The Odd Job
Graham Chapman, best known for appearing in and writing the award-winning Monty Python TV series, is the star, writer and co-producer of a crazy, bizarre, madcap, loopy, loony feature film, the Odd Job.
Also starring is David Jason, who is the star of TV’s A Sharp Intake of Breath. He plays the odd job man who finds employment with Graham Chapman, an insurance executive whose wife, played by Diana Quick, has left him after 10 years. The odd job man’s mission is to arrange Chapman’s suicide regardless of any subsequent instructions to the contrary. Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) the wife returns and the suicide is cancelled, but the odd job man remembers to ignore subsequent instructions.
The Odd Job, filmed Shepperton Studios, is Graham Chapman’s first film since Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the producer of which, Mark Forstater, is also the producer of this new film. Peter Medak, whose films include A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg and The Ruling Class, is the director.
Same time next year
The premise of same time next year is simple: Ellen Burstyn portrays Doris, a housewife from Oakland on her way to a religious retreat when she meets George (Alan Alda), an accountant from New Jersey who is on his way to do the accounts of a friend. It is 1951 at a Northern California Inn and both George and Doris are happily married with three children each, and both are faithful to the respective spouses, until they meet.
They have conflicting emotions about the great night they spent together but finally decide to meet again same time next year at the same guest cottage.
They then have a very satisfying love affair once a year for the next 26 years, during which time they make love 113 times (who counts?), face problems and go through many changes in irrespective lifestyles.
Ellen Burstyn created the role of Doris on Broadway to high critical acclaim and the 1975 Tony award for best actress. Alan Alda, of course, stars in the long-running TV series, M*A*S*H Bolton Gottlieb, who produced the play on Broadway, is co-producing with Walter Mirisch and the film is being directed by Robert Mulligan.
Said Mirisch, “I saw the play on Broadway and bought it immediately. Universal then gave the Mirisch Corporation the go-ahead to make it into one of the studio’s top productions in 1978. That we intend to do.”
Of course, in a film that spans 26 years, the big problem is ageing the principles. This job fell to veteran make up man William Tuttle. “I was challenged with devising six different make-ups in order to portray, in five-year intervals, the ageing process and the lifestyle changes that occur between the two married lovers,” he said.
The same problem befell costume designer Theodora Van Runkle. She said, “I had to design six different sets of costumes, again in five-year intervals and they had to reflect the styles and social conditions as well as Doris’s individual psychological, educational, and economic outlook for each period.”
Richard Dreyfuss – long ago I convinced myself I was a star, that I was special
Some actors are just lucky. Richard Dreyfuss, for instance, doesn’t even look like a movie star but out of his five movies released so far, three, American Graffiti, Jaws and his latest Close Encounters Of The Third Kind are huge box office winners. Of Close Encounters Columbia pictures figure it will be the most successful film in their 50 years of moviemaking. Dreyfuss has another finished film, The Goodbye Girl, a romantic comedy by Neil Simon which co-stars Simon’s wife, Marsha Mason.
“I’m not a star,” he protested.”I still have the same name, Richard Dreyfuss, that I used to write on my assignment papers in school. I don’t feel any different than I did in those days except I must admit it blew my mind the first time I saw my name spelt out in big letters on a marquee.”
“I was driving down Hollywood Boulevard with a girl and I let out a yell when I saw my name up there. I drove by the Theatre five times before I’d had enough of that.”
And he still insists his life hasn’t changed?
“Well, it’s changed in some areas,” said Dreyfuss. “Now I get a lot of calls from girls. In school I wasn’t exactly what you’d call popular with the opposite sex. The most beautiful girls in school, the ones everyone wanted, didn’t want me. Or if they did, I didn’t know it.
“I remember a pretty girl once asked me why I didn’t come on to her. I told her it was because she didn’t tell me to. She insisted she had, and 1000 subtle ways. I told her ‘ don’t be subtle because I’m not subtle. I don’t understand subtlety. If you want me, tell me, because I don’t have the courage to tell you.”
“Getting back to that idea about being a star,” said Richard. ”I have a couple of other thoughts about that. You’re only a star if you’re constantly aware of it and I’m not. The reason I’m not, and this sounds arrogant, is that long ago I convinced myself I was a star, that I was special. So I just got used to the idea long before I ever made it.
“In the beginning it was an emotional reaction, part of my desire to be different. I have a big ego and I’m selfish. But selfish to me is never been a bad word. And an artist has to have an ego. If he doesn’t believe he’s unique he’ll never make it.”
Dreyfuss realises, of course, that talk of art and artists doesn’t mean much in Hollywood.
“You are judged by your value as a box office commodity,” he said. “It’s taken me two years of hard drinking to get used to that idea. The number of lies they tell you in order to have your name on a piece of paper, so they can raise money to make an $8 million movie, is enormous. They’d sell their grandmother, you know, to get the money to make a movie. Hopefully, a movie that will make a lot of money. “But I can accept that kind of attitude now. After all, it’s part of the business I chose for myself.”
“My mother once asked me what would have happened if the family hadn’t wanted me to be an actor. I told her I would have left the family. You know what she said? ‘That’s exactly the right answer.’”
He says his next film The Goodbye Girl is a kind used to see as a kid and wanted to star in when he grew up.
“I play a nice guy, a struggling New York actor, who has an affair with an ex-Broadway dancer. That’s Marsha. She has a nine-year-old daughter played by newcomer, Quinn Cummings. My characters outstanding because he’s incredibly decent. Neill wrote the script with me in mind.”
Actually The Goodbye Girl was inspired by Bogart Slept Here, a film Simon wrote about an actor who scores big in New York and goes to Hollywood to be a movie star. Filming started originally with Marsha Mason and Robert De Niro as the actor. But director Mike Nichols evidently disagree with De Niro’s interpretation of the role and the project was cancelled.
So Simon provided an entirely new script focusing on the actor before he becomes a New York stage success with Dreyfuss firmly in mind for the leading male role.
“I went to the movies every day as a kid. When I told my mother I wanted to act for a living she told me I better get out there fast and do it,” says Dreyfuss. “I tried the lead in The Graduate.
“Well, every young actor in New York and Los Angeles was up for that part. Dustin Hoffman got my role and I got a part with two lines.’ Shall I call the cops? I’ll call the cops.’
My Valley of the Dolls role was even shorter. I got to knock on Patty Duke’s dressing room door and say,’5 minutes, Miss O’Hara.’”
Better parts followed but Dreyfuss wasn’t really noticed until his Baby Face Nelson role in Dillinger in 1973 and, the following year, for his brilliant performance in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.
Now, Richard definitely is one of Hollywood’s top stars
Looking for Mr Goodbar
While Diane Keaton is up there taking off her clothes to strains of Bach, it’s really the director Richard Brooks who finally stands naked in looking for Mr Goodbar.
At 65, he has put it all on the line.
To secure complete creative control from Paramount Studios, for whom he made the film, he took a minimum directors fee plus percentage and, for these and other reasons, he was forced to sell his home. And because he has moved like a vacuum cleaner across two years of time, sucking up every last minute for the project, his family could be coming apart; Jean Simmons, his wife of 17 years, has moved to a new home in Connecticut. Brooks will go where his next movie takes him.
“Maybe my priorities are all wrong,” says Brooks, looking a little tired.
“Maybe when I die, they will put on my tombstone, he was too busy.”
“Is it worth it, I ask myself? Maybe they’ll put all my work in a peanut and throw it away. But my work is all I’ve got. To me it’s the most important thing in my life which does not mean it’s good.”
Brooks’ record might prove to the contrary. Movies like In cold blood; The Professionals; Elmer Gantry and, much earlier, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and The Blackboard Jungle.
Yet here he is, on top of his craft, riding one of the movie’s hottest releases this year.
He called his entire life into question and took The Big Gamble.
Looking for Mr Goodbar, of course, is Judith Rossner’s raunchy race through the singles scene; the story of a girl who hunts men for sex.
Producer Freddie Fields secured the novel and, after it was turned down by directors Roman Polanski, Mike Nichols and Sydney Pollack, turned it over to Brooks.
The choice at first seemed strange, Brooks having established himself as an action adventure man. But then he “accepted the challenge” of saying something about young people today, and their “lack of commitment.”
Seeking the ”magical key” that made the novel such a hot seller, Brooks personally interviewed some 600 women who had read the work.
“While they didn’t all tell me the same story,” he says,” something about it touched them, triggering an identification with their own stories. I want the movie to do the same thing.
“Our version follows fairly closely Rossner’s story, and the problems of young women today, but there are differences. A book is not a film, after all. We have had to translate the words into images, and dramatise the things the book brings to mind.”
Still, Brooks’ heroin, played by Diane Keaton, is more romantic, warmer than Rossner’s brittle, bigoted broad stalking like a lion.
More than most directors, Brooks allows his characters to evolve, regarding the script as “a living, ever-changing thing.” Only when he looks into the minds of the players does he decide what can really come out of their mouths.
He is ecstatic with the performance turned in by Keaton, who reveals so much that Brooks is the first to admit his film will never see a television screen.
Fresh from the bouncy, witty, fully covered Annie Hall, opposite Woody Allen, Keaton here is a totally different number.
“Diane,”says Brooks,” is an extremely shy girl. She is retiring and modest, but inside she’s a pretty tough customer.”
The sex scenes are the most difficult, says Brooks, who traditionally works with a closed set, but routinely this was closed to most of the crew as well.
As is also his custom, Brooks was playing music on the stage the day Keaton was due for her first sexual encounter.
”She was adjusting herself and making psychological preparation,” he recalls, ”when she turned to me and said, ’that’s a lovely piece of music.’ I told it was a piece of Bach, and she said, ‘do you think we could play while we do the scene?’ “I thought it was a fine idea. She performs so marvellously that I decided to play a different piece of music every time one of the scenes came up, making it almost like an old-time movie.”
“It just happened to work for her. Diane is a remarkable woman in that she needs incentive and it must be real for her. She has to feel something, relate to something, and here she related to music. She lost herself in it, knowing she was protected, knowing she didn’t have to worry, people would come peeping around….”
There is no explicit sex in the movie, as a director, Brooks claims to have neither the’ feeling’ nor the’ talent’ for making such films. “If anything, ”he says, ”this is sensual, not sexual. But it still had to look like the real thing.”
While much flesh flashes, Paramount reacted positively, says Brooks, with no encroachment on his artistic control. Keaton also had no control over what ended up on the final print, though contract prohibits the making of stills from “sexually suggestive” frames of the film. To make her work even easier, Brooks hired a female still photographer, but dismissed even her for the lovemaking scenes.
“Diane just had to trust me,” says Brooks.
Keaton’s risk is also financial, as well as artistic. She agreed to ‘about one third her usual salary,’ or some $50,000 according to Brooks, along with points of profit. But in the final analysis, nobody is putting up more than Richard Brooks….And the future?
“Who knows? Is there a career for me after this? Will the public and the press buy my work on Mr Goodbar?
“When people go before a camera and take of some of their clothes, they feel they have removed some of their personality. They reveal themselves. And that can be embarrassing.
Well, I’m up there myself now. I’m naked. Because this movie is what I feel about this segment of life today, and about these particular people. So, yes I am on the line.”
I don’t mind doing nude scenes – Joan Collins
“This is 1978 will stop you open a popular newspaper and see a nude woman on page 3. The paper is on view all over the house so it seems a bit silly not to show nudity on the screen, doesn’t it?”
Joan Collins talking, very candidly, about today’s nude movie scene and about her new movie, somewhat of a scorcher, called The Stud in which she plays the Jetset nymphomaniac who keeps herself well supplied with young men.
It’s a story about a woman who has everything, husband, money, position, yet in reality has nothing and through boredom has to add excitement to life through a series of affairs.
“I don’t mind being seen in the nude,” says Joan.”There’s quite a few scenes in The Stud which show sexual activity between people without their clothes, but it’s not a case of “wham, bang, thank you ma’am.”
She shrugged. ”Who needs all that sort of thing? I don’t think sex on screen is terribly attractive anyway. I find it incredibly boring. I fell asleep during Deep Throat. It was unbelievably ugly will stop is a bit like watching someone eat. I mean eating his very enjoyable but you don’t want to pay to see someone sitting in the hay eating steak and chips.”
That being said, however, we going to see quite a lot of Joan, literally, in the Stud, a movie based, incidentally, on the novel by younger sister Jackie. What to keep on what to take off has been a constantly recurring problem for Joan during her 25 years in the business. When she was just 16 she appeared in Britain’s first ever X-rated film Cosh Boy.
“It was considered to be incredibly daring,” says Joan. “I was a young girl who is raped. All they showed was a close up of my face then dissolved to the next scene where I announce I’m pregnant.” She laughed.
Things were still pretty restricted when she went to Hollywood as an 18-year-old. Cleavage was the main problem then. “The wardrobe lady used to measure my cleavage, laughed the 42-year-old star. “Only one and a half or 2 inches were permissible exposure. They didn’t care about padding or uplift. If too much was showing in went a disguising flower.”
Joan Collins talks about today’s sex scene with a frankness and humour that is very appealing. She views it all very tongue in cheek. For her it’s been like the dance of the seven veils with one veil been discarded just about every other year. A striptease she did in Seven Thieves was cut because it was considered too erotic. In the early 60s, in an Italian movie and wearing only a petticoat, she flung herself passionately onto prostrate Vittorio Gassman.
“It was the first time in one of my movies that I had gone to bed with a man and then it was on top of the covers.” She smiled. The final veil was removed in 1969 in The Executioner. I did my first nude scene in that then they cut it out to get an ‘A’ certificate.”
Today, in the late 70s, it’s really a case of too many actresses jumping on the nudity bandwagon.”There was a stage, not so long ago, when an actress had to fight to keep her clothes on,” says Joan. “I think now though we have reached the peak of eroticism. Nudity, as long as it’s an integral part of the story, as long as it’s not gratuitous, is fine. I feel that showing bosom or bottom is the same as being seen in the bikini, as long as it looks good of course. I’m not particularly shocked by language any more either,” she adds, “and in The Stud you’ll hear this lady say plenty of four letter words.”
“The Stud is a story of today. It’s about contemporary human relationships, and sex is an integral part of that.” She smiled, remembering back 25 years. “You can’t end with a kiss these days.”
Would you believe it’s Christopher Plummer as a Psycho Bank Robber
Chris plays a psychopathic bank robber who disguises himself when he robs banks. One day he’s Santa Claus. Another is a woman. Whatever he is he always wears a silver ankle bracelet and pink false nails!
Costume designer Deborah Weldon dressed Christopher for this sequence.
“He’s a brilliant man who knows exactly how he wants to look,” Miss Weldon explains.
Also starring in The Silent Partner are Elliott Gould and Susannah York. Gould plays a bank teller who dreams of a more exciting life. He turns to robbing his own bank and succeeds in outwitting our strange bank robbing friend as well as seducing the robber’s girlfriend. Finally Gould wins the affections of his bank manager’s mistress, Susannah York.
Plummer’s role must surely be his most bizarre. He’s made over 20 movies, including the Fall of the Roman Empire; Conduct Unbecoming; The Return of the Pink Panther; The Man Who Would be King and, of course, The Sound of Music, in which he played Von Trapp, a role that eventually brought him problems.
“For some time, he says, “I was recognised because of a part which I didn’t feel was particularly exciting, even though it was successful. People only thought of me as Von Trapp.
Determined to get out of that rut he searched for more demanding roles.
“I’ve tried to change from the rolls in which I always seem to be cast as a stern military figure. Now I think I’m more warm and, I hope, more generous and human. I like being normal.”
Normal? I most ironic statement from someone playing a psychopathic bank robber who wears a dress!
Back to Bray for supernatural thrills
That Hammer type of horror movie has given way to supernatural thriller such as The Legacy which was recently filmed at the studio. It brought two American stars over here to make it, Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott. Katharine made her name in such movies as The Graduate and Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Sam Elliott made a big impact in a movie called Lifeguard and was the star of the mini-series Once an Eagle on TV.
“We saw Sam in Lifeguard,” said producer David Foster,” my partner Laurence Turman and myself agreed that this was the first time in a good long while that a big, good-looking actor had turned up. We were impressed .”
Richard Marquand the director, said: “This is a modern story of the real world which is why the events that take place are so frightening. I rarely see movies like this myself, they scare the living daylights out of me!
“For somebody interested in the craft of filmmaking, this picture is a marvellous one to do. It’s very stretching as we’re using all the possible special effects that can be used.”
Extensive location filming has taken place in London and the surrounding countryside.
Magazine caused him “mental pain”
by Philip Finn
Retired singer Frank Sinatra is seeking £2 million damages from a New York weekly over an allegation that he had secretly remarried and was soon to be a father again.
The action was brought today in Manhattan Federal Court.
Sinatra’s lawyers claimed also that he suffered “great mental pain and disturbance”
Over another article in the weekly “Midnight” which alleged that he had cancer.
The court was told that the headline in Midnight dated November 1st – already on sale on the news stands -says “Sinatra married -he’ll be a daddy in March”
The first article in the complaint was alleged to have been published on May 10 bearing a headline saying “Frank Sinatra has cancer”
Sinatra charges that the article “Falsely stated” that he had been forced to retire because he suffered from cancer of the throat and within a year would be forced to be confined to a hospital to await death.
The defendants named in the case have 20 days in which to file a reply.
John Vidar, editor of Midnight said today : “Of course we shall defend the action, and I don’t think we have anything to fear”
Sinatra, who is 56, retired earlier this year.