My Life As An Independent Film Producer
by Sidney Pink
I finished final editing on THE TALL WOMEN about the same time we finished shooting FICKLE FINGER OF FATE and WITCH WITHOUT A BROOM. Since we had two cutting teams, WITCH was cut daily as it was shot, and our cutters were so good they had been able to keep up with FICKLE FINGER as well. Barnes was able to see a complete final cut of THE TALL WOMEN, and this time he understood it would be entirely in color when we made our answer print. We finished sound effects and were preparing an original music score with the hope of securing an answer print in two weeks.
Barnes was also able to see rough "paste-togethers" of the other two pictures, so I hoped we would be able to live peacefully together, but such was not the case. His report to Pack was that THE TALL WOMEN was not as good as FINGER ON THE TRIGGER (which he had never seen), and he was very disappointed in FICKLE FINGER OF FATE. He had been very high on WITCH WITHOUT A BROOM before and so he could not pan it, but he was totally lukewarm about its ultimate result. I didn't learn this, however, until much later.
I needed additional scripts in order to get more pictures into production, but I had successfully finished shooting five of my first six committed films. I didn't believe it could be done, but I was now ahead of my own shooting schedule.
I was getting disturbed at Jim Henaghan's inability to send any kind of script on THE CHRISTMAS KID. I could forsee real problems with Jeff Hunter if I didn't get a script in time to start within the proscribed limit of his contract. He was getting along extremely well with Elorietta because he brought his girlfriend with him, and she was able to keep him on the wagon. Jeff too was a potential alcholic, and from what I had been told, he was hell on wheels when he was drunk. He could have been one of our most popular leading men if (like so many of the other promising actors) he had been able to control his own excesses. I wish someone will some day find a means of removing drugs and alcohol from our society. They do no one any good and cause too much human suffering.
Elorietta brought a script of a new version of the too-often-told tales of Pancho Villa, but it was a good story and John Melson felt he could rewrite it into a decent commercial vehicle. At the same time, one of Elorietta's writers gave us a story outline of a new version of the Arabian Nights fable, this time with a beautiful woman as the genie (this was long before the TV genie was presented). Also from the Elorietta group came another action-adventure about treasure hunting in the South Sea Islands that looked promising.
Meanwhile, Luis de los Arcos had written a screenplay that dealt with the discovery of an ancient pharaoh's tomb with its attendant search for the giant emerald of the pharaoh's wife. It had two leads I was sure could be filled by Rory Calhoun and Jim Phibrook. I made constant use of Jim and I really wanted to get Rory back to Spain. I loved that rascal and it was always a joy to have him around. Now I had five more scripts and story outlines to send to Pack for preliminary approval before casting.