Back in the 1980s, cinema journalists Phillippe Garnier and Claude Ventura seem to have created a show consisting of interviews with Hollywood directors (and occasionally actors) that I can only presume was made for French TV. Titled ‘Cinema, Cinemas’ (English translantion: ‘Film, Films’ or, colloquially, ‘Movie, Movies’) the show consists of neat little twenty minute segments combining interviews of the filmmakers in English (subtitled in French) with scenes from the films accompanied by somber French commentary (with no English subtitling). A number of episodes are posted on Youtube and I’ve just killed a significant portion of my workday watching a few. This all came about because I’m reading a biography of writer-director Richard Brooks and went casting about for interview footage of him that might have been parked by someone on the Tube. Voila! Youtube never disappoints, does it? A nice discovery, this ‘Cinema, ‘Cinemas’ program (alternate translation: ‘Picture, Pictures’ or, colloquially, ‘Flick, Flicks’.)
Brooks talks exclusively about ‘In Cold Blood’ in this segment and almost does a Truman Capote imitation–he wisely stops himself after it fails to convincingly get off the ground. His manner is one that doesn’t seem to exist in people anymore–that of a grand, confident and intense anecdotalist. He was certainly a spellbinder and, though perfectly calm and well-mannered, one can see the rage beneath the surface that was, apparently, often in evidence on his sets. He actually got away with starting his movies without completed scripts and frequently refused to show actors more than the pages they were shooting, apparently convincing them that their performances would be better if they didn’t know what was coming next. How Burt Lancaster, Gene Hackman, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Diane Keaton, Sean Connery etc. actually put up with this insult is beyond me. Nonetheless, Brooks was an interesting and highly successful (and unusual) combination of studio system functionary and iconoclastic auteur and the interview is a nice way to spend twenty minutes avoiding work, to say nothing of exercise.