Under Marlon Brando‘s direction, filming on One-Eyed Jacks began at the end of 1958 and lasted until…I don’t know when but apparently until sometime in the late spring or early summer of ’59. Six months of shooting. A thousand takes. Almost 200 miles of shot film. A revolving door of personnel, including Rod Serling, Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick — all cut loose before the cameras rolled. And a budget that swelled from $1.8 million to $6 million. Alleged Brando quote: “If you wrote a book about what’s been happening on this movie, you could make $1,000,000.” Brando began performing his starring role in Sidney Lumet‘s The Fugitive Kind sometime in the late summer of ’59, allowing Lumet to assemble it in time for a 4.14.60 debut. Editing on One-Eyed Jacks wasn’t completed until the fall of 1960. Brando’s original cut was five hours long — what a tragedy that all that surplus footage was destroyed! Paramount eventually seized the film and recut it to 141 minutes. “Now it’s a good picture for [Paramount],” Brando reportedly said upon its 3.30.61 release, “but it’s not the picture I made…now the characters in the film are black and white, not gray and human as I planned them.”
Sasha Stone and I did our Oscar Poker chat today as I was driving back from Santa Barbara. Topic A, of course, was the five BAFTA wins by The Revenant, including Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro G. Inarritu) and Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio). Which seems to pretty much wrap things up Oscar-wise, certainly in the wake of Inarritu’s DGA win last weekend and tonight’s ASC win by Emmanuel Lubezski. The only way The Revenant doesn’t win the Best Picture Oscar is if Academy voters, who’ve only been voting since last Friday and have until 2.23 to finish up, decide to revolt en masse. Again, the mp3.
From Andrew Barker’s 9.13.15 Variety review: “In a cinematic landscape awash with hairsplittingly literal musical biopics, it comes as a pleasant surprise to discover that Robert Budreau’s Chet Baker film, Born to Be Blue (IFC Films, 3.25), is not a Chet Baker biopic at all.
“It is, instead, a film about a character who happens to share a name and a significant number of biographical similarities with Chet Baker, taking the legendary West Coast jazz musician’s life as though it were merely a chord chart from which to launch an improvised set of new melodies.
“Upending the conventions of the musical rise-and-fall formula while still offering a relatively straightforward three-act narrative, the film is anchored by an Ethan Hawke performance that ranks among the best of his career. It’s hard to say how much of a draw it will be commercially: Jazz purists will likely be confused, and viewers expecting anything resembling a primer on Baker’s music will be frustrated. But Budreau isn’t out to make a live-action dramatization of Baker’s Wikipedia page here; he’s trying to make a real film.”
Notice the description on the card about Cary Grant’s hair being mussed. By the standards of 1958 or ’59 a tiny cowlick and a couple of hairs not being perfectly combed amounted to mussed and disshevelled. Has anyone used the word “mussed” in conversation within the last 30 or 40 years? George C. Scott to Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove: “Mr. President, I’m not saying we won’t get our hair mussed. But I am saying no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops. Depending on the breaks.”
Biltmore Hotel hallway — Saturday, 2.13, 9:15 pm.
Front-page news yesterday morning.
Jean Hagen, Sterling Hayden in John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle (’50).
I don’t like mingling with hotel guests or staff. If I run into one I’ll turn on the pleasant smile and say “good morning!” but if I can avoid them I will. Partly because I prefer morning solitude, and partly because the folks who stay at the Fess Parker Doubletree (I had to leave the Santa Barbara Holiday Inn two days ago) tend to be the same kind of people who go on Caribbean cruises and vacation in Cancun and Las Vegas. Middle-aged marrieds, overweight types, elderly folk, tourists with kids…later.
All to say that when I want a cup of Starbucks Instant I’d rather fill the cup with hot water from the bathroom tap than hit the breakfast lounge. It’s not the staff (they’re all gracious and obliging) as much as the riff-raff.
In any event I was up early this morning and not, for a reason I won’t go into, at the Fess Parker but at the Cabrillo Inn. Around 6:45 am I turned on the bathroom tap and waited for the hot water. And waited. It didn’t happen, never even turned warm. So I went downstairs with my day-old paper cup and my Starbucks Instant and strolled into the complimentary-breakfast room. Some 50ish guy (a tourist from Chicago, he later explained) was standing inside and giving me the once-over.
Two women were preparing things; they weren’t quite ready to serve. But all I wanted was some hot water so I asked if I could get some. In a minute or two, they said. So I nodded and waited. It wasn’t worth explaining that tap water would suffice.
The guy from Chicago thought I had overstepped. Chicago guy: “Why don’t you ask the hotel manager?” Me: “What’s he gonna do?” Chicago guy: “That’s what he’s here for.” Me: “What’s he gonna do, push the emergency hot-water button?” Chicago guy: “He could get an engineer to fix the pipes.” Me: “At ten minutes to seven on a Sunday morning? Yeah, that’s a possibility.”
Apologies for not posting sooner about Friday night’s Santa Barbara Film Festival appearance by Carol costar Rooney Mara. She sat for a moderately engaging interview with Entertainment Weekly‘s Joe McGovern, who asked some gently perceptive and knowledgable questions, and accepted the Cinema Vanguard award for her Oscar-nominated Best Supporting Actress performance in Todd Hayne‘s Carol. A taped tribute by Mara’s costar Cate Blanchett was shown at the finale, and then Haynes himself presented the award.
Rooney Mara prior to Friday night’s Santa Barbara Film Festival tribute. (Photo shamelessly stolen from the Daily Mail.)
Carol director Todd Haynes, Rooney Mara, Santa Barbara Film festival director Roger Durling.
Mara handled the ordeal as best she could. Yes, it’s fair to use that word. Mara was a good sport. She made every effort to be gracious and responsive, and she definitely smiled from time to time. But you could sense that she regarded the tribute as a kind of gauntlet or courtoom grilling — as a rite of oppression that she had to do. Maybe all actors and filmmakers feel this way, but they hide it better or…you know, they’re not struggling with it as much.
Mara has never been one for jazzy, free-form interviews — her natural inclination is to be chaste if not solemn, and to refrain from comment unless she really has something to say. She’s certainly never submitted to the glib-ironic, casually brain-farty, red-carpet aspects of celebrityhood.
Can I be honest? Mara is not loved by some who have interviewed her previously. She’s regarded as bit of a stiff — smile-less, humorless, wrapped too tight. But that’s okay. Greta Garbo wore this hairshirt this back in the ’30s (“I vant to be alone”) and it didn’t hurt her career or lessen her allure.
Okay, yes, I noticed a few walk-outs during the Mara tribute. (I was out in the lobby for a short period.) I was chatting with a 40ish couple around 9:05 pm, and asked at one point why they were leaving. They said “Uhm, well, you know…it’s almost over.” Translation: They wanted it to be over.
Mara is who she is, and that’s okay. She doesn’t like smiling like an idiot all that much, and I don’t like doing that either…fine. She likes to wear her hair in a tight regal bun, and that aesthetic speaks for itself.