Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bernard Gordon's Western that didn't get made.

From HOLLYWOOD EXILE or How I Learned To Love the Black List by Bernard Gordon

Gordon was hired by Philip Yordan to come up with more projects to make after CAPTAIN APACHE.

He set me up with a desk, a Selectric typewriter, and plenty of paper in a fine apartment he had fixed up above the very spacious garage at one edge of his Beverly Hills property. For source material, he dumped on me a stack of scripts he had acquired at bargain rates. These scripts had all been written by an American, Marc Behm, who lived in Paris. Behm was a compulsive writer who could and did turn out screenplays in a matter of days, and, according to Yordan, had a closet bulging with such scripts. Yordan bought them wholesale for about $1,000 apiece. Then he pawed through them to see, from time to time, if there was anything there he could use. Actually, Behm was a talented writer who had a few respectable credits, such as co-writer on the Beatles' second feature, HELP. But none of the Behm scripts Yordan bought ever made it to the screen.I went to work reading these scripts to try and find at least an idea for basis for a practical production. As once before on KRAKATOA, I had to work on spec, but the genuine prospect of returning to Madrid and of becoming a producer made me willing to gamble.I finally settled on a Western of Behm's that turned me on. It was about a beautiful Indian girl who, having been raped by a gang of scruffy outlaws, for revenge sets out to kill them all. By herself. The script had some of Marc's originality, weirdness, and whimsy, but it was woefully weak in character motivation, story development, theme and the kind of ideas necessary to give it unity and direction. I pounded away at the typewriter, pleased with the way the script was going.
When I finished and gave it to Yordan, he read it swiftly and, for the only time in my experience with him, compared my writing to his own."It's just what I would have written," he said. "Only better."
He put Sidney Harmon to work on casting. It looked as though this would be the next picture on the schedule after CAPTAIN APACHE. I called my version of the script THEY ALL CAME TO KILL...
During these last months of 1970, as I was getting my feet wet in production, I also wanted to schedule my script of THEY ALL CAME TO KILL, but we proceeded instead with another old potboiler of Yordan's, BAD MAN'S RIVER. This was something he or someone had written years ago in Hollywood, one of the many scripts in Yordan's backlog. When I protested that KILL was a good script and ready to go, Yordan agreed that others liked it too, but he told me that Ben Fisz had nixed it because he didn't believe that a Western should be made with a woman lead. End of story - except that not much later another major American film was shot in Spain, a Western with Raquel Welch in the lead. HANNIE CAULDER bore a startling resemblence to THEY ALL CAME TO KILL: a woman raped by an evil gang deals with a bounty hunter, personally exacts revenge on her violators. I was bitter about this and wondered whether it was possible that Yordan felt it necessary to reinforce his position by supplying a script with his own name attached.

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