Mad bastard!

The William Friedkin interview on the BUG disc is a classic of its kind. We start with some guy pinning the mic to Bill’s fibrillating chest, while B.F. quietly suggests they should use this footage. “Show the process.” Friedkin in quiet mode is so terrifying they obviously felt they had to obey.

Within seconds, Friedkin is explaining how he’s made “an ever-diminishing number of films”. How does that work? Each time he makes one, there’s one less? MAD FUCKING IDIOT.

“How do I find my projects? They find me,” he smarms. That’s right, because he sits on his fat ass having heart attacks while skivvies run back and forth with screenplays. Bill’s films, apparently, can be inspired by anything, perhaps “an overheard conversation,” which would imply that Friedkin is some kind of WRITER, which he isn’t. Which of his films was inspired by an overheard conversation? Maybe he heard somebody talking about their possessed child, or maybe he heard somebody saying that only a complete ass would attempt to remake Clouzot’s THE WAGES OF FEAR and he thought, “That’s me!”

Actually, Friedkin might be even more brilliant at extemporizing random bullshit than Spielberg.

Then he talks about checking every cinema in America that was to show THE EXORCIST, and told them they wouldn’t get the film unless they fixed their screens and sound systems. “Now, I didn’t have the authority to do that,” he remarks with a cherubic smile, before going into ALARMINGLY specific detail about exactly what that entailed, for like, ten minutes. “Now, does that make you a control freak?”

Fiona says: “Stop being mean to him. He’s an old, mad bastard.”

Nevertheless, BUG is actually rather fine — more on it later.

16 Responses to “Mad bastard!”

  1. A mean old bastard who was once married to Jeanne Moreau.

    (Long pause)

    Then the drugs wore off and. . .

  2. We were told at the EIFF by Moreau’s biographer than WF proposed quite soon after meating Moreau, and she was so surprised she said yes. It still seems a wildly implausible match, although apparently the split was amicable.

    But Moreau is a slightly odd lady as well.

  3. Well sure she’s odd. She’s a star.

    As for Friedkin, here’s my dis.

  4. K. Connolly Says:

    Can someone explain to me how that man ever made The French Connection? And apparently fought with Hackman the whole time about how he was playing Popeye, which has to be one of the great film performances of all time. Certainly Hackman’s best, and he’s been pretty fine elsewhere. Maybe you get a soundtrack and a performance and one exceptional scene (car chase) and that’s all there is to it. Maybe cocaine actually does make some people smarter?

    You’re pun, “meating Moreau,” above is either a clever crudity (I blame Superbad), or a Hall of Fame Freudian slip.

  5. Re “meating”, I guess I was thinking of Harry Connick’s sausage truck (see next post on Bug). The Cumberland Express, rattling through the night, past your shuttered windows. A jug on the table gently shakes. Harry’s meat must go through.

    The upcoming Bug post is intended to sort of account for why Friedkin can sometimes produce interesting results, but mostly offensive or ludicrous junk. I think he has a disorganised mind, which can be focussed by strong material, but the material still has to allow him to go off the rails at some point.

    I love how he asked his casting people to “Get me that guy from Belle de Jour,” meaning Pierre Clementi, for The French Connection, and they signed Fernando Rey (not even French) because he’s in lots of OTHER Bunuel films. That suggests a slightly chaotic process, doesn’t it?

  6. The only Friedkin I’ve ever liked (outside of his maiden efforts with Pinter and Mart Crowley) is Sorcerer — his wackaloon Wages of Fear remake.

  7. I couldn’t get into Sorceror on VHS but I’d definitely give it a try in widescreen. A real film maudit.

    I still have to watch the Pinter. In a way Bug, a theatrical adaptation, is a return to his roots. Although Friedkin has rather disparate roots — live TV, documentaries, Sonny and Cher movies…

  8. He is currently married to a supporting player from Rio Lobo.

  9. Yes, best actress in the film! Well, not that much of an actress, maybe, but very endearing onscreen. Although we can blame her for padding out her hubby’s career with such stuff as Jade.

  10. She told me she had a great time making Rio Lobo and was honored to be in a movie with Wayne.

  11. It’s nice the way Hawks gives basically hands her the ending, too. Considering her acting career was pretty brief and insubstantial compared to her work as an exec, that’s a damn fine moment to have to yourself, the last scene of the last Howard Hawks movie.

  12. I think it was Francisco Rabal who was the original casting choice for The French Connection – presumably the coincidence of initials had something to do with the mix-up.

  13. Ah, that makes sense, or as much as can be expected. Thanks for the info! So, the character would never have actually been French, despite being called Alain Charnier…

  14. […] Why, That’s Delightful! Graham Linehan’s Hompendium of Dorithies. « iLaughed The wankeur theory July 14, 2008 David Cairns getting it bang on again in this hilarious little post on William Friedkin. […]

  15. I can forgive Friedkin for almost anything, given that he brought us To Live And Die In LA – one of the 80s’ most overlooked action movies. It’s a stirring cocktail of adrenaline, dark nihilism and people being shot in the face.

  16. The three things he really believes in!

    It’s true, I think he’s pretty nihilistic, or at least passionate-but-empty. One of the things that makes Bug work so well is that it’s kind of hollow in the centre, where the meaning might be expected to lurk, so the material suits him.

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