Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book review - "Blade Runners, Deer Hunters And Blowing The Bloody Doors Off" by Michael Deeley

Deeley was a giant in the British film industry of the 1970s - kind of like being a fantastic cricket player for New Zealand... His name always seemed to be associated in various books with disasters and bitterness (eg Stanley Baker losing all his money after they sold a building and being in business with Deeley, re-cutting The Wicker Man) - so it was good to hear Deeley's side of the story. And when you look at it, his credits really stack up - as he points out, no sequels or crappy rip offs. Deeley obviously had a lot of get up and go, tenacity and an eye for talent. He also seems to have had a great ability to annoy people - he's not a particularly likeable raconteur. But the British film industry would have been better off keeping him in charge of EMI.

Some decent anecdotes: raising funds for the mega-flop Where’s Jack? ("the star of Zulu, the director of To Sir With Love, the writers of Point Blank equals a hit"); Warren Beatty trying to have the love scene cut from Don’t Look Down; David Bowie being anti social but professional on The Man Who Fell to Earth; Vanessa Redgrave was going to star in Robbery; adding Jason Robards to Robbery as the as the mastermind of the robbery at the request of Joe Levine (to appeal to US audiences) but then cutting him out because it was silly; Peter Collinson’s disregard for safety on The Italian Job, resulting in the near death of some of the crew; just missing a plane flight which blew up while shooting Murphy’s Law; Peter Yates turned down The Godfather; taking Convoy off the hands of Sam Peckinpah (a big box office name for distributors in the 70s); dealing with Michael Cimino’s arrogance on Deer Hunter and Noel Coward’s infirmity on Italian Job.

Deeley doesn't try to sugar coat himself. He was friends with Peter Yates, but that ended after Murphy’s Law; friends with Stanley Baker but that ended when Baker was turfed from British Lion; friends with Barry Spikings but that ended. He bags Julia Ormond for being a pain on Young Catherine; Christopher Lee for bagging him over the cutting of The Wicker Man; Lew Grade for his crap films; Michael Cimino for being an arrogant, lying prat. Very entertaining read if you're interested in any of his films or the British industry of the 70s.

No comments: