I’ve tried for nearly an hour to find an online PDF of Wendell Mayes‘ script for Go Tell The Spartans, or a transcript of the film’s dialogue — same difference. I’m in love with a soliloquy spoken by Burt Lancaster, playing Major Asa Barber, as he tells a young soldier (played, I think, by Craig Wasson) why he’d been demoted from the rank of Colonel a few years back.
Lancaster/Barber was stationed near Washington, D.C, he recalls, and having an affair with his commander’s wife. Some months passed and then a party was given by this commander at his Virginia suburb home — a very special dinner party that the U.S. President was expected to attend.
“Sometime late in the evening I quietly slipped out to meet the commander’s wife in a backyard gazebo,” Lancaster says (although this is strictly from memory). “I was in love with her and she with me, and this naturally led to certain acts of worship and affection. She dropped to her knees and began making love to me, orally.
“You sometimes lose track of time during such moments, but I know that suddenly I heard someone clear his throat. I looked up and realized we were being watched. It was fairly dark but there at the top of the gazebo steps stood my commander…”
“Oh, God,” says Wasson.
“And next to him, the President…”
“That’s right — the President of the United States.”
“What did you do?”
“I did what any soldier does in the presence of a superior officer,” Lancaster replies. “I saluted.”
This scene somehow takes on an added quality when you mash it together with that Ernest Lehman story about his first encounter with Lancaster while visiting the Beverly Hills offices of Hecht-Hill-Lancaster.
If anyone can find the original Mayes script, a transcript of the film or, better yet, a video clip of this scene, please send along.
The rule as I see it is (a) celebrities are entitled to slap, shove or punch anyone violating their privacy with a camera because for dignity’s sake alone they have to strike back at the tabloid paparazzi malevolence, and yet (b) regular people aren’t allowed to get aggressive or hit anyone because they almost never have to deal with a stranger taking their picture and if they don’t like it, tough.
Older showbiz folk tend to either recall their lives in a naked-blunt Klaus Kinski style (i.e., “I’m too old to muddy my memories with even a smidgen of bullshit”) or with excessive fondness. Saint lives in the latter camp. Every big name she’s worked with (Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Alfred Hitchcock, Sam Shepard) was fascinating or colorful or generous or curiously lovable.
And Morgan doesn’t even ask Saint about doing makeout scenes with Warren Beatty in All Fall Down (1962), back when Beatty was Rob Pattinson? (Especially with Morgan having just told filminfocus about “my obsession with stuffed animal claw machines, Dare Wright, and Warren Beatty as Berry-Berry”?) Saint’s heavy breathing with Beatty was hotter than anything she got into with Brando in On The Waterfront. Morgan has no interest in Beatty’s manner or personality at the time, what he and Saint talked about, where he thought his life was heading? C’mon!
I’m sorry but when everything in an actor’s past is seen as a variation on delightful or wonderful or heart-warming, the result is boredom plain and simple.
“The first test screening for Titanic was at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. [Director-writer James] Cameron flew there ahead, ostensibly to test the audio systems, while producers Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini and 8 or 9 20th Century Fox executives rode in on the corporate plans.
“Cameron had roped off seats for himself in the theatre. He likes to sit in the middle of the audience, but not next to an audience member who might reognize him and definitely not next to an executive, so Sanchini was his buffer. He had also rigged the audio so he could ride the volume the whole time — anything to focus on but the anxiety.
“Cameron almost always projects an image of complete confidence around studio brass. Some of the time, he’s faking. That day he was terrified. His reputation, Fox and Paramount’s money, peoples’ jobs were all riding on the fact that Titanic [had to be] better than good. “He said, ‘Someday I’m going to die at a preview screening of one of my films. I’m just going to have a heart attack and die. I know it. This where it’s gonna end for me,’ Sanchini recalls.
“When the lights went down he whispered to Sanchini, ‘We’ll know in the first few minutes if this has all been worth it.’ The movie started, with its sepia-treated titles and the deep-dive footage of the wreck, and the audience was wooden. No reaction. ‘We’re fucked,’ Cameron whispered to Sanchini. ‘It’s all over. There’s no point.’ But by 10 or 15 minutes in, the crowd started responding — a special-effects transition from the wrecked Titanic to the pristine one drew a ‘wow!’ and Leonardo DiCaprio earned some chuckles.
“The film seemed to get over some kind of hump with the audience, and Cameron exhaled.
“When the focus group leader interviewed the crowd after the film, it came out that the audience thought they were going to be seeing Great Expectations. That’s what they had been told, for reasons of security. They thought the first few minutes were a trailer for Titanic.” — a passage found on page 222 and 223 in an uncorrected galley of Rebecca Winters Keegan‘s The Futurist (Random House), due on 12.15.
Last night I attended the first prime-time public screening for Chris Smith‘s Collapse at the Angelika. It played just as powerfully for me as it did in Toronto. The show was a little more than four-fifths sold out. Producer-director Smith spoke before and after the film. There were many questions. More than a few people in the audience seemed pumped. I was too.
Collapse editor Barry Poltermann, producer/director Chris Smith at Tom & Jerry’s on Elizabeth, about 90 minutes after the finish of Smith’s q & a at the Angelika, following the 7:30 pm show — Friday, 11.6.09, 10:25 pm
Smith reported during the q & a that Collapse star/commentator Michael Ruppert has formed a band called New White Trash, and that the sound they’re putting out is somewhat reminiscent of material by Beck.
I tried to have a chat with Smith in the Angelika’s street-level lobby after the q & a, but people kept coming up and asking him stuff. The lobby music was too loud to record anything anyway. Smith is a bright, easy-going, fair-minded fellow. Obviously sharp and inquisitive, but not a hard-ass. He likes to laugh. He has a sense of irony about everything.
Smith is partnered with Collapse producer Kate Noble. They have places in Milwaukee and in North London. They’ve been staying with Cinetic Media’s John Sloss during their current New York sojourn.
We all went over to Tom & Jerry’s on Elizabeth Street after it was all over — Smith, Noble, Collapse editor Barry Poltermann, composers Didier Leplae and Joe Wong, myself, a 42West rep, various friends, etc.
(l. to r.) Collapse editor Barry Poltermann, composers Joe Wong and Didier Leplae, producer-director Chris Smith — Friday, 11.6, 10:55 pm.
42West has been sending out copies of Collapse to every political-minded commentator and talk-show host in the New York-Washington-LA realm. In a perfect world Smith would be talking soon with Charlie Rose, Bill Maher, Bill Moyers, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough…all of those guys.
Collapse will be opening next weekend in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Sunset 5. (That’s a shitty place to open a film in — why didn’t Ted Mundorff offer a booking at the Westside Pavillion?) It’s being offered now as a VOD on Cinetic’s FilmBuff.
How can anyone go to 2012 and then say “Naah, I think I’ll pass on the more or less factual, real-life version”? What kind of dull-brained slug do you have to be to make this determination? The only thing to do is to see both, I think. Yes, I intend to see Roland Emmerich‘s latest disaster-porn extravaganza; it’s having an all-media screening here on Monday night.