The fine director Milos Foreman went to his reward this past April 13th in his home state of Connecticut, aged 86. Much has been written about Forman and his meticulous body of work–both during his life and in the weeks after its termination. So who needs more text about his work? How about his house? Isn’t that what’s really important?
Foreman left his Commie-Pinko Czech homeland in the late sixties after having made several deeply impressive films (‘Loves Of A Blonde’ is the one I’ve seen). He headed for New York and apparently lived cheaply at the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street for his first several years in the states. I’m unclear how, after his flop American debut film ‘Taking Off’, he was offered the plum job directing ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’ but his Euro-rep was sufficiently impressive to have done the trick and the film, of course, made history. The windfall of profits apparently gave Foreman the opportunity to move uptown, where he bought an apartment at the Hampshire House on Central Park South, with ‘sweeping views of Central Park’ (I quote a New York Times article of the period). Ahhh, for the days when it was cool for movie directors to live in the swank and tony elegance of Uptown Manhattan, instead of the dirty, worn precincts of Downtown and Brooklyn. By placing himself at his new address, Foreman officially joined the upscale A-list New York based brotherhood of directors–Mike Nichols lived at the Carlyle Hotel, Woody Allen at 930 Fifth Avenue (74th St), Arthur Penn at 2 West 67th, Sidney Lumet in a brownstone at Lexington and 92nd and Alan Pakula in a banker-esque Park Avenue Co-op.
But it was the 1979 acquisition of Forman’s country pad in Warren Connecticut that made the director truly feel at home in America. Litchfield County apparently reminded him of his Czech country boyhood and the converted barn he purchased from painter Eric Sloane–facing a pond and encompassing a suitably vast amount of acreage–was his true home for the rest of his life. Click here to read a very nice New York Times article from 2009, with an accompanying slideshow of the house. I like the messy, comfy informality of the ‘great room’ (pictured above) complete with outdated technology (is that a Marantz receiver I see? VHS tapes?), a goofy, undersized billiard table and a comfy but decidedly inelegant sofa. RIP Milos. Good films and good real estate add up to a good life, well lived.