Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shavelson on shooting in Naples

by Melville Shavelson

Before the company made its hegira from Rome to Naples, an Italian friend had inquired, Who was our Company Thief? While we felt there were several in our employ we didn't think they cared to be identified by title; but our friend complained we didn't understand. Every motion picture company going to Naples hires a Company Thief. He saves incalculable shooting time. Obviously, in Naples our equipment was going to be stolen, and since the Naples thieves' market is moved constantly to avoid the carabinieri, only a bonafide Thief in good standing would know exactly where it was every minute. Thus he could quickly buy back, at quite reasonable rates, our lenses, cameras, and whatever else of our equipment had disappeared during the balmy Neapolitan night, thereby reducing delays and costs to a minimum.
Obviously, we needed someone fast, efficient, and reliable, and our friend could heartily recommend a Thief with excellent references from both MGM and Warner Bros. (NOTE: I hasten to mention that, although in subsequent years both MGM and Warner Bros. have been in considerable financial difficulties, these difficulties had nothing to do with our Thief. Right is right.) We hired him on the spot.
I must say he proved invaluable. There was never any delay in getting back any of our equipment that had mysteriously disappeared, and on several occasions he returned equipment to us that hadn't even been stolen. He did such an excellent job that at the end of shooting I presented him with my watch, although I wasn't aware of it until later.

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