Monday, October 31, 2016

Brando Signs Onto BURN! With Enthusiasm


"(In 1968, Brando)... told the United Press that his new policy was only to make movies that were of 'appropriate significance.' so when Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo began planning to make QUEIMADA, later retitled BURN!, a film about a seventeeth century revolution in the Caribbean, the project seemed natural for Marlon. It was the story of Sir William Walker, a British government agent who arrives on the fictitious island of Queimada to bring about a revolution that will replace the Portuguese colonial despotism with a no less reprehensible British equivalent. Pontecorvo said, 'I wanted Brando for the part of Sir William. I was convinced he was the greatest actor the cinema ever had. And this conviction was strengthened now. His capacity of expression added to his facial mobility and somatic features were unique... He was the only actor in the world who was capable of laughing with one eye and weeping with the other.'
"However, Pontecorvo had a severe struggle to secure Marlon for the role of Walker. He went to United Artists for backing, but they were extremely reluctant. Following the series of box-office flops that included REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE and THE NIGHT OF THE FOLLOWING DAY, Marlon was no longer considered bankable. While the director's struggle with UA continued, he met with Marlon at Mulholland. Marlon has seen and admired Pontecorvo's brilliant left-wing, anti-French THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS. Pontecorvo's script wasn't ready, but he told Marlon the story, and before he was even finished, Marlon agreed to take the part of Sir. William. 'Our political ideas were in the same sphere,' Pontecorvo said. 'While I am an independent Italian left-wing thinker, he is an American independent left-winger. We both liked the idea of an ideological adventure film. He completely agreed with the ideas behind it. He was concerned with the idea of film as a medium serving a political purpose.' United Artists was eventually convinced to gamble on Marlon, and Alberto Grimaldi became the producer of the picture. Marlon was offered and accepted $750,000 as his fee.
"Sir William Walker, with his constant scheming, his steady disintegration into corruption, alcoholism, and breakdown, was a part Marlon could certainly get his teeth into. He approved the decision to shoot the picture on location in the mountains and junbles of Colombia, South America, using local facilities in Cartagena. He was aware that making QUEIMADA the summer would be difficult given the heat and rugged terrain, but those conditions did not lessen his commitment to his impassioned director.
"On his way to Cartagena from Miami, he boarded National Airlines Flight 64. He had grown a long beard, shoulder-length hair, and a pigtail. As he got onto the plane, he said, jokingly, to a stewardess, 'Is this the flight to Havana?' Suspecting that he might be a hijacker, the stewardess immediatly reported to the captain. Neither recognized Marlon, and as a result, the captain insisted he leave the plane at once. He was furious, but the plane took off at 12:15 A.M. without him. Twenty-four hours earlier, another National Airlines flight had been hijacked and flown to Cuba with thirty-five people aboard.
"Extremely angry, Marlon managed to find a flight to Jamaica, where he boarded another plane for Colombia."
(This story about Marlon getting thrown off a flight for making a joke about going to Havana is told differently in BRANDO SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME. In that book, this incident occured not as Brando was initially traveling to Colombia, but as he was returning to the set after taking an unscheduled vacation. And in his autobiography, Brando delighted in getting thrown off the flight because it gave him an excuse to prolong his vacation.)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Marlon Brando Finishes Making BURN!

From: BRANDO SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME by Marlon Brando with Robert Lindsey

"After a five-day vacation and a letter of apology, I told the producers I would finish the picture, but only in North Africa, where the climate was more pleasant and the terrain and settings similar. They agreed, if I would just return to Colombia for a few more shots. I didn't want to see that country again, but I agreed to go. They booked me on a Delta Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New Orleans and a connecting flight from there to Barranquilla. When I walked onto the plane at Los Angeles International Airport, I asked the flight attendant, 'Are you sure this is a flight to Havana?'
"She opened the cockpit door and told the captain, 'We've got a guy out here who wants to know if we're going to Havana.'
"The captain said, 'Get him off the plane, and if he doesn't leave tell him we'll have the FBI here in two minutes.'
"'Oh, please,' I said, 'I'm awfully tired.'
"The flight hostess, who didn't recognize me, said, 'Get off the plane, buddy.'
"I was delighted because I was in no hurry to go back to Colombia, so I ran down the ramp at full speed to the concourse. As I sprinted past the check-in desk one of the agents said, 'Is there anything wrong, Mr. Brando?'
"'No,' I said out of breath, 'they just seemed a little nervous, and I don't want to have any extra trouble and worry on the flight.' Then I ran like a gazelle, expecting the agent to telephone the pilot and say, 'You just kicked a movie star off the plane.' Sure enough, an agent was waiting for me as I tried to sprint past the ticket counter.
"'Mr. Brando, we're awfully sorry,' he said. 'We didn't know it was you; please accept our apologies and go back to the plane. They're holding it for you.'
"'No,' I said. 'Not now. I'm terribly upset. I'm usually nervous about flying anyway, and if that pilot is so nervous I don't think I'd feel safe flying with him...'
"The story made the papers and the airline apologized, but it did give me a longer vacation because there wouldn't be another plane out of New Orleans for Barranquilla for three days. Unfortunately, they chartered a special plane to meet me in New Orleans and I had to return to Colombia after only two days.
"All of the above to the contrary, however, Gillo was one of the most sensitive and meticulous directors I ever worked for. That's what kept me on that picture because, despite the grief and strife, I had the deepest respect for him. Later, when I wanted to make a movie about the Battle of Wounded Knee, he was the first director I thought of to do it."

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Marlon Brando Takes An Unscheduled Vacation From The Set Of BURN!

From: BRANDO SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME by Marlon Brando with Robert Lindsey

"We continued to fight while other problems came up: a key member of the crew had a heart attack and died; the cameraman developed a sty and couldn't do any filming; the temperature got even hotter, with all of us working long hours and flirting with sunstroke. The few union rules in effect were much more lenient than they were in the United States and everybody's temper was short. I also found it increasingly amusing that a man so dedicated to Marxism found it so easy to exploit his workers. Meanwhile, Gillo's superstitions knew no bounds. If somebody spilled salt, Gillo had to run around the table and throw more salt on the ground in a certain pattern dictated by him; if wine was spilled, he made the guilty party dip a finger in the wine and daub it behind each ear of everyone at the table. It was sad but hilarious. I began doing things to irritate Gillo, asking him for favors on Thursday, wearing purple and walking under ladders; once I opened the door of my caravan, shone a mirror on him and yelled, 'Hey, Gillo, buon giorno,' and then smashed the mirror. In Gillo's eyes breaking a mirror was a direct invitation to the devil to enter your life. Once he raised his glass at lunch in a toast and said, 'Salute.' I raised my glass while everybody drank, then pilled my wine with a flourish on the ground, which to Gillo was the supreme insult. He got a gun and stuck it in his belt, and I started carrying a knife. Years before, I'd practiced knife-throwing and was fairly accurate at distances up to about eighteen feet, so sometimes I took out my knife and hurled it at a wall or post a few feet from him. He shuddered slightly, put his hand on his waist, rested it on the butt of his gun and then eyed me sternly, letting me know that he was ready for battle, too.
"One day when we were having one of our arguments over how the movie should be played, I screamed at him at the top of my lungs, 'You're eating me like ants... you're eating me like ants.' I didn't even know it was coming out of me. It made him jump nine feet in the air. Another day, we came close to a fist-fight over a scene showing four half-naked black children pushing and pulling the headless body of their father - the man garroted in the first scene - home to be buried. Gillo shot part of the take in the morning, then adjourned for lunch. When I returned to the set afterward, he wasn't back yet and the wardrobe lady was holding one of the children in her lap.
"'What's the matter with the boy?' I asked.
"'He's sick.'
"'What is it?'
"'He vomited a worm at lunch, and he has a very high temperature.'
"'What's he doing here then?' I said. 'Where's the doctor?'
"She said Gillo wanted the boy to finish the scene because if he didn't he would have to find another child to play the part and lose part of a day's shooting.
"'Does he know he's sick?'
"I called the doctor and told him to get to the set as fast as he could. When he arrived I said, 'Take my car and get this kid to the hospital right now.'

"When Gillo returned from lunch, I was steaming and so was he because I had sent the boy away. We came within inches of mixing it up; only the fact that he was shorter than me kept me from punching him. Several days later, I couldn't take Gillo or the heat anymore. I needed a vacation. People were dropping like flies from illness and exhaustion. I drove to Barranquilla and left for Los Angeles at four A.M. A day or two later, I got a stinging letter from the producers saying that I was in breach of my contract, and that unless I returned to Columbia immediately, they would sue me. I wrote back demanding an immediate apology for their preposterous accusations - all of which were true - and said I couldn't possibly think of returning after being so excoriated; my professional reputation was at stake. I knew the producers' threats were empty because I had learned long ago that once filming starts, the actor has the edge; too much money had been spent to abandon the project; and even if they could win a lawsuit it would take years to adjudicate, by which time all the money they'd invested on the project would be gone. If he knows what to do, the actor can get away with almost anything under these circumstances. Most of them are too intimidated to do anything, but I wasn't."

Friday, October 28, 2016

More Conflict On The Set of BURN!

From: BRANDO SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME by Marlon Brando with Robert Lindsey

"Making that movie was wild. Everybody smoked a strong variety of marijuana called Colombian Red, and the crew was stoned most of the time. For some reason making a movie in Cartagena attracted a lot of women from Brazil. Dozens of them showed up, mostly upper-class women from good families, and they wanted to sleep with everybody. After they went home, some told me, they intended to see a doctor who would sew up their hymens so that when they got married their husbands would think they were virgins. The doctors in Rio must have made a lot of money from that movie.
"My truce with Gillo didn't last long. Although he raised the pay for the black extras and briefly gave them better food, I discovered after a few days that they were still not being fed the same meals as Europeans working on the picture. We were shooting scenes in a poor black village; the houses had mud floors and stick walls, and the children had distended bellies. It was a good place to shoot because it was what the picture was about, but heartbreaking to be there.
"'You can't feed these people that kind of crap,' I told Gillo. This time he ignored me, so I got everybody on the crew to pile their lunches against the camera in a pyramid and refuse to work.
"Gillo came up to me angrily with his team of thugs and said, 'I understand you're dissastisfied with lunch.'
"'What would you like to have for lunch?'
"'Champagne,' I said, 'and caviar. I'd like to have some decent food, and I'd like it served to me properly.'

"Somewhere Gillo found a restaurant that sent my meal to the set, along with four waiters in red jackets with dickeys on their chests and napkins over their arms. When they set up a table with linen and silver and candles, I said, 'No, the candles shouldn't go there; they should go here, and the forks should go on the other side of the plates.' Then I touched the bottle of champagne and said it wasn't chilled enough. 'You'd better put it on ice a little longer.'
"I fussed with the table setting while the crew and people from the village gathered around to watch with their arms folded. In their eyes I must have been the epitome of the self-indulgent capitalist who wanted everything. Gillo sent a publicity photographer to take a picture of the event, and herded some black people into the background. After everything was arranged perfectly, I searched the crowd for the poorest, sickest, unhappiest-looking children I could find, invited them to sit at the table, and then served them the meal. The people cheered, but as far as my relationship with Gillo
was concerned, the episode made the situation worse."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Marlon Brando Threatens To Walk Off BURN.

From: BRANDO SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME by Marlon Brando with Robert Lindsey
"Gillo was a handsome man with dark hair and beautiful blue eyes who came from a family of diverse accomplishments; one brother, he told me, had won the Stalin Peace Prize, another was a Nobel laureate, and his sister was a missionary in Africa.
"Despite his warehouse of superstitions, Gillo knew how to direct actors. Because I didn't speak Italian, and he spoke little English, we communicated mostly in French, though a lot of it was nonverbal; when I was in a scene, he'd come over and with a small gesture signal 'A little less,' or 'A little more.' He was always right, though he wasn't always clever about knowing how to stimulate me to achieve the right pitch. He was a good filmmaker, but he was also a martinet who constantly tried to manipulate me into playing the part exactly as he saw it, and often I wouldn't go along with what he wanted. He approached everything from a Marxist point of view; most of the people who worked for him thought this dogma was the answer to all the world's problems, and some of them were sinister. They were helpful to Gillo, but I didn't much care for them. Some of the lines he wanted me to say were straight out of the Communist Manifesto, and I refused to utter them. He was full of tricks. If we disagreed, he sometimes gave in, then kept the camera running after saying 'Cut' hoping to get me to do something I refused to do. In one scene I was supposed to toast Evaristo Marquez, the actor playing a revolutionary leader who was my foil and the hero of the picture, but Gillo didn't want me to sip from my drink after the toast; I was to spill my wine onto the ground as a snub while Evaristo sipped his. At that moment in the picture this gesture did not seem to me to be consistent with my character, and so I refused to do it; I wanted to really toast him. Gillo let me do it my way, then kept the camera turning after the take was over and got a shot of me throwing my drink on the ground because I thought we had finished the shot. When I saw the picture, this was the shot he used.
"In another scene on a very hot day, when I was wearing only shorts and a jacket for a shot above the waist, Gillo wanted me to say something I didn't want to say and made me repeat the scene over and over, thinking that he would finally exhaust me and I'd do what he wanted. But after about the tenth take I realized what was going on and asked the makeup man to get me a stool. I strapped it to my rear end and continued doing the scene my way, then after each take lowered myself onto the seat and pretended to be reading The Wall Street Journal, which Gillo detested as the symbol of everything evil. After scores of takes, he finally gave up; I'd worn him out.
"Most of our fights were over the interpretation of my character and the story, but we fought over other things, too. Gillo had  hired a lot of black Colombian extras as slaves and revolutionaries, and I noticed that they were being served different food from the Europeans and Americans. It looked inedible to me and I mentioned this to him.
"'That's what they like,' Gillo said. 'That's what they always eat.'
"But the real reason, a member of the crew to me, was that Gillo was trying to save money; the food he was giving the black extras cost less. Then I learned that he wasn't paying the black extras as much as the white extras, and when I confronted him about it, he said that if he did the white extras would rebel.
"'Wait a minute, Gillo; this picture is about how whites exploited the blacks.'
"Gillo said that he agreed with me, but he couldn't back down; in his mind the end justified the means.
"'Okay,' I said, 'then I'm going home. I won't be a part of this.'
"I went to the airport at Barranquilla and was about to get on a plane for Los Angeles when Gillo sent a messenger with a promise to equalize the pay and food."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Marlon Brando and the First Day of Production on BURN!

BRANDO SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME by Marlon Brando with Robert Lindsey

"Aside from Elia Kazan and Bernardo Bertolucci, the best director I worked with was Gillo Pontecorvo, even though we nearly killed each other. He directed me in a 1968 film that practically no one saw. Originally called QUEIMADA!, it was released as BURN! I played an English spy, Sir. William Walker, who symbolized all the evils perpetrated by the European powers on their colonies during the nineteenth century. There were a lot of parallels to Vietnam, and the movie portrayed the universal theme of the strong exploiting the weak. I think I did the best acting I've ever done in that picture, but few people came to see it.
"Gillo had made a film I liked, THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS, and was one of the few great filmmakers I knew. He is an extraordinarily talented, gifted man, but during most of our time together we were at each other's throats. We spent six months in Colombia, mostly in Cartagena, a humid, tropical city about 11 degrees from the equator and not far, I thought, from the gateway to Hades. Most days the temperature was over 103 degrees, and the humidity made the set a Turkish bath.
"Gillo's first shot was from the window of a tiny cubicle, supposedly a prison cell in an old fort, with the camera looking down on a courtyard where a prisoner was being garroted. When I saw that Gillo was wearing a long, heavy winter overcoat despite the hear, I couldn't believe it. With the movie lights blazing, it must have been over 130 degrees in the room. But he filmed take after take and never removed his overcoat.
"'Gillo,' I finally asked, 'why are you wearing that heavy coat?' He was drenched in sweat. 'Gillo, why don't you take it off?'
"He shrugged, pulled his collar up, looked around and said in French, 'I feel a little chilly, I don't know why. I'm afraid I might get a cold.'
"'That coat's not going to help you. If you're ill there's no sense in weakening yourself more by losing all that fluid.'
"'I'll be all right,' he said and turned away.
"I walked over to one of the members of the crew and said, 'Unless he's getting the flu, he's doing something very strange. He'll exhaust himself and pass out from the loss of so much perspiration.'
"During the next break, Gillo came outside and I noticed that he was wearing a pair of brief blue trunks underneath the overcoat. An odd combination, I thought, swimming trunks and an overcoat in this heat? While I was watching him, he pulled a handful of small objects from one pocket of the coat and shifted them to the other. I went over and asked him, 'What are those?'
"'Do you believe in luck?' Gillo asked.
"'You mean fate?'
"'Luck, fortuna.'
"'I don't know,' I said. 'I guess so. Some days you feel lucky, some days you don't.'
"He dug into his pocket and pulled out a small piece of plastic that looked like a curly red chile pepper. 'What is that?' I asked.
"'A little something for good luck. Touch it,' he said, adding that it would bring good luck to the picture.
"I did, and asked where his good luck charm came from.
"'What do charms like that cost?'
"'Nothing.' He reached into his pocket again, brought out dozens of little chile peppers and gave me one. He seemed happy that I'd accepted it, and said I'd help assure that the picture would be a success.
"I've since met other Italians who won't go anywhere without a charm in their pockets, but Gillo took superstition to cosmic heights. One of his friends told me that he always wore that overcoat whenever he directed the first shot of a new movie, and insisted that the same prop man be in the shot wearing the same pair of tennis shoes. He was the man who was strangled in the first scene, and the tennis shoes had been painted to look like boots. On Thursdays, I was told, you must never ask Gillo for anything because if he refused you it would bring him bad luck. He also never allowed the color purple to appear in his pictures, or for that matter anywhere in sight, because he considered it bad luck. His obession over color was limitless; if he could, he would have obliterated it from a summer sunset."

Monday, October 24, 2016

Alan Ladd Finishes ORAZI E CURIAZI


"On the last day of shooting his beloved dachshund pup Ciao, which he bought in Italy, suddenly died - which was one straw too many. A local socialite, Gilda Dahlberg, had planned a large cocktail party in Alan's honor, and he was finally persuaded to make a brief appearance, even if two hours late. Broadway columnist Earl Wilson, in Rome at the time and a guest at the party, recalls Alan mournfully telling him, 'Never fall in love' (with a dog).
"On March 23, Alan, Sue and Alana boarded the U.S. United States and gratefully sailed for home. Arriving in New York on the twenty-seventh and still bitter about the whole experience, Alan grimly told Hy Gardner of the Herald Tribune, 'It rained steadily for twelve weeks, and I broke my hand and hurt my knee in the dueling scene because of a peculiar Yugo custom - they don't believe in using wooden swords there, just steel.' (One reasonably suspects by now that he would have found a way to afflict himself if they'd been made of feathers.)
"Back in Los Angeles on April 1, he told Hedda Hopper, 'This has taught me a lesson. I'll only make pictures abroad for major American companies, but I'd rather make them here.' Hedda further reported that Alan had not yet received compensation for the picture, though the money was being cleared through an Italian bank, and that he had given the company an extra week without pay so they could finish the picture.
"He needn't have bothered. OJARIO, HORATIO, or DUEL OF THE CHAMPIONS - whatever the title - was trimmed from its projected running time of more than two hours to ninety-three minutes and then to a humiliating seventy-one. No major studio wanted to release it at any length or price. Eventually it was shown at the E.M. Loew Center Theater in Boston in August 1964, booked by little-known Medallion Pictures. The trade journal Motion Picture Herald reviewed it from Boston, noting that 'with any kind of exploitation endeavor on the community level [it] can be depended on for satisfactory grosses.' About Alan's performance, the Herald's critic observed kindly, 'Ladd impresses as the grim-visaged warrior.' (That wasn't acting.)
"Medallion, however, still found no buyers, and six months later, in February 1965, Allen Eyles' review in Films and Filming made sure the movie would never be bought. Eyles wrote that '...[the] film is a thoroughly indifferent spectacle, and there is little pleasure in watching [Alan Ladd] rather spent and ill-at-ease, reduced to playing a part for which he is many years too old in a setting that is cheap and familiar.' After this, DUEL OF CHAMPIONS vanished forever. It would not even be considered fodder for the 'Late Late Show' at three o'clock in the morning. However, Alan would be mercifully spared this knowledge..."
(Alan Ladd died on January 29, 1964 at the age of 50 of an accidental combination of alcohol and sedatives. DUEL OF CHAMPIONS, however, was resurrected thanks to home video and can rather easily be found on various DVD collections of Sword & Sandal films.)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Alan Ladd Goes To Italy.

(At the time Alan Ladd made ORAZI E CURIAZI in 1960, he was married to his second wife, Sue Carol - with whom he had two children, Alana and David. With his first wife, Marjorie, he had Alan Ladd Jr.)
"Aware of the cruel Hollywood bromide that 'an actor is as good as his last picture' and unable to fool himself about the outcome of his last five pictures, Alan still felt that one blockbuster could put him back up in the polls again.
"HORATIO would be his first spectacle - complete with lavish sets and the obligatory 'cast of thousands.' The screenplay, dramatizing the details of the celebrated feud between Horatio and his brothers and the Curati family of early Rome, complete with a Romeo and Juliet-type love story, appeared to have greater substance than most of the genre. The finale, depicting the legendary duel unto death (the film title would eventually be Americanized to DUEL OF THE CHAMPIONS), was written to contain the dash and derring-do likely to show off Alan Ladd to best advantage.
"'My father,' David Ladd recalls, 'did not make that movie because he thought "Hey, I got a movie, so I'm going to do it." It was made because the elements in that movie seemed right. My God, working with director Terence Young in those days was an honor. This was meant to be Terence Young's SPARTACUS, but as it turned out, it was his disaster.'
"Sue agreed. In mid-January she wrote Hollywood Reporter columnist Mike Connolly from Yugoslavia: 'It was so cold today that the extras refused to work and I can't blame them. Those togas are cold. Ask Alan!'
"A month later, chilly togas were the least of the Ladd's problems. From Rome, Sue called Louella Parsons to explain why Alan, for the first time in his career, had walked off a picture in the middle of production. Louella printed her account:
"'Alan has worked eleven weeks without a cent. He reported on the set every day and performed under the most grueling locations in Yugoslavia. Alan's agent, MCA, and his lawyer were given a check for $50,000 by the company, partial payment for his services, which MCA has not been able to cash. We have informed Tiberia (Paramount) we are leaving for Paris tomorrow to board the S.S. United States for home.'
"Louella sympathetically observed that she was 'sure Alan's previous fine record as a dependable performer will stand him in good stead in the legal fireworks bound to explode.' A couple of days later, however, Sue was back on the transatlantic wire and Louella dutifully reported:
"'Alan Ladd, who walked out of his Italian picture, HORATIO, and sent all of his luggage home, is staying in Rome to finish the picture. Lux Pictures have assumed payment of his salary. It's fine with Alan, only he hasn't any clothes - just one suit. Everything else was sent on ahead.'
"The lack of a wardrobe was distinctly underwhelming - by now Alan knew that HORATIO was easily the worst movie he had ever made, and that critics would most likely savage both the picture and his acting. 'And I had wanted so much for it to be a good picture,' he would tell friends later.
"And in Rome a sinus infection that had bothered him for years flared up, and he retched so long and so violently that an Italian doctor predicted gloomily, 'If you don't stop soon, you'll die before morning.' At the moment it seemed a benediction.
"But he went on working. It was what he did."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Roger Moore Completes SABINES and makes NO MAN'S LAND.

From: MY WORD IS MY BOND A Memoir by Roger Moore with Gareth Owen

"Folco Lulli was playing King Titus, and was always complaining about the cheap production. I remember we were in the back of a car together going to location one morning, and he was chattering away in Italian - and even though I spoke very little, I got the drift of what he was saying and it was none too complimentary. Just then he hacked phlegm from the back of his throat and spat it out of the window. Which would have been fine had the window been open. I was in hysterics.
"As our shoot progressed on location, the beautiful Luisa Mattioli and I became more than just members of the cast. We were both away from our native lands and, as I said, language was not barrier. In fact we enjoyed many long conversations during which it didn't seem to matter whether the words made any sense whatsoever. I found out that a nod is, indeed, as good as a wink.
"We somehow managed to complete the film and I have to say that the finished thing was really quite horrendous. Had my payment been forthcoming on time, it might have eased my disappointment and frustration. Eventually I did get paid, but only, I suspect, because Bomba wanted to offer me a second picture, NO MAN'S LAND. Of course he dangled the fact that Luisa would again be co-starring, and as I wanted to stay on in Rome with her, it suited me. Our romance was developing and our feelings for each other growing stronger; soon we became quite inseparable.

"In another wonderful bit of casting, I was to play an Italian soldier, a deserter. Max Schell's brother, Carl, played a Nazi villain and our leading lady was Pascal Petit. It was all haphazardly stitched together by director Fabrizio Taglioni. One wonderful actor who had a small role in the film was Memmo Carotenuto. He had a nose that didn't quite know which direction it should be pointing in. By this point I had picked up a little more Italian and was able to converse, so I asked how his nose had become broken in such a fashion. He said he had been playing Jesus in a production, and for the crucifixion he was tied to the cross, which was erected on top of a hill. All of the extras fell to their knees to worship Christ in his dying moments. The vibrations caused the cross to sway, but as he didn't want to draw too much attention and spoil the shot, he quietly called, 'Help me, help me!' The extras must have thought it was part of the script, so did nothing. At which point the cross fell forwards, and with him being tied he had nothing between himself and the rapidly approaching ground except his nose - which duly took the brunt of the impact.
"Lack of communication and a bad script led to friction on the set. It wasn't a happy production. I wasn't in a position to turn the work down however, and so had to make the best of it. Mercifully I didn't have to think about a third Italian epic, as I received word from Britain about a new TV series that they wanted me to star in.
"...My Italian films had certainly not catapulted me to international superstar status, as Clint Eastwood's did him, and, Luisa aside, I wasn't sure how much longer I wanted to spend in Italy pursuing a career in, shall we say, somewhat unremarkable films."
(It took years before Roger Moore's second wife, Dorothy Squires, granted him a divorce and he married Luisa. When they married in 1969, they had already had three children.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Roger Moore on the first day on SABINES.

From: MY WORD IS MY BOND A Memoir by Roger Moore with Gareth Owen

"Our first assistant director was a lady called Beka. Never content with instructing the crowd and extras before calling 'Action', she would continually shout instructions, in her local dialect, at them during the scene and all over my and the other principal's dialogue. I found it very off-putting, but when I challenged her as to why she did this she replied, 'Because they are stoopid.'
"'I may be stupid too,' I replied, 'but I find it very hard to concentrate.'
"Anyhow, my first scene was with Mylene Demongeot, who spoke her lines in French. As soon as her lips stopped moving, I chipped in with, 'You mustn't be afraid, we mean no harm.' She then replied in French about all men being liars and, again as soon as her lips stopped moving, I knew it was my turn. We managed to get through some of this, with Beka continually shouting her Serbian directions in the background, when a man in the crowd wearing a white toga emerged and punched me squarely in the jaw; knocking me flat on my back.
"'Cut! Cut!' called the director. 'Roger, where are you?'
"'Here on the floor.'
"'Why are you on the floor?'
"'Because that man just punched me,' I replied.
"'Beka! Why did that man punch Roger?' the director asked.
"'Because he is drunk,' was her reply.
"'Hang on,' I chimed in. 'He should be fired if he's drunk.'
"'No,' said Beka. 'He's acting drunk.'
"'Look, we normally discuss and rehearse things like this,' I said, 'so I'm prepared for someone to hit me!'
"We broke off for lunch... with a lot of red wine. Then Pottier said, 'In this next scene you gallop in, your horse stumbles, you fall off your horse and then get up and pull your sword - '
"'Hang on!' I cried. 'I come riding in and then we cut to a double falling off the horse.'
"'Ce qui? Un double? Je ne comprends pas.' All of a sudden, Pottier didn't speak English any more.
"At first I didn't quite understand why my agent had specifically listed in the contract that I should have a dressing room, make-up and costumes supplied, as that was the norm I had come to expect. He's also specified that a double should be available for stunt work. My agent was obviously wise to how Italians made movies. I reminded Pottier of this. He called Beka over, and they mumbled something between them. She then pulled a chap out of the crowd and said to me, 'Take you clothes off.'
"'What?' I asked.
"'Take your clothes off. If he is to double you, he needs your clothes.'
"'Oh no. On ho! If he is to double me, then you will make clothes for him,' I replied. It was an ordeal. And that was only the first day."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Roger Moore Prepares For SABINES

From: MY WORD IS MY BOND A Memoir by Roger Moore with Gareth Owen

"I flew from LA to London, and then on to Paris to meet the producers, Enrico Bomba being the Italian one, and Alexander Salkind the French partner (Alex, and his son Ilya, went on to producer SUPERMAN among other films). After lunching with Alex, we walked along the Champs-Elysees - Alex lived just off the famously expensive thoroughfare, very near the lavish George V Hotel - and as we passed a tailor's Alex said, 'Just a minute.'
"He took me in with him and addressed the tailor in French; I gathered he said something about making a major movie, me being the star and that he wanted me fitted out. The tailor, obviously registering that this could be a very lucrative opportunity, wrote down all my measurements. Alex thanked him for his kind attention, picked up the measurements, and we walked out of the shop. He then called Rome and gave them my measurements to make my costumes - which were really just togas in any event. Maybe Alex's methods should have warned me how cheap this production was going to be!
"I next flew to Rome for fittings and met some of the cast and crew. Richard Pottier was our director; he was Hungarian-born but had spent much of his working life in France. Mylene Demongeot was our French leading lady, Rea. Schilla Gabel was the Italian leading lady, Dusia. Then there was a very beautiful young lady named Luisa Mattioli, who was under contract to Enrico Bomba. Luisa was to play Silvia.
"While we were in Rome, a press conference was set up for Italian television and Luisa, who had previously been a TV presenter in Italy, was asked to interview me. As I spoke no Italian and she spoke no English, it was an interesting interview, as you might imagine. I still don't really know how we got through it, but we did. We seemed instantly able to communicate - language was no barrier between us.
"I was fitted for my costumes and then we were shipped off to Zagreb in Yugoslavia. It wasn't a film studio, but a sort of converted warehouse, all very makeshift; and I felt rather lonely, as one of the few English-speaking people around the place. The first day's shooting was upon us. The Romans, under the leadership of your truly, rode into the Sabinian's town with plentiful supplies of wine to get the menfolk drunk. Once they were incapacitated, the Romans carried the Sabine women off for the inevitable rape. The big problem was that my French was not very good; my Italian was non-existent and as for my German and Serbian, well, you can guess. Everyone was speaking in their own native language and it was chaos."

Monday, October 17, 2016

Roger Moore Goes To Italy

From: MY WORD IS MY BOND A Memoir by Roger Moore with Gareth Owen
(Under contract to Warner Bros., Moore appeared in the TV series The Alaskans and Maverick as well as the feature films THE MIRACLE, THE SINS OF RACHEL CADE and GOLD OF THE SEVEN SAINTS. When it became obvious that Warners wanted him to do another TV series, he asked to get out of his contract.)

"I had a business manager at this point, Irving Leonard, who was also Jim Garner's manager. In fact, he handled most of the people who had been under contract to Warner's, and also Clint Eastwood. In fact it was he who persuaded Clint to go to Italy to do a picture for $15,000, which was a lot less than he was used to being paid in Hollywood. That was THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, the first of the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, which led to Clint becoming one of the biggest motion picture stars."

(There are a couple of problems with this paragraph. Clint didn't go to Italy until 1963; Roger went in 1961, so Clint's success had nothing to do with Roger's trip. Also, Clint's first movie with Sergio Leone was A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY was the third movie Clint and Sergio made together.)

"I had a certain profile in Italy by this point, and so when I was offered the lead in an Italian picture, Irving encouraged me to take it; even though the money wasn't brilliant. So I left Hollywood behind me, again, and departed for Rome to make THE RAPE OF THE SABINE WOMEN or IL RATTO DELLE SABINE, as the natives say.
"I received the script for SABINES, one of the scripts I should say, as many different language versions existed to accommodate the real Heinz 57 nationality mix of all the actors involved: English, French, German, Yugoslav, Italian and the rest. The film was about the founding of Rome, the story of Romulus and Remus. I was to play Romulus. Casting a blond, blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon as the twin of Remus, raised by a wolf and becoming the founder of Rome, seemed somewhat ambitious to me. However they were paying, so I said nothing."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Roger Moore and Lee Van Cleef

From: MY WORD IS MY BOND A Memoir by Roger Moore with Gareth Owen
(After starring in the Warners Bros. TV series The Alaskans, Moore was cast on Maverick as Brett's English cousin, Beau.)
"Again, we had some lovely guest stars and when Lee Van Cleef was appearing in a episode my parents came to visit. It was their first visit to Hollywood, and quite an eye-opening experience for two ordinary folks from south London. My mother, in particular, was a huge Western fan, and Lee Van Cleef was one of her favourite actors. So to be in Hollywood, on a Western set, meeting Lee was a thrill and a half."