from
Ollr (rai ning in other di sciplines.
" The transiti on wasn' t too dif-
ficult. Movies were a part of our
eve ryday life. too. We just bro ught
th em int o t he classroo m and
classed-up the name to cine ma. That
sounds prelly ill egitimate. I know.
but. let's face it. we learned by doing.
It took time to build knowledge a nd
credent ials in fil m after having spent
all that time in graduate school stud y-
ing somet hing else."
Those early days of fi lm teaching
were ri fe with battl es over the intro-
ducti on of cinema studi es into the
traditi onal uni versit y programs. Of
2
Where do Film Teachers Come From?
course. by the 1960s. some maj o r in-
st ituti ons had long since bee n in-
volved in the teaching of film: Uni -
versit y of Southe rn Cali forni a. New
York Uni ve rsit y. The Ohi o St ate
Universit y. Te mpl e Uni ve rsit y. et al.
But for most coll eges a nd uni ve r-
sItI es. movies remained we ll -
o ut side the academi c do main . Onl y
maveri ck teachers using guerrill a tac-
ti cs ma naged 10 s muggle film courses
into the curriculum.
Em """ ,,"''' .",,;., "' ,,,,.
reptit iously in department s of drama.
art . Engli sh. journali s m. a nd sociol-
ogy. The scall e red forays pi c ked up a
qui ck momentum. Courses in film
drew st udent s. and department
budge ts a re based on s tudent e nro ll-
ment. More student s meant more
money. Eve n th e st aunches t
traditi onali st had lilli e c ha nce of
with st a nd ing the we ig ht o f the
economi c argument .
In 1969. a pproximat ely 220 col-
leges and universiti es offered courses
in film. Thi s year. courses in the mo-
ti on pi cture art s are being offered at
over 800 coll eges and uni versiti es
thro ugho ut t he Unit ed Sta tes. Eve n
the guerri ll a pedagogues must be a bit
shaken at the sudden turn of event s.
The baili e fo r the legitimacy of film
study became an almost too easy vic-
tor y. and now that the revoluti on is
fairl y over the victors are obvioll sly
pe rpl exed as to wha t to do with thei r
spo il s.
Te n years ago thi s mo nth . in the
midst of the curricul um warfare. the
Dartmo uth College Confere nce on
Fil m Study asse mbled a gro up of
pi onee ring film teache rs a nd schola rs
for four days of lectures and presen-
tati ons on the 1I lIar. wil y. and 1101\' of
cinema study in hi gher education.
The most me morabl e mo me nt s of
that conference invol ved film criti c
Pauline Kael 's att ack on the paralyz-
ing threat academi a posed to movies.
Fi lm educati on was so new at the
time that li tt le more than unsubstan-
ti ated predi c ti o ns as to what it might
involve could be di sc ussed. A con-
temporary account reported: "The
sell ing was magnifi ce nt. but t he for-
mal present ati ons set a new record
for confe re nce dullness." Dull or
no t. the repo rt conc lud ed :
"Everyone left Ha nover agree ing
that it is imperative that another con-
fere nce be held '. . as soon as
possibl e.- . .
It see ms that the soonest possi ble
da te for a comparabl e ge t- together
was this past summer when Gerald
Mast a nd Marsha ll Cohen. profes-
sors of cine ma a nd phil osophy re-
s pecti ve ly at Ri c hmo nd Coll ege-
Cit y Uni versit y of New Yo rk . con-
vened at the C UN Y Graduate Cent e r
(with a gra nt from the Nati onal En-
dowme nt fort he Humaniti es) a group
of about 200 fi lm educators a nd sc ho-
la rs. The topi c of disc uss io n: .. Film
a nd the Uni ve rsit y."
In a way the CUNY Confe rence
s macked of a ga thering of war bud-
di es to swap st ori es of old times. It
was that. But it was also a fi ve- day
capsul ati o n of abo ut everything t hat
is right and much that is wrong with
film educati on.
Professor Mast. in hi s opening re
marks . corroborated the stori es of
the acci dent al birth of most film
teachers. The conferees had fill ed o ut
questi onnaires rega rdin g their
academi c backgrounds pri or to regis-
tering for the event. Mast sum-
mari zed that a majorit y of those at-
tending had never taken a singl e
course in film.
Perhaps a thi rd of the group. at the
outside. coul d boast of any exten-
sive, formal academi c work in film.
The bulk of those asse mbled we re. by
training. teachers and scholars of hi s-
tory. a nthro pology. literature.
sociology. dra ma. phil osophy. and
other di sciplines. Yet all curre ntl y
are teac hing so me facet of the moti on
pi cture art s and sciences. and most
have publi shed in the fi eld . It seems
that film teache rs come from almost
anywhere but from a bac kground in
film study.
Roughl y speaking. there arc about
100 times as many slUde nt s curre ntl y
pursuing degrees in the movi ng image
art s than there are teac hers who hold
degrees in the same di scipline ... A
gap exists between us and our stu-
dent s." said Mast in a polit e under-
statemen!. "" We have to find ways of
talking ac ross t hat ga p."
education IS fill ed wi th
""ga ps."" At the earli er Dartmouth
Conference. Pauline Kae l men-
tioned. with less alarm than those at
the CUNY meeting. the fi eld' s occa-
sionall a pses.
" We don' t have to worr y much if
it' s a lilli e di sorderl y."" said Kae l of
teaching film. " in thi s fi eld gaps of
knowledge are not criminal negli -
ge nce as they mi ght be for a doct or ."
One senses. though. that the seri-
ousness of the offense has increased
over the years. The CUNY Confe r-
ence gave voice to real and acti ve
concern over what Mast onl y half-
jokingly labeled the "" iI/ di sc ipline"" of
film.
Arthur Kni gh!. film criti c and Uni-
ve rsit y of So uthe r n Californi a
cinema professor. spoke ardentl y to
the group on the need for ""accredit a-
tion "" of film school s and film
teachers . . , A system h a ~ to be de-
vised '" he urged.
The di sorderl y nalUre offilm slUd y
and of the deve lopment of film
teachers and scholars no longer is
lightl y accept ed. Most of those at the
CUNY gathering agreed that a good
dose of " profe ssi onali sm" I S
urge ntly needed.
There were a few who still clung to
the somewhat raucous ways of the
pas!. but they were cl earl y in the
minorit y. Leo Braudy of Columbi a
Uni versit y complimented film's abil -
it y to break down the traditi onal bar-
ri ers between the academi c di sci-
plines. He exulted in the fac t that film
study had made for thi s coming to-
ge ther of such a he te roge neous
group. If the admi xture of academi c
experti se evidenced by those teach-
ing movies be ill egitimate. then. said
Braudy, " We must prese rve that il -
legitimacy'"
But Braudy' s re marks were lost in
a steady incantati on of " profes-
sional" standards and methods. He
found himself in the awkward pos i-
ti on of being mi sunderstood and hav-
ing 10 expl ain that he didn ' t mean "" il-
legi timate" in the se nse of "" slipshod
or medi ocre" but in a " nonconserva-
ti ve. interdi sci plinary. and freely
humani sti c sense."
The confe rence had long Since
moved from Braudy's protests and
onto the presentati on of lectures on
"visual literacy. structurali sm in the
cmema. and the se miol ogi ca l
analysis offilm.
The semi ologists were Ollt in force
at the CUNY mee!. So much so tha!.
whil e criti c Andrew Sarri s posed a
good-humored indifference to what
he call ed a "se minar pageant " during
the conference . he has since pub-
li shed a long arti cle on hi s adama nt
stand against " the new film criti -
cism." T o Sarri s. the wave of
semiological criti cism see ms to fulfill
Pauline Kae l" s earli e r fea rs of
paral ysis infused into film criti cism
by academic schemati zation. ,, ' n-
deed'" Sarri s writ es. "some of my
best fri ends are se mi ologists . but
when they begin drawing chart s with
such headings as sign and signal.
index and icon. system and syntagm.
I begin groaning under the enormous
we ight o f th e me thodol ogic al
machinery."
Arthur Kni ght also wrot e at some
length of hi s experie nces at the
CUNY conference. He . 100 . is wor-
ri ed over the semi ologi cal bent of the
meeting and the dangers he feels are
in vol ved in the substituti on of
method for appreci ati on in film
slUdy. But Kni ght's major criti cism
of the meeting focused on the see m-
ing inabilit y of the parti cipant s to
cl ea rl y ex press themse l ves.
"" Perhaps peopl e who teach film. and
are immersed in the moving image.
shoul dn' t be required to read papers
that require some mastery of the
writt en-and spoken-word ." he
chided .
N ot much has changed over the
years since the Da rtmouth Confer-
ence. Criti cs are still di stressed at the
inclinati ons of academi a to codify
and structure film study. no one has
yet fi gured out a way to study cine ma
that the heteroge neous crowd of film
teachers can begin to live with. and
such talks and proceedings are still.
largely, dull.
What conferences on film educa-
ti on must remember is the acc idental
ori gin of most film teachers. The
anecdote of the Midwest professor is
a fairl y valid fac t of film education
life. The call for a cool sense of pro-
fessionali sm to descend upon cinema
study is. at leas!. premature. at mos l.
imposs ibl e.
With 30.000 student s currentl y
pursuing degrees at the unde r-
graduate and graduate level in some
face t of film a nd/or video and
thousa nds more electing occasional
courses in the fi eld . the thought that
somehow film teac hers a nd sc holars
can qui ckl y return to an academi c
normalcy is pate ntl y naive. The film
study rush is at full tilt and there is
simpl y no way to scllie on a single
critical methodology . a single set of
standards of pedagogy. or a single
sc hedul e of basic requirement s for
-' degrees in cinema.
For now. film conferences will of
necessit y suffer from dullness and
probabl y continue to upset film cri -
ti cs. Perhaps in another ten years we
will know more of what we are talk-
ingabou!.
3
Berlin
David Robi nson
Garbo in Retrospect
Incredibl y. the Berlin Fcslival"s ret
of the entire film career of
Greta Garbo (o nl y one fi lm. Sjostrom's
The /) il'ill(' \VOIII (/I/, wm. mi ssing) and the
Gold Medal awarded her . in ahsent ia
naturall y. hy t he Int e rnat io nal Commit
tce fur the Propagat io n of Art and Litera-
t ure through the Cinema. l:clebnll cd the
fifti eth a nni versa ry. almost 10 the day. of
her arrival in the Unit ed Slales.
Incred ibly. because she see ms to exist
quile oUhidc time. Unlike other sta rs. her
beaut y remained in it s essenti als un-
changed through the 20 years of her film
eHrecr. from her debut in a commerc ial at
the ;.Igc of 16. to her last sc reen appear-
'1Ilce. in TII 'u-Faced WOl1lll1/ in 1941: and
Ihe YC;'lfS ., incc ha ve in no \\ay dimini shed
the r<ldiance of he r prese nce.
Dee pe r than the beaut y a nd t he presence.
the perfo rmances ,Ire un -
to uc hed by time . The most st riking re ve-
lation of t he Berlin retros pecti ve is that
Garbo' s perfor mances survive in-
!<t cl. complete. unda ted as perhaps the
wor k of no ot her silent film actor docs .
Garbo. arti st. as ' Ictress. ;:IS pre sence.
docs not be lo ng to the past or to nostalgia.
Ga rbo i:, .
H"ld Metro-Gold wyn- Maye r a ny real
sense of \\ hat thql were buying when
LOlli, B. Mayer. on'l shl)pping s pree for
Euro pea n talen t . up t he direc tor
and s!;lr ofGm lli Berlin): 's SlI!-!lI? Ac tress
Brooks. a " harp- eyed witness of
the times. " the most ridicll -
of all Garbo the legend that
the company only her in o rder to
ge t Still er : "i n 1925. an y time an untri ed
got Illore th(l n 5300 a wee k the
\Va, reall y yearning fo r her. And
no bod y to reme mber how. aft er
he r ar riv.d. Maye r kept Ga r bo in isolati on
4
in New York fo r t hrce mo nths trying un-
successfull y to force he r to substitut e a
new cont nlc t fo r the Berlin agreeme nt
which could not hold up in Ameri can
court s.
A unique a nd fo rgoll en interview
whic h a ppeared in the fir st issue of Mo d e
Magal. ill(' proves that the compan y pub-
lici t y men were neverthele ss at a total
loss as to how t o sell the new star. The
best t hey had bee n able to corne up with
wa s " They call her t he Nor ma Shearer of
Swede n." The int er viewe r ca ught Ga rbo
at the Commodore Hotel. recovering
from mal dl' ma. struggling to ac-
cl imati ze herse lf to a sweJtering Jul y New
York . and tr ying to find so methi ng to
wear. since shc had brought o nl y wi nt er
cl othes. Sti ll er had to translate. a nd ex-
pl ained he origi nall y had cast her fo r Go.Yla
Berling because she looked the pari a nd
because her "quali t y of grace W,IS ve r y
marked" and " he got t he impression that
s he had something in the head." Garbo
herself revealed that she admired Glo ria
Swa nso n. want ed to pla y "silke n pa ri s."
Cl nd had ,In inc lination for' ' funn y act-
mg.
"She is qui te ta ll . s le nde r. Light brown
hair . worn s ho n . Eyes not gray nor green
but so mething of both . s kin of pal e
a l(lbaster. lovely hands slenderne ss
with that curio us ly poten t s uggesti o n of
stre ngt h that sometimes accompanies
beaut iful fragilit y. Thi s muc h we know
. no 1110 re .
The int e rviewe r . in fact. did no t do too
badl y. eve n in her guess that " Mi ss
Garbo is nol the inge nue t ype. bUI we Illny
be wrong."
Holl ywood . indeed. W.IS not in need of
inge nues: (to quote Lo ui se
Broo ks ag<.lin) "i t was ... the glori o us
year when Will H;IY:-' h' ld kill ed censor-
ship in all but fi ve Of these New
York was Ihe o nl y one that matt ered
- meaning ew York Cit y where Hays
thoughtfull y had set up the N,lt io nal
8 0'.ln.l of Re view. 'opposed 10 lega l ce n-
so rship ,Ind in fa vor of the const r uct ive
method of selecting the beller pi cture s.'
whic h h;:ld a lready put a p(lssing mark on
t he produce rs' test runs with adult pi c-
tures of sexual re'lli s m." AI this crucial
moment Mayer hild found in Garbo. "a
sex ual sy mbo l beyo nd hi s imagining.
Here was it face as purely beautiful ,IS
Mic haelangelo' s Mary of the Pi eta. yet
gJowi ng wi t h passio n. The suffering of her
soul was sll c h t hat the American public
would fo rgive all 39 of he r affairs in TIll'
Torrl'l11 . At las t. marriilge- t he obstade
standing be t wee n sex a nd pl eas ure
- could be do ne away wi lh!"
Seeing the sile nt films all together it is
inconceivable that a legend grew u p of a
cold ,lIld sex less beaut y. Gar bo brought
to the America n screen a sexua li ty far
mo re mature ,Ind pote nt than it had ever
known before. The sall cy flirt ation of
Clara Bow and the de monstr'ltive. s uhr y
passio ns of Po la egri look like sc hoo lgirl
antics when yOll sec Garbo make love o n
the screen. It is not j ust the ope n-
mout hed kbs in Fit' S" and '''(' D(' \'il (s till
ast oni shing in it s rapac it y): Ihe way in
love scenes she see ms to nbando n and to
o ITer he rself tota ll y. while at the same
time w;:lnting 10 devour he r p<.lrtner : o r the
breat h-stoppi ng mo ment (in Fh' sll alltl
111(' D(' I'il agai n) where s he kneels at the
communio n mil beside the man s he has
no right to lo ve . turns bac k t he
chali ce so that her lips ma y touc h t he s pot
where a d ro ple t of wine is still s lithering
down from the touc h of hi s mouth : o r the
fir st encounter in a hox ,It t he o pera in TII('
Mysl erioll s Lady. where she ,lIld Conrad
Nagel convey the eroti c exc it ement. the
radiati ons of t wo to tal making
init ial sexual cont act.
Muc h mo re signi li cn ntl y. the Garbo
films c hanged t he eroti c role of woman in
films. Ho ll ywood fi lms of the
twe nti es with eroti c t he mes s how a sur-
pri sing consistenc y of fo rm: Invari abl y it
is the wurnan who is ado ring. devoted .
faithful. sacri fi cing: the ma n who
philanders Cl nd all ows himself to be dis-
t racted and seduced by The Wrong Gir l.
The heroine may cu unt e r by asserting
herse lf. by ado pting ' mudern' manner s o r
moral s. or by he rself aroll s ing jealoll sy
thro ugh nirting with o ther men. But in the
id eal Holl ywood sc heme of things. lo ve
tr iumphs. t he man re pent s. the girl re-
sume s her former domestic stati o n. o rde r
is resto red .
The Garbo canon. fro m he r fir st
Arncrie;:ln film. The 1orrl'l11. turned thi s
sc heme of things inside o ut. Ga rbo is. a l-
mo"t in vmiably. The Wrong Girl. In prac-
ticall y ever yone of her s ilent films there
is in the background a dull . good. loyal
woman who would no rmall y be the
hero ine. and who in the end captures the
man. Ic'lvi ng Garbo abanJoned. be-
trayed . condemned to face a lo ne what-
ever fa te may bring her.
The Torn' IIt, adapted frum i.l nove l by
Vicenlc BlI.I SCO Ibilli cz. Ihen a l Ihe peak
uf his f .. s hi nn in fash ion-conscious Hol-
lywood. is the prolOlype of ,I form Ihal
woul d be ec hoed even in Camille and
COllquc'Sf. Garbo is Leonora. the da ugh-
ter of puor but respectable Spa ni sh peas-
ant s. Since chi ldhuud she and Don
Rafael. :-.un of Ihe local landowner. h<1 ve
been in love. but Rafael's mother has
plans for a rich marriage. a nd turns
famil y out of their humble
home . Leonora leave:-. the vill ..tge , When
s he returns several yc;.trs later she has be-
cume:.t great opera st;u , Again the names
of passion :.tre kind led between them, and
Rafael's mother separates Ihem. Rafael
Slays wi th hi ... lilli e bride and s m ... lI-town
life . When they meet once again after
many years Leonunt remains as beautiful
;mel fa sc inating as ever. wh il e he is a stout
a nd middl e-aged pett y polilician. It is too
laiC for bUl h of them: Each is committed
to a se parate unh,-Ippi ness.
The esscn tial point of l he story, wh ich
is to be repealed ma ny li mes. is that the
small. selfi sh love of the wea k man is al-
together unequal to the giga ntic. a ll -
givi ng p<lss ion of (he WOman. apoleon.
in COI/{IIU' sr acknuwledges thi s inequal-
ity: " You gave greally. . for so litlle."
the man will be di ve rted in the end
by a parent 0 he 7orn' lIl. Camil/(' ):
by the timidit y ofbourgeoi" respectabilit y
whe n fa ced with a \\oman's past
(ROnlal/ Cl' . / mpirati()I1): by \\orldly am-
bition (7/1(' rc' mptr('.\ .\ . 7 he Pail/tl' d Vd/ .
COIU/IU' St): and by a lack uf trust (A
WO/l/OII IIf ADairs). True. so met imes the
f<lte wh ich sepantte:-. them is somet hi ng
bigge r and uu tside themselves (AliI/a
K ar('llilw, Mata flari . (juc' ell ChristiI/o.
Nillotch/';'a). True, abu. t hai luve can
triumph occasionall y. doom be e luded.
and the end be happy .
Even so. in a Garbo film, t he woman
remains a lwa ys and inevi tabl y the
stronger c haracter. is not always
so aggressively domina nt as in Maro flori
(" I am Mata Hari . I am myown master.")
or in l llspiratioll . where it is s he who a p-
proaches the young Robert Montgomer y
at a party (' . Did you come wit h ,1 lady?" ).
takes him home to her apartment. and t he
next morning brings him nowers. (This is
the film. too. in whi c h s he a nswers hi s
question abou t who she is wi th " I' mjus t a
nice young woman. I 01 too yuung
and not too nice") . The woma n mll st s llf-
fer for her devouring love, however. and
in Ihe end it is she who must have Ihe
strength 10 make what eve r sacrifice is
necessary. and to walk away to wh,Hcve r
destiny commands.
Although it wou ld be rilsh 10 see <lny de -
liberate femini st trac t in thi s . it is not
wit hout significance t hat the great major-
it y of her films were wri ll cn by women- <1
fact notabl e eve n at a ti me when so many
of Hollywood's be s t writers we re
women. In turn. Garbo writer s inc luded
Dorothy Farnum, Lorna Moon, Ghld ys
Unger. Meredyt h , J u:-.ep hin e
Lovett, Frances Ma riun . Wanda
Tuchock (working in collabunuion with
Zelda and Edith Fitzgerald on
Susal/ LeI/OX). Salk,1 Viertel. Clemence
Dane. a nd Zoe Akins . A number of mille
scenarists. inc luding Wi lder (Ind Bracketl
and S. N. Behrm' lIl . worked on the sOllnd
films: but un ly three of the silent
were written by men. and t hese arc allull -
Iypical. In Wild Orchitis and The Kiss,
bot h scripted by H<1 ns Kraly. Garbo is a
married wormln and ack nowledges the
nurms of Holl ywood domest ic murality.
, ' D(' c' pc' r I h(lll I hl' /Jeauty
(111(1 the !Jrc'SC' II("(' . tIlt'
per!ormal1("(' j t hems(' /t 'c' s
(Ire IU/{oll chn/ by (iml' . . ,
Fksh (lml t hl' D(' I'iI . ad"pted by Be njamin
Glazer from Sudermann, is the on ly film
in whic h Garbo is less t han noble in her
love and eve n re veills oll t-'lI1d-Ollt sex ual
duplici ty. Eve n then he r death is more
atonement than puni shment : Rus hi ng to
avert a duel be t ween the two life long
friends whose infa tu at ion for her has
ma{le ene mies. she fall s through the ice .. t
the very mumen t whe n the two me n rec-
ogni ze that their brothe rl y love is a higher
cause than carnal passion .
Despite the exceptions, and even tak-
ing into accou nt the s pecial glow and
gloss that MGM lavished on them. there
is something ent irely <Ii stincliv(.' ahout
Garbo' s and through everyone of
them the Garbu image it self stays con-
stant. providing it li ving center even to the
most unworthy vehi cles: (illd whi ch sur-
vive s, even whe n the fi lm it self seems to
have cru mbled .l\V,IY .Iround her. The
mys ter y isj ll st how this shy and rec lusive
woman. who see ms to have had so li ttle
real passion for her work . who di sdained
the studi o organiZations and public it y
mac hinery. cuuld so <lssuredl y dominat e
Ihe work in which she appe<lred .
Allowing for the shyness and the need
for frequent rests (part of her thrilling
fragi lity was due to anemia) s he seems to
h<lve been easy 10 wurk wit h, conscien-
tiolls and coopef'<lI ive. Bob Thomas (in
Tlwlb(' r;t) gives an ingenious explanation
of the constant c haracter of her films:
" During I he filming of The T {}rrelll,
(William) Daniels marveled at the case
with which he cuuld photograph her. She
had no 'guod side': ei ther h' ll f of her fa ce
W .. IS readil y photogr;'lphabl e. Nor {lid s hc
require spec ialli ghling. as some actresses
did to heighten t heir beauty. Garbo cu uld
look love ly in ca ndlelight . Suc h fac ulti es
al lowed directurs freedom of movement
withou t co ncern fur cumbersu me light-
ing. He nce her perfOrl11 .. IIKes had un ique
mobilit y." The photogeny, t he beauty,
the prese nce we re at once:t gift tu the di -
rector and a duminating factor. Maybe if
Garbo cOllld be viewed clinic,t ll y s he
might appear too lall. tou broad in the
shoulder:-.. \\ ilh large feel. .1 lopi ng walk.
a stoop. Yet it is possible only
10 sec the 1110:-.t beautiful and graceful and
radiant and poignan t creature that ever
had ib existcnce 011 the The
beaut y of the face. is timele ss and nilw-
less.
It is incrc;l:-.ingly clear in relrospectjust
how ex traord inary a n actress she was.
her rules:-.o completely li ving that it is im-
5
\\ell irrcle va nl. to see
where intel li gence ended and inst inct and
sensibility took over. Her quality is most
<Ippa rent in the sil e nt fi lms: and perhaps
no o ther eve r made the silent film
so compl ete and s uffi cie nt a medi um. Her
ra nge wa ... wide: and t hough one's moSt
vivid memor ies al\\ays of her mo-
me nb of traged y and a ngui s h. the myth
(pe rpetuated by the Nillolchka publi cit y.
"Garbo lallgh ... of the melanc holy a nd
\\oman i., the s illiest of all the
It-ge n(t .... Her gaiety \\ hen ., he i ... in the full
glo ry of love i ... abamloned <I nti ex ult a nt :
she laugh". hl.'au nung b"lck. wi th her e n-
tire body.
No ot her ., il ent so expres-
in re vea ling rapid changes of emotion
a nti mood. \\ hi c h pa ...... over her eyes and
like of clouds. Perhaps
the greate.,t ... ingle .,ce ne in all the fi lms is
the climax of A Womall of Aff(/irs. Sick
<Ind in the hospil<l!. s he has
s poken only of the lo ver \\ ho has aba n-
doned her fo r ,mother woma n. In re-
sponse III he r he visi ts her in the
hospi tal Hnd Oo \\ers. When the
no weI' ... arc re moved from the roo m. she
gctli ou t of bl.'d stagge ring in ... earch of
the m. Clutching them to her in an em-
brace oft e rrifyi ng pa.,.,ion .... he looh over
thelll to ... ee thl.' man. Jo hn Gil berl. stand -
ing there. At fir,t ... hl.' that he has
cOlll e fin' lll y 10 give him ... e lf. But then her
bl.'\\ ildered loo k farther and see
wi fe. \\ hom ,he doc ... not al fir,, 1 recog-
nize : " Who i, Ihat gi rl. and \\ hy docs she
., t;l re ,It 1111.'?" Her eye, a nd mind begi n to
clear : Ihe 1I111ler,tanding of the sit uatio n
upo n ht: r. and the mome nt of SHC-
rilke come, \\ hen di.,claims her love
anll return., the man to the pati ent wife.
Eve ry of e motio n. every nua nce and
ne\\ thought i,apparent.
The ex traord inary ..;t: ns uuu s ness of he r
tOli C h as t he hon),. ni cke ring hands caress
the no ... remarkable than the
mol'\:! cl.'lehraled ... c(" nl.' in QUl' t' lI Chri.\-
til/tl whl.'n ., hl.' \\'llk., around the room in
\\ hi ch ha' 'pent the night wi th Gil -
ben. fingering e.lCh ohject like a blind
m;'111 commi ll ing the place to memory.
Her ha nd s had ah\a y., thi, \\ay of linger-
ing. on a table. a duur. the of a
Il)ver. o r Ihe f' lce of her c hild in LmC'. in
\\ hi c h again. the fl.' roc it y of her maternal
love po:-.itively friglll e ning. Feeling was
tran ... lated int o se nse. Two among the
Garbo moment s arc the fir st
in A WOlll al/ in whi ch
her hand fall " over Ihl.' eJ ge of the couc h.
6
and the ring slides ofTthe thin fi nger to roll
on the ground : and in The Mysf er ious
Lady when s he en ters Conrad age l' s
railway compa rtme nt. now hi s deadl y
enemy. As she en ters. her black gloved
hand hides the lower part of the face. then
it slowly slides away to reveal t he bru t' l!.
hard set of her mouth .
"Garbo talks!" was the sensation of
1929. In a sense she hardl y needed words.
Not on ly is her silence totall y ex pressive
in it se lf. bUI she had a way of making you
hear her voice. eve n be fo re the vo ice was
known. Afterwards you feel cCrI<lin thai
you ht'llrd he r say in A WOlllll1l olA llairs,
as Iris Marc h.jusl befo re drives rec k-
lessly ofT to death in her Hi s p<tno Sui za:
"You have taken from me t he o ne gra-
c ious thing I ever did." The end of The
T(' mplf(' n also 111<lgic<11. As so often .
she melodrama int o traged y.
The m;'lI1. years later. meets Ihe wonwn
whose true love he had rejected t hrough
misundersl<lnding a nd for the si.Jke of his
career. She is shabby. hollow-eyed. a lit -
tl e d ru nk. She seems not to recognize him
t hough she lets him buy her (I drink . He
,Is ks if she cannot remembe r him and s he
repli es, " I h,lve known so nHlIl y me n."
He insists. but all that s he will repeal. as
he sadl y walks away frol11 the wo man he
has ru ined . is " I have known so man y
men.
H aVing arri ved in In, withollt a
wort! of Englis h. by 1930 Garbo could
m;;lke oft en the weakest texts seem
me morable. She could instill depths of
mea ning. of tragedy. of dignity into the
most banal line s: and after having heard
her s peak t he m, the y ec ho in the memor y
like poetr y. In ROII/al/ c'e , " Thank you for
ha ving loved me ." In Inspiratioll. when
someo ne tell s her call ously. " Thai boy
Garbo in Maw Hari - ill
dC'COI/I' lt'
slrt' .. malluKl' s 10 appear
pracf ical/," 11lI/.. t' c/ . . ,
isn' t so imp0rla nt "-" Ollly my /ife' . No
one could do mo re with a single word . like
the " Where ?" which s he echoes in
emll/IIl' Sf whe n Na poleon. ha ving an-
no unced th;'11 he wi ll marry so ml.' o ne else.
asks her " Where will you go?"
Garbo is lege ndary: but so man y of the
legends arc fal se and dimini s hing. For in-
stance. that s hc was sexless. She was s lim
a nd tall. certainl y by the standmds of the
bouncy littl e ingenues of t925: bUI has
a si nuolls, sensllOus shape that is often
stunningly se t off by the Ad ri<lIl
des igned fo r her . In Mala Hari (in whi c h
s he eve n wriggles her bottom) s he man -
ages to appear prac ti cally nakcd-in the
words of Mi stinguett . 'plus que nue' -as
s he s it s before a mirror in CI cli nging a nd
decolle te gown. In The Mysl n iofl s LlIdy
there is a sccne of qu it e s hatteri ng eroti -
cism where ..; he clas ps o nc hand 10 her
breast : and Co nrad agel firmly c loses
hi s own hand over it. Thro ughout the sil -
e nt films at least therc is a n a pprec iati o n
of her sex ualit y so cons istent as to sug-
gest that she. o r someo ne c lose to her.
guided her directors in their li se of t hese
qUiJlitics.
Anot her lege nd . pc rh ps I<-.id to resl by
the Berlin retros pective. that her sile nt
films we re a fo rgettable prel iminClr ), to
her re<11 in the sOllnd peri od: thaI.
for instance. L OI ' (' was a rough. inade-
quate s ke tc h fo r the fini shed AIIIIlI
Kar t' llil/a . Garbo'., Cl rt ..Ind m'lgi c ne ver
faltered: but often in t he sOllnd films s he
was so dec ked a ro und wi th hi storical ac-
cessory t hat il was so metimes easy to
wi t h Graham Greene: .. A
great aClress. . bu t what dull. po mpo us
films the y make for he r. " In her sil e nt
films art a nd magic arc seen in the ir pur-
it y. Ed mund Goulding' S L OI'e is f"wltl ess.
and pared to the bone a s it is. a more ,w-
thenti c readi ng of Tolstoy than Clarence
Brown's so untl vers ion . to be see n if o nl y
for the sce nes wi th the child . a nd for t he
ending- app'lren tl y c hanged a t the time
for American (ludil.'nces. but shown intact
in Be r lin -with the brilliant mi s e-
en-scene of the r<l il way stati on with it s
stcam a nd dazzling li ght s.
When the mist s of legend have been
di s persed . the ultimate mystery will still
remain . of a n actrcss who seemed able to
ex pose a nd 10 fix o n film forever. the se-
cret sofa soul.
David Robinson is film c rit ic for The Lo,, -
do" Times and the a utho r of HollYII'ood ill
fhl' TII't'lItil's .
20th Cer\turu-Fox
COr\gratulates
GEORGE CUKOR
Or\ the completior\
of prir\cipal photographu
of
The first
Soviet -Americar\
co-productior\
is currer\tlu
beir\g completed
ir\ LOr\dor\ for
Easter release.
Leaving Cheyenne became Lovin'
Molly , lVith Blythe Danner and
TOllY Perkill S.
Larry McMurtry
Or Learning to Write for the Movies
If o ne we re to make a misery graph of Holl ywood,
screenwrit ers would mark high on the curve.
Above them o ne would have to put second-line
produce rs , pa rti c ul a rl y those educated in the East
(it may well be that (III second-line prod ucers we re
educated in t he East), a nd poss ibl y certain publi c-
it y peopl e:just below the m would come c ine matog-
raphers. a group that has shown an increasing
capacit y for morbidit y and neurosi s since they
sto pped being pl a in cameramen. But. in te r ms of
stead y. workaday . yea r-in-year-out doloroll s ness.
the writ ers have no near rival s. Their gloom ma y
no t be as aCLIt e as that of a d irector whose most re-
ce nt picture has just fl o pped . but it is morc cons is-
tent.
For decades, writ e rs have drifted a ro und Hol-
lywood more o r less like unloved wives. The peo-
ple the y work fo r would usuall y be just as glad to be
rid of the m, but can' t quite think ofa way 10 ge t by
witho ul the ir se rvices. Holl ywood memoirs are
clolled with accou nt s of the abuses a nd injus ti ces
writ ers feel have been vi sited upon them: rCeJd col-
lec ti ve ly. these books give o ne the se nse that. for
eve ryone involved. the profe ss ion itself was a kind
of unfOri ll nate acci dent-o ne tha t some how be-
ca me a habit. In a n ideal world . di rectors would
sc ript the ir o wn movi es. a nd a number of the
grea te st di rec tors have s hown the idea l to be poss i-
ble by do ingj ust that.
Of the ma ny c raft s necessary to t he ma king of
Illoti on pi c tures. that of the sc ree nwriter is easil y
the mos t ha phazard. the most impressio ni s tic. and
the most vulnerable. Screenwriting. so far . has no
rati o na le. no t heory. a nd . at best. a n indiffere nt.
pedest rian c raft-literature. Worse. it offe rs young
c raftsmen no easil y access ibl e mea ns of a ppren-
ti ceship : instead of training a n indi ge nous body of
s killed craft s men to writ e it s scree npl ays. the
movie industr y has trad iti onall y preferred to look
outside itse lf. usuall y to novelist s. for wha tever
writing it needs done .
The dubioll s assumpti on t hi s procedure rests
upon is that sc ree nwriting is a n a rl . whic h the refore
needs to employ imaginati ve a rti sts. rather tha n a
c raft. whi c h could be expected to re ly upon the di s-
c ipline a nd the trained skill of gift ed a rti sa ns. Un-
fOrlu natel y (it seems to me ) noveli sts have lent
the mse lves read il y. e ve n eagerl y. to thi s qu it e pos-
s ibly fa ll ac ious ass umpt ion. Most noveli st s. I be-
li eve, harbo r the secret be li ef that they ca n eas il y
toss off sc ree nplays . n.lthe r as most s port s fa ns be-
lie ve t he mse lves to be potential ath letes . Unlike
a rmchai r at hl etes. however . armc hair screenwrit -
ers. if they have some inde pendent lit erary reputa-
ti o n. a re often a ll owed to professiona li ze their
fantasy-which fo r the mos t part they do fl ounder-
ingly.
I don't recall tha t I ha rbored this fant asy whe n I
first began to wr ite fi c ti on: but I was leo to it
qui ckl y enough. a nd have purs ued it about as
fl o underi ngly as anyone we ll could . through a
script writing ca reer tha t hit :-. been some thing less
tha n pe rfe rvid . My ex pe riences have convinced me
tha t behind every bad movie the re is a bad sc ript:
also. tha t behind most good movies the re is a bad
sc ript. over whi c h some resourceful direclOr has
won a vic tor y; fina ll y. that in the des k dra we rs and
studi o file s of Ho ll ywood there arc t housands of
unprod uced bad scr ipt s. mo re l1ume rou:-. than toad s
during the rain of toads. a nd no t muc h more
c ine mati c. I a m convi nced t hat the princi pa l reason
fo r thi s proliferation of junk is t hat. of tho hundreds
o f people e mployed to writ e movie sc ri pts. all but a
s ma ll ha ndful are in reality sc reenwriter s
1II1l11(/1Il' - peo pl e who ha ve neithe r the intrinsi c
gift s nor t he extrins ic tra ining necessary tn thejons
they have bee n se t to do . I have bee n led to thi :-.
convicti on by the hapha zard. not In say c haoti c na -
ture of my own far from compl e te educati on as a
sc ree nwriter-an education. or misedll cali on. pe r-
haps s ulTi c ie ntl y t ypi ca l tll be wort h desc ribing here.
I encount ered my fir st sc ree nwriter . though not
my fir st sc ript. in Arms trong Counl y. Texas. in the
s pring of 1962. The sc ree nwriter's name.: was Har-
ri et Fra nk . a nd no t long aftc r J met her J e ncoun
te red my second. he r writing part nc r and hus band.
Ir ving Ra ve tc h. Harriet wore a large hat and
s hrouded he rself. se nsibl y e no ugh. in a great mln y
ve il s a nd banda nas-the spring hreeze in Arm-
s trong Count y is a pt to be sand y. Irv ing s hro uded
himself most ly in a loo k of gloom. The y were there
with Paul Newman. Ma rtin Ritl. and somet hing like
six score others. attempting to turn my sli ght. inno-
cent first novel. H o rs(' mal/ . P(I .\s By. into the
movie I1l1d. Thi s they (Iccompli shed with no assis-
ta nce fro m me . I was u n the set pure ly as a guest . I
saw a copy or t wo o f wha t I pres lImed was the
sc ript. but the copies were clut c hed ti ghtl y in the
9
hands of functi onari es. and I was never abl e to get
close enough even to peek inside. In fact. I quickl y
reali zed that my hosts didn't reall y want me to read
the script. They saw me as the Author. not as the al-
toget her timid young man I ac tuall y was; I believe
they felt that if I read the script I would ine vit ably
feel that they were mutilating my book. I mi ght be-
come upset. or even start to berate them. Thi s was
unlikely. since I had more or less mutil ated the
book myself. before I publi shed it - in any case. I
wa tc hed three da ys of filming and learned abso-
lutely nothing about script writing or fi lmmak ing.
exce pt that the latt er could be tedious.
Though I lea rned nothing technical from the ex-
peri e nce of Hll d. I did lea rn something psyc hic. and
that was that movie makers frequentl y. if not en-
demicall y. feel inferi or to. and thus nervous and
ill- at-ease with . peopl e they believe to be " rea l"
writ ers. Thi s wou ld see m to be a psychic constant .
and it ce rt ainl y has its effect upon screenwriting.
My problem in learning to writ e script s has not
bee n that I have bee n bull ied and bludgeoned by in-
sensit ive prod uce rs: the problem has been that I
coul d find no one-or almost no one-who would
presume to instruct me in the basics of the craft:
and I believe that. nowadays at least. thi s is a COIn-
mon experi ence for noveli sts turned sc reenwrit ers
manqlle. They are presumed to be too gift ed to
need training; in consequence they never get train-
ing. and . more through ignorance than inabilit y.
turn out amateuri sh screenplays.
A couple of years aft er Hlld. I was call ed to Hol-
lywood to di sc uss a propert y with Alan Pakul a.
the n a producer. The property was a book called
Spa'n of Evil . a popular hi story of Mi ssissippi out -
lawr y by Paul I. Wellman. There were chapt ers on
vari ous prominent outl aws. one of whom-an
arc h- vill a in na med J ohn Murre ll-int ere st ed
Pakula . The chapter about him. however. was onl y
II page s long. The problem. clea rl y. was one of ex-
pansion. I experi enced my fir st story conference.
whi ch consisted mostl y of Pakul a pac ing the noor
and att empting to deal bot h with our mythical
movie about the Natchez Trace and the very real
producti on of Inside Daisy Clover. whi ch was tak-
ing place somewhere in the caverns of Warner
Bros .. just behind us.
As always. in story conferences. I sa t on a couch
sipping Dr. Pepper. my imagination a stubborn
bl ank , Unfortunat ely. my imaginati on doesn't re-
all y work unl ess a t ypewrit er is sitting directly in
front of me-I am all but incapable of conceiving
stori es abstractl y: Stori es are what show lip on the
page once you start hitting the keys. Watching
Paul Newman, Hud- the author
learned that fil mmaking could be
tedious.
Pa kul a pace . and reading a nd re reading the II - page
cha pt e r ge nerated nothing in me. but for some
reason he decided to gamble and sent me home to
Houston to writ e a treatment. Everyone assumed I
knew what a treatme nt was. but I didn t. My ge n-
eral impress ion was tha t I was supposed to sort of
blow up the II - page c ha pt e r 10 something like
novel-le ngth . so I pro mptl y whipped o ut a
350- page trea tme nt - to the a maze me nt a nd
gratitude of a ll . 1 mi ght say.
As luc k would have it. t hough. j ust abo ut the
time I fini s hed my treatme nt. Pa kul a had a n " idea"
about Sptllnl oIE,il . Thi s was my fi rst experi ence
of the a rr ival of what in Holl ywood is known as a n
" idea. " I have since seen many movie maker s have
" ideas ' - it is a c harming thing 10 watc h. The de-
li ght these "ideas" occasion. whe n they finall y a p-
pear. approxi mates what an ardent 89-year-old
lover mi ght fee l upon di scovering that he has a n
e recti on. Unfortunat ely. the pro mi se of these
"ideas" (l ike that of not a few erecti ons) is some-
thing that is oft e n appreciated onl y by the posses-
sor. I don' t re me mber now wha t Pa kula's" idea"
was. but it result ed in my tac king a hasty ISO- page
"synopsis" o nto my 350 pages of treatme nt. aft e r
whic h 500 pages devoted la rge ly to swa mp c hases.
tavern brawls. and slave revolt s disappeared
forever into Burbhnk . I thought I had done a color-
ful j ob . but I still had neve r so muc h as seen a n ac-
llIal sc ree npl ay.
This was the more amazing because al thi s very
time I was the author of one of the most
frequent ly-script ed books of our era, i.e .. my sec-
ond novel. Leal'ill K Cheyn1f1e. It was purchased in
1964 by Wa rners. who int e nded to film it. call it
Cid. a nd re lease it before America could forget
HI/ d. Something like seve n sc ripts e ns ued . one of
the m do ne by Robert Altma n. a nother of the m
nursed along for yea rs by Do n Si egel. Insidi ously
unfilmi c. the book resisted all but the most
foolha rdy effort s 10 drag it ont o ce ll ul o id . unt il. in
1974. it fina ll y s ucc umbed to t he a bunda ntl y
foolha rdy effo rt s of Ste phe n J . Fri edma n a nd Sid-
ney Lumet and appeared as L(win' Mo//y. I saw
onl y the last of t hese ma ny sc ript s.
Fina ll y. tho ugh. in a books ho p on Ho ll ywood
Bo ul evard. I lVas able t o purc hase (for $40) a
xe roxed copy of the script of HI/ d. a nd got to see
wha t o ne of the things looked like. Sho rtl y the re-
aft er. my educati on took a great leap forward when
Peter Bogdanovich hired me to coll aborate with
him on the sc ree nplay of my third novel. The Last
Piclllre Shol\' . At thi s point I was still so ignorant of
film mec ha ni cs tha t 1 s upposed the onl y way to get
from one scene to the next was by means of a cut.
M y initial step-sheet for The Last Pictllre Shol\'
offered t he director an unbroken sequence of qui ck
cut s. Pe ter and hi s the n-wife. Poll y Plall . were
wild ly a mused by thi s: the wa ll s of their modest
bungalow in Van Nuys veritably shook fr om their
laught e r. Unfortuna te ly. in their hil a rit y. they for-
got to explain to me what the other modes of transi-
ti on were. and to thi s day most of the techni cal in-
format ion I possess about the making of movies has
bee n pi cked up thro ugh eavesdropping at luncheon
conversati ons in vari ous studi o commissari es.
Wit h Pe te r. I expe ri e nced story confe re nces of
an intensit y that mi ght fairl y be call ed mi graine-
inducing. At the o ld Columbia Studi os on Gower
Street. my blank , typewrit erl ess imCiginCi ti on was
confro nt ed for up to eight ho urs a t a stretc h by hi s
impassive Serbia n stare. For long stretches of the
morning and the afl ernoon. no sound would be
hea rd exce pt the sipping of Dr. Peppe r (me) and the
c runc hi ng of tooth pic ks (Pete r). Eve ntuall y. Ser-
bian impassivit y won. Desperate with boredom.
desirous only of esca pe, I would gasp out " ideas."
In the process of rejecting the m. Pete r woul d fre-
que ntl y cause the m to multiply int o lilli e bead-like
sequences of actions. We would then play these
beads bac k and fort h through ou r fi nge rs for se vc ral
hours. unti l some of them. much smoothed. wuul d
become sce nes.
. on a locati on-scouting trip 10 T exas . I
drove happil y across the familiar pl ains, listening to
Peter and Poll y argue about what the characters in
my book would or would not , mi ght or mi ght not
do. Awed as I was (a nd am) by their cinematic
knowledgeabi li t y. I nonetheless noti ced that thei r
di scussions of moti vati on esse nti all y were dia-
gra mmati c. Bo th of the m had bee n too stunned by
their fi rs t visit to the desolati on that is Archer Cit y
(where the movie was shot) to beli eve that real
peopl e could ever have li ved the re. They accepted
the town. but only as a kind of extension of my im-
aginati on. and whil e they had a noti on of how
tee nage rs growing up t he re in 1953 mi ght have be-
haved. it was largely a literary noti on. For the fir st
time I felt that a novelist mi ght. after all . be of some
use in the creation of a movie sc ri pt , if onl y as the
guardi an of vali d motivation.
I be li eve. to thi s day. tha t the c rea tion of acc u-
rately motivated characters is apt to be the most
import ant contri buti on a nove li st-screenwrit er can
11
12
Jeff Bridges. Timothy BOlloms .
The Last Pi cture Show." Novelist
as Ruardian of moti vlltion.'
make to a movie scri pt. Directors. after all. have
the ir budge ts. their shot s a nd their staging. the ir
crews. their actors. their over hanging pasts and
looming futures. their egos and their fant asies-all
to nurt ure. Their focus is apt to slide ri ght over
moti vation. T hen too. they have their own despera
tions: They have to keep a great many things hap
pening simult aneously. As readil y as any audi ence.
they come to be seduced by thei r own fa nt as ies.
and to see them as esse nti all y congruent wi th
huma n realiti es. Tha nks to their de rvishlike busy-
ness. a nd the ge neral indiffe re nce of everybod y
else. a high percentage (95 perce nt. say) of Ameri
can movies are at best spott ily moti vat ed. Many
otherwise credit abl e effort s are premi sed upon ab
surdly suspect eve nt s. A recent for insta nce would
be Blume in Lo \e. in which. in order to get the
movie going. we a re as ked to believe that a hip Los
Angeles divorce lawye r. who deal s with the cir
cumstances and consequences of infidelity every
day. would still take hi s secretary home to hi s own
marri age bed 10 sleep with her.
In such a case. as in many another . the director
seems to have elec ted to let t he pace of the film
ca rr y t he a udi e nce past t he improbabil it y. rather
than insisting that hi s writ er provide a more credit-
able stratagem. In other instances. the crucial imp
probabilit y may make its appearance so late on in
the pl ot that the direc tor can (oft e n safel y) ass ume
that the audi ence will not bother to unsli spend their
di sbelief. An exampl e of thi s mi ght be Chil/ a/owl/ .
in whi ch we are sl yl y asked to believe that a power-
ful and prominent tycoon has all owed hi s own
daught e r to bea r a child by him. Simpl e incest o ne
can easil y acce pt. but it would be a rare robber
ba ron who would have fail ed to abort such a preg-
nancy. and speedil y.
In a large se nse. the lack of good sc reenwriting
merely refl ects the industr y's ambivalence toward
a trade whi ch is tho ught to be something less tha n
an art and something more than a craft. There ex
ist s today a small nucle us of tho roughl y profes-
sional screenwrit ers who seem to be abl e to derive
creati ve sa ti sfac ti on and se lf- respect f rom
cript writ ing alone. though how many of these
writ ers are reall y nascent directors remains to be
seen. In any case. one is talking here of the creme
de 1(1 creme. The vast bulk of the industry's writing
chores are still di vided betwee n smart assed
amateurs (the noveli sts) and dull witted hacks: In
othe r words. bet wee n peopl e who a re given littl e
chance to treat screenwriting as other than a joke.
and the peons of the system. who ca n only treat it as
ajob. The studios show themselves to be desperate
for good sc ri pts-they always have bee n-yet in
rega rd to writing they have been both improvident
a nd. finall y. dumb . They fail to treat their many
lit erary import s as the amateurs they are. paying
them extravagant ly to work at a craft of whi ch they
know not even the rudime nt s. whil e on the o ther
h'.II1d withholding bot h training and stimulus from
the t ho usands of emine ntl y (and c hea pl y) t ra inable
stude nt s who knock on their doors. In effect they
have tried to att ract writ ers by squeezing t hem into
the guest-bedrooms of the sta r system. a nd in so
doing have squandered vast sums of money on de
cidcdly specious work-work whi ch ca n claim for
it self neither the resonance of art northe di st incti on
of sound craft s ma nship .
It is a pit y. but. I beli eve. more oft en an amusi ng
tha n a tragic pi t y. Traged y may be the mode ap-
propri ate to the late neglect of ce rt ain great di rec-
tors. or the earl y blight of a few great stars. but
-Fit zge rald . West. et al. not to the contra ry-li ght
comed y is the prope r mode in whi ch to consider the
writer s role in Holl ywood . In that mode. ho pe-
full y. I will continue to consider it next month . Ii
Larry Mc Murtr y. noveli st a nd sc reenwrit e r. wi ll
writ e regul arl y fo r Americal/ Film. Pa rt II of No
Clue: Or Learning to Writ e Jor the Movies will
appear in the November issue.
Columbia Pictures
wishes to congratulate
JAN KADAR
on his appointment as
Filmmaker-in-Residence at the
American Film Institute's Center
for Advanced Film Studies
for the 1975-76
academic year.
JAN KADAR'S latest film, LIES MY FATHER TOLD ME,
premieres in October in New York City.
14
"Ever y newspaper man is a pot enti al filmmaker."
writ es Sam Full er. and from t he earli est days of mo-
t ion pi ct ures.journali st s found a home in the worl d
offi lm: J. Stuart Blackton. Van Dyke Brooke. and
George D. Baker at Vitagraph: Travers Vale at
Biograph : loi s Weber at Uni versal: George
Brackett Seit z at Pat he Exc hange: F. Ri chard
Jones at Keystone. These were the forer unners of
what would become a constant stream of news-
hounds turned fi lmmakers. from John Eme rson
and Alan Dwa n to Ben Hecht and J ohn Huston . Yet
the people who moved from the one medium to the
other are only represent atives of a more com-
prehensive symbiosis whi ch occurred between
America's two great populi st inst itut ions. the
fo urth estate and the seventh art .
Newspapers in America have always reflected
the pragmatism and the factuali ty inherent in
America nculture. As Max Lernercommented .
they are "not oriented toward inner life . but toward
an Ollt ward one in whi ch al most anything can hap-
pen to give a deci sive turn to life." Ameri ca n
newspapers. among the amalgam of comics.
house hold tips. personalit y gossip . and advice to
the lovelorn. have hi stori call y bee n recorders of
event s without contexts. printing the facts as di s-
crete and separable entiti es di stinct from causes
and phil osophi es. Priding themselves on neutralit y
a'1d objectivity. A merican newspapers are a chang-
ing dail y diet of what happe ned as divorced from
the why. As one newspaperman put it years ago.
Deac Rossell
and the
Newsroom
" What is hot stuf'ftoday is shelf paper tomorrow."
Amer ican movies were-and are. gloriousl y-a
part of thi s pragmati c. factual c ulture. From the be-
ginning. films reflected the penchant fordoill g.
whi ch is basic to America. Fi lms were about active
people: makers. move rs. shakers . Eve n at their
most frivolous. in a vision of high societ y. or at
their most seri ous. in subcultural criti cism. films
conce ntrated on what people we re doing: Wit ness
the intri cate social dance of Grand HOlel or the
elemental leadership of l ee Marvin in The Wild
aile. It was fi l ms of accompli shment that most ex-
cit ed a nd engaged Ame ri ca n audi ences. And the
genresofaccompli shment. where t he indi vidual
tri umphs or t he group succeeds . became t he
uniquely Amer ican genres: crime pictures. west-
erns. spy stories. Carl Th. Dreyer in Ameri ca is un-
imaginable. Just as it is unimagi nable that Citi: C'1l
Kall e could be a nyt hing but an American fi lm. or
that Th e Bi,.,h ofa Nation or Pall on co uld have
come to life in France or Sweden.
It was because news papers va lue accompli sh-
ment above all else that. fr om t he earli est days of
the cinema. movie makers-a number of them
formerj ournali sts- turned to newspaper themes.
stori es. and devices. Primiti ve f i ~ m s used news-
paper subjeclsj ust because they were there. as
they used train stat ions and firemen. Delherif/ [.:
Nell's papers ( 1903) simpl y shows a group of news-
boys wa iting for. and later surrounding. the deli v-
ery truck bringing the m the latest ed iti on of t he
Lew Ayres, the battered columnist
in Okay Ameri ca. is aptly nicknamed
Ego: Ihe paralle/ lVilh
Walt er Winchell was int entional.
paper. Chaplin's Makill g A Livillg ( 1914) is set in a
newspaper bac kground onl y as a device. as is
Lionel Barrymore' s POlVer oJlh, Press ( 19 14).
where a report e r ultimatel y returns a stolen legacy
and clears a falsel y acc used worker of the theft.
Even the illite rate and uneducated moviegoers. the
majorit y of the early film audience . knew the job of
a reporter was to get a scoop( Makill g a Li villg). or
to carryon a case closed by the authoriti es( Power
oJlhe Press).
By the 1920s it was recogni zed that the news-
paper film all owed a range of story possibiliti es
much more vigorous and fl exibl e than any ot her
fi lm ge nre . Because the newspaperman was per-
ceived as onl y int erested in factsor in beating com-
petit ors. and everyone knew this. a ny further moti-
vation or character building in the picture was un-
necessary , There are films about reporters catching
crooks (The PassiOllal e Pilgrilll . I nl and Midllighl
Secrels. 1924) : report ers exposing the decadence
of hi gh society (S a {ollie oj I he T ellelll ellls. 1925);
and report ers brea king political machines (Whal a
Nighl . 1928).
In the news paper films of the twenti es any kind
of stor y can be hung around a central reporter
character. A reporter has mobilit y. has motivati on
to find out the truth . and has friends in all corners of
society. The reporteri son the "inside" and knows
what the public does not know about powe r st ruc-
tures and publi c figure s. And ye t the reporter is
human. and has the same kinds of loves . hates.
prejudices. romances, and accompli shments as
others. According to the legend . the reporter works
24 hours a day, finding information in unlikel y
places from unlikel y people at unlikel y times. In
many ways. ajournali st is a cent er of power .
backed by a publicati on. and sought out by persons
of all t ypes because he ca n give them publicity or
information or fix somet hing up among his regular
contact s at cit y hall or the precinct house.
What remains unquest ioned throughout the
twenties is the integrity of ne wsmen . Overall. there
is a naivete about t he films. an unwi llingness to deal
wi th the possible abuses of report orial privi lege.
The genre is ne utral. using the backgrounds and the
nexibilit y of the reporter as a pl ot device. In former
news man Monta Bell' s fi lm Mall . WOlllall alld Sill
(1927). for exampl e. there is no defined attit ude to-
wardjournalism or toward social issues. With
Jeanne Eagles gi ving a callous. brittle performance
as the jaded mi stress ofa publi sher. simultaneously
sought by a young reporter. thi s exqui sitel y di-
rected and performed film ends with a curiously
amoral twist : Eagles renounces her perjured tes-
timony that condemned the reporter. even though
he had in fact murdered the publi sher.
The coming of sound gave newspaper til ms tele-
graphi c dialogue punctuated onl y by a wisecrack.
No Preston Sturges comedy or John Ford western
played faster than the se early news paper films.
where the id ylli c and sentimental were inad mi ssi-
ble. The pictures we re . in part . based on real- life
Above:' 'Newpaper films senn to
have died of/with slowly declining
papers ... " Jack Webbs-30-. olleoj'
the last .
Above: Gene Evans is fhe emba ffled
editor in Sam Fuller' s Park Row.
Top Right: Big News. GreKory La
Cava's 1929 Talkie Jea IIIred Robert
Armstrong.
Right: Kirk DOllghlSill Ace in the Hole.
16
characters whose exploits were nothing if not
dramatic. The model for the scheming Walter
Burns in The Frollt Page (1931) was Walter Howie.
a fanatical Chicago editor for whom Hecht once re-
fused to work. "being incapable of such treachery
as he proposed." Loui s Weit ze nkorn based hi s
play Five Star Filial-turned by director Mervyn
LeRoy into a film expose' of the press destroying
innocent lives-on hi s own experiences at the New
York Graphic. Lloyd Bacon' s Picture Snatcher
was based on a scandal in whi ch a Nell' York Daily
News photographer using a hidden camera took a
picture of the execut ion of Ruth Snyder. Okay
America. Blessed Event. Is My Face Red. and Love
is a Racket (all 1932) were only the beginning ofa
cycle offilms based on the meteoric ca reerofWal-
ter Winchell. These films and many ot hers brought
an unredeemed cyni cism. staccato dialogue , the
snap-brim hat. and t he punchy wisecrack ilTevocCl-
bly to the ne wspape r film. The y also brought the
full realizat ion that a reporter would do a nything to
get a story-denigrate the instituti on of marriage
(The Front Page). break the l"w(Libeled Ladv). or
wink at a double suicide that builds circulat ion
(Fi"e Star Filial). The films of Merv yn LeRo y s up-
port hi s belief that the early 1930s were Holl y-
wood's "bravest era." a time when " expose films
were the rul e."
Fro m the mid-I920s through the 1930s. the
newspaper film is one of only two genres speci fi-
call y dealing with urban Ameri ca. It is with the
gangster and the newshound. both vertically
mobile through societ y. the one wit h hi s press pass .
the ot her hi s gun. where motion pictures inter-
sec ted an American society changing from a rural
culture to an urban one. The anonymous cit y. wit h
it s quick pace, concent rati on of citi zens. oppor-
tuniti es for vast wealth and fame is the battlefield
for the big storie s and for the big criminals who
somet imes produce the stori es. Onl y in the cit y
could the int ensely restle ss . finger-popping Lee
Tracy become an overnight success. In Blessed
Evellf he wields viciollsly random.life-or-death in-
fluence over men and women plucked from obscu-
rit y for hi s daily column . Onl y in the cit y is life so
valueless. change so quick. success so enjoyabl e.
Graft. corrupti on, money. circul ation. politi cians.
entertainers. risks and re wards. all are so much
bigger in the cit y. And thejournalist always see ks
the bigger accompli shment .
News paper films put on the cloak of the cit y.
Flippant dialogue. breezy informality. a nd brutal
insensiti vit y to love and law alike became the
genre's strong suit. .. Boy. I sure am a heel! " says
Lee Tracy in Blessed Event as he blithely breaks a
pro mi se not to reveal a confide nce when his col-
umn needs an extra zinger. For the mantle of the
cit y, wi th it s get-ahead-go-ahead scramble. gave to
both gangsters and newsmen t he infl exibl e con vic-
tion that they were above common moralit y. '-rm
the guy who made Broadway famoll s. boasts
Ricardo Cort ez in the Winchell-derived film I.' My
Face Red. Modesty ha s no place in these films. No
love goes unrequit ed. no gossip unre port ed . no law
unbroke n ifit sta nds in the wa y of a story.
In the sizzling pace of The Frollt Page there is
hardly a pause fort he sui cide of Moll y Moll oy. a nd
the legal questi on in re port e r Jo hnson and edit or
Burns hiding a murderer a bout to be ha nged (and
two reels earli e r guilt y of a second shooting) is
turned aside witho ut a blink . The q uesti on seems
sill y: Not because it isa premi se of the story, but
because hiding Ea rl Willi ams until he can be a n Ex-
clusive is so natural. so much a part of the
audi ence's easy assumpti ons about working
re porte rs. As Be n Hec ht wrote in hi s a ut obi og-
ra phy, A Child of the Celli " ry:
.. A good news pa pe rma n. of my day, was to be
known by the fac t that he was ashamed of being
a nything else. He scorned offers of doubl e
wages in othe r fi elds. He sneered at all the hon-
o rs life held othe r tha n the one to whi ch he as-
pired. whi c h wasa simpl e one. He dreamed of
d ying in ha rness. a cas ual fi gure full of a nony-
mo us power ; a nd free. For the newspaperma n.
the mos t harri ed of empl oyees. more bedevil ed
by duti es tha n a country doctor , more blindl y
subser vient to hi s edit or than a Marine pri vate to
hi s ca pt ain . conside red himself. somewhat loon-
il y, to ha ve no boss . to be witho ut s upe ri ors a nd
a creature al ways on hi s own."
Movie report ers. not too di stant from their
workaday real-li fe models. we re shrewd . resource-
ful , bri sk. unse ntime nt al. a nd restl ess.
The Long-Liberated Newswoman
But their acti ons now could renect ge nuine ques-
ti ons a bout the excesses a nd accompli shment s of
the press in a free societ y. If the reporter ke pt faith
with hi s edit or a nd with societ y, he would still per-
form some singleha nded feat at whi ch offi cialdo m
had fail ed: In Murder Mall (1 935) , Spe ncerTracy's
editor accurately charact eri zes him as a " crazy.
cynical, drunke n bum," yet Tracy ma nages t o
sol ve crimes before the poli ce can. If the report e r
bro ke faith with hi s profession a nd hi s publi c. he
became a re prese nt ati ve of that ugli est Ame ri ca n
who speaks fro m a positi on of pri vil ege witho ut
poss ibilit y of reprimand: In Okay America Lew
Ayres is the columni st who grows bigge r tha n hi s
publi she r o r hi s publi c , a nd even tri es to make a
deal with the Preside nt ; a ptl y hi s ni ckname is Ego.
Cert ainl y the ne w criti cal sta nce take n by ma ny
newspaper films meant that the report er was no
longer o bligated to pe rform a good deed in the e nd .
Issues of j o urnali sm 's own excesses we re ra ised in
ma ny films with the res ult that the ge nre took o n a
ne w maturit y, a nd filmmaker a nd a udi e nce alike
had a choice : To view the press as the gua rdi a ns of
public moralit y or as a corrupt instituti on it self.
twisting both fac ts a nd huma n li ves t o o bt ain a
morc sensati onal story.
In Max Lerne r's words. the re port er was
" imaginative as to means. but not as toends or se n-
sibiliti es, inbred not so much with a curi osit y a bo ut
ideas a nd value as with a restle ss desire to know
what 's going on and what' s new. possessed of a n
Unique in Ameri c3!1 movies was the
attitude of news paper films toward
wome n. Asearl yas 19 11. in
Edi son's The Reform a
woman report er exposed a corrupt
polit ical admini strat ion. The 19 16
seri al Perils of 0 11 I' Girl Reporters
used a pair of wome n to deal with a
seri es of underworld melodra mas as
they foil ed crooks . exposed the un-
derworl d, and capt ured counter-
feit ers. By the 1920s. nelVspa pe ring
was firml y established as a ge nre
where wome n cou ld ta ke t he lead-
ing roles. the ac ti ve a nd successful
pa rt s. as we ll as me n. Bebe Da ni els
is the woman report er who finds
happiness with Scoop Morga n in
Hot News, and Phylli s H aver saves
he r beau fro mj ai l in The Office
Scall dal. Whe re wome n had bee n
typi call y the love o bject. or the
dramat ic and emotional catalys t be-
twee n male leads in most films, he re
she could have ajob. move inde-
pe nde ntl y through societ y. be a
leader. All witho ut necessaril y e n-
da nge ring her femininit y or being
t yped as ma n-l ess.
in the eyes of bo th Holl ywood a nd
the publi c. The conventi on of the
woman re po rt er had moved beyond
stri ctl y news pa pe r films like Mo nt a
Bell 's Griffithi a n study of offi ce
passions in the cit y room. Man,
Woman and Sin, or Edward
Suthe rl a nd 's What a Night! whe re
an ent erpri sing woman not once but
twice rescues the evidence proving
a ga ngst er is running cit y hall .
Througho ut t he 1930s maj or
actresses seeking roles with more
independence, with a career back-
ground , or with more than romanti c
moti vat ions sudde nl y became
newspaperwomen: Joan Crawford
(Dall ce Fools Dall ce, 193 1),
Lo rett a Y oung(Platillllm Blollde,
193 1), Virgini a Bruce (Mll rder
Mall , 1935) . Katharine Hepburn (A
Womall Rebels. 1936), Bett e Davis
(Frollt Page Womall , 1935).
Whe n Rosalind Russell burst int o
the offi ce of he r edit or , Ca ry Gra nt .
in Howard Hawks's His Girl Fri-
day. she was ta ngoing down a
we ll -worn pathway. Cha nging
Hildy Johnson to a woma n in thi s
rema ke of Th e Frollt Page is still a
key move for Hawks: It produces a
vividl y believa bl e t wo-ste p rela-
ti onship of professionali sm and
emoti o nali sm bet wee n the pro-
tagoni st s. And Russell , with he r
mannish pin- stripe suit s and viva-
ciously cant ankerous performance,
adds a signifi cant dime nsion t o the
film. Yet by 1940. woman re port ers
we re commonplace and a pproved
17
18
Rhonda Fleming, James Craig in
Lang's While the Cit y Sleeps.
intrusive qualit y which readily disregards privacy
and exploits human tragedies as sacrifi ces for the
Moloch of the paper." owhere is this sacrifice for
the pape r more evident than in one of the last great
newspaper films. former journalist Billy Wilder's
Ace inlhe Hole (also known as The Big Carnival,
1951). Kirk Douglas gives an extraordi nary per-
formance as a down-a nd-out refugee from big ci t y
papers now wor king in the boondocks. When a
mine acci dent traps a worker in an isolated cross-
roads. he gets the story he needs to leave the one-
horse paper that is hi s reportorial legacy after years
of drinking and debauching. Takingcommand of
the rescue operati ons whil e retaining exclusi ve
control of the news. Douglas orders t he most
roundabout and elaborate rescue scheme in an at-
tempt to let the story build nati onall y. Meanwhil e
he becomes involved wit h the victim's sordid wife
and encourages a full scale carnival of souveni r
vendors to entertain a crowd of human vultures
who noc k 10 Ihe Si le in a frenzy of cheerful morbid-
ity. Wilder has mixed in Ihe lasl faclOr. hidden in
Ihe thirti es: The voyeurisli c public thai se nds circu-
lali on skyrocketing when reporters print ye ll ow
news and scandal s. And in a fil m packed with blunl
dialogue a nd moral decadence . he indicls all parti es.
Through the 1950s. films using the nexibilit y of
Ihe newspaper framework slowl y de clined. The
glamour was going oul of the profession. and
movie ma kers se nsed it. The news paper film be-
came more and more a genre devoted to special
cases. as in Phil Karl son's rUllish. bleak Phenix
Cil,v Slory ( 1955). Three years earlier former crime
reporter and newspaper romantic Sam Full er
reached int o his own pocket to make Park Roll'.
This forceful ode to fiercely indepe ndent jour-
nali sm. set in 1883. isacondensed hi storyofl he
emergence ofl he modern newspaper coupl ed wilh
a pl ea for a genuinely free press. Fuller's Phineas
Mil chell is Ihe epil ome of the ac ti vist doer. Fired
from hi s paper. Mitchell (Ge ne Evans) starts hi s
own. Faced wilh a crew of blackgua rds from a
compelil or. he fights t hem off. When a reporter
comes bac k and begins explaining a story. Mil chell
cracks: "Don' t tell me aboul it. wr ile it."
In recent years , there has been lilli e develop-
ment in the ge nre. Jack Webb. in an unusually
warm and intriguing film. -30- ( 1959), lried 10 de-
scribe the communal te nsion that runs through a
cily room during Ihe laut hours before a big slory is
re solved. but he fai led to find the appropri ale visual
equi valents that could convey a n interesti ng and
atypical script. Newspaper films seem 10 have died
off with the slowly declining ne wspapers. In Ihe
late 1960s David Jansse n speciali zed several times
in the role of a mi sguided if we ll -int e nti oned reporl -
er who lit erall y could not make up hi s mind about
Ihe story happe ning in front of hi s eyes. In films like
Shoes of the Fishermall and The Gree" Berets,
Janssen became a symbol ofa wea k and confused
press . By thi s time. the snap was out of t he brim.
A part of the decline in newspaper films comes
from Ihe end of t he symbiosis bel ween Ihe Iwo
great media. Yellhe re lati onship bel wee n news-
papers and movies went deeper than any parti cul ar
ge nre of films. Many of the besl ne ws paper films
were created as fondly biller reminiscences oflost
youth by men graduated from the world of news-
writing to screenwriting. Beyond thi s movement of
personnel from fronl page to front titles was an in-
lerlocking depende nce t hat lasl ed unlillhe 1950s. If
the movie men were fasc inated by news papers for
the special pl ace of the prcss in Amer ican sociely
and forthe ideals whi ch theyespoused. lhen Ihe
press was equall y fascinated by the gcnuine glamour
of the Hollywood lifestyle. the publi c accolades
and private luxuries whi ch movie men commanded.
Films were sold Ihrough newspapers-nolj usl
through adverti sing. but through Ihe increasing
demands of an eager public for copy: Siories about
the li ves of lhe Slars. the background to produc-
ti ons. lhe evenl sof life in Holl ywood . thean-
nouncement ofa new film by a favorile performer.
At the same time. movie advert isi ng. as it does
today. brought in the top doll ar rale in Ihe paper.
Publi cit y men were sec ure in the knowledge Ihal
any promoti onal stunt or ca mpaign. from the
Panther Woman on. wou ld reccive full coverage on
and off the movie pages. MOli on pi ctures needed
that expos ure no less than news papers needed the
adverti sing and Ihe readershi p it crealcd . Thi s
mUluall y non-competitive relat ionship. bringinga
public 10 the thealers and a reade rship 10 Ihe pa pers
(a nd lat er 10 general-ci rcul ati on magazines like
Look and Life) was a special part nershi p Ihallhe
movies never achi eved with any other mass
medium. The sure dec line in the space avail able for
movi es in big city papers. where newspri nt is at a
premium and competi tion now rarel y exi sts, paral-
leled changes in the movies Ihemselves. Whal was
once an accelerating and ex hil arating partnershi p
has become. at the age of70 or so. a habilual and
de sui lOry marriage. a
Deac Rossell is Film Coordinator at the Muse um
of Fine Arts in Boston.
Book Service
AFI Publicati ons
American Film Institute Guide t o College Courses in Film and Television 1975-6 editi on.
Revised
2 The Amer ican Fil m Heritage: Impressions from theAmeri ca n Fi l m Inst itute
Archives Hardback
3 The American Fil m Insti t ute Catalog, Feature Films 1921-1930
4 A Tribute t o Mary Pickford
5 The Complete Wedding Mar ch of Eri ch Von St rohei m, Herman G. Weinberg
6 Fil mmaki ng : The Col laborative Art , Donald Chase
Outside Publishers Section
7 From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women
in the Movies. Molly Haskell
8 Val Lewton : The Real ity of Ter(or. Joel E. Siegel
9 Dict ionary 0 1 Films. Georges Sadoul
10 Dictionary of Film Makers. Georges Sadoul
11 Adventures with D. W. Gr iff ith. Karl Brown
12 MovieJournal. Jonas Mekas
13 The Magi c Facl ory-How MGM MadeAnAmerican i n Paris
14 Ameri can Fil m Criticism. Stanley Kauffmann and Bruce HenstelJ
15 Hollywood. Garson Kanin
16 Harold lloyd. The Shapeof Laughter. Richard Schickel
New Offerings
17 On Being Funny: Woody Allen and Comedy. Eric Lax
18 Wi thout Feathers. Woody Allen
19 Film 73/74 . ed. Jay Cocks. David Denby
20 America In The Movies. (see review i n this issue) Michael Wood
21 Humphrey Bogart . (see review i n this issue) Nathaniel Benchley
22 Lorentz On Film. Pare Lorentz
Paperback
Paperback
Discounts for Afl Members
on Film books
Regular Members
Ra tes Rates
6.95 4.50
17.50 10.00
4.95 3. 75
57.00 47. 00
1.00
19.95 15.95
9.95 7.50
3.95 3.15
2.75 2. 10
5.95 4.50
4.95 3.75
10.00 8.00
3.50 2. 65
9.95 7.50
3.95 2.95
8.95 7.15
14.50 11.60
8.95 7. 15
7.95 6.40
5.95 4.75
10.00 8.00
12.50 10.00
8.95 7.15
Quanti t y
r - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
Mall To:
The American Film Book Service
The John F. KennedyCenter
for the Performing Art s
Washington. D.C. 20566
Please allow at least
four weeks l or shipping.
Note : AFI does not bill f or
publications. Payment must
accompany order .
Please send me books numbered ____________ ________ _
Name
Street
City State Zip
I enclose $ __________ (plus 75tt for postage, handling and tax on each book;
$1 .00 overseas) .
"The man raped a dog?
Get a statement from the
dog and I'll run t he story. "
"The Pope on the take?
Get a statement from the
Pope and I'll finance
the film."
Samuel Full er
20
THAT'S FIT TO
Weaned on Park Row. tea med with
reporter Rhea Gore (J ohn Hust on' s
mother) on my fir st double-sui cide. I
made the e ve ntua l trans iti o n fr o m
ne ws pa pe rma n to filmmak er a s the
na tura l lea p fro m dUlllmy ma ke up 10
fa c ial makc up.
Page One and the Sc ree n a re bed-
Inate s . Wo rking in the morgue a nd
shool ing a movie t r igger constant vi-
sions . A he adline ha s the impact of a
heads hot . pulp and rawstoc k fi ght
linage a nd footage. a news lead is the
opening or a film.
8 poinl Goud y. Widc sc ree n. pi c a
ga uge . Ill ovieola- rcport cr and film
direct or spill blood onlhc same e mo-
ti o na l battl efi e ld of what is fit to prin t
and what i s fit to film. The r/lOlt
n lll l/fJ! a nd thou l1//( s l not pe ndululll
swings fro m blac k- a nd- whit e fnct s to
Tec hnic olo r fan cie s .
The news pa pe r rea l and movie
imagi na r y s ha ring bloodsta ined sc is -
sors . glue. proofs . ceme nt . s pli ce r.
wo rk print give t win binh to the bat -
tle c r y of rewrit e . re make. retake.
redub a nd mature s with the press a nd
proj ection mac hine .
Peddling the Worc('.)'t(' r Te/q.?raHl ,
Bo st oll Post , Boston A lIl eri(,(lII in
Abol'e : Slerlill X H ol/olI 'ay, Ad vice
10 Ihe Lovelo rn ,
RiRhl: The Fronl Page. a /a Bill,'
Wi lder ( 1974 )- Ihir<l.llllll "('I"siol/ of
the t ll '(, lIt i es play.
V\' o rcestel' was my ti rst contac t wit h
newspa pcrs. To e\\ York at II.
peddli ng pape rs al 11 al Ihe 1251h
Street Fe rry. lnthose days nc\\ sboys
bought pape rs from t hc Circ ulat ion
Department. A love affair st arted
wit h the N('II' York t: "{,lIill g Jourl/al.
238 Will iam Sl reel. oil Park Row. "
column a way frol11 the Bo\\ e ry.
across fro m the Newsboys' Ho mc
sponsored by AI Smilh. One-eyed .
half-deaf Tom Fole y. fo rcma n of t he
.Journal's Press Room. opcned up
Wo nderla nd. showed me presscs in
ac ti on, Linotypes singing in Compos-
ing. and finall y gold il self: The Ci l Y
Room on t he sevent h 11 001".
The sho uts of "Copy, wi th
young me n in lat..: tee ns ru nning.
making "books. " shooling copy
through pne uma ti c tubes was elec-
Irirying. The hell \lil h pedd li ng
newspa pers. Working on unc became
3n obsessio n . Working on t he
J ournal.
.. Li e." Managing Ed itor Joseph V.
Mulca hy said . " Tell 'em Yllu' rc 14 to
get working pa pcrs. The n I'll put you
on as a copy boy."
Running copy on the J ourl/al, per-
sonal copy j umpe r for Art hur Bris-
ba ne. head copy boy (a nd (I /I !.,' copy
boy) o n the Nell ' York EI'(>nil/g
Graphic . policc report e r o n the
Crapill c , t he J ourl1al, the Sail Die}.!o
Sun, journeyman re porter on dailics.
wee kli es. biwee kl ies thro ugho ut t he
countr y slowly structured a stockpil c
of characters, eve nt s, a nd confli ct ing
emotions wit hout t hought of mak ing
lfilm.
First brush with Holl ywood was
whe n Mctro-Goldwyn- Ma yer's offe r
or 55 .000 (10 Ilc li onize a soluli on 10
my bylined unsolved double- murde r)
was spurned beca use the City of lew
York offe red 525. 000 fo r a fac lual
soluti o n na ming names. The murde rs
a re still unsolved. The cor pses we re
wea lth y. whit e-bearded . mi se rl y oc-
toge ne ri a n Edward Ri dlcy a nd hi s
male secretary. My lead was Who
killed S(l1/fa Clau.\? beca use Ridl ey
loved fo rec los ing mortgages o n
Chri st mas. () regret t urning down
Ihal S5.000. One day Who Kill"d
S(lI1I(I Claus:) will be my fi lm con-
tri but ion of a case of murder that de-
fies soluti on yet ma int ains suspe nse
IOlhce mpl y e nd .
The q uesli on " Where do you ge l
ideas fo r films?" isn' t ha rd to answe r.
Covering a n exec uti on . . Told by
a ma n who hacked hi s family totk ath
with a meat cleaver o n a Hudso n
Ri ve r ba rge t ha t hc \\<-1:-. if he
hurt them . . Liste ning to a leaper'..;
sex problem o n a 30- font k dg(.
he squashed a luckless passerby like
agnat ... Extracting ide nti t yof a
blo nde nude wi th pa resis mount ing a
wate r hydra nt singing t he Sial' Span-
gled Ba nner because her name \\ as
Fra nces Key . . Watc hing report ers
refuse to he lp swing t he tail of
Lind y's pla ne at Tete rboro Airfi eld in
Je rsey because they rese nt ed hi s
reply to all their ques ti ons wi th I s
there anything d .H' you waW to ask :
J
Brea king Jea nne Eagles' dea th
by di scove r ing her co r p:-.(. tn
Camphell' s Funeral Par lor Pos-
ing fo r a Graphic of
French nycrs Nungesse r a nd Coli in
t heir wrecked pla ne in the ill -fated
All anli c hop onl y 10 barne my mol he r
who j u!'!t couldn ' t unde rsta nd if the
photographcr was that close \\ hy t he
n ye rs \\eren' t saved Accolll-
panying a rooki c cop from t he 14t h
Precinct o n a rout ine co mplaint tu
stumble o ve r a slain hlH.l y in a s ubte r
ra nea n offi ce. . Successfull y inte r-
21
viewing J . P. Morga n only to watch
my copy destroyed by the Cit y Edi tor
because he knew J. P. never grant ed
int erviews Hi red. fired. rehired
by t he Great Ge ne Fowler in the span
of fi ve hours whil e assigned to an
Admiral' s speec h that erupted mil es
away in a Bowery bum's brutal mur-
der near L um Fang's restaunmt in
Chinatown Phoning bl ow-by-
blow from a Harl em cigar store dur-
ing a race riol . . Using Sunday edi -
tions as bedsheets and bla nkets ri d-
ing the rods with Depression dis-
pl aced persons. . Ta king footba ths
with hoboes in troughs of conde mned
mi lk . Drawing ant i-chain market
cart oons for a Rochester weekl y
whil e its Editor and Pu bl isher ran for
Governor of M innesota to coll ect
seven votes. . Sketching whores in
San Francisco wh il e coveri ng the
Ge neral Strike as soldi ers shot strik-
ers in fro nt of the Ferry Buildi ng .
Every newspaperman has sLl ch a
Hell box to draw fro m.
E very newspaperman is a potenti al
filmmaker.
All he or s he has to do is to trans-
fer real emoti on to reel emoti on and
sprinkle with imagi nat ion.
This does not incl ude critics. A
newspaperman report s what hap-
pe ned, inwardl y boiling with emo-
tions that must remain personal. A
criti c out wardl y report s what hap-
pened. writing what he liked or didn ' t
like about t he happening. Every
story vari es. A criti c generall y pl ays
the same tune on his typewriter. A
few have made it in films. Peter Bog-
danovich stands out as one of that
rare breed but he was more tha n a cri-
ti c. He analyzed fil ms the way a re-
port er analyzes emoti ons . He li fted
himself out of the well of observer to
creator. My onl y newspaper fil m
Park Row was 1886 vint age because a
passion for that street made the film a
must. Drunk on stories of newspaper
Goli aths before my time. hanging
around Doc Pe rr y's pharmacy in The
World buil ding where once Pul it zer
pi cked up hi s medi cine. working
where once those Goli at hs worked .
walked. ate. dra nk. dreamed. fought.
laughed. and we pt gave me selfi sh
ejaculations when shoot ing the fi lm
on t he stage re pli ca of those pa per-
and-ink cobbl estones .
Over the years, there have been
other newspaper films . Some of them
good. Five Star Fillal by Loui s Weit -
zenkorn was based on Emil e Gauv-
reau. Edit or of t he Graphic. Ga uv-
reau gave Winchell hi s break. Also
on that pink tabloid were Jerry Wald
( radi o edit or), Norman K ra sna
(d rama c rit ic). Arti e Aue rbac h
(photographer) who became funny-
man Mr. Kit ze l on the Jac k Benny
Show. and J ohn Huston (re port er).
We it ze nko rn ca me fr om The
World to repl ace Gauvreau who went
to the Mirror to haunt Winche ll who
loathed him. The changing of t he
Czars was macabre. Gauvreau's exit
wit h a twisted foot. Weitzenkorn ' s
ent rance with a twisted <:tr m. Aban-
doning Pulit ze r to hit pornogra phic
bott om on Bernard Mac fadde n' s
Graphic. We it ze nkorn st ruck play-
wright pl atinum: Gauvreau' s exciting
career .
Fi ve Star Filial's editor was fac-
tual. Gauvreau did updig an old mur-
der. promi sed lurid reve lation, re-
vealing the exonerated murderess'
real name, terrifi ed her. Result : the
self-destruction of the woman and
her husband. My role in that Bull dog
bouill abaisse was to season it with
facts on the son of the suicides. In the
Abol'e: Girl Friday Rlllh DOlilielly
ill Bl essed Event.
Left: 111 Five Star Final Robinsoll
always washed "hi hands alfer
a distasteful story.
film it is the daughter . Ga uvreau al-
ways washed hi s hands after a dis-
tasteful story. So docs Edwa rd G.
Robinson in the film directed by
Mer vyn Lc Roy.
Years later. when writing Gangs of
Neu' York . it was ironi c ( 0 rll n into
Weit zenkor n who was writing a
movie script call ed Killg vf t he
Nell'sboys.
Seeing The FrOI/f Page play on
opening ni ght wi th Kermit Jacdiker
of the Nell' York Daily Nel\'s moved
li S because in Lee Tracy we saw what
we were not but wou ld like to be. It
was thrilling. Afl el" the cLirtain came
clown it was bac k to the Press Room
(a plumber's shop by day) ac ross
from the 47th Street Poli ce Stati on
and to the st ory of a grappl ing hook
that finall y brought up the body of a
fi ve-year-old boy from the garbage in
t he Hudson. The beads of water on
the eyelashes of the dead boy made
me think of the beads of sweat on the
brow of the unfortunate bastard that
was hidden in the desk in The Frolll
PaRe.
The re is a talc t hat when Howard
Hughes decided to film Tlt e Frolll
P a ~ e he said "Get the man who's
pl aying Hild y Johnson on the stage."
Pat O' Bri en was doing the role in
Chi cago. Hughes sent for him believ-
ing he was sending for Lee Tracy.
True or not. it' s a good story and
Lewi s Mil estone who did a cracker-
jack job directing the film is the ma n
who can confirm or de ny the tale.
His Girl Friday was a superb sex-
swi tch of Th e Frollt Page with
breat htak ing machi negun te mpo.
After World War II the film became
more personal to me because of
Howard Hawks. My novel Tit " Dark
Page (purely a psyc hological stud y of
an editor who commands a cit y-wi de
search for himself aft er murdering
the wife he dese rted 20 yea rs ago)
was writt en before World War II.
The first draft was left with my
mother who notified me in Nort h Af-
rica in the vicinit y of Kasserine Pass
that she spent the advance for the
book she sold to publi shers Duell.
Sloan and Pearce. A hardcover of the
book caught up wit h me in Fra nce
near SI. La. a Holl ywood offer
missed me in Mons, Belgium. and in
Germany's HUrlgc n Forest word was
received that Howa rd Hawks bought
the book fo r Boga rt and Robinson for
$ 15.000. He sold it to Columbia. It
was filmed as Scalldal Slteet with
Broderi ck Crawford . That film is not
my book.
Bill y Wilder's The Big C{//"IIi\"{/1 is
the closest portrayal ye t of a
so nofabit ch ne wspaperman. 0
punches pull ed.
A news pa per-lik e a c hurc h.
whorehouse . DAR meeting. politi cal
conventi on. American Legion Hall.
KKK ga thering. synagogue. publi c
library-is a li ving character replated
hourl y with hi ghl y c harged con-
troversial nuances in every man and
woman on the paper .
To make a real newspaper film is as
difficult as to make a real wa r film.
The ce nsor is nol the onl y barrier.
Peopl e who buy tickets and wal k int o
a peacock templ e to crack popcorn in
soft chairs have been doped over the
years what war is like on the scree n.
They have been doped ove r the years
what a newspaper is like on the sc re en.
Doped. duped . de luded- the y
A/}O\'e: Deadline USA :mafl agill g
editor BOKarr breaks open the fro lll
page.
Left: R ll sse/l (II/(/ Grallt ill H all'ks' s
Hi s Girl Friday.
23
Pm 0 ' Brit' ll Ill' s:Jec/s jiallCl' e M ar y
Brian ill /m'or hig s/ ory. /'1 elljou
(' s:gs him Oil ill /Hiles/oll l''s The
Fro nt Page
know what to expect a nd will not ac -
ce pt a war film \\ ith indiffere nce to
atroci ties. \\ ith cumba t ve teran sac-
rific ing in a mine fi e ld . with
t he enjuyment of de huma ni zati on.
\\ it h t he gall of brass refe rring to
headless bodies as ,\tty Boys while in
the S;t(.' k "j th \\ o men in t he rea r. with
d is tort ed battl e re ports tu grab votes.
ma ke Inot. \\ avc fl ags. sell a rms. deal
ove r burned <l nd bloated corpses in
t he blac k ma rke t.
People \\ ill not acce pt a newspapel'
fi lm \\ ith politi cal a troc iti es a nd
wel l-pla nned and pa id- for c ha rac ter
assass inati ons where na mes are ac-
c ura te. they will not acce pt the c un-
ning oflhe Des k blindfolding a repo r-
te r through a fog beca use he's on the
verge of expos ing a Pres ide nt . hurt a n
adve rti ser. j a il a Feder(:l l Judge. dis-
robe a Vi ce Squad . They will not ac-
cepl Ihe F BI involved in blackmai l
because the FB I is the a udi e nce
c rac king po pcorn. They will not ac-
ce pl publi s he rs in Ihe n wilh polili-
cia ns. publi she rs who ring with ba nk-
ers, profi ti ng with bi g business. run-
ning me ani ngless O p- Ed lell e r s
aga ins t fina nc ia l bac ke rs.
Pas t films have dCil1t with fi c ti o na l
exposes. One day films willuse lidllg
lI ames 111 ex pos ure.
100 yea rs ago Washington politi -
c ia ns wouldn't give news pa pe r int er-
views unl ess they were pai d . Today
they pay ghosts ( 0 ma nufac ture the ir
aut obiogra phi es fo r a movie sa le.
Those a Ui ohi ographi es neve r give
damaging fac ts. ntilthe turn of the
181h ce nlur y Ihe Sena le coni roll ed
ncwspa pe r ex poses. th unde ring
"Secrecy is (he e ne my u f de n'lOc-
racy!"
Today news papers. some ne ws -
pa pers. publ is h Sena turial secre ts
tha t sho uld be see n on the sc ree n.
Tri al by news pa pe r is still with us.
All the news tha t was unfit ( 0 print.
all the scc nes tha t we re unfit to s hool.
woul d ma ke one he ll o f a news paper
film. It wo uld have fac ts. legitimate
c ha racte rs, humo r. s hoc k, ac ti o n. It
would e nt e rt a in a nd reveal. It wo uld
have (he la nguage ofncwspa pe r type
spo ke n wilh fl es h. II wo uld show Ihe
passion of the print ed word ta ke o n
insta nt intimacy o n fi lm. It wo uld go
beyond Ihe Bible .l he ne ws pa per. Ihe
stage. It would make words jump to
life in s hocking c lose ups . Fro m
GUl e nberg 10 Griffilh il would Ira ns-
fer fro m t ype to sc ree n a n acc urate.
sha tt e ring e moti o n o f move me nt
see n wi th eyes, hea rd with ears . a nd
never forgott e n with t he brain .
The Irue slOry of J . Edgar Hoover
a nd Ihe FB I would ma ke a he ll of a
movie loday. Nol Ihe year 2000. BUI
loday.
To ma ke suc h a newspa pe r film I
wo uld give my righl Linol ype.
Pe rha ps o ne da y ... soon. . tI
Sa mue l Fu ll e r is the writ e r-direc to r
of Park ROil ', a fi lm abu ut earl y New
York j o urnali s m.
On IWO ","ndslagc>-II and 4-al Ihe
Burbank SlUdiu.." 30,000 fecI arc
given over 10 it replica of the fifth num
newsroom ufTh(' Wm "j".':roll Post. Alan
Pakul a. the direc tor of the: fil m vc r-; ion o f
A ll the Prl' Ji(/el/( s Me'II, had \\an tcd to
use t he actual news room. but the Post's
cdilor:-. frcll cd lh<ll thi s would inlt!rferc
with the papc( !\ day- Io- da y opcrations.
Thus. S450.000 wa!\ added for t ht: COIl-
st ruct ion oran addi ti onal ,\ct to t he film' s
al read y (op- hea vy hudget .
Some orthe wa" du e 10 Pa kul a a nd
(Icsigne r George J c nkin!\' u n
exacti tude. Je nkin ... , fir:)! orall. had eve r y
desk uf the ,IcIlIa1 nc\\!\ro01l1 photo-
graphed . a nd documented a!\ In wha t it
cont ained . $('''CI1I ), -I\\u c,lri o ns of Ict-
tcr!'>. palllphi cb. and paper .... we re cul-
lec ted from reporter,' de,k,. ')h ipped to
Ca lifornia . Ind pl aced .. trat egicall y o n the
coun terpa rt, . One hu nd reu -<J nd-fift y
des k .. we rc ubtained and pai llled
Pm!' .\ '1 hade .. of red . green. <1I1e1 hlue .
More than a to n of book ... inc luding 1972
Co ngress ional :.. taff d irectori e ... vlllulll es
of the U.S. budge t. and Congre,
"io nal re pons. were <ll so used to d ecorate
H se t that will , how more reali sti call y the
workings uf a major news paper than any
o the r film cver made.
" By givi ng them :..0 muc h:' Jenkins
expl ained , " 1 'hoped I'd be e ncourag.ing
themto use il. "
A trained eye mi ght ha ve di sco ve red
cert ain diffe rences be twee n th e Burbank
a nd the Washington Paku la
had :"ol11e made. based on
the size a nd o f the sou nd
stage. " But t he .. ct.' hc said . ""as Ill)t
modified to make il ea:.. icr to photograph .
It \\as the o ther W'IY around: I wanted to
myself in to dealing. with
realit y ...
Whe n the real editor of the Pm!, Ben
Bradl ee, vis it ed the 'il' l o ne day. he whi 'i-
tIed hi s amazement. Twenty- fi ve actors.
including Robert Redford . Dus tin Hoff
man. a nd Robards, a long \\ il h
twent y- four extras. were at work in Ihe
mode rn . blindingly whit e ne wsroom.
'Unheli eva bl e.' Bn ldke murmured.
PROGRESS REPORT:
All the President's Men
Verisimilitude
A New
Formula
Harry Clei n
mea ning quite the rever .. e . He the n \\ent
on to gue .. :.. correc tl y that the .. ce ne bei ng
shot occurring a t 10:30 o f a Sa turday
mo rning..
To ge t the :..al11e realistic Ino k for t he
backgmllnd action. a .. econd di -
rector. .. Ziarko. \\(1:" .. e nt to
Washington for te n to oh ... erv .... Wa ..
it d iffere nt in 1972, he wanted to kno\\ .
There were 'i li ght a nd he
not ed the m. Fur aclion purpo ... c ... he re-
po rted bal.:k. the ne\\ \\ about
" as e xc iting a .. an in .. unlnl' l. o ffi L'e." and
might look alnlll .. t too d ull o n fi lm. The
actor:.. \\ ere given flwre to do. mnved it bit
more qu ic kl y than the y might have in real
life. Ziarko di .. cllvcred, during hi .. time in
Washington, that .. urpri .. ingly fe\\ people
smoked in the ne\\ .. room. He noted the
numbe r of tho .. e who \\ore the
rilcial mix of ... a nd the dille r-
e nce!) in dre .. , bd \\ el:n report er ... ed itor'),
and copy aide ... All thi , \\ ill be mirmred
in the film.
To help in the n.:crealion of the at mu-
sphe re in \\ hi l.." h Rohcrt Wond ward a nd
25
Carl Berns tein worked as t hey tracked
down the eve r-wi dening Watergate story,
Roy Aarons, the Post's West Coast cor-
res ponde nt. coached princ ipal s a nd ex-
t ras in proper journali st ic jargon for t he ir
ad-libs, t hese pi cked up on a n eighHrack
recording system for j udi cious inc lusion
in the fina l dubbing, Aaro ns' instructi on
sessions included the handling of sources
over the phone, and what t he Post' s re-
porters would be doing at different times
of the day. Each da y of the shooting a
Pak ul a assis ta nt tacked up the Post's
front a nd ed itori al pages corresponding to
the [972 dates of the sce nes bei ng s hot.
Some of t he ad- li bbed di alogue ca me
from comment s on the stori es carried .
"Phone sequences."' Pakul a said, "are
the esse nce of t he film. What I'm trying
for is to get the sense of the subjective ex-
pe rience as Woodward a nd Bernstein
discover the s to ry. The telephone is the
means through whi ch they reach out for
the story. So, I keep trying to hold to their
point of view. If I we re to suddenl y cut to
another person a t the ot her end, I'd be
breaking the sense of that subjecti ve ex-
peri ence.
"Nuw. in those phone conversati ons,
the reporte rs are talking to di se mbod ied
voices. It would poss ibl y be more vis ual
to show who t hey' re talking t o. but my
fee li ng is tha t forcing the a udi ence to be
on j us t their si de gives LI S a greater sense
of bei ng wit h them, of showing what the
experie nce was [ike. of feeling the frustra-
t ion and diffi cult y of dealing wi th some-
one who want s to hang lip on YOll.'
Wh y so much att e nti on to so man y
mini sc ule detail s? " It was the lilli e ob-
j ects that lit erall y brought down the mos t
powerful men in the worl d." Pak ul a said .
26
' 'I' m usi ng the camera as t he report e rs'
eyes: thus the detai l has to be exac t : the
ca mera sees what t hey see."
Redford said: "This is t he mos t ove r-
researc hed projec t anyone could do. and
there's ,I great danger of it s becoming
over-complicated. I had to di scaHI mos t
of my notes and just go wi th t he esse nce
of what I gathered from them-exce pt
when something pertained to a specific
incident that we had to ge t accu rate."
To what extent is Redford in volved in
t he fi lm. beyond hi s role as Woodward?
Caught in a n off-moment, Redford ex-
plained: " I must hi:\ve s pent more than a
hundre d hours with Woodward in
Wa s hington. most ly following hi m
arou nd duri ng hi s normal course of wurk -
ing, For ins tance. I sat next to hi m whil e
he made phone call s as he and Be rn stein
we re run ning down some stuff on Charl es
Colson. "
Thi s mea ns, of course. that Redford
was e ngaged in the project long before
Woodward and Bernstein had written All
/hl' Presiden!"s M l'lI. To go back to the
beginnings. he was un a whi stl e-stop
promotional tour fo r The Candidatl' in
1972 when the Wa te rgate cv\! nt s began
breaking. Several gen uine Washi ngton
journali sts were on the tnlin. and it wa s
cynicall y suggested by some that Nixon
was probabl y in volved. a not ion that out-
raged Redford more t ha n the reporters.
Later, as Woodward and Bernstei n began
to uncover the cove r-up , he came across
a pi cture of the two a nd fOllnd himself
fa sci nated with the odd coupli ng they
represent ed. He looked them up. sllg-
gested a film of their s tory, and when ap-
pri sed of the factlhe y wou ld be wri ting a
book about it. made the fir st film otTer. for
whic h Warner Bros. provided the fina n-
cial baCking.
"They were still ri ght in t he heat of
their story when 1 was wit h them," Red-
ford said. "and during much of t he time I
was observing them. I learned what a
good report er docs. and I hope that gets
int o my portra yal of Woodward ." He
gave hi s own prescript ion for profes-
sionalism in reporting: " He doesn't ac-
ce pt a nything the way it is , t rusts nothing
to be what it appears to be, take s nothi ng
on face value. a nd that' s only for s tart ers.
Then he' s got to develop a tec hni que for
bui lding questi ons that will get to t he
point. and learn methods of ext racting
answers withou t it a ppeari ng t hat he's
doing so."
While the credit s won't say so. t here is
li lli e questi on that Redford is the true
prod ucer of the film. Indeed, the pro-
ducer t itl e goes to Walter Coblenz. who
worked wi th Redford on Thl' Downhill
Racer and Till' Candida/l' . but he is the
" line" producer. the exec llti ve rei ns
be ing in Redford 's hands. ''I'm not in-
terested in a producer c redit. " Redford
sai d , "and I' d rat her it go to my compa ny,
Wi ldwood." But. if he is the real pro-
ducer. what d id he do, bes ides being the
first to propose the film? He hired Cob-
lenz. for one thing, he obtained William
Gold man as the sc ree nwrite r , fo r
anothcr. And he brought in Dusti n Hoff-
man as hi s co-s tar. The director. Alan
Pak ul a, came last. instead of. as is often
the case. firs t. And it was Pakula who
brought wit h him photographer Gordon
Wi lli s, a nd designer Jenkins. " By and
large. though," as someone put it on the
set. "it' s Bob' s baby. "
.. As pa rt of ou r research." Redford re-
call ed, "we had a meeting wi th t he
editors and wri ters of Thl' Bostol/ G/obl' ,
telli ng the m that what we were a ft er was
to s how t he news paper business as it was.
They were inte re sted. but cuncerned and
nervous, They agreed there ought to be a
xood movie about the fi e ld, but there had
never been one before. Till' Frollt PaXl'
was not only olltdated . they felt. but the y
t hought eve n for it s time it was hyped up.
Would we be doing the same? Well. whi le
we're not making a mov ie excl usively for
the news paper profess ion, we're trying to
show it like it is. wart s and all. I t ' ~ a ncw
formul a, it hasn't been tried before. and
we can onl y hope thai it wo rks. "
Harr y Cle in is wr iting a book on the film-
ing of All th e Pf(' !)'idl,,,t"s Ml' l1.
R l ' {Jort er .\ (lnd t' di tors ill COII/Ut' IICf:
Robl'f"/ Rl't/ford, JosO// /?oh(lrds . Jack
Wardell, Oil s /iII Hojjilloll.
/ ~ "
Volleyball, Square Dancing and Cinema
Patrick McGilligan
The Uni ver sity Film Study Center i s one of the
newest. and most vigoroll s. film stud y operations
in thi s country- and (j we icolll e addit i on to t he
nati on ' s arc hives. It is located in Cambridge. Mas
sac husclt s. whi ch gi ves it another charm. too.
since Boston i s notori ousl y i nhospitabl e when it
comes (0 providing ve nt for it s seriolls film student s
(for exampl e. t here i s no reli able cinema bookshop
or theal er devoted stri ct ly to scree ning film-as-art
in the Huharca),
Founded in 1968, and grown by leaps in i ts short
seven- year ex iste nce. the UFSC is a consortium or
12 member coll eges in New England. designed. in
the words of Executive Director Pete r Feinstei n.
"to improve the level of study of fi lm i n thi s cOlln-
New England's Multi-Purpose
Film Study Center
try. and 10 prov ide film se r vices for ew Eng-
land." T he measure of its wort h ca n be see n easily
by the var ie t y of it s ac tivit ies : Ma int e na nce nf a
growing film archive and a large film li brar y: o ngo-
ing resea rc h and publi cat ion of lilm-re lated materi-
al s : regula r s ympos ia a nd se minars de voted to
media s t udy: a nd an intens ive. annLlal s ummer
seminar in fi lm. video. a nd photography .
The ac tual headquClrters is nondesc ript. a lmost
ramshackk. wit h <I n old-s hue feel t ha t belies it s
sc hola rl y pur pose. It is located on a side str eet ,It
the Ma ssac husett s Institut e of Tct:hnllillgy, in a
second-floor offi ce that is decorated at t he e ntra nce
with a s ket c h of Fred Astai rc lea pi ng ballcticall y
into the a ir. Filmwomen. a loca l group which pool s
27
2X
Learning by doing at the
Un il'ersity Film Study
Cell ter Summer Institut e.
equipme nt and ex pertise for women filmmaker s.
shares an adjace nt office. The several rooms in-
clude a clull ered li brary. a n ever-changing rag-tag
bu ll etin board. and a small 16mm viewing room
ope n to the publi c dail y. The air is friend ly but seri-
ous. and the gra ndest hope of the present s taff is to
stumble upon a blank c heck a nd to purc ha se a new
building with the money.
It s the third ho me for the nomad ic UFSC whi c h
was located firs t at Harva rd's Fogg Mu se um and
later at Bra ndei s Uni versity. In t he beginning t he re
\\ere only eight member coll eges. eac h agree ing to
cuntribu te 51.500 annua ll y to fund a resource
ce nler. the idea being. in Feinstein's \\ords. " to
pool funds. buy films. and have a juint film arc-
hi ve.' Today the member ins titutions. eac h of
whi c h nominates a trustee to the UFSC governing
hoard. are Boston University. Brown Univers it y.
Dartmout h. Hamps hire. Harvard. MIT. Universit y
of Bridgeport. Univers it y of Massac husells at
Amhe rst. Universit y of Massac huse tt s at Boston.
Wesleya n. a nd Ya le. Founda ti on
grants-especia ll y fro m t he Nat ional Endowme nt
fur the Art s a nd the Loui s B. Ma yer Foundation
- havt: e nabl ed UFSC to ex pand beyond it s origi-
nal concept of a simpl e a rc hi ve- library. a nd to
evolve into a vi tal lea rning ce nter conce rned wit h
cur riculum design. program developme nt. ami
basic researc h.
The Film Informatiun Office of the UFSC
- establi shed unde r a three- year gra nt from the
Maye r Foundation in 1972 and a gra nt from the Na
tiona I Endo\\ ment-is t he ma in arte ry of the
center. and it has grown since it s incepti on. " It is.
simply. a place." explains Feinstein, "whe re peo-
ple who a re using film can come for information."
T\\ufull-time people staff the Fil m Infurmation or-
lil'c. and they a re ava il able to answer Iilm-rela teJ
questi o ns by te lephone o r mail or- if necessar y
- to trave l to the member colleges. T hey also ellit
and publish a bimonthl y newslett e r {circulation
4.0(0)-srna ll but val uable-with s uc h items as
book re views. fi lmographi es . cale nda r notices. and
othe r film a nno unce ment s. The Film Info rmation
Office rece nt ly has taken the pl unge into publica-
tion. with a SOO-copy printi ng of Harvard Luce Pro-
fessor of Film Vlada Petrie' s close-realling of D. W.
Griffith s 19 10 Biograph filmA CUrlin ill Wheal.
Educators. s tudents. and film buffs are given
further expos ure to trends lind ideas in film by the
symposia a nd se mina rs sponsored regul arly by the
U FSC. Nea rl y 200 peopl e we re turned away from
sessions in the lat est program. " The Future ofSpe-
cial Effects a nd Animation." held at Bost on's
Muse um of Fine Art s in t he fa ll of 1974. Guest lec-
tu re rs included Chuck Jones. award-winning
animator a nd creator of The Roadrunner. who held
a capacity c rowd rapt with his" History of Anima-
tion": Dr. Ca rl Chiarenza on s till photography:
Robert Breer and Pat O'Neil on a nima tion in t he
independent cinema: Jo hn \Vhitney on com-
puterized film tec hniques: Ed Emshwill er on the re-
lations hip between special effects in film a nd video:
Isaac Asimov on the future of the a udi o-visual en-
viro nment : a nd Linwood Dunn. former head of the
RKO special effect s department. who e nt e rtained
an overnow crowd with clips fro m movies a nd hi s
ex pert expla nati ons abou t bac k- project ion a nd
matt e work. Like many U FSC eve nt s. t he part ici-
pant s included educato rs. ar c hi vists. and li -
brari a ns . besides t he usua l represe nt a ti on from stu-
de nt s and buffs.
The se mina r t:oll cept is extended. int ensified. di-
vers ifi ed. a nd acc redit ed for UFSC's s pecial sum-
mer ins titute for film st udy. now in it s fifth year. It
is held on the 500-plus acres of Hamps hire College.
a li ber<:ll <:IriS coll ege in rural weste rn Mas-
sachuselt s. This year's facult y inc luded George
Bluest one. Ell Ems hwiller. Ho lli s Frampton.
Roger Greenspu n. Stan Lawder. Ri c hard Leacuc k.
and Jonas Mekas. (l iong with many othe rs.
Nearly 100 people (the numbe r kee ps growing)
gather at Hamps hire for three weeks. to li ve and
breathe the a rt of filmma king for 24 hours daily.
lea rning s uc h dive rse things as optical printing.
vi deo theor y. sc ree nwr iting o r cr iti cal wr iting (a
t ypi call y feve ri s h course. ta ught by Gree nspuil.
whi c h requires s ubmi ssion of a dail y theme paper).
Tuition is $300. excluding room and board: roughl y
30 scholars hips a re awa rded a nnuall y.
" It' s grown to be the '\ ingle largest ac ti vit y uf the
s tud y ce nter." expl ained Feins tein . " The idea is to
prov ide a rea ll y inte nsive inst itut e with firs t-class
people across the line. It 's committed to the idea of
film as art. It' s a real imme rsion into film. It' s to-
tall y encompass ing. You ca nno t beli eve {he leve l at
whi c h t hey ge t int o fil ms. The idea is to offer a level
of study that st ude nt s don't ha ve access to d uring
the year. Most coll eges don't have courses of such
qualit y. a nd it would be phe nume nal if a fa cu lt y of
the quality we bring together was ever drcl\\n to-
gethe r at one sc hool. Mos tl y. we teac h film. video.
a nd phot ography. but we a re always tr yi ng to add
other forms - ma ybe. in the near future. electronic
mus ic. Ava nt- garde mus ic-peo ple s uc h a s J o hn
Cage-has had a treme ndous influe nce on film. "
The s umme r inst itut e (which is le,:lVe ned by
nightl y voll cyball ga mcs, sqllar e danc ing, and pi c-
ni cs) a ttrac l S i:l broad cross-secti on of people from
e\\ Engl a nd, and cOllntr y-wide , Of the 175 stll -
denls in the sllll1mer of I Y74. 103 persons had some
media study. estima ted institute director
Gisela Hoelel. a nd the average age of the e nroll ees
was :! 8.
The nc west s ide line project of the UFSC is t he
Ce nt e r Sc reen Film Soc ie t y. a n ex hibiti on program
that assoc iated wilh t he Cenle r about one year ago .
" It' s a program'" explained Fe instein . "t o ex hibit
independe ntl y- made films in the Bost on a rea. to
deve lo p an aud ie nce for noncommercial films. to
foc us atte nt ion o n local filmrn(1kers. a nd to develop
an a lt ernative to the commercial ci nema."
Unde r the direc ti on of Barry Levine-who. a t
Fei ns tei n' s bequesl. rece ntl y departed with an
ope n-e nded ai rplane ti cket. in orde r to scour the
countr ys ide for new. independe nt films-the
Cent e r Screen Film Soc ie ty has mOllnted s ll c h
programs. in it s one-year term. as " Music On
Film" (inc luding the presti gio us loca l premiere of
Judy Collins a nd J ill Godrnil ows Alltol1ia ). a se ri es
o n screen a nimati on. and periodic screenings of
works by local filmmake rs. The film socie t y is
strapped by it s need for a permanent t heate r-
sc reenings ha ve thus fa r fl oa ted aroun d town-but
the program prese nt ly is attracting a strong and
loyal audi e nce.
L as t. bll t noticast.the UFSC maintains and
o pe rates a valuable tilm stud y collec ti on a nd arc-
hi ves . numbering c urrently over 500 title s. whi c h
a rc ava il able for privat e viewing on a wa lk- in basis.
and for loan to member sc hools for a nomina l fcc .
" It's the we do '" admitted Feins tein.
" People hear aboll t it a nd say. Oh. wow, a lot of
films.' Blit film is n' t like that. The re is not hing sex-
ier about a fi lm a rc hive than a book a rc hi ve." The
coll ection. ce rtainl y t he larges l in New England.
inc ludes foreign and domcsti c featur es. documen-
ta rks . tele vis ion material. s ho rt subjects . and in-
de pendent films-ranging from classics 10 genuine
rariti es. plu:-. \\ hat ma y we ll be the la rgesl single
colkcti o n of J erry Le wis films extant in thi s coun-
tr y. The latte r category is owed to t he la rge sse of
Joseph H, Ha ze n of cw York Cit y, a former Hol-
lywood producer (once part nered wit h Hal Wall is ).
who has donated ove r 100 feature fi lms to t he
U FSC.
" The idea o f the archive'" ex plained Feinstein.
"was that the me mbe r sc hools \\olild usc films on
the ir campus and save some mone y. hut money
from the Endowme nt made it possible for a nybod y
in the countr y 10 see fi lms here ." It is re markabl y
easy to arrange a sc reening-j ust sa unter in o fT the
street. no c redenti a ls necessary. Me mber sc hools
can re se rve ce rtain print s fo r fi lm classes a nd. ac-
cord ing to Feins tein . " keep (hem for a period of
time . It pe r mit s the m to actua ll y look at t he films.
and the stude nt s ca n comc over he re a nd look at
the m aga in a nd again- at a cons iderable of
course ...
The ce nter is admittedl y ha mpe red by its la ck of
a fu ll -time a rc hi vist il nd the luxur y of a Stecnbeck
mac hine. but those a rc ho les which will be filled
someda y. Prese ntl y. the ce nter ma nages to pur-
c ha se some films eve r y year-"cverything we
ho ld, we hold legall y : we don't hold a nyt hi ng that 's
pira ted or hot o r duped o r quest ionable " - and has
shown a prai seworth y fa cil it y. in it s seve n years.
for building a large and co:-. tl y collection from. lit er-
a ll y, nothing,
Muc h of the FSC' s bounding progress is due to
the leadership o f Pe te r Feinstein. 31. \\ ho hccame
the lhird exec utive direc lor of the ce ntt.!r in 1972. a
year whe n t he U FSC bega n to expand its programs
d ramatically. Since the n . the number of staff me m-
bers has ri sen from t wo full -time employees to nine
staffe rs. Feinstein is a ! e\\ York nal ive. wit h a
background in journali sm. He founded Film Forum
in Ne\\ York. ,111<.1 then ele cted to takc on the c hal-
lenge of building the U FSC. " I like to start things.
start the m o r build them." he mused recentl y. a s he
sat in his M IT office and di sc ll ssed the film study
ce nt e r. He is personable. aggre ss ive and blunt
-with a low opinion of fi lm stud y on thi s nation' s
campuse s . and a private preference for indepen-
de nt. c ine ma.
The future. however . is not e ntirdy bright. Tht.!
U FSC still t.!normOLi s problems of access. of
making it s ex iste nce kno\\ n throughout New Eng-
land. and. funding. a s everywhere e lse. i!'l a !'Ie vert.!
problem, Over 50 pe rce nt or the fi nanc ing of U FSC
is self-generated fr om fee s Clnd tuit ions . but about
one- fourth is from publi c foundation s and t ht.! re-
maining o ne- fo urth must come fr o l11 pri vatc
sources. Those lancr sources arc drying up in
post- ! ixon economy :-. llImp- at prec ise ly the time
whe n the UFSC wo uld like to e ,xpand rathe r than
tread wa ter.
.. I' d like to have a real nice building- that' s my
d ream'" said " That 's what I sec a s the
mos t important queslion for the study ct: nte r. Vic
s ho uld have a theate r. There isn 't any theater in
Boston devoted :-. crt.!cning films as an a rt form.
you know. and in a ci t y the sizt.! of yo u
ra the r expect to ha ve :-.o mc.:thing. If the stud y ce nt e r
ca n sta bi lize it selr '-and here. Feinstein paused
a nd dre wa mean ingfu l breat h- " I sec. in it s future.
a range of services. A big ar chive : lots o f li tt le
sc ree ning rooms : a big librar y. We wan t to publ ish
uur u\vn books: we \\anl to have a permant.! nt the-
a te r : and we arc movi ng into video \\ith a ve n-
gea nce. That ' s a big mo ve \\e ha ve to makc r ight
away'" II
Patri c k McGill igan write s fo r The' Bos((}1/ Glohe.
29
.10
The
Black
Years
of
Dalton
Trumbo
The Oscar Came Late
19 Years Late,
to be Exact,
and Robert Rich is Dead
Bruce Cook
Oscar nigh!. 1956. De bo ra h Ke rr ta kes the card
f ro m the o pe ned enve lo pe a nd a nnounces in a lo ud .
clear voice t hat the winner " for the Best Moti on
P i c l L l r ~ Sto ry is . . Robert Ri c h !"
The sac red mo me n!. Appl a use . J esse Las ky. Jr. .
the n Vi ce Pres ident of the Scree n Writ e rs Guild.
jumps up . bustl es down the a is le to t he stage a nd
accept s the award on bc half ofRi ch. whom he re-
fers to as" my good fri end ." because Ri ch was at
hi s wife's bedside. and she was about lO gi ve bi rth
to the irfirst ba by. Mo re a ppl a use . a nd he strides off
the stage. s ta tuett e in ha nd.
Lasky late r admitt ed in hi s account o f the
epi sode in hi s book. W/w l cl'er Happened 10 /-l ui
Iywood ? that he rea ll y had no idea who Robert
Ri ch was. But the name sounded famili ar. and it
seemed ( 0 him that an ofTi ccr ofthe Guild reall y
ought to know the me mbe rs. so. . Las ky's good
fri end he was. And as far as Ri ch being at hi s wife's
bed side. tha t was wha t La sky had bee n told. It all
see med quite routine to him at the lime.
The next day. however . whe n they had had the
c ha nce to c heck the Guil d fil es. it wa s fo und t hat
there was no Robert Ri ch li sted in them. He was not
a membe r a nd neve r had bee n. Nobody rea ll y had
any idea who he was or how he could be
reac hed- not even the King Brothers who had
produced The Bral'e Olle. the film fo r whi c h Robert
Ri ch hadjust won the Academy Award, Had he re-
all y bee n at a hospit al waiting for hi s wi fe to gi ve
b irth' Somebod y had call ed the aft e rnoon of the
ce re mony a nd had sa id so. Just on the out s ide
c hance they might locate him tha t way. they put a
team to work telephoning the obstetrics wards of
every hospit al in Los Angeles Count y to inquire i f
there we re a Mrs. Robert Ri c h registe red . a luck .
It wasn' t long before the newsmagazines picked
up the story and report ed thi s rather sti cky situa-
ti on. The n t hey did a fo ll ow- up whe n rumors bega n
to fl y a round Ho ll ywood tha t Robert Ri ch was re-
all y j ust a pseudonym- one of the many- used by
Dalt on Trumbo. who had bee n blackli sted nine
years before when he had appeared as an un-
friendl y witness before the House Committ ee on
Un- Ameri can Acti vi ti es, Eventuall y T rumbo pub-
licl y acknowledged that it was so-he had wri tten
The 8 r(l I 'C' One, He did this more than anything to
hel p the King Brothers fe nd off t he t hree plagia ris m
suits that had been fil ed aga inst them when Robert
Ri ch's ident it y still was uncstabli shed.
By now, of course, it isa veryolcl stor y-one
well known to ever y connoisseur of blacklist lore
and to man y amatcurs as well. Yet no matt er how
great it s val ue as anecdote, those who tell it seldom
real ize what an import ant part the episode played in
Do/toil Trumbo,foca/figure of the
Hollywood blacklist. " They made him
WI ( ~ f f e r he cOlildn' f refilse.
t he long proce ss of breaking t he blac kli s t. But Dal-
ton Tru mbo knows: . ' I t was that Robert Ri ch thing
t hat gave me the key. You see. all the press came to
me. and I dealt wi th t hem in such a way that they
kne\1"I bloody weill had writt en it. But I would sug-
gest that maybe it was Mike Wil son* . and they
would call Mike and ask him. and he would say 110,
it wasn't him. And t hey woul d come back to me .
and I' d s uggest t hey tr y so mebod y else - anot her
blackli sted writ er like mysel f who was working on
the black market. I had a whole li st of them beca use
we kcpt inclosc tollch.lt we nton and on and on. I
just wanted t he press to understand what an exten-
si ve thing thi s movi e black mark et was. And in the
midst of t hi s . I s udde nl y reali zed t hat a ll the
* Scree nwriter Mi chael Wil son had won an Academy
Award for A Place ill fhe 51111 the year he was bl ac k-
li sted. and was act i ve on the movie black market.
~ . I
j ournali sts-or most of them-were sympatheti c to
me. and how eager they we re to have t he bl ackli st
exploded. There had been a ce rt ain c ha nge in the
atmosphere. and then it became possibl e."
The Robert Rich affa ir thus ma rked the hegin-
ning of t he end oft he blackli st. The foll owi ng year
Pi erre BOllil e won the Academy Awa rd for the
mar vel ousjob he had donc ada pt ing hi s own novel.
Tlt e Bridge Oil the Rh'er K,, (/i. for the scree n.
Among insiders the award provoked onl y laught er.
for the truth wa s that Boul le hardl y s poke. muc h
l ess wrotc, Engli sh (and. incident all y. did nol writ e
for films before or afler ). The scr i pt was actuall y
the work of t wo bl ack l i sted writ er s-Carl Foreman
and Trumbo's friend. Mi chael Wi l son. T wo years
after that. t he award for Best Origi nal Screenplay
we nt to the team of athan E. Douglas and Harol d
Jacob Smith forTlte D(/i(ll/f Olles. Yes. Vi rgini a.
t here i s a Harold Jacoh Smit h. bu t Nathan E. DOll g-
3 I
The a\\ ard pro-
voked la ughte r .
for Boull c
hardl y spoke.
much less
wrote. Engli sh.
32
las. it tu r ned o ut. was the blac kli sted ac tor-
turned- writ er cd ri ck Young. And so it we nt.
Cracks were ap pearing in the wa ll t hat Hol-
lywood had thrown up to protect the Ame ri ca n
public aga inst the s ubvers ion of the motion picture
ind uslr y by Ihe blac kli sled un-America ns. And
t hey were a ppeClr ing wit h s uch ro utine freque ncy
that it rea ll y came a s no s urpri se when. in 1960. the
rampa rt was breac hed c leanly fo r the fir st time by
none other t ha n Dalto n Tr umbo. Ott o Pre minge r
put Trumbo's name lip on t he sc ree n for the work
he had do ne o n Exodus. giving him full sc ree nplay
c red it. t he firs t he had rece ived since 1947. whe n it
a ll began. Aimosl s imull a neous ly. Kirk Do uglas
a nno unced Trumbo as aut hor of the sc reenplay of
Spart(f cil s. whi c h wasj ust about to be released.
Two maj or c redit s in a s ingle year. With them. the
biac ki isl had bee n broken effecl ive ly-allhough il
wo uld. of course. be years yet before the politi cal
bac kground of a writ e r-or a director . or a n
ac to r-would play no part in whethe r he was hired
a nd give n credit. And it was true. too. that ma ny of
the 2:'0 o r more in the moti on pi c ture indusl ry who
had bee n blac kli sled wo ul d never find Ihe ir wa y
back Ihro ugh Ihe hole Trumbo had PUI in Ihe wall.
Vie wed fro m a ny a ngle. Dalt on Trumbo is the
focal figu re. Go bac k to t he period. trace the
labyrinthine ways of the blackli st. and it' s him you
kee p bu mpi ng i nt o in the corri do rs . He was t he re at
t he beginning. worki ng for Met ro-Goldwyn-Maye r
as the highe st paid scree nwrit er in Holl ywood .
whe n he was s ubpoe naed to a ppem' before the
HOll se Co mmitt ee on Un-American Ac ti viti e s a nd
became o ne of t he Ho ll ywood Te n. Duri ng t he
blac kli st per iod. he wrote. on hi s own offha nd
guess ... about 35"' screenpla ys a nd ori gi nal sc reen
stories on the movie black mar ket. (The onl y li st he
ha s e ve r dra wn lip goes higher: All the way lip 10
4) . ) Over a score of t hem eve ntuall y saw produc-
tion. But of them a ll . none was more import ant to
Trumbo. a nd to the brea kingof t he blac kli st. than
7 he Bra\'e Olle. the little movie he wrote fo r the
King Brothe rs. whi c h won a n Acade my Awaru fo r
the mys te ri ous Robe rt Ri c h.
lere reall y IVas a Robe n Ri c h. He IVas an ac-
counta nt who hap pe ned to be a nephew of t he King
brothe rs. That sa id. I feel almos t obliged to affi r m
t hat t he Kingbrothers. Maurice. Fra nk .and Her-
man (born Kozinski ) reall y exist-not because the y
a rc so obscure but bec ause they have been inacti ve
as inde pende nt produce rs long e no ugh (ha ving di -
ve rs ified into the ho te l busine ss ) that they have be-
come s hadowy. almost legendar y fi gures nft he old
Holl ywood. a mong t he la st ma ste rs of B-pi c ture
produc ti on .
Trumbo liked the m and found . perha ps to hi s
s urp ri se. t hat he had a lot in common wi t h the m.
Duri ng the yea rs he was st ruggling to become a wr i-
ter. a nd at t he Same time support hi s mot he r and
two s isters . the King brothe rs were struggling 100:
" Maury. lheoide sl one . lo ughl asa pug." says
Trumbo. "And Ihal e nabled Frank 10 gellhro ugh
Fra nklin Hi gh Sc hool in Hi ghl a nd Pa rk . Hymi e was
Ihe yo ungeSi. and he gOllhrough hi gh sc hool. 100.
The fal he r had di ed . The boys had 10 ma ke il on
the ir own. a nd t hey di d it boot legging a nd in the
rac ke l s." (Tr umbo a lso had done a bil ofbooll eg-
ging. bUllhal is anolhe r slory e nli re ly.)
Wilh Iheend ofProhibili on.l he Kingbrolhers
got illi o mo ti on pic ture produc tion - fir st for PRC
during the late thirti es a nd subse quentl y fo r
Monogra m. In 1945 al Monogram.l hey madel he
ve ry s uccessful Oil/iI/ gel'. Budgeted a l S 193 .000.
with Lawre nce Tie rney. Edmund Lowe. a nd Anne
Jeffreys. and direcled by Max Nossec k. Oil/iI/ gel'
broughl in over $4 milli on world wide. Wilh Iha l hil
under Ihe ir bell. Ihey decided 10 go inJ epe nde nl.
The ir fir st film was The GlIngster, released in 1947:
it featured Bar ry Sull iva n and Akim Tamiroffand
had ils momeni s btll fail ed 10 ma ke mo ney for
t he m. King Brothe rs Produc tio ns was in the ma rket
for a new sc ri pt whe n the c razine ss in Washington
ca ughll he ir eye. The brOlhe rs nOled Ihe qualil y of
the ta le nt that had been ha ul ed before the Ho use
Co mmittee on Un-America n Ac ti viti es. hea rd wit h
int e res t the ta lk a mo ng produce rs of a poli t ical
blackli st. and drew so me s hrewd conclus ions.
The King brolhe rs approac hed Dall o n Tru mbo
Ihe da y he relurned ho me 10 Bever ly Hill s fromlhe
hea rings in Washingto n. " There was no bi g dea l to
il. " sa ys Frank King. "Wej us l had a s ho n budget
to make a pi c ture a nd saw thi sas a n o ppo rtunit y to
get a fine writ er to work for LI S who we could not
ot he rwi se afford."
And polili cs? " Polil ics didn'l e nl er inlO il "I a ll. "
says King. sOlll e s light a nnoyance evide nt in his
voice . " What Cll11an' s poli t ics we re wa s not Ollr
conce rn , I gue ss he spoke hi s mind before Con-
gress. and that was all right wit h LIS. But we ne ve r
d isc ussed that at a ll . We werej us l int e rested in
ma king pi c tur es . "
For his part. Trumbo reali zed t ha t he was as of
the n une mpl oyable a s far as the major st udios we re
conce rned . a nd t hat he woul d ha ve to fi ght for
eve ry ce nt t hat re mained to be pa id to him o n hi s
luerali ve MGM conlraCI (S75.000 pe r pi clUre) .
.. Bro ke as a ba nkrupt' s bastard " was ho w he de-
sc ribed himself. He faced te rrifi c legal ex pe nses fu r
the a ppea l of the Co nt e mpt of Congress c itati on
that he had received wilh t he l)thersofthe Hol-
lywood Ten . a nd the definit e poss ibili ty ofa yea r in
j a il. s hou ld Ihe a ppeal fa il. The modesl deal offe red
him by King Brol he rs Producli ons - S3.750 10 be
paid him ove r t he pe ri od or a yea r a nd a half
- looked good 10 himl he n. They had made hi m a n
offer he was in no pos iti on to re fu se. He shook
hands wit h the m on t he dea l. and he s tart ed to work
o n GIIII C r f l ~ Y t he next da y.
Edlt'ard G. Robinson. Margaret
O' Brien. in Our Vines Have Tender
Grapes. Trumbo ' s lasl. pre-blacklist.
"We just hada
short budget and
saw this as an
opportunit), to
get a fine writer
to work for us. "
34
Trumbo, however, wa nt s it unde rstood that he
does not fee l he was ta ken ad vantage of by Maur y,
Fra nk, and Herm<:ln King, nor by the ot hers who
empl oyed him at c ut rate son the movie black mar-
ket . The King Brothers paid him what they could
alToI'd ... A l ot of independent s never paid more
tha n that. " he says. " When I and othe rs plum-
meted in value. we naturall y found ourselves in thi s
new market, a nd na tu ra ll y the se independent pro-
d uce rs a va il ed themselves of o ur se r vices beca use
they felt that forthi s money they could get bett er
work . So there was n't reall y thi s brutal exploitati o n
of black market wr it e rs t hat has sometimes bee n re-
ferred to."
GUll era:.\', Trumbo' s fir st proj ec t for King
Brothers Producti ons. was rel eased in 1950. whil e
he was still se rving hi s term inj ail for contempt of
Congress. He never saw the film . Mill ard Kaufma n
a ll owed him t he lise of hi s na me o n it. a nd it has
ne ve r been even informa ll y credi ted to Trumbo. As
brDught to t he sc reen by director Joseph L ewi s.
thi s taleof a l atter-day Bonnie and Cl yde had the
sort of int e nsit y a nd e ne rgy that c ha rac te ri zed
Lewis' best B-movie work . As t he gun-c ra zy COll-
pi e who go on a holdup spree. John Dall and Peggy
Cummins impl y the psychopat hol ogy of their roles
without overst at ing . It is, in s ho rt. a prett y good
pi c ture, and it is so in la rge part beca use director
a nd cast had a pre tt y good sc ript to work with .
Even when working quickl y lnd at I c ut -ra te.
Trumbo gave them their money's worth . He had to.
He was lighting now for ever y job he got.
He sold hi s house in Beverl y Hi ll s and retreated
to his ranc h up in the mo unt ains of Ventura
County, the Lazy-T. There he bega n writing on the
cumpul sive day-and-n ight sc hedul e which he main-
ta ined a ll t hrough the black li st pe ri od. He gave
time, whi c h he late r came to regret. to the writing of
a pla y, The BigJ,:e.\! Thil'fin TOII II. He bro ught it
through tr yo ut runs in Boston il nd ew Haven,
with the uSlIal franti c rewrit es. a nd the n saw it fold
on Broad way J3 nights after it s March 30. 1949
openi ng. Mi xed rev iews. A bitt e r di sa ppointment.
The fail ure of the pl ay, on whi ch he had worked
su ha rd and banked so hea vil y, se nt him bac k to the
typewriter , detcrmined to work onl y on bl ac k ma r-
ket project s that he could be sure woul d pay off.
Gcorge Willner. a n agcnt who wo uld himself later
be blackli stcd, ca me tu Trumbo's ai d. He used hi s
l' ont ac ts tu sell a n original sc ree n stur y for him.
aga in unde r Mill ard Kaufma n' S na me , and although
it sold , it was never produced. Willner made d is-
ncet inquiri es a mo ng sume oft he larger inde pen-
de nt producers, and wor k began to tri ckle
Trumbo' s way. The fi r st job he lined up forTrumbo
was one that SlI bseq uentl y fe II through - an fl S-
signment to do a sc ree npla y for the comedian
Da nn y Ka ye from an o ri ginal sto ry, FlIin'iell',
USA . It never got much beyond the talking. outlin-
j ng. what -do-yo u-t hi nk-of-t hese-first -few- pages
s tage because of t he comedi <lI1's wis h t o work as
close ly as poss ibl e with hi s \vri ter. a nd Trumbo's
contrar y wi s h to work on hi s own in a remote
mountain hideaway nearly a 100 mil es from Los
Ange les. Whe n Ka ye tri ed to reac h him on s ho rt
notic e a nd fo und Trumbo didn't eve n have a tele-
pho ne. that more or less e nded their assoc iation.
But with Willner working on hi s behalf (at no lit -
tl e professi onal ri sk to hi mself. by the way).
Trumbo found that the Lazy-T suit ed hi s purpose
very well. He was a we ll -known fi gure in Ho l-
l ywood. H i s comings and goi ngs could easil y be
obse rved t he re by the vigil antes who saw to the e n-
forcement of the blackli st. He was not allowed
wit hin I he gates o f a ny studi o in Ho ll ywood, and
restaurant meetings we re far too publi c. Ifhe were
to have a tele phone, he was s ure it would be
tapped . No. Tr umbo preferred the inconveni ence
of the Lazy-T for the pri vacy it gave him. When
meetings were absolut ely necessar y, t hey we re a r-
ranged in o ff-hours on ne utral ground , at the ho me s
a nd offi ces of fri e nds out side business di stri ct loca-
t ions. Di sc re ti on-eve n sec recy-was necessary.
When the Supreme COLIn declined to review the
Contempt of Congress citat ions handed out to t he
Te n, it beca me clea r that pri so n was where the y a ll
Gun Crazy. wi,h Peggy Cummins
all d Joh" Dall . released while Trumbo
was serl'ing his 0\\"1/ term in jail.
"ere headed. Trumbo wrote three screenpl ays in
the time remaining. all or them good and all orthem
produced . Bctween June 1949 andJune 19S0.with
$40.000 worth of debts. a wife a nd t hree c hildre n to
support . and prospects or no i ncome whatever ror
the year h ~ woul d be in j ail. he did The Prol\ler. ror
\vhidl h i ~ frie nd Hugo Butl er lent hi s name; He Rail
All the Wa.'. John Garfi e ld' s last film . a lso c redit ed
10 Butl er and on whi ch But ler did some rewrit i ng
while Trumbo was in prison: and Call boy. adapt ed
rrom Frank Harris' probabl y spurious memoir.
Reminiscences ofA1y LIfe as a Cowhoy. On the lat-
te r . Ed mund Nort h rece ived full c redit aft e r he had
done a poli s hjobon the sc ript whi c h Trumho had
wrilt en. Hugo Butl er. again rronting ror T rumbo.
was to have shared credit. as determi ned by the
Guil d. However. by the time COhba.\' was released.
in 1957. the Writ e rs Guild had e nt e red int oan
agreement with the producers whereby the name or
any po lit ica l undesirabl e could s impl y be re moved
from the sc ree n. And by t hat time. tho ugh Butler
never had appeared berore the Committ ee. he had
been nClmed in testimony and had been errecti vely
blacklisted. Hi s na me came off the fi lm: Trumbo's
was ne ver on it. "North isa pleasant enough man
with good feelings." says Trumbo ... He la ter a nd
pri vately expressed to Hugo hi s repugnance at re-
cei ving sole scree npl ay credit i n thi s rashi on . .
The credit was a good one because the reviews
we re good. And thi s is a n excellent exa mpl e of why
no record of credit s bet wee n 1947a nd 1960 can be
considered even remotely accurate."
Trumbo worked right down to the wire. Having
poli s hed off the last of these sc ree npla ys. and with
three weeks remaining berore he was to report to
the Di stri ct or Columbia Jail ror transport ati on to
federal pri son. he sat down and wrote three screen
stori es. each around a 100 pages in length . George
Willner was abl e to sell o ne oft he m. titl ed The
Burcher Bird. alt hough it was never produced. It
brought Trumbu money when he needed it mos t.
I r!on, It wasj us t so muc h 10sttime. as fa r as
Trumbo was concerned. I t could have been some-
thing more. for whil e he wns in the Federal Correc-
ti onallnstituti onat Ashl and. Kentucky. he begana
novel (it would ha ve bee n hi s fifth ). a nd by the t ime
he was rel eased. he had 150 manuscript pages com-
pl eted . Blit he was released to t he same crushi ng
money worri es he had left be hind him the year be-
rore. The novel would have to wait unt il he had
fini shed a black marke t j ob or two and had some
cash in hand. And in fac !. it was never completecl .
He turned to t he King Brothers aga in. Gun Cra:.y
had bee n releascd. had done well. and so they were
more than willing to do busi ness with him. The
movic that ca me Oll t of thei r nc.=w deal . Carllil 'a/
Story. was writt en by T rumbo. wi th credit eve nt u-
all y going to a mythica l Ma rcel Kl a ube r. The
Teut oni c name was chose n a coupl e of years later
beca use the rilm \\ as shot i n Germany by director
Kurt Neumann and it seemed morcappropriate.
The pi cture rea tured Steve Cochran and Anne Bax-
ter and. although budgeted close to Ihc.= bone. as
were all the King Brothers productions. it \\ as a
good-looking film. and it made a substanti al profit
ror thcm when it was released in 1954. Trumbo's
script. with it s echoes or Li/iol1l . was ti ght er and
more I it erate I han G fill Cra: .\'.
At that timc Hugo Butl er was down in Baj a
Californi a. literall y hiding out from a subpoena by
the House Committ ee on U n-A meri ca n Ac ti vi t ics.
Whil e there he had done some work for a producer
in Mexico Cit y and had bee n assured there would
be more. The Butl ers pro posed tha tt he Tru mbus
move with them down to Mex ico Cit y where ex-
penses would onl y be a rracti on o f wha t they were
in Calirorni a. Trumbo had decided by thi ..; time that
he could not hope to ho ld on to the Lazy-T muc h
longer-and so it was settl ed. He put the ranch li p
ror sale. and the two rami li es met in Sa n Di ego and
began the longjourney to Me,xico Cit y.
There was quite a col ony establi shed there by the
35
"The clerk at the
Imperial found
out his tenants,
who he thought
were Hollywood
big shots, were
just lepers
in disguise. ,.
36
time they arri ved. Screenwrit er Jo hn Bright re-
calls: " I was the first person to la nd in Mexico Cit y.
At the time I got there. o nl y Gordon Kahn was
a ro und . and he was in Cue rnavaca. I registered in
the Impe ri al Hotel down there. and one by one they
all came. and eve rybody o n the blackl ist . I swear.
passed through the Impe ri al Hotel. Why. at one
time.140fthe 16apart me nt s inthe pl acewereoc-
c upi ed by blackli stees. I remember the Engli sh-
la nguage paper down there. The Mexico City Nell s.
got wind t hat we were there a nd fan a story o n us.
who we we re. a nd so on. So when the news broke.
the clerk at t he Imperial found out all hi s tena nt s.
who he thought we re Holl ywood bigsho ts. were
just Ie pers in d isgu ise ...
In the long run. the move t o Mexico proved to be
a mi stake. True e nough. the cost ofliving was less
there . but Trumbo s ucc umbed to temptat io n and
set himself a nd hi s famil y up in grande r circum-
stances t ha n at the Lazy-T -hacienda. se rvant s.
the works. Always more or less pronigate with
money. he ass umed that assignme nt s would roll in
to keep them in the st yle to whi ch they were fast
becoming acc usto med-but they didnt. Exce pt for
one job fo r a Mexica n producer. whi ch he and
Hugo But ler shared. the re was no wor k for him
from local movie sources. He had time-far more
of it than he would have liked-to get to know the
countr y. A nd during those long days in whi ch bot h
of them were idl e. Butler began to interest him. un-
ex pected ly. in bullfighting.
.l ea n But ler. hi s widow. remembers: " Hugo told
him that he couldn ' t defend it (bullfi ghting) on
moral gro unds but that he thought it was still some-
t hing beautiful. And Trumbo had to ad mit the re
was something to that. all right. . The first time
they went. I think. they saw a bad kill a nd that al-
must se nt him away for good. But Hugo got him to
come back a coupl e of mo re times. and the n the y
got to see t he indu/to, whi ch is prell y ra re. We had
read about it but hadn ' t see n one. That. of course,
made quite a n impression o n Trumbo."
It made s uch an impression. in fact. that he now
had the idea for a story that he had been sea rching
forever since he came down to Mex ico. The
illdullO (li terall y. the " show of swee tne ss") is a
ve rdi ct of clemency pronounced by the crowd at
the bullfi ght upo n a bull that has fought with great
brave ry. The members of the crowd signal to the
matado r that the bull' s li fe is to be s pa red by waving
t heir ha ndkerc hi efs vigorously. It is quite a sight.
a nd Trumbo knew once he had see n it that it would
make a marvelou s climac ti c scene for a motion pi c-
ture. He bega n researching the project. readi ng
whateve r book s he could find in Engli sh on the s ub-
ject, a nd ask ing quest ions of those who knew some-
thing about bullfi ghting a nd the raising offi ghting
bull s.
Before long. he was ready to talk about the proj-
ec t. He we nt -whe re else could he go with it ?-to
the King Brothers. He madea trip fro m Mex ico
Cit y to Los Angel es in May 1952 to take ca re of
matters t hal had to do mostl y with pay ment s due
the Int e rnal Revenue Service and the sale of the
Lazy-T. But wh il e there. he visited the King
Brothe rs ' offi ces and sat down wit h Ma ur y a nd
Fra nk a nd orall y outlined the stor y he had in mind
of the bull that comport s himself so we ll in the ring
that he is gra nt ed a repri eve from the us ua l death
sentence in the form of a n iI/till/to. The bull ha s
bee n almost the pet ofa young Mexican boyan the
ranc h where he was rai sed- hence the titl e under
whi ch it was offe red to the King Brothers . " The
Boy a nd the Bull.
Ma ur y a nd Frank knew a good thing whe n they
heard it , and so they told him to go ahead and writ e
the sc reen pl ay. He did . fini shing it just befo re hi s
return t o Holl ywood. where he moved back to get
"close r to t he til." The King brothers found him a
house in Hi ghl a nd Park. whe re they had grown up.
and there he worked thr ough seve n more yearsof
the blackli st. There he was living whe n hi s alt e r
ego . Ro bert Ri ch. won the Academy Award for The
Brave One. Trumbo' s sto ry of the boy and the bull.
And there he was still whe n the black li st was
broken in 1960.
D ssolve. Here we are yea rs later in Trumbo's
home-hi s offi ce, hi s den , Look around . It isa
magnifice nt room. The re are in it ca ri catures by
Pete r Ustinov a nd John Huston: pho tographs by
Trumbo's wife . Cleo: a librar y of about a thousa nd
books : copies of every sc ree npl ay that he is proud
e nough to kee p: hi s pre-Columbi a n art coll ecti on, a
souvenir of Mex ico Cit y: but nowhere - look as
you will -can you see a ny sign of that Oscar
awa rded to Robert Ri ch for The Bral 'e Olle.
" Whe re is it ?" I <:Isk.
"Whe re is what?"
. 'The Oscar. The one you won with the phoney
name,
.. I don 't ha ve it." he says. " It was never give n to
me.
" Well. couldn 't youjust claim it ?" I ask.
"Everybody knows it's yours."
"What everybody knows isn't good e nough." he
says with a sigh ... You don ' t claim an Oscar. It ' s
give n to you. And so far they have n' t see n fit to give
that one to me,"
But now at last t hey have. In a kind of coll ec ti ve
and symboli c act of contriti on. the offi cers and
board of gove rnors of the Academy of Motion Pi c-
ture Art sand Sciences on May 5,1975. awa rded
re pli ca number 1665 of the "copyri ght ed statuett e.
commonl y known as 'Oscar,' as an Awa rd for t he
Moti on Pi cture Story-The Bra "1' 0111' ( 1956)."
It ha s Dalt o n Trumbo' s name o n it . That makes it
offi cial. I guess you ca n say it 's all over now. tI
Bruce Cook wri tes for The Nmiolla J Obsen 'er
and Saturday Rel'ielt". Hi s defi nitive biograph y
of Dalton Trumbo will be publ ished in 1976.
An inquiry into the arts and crafts of
filmmaking through int erview semi-
nars between Fellows andprominent
filmmakers held at Greystone, under
the auspices of The American Film
Institllte's Center f or Advanced Film
Studies. The educational series, di-
rected by James Powers, has ap-
pearedf requently since 1972, and now
continues as a regular section of
American Film.
Messrs. Brown and Zanuck form an ex-
ecutive production team, now operating
out of Universal Studios, that has had
signal success in fashioning films of high
entertainment quality and blockbuster
box-office returns. Their association
began at 20th Century-Fox, where
under the aegis of Darryl F. Zanuck,
Brown was the head of the studio' s story
department. When, in 1965, the elder
Zanuck lifted himself to the chairman-
ship of the board, hisson, Richard, as-
sumed the production reins, and Brown
became his chief associate. With The
Sound of Music providing a continuing
cash flow, Zanuck and Brown put into
production such hits as Butch Cassidy
and the Sundance Kid, M*A os oH, and
Panon. In June 1969, Zanuck became
president of Fox, and Brown execu-
tive vice-president. The financial
structure of Fox, along with that of
other studios, began to shake in the
late sixties and early seventies.
Zanuck and Brown resigned their high
positions in 1971 and were almost at
once signed as a producing entity for
Warner Bros. , an association that
lasted less than a year. Moving on to
Universal , Zanuck and Brown put into
production The Sting, a super-hit that
might otherwise have gone to Warner's,
had they stayed. With Jaws, they have,
probably, their biggest hit of all. At the
timeofthis talk with AFI Fellows at
Greystone, in Hollywood, they were not
yet aware of the commotion that would
be caused by their Great White Shark.
Richard Za/l/l ck
Do vid Brown
37
Zariuck: One question we're asked wherever we go
is "What is a producer?" It seems that the role of
the producer today, and often in the past, has been
overlooked and forgotten. When you think of the
great founders of the studios, for instance, they
were producers .
Brown: The producer is first of all the man with the
dream. Sometimes he is part promoter, but if he is a
true producer he not only finds the property, but he
also works endlessly on all versions of the script. In
our case, Mr. Zanuck and I (with the writer and di-
rector) find no area of the film too mundane to be-
come involved in. After years of being generals and
having run production companies-Dick as presi-
dent of 20th Century-Fox, I as executive vice-
president, and both of us as senior executives at
Warner Bros. -we learned to be generalists.
We' ve had an opportunity to get into the guts of a
film; and we very much oppose the notion that all
producers are money men, that producers are basi-
cally promoters. We're not defensive about that; it
just doesn't happen to be the case with us.
Question: But in what way does the producer affect
the film itself-its style, for instance?
Brown: The producer , we believe, can make a dis-
tinct contribution to filmmaking. For example, be-
fore the filming of Jaws, Steven Spielberg and the
two of us had a very thorough discussion about the
style of photography that would be employed. We
wanted a straightforward conventional style. We
did not want what was done brilliantly and appro-
priately by Vilmos Zsigmond in The Sligar/and Ex-
press. This was a different kind of story . We had the
sea. We had the special effects. Our director agreed
and there was no difficulty. But it's an exam-
ple of how the tone, the taste, the backing of a
director's choices for cameraman, art director, all
the keys-everything and everyone-must be sec-
onded by the producers. If we differ, we're not
afraid to make our differences known .
Question: Specifically, what is your role?
Brown: First of all , we select the subject. Then,
with a writer of our choice, we frequently develop it
into screenplay form without a director. Obvi-
ously, we prefer to do it with a director , but that
isn' t always possible. Of course, we never tell a di-
rector how to direct. We would replace a director if
we had to do that. We select a director for what we
believe a director can do for a film. And we operate ,
we hope , as effective buffers. We take the punish-
ment if we' re over budget, if we're over schedule.
38
Susan Backlinie,jirst victim of the
Great White Shark in Jaws.
.--
We keep our director and our cast in protective cus-
tody.
Zanuck: Let's take JalVs as an example. David and
I both received the book manuscript along with a
rew other people in the business. It was right off
Peter Benchley' s typewriter. We read it im-
medi ately because we had advance word that it was
somet hing special. Independently, as we were
reading it, we both decided that it was highly com-
mercial. Within 24 hours, we were well into negoti-
ations, and we found ourselves in the middle of a
fierce bidding contest. We did everything. We got
down on bended knee. We made a lot of promises.
Question: What kind of promises?
"It took 13 men just to operate the
shark behind a big console. "
Zanuck: We tried to sell Benchley through his
agent, since we didn't know Peter at that time, that
we were the best men to make the picture. That's
all we could do because the other people had as
much money and financial resources as we did. It
was a question of who was going to make the better
picture, and we convinced him that it was us . We
worked with Peter on a first-draft screenplay, and
after that was completed, we selected Steven as the
director. He came in to work with us and Benchley
on a second-draft screenplay. Then we started to
tackle the really enormous physical problems of
putting this on the screen. We had to interview end-
less special effects people who worked for Disney,
both here and in Florida. But it was like building
Apoll o One because it had literally never been done
before. We're talking about a 25-foot shark, no
animation, no miniatures, that has to do all kinds of
wild things. The shark had to look real, otherwise
the movie wouldn't have worked. It had to do ev-
eryt hing, including at the end jump out of the water
and into the boat.
Our job while the screenwriting was going along
was the building of this monster. The question was
always in front of us: Would this thing work? Also
we were fighting a start date. We had to get on
Martha's Vineyard by a certain date, so that we
could get in and out before the tourists came and
rates tripled. As it turned out, we were there before
the tourists, we were there during the tourist sea-
son, and we said goodbye to the tourists. A lot of
them spent a very fine summer playing extras in the
picture. We spent five months on the island shoot-
ing, and everything eventually did work. It took 13
men j ust to operate the shark behind a big console.
We fought weat her , we fought the sea, we fought
the tide-
Brown: We fought electronics.
Question: Since you coll aborate on a project. do
you have different points of view on what would
make a good picture?
Brown: Frequentl y. And each of us has a veto.
Mostly we talk it out. We go through a period of
discarding a project and coming back to it and dis-
carding it-that kind of decision-making. What we
refer to as "the big yes" comes infrequently. It
came onJaws and it came on The Sling. and, in our
executive careers, on Butch Cassidy and the SUIl-
dallce Kid, which we read and acquired overnight.
M*A ' S *H was an unqualified big yes. PatlOIl was
not a big yes. PatlOIl was a very slow yes.
Zanuck: It took 20 years to happen.
Brown: It was a long yes with many "nos" in be-
tween.
Question: But is there anyone particular element
that you immediately go for?
Brown: Entertainment. Entertainment. We're very
poor at doing genre films for the sole purpose of
making money. We discovered that we make them
too good and too expensive. Sometimes you can
make those pictures too good. So we try to select
subjects with distinction. And, believe it or not, we
do want to make distinguished films. We want to
contribute to film literature. This is somet hing
that's not often reali zed about producers who have
a good commercial track record. When we were at
Roy Scheider alld Robert Shaw
(Jaws) as the shark takes the bait.
the Cannes Film Fest ival last year with The Sugar-
lalld Express, a press conference was called and
then abruptly cancell ed because it was discovered
it was to be a press conference for producers . They
never hold press conferences for producers, only
for directors. So we met with the press separatel y.
In Europe, more frequently the producer is onl y a
money man, an entrepreneur. This isn't true of all
European producers, obvious ly, but that's the im-
pression the press has.
Question: What influences you in your choice of a
director for a particular film?
Brown: In the case of Jaws, we knew that Jaws
could be effecti vely directed, a nd maybe more
economi call y directed, by an engineer-t ype direc-
tor. And there are many highl y respected ones ,
many that we' ve worked with. But we were shoot-
ing for something hi gher and that reall y costs. We
were looking for a film a well as a movie. That's
why we selected Spi elberg. At first Steven Spi el-
berg was reluctant to take on Jalt's because he rec-
ogni zed it woul d be primaril y a commercial movie
and not necessaril y a di stingui shed film. We cOn-
vinced him, Dick and I, and I think he now reali zes
he did make a film as well as a movie . Not that he
doesn't respect the big commercial movie and re-
gard it as a necessary part of hi s career.
Question: How about the casting of the actors and
actresses? I ass ume that's somet hing that you have
a veto over.
Zanuck: We cert ainl y don' t veto di rectors on cast-
ing. I mean that would be a form of sui cide because
you don' t want to have your director directing peo-
ple that he thinks are wrong fort he part. We' re very
much involved in the cast ing, obviously, and we
work ve ry cl osely in casting with the director , try-
ing to come up with choices we can all get exci ted
about. Most of our innuence with di rectors is in the
early stages of wri ting the screenpl ay. We' re fi rm
beli evers that the director is in cha rge on the set.
And whil e we' re around, we don't hover over his
shoulder . We don' t di cuss set-ups or anything of
that nature.
Question: Do you allow your director to have total
authorit y over editing?
Zanuck: The studi o in most cases has the final cut.
We don' t have it as producers, nor does the direc-
tor have it. In very rare cases, the director has the
final cut , but he has to bring the film in within a cer-
tain length , and it' s got to get a cert ain rating. But
we have never . as executi ves or as producers. re-
all y exercised the producer's pri vil ege on the direc-
tor, whi ch can even be countermanded late r by the
studio. He cuts the pi cture. We work closely with
him afte r he has presented hi s first cut. If there are
di screpancies and di ffe rences of opinion, they are
nushed out in previews.
Question: Most of your work, then, is in pre-
producti on and post-producti on?
Brown: Yes , but , actuall y, there's no day that one
of us-or more frequentl y both of us- are not on
the set or on the locati on. We conduct our other
42
business wherever we' re shoot ing. It might be
Martha' s Vineyard , as it was for five months last
year. That became our headquart ers. We were
there and we were totall y aware of what we nt on.
We made suggesti ons and tried to solve problems
without interfering with the director' s work.
Question: Do you fi nd yourself having to act as
medi ator between the writer and the director if they
get int o a hassle?
Brown: Yes.
Zanuck: In additi on, we have to think of ourselves
as buffers. We like to protect the director from the
fina ncial innuences that come to bear at times on a
producti on that reall y shouldn' t innuence or worry
or concern him while he's in the middl e of making a
pi cture.
Question: Could you give us exampl es of ways in
which you have prot ected directors?
Zanuck: There's always a struggle during the
course of a movie, unl ess you're under budget ,
which is unfortunately rare. You' re either hovering
around the budget , or something has dri ven the
budget up a bit. There are pressures that bear on
you, and rightl y so. It 's a money probl em. It ' s not
our money, it' s not the director' s money, it's not
the actors ' money; you' re out there somepl ace
using somebody else' s money. We sign our names
to the budget and agree to bring it in at a cert ain
pri ce. When that pri ce start s escalating, whi ch
often happens, pressures are applied. !fyou' re a di-
rector who has a strong producer , that producer
can act as a buffe r. Otherwise, scenes may be
ripped out of the script , all sort s of things can hap-
pen. I think most directors feel, when they get into
a proj ect with us, one of the things we offer is pro-
tection.
Brown: During MOA s oH, Dick was head of the
studio and I wa the second man, but we functi oned
as executi ve producers on all films. I think it 's in-
teresting to see how many creati ve decisions are
made by the producer and the st udio. In thi s case
Ingo Preminger was the producer, and the decision
Director S teven Spielberg (ce nter)
confers with producers Browll all d
Zanuck .
was made not to go to Korea, but to shoot it on a
ranch in Malibu. I think it turned out to be a sound
arti stic decision. A film like that , somewhat larger
than life, needed the st ylized feeling of an unreali s-
ti c setting. Nothing was shot out side Southern
Californi a.
Zanuck: I remember arguing with Altman. He fi -
nall y had agreed to shoot it at the Fox Ranch, at
least the major porti on of the pi cture, instead of
goi ng to Korea. But he was holding out to go to
Japan for the one golf course scene. I had a little
leverage because I was president of the company,
and we decided to go across the street from Fox to a
public golf course, and dress up a few peopl e to
look like Japanese woman caddies . It worked fine.
Question: You said earli er you don' t allow directors
to get involved in the financi al side of the fi lm. But
suppose that the director' s going over budget.
Brown: I didn' t mean to gi ve the impression that the
di rector is not involved in the financial side of the
film. He is more involved than anyone because
shoot ing time is the prime costl y ingredi ent. But
once a budget has been agreed upon, a schedul e has
been laid out and everything has been approved,
and there are overpowering reasons for going over
budget or over schedul e, we exercise our authori ty
cauti ously. We tr y to keep the morale of the com-
pany up. We try to evaluate what is waste and what
is not waste. But we have no hesitation in telling the
di rector that he's doing a sequence whi ch wi ll
never be used. And if he insist s, I suppose we
would have to say, " We can' t let you do it." But
the relati onship between the director and the pro-
ducer is so delicate and so important that you try to
win hi s approval through logic and persuasion. He
comes to you with hi s problems. He will value your
opinion and support if you can draw a fine li ne be-
tween your responsibilit y to your backers and your
responsibility to your director and the film. It ' s so
tough to be a director that he needs all the help he
can get.
Question: When you' re dealing as executi ve pro-
ducers, and you have other producers in the layer
betwee n you and the filming, how much do you fol-
low day- to-day acti vities?
Zanuck: Sometimes as executive producers we get
more involved with the producti on, if that 's possi-
bl e, than if we were line producers. We ometimes
have to unravel a lot of things. If the producer is in-
experi enced, we tend to get more involved. If we're
dealing wit h an experi enced producer, we step back.
43
M" A "S"H-Ilobody laughed.
Question: If you haven't worked it out with the
people beforehand, isn't this a potential area of
conflict?
Zanuck: There are always a lot of conflicts going on
in making a picture anyway. You play it day by day.
I doubt that you can ever sit down at the beginning
ofa picture and say, "You do this and I'll do this."
Brown: Usually a producer who accepts an execu-
tive producer requires something from him-either
the ability to get the film made, or the ability to deal
with the distributor , which is the same thing, or
perhaps creative support, or filmmaking knowl-
edge . We believed in The Sugar/lIlld Express . In
that case we were personal producers. It had been a
Universal project, and it was not getting made. We
lent whatever credibility or influence we had to-
ward getting it made. Sometimes a producer can
have a property and say, "Since I don't seem to be
able to get anywhere with this , maybe Zanuck and
Brown can get it through ."
Question: Did you decide to pick up The SlIgar/lIlld
Express because you liked the property or Spiel-
berg? I ask because he was a young director who
had never done a feature .
Zanuck: We' d met Spielberg at Fox briefly. He'd
brought a project over there he had co-authored
and very much wanted to direct. As it turned out,
he didn' t direct it , and we left Fox. But while ac-
quiring the property, we talked extensively about
another project of his , TheSllgar/alld Express. I was
very impressed by him, especially after seeing his
little short. But what swung it was our love for the
screenplay that Barwood and Robbins wrote.
Brown: But the film was Steve' s idea.
Zanuck: Steve's idea. And it was a combination of
45
our belief in the property, t he story. and our belief
in Steve that swung us. Later, we made a deal with
Universal. We presented the project to them, even
though they had already put it on turn-around .
They permitted us to make it.
Question: What do you do when you get halfway
through somethi ng like Jaws and suddenly the
weather is terrible, you' re having difficulties, and
your budget's tripled?
Brown: Pray and press on. We even considered
suspending production to gat her our strength and
return in the fall. However. experience told us al-
ways to press on. At no time did they ask, "What
are you doing with that fish?" or "Shoot it in Grif-
fith Park Lake" -if there is a lake in Griffith Park.
Jaws is an example of studi o TfUSt. It is an example
of what producers can do with their much battered
credibi lit y. There were times, I'm sure, when they
thought we were insane. and there were times when
we thought we were , too. But we were determi ned
to get everything on screen that was in that book.
When we bought the ri ght s to the book and reread
it. we thought we were crazy. We said to each
other ... How do we do it? How do you get that
shark to do those things? How do you get a man to
be swall owed by a shark?" When we asked the
production wizards. " How do we do it ?" they said,
" We don't know."
Zanuck: Then we asked the special effects wizards,
and they didn't know either. Finally we found a re-
tired wizard from Di ney.
Question: Do you go overt he script as you're shoot-
ing and cut sequences in order to keep from going
over budget?
Zanuck: No. We time pictures as we re making
them. and if we're running over, we examine what
has n' t been shot to see what's absolutel y neces-
sary. We do that kind of cutting on every picture.
That went on with Jaws . But we don ' t cut se-
quencesj ust for financial reasons.
Brown: In fact in Jaws we ac tuall y embelli shed.
Mr. Spielberg found new things for our shark to do
that they we re never designed to do. With the
wizardry that we had on hand, we redesigned as the
chall enge grew. We always try to preserve fl exibil -
ity for the director. We don ' t say, "Well , why
didn't you tell us back in Universal Cit y that you
want ed a double left turn?"
Zanuck: As the chall enge grew, the budget grew.
Brown: There are two ways to make a movie. One
is to have a script, as Alfred Hitchcock always has ,
46
in whi ch every frame of the movie is indicated. The
ot her way is the coll aborative process where you
have a good script but you try to make it better by
taking advantage of the realities and opportuni ties
of the locat ion. In the case of Jaws, we told Peter
Benchley to writ e a screenpl ay based on the book:
" Just do the book. The book' s fine." He promptl y
did, but later he looked at hi s novel as though he
were a screenwriter and not the aut hor of it. Soon
we all reali zed there were certai n flaws in the novel
from a dramatic standpoint and changes had to be
made. The changes conti nued well into Martha's
Vineyard, wit h contributi ons by co-writ er Carl
Gott leib, and the actors themselves. For example,
Robert Shaw, who is no mean writer , contributed
some marvelous stuff. The point is that the script
can either be a work in progress. or a script froze n
at the beginning of principal photography wit h the
writer off somewhere doing another movie. One is
not better than the ot her; much depends on the di-
rector. Hit chcock told us at a recent luncheon that
he would no more improvise during shooti ng than
the conductor of the New York Philharmoni c
would improvise whil e conducting. He believes the
time to improvise is whe n you' re working wit h
paper- not film.
Question: In taking the extra time to do Jaws right,
were you concerned at all wit h clauses in your con-
tract that mi ght penalize you financi all y?
Zanuck: One is always concerned whe n going over
budget. We we re concerned about our credibilit y
as producers when Jaws began to rise in cost. We
don't have any penalt y clause in our contract, but
we can always be removed, lit erall y removed. The
studi o can always send a wi re saying, "We're not
going to ship any more fi lm" or " We're goi ng to
take the cameras away" or " Make the rest of the
picture on the back lot. "
Question: Most of the pi ctures that you' ve men-
tioned , wi th the excepti on of M' A ' soH a nd Jaws.
have been originals. Do you prefer working with an
original screenpl ay rather than an adaptati on?
Brown: We deal in very specific terms. We con-
sider whatever will ma ke the basis ofa film-it may
only be an idea. Obviously anyone would like to
ha ve a fini shed screenplay because that puts you
light yea rs down the road. We saw the script of
But ch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and paid the
then-highest price in the hi story of the industry for
it. We had an idea of how it could be cast. The ma-
terial had already been uccessfully realized in
The Sugarland Express-{left to
right) William Atherton, Goldie
Hawn, and Michael Sacks.
screenplay form. and that ' s worth a good deal of
money in itself. Put anot her way, we pay no atten-
tion to the parentage, just to the chil d.
Question: Whi le you were at Fox you made Pretty
Poison, Noel Black's first film. Yet it didn ' t seem
to really launch him. Does a " first" film pose spe-
cial problems?
Zanuck: I loved Pretty Poison, I loved the script
-and I thought Noel did a terrific job wit h it. It was
also a favorite of the critics. The distribut ion de-
partment , soon after its release, declared it a total
failure . Then several sensational reviews came in.
We re-released the film, but unfortunately, the re-
sults were not much better. Responding to your
question about first films, I can only answer it gen-
erall y. You just have to go by your gut react ion.
When I judge a project-a script, a book, a play-I
have no rules . I just go on whether Ilike it or not. I
don't try to analyze it in terms of what the public is
going to think about it a year-and-a-half down the
road. I don' t try to make that judgment and I don't
47
think anyone's smart enough to do it.
Brown: One function of the producer is to get the
studio to do all the things that the director claims is
never done for the obscure film or the first film or
the film that's failing. In the case of Prelly Poison
everything was done: ln the case of Tile Sligar/alld
Express (whi ch may yet turn a profit) Universal
gave us and Steven blanche in de-
veloping advert ising and avoiding that studio look.
Our early ads were our own-Spi elberg himself
shot one of them. But our campaigns didn't work.
They failed mi serably. In New York City we
learned that any ad with a gun is anathema to the
East Side public. On Broadway, however, you
have to show lots of guns.
To this day, Universal is experimenting wit h new
campaigns. Far from giving up on the film, they've
tried to find ways of making it s ucceed. So the work
of a young and new director is not necessaril y
short-changed. Because Steven Spielberg is in-
valuable to us and to Universal Studios where he's
under contract, his films get top atte nti on. As to
finding hit materi al, I think you have to have a fl air
for what's popul ar. Nobody can teach it , I' m
afraid. The primitive showmen of Hollywood who
frequently came from other businesses and some of
whom could barely speak English knew precisely
what int erested people, what involved an audi ence.
You know it or you don' t. It isn' t enough to make a
good picture. When people come to us and say,
"Thi s' ll make a good picture," we say, "That's not
48
good enough." A good picture is not enough at a
time when television commands so much att enti on.
Question: According to the credits for Til e Stillg, it
was a George Roy Hill film, a Tony Bill film, and a
Zanuck/ Brown film. How was the production re-
sponsibi lit y di vided up?
Zanuck: It took some refereeing. Basically The
Sting came about through a relat ionship that David
and I had with Tony Bill and Michael and Juli a Phil-
lips at Warner Bros. when we were there as execu-
ti ves . They had produced an unsuccessful pi cture
call ed Steelyard Bili es. But the relat ionship had
been good on the production, and shortl y after we
left Warners , they came to us and said , " We have
what we think is a very good screenpl ay. But we' re
a littl e shaky after Steelyard Blues. It didn' t turn
out as we had hoped. The two of you treated us
ni cely at Warner Bros ., and we wonder if you'd
give us some guidance." That's how we got int o it.
We moved on to Uni versal with an overall deal for
our servi ces, and presented Tile Stillg as one of our
projects. Then , in associat ion with Tony and the
Phillipses we put together the director and the cast.
But they were looking for help, and whether there
would have been a picture ot herwise is hard tosay.
Question: Some of the films that you've produced
have not made money-Willie Dynamite, The Girl
From Petrol'ka, The Black Willdmill . Why?
The Sting-"A George Roy Hill
film, a Tony Bill film, and a
Z{mucklBrown film . . . "
Zanuck: We beli eved in each one of those pi ctures.
And we worked harder in some cases than on The
Sting. But the nature of the business is such t hat the
odds of making everything work and come together
are against you. It 's like drilling for oil.
Brown: They reflect a different philosophy than we
have now at a more mature stage in our careers as
producers. At t hat time, the huge so-call ed bl ock-
busters had not surfaced since the di sast rous six-
ties. We thought we weren't smart enough to pi ck
hit s just by making one pi ct ure a year, or picking
the big one . So we decided to make a horror film,
the snake pi cture whi ch got terrifi c reviews, but it
was about one year too late. The kung fu films had
already begun to take over the horror market. Our
black film was the same. We were too late. We
were very proud of Willie Dynamite whi ch Gil bert
Moses directed with a di stingui shed cast , but our
subj ect was dated. Everybody we showed the
script of The Black Windmill to acce pted the role.
Each film was created for a reason. What we hadn' t
anti cipated was the gradual attrition of public in-
terest in non-event films.
Question: None of them were over about $1.5 mil -
lion were they?
Brown: They were rather inexpensive.
Question: You took a shotgun approach?
Brown: Exactly. A shotgun approach with very
good ammuniti on. We weren' t j ust crap shooting.
These fi lms took a lot out of us. We're very proud
of them. Some of them have many devotees. Many
people felt The Black Windmill was quite a brilli ant
film, and the snake fil m is a favorite of many peo-
pl e. The Girl From Petrovka we had origi nall y de-
signed as a film to be made in the Soviet Uni on.
That was the excitement of it. We were finall y
kicked from one country to another right back to
the back lot. We were in Yugoslavia. We were all
over Europe. In a single ten-day peri od , I think we
visit ed five coutries.
Zanuck: No, I thi nk it was ten countri es in fi ve
days.
Brown: But the subj ect was dated, and it was based
on a Cold War concept t hat was al read y gone .
Goldie Hawn went to Moscow, a great deal of work
was spent on it , people believed in it , but , again , the
cycle was gone.
Zanuck: It' s easy to look back and see where you
went wrong. And it's also j ust as mystifying to us to
see a picture li ke The Sting, whi ch we're tremen-
dously proud of, do that hi storic busi ness. We'd be
the first ones to admit to you that it 's extraordinary.
Question: I loved The Black Windmill . But I never
saw much publicit y for it.
Brown: Well , I' m responsibl e for the abominable
tit le which Don Siegel fought and which Mr.
Zanuck acqui esced to without a struggle, since
things were going badl y anyway. But I have a
theory about The Black Windmill, and that is that
I've never known a film dealing with a kidnapping
subj ect orthe abuse of children to do well. I think of
thi s now. but I don' t know why I didn' t think of it
then. I think most peopl e don' t want to go out and
see a chi ld being tortured. I also feel that one of the
mi stakes producers make is to be intimidat ed by
the willingness of the director or the star to become
involved. If we've learned anything as producers
and executi ve producers. it' s to seek Ollr own
counsel. That a maj or star or a maj or star-director
is excited about something shoul d not override
one's own judgment .
Question: If you were just beginning now, and you
didn' t have a track record , what would you do dif-
ferentl y in initi ating a project?
Zanuck: You' ve got to reach the literary peopl e,
you've got to get the materi al. Also, if you don' t
have any kind of a record , you' re on very thin ice.
Brown: I'll give you an exampl e. Tony Bill heard
David Ward , who wrote The Sting, talk about hi s
con project. He got David to put agreat deal of it on
cassettes. Then he, as I understand it. got together
wi th Juli a and Mi chael Phillips and they financed
the writing of the cript that became The Sting.
That didn' t ta ke big money at the start. The point is
that the materi al that made the world 's thi rd largest
grossing film did not come as the res ult of a hi gh-
pri ced aucti on at a New York li terary agency or in
Hollywood from Freddi e Fields. It was di scovered
by Tony Bill , a young actor. who saw something in
it and steered it to the ri ght peopl e. Peopl e have
walked int o drugstores and pi cked up paperbacks
whi ch became John Wayne westerns.
But money isn' t the answer-otherwise every
studi o in town would be makinga fo rtune. Money is
good when you have judgment. The main thing to
do is to get to know writ ers, peopl e who can writ e a
screenpl ay. Try to avoid what can be done even
halfas well on television or has no reall y command-
ing theme. Television is the great adver ary. Even
if you get a studio to back a nice li tt le fi lm or even a
ni ce big fil m that can be done j ust as effectively on
television, no one will go and see it at a theater.
49
Question: Suppose I'm a writ er and I have a script ,
where do I go from there?
Zanuck: You have to associate yourself somehow
with people who do get inside the st udi o gates. Ste-
ven Spielberg literally used to climb over the studio
gates-I mean that-until the guards were so ac-
customed to seeing him on the lot that they thought
he was working there. But the thing you have to do
is expose your material to people who have some
kind of muscle with the studi o or wi th financing ar-
rangements.
Question: Do you recommend going through an
age nt or goi ng right to a producer? What are the
pros a nd cons of each approach?
Brown: The producer probably won't read it unless
he knows the agent, and that isn't because he's a
terrible fellow. But it 's just impossible to deal wit h
the fl ow of material that comes in even from the es-
tablished age nt s. The hardest thing to do is get an
agent, because it 's very cost ly to be a cli ent. Get -
ting an agent is the first break-t hrough.
Question: How do you start evaluat ing material?
You couldn 't deal with all the screenplays that I'm
sure you get unsolicited.
Brown: We don't take them unsoli cit ed. We have to
know the source. They have to be sent to us. The
legal depart ments in the st udios learned years ago
that, unl ike publi shers. they were not immune to all
sorts of lawsuit s. You can send a book to Double-
day, and they'lI read it. But you can't send a script
to a studio unl ess you know the recipient.
Question: What are your att itudes on previews?
Do you believe in changing a film after a preview?
Zanuck: I' ve had many different thoughts on pre-
views because we have gone to over 200 previews
alt ogether. I used to think that previews were vit al.
But now I think that previews for certain kinds of
pictures are vital and not for others. I think it's
dangerous to release a drama without a preview.
Jaws. whi ch we previewed in Dallas and in Long
Beach. in fact didn't need to be previewed. I think
you can feel the way a picture is going as it 's play-
ing. and you can feel restlessness. I watch heads
more than anyt hing. I can tell a great deal by seeing
if people are fidgety a nd moving around or gett ing
up to go get a Coke.
Brown: I find previews very import ant in giving
fri endly persuas ion to your distributor to back the
50
Diana Sands and Roscoe Orman in
Willie Dynamite-the downfall of a
New York pimp.
film all the way. Obviously there are things that can
be done to the film if the preview audi ence tell s you
you're in trouble. Generally you can' t change the
course of hi story too much, but you can improve
the film. If you have a fortunate preview, as we had
with Jaws and as we had wit h The Sting, all the
wheels will start turning just a little faster. The af-
firmati on of a public showing, where people begin
to cheer, gives heart to everybody, and the adver-
ti sing budgets take off just a little.
Zanuck: I remember we were having a sales con-
venti on at Foxjust at the time M' A ' s oH was com-
pleted. The studi o wanted to show the picture to
the sales convention, about 250 persons. I was very
much against it , but it took place, and it was a disas-
trous screening. There wasn' t any laughter. Fortu-
nately, we had set a preview for the following Fri-
day at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco, and I
asked some of the key people who had come out for
the conventi on to come up to San Francisco. I said,
"I'm positive the film is going to work with an audi-
ence." But they had made up their minds and had
set out on a pattern of distribution and adverti sing.
Not until the Warfield preview, where the audience
tore the place apart , did they reali ze what they had
with that film. I don't think internal screenings are
very accurate.
Brown: I remember seeing the sales people come
up to your office with very glum looks. Having
been through the film in so many versions, we were
even di sappointed when we ran it for ourselves. It
was not until we saw the film with an audie nce that
we knew it played brilliantly. The preview is a big
morale factor and a big business factor. But some of
the most successful previews do not reliably indi-
cate who will go to see the movie. They will mea-
sure what that particular audi ence thinks of that
film.
Zanuck: The onl y time I can remember having a
terrible preview-it wasn't a good picture-was for
Valley of the Dolls. We' d gotten helpless laughter in
our most dramatic scenes. After the preview, we
held a wake in the manager's office. We were all
slas hing our wri sts or about to, and the picture
turned out to be a hit. But the reverse can happen,
and happens frequently, where you have a sensa-
tional preview, all the cards are great. the audie nce
is cheeri ng, and everybody is opening champagne:
The picture goes out and dies. It happened with
Star! Hello, Dolly as a stage show had done $40 mil-
li on box office gross in the United States. We had
tremendous int ernal showings among the execu-
tives. Everybody was certain that this was going to
be our Sound of Music. We thought the picture was
great. It had Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau-it
worked beautifully. We took it to Phoenix for pre-
views. To our astonishment , despite announce-
ments on the air that Hello, Dolly was to be shown,
there was half a house. We became desperate. We
got on the public address system and we were beg-
ging people to come to the theater. We should've
known then we were in trouble. In Dallas where we
previewed Jaws , there were perhaps 2,000 people
standing in a hail storm. They were waiting in line
three hours before show time to see The Towering
Iliferno first, in order to insure that they would get
to see Jaws. We had to schedule a second preview
at II o'clock to keep the crowds content. Certain
previews will tell you if the film has charisma for
the movie-goingpublic.
Question: How do you decide where to preview?
Zanuck: There have been many instances where
people have previewed with the wrong film in the
wrong place at the wrong time. [think that one of
the prime concerns is what type of picture is play-
ing in the theater. That's more important than
where you go. You obviously don' t want a lot of
people who've come to see John Wayne suddenly
see Jack Lemmon or a comedy. They' re not the au-
dience you're looking for.
Question: How do you feel about publicity during a
production? An example is The Great Gatsby.
Brown: Our theory is that you can' t create public-
ity from unpublicizable gush. In the case of Jaws , as
you know, we had the world's press arriving at
Martha' s Vineyard. Seventy personalities , among
them Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, Mike Wal-
lace, and Dick Cavett , stood on the set just to see
what was going on. Time, Paris Match, German
television came in by every boat and plane. The
real problem is what to do when shooting ends
-<luring that year or nine-month period between
the end of photography and the release of the film.
Zanuck: Production publi city has to be based on a
solid foundation. For Gatsby it was talking about
the Gatsby-izing of wardrobe a nd the "Gatsby
look," ratherthan what was going on in the picture.
[think that can backfire. I' m not saying it did in this
case, but you can overdo publicity about a lot of
superficial things.
Brown: We keep the publicity going after the
shooting stops. We have no publicity man operat-
ing for Zanuck/Brown. We have the facilities of the
MCNUniversal worldwide publicity and advertis-
ing departments, but we also believe in personal
approaches to the press. We don't work through in-
termediaries. We don't hold press conferences
with P.R. men monitoring our interviews.
Question: For Jaws a tremendous amount of
money was spent on a ver y short, but intense, na-
tional campaign. Who made that decision and what
control did you have?
Zanuck: It was ajoint decision between David and
me and Uni versal, whi ch had final say, obvious ly,
since they' re the distributors. Jaws has gotten a
massive release in about 500 theaters with a very in-
tensive television campaign, probably the biggest, [
would say, of all time. The deals Universal has
made are extraordinary. The short est deal in any
theater is nine weeks.
Question: Was this campaign your idea or
Universal's?
Brown: No, it was devised by Universal and it's
revolutionary. The old idea was to take a class film,
which we hope Jaws is as well as a mass film, and
open it first in New York , probably at an East Side
house, then in Westwood , and then let the media
percolate to the peasant s of the world the word that
it 's a great hit. The Godfather broke that pattern
because of the demand to see it. When Paramount
released The Godjillher, it released it simult a-
neously in many houses that previously had never
played anything but single exclusive engagements.
51
It has become apparent to di st ributors today that
they can get their money back faste r and sati sfy the
demand to see a film by adopting a broader release
patt ern . When you have a film like JalVs, why make
audi ences wait six months or a year? Why make
them stand in line with no hope of getting in? !f you
have enough seats for a film, you can probabl y do
as well as or better tha n the old exclusive engage-
ment patt ern . The Slillg, even though we had Paul
Newma n and Robert Redford and George Roy Hill ,
still opened more slowly. We had to get word of
mouth out to the public. And we didn 't want to take
the chance of having it overexposed too soon unt il
it started to build.
Question: Do you find a great deal of difference
geographi call y in how a pi cture is going to be re-
cei ved? Does that affect your promoti on?
Brown: We had the opportunit y to see The Slillg in
20 countri es all over the world and in many cit ies
here. The audi ence' s reaction was ide nti cal in
every ci ty. Adverti sing is frequentl y keyed to a Los
Angeles-New York exclusive engageme nt , and
another campaign developed for wider engage-
ment s. There are also backup campaigns for pi c-
tures that open slowly. But! haven' t fo und geog-
raphy to be any proble m, except with subject mat-
terthat simpl y was not comprehens ible to the coun-
try. Of course, there are certain phe nome nal re-
gional hit s- Walkillg Tall, for exampl e, the kind of
pi cture that builds great waves in the South and
Southwest.
Question: I' ve been told that one of the majors is
extremely reluctant to make a film overseas unl ess
the scri pt is absolut ely dynamite. Do you s hare thi s
reluctance about shooting overseas? Are you wor-
ri ed about being labeled a runaway producti on?
Zanuck: No. I think we' re well past that. I haven' t
heard of any studio with that kind of approach. But
we li ke to make pict ures where they take pl ace
-where the locale works fo r you. And that' s why
we chose Martha's Vineyard. whi ch had never
been on the screen before, for Jaws . If the story
takes place overseas, all things being practical,
we ' d like to shoot it right where it takes place.
Brown: T he test is are you using the overseas loca-
ti on as a counterfeit location for an Ameri can west-
ern . or are you trying to do a film in a locati on for
economic reasons onl y? That's runaway produc-
tion. But if you reall y have to shoot in Scotland,
and there' s no other pl ace that you' ve surveyed
that wi ll do, you have a reason to go.
52
Zanuck: Getting back to The Slillg. That would
have been a runaway producti on if we'd shot it in
Chicago. It was set in Chicago, but, in fact , the pic-
ture was made entirely on the backlot of Uni versal,
with the exception of three or four days' work in
Chicago for some of the interior work , the train sta-
tion, and such.
Question: You touched briefl y on the international
aspects of the movi e business . Does the publicit y
approach for a fi lm change for overseas?
Zanuck: It depends on the pi cture. For The Slillg,
for exampl e, the campaign was consistent around
the world. The campaign on JalVs has been pretty
consistent from a vi sual standpoint. The Sugarland
Express used a different campaign, stressing more
the action of the cars and the road. But we' ve got
the whole world out there, and as producers we
sometimes find ourselves thinking domesticall y
and forgetting the huge markets of Japan and
Europe. They' re tremendously important.
Question: Has there been any attempt at thi s point
to open the market in Red China?
Brown: I' m not qualified to answer that questi on.
I'm sure the Motion Picture Associati on or the
overseas branch of it under Jack Valenti would love
to open Red China, just as the Soviet Uni on has
been repeatedly a pproached. Many films have
been sent to the Soviet Union. I remember years
ago at 20th Centur y- Fox the film the Soviet Uni on
wanted at that time was The Grapeso[ Wralh .
Zanuck: They wouldn' t take TheSollndo[Mlisic.
Brown: They would never take the films whi ch
portrayed any side of the United States they didn ' t
want to see. But if we could open Red China to
Ameri can films, it would be an enormous boost to
the film industry. The problem with non-Engli sh-
language films is that we rarely can reciprocate in
patronage. India produces more films than Hol-
lywood, and yet Indi an films are so unappealing in
thi s country that trade barri ers are frequentl y
raised. A hit Engli sh-speaking film wit h lots of ac-
ti on is popul ar the world over, whether sub-titl ed or
dubbed. But the national film, even the French and
Italian film, has a demonstrabl y limited audi ence. I
wish that were not so. Of course today the nati onal
films dominate the countries from whi ch t hey
spring, unli ke the days when the American fi lm
dominated the world . It is a rare fi lm li ke The Sl ing,
for instance, that achi eves the number one position
in France. I' d love to get our films int o Red China. !
think they'd go for The Slillg.
HIS CIA CODE NAME IS CONDOR.
IN THE NEXT SEVENTY-TWO HOURS ALMOST EVERYONE HE TRUSTS
WILL
DINO DE lAUAENTIIS PRESENTS
ROBERT REDFORD/ FAYE DUNAWAY
CLIFF ROBERTSON / MAX VON SYDOW
IN A STANLEY SCHNEIDER PRODUCTION
A SYDNEY POLLACK FILM
'.0 ...
JOH N HOUSEMAN / MuSICBv DAVID GRUSINl eaSEOON !HE NOYEl THE CONDOR 8y JAMES GRADY:'" ...
IRI _ ... , .,. I '''".,,'''' LORENZO SEMPLE. JR. '.0 DAVID RAYFIEL/ .. ooucw" STANLEY SCHNEIDER
... . .. .... I)IIIECTEO BY SYDNEY POLLACK I PANAVISION"' / TECHNICOlOR* I A PARAMOUNT RelEASE "- - -.
NOW PLAYING MAJOR CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY!
Copyright <D 1975 by Walt er Kerr
54
Lloyd Hamilton, ill rhe si/em
A Self-Made Failure . " Impertinently
offered improbabilities."
The Unique
Experience
Sil e nt film is a dead form as La ti n is a
dead la nguage. Ne ithe r corresponds to
OUf day- la-day patt erns of seeing or
hearing. Neither is current coin .
ne ithe r is goi ng to pl aya prufit a bl e part
in that part of our li ves t hat is changing
and growing. Ne il her has a [uture as
we have futu res that a rc e te rnall y pres-
e nt to us. d ic ta ting most of what we do
and think and permi t ourselves to feel .
We arc shul off f rom one another :
While we a l e li ving li ves these thi ngs
arc in li mbo. Ghost s again. on the dou-
ble.
But this can be discovered to have
it s own spec ia l pl easure. the re is a re-
ward to be had for t he sacrifi c ial kill -
ing. The virtue o f a dead fo rm is tha t it
can be see n whol e. 0 contemporar y
film or novel or pil i nting-lcl al one a
pi ece of music-can be known in thi s
way. in it s ulti mat e fu llness. with all
boundari es drawn a nd t he boundaries
filled . Wha t is conte mpo ra ry with our
se lves . sha ring o ur li ving. is still fluid .
unfini s hed . wor king it s way toward a
destina ti on tha t ca nnot ye t be de
sc ribed or even imagined. No ma tt e r
how delight ful . Ollr cont e mpora ry e x-
pc ri c nces are a ll ste ps in the da rk . ex
plo ra tory a d va nces witho ut -as ye t
Silent Comedy Reconsi dered
-definiti on. No man ca n say where
a bs trac t express ionis m or (he theale r
o r mll sic o f c ha nce o r t he c urre nt mo
ti o n pi c tu re will l.: nd. With the e nd un
known. no o ne pi eccof work in it s
progress can be ass igned a precise role
in that progress. Judgme nt s-even
responses-must be te mporary. te nt a-
li ve. in part inhibit ed. Whe re is it
going? Wa it a nd see. Wha t va lue can
be assigned thi s pa rti c ul ar s tep in t he
dark? Someone will say. someti me.
A dead fo rm. by its termi nat ion. re
laxes inhi biti o n. The re it a ll is. begin
ning. middl e. a nd e nd. inspiration a nd
ac hieve ment. known limi tat ion a nd
compe nsa ti o n. fl lse-star ts and s ide
trac k sand s uccessful defi a fl ees. A
closed book. yes. But with the last
page wrill e n. nOll1l adde ningly mi ss ing
just as we have grown int e rested in l h..:
stor y. Could t he form ha vc grown.
ch(1 ngcd . lInearthed unrea li zed impli
cations. ifit hadn' t di ed Of bee n ki ll ed ?
The questi on docs nol concern us:
Spec ul a ti on is irre le va nl beca use we
hold in o ur ha nds a/ail accolJlpli. The
form's bOll nda ri es a re visi ble. est <lb
li shed. nu\\. t:stah
li s hed. t hey free li S to pl a y ins ide t hem.
awa re of whe re we are t he whole time:
Walter Kerr
55
the sati sfa ction is like the sati sfaction.
and the fre edom. c hil dren feel when it
has been made c lea r to them precisely
where Ihe ir boundaries are. Thi s kind
of pleasu re. like thi s kind offreedom.
is of course onl y one kind. and not the
kind we requ ire whe n we are busy gel-
ling on with a li I' unfinished work. But
it is real nonethel ess . whi c h is why
man y men have always reli s hed pl ay-
ing ins ide the completed wor lds of
Latin and Greek. A completed world
can be seen more clearl y. possessed
more absolutel y. explored less fear-
fully. perhaps loved more di sint erest -
ed ly. I n coming 10 a n e nd. silent fil m
did become an ab:-.olute. whic h means
that it can be absolutely known. That
ca n be-as indeed il mus t be
- happi ne ss e nough .
What do we see as we look bac k now
with a detac hme nt that ca nnot be s ub-
ve rted? We sec that all silent film.
serious or comic. was
- fant asy of a hithe rto unknown .
pa rt I Y accide nt a l. h ighl y origi nal.
peculiarl y li te ral kind. I a m not s peak-
ing now of the subjective fantas ies that
it did indeed e ngender in a good man y
wi II i ng hea rt s . of t he rapt u res of ma-
trons pers uaded that it was the m
Valentino he ld in hi s arms . oflhe wis h-
fulfillment boys and me n found in
imagining t he msel ves a s lithe a s Fair-
banks and a s s ua vely pers ua sive as
Ronal d Colman. When I was thirteen I
made friend s with a projectioni st in our
town: he ofte n let me corne up int o the
booth whil e he was showing or eve n
clltt ing film. Cutting was ne cessa ry
because our 10\\ n.l ike Illan y towns
then. had a ce nsor: The ce nsor would
view the film in the morning. o rde r de-
let ions . and the projectioni st wo uld
"purify" the film be fore the fir s t after-
noon run. The c ut fi lm was neve r re-
storeo tothe print s. whic h in pa rt ac-
counts for the aston ishingl y mutilated
form in whi c h man y films-copied
from prints rather than the va nished
negativcs -survive toda y. Conceive
of the cond it ion ofa print aft er the ce n-
sors ofa hundred towns had had thei r
The excised film we nt into the
wastehas ket. frolll which. with the
projec tion ist" s gen ial conni vance. I
wa s free 10 retrieve it. After awhile. in
a nice littl e pile a t ho me. I had what
mll s t unquesti ona bl y have been the
most ex te ns ive coll ec tion of s hot s of
Vilma BClnky ' s decoll etage existi ng
a nywherc in America. I had a tiny
Ke ystone hand-c ranked proj ec tor.
56
Lloyd Hamilton lI'ith Beatrice Lillie
in A re You The re? ., Work superior
to thai of dozens of other
amiable clowns . . ,
too, of course. I know what it is to f::ln -
ta size.
Cert a inl y films e ncouraged thi s sort
of pri vate rha psod y. oft e n enough de-
liberate ly: Holl ywood was n' t con-
sta ntl y call ed a " dream fac tory" for
nothing. And sil e nce provided a be tt e r
womb for it t han sou nd does: The still
a udit orium grazed onl y by mus ic. the
fortunate wordl ess ness of t he Ta l-
madges a nd the n Garbos who could
not ta lk bac k when secre tl y a p-
proached . o r ma ke diffic ult ve rbal de-
mands upo n the dreame r . It was easier
to"" Milt on Sill s o r Agne s Ay res in t he
c ircumsta nces .
But thi s sort of subjec ti ve fa nt asiz-
i ng is a nat ura l te nde ncy of all ti l m,
whethe r sil ent o r so und . The Fre nc h
film criti c And re Belli n has made the
point that film- rat he r t ha n the
stage-is the medium with whi c h we
ident ify. Wc do so because there is
nothing else we can do. There is no
pe rformer prese nll o us in the nes h, as
the re is on t hc stage. no o nc we ca n
c ha lle nge. int erru pt. catch in a human
flaw: the fi gure on a screen i!'! already
so remote from us that \\ c sca rcely
da re doubt him. Because the ac tor we
see m to be watc hing is a lread y of Ti n
Africa making yet a not her film. quite
oul of ea rs hoL cannot con tend with
him as we cons t!lnt ly cont ent! with an
actoron the be li eving, d isbeli ev-
ing. wi t hdrawing a nd assent ing fro m
mo me nt to mo ment. se nding lip signal s
of our prese nt pleas Li re or d i spleas u re
by our applause. our s il e nce. o ur rest-
less ness . our vc ry hreathing. In IiIms.
with the ac tor absent and o nl y his
shadow remai ning. there is nol hing for
a n a udi e nce to do but attac h it se lf
firml y to the phamom a nd go fo r the
ride. This is a simplification of M.
Baz in 's a rgume nt . whi ch is a mos t
coge nt o ne. but even it s olltlines s ug-
gest the uni que e mbrace. the pro-
fou nd I y one-s idcll III fllchmellf. t ha l
grows up in t he mind of the SpeClC:l tor
for I he attractive fi g-
lIrc on a screcn. Perversel y. we care
more for the actor beca use he can ca re
not hi ng for us: he doe s n'l k now li S .
is n' t aware thai wc a re t he re . Instead
of becoming companions or even
combatant s . as we do in the legitimat e
theater. we hecome fa ithful dogs . a nd
foll ow adoringly at heel.
Bu!. though s il e nce aided a nd abe t-
ted s uc h ide ntifi cation in ce rt ain obvi -
ous ways. this kind offant asizing is
reall ya property offi lm as suc h. a nd so
Harold Lloyd , Dick
Sutherlalld alld
Mildred Davis ill
A Sail or-Made Ma n.
" First spreading
o[l1'ings . ..
Doug/as Fairbanks
cheerJlllly dlleled
a doze" opponents
ill the 1920 epic.
The Mark of Zorro.
I
wasjust in time to see Ha rold L1oyd 's fir st tent a-
ti ve spreading of hi s agil e wings beyond short com-
edies in a fort y-minut e' . feature .. call ed A Sailo/"-
Made A1an. just in time to sec Douglas Fa ir banks
begin hi s cos tume films by c heerfull y dueling a
dozen o ppone nt s whil e sitting cross-legged on a
table in Th e /\1ark o[Zorro. just in time to wa tc h
cavema n Bus ter Keaton drag his mate by the hair
across a prehi slori c s kyline inhis fir st feature.
Three AJ:es. Though I had bee n. and remained a n
avi d reader . it wason Saturday afternoons tha t the
mirror of the world o pened up a nd let me through.
If Fai rbanks wasa ge ni e loosed to s pirit himse lf
o nt o c hu rc h-tops . high a mong the miss ion bell s. t he
clowns we re no less magical: Out size. omnipotent
c reatures e merged from some Druidical fo rest to
cast s pell s on a pli able uni ve rse. If. in The N(II '-
igator. Keat on s lowly e merged fro m t he wa ter at
ocean's edge e ncaged in the mo ns trous he lmet a nd
innated body of a dee p- sea diver to see m a n
a ve nging god to the hundreds of cannibal s who had
ca ptured hi s girl. it was no happenstance of pl ot -
ting. Gods is what they wc rc . 1110re than men.
Walt er Kerr . Th" Sil,,"t ClOII" II S
57
has s ur vived into so und . Ma rl e ne
Di e tri c h. li ght ed by Sternbe rg a nd
moving thro ugh hi s myriad gauzes .
became a c ult- object almost as readily
as Garbo had done earli er. t hough all
of M iss Diet ri ch' s s uccesse s were in
talking fil ms . The speci al q ualit y o f
sil e nt -film fa nt asy re sted o n a nothe r.
muc h firmer. base.
It was fantasy obj ec tive ly. ab-
stractl y. of t he esse nce. bred in the
bone. The fa nta sy was not in the view-
e rs heads but in the film. locked the re.
the necessa ry res ult of the di verse and
in fac t contrad ictory cle me nt s that had
co me toget he r to create it . Consider
how casuall y t he cle me nt s of built -in
fant asy pl ay ac ross the sc reen - work-
ing mino r miracle s in pass ing- a nd
how na tura ll y the y a re acce pt ed in a
commonpl ace s ho rt comed y of the
19205. Ll oyd Hamilt on' s MVl'e A/VI/ g .
I havc call ed Mr. Ha milt on' s comed y
commo npl ace . t ho ugh it is not quit e
that : muc h of Mr. Ha milt on' s work
was s upe ri or to t hat of doze ns of ot her
amiable clowns who never quit e made
the jump int o fea ture films. But a more
o r less regul a ti on short comed y. one of
thousa nds made in t he decade as s up-
port fo r feature films . ma y serve belt er
tha n a n import a nt one to help us sec
clea rl y what wa s simpl y ta ke n for
granted .
I n Mo ,'" A/ol/g. Mr. Ha milt o n is
having an exceedingly diffi c ult time
tr yingto ti e hi ss hoelace . He is on a
publi c stree t . a nd yo u know how tha t
is. Whe re do you put foot whil e yo u do
it ? Mr. Hamilt o n-a pl umpi s h ma n
with daint y finge rs . a waddl e \valk .
a nd a pa ncake hat se t ho ri zu ntall y on
t he prim. doughy moon of hi s face
-seizes eve ry reasona bl e opportunit y.
He s pi es a woode n box but the box
colla pses a t t he touc h of hi s foot .
The re is a n as hca n a head. Haste ning
toward it and with hi s toe poised fo r
the li ft . he is forced to hesit ate bri en y
and politely while several passe rsby
c ross hi s pat h. T he mome nt t he y a re
gone . he resumes hi s fo rwa rd rh ythm
o nl y to sec the ashca n hoisted away
fro m him, into the air. A pkkup ma n is
e mpt ying it.
Moving along. as bot h the titl e and
an o mniprese nt puli ce ma n a re con-
sta ntl y urging him to do . he becomes a
bit more desperate. An elderly frock-
coated ge ntl e man is be nt nea rl y do ubl e
att e mpting to re move a bit of mud from
a woma n's shoe. Mr. Ha milt on
pro mptl y places hi s foot o n the
ge ntl e man' s bac kside. more or less
doubling the image like ac roba ts as-
ce ndingone a nothe r . o nl y to have t he
ge ntl e ma n turn o n him, naturall y. vio-
le ntl y.
Fortunat ely .just alo ng the c urb
t he re sta nds a wate rwagon, it s rear
wheel exposed. inviting. a nd of suit-
abl e height. Going to it with some di g-
nit y. Mr. Ha milt on begins hi s o pe ra-
tion onl y to receive the full spray of the
wagon, whi c h is of course ins ta ntl y
turned on.
Without further ado. Mr. Ha mil to n
marc hes directl y int o the cent er of the
street a nd ha il s a stree tcar. The street-
car stops . Mr . Ha milt o n put s hi s foot
on the streetcar's runningboard a nd
ti es hi s shoelace. He the n waves the
stree tcar awa y.
I a m dee pl y e na mo red of that str ee t-
car. no t to me nti on the use to whi c h it
is put. For. in thi s tiny fragment of
film . a ll of the essenti al ingredi e nt s of
sil e nt film comedy a re full y prese nt.
The stree tcar is a real streetca r. It
moves. And it moves witho ut a sound .
Eac h of the se ingredi e nt s is vit a ll y
impon ant . Before tr ying to sa y why.
let me co rnpl ete the record ofMr.
H (jJnilt on' s d iffic ull da y.
He is hungry a nd needs " j ob. Out -
side a n e mpl oyme nt offi ce the re is a
sign sa ying tha t ten peopl e are wa nt ed .
Ni ne <He in line. Mr. Hamill onjoins
the line. The n. direc tl y be hind him.
a ppears a wa iflike yu ung lad y. halfin
tears but very s weet. A natural no bl e
ma n. Mr. Ha mill on surre nders hi s
pl ace to he r and acce pt s eleve nth posi-
ti o n. As he ar ri ve s at the door. the dour
is sla mmed in hi s face, whi c h is wha t
we ex pec t . But hc receive s a mos t e n-
gi1gi ng. a nd I would sa y utt c rl y heart-
less . gesture of thank-you from the girl
thro ugh the wi ndow,
Still hungry. he passes a resta ura nt
a nd is able to see. thro ugh the pl a tc
glass. a wealthy c usto me r putting
down a gourmet ' s meal. \Vhil e he is
sta nding I here, yea rning, a wa it e r fr um
the resta urant lea ves by the street door
carrying a full dinne r o n a tra y. The
ta ke-out orde r is bala nced un the
wai te r' s fl at palm al exactl y Mr.
Ha mil to n's head-he ight . We see the
wait er pass Mr . Hamill on so closely
tha t the tray slides impe rce pti bly ont o
the top of Mr. Ha milt on' s head. whe re
it re mains as the wa it er va ni shes fro m
view. Mr. Ha mill on continues to
yea rn , not knowing what t reas ur es
c rown him. The t ra y is retrieved be-
fore he ca n di scove r a nd ta ke ad va n-
tage of hi s good fort une.
udged alo ng once aga in by t he
poli ceman who seems to be hi s gua rd-
ia n devil. he ret urns to hi s rooming
ho use . A milk bottl e sta nds o ut sidc a
neighbor' s door. As he reac hes for it, it
is ta ke n in . In hi s room. hi s landl ady
sta nds read y to e vic t him, Qut he goes.
ta king hi s bed a nd his trunk with
him- t he re is a ride down a stairwa y
o n t he bed he re- to do what he can to
ma ke a ho me fo r himself on the s treet s.
He se ttl es for lodgings unde r a slo re-
awning. ope ning hi s tr unk to ha ng a
pi c ture, lI si ng one large h<:i t as a shade
fo r the lamppos t : a s ma ll c r one stuc k
on a sti c k fo r a n as htra y. The alar m
clock is wound a nd placed on a fi re-
plug. a nd Mr. Ha milt on s nuggle s int o
bed unde r the awning. It begins to ra in .
It rains ha rd e nough to fillihe a wning
like a ca nva s tu b a nd the n to ove rfl o w
it . dumping some ga ll ons of wate r
down ont o Mr. Ha mill o n' s bide-a-
wee . La te r. the rain turns to s now a nd
a new in ve nti ve ness will be requi red.
Now at fir st sight the st yle of the lit -
tl e film. the inspirati o n fo r Ihi s last se
Hamiltoll achiel'ed stardom through
t lt'o-reeli' f'S such as The Vagra nt .
quence. and even some of its parti cular
sight-gags. may see m closely related
to-even ident ical with-a seq uence
that Fred and Adele Astaire once per-
formed in a P.G. Wodehouse-Guy Bol-
ton Broadway musical. T he Astaires
also we re evicted. The y also se t up
light housekeeping on the street. A pi c-
ture was hung. the coffee percobtor
was plugged into lamppost and hy-
drant. And it did begin to rain. The y
danced in the rain.
Y et t here is a world of difference be-
tween the two. Both. to be sure. arc
fantasie s. T hey are impertinent ly of-
fe red improbabi lit ies whi ch are pe r-
fect ly willing. with a wi nk. to become
impossibilit ies. It is not reall y possibl e
to cook by street l amp. at least not in
the time all ott ed . It is not reall y poss i-
ble for a man to s upport a fu ll tra y o n
hi s head wit hollt knowing that
sUIlI('rhill K is t here. The underl ying as-
sumpt ion of both is that they are not to
be belie ved. They offer fa lse worlds to
be entered. as one would enter a con-
spiracy. Enter . and you wi ll see how
much fun it is.
But stage fant asy and fi lm fantasy
arc rad icall y different things. Stage
fa nt asy . so to speak. is fanta sy all of a
piece. Everyt hing is false at once.
making for an easy consistency. The
backdrop is false : The rooming house
from whi ch the Astaires arc evicted is
onl y. a nd plainly. paint. The props a re
false: no re(j l street lamps. no real fi re-
plugs. The st ree t is fal se: It is simpl y
the stage noor: in a moment it wi ll be a
ball room. The rain is fal se: It is created
by a pinwheel of li ght and not eve n by a
thin sheet of water carried offin a
trough: though the stage ca n in fact
perform t hi s last trick. it would not
have done so in thi s case lest the danc-
e rs slip o n the overs pray. The whole
bright ly colo red. brill ia nt I y and a rbi-
traril y light ed environment in which
the Astaires worked was ca ndidl y un-
real to begin wit h: the performers are
surrounded. bounded. by artifice. It is
not so difficult to smile and be have
preposterously. to do unreal things in
an enchantingly art ifi cal way. in a uni-
verse ready-made for the prank.
But film? The streets are real . the
streetcars are real. the trashcans. the
trays. the water-wagons and the water
in them are all rea l. Whe n the camera-
man call ed "Cut !"-ifhe did a nything
so convent ional-once the awning had
split a nd the deluge been loosed upon
Mr. Hami lton. Mr. Hamilt on wasw('1.
Fi lm was. to begin with. fa ct. not
fancy. That was it s fi rst appeal. For a
lo ng time it was its o nly appeal. To the
e nd of it s days it will never escape the
consequences. or the obli gations. of
being permanently bound to fact. of
being indebted to it for it s excitement
Hamilton in a thirties short.
With sound came his decline.
and dependent upon it for it s int egrity.
A cardboard streetcar would not have
done. The cardboard train on whi ch
Jack Oakie ani ves to Illeet Charl ie
Chaplin in Tlte Grear Dictator is read-
il y detectable. and it spoils what would
otherwi se have been an ext remely
funn y seque ncc. Our steady expecta-
ti on of t he camera is that it will give us
actual it y. not art ifice.
How muc h more difficult and un-
likely fo r it. then. to have a rri ved at
even so simpl e a fantastic improvisa-
ti on as the briefA1o\' (-' Atollg. That a
medium committ ed to act uality shoul d
have embroil ed it se lf in fanta sy at
all - putting pe rfec tl y real objects to
slic h very odd uses-was not to ha ve
been looked for. That it sho ul d have
made fa ntasy it s principal product for
something like twent y-six years is
now. even in retrospect . astoni shing.
For so strange a thing to ha ve hap-
pe neel. film woul d have had to
invent- by hook or crook or
happenstance-fant asy of an <:Ibso-
lutely unprecedented kind. unrelated
to anyt hing the stage had done before
it. indifferent eve n to t hc met hods of
Aesop or of Swift. That is what it did
do. It in ve nt ed a fantas y offact. n
Thi s articl e is adapted from Tlt e Sile1lf
ClOI\'IIS by Wal ter Kerr.to be publ ished
late rthi s year by Alfred A. Knopf. Inc.
The End
ofthe
Beginning
Rod Per ry (l nd Ci fely TysolI :
The Autobi ogra phy of Mi ss
Jane Pittma n -"tll1l1ll l' \ 'flS; \'(J
look althe realil ies of
black history ill America.
Charles Champlin
I n the mid<.lI c of t he it i s hard to i magine how
we could be: mo re thorough ly television-satu rated
tha n we arc. Slali:-.ti..:s compi led by t he authorita-
t ive trade publi cat ion . Broadcasting magaz ine. re-
veal ed I ha l al l he e nd o f 1974 1 he re we re 11 2 milli on
television se ts in II :-'C in 6X.) mill ion Unit ed States
households. In nt her words. tel evision i s watched
in 97 perce lll urall A l11 l!ri can ho mes (exc luding
Al aska a nd Hawa ii). T he ot her 3 perce nl still slar-
ing al t he ir rad ios see ms to be an ir reduc ible
minimu m: it di d 1101 c hange from t he pr evi oll s year.
\Vhi lc survey sa rn pli ngs are sus pect. the A. C.
Niel"cn organizat ion' s estimate is that i n the aver
age in 197-t television was watc hed fo r
six ho urs and forty nine minutes a day. In t he
ofa \\ ec k televis ion reached somet hing li ke
87 pc rct.: nt of eve r yone in t he coun try beyond t he
age of:-.evcnlec n (and a vcry large s li ce of t hose
unde r as we ll). Ad ve rti se rs spe nt more
tha n 53.5 bi lli o n tr ying 10 reac h the te levision a ud i
e nce. wh ic h works out to about S5 1 for eve r y
ho ust.: huld . whic h works o ut In a lot of doll a rs.
From its sta nd ing sta l'l in 1954. c olor te lev isio n
inc hed a lo ng un t il it s big breakt hrough in 1964.
whe n 1.7 milli o n se ts we re sold. The fo ll owing yea r
3 milli o n se ts we re sold . a ye ar lat er :; milli on . a nd
the ycaraft e rthat6.3 milli on. By now t he re a re
more I han n mill ion colo r set s in use.
BUl l ht.: most new stati slic (and t he
one.! showing I he c limb) is the numbe r o f
home now linked tocable systems.
The late:"1 by B mac/casl in,!.! magazine ea rly
in 1975\\<1.., 11 pcrccnt-or 8.:! mill ion ho use ho lds.
an urmor-et ha n 2 mi ll ion homes in only a
year. By 60 pe rce nl of Ame rica n ho use holds
are expecled 10 be cable- linked.
Wha t t he cable de live ry syste ms mea n for televi
sinn as a medium is diversit y-a de li vera nce 1'1' 0 111
the Iyra nn y of box ca r numbers that spe ll s uccess
60
o r failure for net work progra ming . or indeed fo r a ll
commerc ia l progra ming. Cable hookups have a l
ready mea nt new a udi e nces a nd new life for ma ny
of the UHF sta ti o ns. whose signa ls without c able
a re diffic ult 10 receive. Cable has bee n par ti c ul a rl y
be nefi c ia l to educ ationa l stations (s uc h as
KCET -Channe l 28- lhe Public Broadcasl ing oul -
le i in Los Ange le s) Irapped in Ihe UHF ghell o a nd
unable 10 buy Ihei r way onl o I he VH F d ia l. KCET
is now ho me dcli ve red by mo re tha n tift y differe nt
cable sys tc ms over a fa r wide r a rea t ha n a VH F
signal covers in Los Ange les a nd no longer has a ny
real need to try for a VH F c hanne l a ll ocati on . Si nce
the last VH F sta ti on to come o nt o the ma rke t i n
Southe rn Californi a was being offered at S 15mi l
li on. it is good that t he sta ti o n is no t pressed to go 10
VH F: il s li mile d fund s would be bell ers penl o n
improving ils fac iliti es and programi ng.
Creating audie nces for UHF s ta tions is onl y one
func lion o flhe cable sysle ms. (They bega n. in
Pe nnsylva ni a. as communil y a nt e nnas to provide
s tronge r signa ls in towns whe re rece pt ion was
bloc ked or impa ired . The re a rc now ne arl y 5. 000
cabl e sys tems in t he United Stat es. more t ha n900
in Pe nnsylva nia . a nd nearl y 1.000 i n Ca liforni a, )
Cable ' s o ri ginal functi on has bee n ex pa nded . In
addi li on 10 s uppl ying siro ng s igna ls on I he VH F
c hanne ls a nd fo r most UHF c ha nne ls . some cable
syste ms have begun offe ring the ir own (as ye t q uit e
limiled ) progra ming. A few olhe rs . like T he la Cable
in Los Ange les. offer fir st run movies unc ut a nd un
int erru pted . on a special c hannel fo r an addi t iona l
mo nlhl y fee laboul S7 in Los Ange les). II is inevil a-
ble Iha l l he sysle ms will ullima le ly offe r nonl oc,,1
comme rc ia l c hanne ls a mi sa te ll ite s howings o r new
movies---incl uding movies made especia ll y for
cablesyste m vicwing in t he sa mc way Ihey are now
made es pecia ll y fo r ne twork vic wi ng. The tec hnol
ogy a lread y cxists by whi c h <l single cable hook up
---
-" "


, .
_.I.". - ._ ,
, ,
f
~ ,
. ..
, ~ , .\
. \I'" I
. >
Left: Imoge1l (j Coca . Sid Caesar. ill a
Your Show of Shows skelch. " As-
tollishillR comedi c richness."
could ca rry nearl y eight y signals into a s ubsc ri ber's
livi ng room. The uses thal ha ve bee n proj ec ted
(or prophesied) include the de li ve ry of te legra ms.
ma il . and eve n t he da il y news paper. The equipment
being ins ta ll ed by ma ny cable systems has room for
thirt y input s o r options . although not a ll of t hese a rc
yet in use.
h is clear t ha t the di versifi cation of the televis io n
experie nce has hardl y begun . It also seems clear
that I he quantitati ve growl h of Ie levis ion has s urely
peaked . The number of two- and three-set ho use-
holds will edge upward (re vealing. ifnothingel se.
that the trade-in value of o ld se ts is so inco nsequen-
ti al that onc might as we ll hangon to them). But the
latitudinal o utreach of tclevisio n has gone about as
far as it can go. Wt.: are also near sa turati on
----ce rtainl y we a rc ncar to being saturated by the
mi x oftelevi!'!ion <I ' it has bee n until now. Proofi s
found in t ht: instabi li ty ofnel work pro-
graming. t he !'! udde n deat hs a nd quic k reshufflings
of scrie s. I he e vt:r-l11 o re-nerVOll S all e mpt s to keep
t he interes t oran audic nce whose att ent ion s pa n is
e ve r- ..; horte ni ng.
Like the movies in 1946. television has see mi ngly
rt:ac hed the c nd o rit ..; begi nnings . If the motion pic-
lure was a toy t hat grew up. so is television . but
televi"ion. the li ving room toy . grew evc n faste r. In
fa ct. (cle vi in it !'! quartcr of a cent ury (roughl y)
has gone through most of the sa me stage s it took the
l1lovie 'i t of a ce nt ury (rough I y) to
cover. Popular novel! y: first ex pl o ra tor y fora ys
int o programing: growth of mass pac kaging
fora rnas'i audience: ma turit y wi thin the mass sys-
Ie m: d i vt:rsificat io n i 11 10 a ppeal s to bot h mass a n(1
minorit y Television has moved so fa!'! 1
tha t ib pictures
ha s been c ha nging consta nt Iy.
In the begi nning it !'!eemed that t he movies' best
recipe for sur viva l was to do what telev ision cou ld
nol do ,I!'! we ll . or do a t a ll -wide r sc ree ns. bigger
!'! pec tac k .... It qui c kl y came to mean
ha rder I ha rde r language. more e xplicit sex
and violence. a nd . much more s ubtl y. a view of the
\\ orld in \\ hich t he re was irony a nd a mbiguit y. po-
eti c injusti ce we ll as virtue t riumphant . Let tele-
vision . tht: nc\\ mass-e ntert ai nment medium. bt: all
to all pt:ople. Eve ryma n at his leisure .
And "0 \\ ith those !'Ipecifi cations television had
begun . \Vo uld a nyone like to haza rd a glless as to
who won the fir ... t Emmy Award as Most Out stand-
ing The yea r was 194R. if
Ihal help'. It doe,nt. She was Shirley Dinsdal e . a
pupPdecr \\ hose c haracte r call ed Jud y Splin-
ter!'!. In t he da y!'! before thccuaxia l ca bl e linked the
East and West Coasts. the E111 mys we re stri c tl y a
Los Ange les affa ir. The mosl popular tel evision
s how, in those first awa rds . was" Mike Stokey' s
Pa nt omime Qui z."
Those were the novelty da ys . whe n television
no uri s hed in saloons in the sa me way as carl y
movies we re often sa ndwic hed bet wee n the sou-
bre tt e a nd the trained rats o n va ude vill e bi ll s. And
if the movies soon found D. W. Griffith . television
fou nd li ve drama a nd a new ge ne ral ion ofwrit e rs
a nd directo rs t o ma ke it happen - Reginald Rose
a nd Padd y Cha yevsky. Delben Ma nn . John Frank-
e nheime r. a nd ma ny more . In a bri ef. beautiful
Oowering in the mid-fifti es before the numbers
ga me took over. the drama ti c a nthology (" live
fro m Ncw York") was a staple of telcvision :
. . Robert Montgomery Presents." .. Studi o One."
the U.S. Slee l Hour. " Producers' Showcase'"
.. Mat inee Thea tre" (with i nc rediblc daily drama) .
"Ford Star Jubil ee." .. Kraft Television The-
a te r. " and the ambit ious" Pl ayho use 90."
Dra ma was nol t he hal f of it. ofcou rsc. a nd there
we re AI istair Cooke' s li tera te a nd wi de- ranging
" Omni bus." t he Fred Astaire s pec ials with Ba rri e
Chase. thc not-yc t-s ur passed vari e ti cs of Mill on
Berle. Ed Wynn. Perry Como. Dinah Shore . and
Stevc Allen. and t he astonis hing comedi c ri c hness
(lft he Sid Caesar- Imogene Coca "Your Show of
Shows" (whic h was done li ve. des pite the formida-
ble e hallenges of it s beautifu ll y timed a nd oft e n
very physical s ke tc hes).
It was a parti c ul a r ri c hness. not to be s us tained .
Mo re and more in lh\;! ea rl y sixties. televi sion be-
came a se ri es busincss-""The Defc nders." "Be n
Casey'" Dr. Kildare'" " The Naked Cit y ..
"Guns moke ." .. Bonanza." .. Haze l. " " The Di c k
RighI: l oall Slaley. Dick Vall Dyke.
Mary Tyler Moore. ill episode o/ The
Dick Van Dyke Show.
Va n Dyke Show." "Che ye nne." "The Be ve rl y
Hill bill ies. " The range was frum t hl! abysmal to the
s ubli me. t he extremes linked onl y by a shared
week-la-week predi ctabili t y.
I n t he mid-si xt ies. t here was not even yet the
promise of the effect ive a lt e rnative that publi c te le-
vi si on has sl owl y and precariousl y become. What
was s till call ed educati o na l tele visio n wa s wo rth y.
sole mn. a nd dull . The ca rl y nonc omme rc ial sta-
t io ns cl ung to life by fulfi ll i ng cont racts wit h the
publ ic sc hools. ai ring daytime cl assroom material s.
Mea nwhil e ... Bo na nza" was cos ting 5200.000 a n
e pisode in 1966. was be ing syndi cat ed in e ight lan-
guages to si xt y count ri es. and had a weekl y audi -
e nce e st imated at 350 mi lli on viewe rs. Tele vision.
like radio. in it s first years ha d a fair a mo unt of
fift een-minute programing. then shifted to the
half-hour mini mum wit h a growi ng number of
hour-l ong and ninet y- minut e shows, Two- hour
programs. of which t here were none in 1957 . consti -
tut ed a fift h of ne twork sc hcduling by 1968.
The l esson of t he huge ratings earned by movies
on tel evi sion waS not l osl on net work executi ves.
{The Bridge 011 Ilu' Ri \'(.' r K lI 'ai was wat ched by an
audience of60 milli on on i t s first tel evi si on airi ng.)
The fir st movi es specificall y made for tel evisi on
were prod tlced in 1965. and. i n t he decade si nce .
several hundred have been made. f ul fi lli ng Sam
Go ld wyn' s prophecy oft he mid-forties.
Movi es for tel evi sion have i n t he best and wor st
senses become the B-movies of our t i me. They are
made with r uthl ess effi ciency. on budget s that
rarel y exceed $ I mill ion and offen consi derabl y
less . on shoot ing schedul es t wice and even three
times faster t han for a theat ri cal feature of the same
l engt h, They arc a test ing ground for ne w tal ent.
They provide welcol11 e work forold ta le nt. They
are heavier on pl ot than character i zat ion. and the
pl ot conveni entl y breaks int oas many acts as there
are co mmercial breaks. They are shol with t he
small er screen i n mind . reveal ed i n the number of
close- ups and medi um-di stance shots.
Like the movies which used to ser ve as the bot-
tOI11 ha lf of double features. t he bes t of the mo vies
made for tel evi si on have ver y posi ti ve qualiti es,
They have energy and pacc and a l ac k of pre ten-
si an. Emotions r un strong and clear (ifnol pure) :
endings are deci si ve and al ong the way there i s
like l y to ha ve bee n pl e nt y of at mos phe re.
Some of these fi l ms have been shown i n theater s
abroad. and slI ccessfull y.Duel . a we ll -made
truck-chase thrill er starring Denni s Weaver . i s sai d
to have grossed samet hing l ike 57 mill i on
overseas-and was made for l ess than 5500. 000.
A few tel evi son movi es have bee n shown in
theaters in t hi s count r y. but wit hOllt success. Even
Brian '.\' SOllg. a very popul ar se nt imental mel o-
drama star ring James Caan as a doomed pro-
football pl ayer i n a stor y drawn from li fe. fai l ed at
the box offi ce. a ltho ugh it was offe red at a re duced
price. and in Chi cago. whi ch was the maj or sell ing
forthe stor y . Obvi oll sl y a movi e which has bee n
present ed free in t he l i ving ruom must have a spe-
ci al cl aim on the att enti uns of t he audi ence before
peopl e will go out and spend money to sec it agai n.
II happens. although not on a major scal e. with
classic movies that ha ve been shown on tel evisi on.
Indeed . the freque nt TV appea ra nces
Kall e. Casablal/("{/. and other imperi sha ble film
favorit es seem to have stimu lated rather t han di -
mini shed int erest i n seeing t hem in theaters- in al
least relati vely fu ll -length ve rsions . a nd blissfull y
free of i nt errupl i ons for used-car commcrc i al s,
But to see even a superi or movie made for tel evi-
sion under theatrical conditi ons is an oddl y reveal -
ing ex peri ence. It suffer s from enlargement. as if a
speci fi c densit y t hat was qui te adequate for the
twe nt y-one-inc h screen had gone pa l e and water y.
li ke bad soup. The i ntimacy evaporates and t he
emot i onal i nt ensi t y t hi os like ri si ng smoke. I n
B rial/ 's Song the hr usque a ff ect i on bet wee n Caa n
and hi s closest football pal . understated and touch-
ingon the small screen. looked corn y and ovcr-
statcd in the theater.
Bu t it worked in the medium for whi ch it was
made. and that i s all t hat reall y mat terecl. The poi nt
remains that tele vi si on movies and t heatri cal
movies arc not the sa me. There remains a cruci al
difference in what. for want ofa more preci se term,
mi ght be called the ir s pecifi c gra vit y.
63
Tele vision has not (or not ye t) been a proving
gro und for future film sta rs. It has provided them
with work. however. anu Rober! Redfo rd . un-
kno wn and unstarred. s hows up in rerunsof The
Untouc hables' as a sneering baby-faced killer in
one episode . But hi s ca reer was launched by
Ba i ll III(' Pa r k. on Broad wa y. Sid Caesar" s e f-
fort s in the mov ies have. through no lac k of hi s own
ta le nt. bee n embarrassme nt s to everyone who
how deepl y gifted he is. Ri c hard Chamber-
lain has by now asserted himself as a star actor in
films. Ye t after hi s boyish fame as Dr . Kil dare he in
a rea l se nse all o ve r again. do ing stage work
in repertory in England and coming int o the movies
the ex pe ri e nced and performe r he is.
rat he r t han a television personage.
he failure of t ra nsference works both ways.
a nd James Stewart is one film sta r who ha s come to
:-.ad and s udde n termination on tele visio n. as have
Shirley Mac La ine.: a nd Ton y Curti s. a mongolhe rs .
\-Vha t all thi ... i") not quite c lear. but I think
it is t hat in of t hc fa ct t hat te levision and the
movie ... are hot h vis ual mediums the y arc di vided
more than thc y are.: united by the common la nguagc
ofv i ... ual image'! ... Di vided as we a re by a common
language." George Be rnard Shaw said of the En-
gli s h and the Americans-the large public screen
and the .; mall pri vate sc ree n arc s imil arly di vi ded .
It i ... a mi ... c hi e.: f to pre:-.umc that t hey are identical
- to pre.: ... umc . for exampl e. tha t theat e rs have no
future bcca use t he re arc movies o n televi sion a nd
ma y bc more yct.
Not on ly are the two forms di stinc t. but the re la-
lions hipbetween t he m is always in c hange . By
now. it i ... no lunger Iruc Ihat Ihe movies recipe for
s ur viva l i ... totlo what tcle vis ion can, do as wel l or
do al a ll . and it i:-. no longer true I hal le levis ion is
exclu:-.i vcl y Eve ryman at hi s lei s ure .
for thcir pa rI. the movies. having had a briefbllt
frequentl y flirtati o n with social reali s m.
arc qui ckly retrca ling to the safet y of' pure e nter-
tainmcnt. sleek a nd untroublingescapi st offeri ng:-.
of\\ hi c h TlteSlin,!.! b the fo unding model. The
movie ... a rc not \\ rung. cit her. howeve r muc h the y
Illay di'lappoint admirers \\ ho a rc eage r to sec t he
medium do ... lHl1cthing more than ta p dance. But
wi t h t he.: real \\ orld I'll rn i ... hed wa ll to wa ll wi th e x-
al"e rbalions and p:-.yc hi c pain -wit h problems of
e Ilergy . e.:1ll ploy me nt. recess ion. inflat ion. confron-
tation.; in t he Middlc East a nd Sou lheas t Asia . and
a loss of confide nce everywhere-it is no wonder
that the c us tomers se t fort h to be di ve rted . if they
set forth at a ll.
For its part. te levision find s t ha t di version is not
quite enough. A diet of sodas Illa y sa ti sfy most of
the cus tomers, but no t a vocal minorit y of pri va te
c iti ze ns. legisla tors . and governme nt admini s-
trators who ha ve not fo rgotten ewton Minow's
denuncia ti on of te levi sion as a c ultural
waste land - and who have not seen a ny effe c ti ve
reclamati on projec t c hange the mediulll s ince.
So. amongst the Kojaks. televi sion in the middl e
seventies has occas iona ll y found its voice fo r ex-
pressing social truth in dramat ic te rms. Tom Gries
The Mig ralllJ , based on a n earl y short s lory by
Te nnessee \\lilli ams a nd starring Cloris Leac hman
as the ga unt and wir y matriarc h of an itinerant
brood of c rop pi ckers. was as s tro ngly a ngry in
way as The Wra th. II was perhaps ali i he
more e ffecti ve beca use it found exploitati on and
ha nd-Io- mo u th e x iste nces ina period of nat ional a f-
flu e nce. no t depression. The story a nd it s treat-
me nt were compass ionate but unse ntimcntal. a nd if
it s young protagoni s t finall y escaped t hc e ndl ess
tra p of the migrati ons. it was onl y to fa ce the tri a ls
ofa diffe re nt sort as a n uns kill ed laborer in a cold
c it y. YOLI could no t imagi nc I he film s ucceeding at
the mOl ion-pi cture box offi ce (a lthough it was ve ry
we ll received a t the Cannes Festival in 1974 a nd has
been cons ide red for re lease in Europe ). But. pro-
duced on a ri gorous budge t. it worked within the
economi cs of tele vision .
The A fllohiog rap"y iss ./011(' Pillmall.
sc ripted by Trac y Kee na n Wynn a nd di rected by
Joh n Korty. had as it s ce nt er a tour de force per-
fo rmance by Cicely Tyson covering an age s pan of
e ight y years o r more. It al so built to a c lima x of un-
abashed sent ime nlal melodra ma. but along the way
ill ooked unevas ive ly at the rea li lies of black his-
tor y in Ame ri ca. and it did not sa y that all those
woes were be hind us.
More controversial than c it he r . because we a rc
still very upt ight about treating sex eriulls ly. was
T"al Ce r/aill 5 umme r, a careful but cou rageous
drama about a teenage buy who discovers during a
holida y visit that hi s di vorced father is a ho mosex-
ual. There were calm. c ivili zed performances by
Ha l Holbrook and Scot! Jacoby as father a nd son
and by Martin Shee n as the father's new partne r.
The y ga ve the production and story by Ri c ha rd
Levinson and William Link a qui e t a nd in fa c t a l-
most unemotional dignit y. The program proved
that important but exploitable material could be
handl ed though t full y a nd none xploit i vel y.
'1'''1' was the best o fa rela-
ti ve ly new television form whi ch it s makers call ed
the doeu-elrama - hi story as
drama . a nd with some ee ril y acc urate
impersonati ons of John Ke nnedy. Dea n Acheson .
a nd o the r publi c figures.
Notthe least of the forces making for c ha nge in
commercial tel evision is t hat the re no\v is a n
nat ive to measure it aga inst. Although publi c
vision remains a n unde rfina nced di sta nt cousin . it
has. aft er ma ny a tri al . eme rged as a fourth net work
with it s sha re of ve ry palpable hit s.
Ironi call y. it took a Briti sh import to make publi c
televisi o n a via ble alt e rnat ive a nd redeem it fron) it s
sta ndard fa re of two fi gure s talking to each o ther
over a pro p coffee tabl e. The BBes " Fo rsyte
Sag'" proved to be the audic ting de light he re t hat it
ha s bee n everywhere else in the world . It brought
new viewers a nd new con tributi o ns to the stations
a nd se rved as a lure fo r the othe r progra ms publi c
television had to offer. The res ult i ng var iet y was
fres hing. including Juli a Child . t he dazzling
.. Sesame Street " (modeled in it s sophi sti cati on and
rapid pace aft e r " Laugh- In"). whi ch s ur veys indi -
cate kids watched all the time. the oft e n out spoke n
works o n .. Holl ywood Televisio n Theater ." a nd a
s urprisingly wide assortme nt of music. drama. and
classic films fro m t he e ra to the prese nt.
Publi c television may be healthie r if it stays
unde r some fina ncial st ra in . As in mos t
nar y institutions. a I itll e pros pe rit y goes a lo ng wa y
toward bureaucracy. a nd publi c television fi ght s
best with it s hack to the wall. whe re inge nuit y is it s
prime resource. But the a ntipathy of the Ixon
Admini st rati on medi a bait e rs . fea ring a fourth net-
work beca use they alread y we re having e nough
trouble wi th the three commerci al networks.
created a bi t too muc h fina ncial strain for publi c
television and left a te mporary mark in the scarcit y
of publi c-event s programing. Thus PBS stati ons
That Ce rt ain Summer-"Carejid
hUl cOllrageoll .\ . ..
must have had a dee p feeling of sati sfacti o n in pre-
se nting their viewe rs with every damaging word of
the Watergate hearings.
The dynami c te nsion in the Unit ed States be-
tween publi c and comme rcial television is Da vid
vs. Goliath . and David' s sling needs re pairs . Al-
though it is a lopsided e ncount e r. it is mo re int e rest-
ing and producti ve tha n it used to be. If we a rc
lucky. publi c tele vision will re mind us more effec-
ti vely all alo ng the way of just what television ca n
a nd ought to do. Comme rcial te levision. whose
claims of ope rating in the publi c int e res t are coming
under sharper sc rutiny than they once did. will be
ha rder put to ignore public television 's example.
The birth of television ga ve the mov ies a ne w
birth offreedo m as well . e nabling t he movies to ad-
dress differe nt a udi e nces a nd 10 develo p the full
a nd va ri ous possibiliti es of the form.
Tele vision faces no revolutionary new
ogy. but the cabl e sys te ms will undoubtedl y have
the same li berating effect on t he l11 edilll11thattci e-
vision had on the mo vi es . freeing it to develop all of
it s possibiliti es. enabling it to se rve the minoriti es
within the mass. If the new da y was painful for the
old-line major studi os. I1 \!W day will bl.:
pai nful fo r the three maj or comme rcial net wor ks.
They already are sha ring t he audi e nce not only wit h
inde pe nde nt comme rcial stati ons but inc reasi ng.ly
with publi c-TV stati ons a nd with the cabl e cha n-
nels and their movies-for-pa y. Eve ntuall y the y will
ha ve to compete with additi onal al ternati ves as yet
undreamed of. The net wor ks will not be dethroned
as the principal carri e rs ofcl mass medium. but that
medium will eve ntuall y offe r as wide a n a rray of
choices as the movies do now. n
Thi s art ic le is ada pt ed from Tlte Flicks. or WIUl l (,I'C' r
Becalll e (!fAl/{iY Hard.,' by Charl es Cha mplin to be
publi shed the e nd of thi s month by Woll stonec raft .
The Apotheosis of
An Actor Dies;
A Posthumous Industry is Born
Kenneth Turan
e was t he Hero with a Thousand
Names: The Fist t hat Shook the Wo rld .
the Fas test Fist in t he East. t he Littl e
Dragon. the KingofKung Fu. the Ma n
with the Golden Punch . known to
wonderstruc k admirers as. a nd I
quote . the GaJil eo. the Da Vinci. the Nij insky. t he
Edi son . eve n the Einst ein . of the ma rti a l arts. He
was a lso the 1958 Cha Cha Kingof Ho ng Kong. a
for mer Chinese wa ite r in Seaule. and 4F Army re-
ject who took less than t wo years to bounce from
relat ive obsc urit y to a st atus as the hott est propert y
in world c ine ma. ca pable of as king a mi lli on doll a rs
a pic ture. before hi s shock ing deat h at age 32 under
enigma! ic c irc umsta nces e nded things almost be-
fore t hey'd begun. It is t he very stuff ofl ege nds.
and whe re Bruce Lee is conce rned. the legends arc
attached to doll a r signs of a ve ry large size.
In t he littl e more tha n two years si nce his deat h.
Bruce L ee has inspired a post humous indust ry of
surpri sing strength and vari ety. Hi s four rel eased
films have grossed nearl y $50 milli on. a nd hi s last
one. Ell l er l11 e Dragol/, has. a lo ng wit h My Fair
Lady a nd The Exorcist, beco me o ne of Wa rne r
Bros,' all -ti me overseas mo ney makers. so big that
Warners is working on a glossy biopic call ed The
Life alld Legelld ojBru("l' L(J() fo r whi ch it con-
d ucted auditi ons in Holl ywood. Chicago. New
York. London. a nd Hong Kong on a scale remi nis-
cent of Otto Preminge r' s a nnointing Jean Seberg to
play Joan of Arc. And thi s doesn' t begin to doj us-
ti ce to the ot her goodies . the t- s hirt s. the sweat-
s hirt s, the poste rs . "The Ba ll ad of Bruce Lee."
sung by hi s brothe r Robert . plus a n unbeli evably
tacky qui cki e film biogra phy The Dragoll Dies
Hard. whi c h c laims that Bruce got hi s ma rtial start
whe n some toughs tri ed to muscle in on hi s
Washington Post route.
And of cours e. the re are the pa perbac k books
a nd me mo rial a lbums. more tha n ha lf a dozen a t
last count. capped offby Brtl ee Lee: The Mall Gll/v
I Kn ew. By His WI/e. Linda Lee. whe rein we lea rn
that the great ma n was addi c ted to. of a ll things.
shredde d wheat : . . He oft e n used to wa ke me up at
two o'cloc k in the mo rning." Mrs. Lee write s.
"and ask me to go downsta irs a nd prepa re him a
bowl of shredded wheat ." Not since James Dea n
d ied in the c ras h of hi s sil ver-grey Po rsc he a nd the
c ultmeisters turned Ollt songs and a rti cles li ke
" jimmy Dean's First Chri stmas in Heaven" a nd
" Jame s Dean Fight s Back Fro m The Grave." has
a ny Holl ywood star received thi s kind of se nd-off
to the gates of Va lha ll a .
Unfo rtunate ly. in the ir rush to immorta li ze Lee
a nd give a de ma nding publi c mo re a nd more to read
about ' ' the most exciting lege nd of our time."
Bruce Lee's varyi ng biographers have had a lo t of
trouble agreei ng on the ir facts. Was the na me of his
first film. made whe n he was a child ac tor in Hong
Kong, Birth aJa Mall. The Birth aJMalikilid. o r The
Begilllling of a Boy? Was hi s height 5-foot-4.
5-foot-7. 5-foot- 8. or . as the majorit y of observe rs.
" I loved Bruce Lee
as ifhe were part
of my famil y and
would have gladly
taken hi s place
in death ."
- leit er to
Black Belt
magazine
67
inc luding hi s wife. claim. exact ly 5-foot-7v,0 When
he died. was he buried in t he dark blue suit he wore
in The Chilies' COIlI1f!Clioll. or t he one he wore in
EllIeI' Th e Dragon ?
The contradict ions are almost end less. a nd a re
not he lped by the legiti matel y confusing aspects of
his caree r . Hi s first fil m. originall y titl ed Th e Big
Boss, W(1S re leased in the United States as Fists of
Fury whi ch meant that hi s second film. ori gi nall y
call ed Fisl ofFill'.". had to be re leased in the U. S. as
The Chinese COl/ flecrion. Hi s t hird fi l m. Wayoftlte
Dragon -self-wr itten a nd d irec ted a nd feat uring a
fight to the death in the Ro ma n Col ise um-was reti-
tled Re/urn of rile Drago/1, since it was released in
the U.S. after hi s fourth film EllieI' Th e Oragoll.
St ill a nother film. Call1e<!/Dealh. for which he had
shot footage of himse lftaki ng o n 7-foot-plus bas-
ketba ll star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. a former pupil.
was incompl ete at the time of hi s own death.
Yet a ll thi s confus ion s houldn' t get in the way of
t he more intr iguing aspects of Bruce Lee madness.
Numbcr one. diffi cult as it is 10 bel ieve in thi s time
of med ia manipulat ion. the cult t hat follows hi s
name i s a genuine popul ar phenomenon. Unlike the
case of Linda Lovel ace. for instance. who achi eved
stardom on t he basi s of a small fl ood of articl es in
the trendy press. Bruce Lee has hardl y been writ-
te n about at all by the major opini on-making
magazines. Hi s last appeara nce. in fact. was in an
Esquire article whi ch came out the month he died.
iron icall y subtitled .. ' Is not Warner Bros. ancient
and wise? Is not Bruce L ee young and coming up
7" The books and magazines which celebrate
him are to be found primar ily on newsstands and
drugstore racks. not psychi at ri sts' cofTee tables.
and his follower s burn wi th a fervor t hat i s largely
se lf-ge ne rated. The second point. whi ch may be
even harder to beli eve. i s that Bruce Lee actuall y
deser ves all thi s adul at i on. He was Ihat good. and a
brief peek at hi s life and hi s tec hnique reveal s more
t han enough reasons for the apotheosi s Ihat has
taken place.
ruce Lee was born i n San Francisco on
November 27.1940. the son ofa t our-
ing Cant onese opera cum vaudevill e
star. Hi sChinese name was Lee Yuen
Kam. and apparent l y a hospital nurse .
for reasons hi story does not reveal was
t he first tocall hi m Br uce. Hi s parents returned to
thei r home in Hong Kong when he was onl y three
months old . and bet wee n t he ages of si x and eigh-
tee n years he was t he Andy Hardy of the Hong
Kong film industr y. mak ing 20 films under the
name of L ee Siu Loong. t he Litt l e Dragon. He was
al so something of a dragon in real life . eami ng a
reputat i on as a street fighting pun k. so much so
that. in hi s r a rentssh ipped him back to the
Unitcd States wit h o rde rs to pull himse lf toge the r.
68
In America Bruce ended up in Seattle. where he
ent ered the Uni ver sit y of Washington and con-
tinued the fanatical absorpti on with Ori ent al sel f-
de fe nse whi ch had first gripped him in Hong Kong.
where he studi ed under a master wi t h the unli kel y
name of Yip Man. He began developing a new. pe r-
sonal met hod of se lf-defe nse. whi c h he eventuall y
call ed Jee t Kune Do. or the Wa y of the Int ercepting
Fist , a direct. reali sti c tho ugh eclectic. method
whose essence Bruce described as "usi ng no way
as the way: Effi cie ncy i s anything Ihat scores." He
took the best points f rom traditi onal Orient al
school s whil e scorning submi ssi ve devot i on to any
pa rticular one. Belt s. he liked to say. we re useful
. 'onl y to hold your pant s up."
One of the odd meet ings that seemed to mark
Bruce Lee's life occurred in 1964. Recently mar-
ried to a qll i et. middl e-A merican girl named Linda
Emer y. he gave an ex hi bit i on at a mart ial art s tOll r-
nament in Long Beach. Californi a. and was ob-
served and admi red by hai rdresser Jay Sebring.
(later one of the vi ct i ms in t he Sharon Tate murders
and a prototype for t he hairdresser in Warre n
Beatt y's Shall/poo). Sebring menti oned Lees
name while cutting t he hair of TV producer Willi am
Dozi er. who. after seeing home movies of L ee in
act i on. ended up signing him for t he rol e of Kato
in the 1966 ABC-TV se ries. The Greell Hornel .
Ever the ironi c put-down arti st. Lee liked to SCly he
got the rol e because " I was the onl y Chinaman in
a ll Califo rni a who could pronou nce Britt Re id ."
Now came a peri od that seemed intensel y to fr us-
trate Bruce Lee because he was on the verge of
sta rdom but still no ciga r. He appea red in 30
epi sodes of Til e Green Hornet. had an epi sode of
wri tt en around him. made guest ap-
pearances in B/ol1die and Ironsides. and though he
was turned do\\' n for the l ead in TV' sKIIng Fu
se ri es. a role he badly wa nt ed . in 1968 made a s pec-
tacular . if bri ef. film debut as kung fu kill e r Wins-
low Wong in the Raymond Cha ndler-based
Mar/owe. Man y oft hese part s came as a result of
the pri vate l essons (at upwards 01' $250 an hour) he
gave to numerous Holl ywood fi gures. Some stu-
dent s la ter became hi s fri ends a nd s till late r hi s
pallbea re rs : people li ke James Coburn . Steve Mc-
Queen. James Garner. Roman Pol anski-who al -
legedly Oew in fro m Swit zerl and for o ne lesson
-and screenwrit er Stirling Silliphanl . who has
bee n quoted as sayi ng. " In my whol e life. no man.
no woman. was ever as exciting as Bruce Lee."
In mi d-197 1. t he e ru pt io n bega n. Bruce had re-
turned to Hong Kongand . afte r turning down what
he considered a degrading afTer from Run Run
Shaw. the Ha rr y Cohn of Ori e ntal cine ma. he
signed to do hi s fi rs t fi lm in t he newly popular kung
fu or chop soc key genre . wilh another Sha w ref
ugee. Raymo nd Chow of Gol den Ha rvest Films.
That fi lm. The Bill Boss IFislsojFun-. had a budget
of under $ 1 00.000. incl uding Lee' s $7.500 salary.
but it proved surpri singl y popul ar at the Hong
Ko ng box offi ce . easil y out grossing the previous
l ocal champ. The Soulld Lee' s other
U Maybe he li ved
more intensely
than any human
being can li ve.
Or maybe he
died for the
sa me reason
James Dean die,
They had taken
too much of the
Ore and the god,
were jealous."
- folksinge r
Phi lOchs
" The magazine
you put out abo
Bruce Lee is a Ii
He is not dead.
I will not
belic\'c it. "
- lett e r to
Black Bell
magaZi ne
-
Lee lIIade his Americ(l lljilm deblll
(IS kUllg.lil killer Will s/oil' Wong
ill Marl owe . /-Iere he (lsl ollishes
J ames Carller.
Bruce Lee is a secret agent ill Enler I he
Dragon. But he has lime fo r a martial
art J /Ollrllaml'llf. and 1l'iI1S, nat IIrall y,
Depending on whom ) 'OU ask, Relurll oflhe Dragon is
either Bru('(> Lees vcr)' worst film or easil y his best.
IndispulabIJ' . il is Ihe only one he bolh '\Tole a nd di-
rected, and it contains hi s best single fight
scene and lots ofthc aw-shucks person .. llit )' that
makes him so attracth'c.
Relllrll is set in Rome. apparcntl)' because Bruce
felt like spending some timc there. He pla)'s Tang, a
bumpkin from Hong Kong who is shipped 011'10
Rome to help Chen, a winsome famil y friend. keep
control of her Chinese restaura nt . on whi('h certain
local ga ngsters ha ve n i sI covetous eyes.
At first f.. \'cr yo ne is very disappointed in the awk-
ward Tang, as he gels lost in the airport and keeps
asking Chen where the bat hroom is whenever she
sta r ts to get fri endl)' . But when the ga ng of toughs at-
tacks the restaurant. Tang demolishes them Ii<'ket)'-
split , restoring his good name and so 4:1ggravating
T he Boss that he brings in out side help.
The help turns out to be Kucla (Chuck Nor ri s), a
massi\'e Ame rican karate champion. the type who
wa lks Ihrough walls inslead of doors. lnlheir fi ghll o
Ihe fini sh, inexpli cably lora led in Ihe Roman Col-
ise um, Kuda gels in Ihe firsl few lirks. bUllhen Tang,
e\'cr the eciccti<'. confuses him b)' into an imit a-
ti on Ali shume. After crippling Kuda. Tang oO'ers to
let himli\'e because he issuch a wor thy opponent, but
Kuda kee ps on going and it is with the greatest reluc-
ta ncc that snaps hi s neck . The end.
69
three films foll owed qui ckl y to eve r-wide ning ac -
cla im. all c omple ted within t wo yea rs a nd c ulminat-
ing in the a mbiti ous Ell l er the Dragon , hi s first a nd
onl y glossy Holl ywood produc ti on that cost the
enormous-for the genre-sum of three-quart e rs
of a milli on do ll a rs. The n. just as Ell l er was abo ut to
be re leased. Bruce Lee provided the perfec t capper
for hi s life wi th hi s wil d ly untime ly. almost totall y
inexpl icable death .

t ha ppe ned on Jul y 30. 1973. in the Hong
Ko ng a pa rtment of actress Bett y Ting Pei ,
where. so the offi cial story goes. Bruce we nt
to di scuss a rol e for her in one of hi s upcom-
ing films. He compl a ined or a headac he. was
give n a presc ription pain kill er call ed
Equagesic . we nt int o t he bedroom to res1. coul d
not be wa ke ned . a nd was rus hed to a hospit al
whe re hed ied at II :30 p.m. He had two fune ra ls. a n
orgiasti c o ne in Ho ng Kong whe re 20-30 .000 peopl e
showed up and wreaked vari ous t ypesof havoc.
a nd a qui et se r vice near Seattl e where. with J a mes
Coburn a nd Steve McQuee n a mo ng the pa ll bea r-
e rs. he was buri ed to the musicof " My Way" and
" The I mposs ibl e Drea m." The coro ne r 's ve rdi c t
was " death b y mi sadventure." the tec hni cal ter m
ac ut e cerebra l ede ma. o r the buildup of fluid in t he
brai n proba bl y caused by hype rse nsiti vit y to e it he r
Equages ic o r Dol oxcne . a drug he had used for a
bac k injur y. o r per ha ps for some th i ng e ntire ly dif-
fe re nt. All I hey knew for s ure. one doc lor d ra ma ti -
call y said. was t hat " hi s brain was swoll en like a
s ponge. "
To hi s swa rms offan s . for t he most phys icall y fit
ma n in t he worl d s udde nl y to die fro m same t hi ng
tha t cou ld neve r be ex pl a ined full y obvio us ly
wouldn 't do. As hi s wife brea thl ess ly put it. "t ha I a
ma n o f Bruce's astoni shing vir ilit y. vit alit y.
e ne rgy. a nd shee r physica l fitness s hould sudde nl y
bla nk out like a snuffed ca ndl e?-perha ps peopl e
ca nnol be bl amed for spec ul ati ng. " So the rumo rs.
what a na l he r e moti ona l bi ogra phy call s " the sor-
did s pec ul a ti on a nd intri gue surro unding Lee's last
ho urs." bega n. Tha t he di ed fr o m hi s odd di e t of
rClW beef. eggs. a nd milk . fro m hi s s pecial hi gh pro-
te in d ri nk . fr o m his occasio na l habi t of drinking
beef bl ood. Tha t he had numerous mi st resses-if
he d id . wri tes Linda Lee. "I knew not hing a bo ut
it " -and di ed fro mm<lss ive sexual overexe rti on.
That he di ed because he was too health y. too fit.
And whe n hi s coffin ar r ived in Seattl e sli ghtl y da m-
aged by t he trip 1'1' 0 111 Hong Ko ng. it revived a
Chinese belie f t ha t Br uce Lee's soul wa s not rest-
ing we ll . t hat pe rhaps he had met with fo ul pl ay at
t he ha nds of myste ri ous fo lk who were upse t at hi s
po pul a ri zing a nd Weste rni zing o f previous ly sec re t
doctrines. Me nti on was da rkl y made of sec ret he rb
poisons t ha t stoutl y res isted a ut o ps ies. a nd of
70
something ca ll ed " the vibrating ha nd " by whi c h a
prac titioner could to uch a man and ca use him to die
mysteri o usl y t wo years later. Linda Lee vainl y
tried to quell the hubbub by iss uing a statement say-
ing she " held no o ne pe rson . or gro up of persons.
responsible for hi s death ." And so o n int o the night.
A death that dra matic is bound to sta rt a sec t
going. butthe reasons for the dura bi li t y a nd
breadth of Bruce Le e ' s pos thumo us cele brit y a re
rooted dee per . star ting in the man' s c uri o usl y
bifurcated pe rsona lit y . a juxta positi on of qua li ti es
hi s fa ns found uncontroll a bl y attracti ve. and a pe r-
sonalit y that by tu r ns was and was not visibl e in hi s
fi lms .
Ove r a nd over aga in . though they don ' tlike to
admit i1. Lee's ma ny biographe rs came bac k to the
sa me conc lusions: Pe rsonall y he was cocks ure .
imme nsel y egoti sti cal. a hothead with a fierce
te mpe r. Even his wife admit s in he r hagiogra ph y.
.. Bruce was no pl aste r sainI. " For reasons that a n
a ma teur psyc hologist could probably fi gure o u1. he
pushed himself with an intensit y tha t was a lmos t
awful. constantl y . mani acall y tra ining in hi s
specia ll y-equipped gym. doing e ndle ss thumb
pus hups. eve n. one bi ographe r says . ha ving the
sweat glands re moved from under hi s a rmpit s so he
would look bett e r . He was a lwa ys on . always fanat-
ical a bo ut s uccess a nd pe rfecti on. Hi s personalit y
a lienated as ma ny peopl e as it attrac ted . a nd to-
wards the e nd. beset. hi s bi ographe rs would ha ve
li S beli eve . by a mali c ious press. studi o lac keys .
a nd mo ney me n who didn' t wa nt to give him hi s due .
he kept plugging away at hi s film project s . dr iven
by a stra nge se nse of mi ssio n that never left him.
Oddl y e no ugh. thi s qualit y of Bruce Lee's shows
to ad va nt age in hi s films. whe re it evol ves as a te r-
ribl y appealing vit a lit y and life force. Sometimes.
he goes a bit ove r the edge - "the look on hi s face as
he c rus hes Oharra ' s he ad . " one fan magazine ac-
cur ately noted of a scene fr o m ElI ter the Dragon,
" is more a nima l than human" -but in ge ne ra l he
kee ps himself unde r intense control. so that watc h-
ing Lee on sc ree n is the sheerest j oy . Hi s death-
dealing phys ical moveme nt s-the fl ying ki cks. the
leaps. the qui cke r-tha n-the-eye ha nds-are strik-
ing . graceful. a nd e ffec ti ve. almos t ba ll e ti c. and he
has a sc ree n prese nce and cha ri sma tha t a lmost
have to be see n to be beli eved .
And. in a n import a nt additi o n. Lee proj ec ts qual-
iti es tha t not ever yone not ed in him as a pe rson : He
a ppea rs as refres hing . yo uthful. invigorat ing. with
a n ingrati ating grin and a tota ll y unexpected boyish
pe rsona lit y . It is thi s pi xie qualit y . coupl ed with hi s
boggling . dead ly phys ical a bi li ti es . that ma ke him.
des pit e t he ami a ble dross of low-grade ex plo it a tion
films that ge ne rall y surrounded him.j ust about ir-
res istibl e. He is bad but not evil. the fi erce killing
mac hi ne with a heart of purest gold. a nd . as the ads
for Return aft he DraRo fl sa id . .. Boy do we need
him now." Ii
Ke nneth Tura n is a stafT writ e r for Potomac
of Tir e W(ls /ti nglOl1 Post.
Anthony Slide
From the Archives Emerges
A Forgotten
Woman Director
Lois Weber always has remained a shadowy fi gure
in film hi story. She has been the subj ect oflittle ,
if any, intensive research. and her importance as a
woman di rec tor has bee n eclipsed by the att enti on
gi ve n in recent years to Dorothy Arzner. When she
began directing in 1907. Lois Weber brought to the
cinema an intell igence and a commitment that was
rare among filmmakers. Virtuall y all her produc-
ti ons concerned themselves with social probl ems
and moral questi ons. Among the topics she treated
were reli gious hypocri sy (The Hypocrites . 19 14),
aborti on (Where Are My Childrell ?, 19 16), Chri s-
ti an Science (Je"'el, 19 15, and A Chapt er ill Her
Life, 1923), and capit al puni shment (The People 1'5.
Johll Doe. 19 16).
Vi suall y. Lois Weber' s films offer littl e out of the
ordinary. For her. the storyline. always her own
work , was all-importa nt. Generall y. such stori es
presented simpl e themes. but Weber was not above
using shock tacti cs. such as a totall y nude woman
in The Hypocrit es. to dri ve her point home. And for
all their simpli cit y. the stories cont ain a wealth of
detail. A pair of shoes in one of her producti ons
COUld-and did in the case of Shoes ( 1916)-take on
great signifi cance. She would never make a film in
which she di d not have absolut e faith ; along with
Griffith , Lois Weber was one of the cinema's first
totall y committ ed filmmakers.
Weber began her film career in a positi on whi ch
would then have been unusual for a man, let alone a
woman , that of di rector of talking sound-a n-di sc
pi ctures for the Gaumont Company. From Gau-
mont, she went to Rex, whi ch eventually became
part of the Uni ve rsal organi zati on, for whom she
was to be leading direc tor until 191 7. Something of
the esteem in whi ch she was held at Uni versal
may be gauged by the fac t that Carl Laemml e
gave her carte bl anche to choose her own film sub-
jects. writ e the script s, and pi ck her own pl ayers.
Restoring
l r l l l l ~
1131IJDl
Cla ire Will dsor u'asa Lois Weber
discovery.
71
She was eve n elected Mayor of Uni ve rsal Cit y,
In the summer of 1917, Lois Weber formed her
own company with a studi o on Santa Monica
Boul eva rd, There. she prod uced half-a-dozen
films. whi ch she proudl y proclaimed were made the
way she wa nt ed to make them. including. appar-
entl y. shooting the films in seque nce,
Three of Lois Weber' s independent producti ons,
Too Wise Wir es. What' s Worth While ? and The
Blot , all re leased in 192 1, are preser ved in The
Ameri can Film Institut e's coll ection. The latter is
a di stincti ve exampl e of Weber' s best work : star-
ring Claire Windsor. it concerns it self with the very
unglamorous subj ect of "gent eel" povert y among
sc hoolteachers and clergy men, .. Men are onl y
boys grown tall . ,. comment s Lois Weber as she in-
troduces the princi pals in The Blot ; the underpaid
coll ege professor (Philip Hubbard) and one ofhi s
unrul y, wealth y student s (Loui s Calhern), The
simpl e plot of the film conce rns the professor' s
famil y's fi ght to stave off the threat of povert y ,
the equall y humili ating threat of cha rit y , and the
daught er 's (Claire Windsor) ge ntl e wooing by the
student. the wealth y neighbor 's son, and the im-
poveri shed clergyman.
Weber hand les her subject in a simpl e, ye t se nsi-
tive manner. and with her typi cal concern for de-
tail. Unlike most other productions of the peri od
whi ch would end with the hero and heroine in a love
cl inch. Weber end s The Blot wi th a cl ose-up of the
heroine. staring aft er the clergyman she has appar-
entl y rejected in favor of the wealthy coll ege stu-
dent. The viewer is left with a feeling of uncert aint y
as to the future of the young protagoni sts of the
story,
Preservation of Tile BIOI involved a lengthy pro-
cess of restorati on. From various sources. ar-
chi vists we re able to obtain 40 pe rce nt of the pi c-
ture in the form of the ori ginal negati ve. plus two
incompl ete ni trate print s. Archi vist Robert Gill
was responsible for viewing all the materi al . and
painstakingly pulting together a compl ete version.
wherever possible using the ori ginal negati ve. and
when necessary taking as littl e as one shot from one
of the print s to compl ete a scene , When a complete
version was finall y assembled . a 35mm acetate fine
grain was made from the ori ginal negati ve . and a
35mm acetate negati ve was made of porti ons of the
print. A further negat ive was struck from the fine
grain : the two negatives were spl iced together. and
a fi nal project ion print was made.
Was all thi s workjustifi ed? Perhaps not. if one
we re to go onl y by cont emporary opinion of the
film, Phorvphn' t hought the film " rather tire-
some." a nd Th" Blot 's down-t o-ea rth story. the
72
Genteel poverty takes its 1011-
(lIZ uncertain futur e fa ces
Weber' s young protagonists.
climax of which was the theft of a neighbor' s chi ck-
en by the professor 's wife (played by the talented
stage actress. Margaret Mc Wade). irritat ed most
criti cs .
Today, howe ver . the film is receiving both atten-
tion and accl aim. It was recentl y enthusiasti call y
appl auded by film festi val audi ence s in Nashvill e
and Chi cago, With the other Weber producti ons at
the Library of Congress-False Colors ( 1914), It' s
No Laughillg Matt er ( 19 14) , SlIlIshill e Molly
(1 9 15 ), Where Are My Childrell ? ( 1916). a nd A
Chapt er ill Her Life ( 1923)-Th e Blot offers the op-
portunit y to reevaluat e the career of one of
Ameri ca' s most negl ected but influential earl y
woman directors. Lois Weber. a
Anthony Slide , Associate Archi vist of The Ameri -
can Film Institut e. is author of the forthcoming
book. Early Woman Direct ors.
a6
member
news
a
Czechingln
In 1965 the Czech filmmaker Jan
Kadar rose to international attention with a power-
ful film. The Shop on Main Street. The film, dealing
with a small town caught up in the Nazi pogrom of
the Jews. was widely praised , won an Academy
Award for best foreign film, and foc used attention
on the cinema of East Europe. It also focused atten-
tion on the cinema of Kadar , who in a long- lasting
collaboration with the screenwriter Elmar Klos ha s
turned o ut a number of notable films: Kidnapped
Welcome Aboard
I n I Knoll' Why the Caged Bird Sings.
thc black writ e r Maya Angelou cmotionall y de-
scribed a hi gh sc hool graduation in Arkansas with
a ll the vividness ofa filmmaker: Dust y roads. butte r-
ye ll ow d resses. s uffocating a uditorium. ha ughty
white s peakers . The book was written in 1969 a nd
won criti cal prai se. Since then realit y ha s ca ught up
wit h metaphor: Maya Angelou turned to filmmak-
ing, he r book is being turned into a feature film, and
thi s summe r she was one of six national figures
clccted to A Fl' s Board of Trustees , as announced
by board chairman , Charlt on Heston.
The others:
Mark Goodson , a television produce r and direc-
tor , who c reated-with William S. Todman-s uch
durable ga me shows as "To Tell the Truth." "The
Price Is Right." "Password." and the classic
Guide for the Perplexed
The fifth edit ion of AFl' sGuide to
College Courses in Film and Television is out , a nd
it confirms-if confirmation is needed-t hat film
and TV studi es are booming on campuses . Survey-
ing almos t 800 sc hools. the Guide report s that at
least 30.000 student s-and probably a lot more-
are pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees
in film and television.
A newsletter from the
Public Information Office
on the Institute and its
activities and programs.
(1952), The Defendant (1964) , Adrift , and The
Angel Levine (both 1969).
This fall Kadar-whose current film is Lies My
Father Told Me-is Filmmaker-in-Residence at
AFI' s Cent er for Advanced Film Studies. In the
time-honored tradition of writ ers-in-residence ,
Kada r is mee ting wit h Directing Fell ows, discus-
sing their projects , a nd offering hi s counsel. Hes
also conducting the Center's Directing Workshop.
Kadar. who is 57. was himself a film student in
pre-World War II days-at the famed Bratislava
Film School in Czechoslovakia.
"What's My Line')"
Fay Kanin, best known for her screen and televi-
sion writing. Her made-far-TV film. Tell Me Where
It Hurts, won an Emmy Award , and her sc reenplay
for Teacher's Per was nominated for an Academy
Award.
Franklin Schaffner. the director of Pall oll. which
won the Academy Award for best film in 1970. He
has also directed Plallet of the Apes. Nicholas and
Alexandra. and Papilloll.
Jack Valenti , the pres ide nt of the Motion Picture
Assoc iati on of America. He was instrument al in
devising the new movie rating system.
Dr. Robert W. Wagner , the director of graduate
studies in photography and cine ma a t Ohio State
University, He is also editorial vice-president of
the Uni versi t y Film Associat ion.
Trustees se rve six-year terms , with elections
held every two years.
The Guide-t hi s year with a striking blue
cover-lists each sc hool 's courses, degree re-
quire ments , faculties, sc hola rships. and facilities.
and summaries of the acade mic approaches. The
new edi tion ha s some thing new: A selec ted li st of
foreign coll eges a nd uni versi ti es that offer film and
TV cou rses .
The Guide is avai labl e from Americall Film,
Book Se rvice. John F. Kennedy Center for the Per-
forming Art s. Washington , D.C. 20566.
73
Congratulations!
Ralph Andrews is the rroducerofa
successful string of game shows on television.
Among them are "Celebrity Sweepstakes," "The
New You Don't Say," " It' s Your Bet , " and " It
Takes Two." Thi s year Andrews ventured in a
new direction: He establi shed two annual sc holar-
shipsat the AFl's Cent er for Advanced Film
Studi es-for women onl y.
Andrews said he hoped the sc holarships-for
first-year students and wort h $2 ,750 each- will
"aid in bringing women into equal status with men
in the entertainment area, where they have been
held back much too long."
The first recipients, announced by Martin Man-
Reaching Out
Three AFI film programs-" Archi-
va l Treas ures." " Astaire-Rogers," " The Art of
the Holl ywood Cameraman" - will tour the coun-
try ne xt year. The film packages are part of AFI
Theater's Outreach Program. developed with the
a id of grants from Exxon Corporat ion and the Na-
tional Endowme nt forthe Art s.
Tour stops include:
III the East: New York Bleecker Street Theater.
in associat ion with New York U ni versi ty; Boston
Museum of Fi ne Art s: and the Wadsworth
Atheneum in Hartford.
Grants Increased
The AFI will award S300,000 in grants
to independent filmmakers thi s fiscal year. That's
an increase ofS I 00,000 over last yea r-an increase
made poss ible by funding from the Nat ional En-
dowment for the Art s.
The gra nt s , ranging from $500 up to SI 0,000, arc
The American Film Institute
ulis, Director, AFI-West: Molly A. Joseph, a Tem-
ple University graduate who wi ll concentrate in art
direction, and Donna M. Mungen, a Howard Uni-
ve rsit y graduate who will study directing. They
started their studies this fall.
The two women were selected by a panel consist-
ingof Jean de Vivier Brown, the president of
American Women in Radio and Television; Nina
Foch. the actress a nd drama instructor ; Tichi Wil-
kerson Miles , publisher and editor-i n-chief of The
Hollywood Reporter; and Antonio Vellani , as-
sociate dean of the Center.
The scholarships are avai lable for graduating col-
lege seniors in programs on film. communications,
or theater.
SOllth: Loyola Uni versit y in New Orleans and
the Houston Museum afFi ne Arts. in association
wit h Rice Universit y.
Midwest: Chi cago Art Institute and the Min-
neapoli s Walker Arts Center.
West: Berkeley Pacific Film Archive .
Ot he r film programs planned for Outreach: New
films from the USSR, Canada, Egypt , Argentina,
and Iran . They'll go on tour afte r the y're sc reened
at the AFI Theater in Washington , D.C.
Outreach is undert he direction of Michael
Webb , the Theater' s programming manager.
Places equipped to exhibit 35mm prints may apply
to share in the program.
awarded to both st udent filmmakers and profes-
sionals. Since 1967, whe n the grants program was
started , 151 filmmakers have shared more than $1
million.
Information on the AFllndependent Filmmaker
Gra nt s Program is avai lable from Ms. Jan Haag,
AFf Center for Advanced Film Studies, 50 1
Doheny Road , Beverly Hill s, California, 9021 O.
Washington
George Stevens . Jr.. Din'Clor; Richard
Carlton. Deputy Director: Adrian Borne-
man. Ass;s/ol/f to rll t' Director: Bruce
Ncincr. Con tro/h'r; Richan.l Jones. Chili
A CCOII" t a lit: H 011 i s A I pert. Direct or oflY a-
lioll(/I Puhlinlf iollJ,' Dan Rose. Archi\'ist:
The Americal/ Film Institut{' COlaloK: Mel
Konecoff. Public Information Offlu'r:
Program: Anne Schl osser, Lihrarian,
Charles K. Feldman Library: Roman
Hajnbcrg, Production Mal/aga: Antonio
Vell ani , Chairman . Senior Faculty: N ina
Foch. Senior Faculty: J an Kadar.
Filmmaker-ill-Rl' sitfeIlCl': Howard
Schwartz. Cin ematographer: John Bloch.
William Fadiman. Loi s Peyser. Wrilc'rs
Workshop : Nancy Peter. Registrar.
Lawrence Karr. Moliol/ Picture A rchh'ist:
M i c h ~ l e l Webb, Film Pmf.?rWlImillf.? Mall-
ager: LaITY Kl ei n, A FI Thealer SIIPC'I'-
\';sor: Richard Krafsur. t..'Xl' CUl h'C' Editor,
74
Sam Grogg. J r., Educatioll Liaison:
Winifred Rabbit!, MC)lIlhership S('Cfetory:
Ina Ginsburg. Chairman . Fail S oJAFI.
Los Angeles
Martin Manuli s. Director , AFI-We.H:
Da vid Lunney. G(' I/eral Managn,' James
Powers. Din'ctor ofC ellter Publi('(lIitms:
Jan Haag. fI(lac/. 11U/c'pnuJellt Filmmaker
Hollywood and the
Collective Myth
OnAmerica in the Movies
Arthur Schl esinger, Jr .
'
hi s book I i s <t n aSHl t e <Ind absorbi ng
meditation on the American movies
by a C'llllbridgc man \\ ho is no\\
professor of and compara-
ti ve lit erature a l Columbia. Mi c hael
Wood's thcsb. ir o ne ma y attempt a bald
s ummary of a subt le and cnmplcx argu-
ment. i s that Holl y\\ ood movie:--. from
the end of the 1930:- III the begi nn ing of
the 1960s (from. sa y. GOlle \Vir" 111('
Wind to Cleu/}(lIm) <.:o n ... tilli lcd a \\orld
in the sense that t he nove ls o f Bal zac
const illHcd a world-a syste m of values.
beliefs. <I n(1 preoccupa tiull !'> wit h int er-
c hangeable plots. aclOrs. a nd emot io ns
and a prevailing ,tyk and lune. Ho l-
l ywood in thc'ic )' can., Wood \\ rile:-..
,' rented a mythology. marked above all
by a cenain styl i7ed and c harming ex-
cess, "simultaneoll"I)' hammed l1 P and
just right "-the kind uf exce,,:-. sug-
gested by the book ' " "ubtitk. the rema rk
m .. de by T yrone Po\\er in -, II(' Marl.. of
Zorro when remi nd..:d that he i"
sc heduled to light a (Iuel that ver y aner-
noon . Thi s mythu lugical \\orld. Wood
cont inues. had "an uhl ique b ut un-
bro ke n connection 10 the hi sturical
world." Some people made fihm, and
o ther:-. we nt to sce thelll because thc
films 'It once pluded and soot hed
posed ne r ve!\. "A major function of
popular movic!\ i!\ 10 a void faci ng the
bogeys t hey raise.. . Thc y permit U::. to
look without looking al thi ng!\ \\e ca n
neit her face fuJl y nor entirely di savO\\,
. [allowing theml a quick m:t!\ked pas-
sage across our con!\Clou::.ne::.!\.
Thc Ho ll ywood film thu" can be !\ee n
,IS a text for a kind of soc ial hi::.tory-
"t he s tudy of \\ hat might be ,' ailed the
b(lck of the American mind . or pcr haps
the hack ofccrwin "tate" of that mind .'
With thi s prcmi"c Wood underlakc!\ a
l Aml'l'icfI il/ IlIc' /HOI 'it',\: Or "Soma
Mario. I f Ilad Slippnl \/y Hill(/" by
Mi c hae l Wood. New York : Ba!'>ic Books.
206 pp .. Illustrated. S 10.
reexami na t ion of I he popula r films of t he
fon ies and fi ftie s, s pot lighting s uc h re-
curre nt themes as lo nelincss a nd com-
muni ty, succcss and fai lure . the beaut i-
ful woman as sirc n a nd the beautiful
woman as innocent. the mus ical o f con-
fidencc and the musical of doubt. t hc
ambiguity of rea lil y in the thriller a nd the
fanta stical ion of reali t y in the epic. The
mythology. as hc sees it . came 10 a n end
in the sixties: Ho ll ywood W,IS s till a
place but " no longcr a st yle and a world
a nd a nat io nal monument ."
Wood' s approac h 10 these mailers is
remini scent o f D. H. I. awr..: nce in hi s
Studies ill Clus.\ic Americull Litl'mtlll"{'.
" The Ame ri ca ns. ,. La wrence wrole,
"refuse everyt hing expli cit and always
put up a double meaning. They reve l in
subterfuge." Duplic ity- the contras t be-
tween what the art ist pre te nd!\ to say and
what he is reall y eve r ything:
"Never trust the artist. Tnl,,1 the talc '"
Thi s approach worked very \\ cll indeed
for Lawrence. The film. hO\\ cvef'. i'i a col -
lec ti ve prod uct. I 0 malleI". fro m Wood' !\
viewpoint: Sublimin;.tI ho pes a nd a nx-
ieties affect eve r yone anyway, Yet thc
coll ec ti ve c ha rac t e r o f the f ilm
-colleclive in it s creiltion. coll ec ti ve in
it s recept io n- does compli cate the pro-
cess of a nalys is.
Obviously i:I good deal can be dedu ced
about a soc ie t y from it s novels. But can a
soc iet y be dcduced fro m it s movies?
There \\" I S. o f S iegfried
KrClc<luer' s formidable allempl lo show in
From CuliJ,:lIl'i to Hitler how t he German
films of the twentie s foretold I :l7 i!'>m. Yet
I remember Frilz Lnng once expressi ng
to me hi s inc redulit y in rending. wh .. t hc
regarded as a triumph of hindsight. Wood
is \\ell <t\\are o f the questi on this ap-
proac h r<l ise::.-ofthe way the prcsent re-
vises Oul' perceptions of the past. In
Picl1ic. for e xamplc. ,. this America. I hi s
place thai -;eemed -;0 p.lsto ral o n earl ie r
vie wings of the film. take s on t he qualit y
of inci pi e nt nigh t ma rc. Not bec<t ll sc the
direl.:to r. Jos hua Logan, " hOI the movie as
nightmare. and not becau::.e a nyone Si t W it
as ni ght mare in or Illll g a ft er: but be-
ca use now. in the mid-!\eve ntie!\. t he li ne-
alllents o f nightmare stand o ut in di sturb-
ingcl:uit y.
The assumption of du plicity i::. indi s-
puwble. BUI the applicat ion of t his as-
sumption lead" quick ly into iI he,lds- J-
\\ in-wi ls-yoll- Io!\c "illl<ltion. Interpreta-
tions become rever"iblc. dep-.;nding on
what happened I;HCr. Were th..: scvcntie::.
In Pi c ni c pastoral America " takes 011
I Ill' qual it.\' ofi ncipie lit 1/ iy lit mart' . "
75
tranqui l and benign. Picnic would still
have see med a pasto ral. The re sult. in the
end. is s ubjec t i ve and impres-
sionisti c. So. in America ill the Mmies.
Wood' s definition of the great mythi c age
of Ho ll ywood ( 1939- 1963) see ms essen-
tiall ya res ponse to hi s own season of in-
ve te rate mov iegoi ng. Was there no moral
uni verse of Holl y\\ ood before GOllt' Witll
tht, Wind? Did it all come to an e nd in the
earl y "Wh,t( died in t he sixties."
Wood \\as the habit of
mOIit'going. the of c ultural compul -
sion that took to t he cine ma fait hfull y
onc .... ' t \\ icc eve ry \\ eek. whateve r was
pla ying." b that re,dl y Per haps it was
so for Wood: hut one has the impression
that. television became a the six-
precise ly a /"(' I'intl oflhe ha bi t of
Illoviegoing.
One \\onders. 100. (thOlil the point of
the WOOlI cite" about the ho ld of
Amer ican fi lms in uther countries. In the
fifti es. td ls u". Holly\\ood movie" oc-
c upied 70 percenlof the avai lable produc-
tion t ime in the Un ited Kingdom. 85 per-
cenl in Ireland. 65 percent in It aly. 60
percent in 1\'k xico. Docs impl y that
the subliminal meani ngs abollt Amer ica
Wood from the I-I ol ly\\ood pro-
duc t also explain .... olllething about the
Un it ed King. do m. Ireland. It aly. a nd

I ask the .... e \\ ithout knowing
the The only poinl is that d u-
plic it y an: dys i-.; it"clf a\\ full y dupli ci-
to us. Sti ll the fa c t of duplicit y renwins:
and in the nfa ca reful a nd se ns it ive
anal }'!'.1 the method may ,Ic hi eve il -
lu minating Wnod indeed sllc h
an analyst. He loves mov ies: he knows
t he te rrit ory: he \\ ritl.: s exceeding.l y wel l:
he is ( ivi li/ed. \\ill y. and ove rno\\i ng
\\ith "harp in .... ighh: and he
eve n \\hi le !>lIccumhing to them. the
pcr ib of reading t he pre!:'ie nt hack into the
pa:-.1. AIIIl'ric(/ ill rll(' HOI'ie's is a most in-
teresting and enj oY<lble book. But medi-
tation an art rnrm t h,.t s hould be re-
served to the 111O .... t allL'llti ve (l nd sC l"upul-
OU" llb .... erve r .....
Arthur Sc hl esi nger. J r .. hi storian a nd au-
thor. is Schwe it zer Professor of
Hu man it ies at CUNY.
76
He Always Knew His Li nes
On Two Bogart Books
Alex Ward
I
t' s been nearl y 20 yea rs since hi s de<.lth
<.Ind st ill t he fa sci nati o n wit h Bogart
continues. T wo new books .
H umphYl'Y Bog(lrt
i
by at hanie l
Benchle y and Bogart & B(I('(l 111 by Joe
Hyams. have now come along. a nd whil e
neit her makes muc h of a contri butio n to
the Bogi e O(' /II rt' in scholarl y te rms .
Benc hley' s is an e rudit e. urbane. and
immensely readable work . More a profile
tha n a biography. /-I lImphn' y Bog(lr! is
li ght. breezy. and gossi py. There is a
te mptati on to call it super fi cial as well . al-
tho ugh the portrait of Bogart t hat finall y
emerges could hardl y be more comple te.
In real life Bogart was a n e ni gma. as
di stant from hi s s waggering. to ugh-guy
sc reen image <IS Andover. where he we nt
10 prep sc hool. is from Beve rl y Hill s . He
came fr o m a well-to-do New York
fami ly-hi s mother was a noted magazine
ill ustrator. hi s fat her a s uccess ful
physicia n- a nd hi s formative years we re
comfortable and unclulle red.
Unlike so ma ny ot her Holl ywood stars
of hi s era. whose ambit ion to reach the
If/ umphrt'y Bog(lrt by al ha nicl Be nc hl ey.
Basion: LillIe. Brown and Company. t 43 pp ..
Illustrale<.i. 5 15.
2Bogarl & 8(1(" (//1 by Joe Hya ms. New Yurk :
Davi d Mc Kay Cumpany. Inc .. 245 pp .. 11ll1:-. -
1!"(Il ed,59.95 .
to p wa s fueled by a desire to escape im-
poveris hment. Bogart fell into <'lcting al-
mos t by accident. and we nt a long wit h it
at the o ul set as a lark. Hi s ca reer we ll
might ha ve fl o undered in a quagmire of
second leads in II series of hapless.
roma nti c Broad way product ions had not
The Pl' t rijied Fore ... t and the role of Duke
Ma nt ee corne along in 1935. The pl ay and
Bogart were e nor mo us s uccesses. Hi s
portrayal o f Man te e was s uc h an
e mbodiment of evil that audience s wri g-
gled uncomfortably in the ir scat s a t the
sight of him. " When Humph rey walke(1
onst age as Duke Mantee." writ es Ben-
c hl ey. "t he re was a st ir in t he audience.
an audi ble int ake of breath . He was a
criminal. ." Boga rt followed Thl' Pl'1-
I"Ijil'd Forest wes t a nd repeated hi s s uc-
cess in the film. For yeCJ rs afte r ward he
fo und himseift ypecasl as Duke Man tee.
and suffered with the perso na thro ugh a
spate of movies consid erably worse than
The Pt' tdfit' d For(,.'I1. It was n't unt il 1941
and NiX" Sit' rnl. in whi c h he pl ayed
a no ther bad guy. but a sympathetic bad
guy. that he was able to s hake t he image.
Bogart 's abi lit y to endure awful fil ms
bolste red by hi s firm conviction that
ac ting was a craft that can o nl y be pe r
rec ted by hard a nd constant work : his
c redo was that a ny role was better tha n no
role at all . Undoubtedl y he suffe red . but
he did so qui et ly <l nd pati e ntl y. In front of
t he cameras he was the picture of profe s-
siona li s m. He wns never late for s hooting
and always knew hi s li nes. And he ex-
pec ted the same of othe rs.
Hi s personal life was so mething else. It
W,t S. until he married Lauren Bacall in his
A j1a shback to thl' Paris past of BOKOr!
and B er l-UfI(/11 hefurt' tim(' I,'ellt by
ill Casablanca.
midforties. a mess. He had three un
happy ma rriages . drank 100 muc h a nd.
des pit e hi s gen tl e upbringing. ga ined a
reputation as a fight pi c ker, barbaiter.
and loud mo uthed trouble mak e r. In hi s
defense. Bogart 's needling see med pro
yo ked mo re by i mpishness tha n
meanness-hi s taunt s rarel y, if eve r . led
to violcrH.:e. "It' s an a n." Bogie was s up
posed to have sa id about hi s tr oubl ema k
ing. "You do it sitti ng down wilh glasses
on. <lnd bring it just to t he point where
he's going to slug YOll , the n yo u stop. It s
knowing where to stop th ... t' s t he main
thing." Neve rtheless he was eyed by
many as a te r ror .
Boga rt' s depo rtmen t was a pu zzle to
his friends. Be nchJcy inc luded. Despite
copi o us t rips to the altar and countl ess
confro nt ations in bms. Be nc hl e y pi c tures
him a s a man who believed in. a nd lived
by. a stringent Illoral code. He di sdai ned
the use of profanity i:lround women a nd
never c hea te d o n hi s wives (and , indeed.
says the a uthor. his fir st three marriages
we re committ e d primaril y ou t of a sense
o f dut y). With hi s fri ends. he was faithful
a nd generous to a fault.
Hi s ma r riage to Bacall ccllmed him
down considerabl y. For t he fir st time .
Be nc hley wr ites . Bogart was marr ied to
someone he was trul y in love with . By
coinc ide nce his careel" was al so pea king
a t the sa me tim..:. H..: had proven himself
a n e ffecti ve roma nt ic lead ' l S we ll as a
to ugh guy. and roles of all sort s were
opening up to him. He Clit down on hi s
drinking.md o n his needling. t hough f rom
time to time he still fo und the urges ir
resistable.
Benc hl ey's port rail of Bogart is a n ' Id
mir ing and understanding o ne. but it
manages to be r..:ma rkabl y ca ndid
nonethele ss. There is none of the
thro ught heke yhole bit c hiness of Gar
son Kanin 's Trocy and /-Il'plmrn. o r the
o pelHllouthed awe of A.E. Hotc hne r 's
Papa H l' l1li nKlI"llY. two books with whi c h
it stands comparison. H umphrey BO[: (lrt
is carri ed o rf wit h st yle and grace. qual
iti es it s s ubject gre,lt ly admir..:d.
Joe Hyams' 8 UKlIrt & BlI nt/l. on t he
other hand. begs the question. wh y? T he
romance of thi s pair . whi c h Benchley
adroitl y put s into proper pers pect ive.
doesn 't rate a blH)k o f it s own. es peciall y
whe n it cont a in s se ntences like. " The
fu se of a midlifc mari tal explosion was
t he re. It only re mai ned for so meone to
come ,il o ng a nd light it. Bogie and
Bacall may have sizzled on the screen.
but at horne the y were j ust folks. One is
Icft with t he feeling that somewhere out
the re Bogi:lri is c huckl ing to himself and
s hak ing hi s head over th is o ne.
Alex Ward is a free lance writ e r o n film
and te lev isi on.
Self Exploration in
the Seventies
On Taylor's Directors
and Directions
Antonio Chemasi
d
o hn Ru ssell Ta ylo r call s hi s latest
book
'
a " provisional report fr om
the front." Bul. like hi s esse nti al
Cilll' nw Eve. Cil1(' I1U1 E(lr (1964).
the book is about as provis ional as. sa y.
Mo unt Rushmo re. Taylor's preci se. cool
prose has the detached pe rs pecti ve tha t
gives Briti sh film writing the look of per
ma ne nce. Ye t Taylo r 's note of c au ti on is
a pt : T he book is a celebration offi lm. bu t
it' s a lso a d isqui et ing portent of the direc
l ion film is taking.
In e ight essays. Taylor examines the
e nt ire output of e ight c urren t directors
-all of t hem in midcareer and. as he s a y ~
of one . "funct io ning a l full power. All
arc promine nt : Stanley Kubri c k. Satyaj it
Ray. Lindsay Anderson. Pi e r Paolo Paso
li ni . Claude Chabrol. Miklos Jancso.
Dusa n Makavejev: one is not onl y pro mi .
nenl but a surprise-Andy W<lrhol.
(Taylo r's deadpan st yle mo ves unruffi ed
thr o ugh th e funhou se sexua lit y in
War hol 's films.)
Faced with suc h a di s pari t y o f st yle s
and ta le nt s. Taylo r wisel y ignores th..:
temptati o n to find any thing in COl11mol1.
Instead. with a t horoughness th<l t is
sometimes nu mbing (he eve n s ur veys
three ea rl y fi l ms Anderson nlClde for a
conveyorbelt faclOry). Ta ylo r moves
from first fi l m to la test . synopsizing plot s.
searc hing out the matic t hreads . spOiling
st yli sti c lin ks-unconcer ned jf he fi nds
ll o ne. For exa mpl e. he doesn 't find a ny in
Kubri c k.
What Taylor does find in Kubri c k. in
pe rha ps the mos t illuminat ing essay in t he
book. is a " c inema tic int e lligence" a t the
service of ,I "great popularizer ." (To
T,lylo r this is a noble r unde rtaking than to
a no the r c riti c. P' llJline Kae l. ) Kubric k's
' DiN.' cfon af/d Dirl' ctio".\" : Cilll' IIW for fIll'
St' I'Cllfit'J by John Ru ssell Taylor . New Yll rk:
Hilt and Wang . 327 pp .. $ I 1.95. pa per. $5.95.
s kill. best de mons trated in A Clockwork
Orallgl' . lies in ",Idapting t he "lt est tec h
niques to the task o f communi C<lIing
complicated ideas to t he la rgest poss ibl e
a udi e nce." Taylor. cool to 1001. finds in
it proof o f Kubri c k's c ultural pe rce pti ve.
ness. Conditi o ned by televi s ion. audi
ences in the six ties underwe nt a shift in
se nsibili t ies: A readi ness to abandon pl o t
a nd to accept "(1 s llccessio n of pure ly
vis ua l and largely nonvcrbal ex per iences
in the cinema without quest ion of putting
up int e ll ec tua l barriers." Ta ylo r be li e ves
1001 was t he fir s t important commercial
film toexploit Ihi sshifl.
Taylor is less sati sf ying o n Pasolini.
whom h..: ca ll s a n "i ncomparable"
mythmaker. The ri ght not e is st r uck:
lik e the Ancient Marine r. he ho lds
us wi th hi s glitt e r ing eye. a nd even if we
res ist or posit ive l y re se nt the stor y he is
telling us. we still ha ve to s it there e n
t hralle d and hea r it o ut. But what makes
Pasolin i e nt hrall ing in s uc h differe nt fi lms
as Tlte Cmpl'i AccordiflK /0 Sf . IH(llt lt l' II.
Medell. a nd Thl' O('{" llllll'WII - the quirk y
beauly o f hi s fa ces. the me smerizing I<lb
leau x. the lyri cal spontane it y of emo
ti ons. the con templati ve pac ing-Ta ylor
mostl y passes owr.
Lindsay Ande r:-.on:-. ambiguity. as i n
~ r . Ta ylor re ve rent ly accepb as a
sign of grace. c a lli ng AnderSll n "one o f
t he world 's relati vel y fe\\ true fi l m
c re(ltnrs. Suc h apparent puffer y is rarc
fnr T aylor. and h..: is a t hi s best with hi s
careful. info rl1l('d <lIlalys is of the gritty
rea lism in J !ti.\ Sporting L(ft, .
Si mi larl y. hi s de tailed ex pos iti on of
Sat yajit Ray's Apu tril ogy. de mollst rat
ing t he maste rl y weavi ng of t he mes a nd
symbols. is a s reward ing as ;In yth ing in
the book. But he parti c ul;lrl y foc uses on
Ra y's auSlere ind ividuali s lll - hi s refusal
to be pi g,,:ollho lcd. to follow the limes.
.. He makes fi l ms in hi s own fashion."
Ta ylo r says. appro vingly repeating it in
o ne way or anolher in e ver y essa y. until it
bel'ome s an arti sti c imper;lti vc: " I see the
a rti st 's bailie as be ing primar il y to keep
himself 10 himself. to ignore (and be al
lowed to ignore) wh.1I i ~ going o n around
him. to e.xplore hi s own pe rsona lit y a nd
preocc upa t ion s with a minimum o f out
side int e rfere nce." Yes and no.
If the ,Irti st is a Sat Y<lj it Ray or a Pier
P"o lo Pastl lini. selfexploralions have
the ir di vidends: The ir films embrace the
world . the y s peak to all of us.
Cont inll l' d Oil page 85
77
On Hester Street
Joan Micklin Silver
and
Raphael Silver
I . The Writ er-Direc/or
A 10\\ -budget period f ilm on an ethni c
subject. Dialec t. Yiddi s h . a nd s ubti-
tles. Bl ac k- a nd-white photography.
Thi s is Hesler Street. t he story of
young Russ ian-Jewish immi gra nt s to
the Lowe r East Side or New York in
t ht: I S90s. the first feature film whi ch I
bOlh wrote and directed.
Perhaps it \I'(I.\' sli ghtl y demented to
hreak so many comrnerc ialt a bous
-;i mil It a neousl y my fi r:-. I t ime aroLi nd .
But every practiti ont:r uft he fil m a rt
knows that a filmmaker has full control
over his product unl y when he i s at the
very bottom or the vcry l Op . Resting
snugl y Il ea r the buit om. I decided I
might as we ll ta ke ad va ntage of my
freedom by making a film o n a s ubject I
ca red about (buth my pare nts we re
Russ ian-J ewis h immigra nt s. a nd my
father. in pa rti c ul ar. had vivid . if
ni ght mari sh . mcmoric s o f t he c ross i ng
Si/I'er al/(I ('{Imeramall Vall
Sickle Oil Greellll'ich Vii/axe locatiol/
.Ii 1/' Hester Street.
7X
in stee rage, Ellis Island, a nd the pa in-
ful adj us tme nt s to the "golde n
Ameri ca") . a nd by ma king it in a man-
ner whi c h I felt s uited the material.
Thi s freedom seemed es peciall y
precio us to me because once upon a
time I wasa Ho ll ywood screenwrit e r.
As we all know. the sc ree nwriter has
no control ove rt he fini shed product.
hi s te rm of e mployme nt , or a nyt hing
e lse. After watc hing my origi na l
sc ree npla y Limbo tra nsfor med into a
toad by it s Holl ywood dir ec tor,1
began directing, in Me l Brookss ex-
qui s it e phrase. " in self-defense."
Several short films a nd numerous rib-
bons, sta tues a nd Best Short li st s later.
I ass umed I could get a feature le ngth
writing/directing assignmc nt . After a ll .
I could c reate my own mate rial. I had
proved tha t I could s hoot fast a nd
c heap ... what mo re did t he y want? A
sex c ha nge . it wo uld see m. si nce
"women directors () rej ust o ne morc
proble m we do n' t need ." as one studi o
exec utive was frank enough to te ll me.
The shocki ngly short li st of Ameri-
ca n women directors whose feature
films have played in mov ie theaters to
a p()ying publi c tell s us not that wome n
don' t know how, but tha t they don't
get the c hance. Mine came because my
hus ba nd, Ra phae l Si lve r. was a bl e to
ra ise t he money so I could m()ke a n in-
de pendent low-budget feature. Hester
Street.
He.'ltrr is base d on Yek/. a
stor y writt e n in the IR90s by Abraham
Caha n. himself a Ru ss ia n-J ewis h im-
migra nt to the Lower East Side. Caha n
was a report e r a nd late r the editor of
the great Yiddi s h la nguage ncws paper.
Daily FOI'II 'al'd, In Yckl he
c reated t wo ex tre mely interest ing
men: J ()ke. an illit erate sewing
mac hi ne Lothario . (lnd Berns tei n. hi s
s hy. sc holarly boarde r , He alsu
created three rounded a nd intriguing
wome n: Gitl. Ja ke's bewildered yo ung
wife: Ma mie. hi s ambit io us girlfri e nd:
and Mrs. Kavars ky, Gitl' s s uppo rti ve
if mi sguided neighbor. (Note: three
reasonabl y int erest ing wome n ro les
a nd none of them a c uti e pie. a hooker.
or o ne affl ic ted wit h a fat al di sease.)
The sc reenpla y was writt e n in s ix
wee ks. Despite the a ttenda nt struggles
a nd strai ns, I was hi gh on the knowl-
edge that my mat e ri al wouldn ' t be di s-
to n ed later to accommodate the fan-
tasies and fal se marke ting not ions of
a nother director. I could crea te strong.
s pirit ed. funn y. eve n mea n wome n.
and no o ne could de ma nd rewrit es un
the ground s that t hey were " too
bitc hy." 1 cou ld create a s hy . uncer-
ta in ma n. as I did with Be rns tein. a nd
no o ne could say. "No balls. the audi-
ence won't like him," A heady bus i-
ness. writing for yo urself!
We began pre- produc ti on in the
Slimmer of 1973. Because so muc h of
our small budget had to be se t asi de for
period se ts. props. a nd costumes. Ray
decided to make a non-uni on film. The
unions soon informed him o the rwise.
We signed with NABET, SAG. Loca l
829. WGA. and. a ft er a Teams ter rep-
rese lli at i ve drove Ray around the
bloc k in hi s (the Teamste r's) Cadill ac,
we also s igned with the Teamsters.
Mea nwhil e. with the help of casting
director Jay Wolf. I was busy readi ng
actors. Si nce we could i.lfford to pay
uni on scale a nd no more to any
me mbe r of the cast (or crew. for that
ma tt er). it see med po intl ess to submit
the sc ript to "names" or eve n. odioll s
word . "se mi-names," New York pro-
vi des one of the mos t gorgeous pools
of ac ting ta lent a nywhe re in the world .
But could we find first-rat e actors who
would al so work for sca le? Happi ly.
ex perienced a nd gift ed ac tors like
Steven Keat s . Carol Kane. and Dori s
Robert s, a mong othe rs, loved the ma-
teria l a nd we re willing to bypass better
paying jobs for Hester Street , For
si mpli c it y's sake. we decided on al-
phabe ti cal billing . Since the re was
nothing to be negotiat ed. ne ithe r sal-
a r y nor bi lling. we soon signed 22 ac-
tors for the s peaking roles. most of
whom were immediatel y put to work
with our Yiddi sh and dialect coach.
Mi chae l Gorrin. (Onl y one of our prin-
cipals had spoke n Yiddi sh before
Hesler Slreel. none of the featured
pl aye rs. a nd o nl y a few of the bit
players.)
Short ly before filming began. o ne of
the principal actors dropped out . For a
film as ti ghtl y budgeted as ours. this
was a near di saster . We couldn ' ( 2lfford
the luxur y of postponing the shoot. It
was too late to hi re a non- Yiddi sh-
speaking actor and coac h him. We
solved the problem by casting a
Yiddish-speaking non-actor. Mel
Howard. who is presentl y head of
graduate film studies at NY. Mel un-
dcrstood the character of Bernstei n.
once a promi sing scholar in the ol d
country. now an embitt ered sweat-
shop worke r . a nd he had spoken Yid-
di sh asa chil d. Whether he could bring
the character to life on screen re-
mained to be seen. As it turned QlI l. in-
formed opini on has it that he docs.
With a 34-day shooting sc hedu le .
half on sets and half on locat ions
around New Yo rk Cit y. the filming it-
self we nt along in the usual manner.
Which is to say. we had weather prob-
lems. personal squabbles. uni on pres-
sures.lab troubles. a nd always . al-
ways. money problems. " 'f you wCl nt
to be an Ameri can. you gott a hUrl ." So
says Mrs. Kavarsky as she laces the
gree nho rn Gitl into a ti ght corset
meant to encourage the fashi onable
ho urglass fi gure of the day. Well. if
you want to make a period film o n a
low budget, you also gott a hurt .
Tho ugh we we re to goover Ra y's es-
timated budge t of $365.000 by just one
percent. it took not only careful man-
agement. but endless pennypinching.
begging. borrowing. a nd haggling.
Altho ugh it is cust o mary and se nsi-
ble to shoot exteriors fir st. wi t h the op-
ti on of moving ont o the se t if it rains.
we couldn 't affo rd to kee p Ollr sound
stage for the extra six days of exte ri o r
shoot ing. Instead . we completed the
work on the sound stage and then
moved o ut side to shoot the street
scenes. A da y of cain woul d have
wiped us o ut. Mirac ul o usly. it didn't
rain . Our young product ion des igne r .
Stewart Wurt zel . managed to create a
teeming ghetto street of the I 890s (we
used Mort o n Street in Greenwich Vil-
lage. hiring many of it s resident s as ex-
tras) on a budget whi ch a more experi -
e nced designe r mi ght have conside red
laughable. (Later all of us we re toad-
mire the s uperb Old New Yo rk street
scenes in Cadjillher II . whic h produc-
tion spent more on it s street scenes
than we had in o ur entire budget.)
I insisted on a crane fort he film's
final scene in which the camera was to
trac k wi th the main characters. pulling
up and away and losi ng them in the
crowd before the final fadeout. In-
sisted. that is. until we learned how
much it would cost to rent 1 crane and
hire the additi onal pe rsonnel needed to
o pe rate it. As with so many other
Carol Kall e (lnd Mel Howard 0 11 " (1
teemiflK Khello street of the 1890s . ..
things. it was beyond our budge t. Our
directo r of photograph y. Ke n Van
Sickle. de vised a kind off llllx crane
shot. positi oning the camera on a bal-
cony. panning with characters. and at
the same time slowly zooming out and
letting them di sappea r under the
frame. So it we nt during the en tire
shoot. as it must on every low-budget
feature. finding inexpensive ways to
get our effec ts. lettinga part sta nd for
the whole. as in Ollr Elli s Isla nd se-
qllence. hand-holding the tr ack ing
shots. and so on.
At the e nd of the shoot . we had
120.000 feet of3 5mm film in the can. It
took film edi tor Katherine Wenning
a nd me ma ny mont hs before we had a
cut to sc reen for cast. crew. friends.
and relati ves. a number of whom. par-
ti cul arl y Elia Kazan and Ralph
Rose nblum. offe red suggesti ons whi c h
we then incorporat ed int o our final cuI.
Composer Willi am Bolcol11 scored the
film. ada pting t he music of Herbert E.
Clarke. a famed bandmaster and cor-
netti st of the period. In November
1974 we had our final a nswe r print. a nd
Hester Street was read y to be mar-
keted.
Joan Mi cklil1 Sill'l''-
II. The Producer
From a business point of view. the
toughe st pa rt of indepe nde nt filmmak-
ing is not financing the film or manag-
ing the problems during production .
tho ugh these a re ha rd enough. but find-
ing the proper way to distribute the
fi lm o nce it is fini shed. The c hoices are
three: through the major studios:
through the small e r. indepe ndent dis-
tri butors: or through your own sweat .
whi ch is to say. going the whole hog
a nd di stri buting the film yourself.
Every indepe ndent filmmaker ho pes
hi s film will be pi ckcd up by a maj or
79
because onl y the majors pay hard cash
for the pri vil ege. We we re no different.
Eager to recoup our investors' a nd our
own moni e s as soon as possi bl e. I con-
trac ted with the Willi a m Morris
Age ncy fo r a pe ri od of seve ral mont hs
with the hope that the film would be
qui ckl y s hown to each o f the majors
and eve ntua ll y sold to one o f them.
I soon di scovered that t he coordina-
tion pro blems between a n East Coast
and a We st Coast office or a ta lent
age ncy a re extre mely compli cated.
The East Coas t o lTi ce had "found " the
film a nd was hi gh on it. The West
Coa st offi ce. having bee n de ni ed the
" di scovery." was less enthus iasti c.
Since most of the major studi os a re
headquart ered in Los Angeles . the lim-
it ed push by t he Califo rn ia office de-
layed muc h of the se lling effort a nd
c reated a situat ion whe re wee ks we nt
by without a nyone seeing t he fil m.
For exampl e . I wo uld be told t hat ar-
ra nge me nt s had been made for" Mr .
X" of o ne oft he maj ors to sc reen t he
fi 1m. and it wou Id be unfai r (un wi se) to
s ho p the fill11 e lsewhere whil e Mr . X
was looking at it . I had a lways thought
looking at Hesla Sireet too k 91 min-
ut es. Not so. What with unex pected
trips to Europe. sc hedule conni c ts .
a nd missed screenings. it ca n take
foreve r. Exec uti ve turnover being
habitua l in t he ind ust r y. Mr . X ac tu a ll y
los t hi sjob before he ever got arou nd
to scree ning HeSler StreN.
When t he a rra nge me nt wit h t he Wil -
liam Mo rris Agency ended. I dec ided
to take over the marketing effort s my-
self. By thi s time the s ma ll er inde pe n-
dent di stri but ors . s ll c h as Cine ma 5.
were screening the film . Altho ugh
many ofthe l11 liked it . t hey te nded to
see it as an ethnic. Jewish Market!
nos tal gia movie a nd there fore a tough
sell. Joan and I be li eved that Hester
St reet could reach and move a muc h
broader a udi ence. but we needed
some sorl of validation beyond our
own say-so .
It came whe n I-/ esler Slreet was in-
vit ed to the USA Film Festi val in Da l-
las in Ma rc h 1975. T he festi va l is he ld
o n the campus of So LIth e rn Methodi st
80
Uni ve rsit y before large ly young a nd
non-J ewish a udiences. These a udi -
ences gave HeSler Street ever ything
s hort of a standing ovation. and sev-
e ral reviewe rs call ed it " the s urpri se
hit" of the festival. Our hopes soared.
Sho rtl y the reafter we we re invited
to show the film at the Criti cs ' Week at
t he Cannes Film Festival. whi c h
turned out to be anothe r maj o r ste p
forward in t he ma rketing of the film .
Since Canne s is the mos t wide ly at-
tended film fe sti val in the world. we
had appli ed _ tho ugh with limit ed ex-
pectati ons. since friend s in the indus-
try had told us that the acce pt a nce was
highl y politi cal a nd without peopl e
ove r there to _. help.- the re was littl e
c ha nce. St ill . though we did nothing
more tha n fill out the ap plicat ion a nd
mail a print of the film to Pari s . Hester
Streel was selected. Once agai n it re-
ceived e xcell e nt reviews and st rong
popul a r s upport. In additi on. I was
able to make a numbe r offoreign sales
(Germany_ Fra nce_ Grea t Brit a in _ Bel -
gium). recouping a signifi ca nt portion
o f the film -s cost from the advances.
B,,,"" "',", ""CC, "' ""'''"'
at Cannes. ma ny Ameri ca n di s-
tributors decided to ta ke a not he r loo k
at HeSler Street . Most of the maj ors
looked aga in and "passed" aga in .
conc lud ing that des pit e the excell e nt
revie ws . the wa rm a udi e nce recept ion.
and the growing word o fmoll th , the
film was still "t oo s pecia l. " One maj or
offered to di str ibut e with no cash " up
front. " Seve ra l s ma ll e rdi stribut ors
were now defin itely interested . a nd
three made firm offers. But none co uld
afford cash payme nt s . a nd o n exami-
nati o n I fo und that mos t of the ir trac k
records were e rrati c a nd the ir finances
shaky. The pros pec ts of re turning in-
vestor mo ni es see med cloud y.
The soluti o n seemed to be a " tax
s he lt e r" ' dea l in whi ch a produce r se ll s
the di stributi on right s to a n invest ing
gro up whi ch takes over t he fina nc ia l
ri sks orlhe film in return fo r ce rt a in ta x
be nefit s. T hese tax deal s are predi -
cated on firm di stribution agreements.
so II110ved to c lose with the best a nd
mos t solve nt of the s mall e rdi s-
tribut o rs who had offered us a pro-
posall thought was workabl e. If I could
put toge the r that proposal and the tax
s helt er dea l. I would be a bl e (a lo ng
with foreign sales to da te ) to recoup
almost the e ntire cos t of the film.
The di stribut or agreed to ad vance a
fa ir a mount of cas h to launc h the film.
but hi s final proposal didn't pe rmit us
to have any say in t he promoti o n o r
prese ntati on of the fi lm. --Take a long
trip ." he ad vised us. In additi on . the
" standard " procedure for s plitting
grosses betwee n di stributor and pro-
ducer is heavi ly we ight ed in the
di stributor's fa vo r. These pe rcentages
we re not negotiabl e. a nd I could not
face giving up so muc h fo r so littl e.
By now my inst inc ts told me that the
only way HeSler Street would get
proper di stri buti on wa s to do it myse lf.
thus compl e ting the cyc le of in de pe n-
de nt filmma king. I was e ncouraged by
the ex pe ri ence of J ohn Cassavete s.
who had been pri vatel y and profitabl y
dis tributingA Woman Uncler Th e
/ Ilfluellce. The majors had passed on
thi s fj] mjus t a s the y had H e.\"f er S (reet.
finding it "too special. " The s mall e r
independent di stribut ors we re will ing.
but on a basis whi c h Cassavete s found
undesirable . just a s I had with o ur film.
Cassavetes is reput ed to have said of
the va ri ous di str ibut o rs. la rge a nd
s ma ll. maj o r a nd minor. " These guys
a rc going to force me to make a milli on
do ll ars.- Whil e I a m not ready to say
the sa me of Hester Slree(. I a m confi -
de nt tha t Hester Street will be properl y
prese nt ed to t he publ ic a nd t ha t it s d is-
tri buti on will be well ma naged.
The pros war n tha t we a re "out of
o ur minds " to di stribut e the film our-
selves. but then tha t" s what they said
whe n we dec ided to make Hester
Street in the fir st place. . a period
film on a n et hni c s ubj ect . . dia lect.
Yiddi s h a nd subtitl es. . blac k-a nd-
whit e phot ography.
Rap/weI Sill 'e,.
The Participatory Film
Tom Gunning
When the Lumiere brothers fir st pro-
jected their til m. The Arri nil of (I Train
at tlte Station. the audience is said to
have rushed to the exit s in fear. Suc h
powerful participation in a film image
is so lost to us today that we are likel y
tu doubtthe aut he nti c it y of this stor y.
Howe ver. in thi s extraordi na ry re-
s ponse to a projected image li es an es-
se ntial concern of ava nt-garde film-
ma king: The re lation between an a udi -
e nce a nd the film it watc hes.
American avant-garde filmma ke rs
ha ve a lways tr ied to transform I he a u-
di ence as much as to revolut i oni ze t he
film medium. The first generation of
avant -garde filmm<1kers after World
War II turned to the dream and the un-
conscio Ll s. But int he sevent ies. film-
ma kers like George Landow a nd Hol-
li s Fra mpt o n ha ve begun to explore
ways of he ightening t he audiences
se lf-conscious ness. Instead ofnl ms of
rever y. they produce fiI ms of anal ysi s.
Their films become not communal
dreams but group lests.
P. Adams Sitney, in hi s monume ntal
histor y of the American ava nl-garde
film, Visionary Film,L call s the m par-
ti c ipatory films . The y ac tive ly involve
t he audi ence, address ing it d irec t ly,
a nd lay down I he r ul es for a ga me be-
twee n audie nce and 111m. The audi e nce
it se lf. Frampt o n says, mus l c reate the
core o f the se films: t o wa tc h I he m pas-
si ve ly o nl y leads to boredom. Thi s
mea ns learni ng a ne w way to watc h
film. Since t hese films cont ain no nar-
ra live, one can ' ( project oneself int o a
fi cti o nal world . Nor ca n one become
enraptured by a lyri cal st rea n"t of vis ua l
images as in so me ava nt -ga rde fi lms.
To wa tc h a participator y fi lm is 10 be
re minded aga in a nd aga in that one is
s itting in a theater watc hing a sc ree n
n: nt! cting vis ual information .
In hi s witt y fo ur- a nd-a- ha lfminut e
film, Institutional Qualit y. George
La ndow illus trates the a pproaches of
the pa rticipa tory film. T he film ope ns
with a n image ofa li ving room. The
onl y move me nt is the roll ing ba nds of
sta ti c on a TV se t. An intimi dat ing
fe ma le voice a nnounces, " This is a
te st . There is a picture on your desk. ,.
The voice addresses us directl y. im-
mediately individual iz ing the a udi -
ence . T he threat ofa te st brings a t ype
of awareness quit e contrar y 10 " nor-
mal" film viewing.
We reali ze we a ren't rea ll y going to
be te sted . yet we are so tra i ned 10 re-
spo nd to invi sible voices (like t he re-
cordings of te le pho ne operators
threate ning to "aut omat icall y inter-
rupt" our call s if more coins aren ' ( de-
posit ed) that a test- taking aware ne ss is
a ro used in us. In a spirit of pla y . we fo l-
low it through. Butthe words. " There
is a picture o n your de s k. "add a new
e le ment. Since we a re not pres umably
in a classroom, the s ta te me nt makes us
awa re of our true phys ical SlilTOlllld-
ings. The picture we see is nol on o ur
de s k but on the sc reen. Thi s is what
makes Landow's film so inlriguing.
We not onl y part ic ipate in lak ing a te st .
we a lso he lp to destroy it by recogni z-
ing it s abs urdit y.
The text monitor te ll s us. " Turn on
the tele visio n. Put a numbe r three o n
what yo u would (ouch ." An
ha nd fill s the sc ree n a nd dra ws a thr ee
on the te levision. We, of course . ca n' t
re s pond to the monit or's instruct ions.
The gigantic ha nd {which does foll ow
them)jolt s us o ut of the imagined test
situa ti on a nd b<Jck int o a n awareness
of bei ng a n audi e nce watc hi ng a film .
The film continues to invoke a nd bur-
lesque its te st. Whil e the monit or con-
tinues t o int one di rections on the
soundtrack. Landow introduces a
pa rody of a film on how to thread and
o pe rate an 8mm proj ec tor. He re
La ndow ex plores a not he r type o f film
whi ch directl y addresses it s audience ,
the instructi ona l film. Aga in , he de-
stroys it. If someone ca n' t thread a
projector . how could he wat ch a film
whi c h s hows how it is done?
In La ndow's Remedial Rem/illf,!
COI1l{Jr(>hensio/1, we see a shot of
Landow himself j ogging in fron t ofa
film of a man running t hroug h a woods.
Thi s image involvesa double recogni -
ti on. First we see that Ihe backgrou nd
La ndow appears to be rtlnning I hrough
is o nlya prujec ted image . The n wc
reali ze t hat Landow is a lso o nl y a pro-
jected image on a sc ree n we a rc watc h-
ing. It is this kind of spira ling definiti on
a nd redefiniti o n offilm image s t hat
La ndow pursues i n hi s films .
Thc image of La ndow r unning has
print ed ac ross it. " Thi s is a film about
you ." The same image latc r appears
" . (I Jpi r(l /ill f,! defillilion lind
r('(/efillilioll imaf,!l' s .. . ,
81
wi th the inscripti on. "Not about it s
maker. ac ross it. Cert ainl y the p<l r-
ti cipatory fil m is in some way a fi lm
about "you," the audience watching
it . But how is it "Not about it s
maker" ' - parti cul arly when we are
seeing him on the scree n?The fi lm's
inscripti on itselfi s fraught with con-
tradi cti on. and part of t he game that
Landow invites us to pl ay wil h hi s
fil ms involve!'! doubting and questi on-
ing their own pronounceme nt s. The
subtlet y of Landow' s approach is that
whether he lI ses a test or di rectl y ad-
dresse!'! the audience to geJ in their par-
tic ipati on. he never truly cont rols their
viewing of t he fi lm. Rat her. he call s
int o questi un the process of film-
viewing it self. and invites us to explore
it s Cl mbigu it ie s.
A long "il h La ndow. Holli s
Frampt un has made the parti cipatory
film fl exible and surpri si ng. Frampton
i s one ofthc most prulific and dynami c
fi gures to have emerged in the Ameri-
can avant -garde i n the last ten years. I
hesi tate to his \\ ark under any
one category. but certai nl y Zonzs
Lemma and Nostalxia arc fi lms whi ch
illust rate the pl easures and compl ex-
it iesof a parti cipatory fi lm.
Zanls Lemma is based on the most
uni versa l cxa mple ofrote learning. the
alphabet. for most of us our fir st formal
ex peri ence ufl ea rning. Fr<:l lllpt on ex-
pl ores bot h the potcnti als and the limi -
tations of t he alphabet as a way of or-
gani zing I he world . It s possibilit ies be-
come apparent in the way it organi zes
thi s fil m and gives us a fa mili ar form in
whi ch we all Cel n pa rt icipate. It s limi ta-
tions also become evident as we
reali ze Ihal lhe imagesof lhe film go
beyond Ihe a lphabe li cal sl ruc lUre. The
al phabet game we play inZol'lH
Lemma is onl y an entrance into the
film.
The film begi ns wilh blac k leader.
We hear a voice read coupl ets (" I n
Ada ms fall /We sinned all. ") from The
82
Bay State Reader. a Massachuse tt s <1 1-
phabel primer from around 1800. Afr er
thi s imagelcss reading. Frampton runs
Ihrough Ihe alphabe t in block lell ers .
Then comes the firsl of over a 100 pre-
se nt ati ons of words begi nning with
eac h ofl he lell e rs from A 10 Z. The
words are ge ne rally found objecls in
nalU ra l surroundings: words on bill-
boards. lett ering on windows. graffiti ,
labels on objecl s. and so on. Each
word appears on the scree n far one
second .
Several ga mes for Ihe audi ence be-
come possible. First we recogni ze the
alphabeli cal order oflhe words and a n-
licipale t he nexllell er. (Bul si nce The
Bay State Reader Ll ses the Roman al-
phabel . whic h combines J wilh I and U
with V . ra ther than the more famili ar
26-l ett er one. we have to correct Ollr
expectati ons at point s.) T he actual
reading of t he words also becomes a
game for I he audi ence. Since I he
words appear in natural surroundings.
they functi on as thi ngs as well as
words. Our percepti on oft hem as
words. and then as things in a three-
dimensional world . ni ps back and
fOrlh for Ihe one second Ihey appea r .
I n several images t he word is obscure.
Sometimes onl y repeated viewi ngs
will reveal a word masked beneath a
shadow.
o Frampton already has a compl ex
game going on i n hi s first 24-second
run-Ihrough Ihe alphabel. BUI on Ihe
fiflh run-Ih ro ugh he inl roduces a
whole new film game. Where we ha ve
been seeing words beginning wit h X . a
jerk y. I rem bli ng shol of a fire appea rs
instead. Thi s fire image continues to
fililhe X slol in all subsequenl run-
Ihroughs. Two Irips Ihroll gh I he al-
phabel laler . Ihe Z sel of words is re-
pl aced by a shot of ocea n waves. In Ihe
nexl seven alphabel cycles Q. K. and
Yare dropped (repl aced res pecli vely
by imagesof a c himney smoking. a
Irac king shol ofa fi eld ofl all weeds.
and a man pai nting a room).
One begins 10 ex pecllhal graduall y
all t he words are going 10 be repl aced
by images (a nd. in fa cl. alt he end of
Ihe fi lm Ihey are). As we run Ihrough
this mi xed series of words and images.
the repeated images come to stand for
Ihe words Ihe y repl ace. Fire becomes
X. Ihe ocea n becomes Z. We also
realize that the series of words appear-
ing in each lett er positi on are them-
selves in alphabetical order . For in-
stance. when the word "after" ap-
pea rs in I he A slol in one run-Ihrough.
the next run- through gives us the word
"age." and Ihe nexl "agency. " so
each word Ihal appea rs in Ihe A posi-
ti on is in alphabeti cal order. When the
A words reach "awning." we know
Ihe se ri es is nea rl y compl ele. In Ihe
nex t run-through. the A words are re-
placed by the inmge of a man turning
the pages of a book. Thus. we ca n an-
ticipate when words are goi ng to be re-
pl aced by images.
As the words are repl aced. we
begin 10 ex pecllhe buil ding up of a
tradit ional lyri cal avant -garde film. a
ser ies of images inl errel aled by rhyl hm
or visual form. However. our overrid-
ing awa reness oflhe alphabel form
prevent s us from seeing the film simply
as a visual poe m. Even when only a
few words remain. we still ment all y
run through the alphabet as we watch
the images. At some point we recog-
ni ze Ihe arbit ra r y nalUre of aliI hi s.
Wh y has a girl in a swing become Ihe
lell er L or bea ns being poured inl o a j ar
become the lett er ? However. the wit
oflhe film li es in our recognizing Ihi s
abs urdil y onl y by playing Ihe game 10
Ihe end . The fi nal secli on of the film.
wilh il s long sIal ic shol of a snow-fill ed
landscape . seems to hint at a way of
experi encing the world di vorced from
Ihe calegori zing alphabel ga me we
havej ust see n destroy it self.
Another Frampt on film. Nostalgia.
is Ihe firsl pa ri of his magnum opus.
Hapax LeRomell a. a three-hour film.
Even thi s single sec ti on isone of
Frampt on's most ambiti ous films. a
kind of parl icipalory aut obi ograph y.
We sec a se ri es of phologra phs , aken
by Fra mplOn pl aced on Ihe burner of a
stove. The burner is turned on. and
slowly eac h photograph c rumpl es.
burns. and lurns 10 blac k ash. On the
sound track we hear a voice describing
the photographs and the circum
stances under which they were taken.
The narrat ion forms so mething of a n
artist's autobiography as see n through
hi s art works. The tone is one of nos
talgi a. a sense of the loss embodi ed in
t he past . beaut ifull y re prese nt ed by
the transformat ion from representa-
ti ve image to dark chemical ash.
Ie parti ci pati on of the audi ence
here is relati ve ly simpl e. but essenti al.
The fir st descri ption is hea rd over a
photograph of a room offil ing
cabinet s. The descripti on doe sn't
match thi s photograph at all but de-
scribes the next one we see. a portrait
of a man peering through an ornate pi c-
ture frame. The fil In cont inues thi s
way: We hear a de sc ripti on of a photo-
graph we are abou t to see. and we see a
photograph we already have hea rd de-
sc ribed . Thi s stagge red relati on be-
twee n sound and image has a doubl e
effec t. It expresses something of t he
nostalgia of destroying old photo-
graphs and remini sc ing about them.
Whil e we watch these images of t he
past burn , we must recall the descrip-
ti on of the.m fr om our pwn (admittedly
immedi ate) past . disal lowing any di-
rect emoti onal involve ment. The bit
tersweet narrat ion about each photo
graph is not direct ly prese nt ed with it s
image. We have to match them. and
thi s leaves a breat hing space. The im
mediacy of nostalgia is medi ated by
our parti cipat ion. The soundtrack it
self seems to invol ve thi s mi xture of di
rect involvement and di stance. T he
touching anecdotes of Frampton' s life
are read (i n the first person) not by
Frampton himself. but by t he film-
maker Mi chae l Snow.
This ga me of ani icipating the next
photograph and recalling the last de-
scri pt ion proceeds calml y until the last
sec ti on of t he film. The fina l descrip-
ti on (though we don' t realize it is) tell s
about Frampt on's gradual abandon
ment of still photograph y. He de-
scribes a photograph he took whose
composi tion was ruined when a truck
suddenl y intruded into the frame. On
printing the negati ve, Frampton
noti ced a detai l in the truck's rear view
mirror. He enl arged that secti on of the
print. The film's narrati on continues:
" The grain of the film all but oblit -
erates the features of the image. It is
obscure. By any possible reckoning it
is hopel essly ambiguous.
Nevertheless, what I believe I see
recorded in that speck offilm fill s me
with such fear , such utt er dread and
loathing, that I think I shall neve r dare
to make another phot ograph again .
Here it is!
Look at it !
Do you see what I see?"
Consistent with the rul es of thi s film.
the image we are told to look at is never
shown. Thi s, of course. is the moment
found in many part icipatory films
where we can no longer foll ow the
rules. and we are jolt ed into an aware
ness of the arbitrary nature afoul' par
ti cipati on. Yet the final spoken com
mand seems to go be yond thi s con-
cer n. Here we reach the ce ntral issue
for the parti cipatory film: Expl oring
the relati on bet ween the film audi ence.
the fi lm on the sc reen. and the film-
maker. " Do you see what I see?" must
be the prime questi on be hind all film-
making. D. W. Griffith himselfraised
it when he described hi s filmmaking:
" My task is to make you see." The
parti cipatory film as explored by
Landow and Frampton is a new and
rad ical way to ask this questi on.
Tom Gunning teac hes film at Brooklyn
Coll ege and is writing hi s dissert at ion
on D. W. Griffith 's Biograph films.
A tracking "hot oj ajield oJtall
weeds rep/aces the fell er K.
83
Louis Malle's Viva Maria.
Kennedy Center
Washington DC
Paul Robeson in The Emperor Jones.
OCTOBER
Louis Malle
The leading French director in person
at the Theater (October 4) and a
retrospective of his films, including
Les Amants, Le Feu Follet, Phantom
India and Lacombe, Lucien.
Blacks in American Films
Ongoing film-lecture series in which
scholars discuss the cont ribution of
black artists to the American cinema.
Canadian Film Festival
Major new French- and Engli sh-
speaki ng films presented as part of
the Canadian Fest ival of the Arts.
Independent American Filmmakers
New and classic films, presented and
discussed by their makers.
Salyajil Ray
A tribute to India' s leading film-
maker, to be launched by Mr. Ray,
and including several American
premi eres.
For fu rther information call the AFI
Theater Box Office: 202-785-4600,
daily noon-4: 00 pm; 5:15-9:00 pm.
Information on fil ms showi ng at the
Theater from Bob Leverone; call
202-833-9300, or write the AFI
(Regional Services), Kennedy Center,
Washingt on, D.C. 20566.
Books COlltinued/rom page' 77
But if the arti st is a Claude Chabrol. the
imperative of self-exploration turns into a
presc ript ion for a hermetic art. a di-
minishingoffi lm's range, About Chabro1.
Taylor is forced to concede: .. H is wo rld
is so s mall and limit ed: he deals with the
same si tuati on over a nd over again. from
slightl y difTerent :.I ngles. Hi s obses-
sions are thorough ly pri vate a nd per-
sonal. a nd he has pur sued them fro m film
to film with a conce ntrat ion and ded ic,l-
tion seldom matched elsewhere in mod-
ern cine ma." Notice the heroic to ne
mitigati ng the concession.
A hermetic ' Irli st. of course. can lap a
publi c taste. Warhol did wi th the loopy
demimonde of hi s films. But freakiness as
a life-style is alr e;:ldy turning quaint . a nd
Warhol now h<ls moved on 10 become the
Mel Broo ks of gore. W<lrhol's earlier
preoccupations took herme ti c .. 1ft 10 a
new leve l: He peopled hi s films not with
characters hUI with li ves, Tay lor insist s
that Warhol a nd hi s p,lrtner Paul Morris -
sey are "sublimely unpalronizing" of
their fre aky superstars: " The y acce pt
thdl on their own
ter ms: the stars are what ever the y wa nt to
be, wha tever they think they are. and t hat
is t hat. " From direc tors doing their own
thing 10 Si al'S doing their own thing. But
whe n a performa nce approaches mental
pa th ology Ta ylor see ms unce rt ai n:
" Mario Mont ez doing a pathctic would-
be provoc;.lt ive drag act see ms like a
compul s ive :.!Cting out of i.I private f(l n-
tasy. "
Word s like private. esote ric. <lnd
hermetil: occ ur again a nd aga in in
Din' ('tors lIIId Din'cli ol/ .\'. Taylo r 's
"Films for the Seventies" desc ribes
worlds diminished. constr ic ted in spirit.
They are far re moved from the wor lds on
film cc le brated in Cilll'l"a Eyt' . Cill ema
Ear-th e cxp<lnsive and e mbra c in g
world s of Fellini . Godard, Bergman . and
TruffauL In Ihi s se nse. Taylor brings
back a bleak repon fr om the front.
Lucia L VIlII Most'.\' . sullry
pn/orml' r ill ' :he
Scar of Shame. c. 1927. A
. ' ra(' e" movil, cr('(lfl' djor
black audiences, a 11(111111 i/n' -
cellll), neglecled by critin'.
85
Fresh Light
on Racial Themes
On Blacks in
American Film
Thomas Cripps
A
merican hi story imposes a formula
upon it s s tude nt s that goes some-
thing li ke thi s: The enlight-
ened ide a ls of th e Founding
Fathers minus the nation's fai lures
to move towa rd socia l j ustice equals
Progress, Movie hi story. at least as it re-
lates to Afro-Ameri cans. foll ows a simil ar
mode that was first defined by Engli s h-
man Pet e r Nobl e's we ll -meaning. naive.
li beral tract. The Negro in Films . whe n it
appeared just after World War II . Despit e
it s wea knesses. the book has long served
as a nagging indi ctmen t of American ra-
c ial a rrangement s as refl ec ted on the
screen-even now a quarter of a cenlury
later in the form of a reprint in <I seri es of
cine ma classics.
Unt il recent ly. no historia n has c hal
lenged oble's o rigi n<l l conce pt of
cinema depictions of race: no fresh hi stor-
'From Samba to Supersp(ule: The Black
Expe' rh' I/Cl' ill MOlioll Pictll n's by Daniel
J . Leab. Boston: Hough ton Mimin. 320
pp .. lllustra ted .$ 15.
Black Films allli Film-Makers: A ('0111-
prt,hl' II si\'e AlllholoRyJrom Stn('otype 10
Super/I('ro edited by LindsHY Patterson.
New York: Dodd . Mead . & Compan y.
400 pp. Ill ustrated. $12.50.
icaltheory has replaced it s s impl e vision:
a nd no new litmus test of the meri ts ofra-
c ial themes in movies has appeared, A
fe w recent blac k essays provid e (I di ver-
sion from the model by ignoring the first
40 years of film hi stor y. focusing instead
on the highl y compressed recent years of
the blac k revoluti on t hat foll owed the
New Deal and World War II. <1 nd thereby
finding black voices . forces deep in the
nuances a nd turn s of phrase of Hol-
lywood products, But the progress of
bl<lck images from stereotype to he roic
fi gure remai ns the main system of stud y-
ing blacks in film. unaffected by theori es
of a uteuri s m. formalism. or str uc-
turali s m,
The two boo ks' here unde r considera-
tion. eac h for its own reasons. are the best
of Ihe recent crop o f revisionists of
Nobl e's pioneering work . Like Iheir prc-
decessors eHch of the volu mes traces the
progre ss of blac k ci ne ma illlilgcry " rrom
Sa mbo t o S upe r s pade" or fr o m
" Stercot ype to Super hero." At the top of
their form . they break the formu la to
s how that not every s tep from Ra stus to
Shaft may be progressive: the y correct
a nd a mplify oble: and the y illuminate
the rel ati onship between popular culture
and the ge neral American soc ial condi-
ti on.
Like all anthologies. Black Films alld
Film-Makers suffers from the prej udices
or edit orial selecti on. the gaps betwee n
hi s a uthors ' int e rest s, and the obvious
age of so me of the pieces. But more tha n
any other book. PHtl erson' s catc hes the
a mbiguit y and the confli ct s urrounding
the hi st ory of blacks on film. Hi s choice
of sources onl y lacks for mass circuhlli on
magazines like P"otoplay and for the
black press in whic h is re vealed the sati s-
f:'Kti ons and rese ntments t heir readers
derived fr om Stepin Fet c hit and the other
black trad it ional ist s of the 1930s. Patter-
son is a j udi cious compi ler who leavens
hi s work wit h a demand for blac k movies
of t he future with "techni c(11 perfectio n.
solid charac te riz<ltion and a coherent
stor y." a lthough he is unf<l iri y impat ie nt
with older fi gures lik e Fetchit a nd Halli e
Mc Dan iel who m he insist s "grew even
more obnoxious and ou trngeoll s wit h
eac h film appeara nce.'
Stude nt s of black cine ma owe Patter-
son their t han ks fur mak ing avail able ,I
fi ne collec tion of fugitive pieces. Law-
rence Reddi ck's art icl e in the Journal of
Nq!ro Edllcatio/l ( 1944) was a bluepri nt
for blac k wa rti me pressure on Hol-
lywood. The black debat e over the di-
lemma of br inging black to the
screen a t the risk of Hully\\uod exploit a-
tion in I/ alldujah.' and /-I t' art s iI/ Oixie
appears in t he el us ive art icle s by Sterli ng
Brown. Alain Loc ke. Robert Bcnchl ey
(in Opportllnit y), Floyd Co vi ngton. and
others. and William
Harrison' s nearly 10"" ... of all -
black " race movic" producti on arc e spe-
cia ll y we lcome, it!'> is Albert Johnson' s
neglected wurk in Film QUUl"ll'rly. If Pat -
terson di smi sses the earl iest s ilent blac k
film work. he make!'> up for it with hi s own
sharp- edged essay!\ on the mo(lern enl
along wi th a o f biting
of " blax pluitat ion" pictures,
Daniel Leab' s From Sam/}/) to Supn-
,\pade carrie s the reade r ove r the sa me
ground as book but wi th the
added adva ntage of the hi storia n' s con-
trol over his m' lt erial. More tha n <Ill y of
the rece nt ri lers on black c inema. Leilb
uses t he discipline of t he traditional hi s-
torian who. in additio n to ing films. is
willing to turn the of pr intcd a nd
manuscr ipt in purs uit of the
forces that impinge upon film history.
While avoi ding a bro(ldly conceived revi-
sio n of earlier riters. he cor rt: CIS man y
errors. fill s gaps in knowledge, (Ind
c hr o ni cles thc progre ss o f ra c ia l
stereotypes fro m Southern roots to mod-
ern t imes.
In the primiti ve begi nn ings of c inema.
Leab asse rt s. black roles seem to run the
ga mut onl y " fr om A to B": anti all the
way to the Gre,1I De pression t he blac k
prese nce on t he sc reen appears 10 be
mainly "the sa mt: old dross . ,. Putting
aside the questi on of hi stori c,*, accu r,lCY,
suc h a historica l mode l tends to blur
fr<lgile. subt le. s poradic deviat ions fr om
norms. In order to dist ill the be st of blac k
c reati vit y. Leab focuses on the arca ne.
86
t he pri vate, t he mythi c. as though to say
a nything blac k that is crea ted. if it is
ava il able to whi tes or financed by them.
cannot be t rul y black. Unfortunat ely. thi s
view mini mizes ambigui ty a nd variety in
favor of a narrow concept of black cul-
ture. espec ia ll y in a medium li ke film t hat
ha s been so manip ul ated by whi te
economic forces.
If we see the period 1890 t hro ugh 19 15
as all of a pi ece. for exa mple. t hen we
can'( tr ul y meas ure the overwhelming
emotiona l impact of the Civil War
semicentennial on the nati o n and it s
films. The nat io nal alt itude toward the
Civil War shifted from mut e avoida nce of
waving the bloody shirt by reviving the
old heroic tales to a celebration of int er-
secti onal harmony characterized by Pres-
ident Tafts add ress to t he joi nt e ncamp-
me nt s of Un ion a nd Confede rat e vet erans
a t Petersburg balli efi eid in 1909. :-{u n-
dreds of Civil War movies were produc ed
duri ng eac h year of the se mi cent ennial.
and the image of the loyal slave a nd fa m-
ily retai ner (howeve r stereotyped) br ieny
created a positive presence fo r blac ks in
American films.
In simi la r fa shi on. later on in t he 1920s
the reader may miss the importa nce of
Uncle Tom's Cabin , /-I alh' lujalz.' and
N t'MIS ill Dixie to ma ny blac k c ritics who
percei ved them as deviat ions that prom-
ised a better future by dea ling with blac k
life and by providing major parts for blac k
ac tors. St ill later. t he movies ins pired by
the soc ial conscioll s ness s tirred by the
Depression. the liberal internationali sm
stimui<lIed by World ' War II. a nd t he
hopeful li beral promi se he ld out by t he
post war "message movie" era. arc all
sce n by Leab as minimal altainme nts o r
hypocri ti c<JI c harades on the pari of
avaric ious whit e st udios. The res ult ac-
cording to Leab is that. t hrougho ut the
histor y of AfrO-Ame ricans on the Hol-
lywood screen (and in di sa ppoi ntingly
brief compass. the foreig n screcn). blac ks
a re madc to seem totall y the puppet s of
whit e men.
Leab's be st wo rk is in bringi ng forth in
li vely reli ef the work of " race movie"
make rs who we re segregated fr om whit e
Holl ywood.
For decades movies creilt ed by blacks
(or at least for black a udie nces) have bee n
negl ected by crit ics. These "race
movies" for med one of t he onl y canons of
black cinema in the wo rld. Using the
rarely studi ed George P. Johnso n Coll ec-
t ion. John son s own oral testimony, a nd
the urban blac k press. Leab brings to life
the los t ac hi eveme nt s of the Lincoln Mo-
ti on Pi cture Compan y. Oscar Mi c he<lux.
Bill Foster. t he Colored Pl ayers. a nd
other " race movie" producers.
I n trea ting off- sc reen deve lopment s the
methodological problem in From Sambo
toSupnspade persist s. If blacks see m so
irred eemab ly do minat cd by whit e
bus iness me n. how ca n we properl y
eva luate t hei r political t,K ti cs in thei r own
be half? The rclease of Til e Birth of a Na-
tiol/ in 1915. for exampl e. provided t he
occasion for hammering t he NAACP into
a cohe sive nati onal body. an eve nt onl y
thinl y outlined by Leab. Ot he r examples
of militant blac k press ure on the mot ion
picture indu stry were the int e rnal debate
ovcr. and NAACP tactics 1O\\'<l rd. Tilt'
NiKRN in 1916. the response 10 the de-
c line of " race mo vies" during the
Depression, and the attempt to politi cize
Holl ywood during World War II . A close r
stud y of black ta cti cs would ha ve sharp-
ened the blac k defin iti on of posi t ive blac k
sc ree n images: Change s in image could
then be seen as victories or defeats
against the status quo rather t han a
smooth progression of stereot ypes. Thus.
a celebrat ion of So uthern va lu es like
COli(' lI"i t h the Wind in 1939 might also
have been see n as (\ partial accorn mo(liI-
tio n to blac k opini on.
Leab sees few c hange s as the result of
blac k activit y or even presencc. If "by
the 1950s the film industr y had cons ider-
ably mut ed t he coarser. more unattrac-
ti ve images of the black'" the n t he shin
was probably in response to dat a impli c it
in trade pa per guesses that .. More Adult
Pi x Key to Top Coin." rathe r than t race-
able to blac k ac ti on. Eve n gcn uine black
alt ain ment like the wa rtime Tlt e N('KW
SoldiN appears a s more t he creat ion of
white Fnll1k C lpra than blac k C IIlt on
Moss.
Not until the chapter on "bla xploita-
tion ' mo vies of rece nt years does hi s
book bring int o s harp focu s <l sense of
continuing black conni ct and debate wit h
Holl ywood values . Neve rthele ss , Le<lb's
book. like Patt e rson' s, remains t he best
of it s genre - honest . careful. temperate,
and ma king good li se of neglec ted pri
mar y so urces.
Thomas Cripps is Professor of Hi story at
Morga n Stat e College and a uthor of a
forthcoming book on blac ks in American
film.
"Jerry Lewis's Films: No Laughing
Malter?" by Jean- Pi erre Coursodon.
Film Comml' III . Jul y-August 1975.
A Fre nch crit ic who once compared Jerr y
Lewis to Robe rt Bresson and Jcan-Luc
Godard takes a second look and decides
he has second thought s. Lewi s, though
now at a creati ve standstill , is still em au-
teur . Coursodon .ugues. but Ihe films
- like 111e Pal sy, Till' Nlltf.\'
and Wll ich Way 10 the FI'OIII ? -arc con-
trived and. wurse. not ver y funn y. The
problem: Lewi s's sophi sti cati on as a
filmma ker get s in the way of the come-
dian. "Comedy is probably the la st ge nre
left today in whi ch a filmmaker ca n' l get
along on st yle alone, and Le wis is ce r-
tain ly no exce pti on,"
'Genre: Populism and Social Realism"
by Ray mond Durgnal. Fi /III Commell1.
Jul y-Augus t 1975.
A thoughtful in vestigat ion oflhat slippery
term. ge nre-Durgmll dClIlonstr.lles how
Citizell Kalil' ca n fi t into a do ze n
categories-and in parti cul;u the ge nre of
populi st films. Durgnat providc li numer-
ous examples of films that cd chrat e the
common people.
'The Art of the Producer: Jerome
Hellman" by Andrew C. Bobro\\.
Filmmakers Nl'u'sl etter. Jul y 1975.
The produce r of Day of the LO(' IIS1 is in-
terviewed on the fine-and largely
unpubli cized-art of producing. Of hi s re-
lationship with director John Schlesi nger:
" He doesn't int erfe re with the admini s-
trati on. orga ni zati on. and running of the
company and my word is law. And what
happens on the set I don't interfere with
and John's word is law." But he mourns
t he creati ve impotence of the producer:
Once all the hiring is done . "your o ppor-
tunit y to really control what you've
created or have a significant voice in is a
void and your function is esse nti all y mao
nipulative . ..
"John Ford: A Reassessment"
by Michael Dempsey. Film Quarlt'Tly.
Summer 1975.
" The myth of John Ford' s great arti stry
badl y needs a chall enge." With that.
Demps ey la un c hes an unr e le nt ing
polemic . calling Ford a "folk art ist"
whose "America is basicall y a child 's
fantasy preserved in the aspic of hi s hori-
zon shots and scenic vistas." Dempsey
acknowledges tha t in "some of the later
films. Ford ex presses pain and confusion
over change s in hi s Amer ic"l: but for Ihe
most part he endorses-oft en comp\;.l-
cenll y-every officia l piet y. religious.
socia l. and politi cal. " Spec ifi call y.
Dempsey finds Ford bound to rac ial
stereot ypes-" Both Griffith and Furd
lac ked the im,lginmion to transcend thc
racial stereot ypes of their peri ods": a
sexist vie wpoint -"The vast majorit y of
Ford 's women are . I S mired in stereot ypes
as his non-whi tes": and a mucho ideal
- for Ford " manliness implicit ly mea ns
fighting . yelling. drinking. " Dempsey
agrees that Ford was "arti sti call y ambi-
tiolls," but at hi s worst. " he is an emu
tional vulgarian who lays on his ideas and
fee lings like a bu tTet supper."
" Ingrid from Lorraine to Stromboli :
Analyzing the Publil"s Perception of
a Film Star" by James Damico. T/1I.'
Journal of PO(Jular Film. Spri ng 1975.
A study orthe maki ng and unmaking ofa
star's image. Dami co argues that the ex-
traordinar y out cry that gree ted Ingrid
Bergman's aITair wit h Robertu Rossellini
was the result of publi c di sa ppointment
with the la pse of her movie image. Her
c,lreflill y prepared image. enginee red by
producer Dav id O. Se lznick. stressed her
natural. unaffec ted . spiritual side. The
image-making. D<lmico assert s. led the
public "10 rat ionali ze away the speci fi-
call y sexual character of the I<lrge st pro-
portion of her role s and . eve n more essen-
tiall y. t he almost totall y sex ual nature of
her sc ree n perso na." With the afTair.
" the now wrathful public rose up in an ef-
fort to pull down what it saw as a self-
proclai med fal se idol."
" The Ar t oflhe Int erview."
( M ore). Jul y 1975.
Mike Wallace. the persistent int erviewer
of CBS's "60 Minut es." during a sym-
posium on the inter view: "The single
most int eresting thing that you C,tn do in
television. I find. is 10 ask a good questi on
and then let the answer hang there for two
or three or four seconds as though you're
expecting more. YOll know what. they get
a littl e bit embarrassed and give you
more .
"Film Com glomerate Blo(kbusters"
by Joseph D. Phillips.
Journal ofe omml llli c(lIiol1. Spring 1975.
Despite the antitrust decisions that shook
lip the giant s of the mo vie industry in the
late forties. Phillips argues. inde pendent
film prod ucers aren't too independent.
He quotes Roge r Le wis. who produced
Thl' Pall'lIbrokt, ,, : "When you are dealing
wi th anywhere from a mill ion to eight
million doll ars of somebody else's money
and t he money is being put lip by
businessmen. the pressures to modify.
alter. and compromise are bou nd to be
enormOll S, and the y are very hard to
wi thstand . Even when (he produce r has
the on paper to make all the de-
cisions himself. And he quotes a trade
journal report: " It isn' l ge nerall y reali zed
t hat most of the films produced indepen-
de ntl y not only rely on the di stribut ion
facilities of the big companie s. but also
COllnt on them for their financ ing." The
return of blockbuster films. Phillips says.
with their huge budgets and huge box of-
fice receipt s also means increasing domi-
nance of the maj or fi lm compani es-and
an increasingly homogeni zed product .
"Swifly Lazar" by Barr y Siegel.
W" the Wome,,'s Wear Daily Supplement.
Jul y 25. 1975.
A loving pro fil e of the co lo rful.
68-year-old literar y agent in Beve rl y Hill s
who in 15 yea rs has sold $ 100 milli on
worth of literary properties to publishers
Hnd movie studios. Lauren Bacall has
called him a figment of someone 's imagi-
nat ion. and a competit or call s him a rascal
87
but "(1 well- liked rascal. ThaI's how he
get s away with it." rascalit y includes
selli ng he does n't represe nt.
gett ing huge advances wit h inve nt ive
summaries of books he hasn't read. and
corner ing studio heads in unlikel y pi<lces
(Jack Warner's mo ment of trut h ca me in a
shower stall). His client s have included
Ernest Hemingway. Noel Coward. Orson
Welles. :.t nd Art Buc hwald. but hi s latest
coup is spectacuicH t'ven for Lazar:
Ri c hard Nixon's memoirs-sold for two
<I nd one-half million dollars. Lazar. who
the good life with an ex-model
wife. a Roll s Royce. '-I cac he of modern
art. ,:tIlel int ernati onal hobnobbing. is
;Ibou! exploit s. even
abollt hi s hei ght ()-fnot-3): "Being short
me<.tnS you ca n allr ..lct tall and s hort
gir ls-it 'sj ust the medium ones who are a
problem.' .
. MO\' ies for a Small Screen"
by Jo hn Ru ssell T'Wlor. Sighr lIlId
Soul/d. Spring 197).
T;lylor that no reall y
exists bet\\cen for the scree n and
films fur television-and the di stinct ions
that arc made :He based o n unexplored
e.g. th'lt Ct)llstant close-ups
arc fur one medium. th.H TV
movies need frequent jolt-. or gimmicks
and thrill s. In fact. T"lylor says. TV
mo vies arc "ex'lclly the equivalent of the
B-featurcs that u,ed tu be chu rned o ul for
cinel11<'l!'> . . Technically there i ... really
nu differe nce." He \\ that TV films
..lre ing . sign ... of a terrible urge to-
ward intellectual res pect abi lit y." Hi s ad-
vice: " Whe re cOl11rnerc ia li"m h,.\!'> been
roil y to \\ant cla!\s."
" Renoi r Re Viewed" by Bill Sil11on.
Film Stud)1 Center
June 1975.
J ea n Renoir ... thinie ... Simon al'-
are 10 Impress io ni ... t
painting ... -including thu!'>e of hb father.
Renoir: " I am that
the ba ... il.. eleme nt-. of Renoir ... ,tyle in the
can be ... cen almost as the
pUlling into motion of the cumpositi ona l
... of Illuch
pain ting," Specifically. Simon refers 10
in "t he \\ay that ch' lracter :-.
arc e ngaged in different a<:t iuns in differ-
ent arca:-. of the: in the provisio nal
framing . and in compo ... itilln.., that em-
88
phasi ze both depth and lateral s pace .
Rull' s of/he Gall/" Simon believes. is t he
best example.
T he June Newslett er also includes a
" highl y selec tive" filmography on circlls
themes : 14fi lms . an notated .
"Gett ing Into PBS" by ick DeMartino.
Tdt'Visioll s. Augus tSeptember 1975.
Because PBS "wi ll opt for bland ness
over controversy any day," independent
tele vision producers don ' t have it easy,
DeMartino asscrts. He cites the "dif
fi cult " limeJ o hn Reill y hadge uinga I ew
York airing for hi s Tht, Irish Tapl'.\'. an
advocacy documentary on North I rc1and .
Reilly. who directs Global Village. a pro-
ducing group. is now proposing a "video
o p-ed pagc" where "well-crafted. de-
velo ped arguments can be presented."
He sees it as a way fo r independents 10
make inroads into public TV .
" Some Structural Approaches to
Cinema: A Suney of Models" by David
A. Coo k. Cilwma Jounwl. Spring 1975.
A diffi cult stud y ofrecentlheories on the
ci ne ma : ana lys i s. auteur-
structurali sm. a nd All
three. Cook suggest " radi<':'lll y
broader theoreti c<l l horizons for the
c inema th'l n had been dream! of in the
firs t 70 years uf the mediu Ill' S c xistencc ...
The theuric:-. examine cinema from its
connect iull to the tr<lditiomll 'I rl S than to
its me<: hani cal nature. which
" I amthefirst toadmit
that the mClhudulogiesexarni ned he re are
profoundl y anti-humanistic in t heir as-
s ll mpt ium. . . But perhaps an uve rl o,)d
of huma ni s m is what has keplll s
from co rning tll term" wit h t he fi lmic art
thus fa r.
" The Return of MO\'ie," MOI'il' ,
Spring 1975 .
Tu nl<lrk ib return tu publication. the
Mode a 25-p'lge
on reccnt in American films and
on the role .... Inl! of film cri ti cism.
The partici panb include Ian Ca meron.
V.F. an(1 Robin Wuud. Like all
good ... yrnposia. one some
li vely and ends in disarray.
I!Ul l!!
In November
Walter Ke r r :
Who Was Harry Lallgdon?
(A reassessmenl of lhe sil enl clown)
Elisabet h Weis:
Fami/\' Portrait s
(Fil m makers explore Iheir rools)
Bruce Cook:
The Canadian Explusion
(Our neighbor compeles for the au-
dience)
Michael Pointe r :
Holmes Lh'es!
(And so docs his smarl er brother)
Alex Wa rd :
The Sellill!! of the C (llldidlltes
( How they usc f il m and TV)
Thomas Wiener:
The Rise (Ill" Fall uIthe Rock Film
( Has the l ong cycle ended?)
Larry McMurtry:
No C/ae: Pan II
(More on learning to writ e for the
movie s)
And books, educa ti on, feslivals, and
Ihe t'ontinuing 16-page secti on,
Dialogue 0 11 Film.
PholoCredits: Anthology Fi lm Archi ve:-.: The
Trading Corporat ion: Broadcasl;"/(
MaNtlzilll': CBS Television Network. Photo
Di vision: Cincmabi lia : Columbia Pi ctures In-
dust ric!'>. Inc.: Samuel Fuller: Leonard Mahin:
Metro-Goldwyn Mayc r: Lucia Lynn Moses:
MuseumorFi nc Arts. Boston: The Muscumof
Modern Art/Film Stills Archive: Paramount
Pi ctures Corporati on: Screen Gems. Inc.:
Joan Silver: Anthony Slide: Dalton Trumbo:
United Arli"I"Curporation: Universal Pictures:
Universit y Film Study Cent er: Warner Bros.
Take This Chance
to Enjoy and Support
America's Favorite
Art Form
Through Membership in
The American
Don't Miss One Issue of
American Film
Join AFI Today!
Film Institute
Please enroll me today asa Nati onal Member of The American Film Institute. I have enclosed
my check for$15.00. or you may bill me at the address below. Among the many benefits
I will receive is American Film, published ten times a year.
o My Check Enclosed o Please Bill Me
Name
Address
City Stale Zip
Just detach and drop in mail . or send to : The American Film Institute.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performi ng Arts. Washington. D.C. 20566
Give a Gift of National Membership-
in The American Film Institute!
Please enroll the following people as National Members of the AFI . at $15.00 each.
And begin their subscript ions toAmerican Film today!
o MyCheck Enclosed ForS ____ _
o Pl ease Bill Me
Send gifts in my name to:
Name
Name
Address Address
City
State
Zip City Stale
z.p
o Pl ease send gift cards signed
Name MyName
Address Address
Cily Siale z.p Clly Stale
Just detach and drop in mail or send to : The American Film Institute,
John F. Kennedy Center forthe Performing Arts. Washington. D.C. 20566.
Zop
At Long Last
American Film Includes
Each Month, __
A Lively and Continuing
Exploration
of the Film Arts ...
~
o u can recei ve every issue of
Ameri can Film- ten yearly-by
becoming a national member of
TheAmerican Film Inst itute. Your
membership aids in furt heri ng the
work of the Institute: preserving the
heritage and advancing t he arts of fi l m
and television in America. In addition
to the magazine, your benefits i nclude
substant ial discounts on recently pub
lished books in the film field : discounts
on admission to the AFI Theater in the
Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.,
one of America' s foremost cinema-
Dialogue on Film- a 16-page pull -out
section featur i ng interviews with major
ind ustry figures.
Film Festivals-indepth reports on
what's happening i n cinema .
from Los Angeles to Moscow.
Focus on Education- how our schools
are nurturing the growth of our twen-
t ieth cent ury art form.
Explorati ons-much-needed exami-
nations of independent fi l mmakers
and their works.
Books-reviews. critiques. and ex-
theques; discounts on admission to
the f i l m programs of the Los Angeles
County Museum; when you visit Los
Angeles, a guided tour of the beautiful
Greyst one mansion whereAFl' s con-
servatory is housed, and . in Washing-
ton a tour of the J. F. Kennedy Center
for the Performing Arts; substantial
discounts on such AFI publicat ions as
its Cat alog of Feature Films, and Guide
to Col lege Courses in Fi l m; and , attest
ing to all this. a membership card that
allows you to take advantage of other
benefits planned for the future.
cerpts of cur rent publ ishi ng ventures
on t he film world.
These features, along with informa
tive articles by well -known con-
t ributors and striking photographs add
up to a serious, highly readable, and
entertaining magazine on our fi l m com-
munityand industry.
Take time now (using the attached
card) to join your fel low film parti sans
asa member of The American Film
Institute. And begin receiving your is-
sues of American Film.