and a few more...
PETER HUNT - interviewed by Gary Giblin
Gary: By the way, as an aside, guess what was on telly in London last week? Ferry to Hong Kong [which Hunt edited in 1958].
Peter: Yes, I know! I got a friend to record it, because I haven't got a tape of it. I had just come back from a meeting or something and just caught the last few minutes of it. And it quite surprised me because I didn't think it looked as bad as I thought it might have looked. [Shot on location by future Bond director Lewis Gilbert, Ferry stars Curt Jurgens as a stowaway aboard the eponymous boat, and Orson Welles as the pompous captain he antagonizes.] It's very slow. Boy, wouldn't I have got on with it now!
Gary: Oh, yes. I was going to say, I don't see too much "sharp cutting" there.
Peter: (laughing) No way! No, I must say.
Gary: Orson Welles was really horribly miscast as an English captain.
Peter: Of course he was. Of course he was. It was an adventure story and dear Lewis Gilbert is not the best director for an adventure story, in my opinion, and having done a lot of work with him on many, many films. I don't mean to denigrate him at all. He's just much better with a small, delicate subject like Educating Rita. He's got a lovely sense of humor and style. But once you put him on–I mean even on the Bond film, I think he was…lost! But, I must tell you a very funny story [about Ferry]. We shot the whole film in Hong Kong, you know. And we were out there, and Welles was about to arrive and Lewis was going off to the airport to meet him and have a press conference. And Lewis said to me, "Come with me, come with me, dear boy!" So I said, "All right, lovely." And we went along and met Welles and it was all, you know, the usual zoo of cameras and reporters. And we were sitting in this great room at the airport and the reporters were asking him questions and so one of them said, "Mr. Welles, can you tell me about this character you're playing in the film? Why did it particularly appeal to you?" And Welles said, "Because it's the greatest comedy I've ever been offered!" And Lewis and I just looked at one another because we always considered it an adventure story, not a comedy!
Gary: Well, that shows in the film. The other characters are all doing one thing and then there's Welles…
Peter: (laughing heartily) Absolutely!
Gary: There's Welles–he's in a comedy!
Peter: Yes, he tried to turn it into a comedy.
Gary: I guess that was right before Touch of Evil [Welles' 1958 cult classic starring Charlton Heston as a Mexican police officer and Orson himself as a corrupt lawman].
Peter: Yes, I guess it was. I loved Welles, incidentally. I found him delightful. We got on very well. He had married this beautiful Italian [actress Paola Mori] and they had one little girl. And they had this big suite in the Repulse Bay Hotel. And he had this 16 mil[limeter] projector, because, of course, as you know, there was no [video] tape then, it was all film and 16 mil. And at night he used to run 16 mil films for himself and his wife, but he could never lace up the projector [thread the film]. He couldn't make it work. And he realized that I was a sort of technician there and had a cutting room and all that, so he would always ask me to come and lace up his projector. And then he would always invite me to stay for dinner. And I became quite a sort of close friend during that time, which I found very enjoyable. Of course, he was a great raconteur, tremendous conversationalist, most of which was rather exaggerated, I found. I got to know him so well that I realized what his trick was. He would read a book on fly-fishing, for example, and then, wherever he was in the next day or so, he'd turn the conversation to fly-fishing. And because he had this brilliant "instant memory" he would be an authority on fly-fishing. And you'd think, Look, he knows about everything! He must be marvelous! But, you ask him about fly-fishing six weeks later and he wouldn't know a thing about it!
INGRID PITT - the lesser of the Pitts, but still a Pitt...
HG: How did you find the experience of being directed by Orson Welles in "Chimes at Midnight"?
Ingrid: Gruesome. He wasn't an easy man to work with. They claim it is because he was a genius. OK but so what? I only had a small part in the film so I didn't have much to do with him on set. Off-set was a different matter - we still didn't get along.
An Interview with Curtis Harrington
by Rusty White
I think one of the most famous films never released is Mr. Welles' "The Other Side of the Wind."
Yes well, I'm privy to what is going on. Gary Graver is trying to set a deal with Showtime to pay for the completion of the film. It's all shot, it just needs final editing, sound effects, the final music and the whole production will be finished. There is a big problem and I think this is still an ongoing problem. They haven't resolved it yet. One of Orson Welles' daughters is an incredible, its very unfortunate, an incredible obstructionist. She is in the grip of a shyster lawyer. Whenever anything is done, she brings a law suite trying to get money. She's just vicious about it. She's a terrible person. When they did the restoration of "Touch of Evil" she caused trouble at Universal. She's extremely litigious because of this guy, this shyster lawyer that she is involved with. It's very unfortunate. She's preventing...they're afraid you see...she makes them afraid to make a deal to finish the film, because she's threatening and threatening and threatening. Even if she doesn't have a leg to stand on, they don't like the idea that there is going to be a lawsuit to fight through. Can't blame them. She is just awful.
What was it like working on "The Other Side of the Wind"? There was an amazing number of directors acting in the film?
Well I'm one of them!
It was fun. Orson did it (the sequence with Mr. Harrington) the night before I began shooting "What's the Matter With Helen?", the very night before. I had to get up early to begin shooting, but I was so thrilled that I would do this little scene for Orson that I said "Come hell or high water, I'm going to finish my prep (on "Helen") and I'm going to be there and do this!"
Have you been able to see portions of the film?
A huge amount of it. Gary Graver, in trying to get the money to complete the film, arranged several screenings, not public screenings, but private screenings in a projection room in a laboratory or a studio.
It sounds like the movie has an intriguing premise.
Well, it's a very...it's an Orson Welles movie! It has two simultaneous storylines. It's about a film director played by John Huston, and then interspersed with the present day story about this film director are scenes from his latest film. So it's a film within the film. The film that he's shooting, which it has sequences from, is done in a very different style than the rest of the film. So it is very fascinating exercise.
Well hopefully one of these days the lawyer will go away...
I wish he would!
...and the world will get to see this.
It's really a shame that she is so terrible. She should be promoting the completion of the film, not obstructing it.
You would think so. You would think that she would tend to profit from its release. What did you think of "Touch of Evil"?
It's one of my favorites. There again, that's one of the great master works of the cinema, and it was totally ignored, totally ignored, even more ignored than my film "What's the Matter With Helen?" when it was originally released. It was released as a B-picture by Universal. They didn't like it. The executives didn't like it, nobody there liked it. They didn't understand it, they didn't want it, so it was just thrown out. It took France to recognize this. Then people began to notice it.
I guess it is to much to ask a producer to think beyond the bottom line, but from a historical viewpoint, where would Martin Scorsese be without "Touch of Evil"? That movie had such an impact on him, you look at the opening shoot...and Brian De Palma or Francis Ford Coppola?
Of course. Orson has had a profound influence on all of us. Absolutely. He was one of the great theatrical geniuses of the 20th century.
Yes, and he still owes me $99.00 for that fender on my Camero.
But, hey, I'm not going to be like his daughter and sue.