Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dick meets Philip Yordan

by Richard Fleischer

The agony of our situation was relieved substantially when Providence once more intervened, this time in the form of a gentleman by the name of Philip Yordan. I'd known him casually in Hollywood and now he sought me out in Rome. Yordan, a tall, balding writer, smoked huge Zanuck-type cigars; wore glasses that looked like the bottom of a couple of Coke bottles, and behaved like the spring in an overwound, cheap alarm clock. Actually, he was no mean writer, with a list of credits as long as your arm, some of the quite distinguished, such as ANNA LUCASTA, BROKEN LANCE, THE HARDER THEY FALL, and GOD'S LITTLE ACRE.
He could never be described as an attractive man, but he had a string of several young, beautiful wives to his credit and boasted a child by each one. I once asked him why he got married so often. "I'll tell ya," he explained. "Once they start askin', 'Who am I?' I get rid of 'em."
At the time we met in Rome, Yordan was closely associated with Samuel Bronston Productions, which was making big spectacle films in Madrid. He particularly wanted me to make one for them because of their past experience with other directors. They all had spent far too much money. Yordan wanted me because I was able to handle very big productions and knew how to cut budgetary corners without harming the quality of the picture. It was to be an epic about the Sepoy rebellion called THE NIGHTRUNNERS OF BENGAL. The offer (and it was a good one) couldn't have come at a more opportune time. I agreed to work for the Bronston company.
O! I am Fortune's fool.

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