October 21st , 1957
I had dinner with Dietrich and Chuck Heston to discuss my latest project Touch of Evil. I’d also invited Janet Leigh but she said she had plans to go to the theatre with Tony Curtis to catch some ramshackle, post modern production of the Threepenny Opera.
As usual Marlene spent the evening smoking endless cigarettes and becoming increasingly Gin sodden and Heston insisted on trying out a variety of Mexican accents and asking me which one he should adopt for his character. After an hour or so of his incomprehensible babbling I took him by the hand and said “Chuck dear. Forget about the accent. If we put a sombrero on your head and a moustache under your nose as far as the audience is concerned, you’re a Mexican”.
The main course was so nondescript and dreary it doesn’t even deserve a passing mention but I must confess I was rather fond of the chocolate roulade.
November 5th, 1957
Jack Kennedy invited me over for a late supper and I was delighted to find that Frank Sinatra was also in attendance. We chatted about politics, civil rights and the untimely but amusing passing of Senator McCarthy but when Jack made a crude reference to a sexual liaison with Marilyn Monroe, Sinatra rose from his chair and wagged a threatening finger at Kennedy. “One day you’re going to be sorry you said that Jack” said Frank menacingly and with that he grabbed his coat and slammed the door behind him as he left.
I regretfully ordered the John Dory when any sane man would have clearly opted for the Monkfish
December 23rd, 1957
Last Thursday after a particularly savage rum session, Jack Warner proposed a wager. He said that if I could survive on nothing but brandy and mince pies from now until Christmas day he would finance my next picture and give me complete creative autonomy. I immediately agreed to the bet but after five days on my limited diet, I’m beginning to think I might have been a little hasty in accepting his challenge. My bowels are no longer functioning as they once did and whenever I sit down I can feel a hot mulch of fruit, pastry and brandy bubbling away in my stomach like the foul contents of a witches cauldron.
I believe it was the Greek Tragedian Aeschylus who said “ The reward of suffering is experience” and although once upon a time those words might have brought me comfort, if that ancient sage was stood before me now I’d ring his damn neck for a fat blood orange and a tall glass of cold water.
I had two mince pies for lunch, followed by brandy.
The preview screening of The Magnificent Ambersons was an unmitigated disaster. Not only did several members of the audience fall asleep but a loutish city type approached me after the credits, unbuttoned his fly, and proceeded to urinate on my handmade Italian brogues.
As the scallywag was relieving himself I considered grabbing him by his lapels, marching him out into the alley and subjecting his ears to a severe boxing and yet part of me respected his unorthodox protest.
I recalled a quote from Churchill who said “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” Wise words indeed dear Winston, though I suspect you might not have been so eloquent if you were writing that line in boots sodden with piss.
I had roast Poulet with Paprika for supper followed by a generous slice of Treacle Tart.
Bogart and Huston invited me to a game of Poker and after several hours and several more glasses of Scotch I found myself holding a Royal Flush. I placed a small but inciting wager, and I was delighted when Huston decided to place the remainder of his chips in the middle of the table and invite me to call.
I nonchalantly revealed my winning hand and John immediately took umbrage. “You’re a lousy cheating bastard Welles”, he said bitterly. I gave a wry smile and casually called the waiter over. “Champagne for everyone” I exclaimed “, “And make sure it’s a cheap bottle. Mr. Huston seems to enjoy the taste of sour grapes.”
The Moussaka I had for supper was a little too lubricious but the Lemon Sorbet cleansed my palate sufficiently.
I spent the afternoon watching William Wyler’s Mrs Miniver starring Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon before returning home to find Rita splayed on the bed wearing her finest lingerie. I decided to indulge, as any hot-blooded man would; but all the while I was wondering what aspect ratio William had used on Miniver? It was only when Rita and I reached the apex of our lovemaking that I determined it was definitely 1.37:1.
I had several Hamburgers for lunch that were exceptionally unpleasant, but the strudel was so divine I am considering writing to the Pope in order to have it canonised.
HOLLYWOOD – Advance copies arrived of Mel Gibson’s new autobiography Sad and Angry and Studio Exec was given EXCLUSIVE permission to publish extracts.
From Chapter Eight: Lethal Weapon:
I knew right from the beginning we had a winner on our hands with Martin Riggs. He was a character I could play. Depressed, vulnerable and a hair cut only an Australian could pull off. I remember the first read through with Dickie Donner and Danny Glover. I tell them I like the beginning when the white cop and the black cop don’t get on very well, but after that… I don’t know. Dickie says something about narrative arcs and Danny just looks pissed off.
From Chapter Thirteen: I free Scotland from the Tyranny of the British:
I’ve always felt for the plight of the Scottish ever since I spoke with Sean Connery about it in his island retreat in the Caribbean. Sean is an eloquent advocate for the independence of Scotland and many’s the evening we would sit in his beautiful beach front villa as Sean waxed poetical on the beauties of Scotland and the history. My other Scottish pal Randy Wallace from Texas showed me a script he had written about William Wallace. It was perfect, but I had one question. ‘Is there anyway I could fuck the queen?’ Randy smiled. ‘That’s exactly what was missing,’ he said.
From Chapter Eighteen: Making ‘What Women Want‘:
When you’re making a film it’s always fantastic to see how a project develops and evolves sometimes for the best, other times less so. What Women Want is an example of the latter. Oliver Stone originally approached me with a script that Andrew ‘Diceman’ Clay had written. I say written, there were a lot of crayon drawings and exclamation marks, but you get the gist. That aside, it was the best thing I’d ever read. Not only funny but true. We were all set up to shoot and then Ollie decided he was going to do Any Given Sunday and my co-star Helen Hunt suggested Nancy Myers. As soon as she came on board everything changed. Clay’s script was thrown out, the premise was distorted and even the title changed. Now it was no longer called Women are a Bunch of Stupid Idiots. I know. But the original genius of Clay and Stone’s vision will have to be consigned to the ‘what could have been…’ bin.
For Part One CLICK HERE.
ENGLAND -The first time I met Stanley Kubrick I was walking down a corridor at Shepperton and I saw the Master approaching from the coffee machine. ‘Hello, Mr. Kubrick,’ I said.
‘Come again.’ ‘Hi,’ I said. ‘One more time,’ he changed angle. ‘Good morning?’ I said. ‘Again.’ – The bastard kept me at it for another 59 takes and in the end he used the first one.
This was to be my relationship with the Stanley-oid, as he loved his friends to call him. It was close, intense, fiery and highly competitive. George C. Scott had already warned me that Stanley was a great chess player and had trounced him (and Scotty is no slouch) all the way through the making of Dr Strangelove.
Of course, I was not much good at the game but I knew I had somehow to keep in hand while we were making the 90 minute caper film The Silly Irish Sausage for Warners. So I brought along a game I knew he couldn’t resist Ker-Plunk. What I didn’t know was just how seriously Stan the man, would fall for the game even ringing Mattel and getting them to send over their best Ker-Plunk designer to talk about a movie version. Again and again we played while vital decisions about the progress of the film were often offered up as bets on the outcome.
And that is how The Silly Irish Sausage became Barry Lyndon.
(This extract was taken from the forthcoming book Lunches with Assholes: How Films Get Made due out for Xmas)