So illusion.

Awhile back I posted some vague thoughts about 10.30 PM SUMMER, a 1966 Jules Dassin film written by Marguerite Duras which I love, although nobody else ever had much positive to say about it. To my delight, the YouTube clip I put up attracted a very unusual response — Isabel Maria Perez Garcon, who appeared in the film, aged 7, as the daughter of Peter Finch and Melina Mercouri, and who had never seen the film since it had never been released in Spain, got in touch asking if I could provide her with a copy.
I could!
Being nothing if not mercenary, I did require her to answer a few questions, however. Isabel kepy apologising for her English and I kept assuring her that it added character and was a good thing.
Thanks for answer me. I am very happy for your offer. If your copy is in french with no subtitles, don’t worry. We played two versions, one in english and one in french.
-For some reason the English version hasn’t been released in America, just the French one with English subtitles! Anyhow, I have a French copy. I’ll burn a disc and if you give me an address I’ll post it as soon as I can.

I would be enchanted to answer your questions about my work in this film. Then I was seven years old, but I remember many things of those days. Only there is a problem, my english is not very good, but I hope that I apologize.
-That’s OK. I can edit it and fix it for my blog, if you prefer, but I don’t mind leaving it as it is. It proves you’re real!
Thanks for your kindness. I look forward to the DVD, makes me so ilusion!
Of course you can ask everything you want, I try to answer them all, as best as I can.
Now you have a friend in spain for what you need.
I’m sorry, I can’t express myself better, just hope it can understand. You can edit it and fix it or not, as you prefer.
Well, here is the interview.
-Was this your first film? How did you get the part?
Yes, this was my first film, but I worked in TV since 4 years old.
When Jules Dassin arrived in Spain looking for a girl for the character of Judith,
 my agent got me an interview with Mr. Dassin and had to like my way of being,
 because I was the chosen
The three lead actors, Finch, Mercouri and Schneider, are an interesting team.
What are your memories of them?
Of course, they were very interesting. I remember with a special affection for Melina and Peter.
They were very affectionate with me. Peter played continuously with me, he was a man of great tenderness.
Melina to think that I am listening her personal voice saying: BRAVO ISABEL, BRAVO.
Always, when we finished a take, repeating the same thing: BRAVO ISABEL, BRAVO.
Also she was very affectionate, very warm, very mediterranean.
And finally Romy, she was a very reserved woman, very introverted.  She did not speak much with me,
but I remember an anecdote: I had very thirsty and we were about to shoot a scene,
while Dassin gave the typical orders: camera, shooting, action; I said in a low voice that had thirst.
My father was next to the operator, but he don’t  brought me water for not stop work.
Romy was then angered, herself stopped the shooting and immediately brought me water.
Another day we were filming a scene in which Romy and I are lying on a mattress on the floor,
when a flag of which are used to sift the light of the foci fell on us, It  just grazing me a bit in the head,
 but it fell on Romy’s nose, causing a tremendous bleeding and a huge swelling who kept away from
the shooting for several days.
The person who interests me most is the director, Jules Dassin. How did you get on with him?
Mr. Dassin, as I called him it was very nice, very affectionate too,
 he and Melina, his wife,care and pamper me a lot. I spoke with he in English.
The producer put me a particular teacher, she helped prepare the English text
and accompanied me to the filming.
Jules Dassin was a man of great personality. I was absolutely fascinated by those
huge blue eyes and hair that stirred up completely white
-I suppose the reason you never got to see the film at the time is that it’s quite adult. The plot involves adultery, etc. How much did you understand about the story when you were making it?
Though obviously with seven years old had not been able to see the movie, the real reason is that the movie
never came out in Spain. At that time, for censorship and in democracy … I don’t know why.
In that moment I just knew the argument was coming from an English family holiday to spain with a friend
and my mother” was helping a murderer escape. I  never read the script, I just studied my part,
so I did not know the full story.
Any other memories of shooting the film?
I remember the terrible cold that we spent during the filming, because though the story is
in summer, we filming in January. The production’s car came to pick me at 6:30 A.m.
and we were going to the shooting, which was often quite distant from Madrid.
 I loved the smell of makeup in the early morning, have my own caravan to relax in the outdoor filming
my assistant and my own dual lights.
That was a world very different from the TV that was the only one who knew so far and I liked a lot
Thank you again for everything, from heart.


“I like your English, even if it has faults. It’s individual!”

   You have a great sense of humor.

19 Responses to “So illusion.”

  1. david wingrove Says:

    How fabulous is this! 10:30 PM SUMMER is a true ‘lost’ masterpiece if ever there was one. To think that Dassin and Mercouri only got to make it as a reward for churning out crap like NEVER ON SUNDAY – then they made a great film, and it more or less ended both their careers!

    Anyway, Dassin and all three of his stars are now dead, as is the author Marguerite Duras. Still, it’s great to know at least one cast member is still with us. Enjoy the film, Isabel – you deserve it!

  2. It’s lovely, isn’t it? And it only took her 42 years to see her own performance.

    Dassin and Mercouri did continue with serious work for a little while — I’ve recently acquired most of it, and am looking forward to indulging in it soon. I even managed to get The Rehearsal, a film which by all rights should be among the vanished.

  3. Interesting as it is, this is the film that kick-started Duras into directing her own scripts, eventually evolvng into a highly original experimental filmmaker. Had she made the film it would have been QUITE different.

  4. I would imagine so! And yet, Dassin’s overheated, operatic take on the subject does strike me as entirely in keeping with the scenes as written. Maybe the ending would play better if the rest of the film had been calmer, I don’t know. There’s a very rich and interesting soundscape, but for all that it’s one of these films that often seems to be reinventing silent cinema.

    Melina’s night drive, lit only by car headlights, was stolen entirely by Fellini in Toby Damnit.

    I’m guessing Melina and Romy’s shower scene is the reason it never came out in Spain at the time.

  5. Duras inidcated overheating, but kept it at a distance. There’s an orgy of sorts going on in India Song, but all we see is Delphone Seyrig swanning about with Claude Mann and Matthieu Carriere in swell duds.

  6. Yes. Dassin’s Hollywood background leads him to embrace the overheated in a more full-on way. But 10.30pm Summer is a stylistic tour-de-force and a forerunner of late ’60s arthouse extravagance to come. Very hard to believe it was made in ’66.

  7. Great interview!

  8. Oh, I suck at interviewing! But it was lovely to hear Isabel’s memories of the film. The Romy Schneider story makes me want to cry…

  9. To put things in current perspective, I’m thinking Isabel must now be what, in her late forties? The charm of your post, David, is that her voice is of today, but her image as presented is that of a seven-year-old. And yes, you suck at interviewing, but that just adds to the charm (just kidding, about the “suck” part, not the “charm”).

  10. Her English somehow helps this feeling of childlike innocence. Hope she’s not too embarrassed that I left it as it was.

  11. Kelly N. Wiggin Says:

    That interview was the most charming thing I’ve read in ages. Thanks so much for posting it.

  12. My pleasure! And thanks!

  13. I absolutely love this post. It’s great when things like this happen!

  14. Yes, good old internet! It’s not just there for the nasty things in life, like a blocked drain or a fat kid with an imaginary light sabre.

  15. It’s a sort of “accepted wisdom” (at least in the US) that Jules Dassin’s films after RIFIFI “aren’t any good.” But everything I’ve seen has been very interesting, especially this sorta “political” movie he made called THE REHEARSAL.

    It’s from 1974. Hard to find, but if you’re at all interested, I’d gladly provide you with a copy, Mr. Cairns.

  16. I have it! I think some late Dassin would sit very nicely in my column over at The Auteurs. I agree — The Law is certainly interesting, 10.30pm Summer is possibly a masterpiece, even Up Tight! and A Dream of Passion are rewarding. The latter is absolutely ridiculous, but the lasty half hour: stunning. Probably only Circle of Two is without merit: Dassin basically disowned it.

    I love Topkapi, personally.

    I’m going to binge on He Who Must Die, Phaedra and The Rehearsal sometime soon…

  17. david wingrove Says:

    Has anybody ever seen Promise at Dawn?

  18. I… don’t think anyone has. Not anyone.

  19. […] Interview. Remember how I was able to supply a copy of Jules Dassin’s 10.30PM SUMMER to its former child star, who had never seen […]

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