Books 6: Who the — ?
NO, Mr Bogdanovich, the cravat shall never replace the eyepatch as sartorial symbol of the great filmmaker. Nice try, though.
I love interview books, oral histories, gabfests. I love The Parade’s Gone By and People Will Talk and the Backstory series on screenwriters. I may yet include one or more of those fine volumes in my ongoing series of film books I love. (I can’t call this a list of books that made me a cinephile: MOVIES made me a cinephile.)
Peter Bogdanovich has given us some fine films, as well as ILLEGALLY YOURS with Rob Lowe, and his work as a critic and pundit has also been invaluable. But his interviews I really like. He found many of the most interesting old-timers in Hollywood, and let them talk (if they were willing: Sternberg clams up sullenly), and mainly let the results speak for themselves. Of course, knowing his stuff, PB is able to nudge them along with intelligent questions, too.
Who the Devil Made It and Who the Hell’s In It? (I hear he’s working on a third, Who the Fuck did the Catering?) are great books for dipping into or devouring in marathon sessions, as suits your taste. After you’ve read your favourites, you’ll get onto the people you know less about, and find them just as fascinating. For me, the first volume, dealing with directors, is the most appealing.
Fritz Lang ~
In these days, when people are afraid about so many things — look at the newspapers — I think that a happy ending, or what we call a happy ending, is more satisfactory for an audience than a terribly sad one. The end of DESTINY, for example, is that Death guides the boy and girl up to a heavenly meadow with lots of showers and sunshine, into which they walk off together. A business friend of mine asked, “You think that’s a happy ending?” I said, “Yes.” Do you know his answer? “But they can no longer fuck each other in heaven.” That’s one attitude.
Howard Hawks (on Katherine Hepburn and BRINGING UP BABY) ~
I remember another time we were making a scene and Katie was talking so much she didn’t hear me. We called “Quiet!” She didn’t hear that. Called “Quiet!” again, and she didn’t hear it, so I just stopped everybody, and all of a sudden, in the middle of talking, she stopped and said, “What’s the matter?” I said, “I just wondered how long you were going to keep up this imitation of a parrot.” She said, “I’d like to talk to you,” and she led me around to the back. She said, “You mustn’t say things like that to me. Somebody’ll drop a lamp on you. These are my friends around here.” I looked up at the man on the lamp. When I was a prop man, this fellow had been an electrician — I’d known him for God knows how many years. I said, “Pete, if you had a choice of dropping a lamp on Miss Hepburn or me, who would you drop it on?” He said, “Get out of the way, will you, Mr Hawks?”
Edgar Ulmer ~
Outside of GONE WITH THE WIND — which is an American disease, it took the place of BIRTH OF A NATION in our heritage — all your great pictures have been originals: written, conceived, felt for the screen.