Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dick works for Bronston.

by Richard Fleischer

It was a very peculiar company, the Bronston company. The money they spent was prodigious, but there was no lack of it because they had found themselves a "pigeon." Perhaps "angel" would be a kinder word. Pierre S. Du Pont.
This worthy gentleman had signed open-end completion guarantees for all the pictures. He committed himself to making up any shortfall of money for financing the films and/or supplying the funds to complete the movie if it ran over budget. Open the wine! Bring on the flamenco dancers! Spend the money! It was fiesta time in old Madrid!
They had made one successful epic, EL CID, which did so well they built a large studio, with a huge back lot, on the outskirts of Madrid. Then they embarked on making more extravaganzas: 55 DAYS AT PEKING and THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, both miserable failures. At the time of my arrival they were shooting CIRCUS WORLD with John Wayne (also headed for disaster at the box office). Every picture ran well over budget, and Du Pont was there to pick up the tab. It seemed like these turkeys were laying golden eggs. One of the reasons I signed with Bronston was that Du Pont had given his usual completion guarantee for THE NIGHTRUNNERS OF BENGAL. My salary, at least, would be protected.
Yordan was in an enviable position. Even though he performed as a producer for the company, he wasn't one at all. He had his own company, United States Pictures, which had contracted to supply screenplays to the Bronston company. His staff of writers, recruited mostly from the Hollywood blacklist, were paid as little as possible. His rationale was that since they couldn't work anywhere else, they should be grateful for being able to work at all. He was the only wheel in town. The writers felt the same way. They would have starved without him, and they appreciated the work. The word was that Yordan sold these inexpensive screenplays to Bronston Productions for a healthy profit.

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