The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.
- Audrey Hepburn

Questions for Scott Eyman

Past chats with our guests.

Moderators: Sue Sue Applegate, movieman1957, moira finnie, Lzcutter

User avatar
MissGoddess
Posts: 5108
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 10:01 am
Contact:

Postby MissGoddess » October 16th, 2007, 11:15 am

Mary of Scotland is (mildly) interesting for several reasons: John Carradine seems to be playing a gay man, for one thing, and you can intuit Ford's interest in Hepburn because he gives her dozens of big, soft-focus close-ups of the sort he almost never gave leading ladies.
The main problem is that the script isn't very good - the entire romantic relationship between Fredric March - certainly among the least Fordian of actors - and Hepburn is stillborn, probably because Hepburn worked best with jaunty, slightly mocking leading man - Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy - and the material doesn't allow that.
Also, Elizabethan England means a film of manners, and Ford was only interested in manners if they were Irish.

S.E.


Mr E:

Regarding your last comment, I must admit I am amused and delighted by Ford's incorrigible biases and contradictory predilictions. How refreshing! He was the real cactus rose.

I was privileged to see the restored print of Drums Along the Mohawk last week at the NY Film Festival and it prompts me to ask a question regarding the film's purported "historical innaccuracies". I bring it up because so often when I tell people I love this movie they always throw in my face it's "totally innacurrate" and yet they seldom give me specifics. I'm wondering if you can shed any light on whether there are any truly glaring historical gaffs to your knowlege. (At least one actual historian has told me that Ford just fudged with the timing of events a little)

This way, I can shamelessly name drop and retort that "Scott Eyman said....". Unless, of course you agree with them. :wink:

User avatar
Scott_Eyman
Posts: 48
Joined: October 11th, 2007, 1:50 pm

Postby Scott_Eyman » October 16th, 2007, 12:41 pm

Mr. Eyman:

My compliments to you on the "My Darling Clementine" DVD. It was exactly the thing I would have like to have done by showing two different versions of the movie.

Your commentary was well done and immensely informative right down to your explaining the camera angles.

A question about "Clementine's" ending. Given all the versions and history we have is there a reason Ford chose to have Holiday die in the fight other than making the ending more dramatic?[

I see Ford's decision to kill off Holliday as consonant with his general take on the western. Remnants of the unregenerate old west have to die off if the new, gentrified west is to survive. That's why the Three Bad Men die, why Tom Doniphon is in the box at the beginning of Liberty Valance, why Ethan Edwards has to be exiled at the end of The Searchers. Theoretically, Holiday should be able to survive civilization nicely; he's educated, he's a doctor, etc. But he doesn't want to survive; he gambles, he drinks, he consorts with whores, he's marinated in self-loathing. Underneath it all, he's still a gentleman, but you have to blast for it.
He's also a far more interesting character than that overgrown Boy Scout Wyatt Earp could ever be, which is why the actor playing Doc Holliday always steals the movie.

S.E.

User avatar
Scott_Eyman
Posts: 48
Joined: October 11th, 2007, 1:50 pm

Postby Scott_Eyman » October 16th, 2007, 12:48 pm

Hi Mr. Eyman. I have several questions, if that's okay:

Now that so many of the primary sources for your books have passed away, do you find that interviews on film or tape or in transcripts have affected your choice of future projects?
**************
Have you met any obscure individuals in your research for any of your books whose memories seemed to deserve a book of their own?
**************
Will more Lubitsch films ever become available on dvd? Why are so few seen on broadcast tv?
**************
What is your opinion of the seldom seen serious Lubitsch film, Broken Lullaby (1932)?

Thank you.

1. They're still writing books about the Civil War, and everybody's dead. I presume film history will still be written as more documents and letters become available. History is a constant process of re-sifting the evidence. I have a list of a dozen or so book ideas, and almost all of them deal with pre-1960 movies.
2. A book, no, but lots of people deserve to have a moment in the sun. One of my dream projects is a history of the American movie industry told entirely through the voices of people I've interviewed, most of whom I've never quoted in a book. I've even got the title, but I'll keep it to myself for the moment.
3. If not DVD, they'll be available for download. It might take five years, it might take ten, but pretty much everything will be accessible one way or the other. Probably the other.
4. I think Broken Lullaby is close to terrible.

S.E.

User avatar
Scott_Eyman
Posts: 48
Joined: October 11th, 2007, 1:50 pm

Postby Scott_Eyman » October 16th, 2007, 12:54 pm

Mary of Scotland is (mildly) interesting for several reasons: John Carradine seems to be playing a gay man, for one thing, and you can intuit Ford's interest in Hepburn because he gives her dozens of big, soft-focus close-ups of the sort he almost never gave leading ladies.
The main problem is that the script isn't very good - the entire romantic relationship between Fredric March - certainly among the least Fordian of actors - and Hepburn is stillborn, probably because Hepburn worked best with jaunty, slightly mocking leading man - Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy - and the material doesn't allow that.
Also, Elizabethan England means a film of manners, and Ford was only interested in manners if they were Irish.

S.E.[/b]

Mr E:

Regarding your last comment, I must admit I am amused and delighted by Ford's incorrigible biases and contradictory predilictions. How refreshing! He was the real cactus rose.

I was privileged to see the restored print of Drums Along the Mohawk last week at the NY Film Festival and it prompts me to ask a question regarding the film's purported "historical innaccuracies". I bring it up because so often when I tell people I love this movie they always throw in my face it's "totally innacurrate" and yet they seldom give me specifics. I'm wondering if you can shed any light on whether there are any truly glaring historical gaffs to your knowlege. (At least one actual historian has told me that Ford just fudged with the timing of events a little)

This way, I can shamelessly name drop and retort that "Scott Eyman said....". Unless, of course you agree with them.

This is heresy, but here goes: I just don't know. I dimly remember reading the novel of Drums Along the Mohawk years ago, and I liked it but I haven't read it since and the earth, as Preston Sturges once wrote, has cooled considerably since then.
Historical fiction in that era was marginally less goofy than historical fiction of our era, but then who knows what the Fox screenwriters did to the book? And Ford was moving at top speed at this point, shooting five or six great movies in two years, so he couldn't spend three or four months fine-tuning any one script.
How was the restored print? Did they project film, or digital?

S.E.

User avatar
MissGoddess
Posts: 5108
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 10:01 am
Contact:

Postby MissGoddess » October 16th, 2007, 2:29 pm

filmfriend wrote:
This is heresy, but here goes: I just don't know. I dimly remember reading the novel of Drums Along the Mohawk years ago, and I liked it but I haven't read it since and the earth, as Preston Sturges once wrote, has cooled considerably since then.
Historical fiction in that era was marginally less goofy than historical fiction of our era, but then who knows what the Fox screenwriters did to the book? And Ford was moving at top speed at this point, shooting five or six great movies in two years, so he couldn't spend three or four months fine-tuning any one script.
How was the restored print? Did they project film, or digital?

S.E.


It was beautiful; I never really appreciated until seeing this screening how much an "outdoorsy" movie this was. Seeing it on TV gave me little sense of the land. Sitting in that theater, I could almost smell the new blades of grass. Going by Scorcese's introductory remarks this was a film presentation. He said this print would be taking a country-wide jaunt along with the restored Leave her to Heaven (also gorgeous). I hope you and EVERYONE can get a chance to see it like this.

And I'm always happy to hear from the heretical. Thanks for answering.

Miss G(rateful)

User avatar
Birdy
Posts: 903
Joined: June 6th, 2007, 2:25 pm
Location: The Banks of the Wabash

Postby Birdy » October 16th, 2007, 3:18 pm

Mr. E,

It is an honor to meet you in cyberspace after having read your books Flashback and Speed of Sound. I look forward to reading some of the biographies.

I thought it was very interesting that Edison was not interested in pursuing the patents of his first machines overseas. In your opinion, how would it have effected the evolution of movies (if at all) had he done so? I was fascinated by the simultaneous invention of so many parts of the film process.

Thank you,
Birdy

klondike

Postby klondike » October 16th, 2007, 3:20 pm

filmfriend wrote:

I was privileged to see the restored print of Drums Along the Mohawk last week at the NY Film Festival and it prompts me to ask a question regarding the film's purported "historical innaccuracies". I bring it up because so often when I tell people I love this movie they always throw in my face it's "totally innacurrate" and yet they seldom give me specifics. I'm wondering if you can shed any light on whether there are any truly glaring historical gaffs to your knowlege. (At least one actual historian has told me that Ford just fudged with the timing of events a little)

S.E.


Mr. Eyman;

Thank you for visiting with us, and welcome to our Site; my hope (and I'm sure it echoes that of many others here) is that you will continue to be a member/contributor after the tenure of this, your "maiden voyage" with us!
As to the inaccuracies topic r.e. Drums Along the Mohawk, the only one I've ever noted is more cultural/genetic than historic - namely, that I cannot suspend my disbelief that even an athletically fit frontier farmer like Fonda's character, could outrace several out-for-blood Iroquois warriors in hot pursuit; eastern woodland tribes in general, Iroquois in particular, and Mohawks specifically were raised to be obsessive foot-racers - it served them extremely well in both their training for war, and in their native sport of lacrosse (which they played with great fanaticism whenever they took a break from nailing scalps to trees).
To this day, other tribals across the breadth of Canada (where most Iroquois migrated to, following the War of 1812), grudgingly acknowledge that citizens of the Iroquois League are still the fastest-footed of all aboriginals.
Myself, I can pretty much overlook the likely faux pas of that scene . . but I'm in the habit of watching classic films with my wife, and as she was born into the Canajoharie Longhouse of the St. Regis Reserve . . well, I'm lucky if I all I hear is a growl or 2 & some teeth gnashing.
(Unlike the time I mustered the nerve to share a couch with her during a viewing of Black Robe . . man-o-man, it was not pretty!)
:x

Hollis
Posts: 695
Joined: April 15th, 2007, 4:38 pm

"John Ford Goes to War"

Postby Hollis » October 16th, 2007, 6:45 pm

Good evening Mr Eyman,

I watched with interest the documentary "John Ford Goes to War" that you participated in and a question arose that I don't think was broached during the show and it's actually quite simple. Do you think that the "propogandizing" of the War (a term I know he hated) achieved its' desired result when it reached it's intended audience? The critics and others that commented on them never said whether they had spoken to anyone that had actually seen the films when they were released. As an afterthought, why do so many of the 87 (I think it said) films that the Field Photographic Unit produced remain unreleased? As a veteran, and as someone whose father served in the ETO, I'd be more than a little interested in seeing them. Thanks for spending some of your valuable time with us this week. I just received a copy of your book on John Ford and look forward to reading it ASAP.

As always,

Hollis

User avatar
Scott_Eyman
Posts: 48
Joined: October 11th, 2007, 1:50 pm

Re: "John Ford Goes to War"

Postby Scott_Eyman » October 17th, 2007, 9:37 am

Good evening Mr Eyman,

I watched with interest the documentary "John Ford Goes to War" that you participated in and a question arose that I don't think was broached during the show and it's actually quite simple. Do you think that the "propogandizing" of the War (a term I know he hated) achieved its' desired result when it reached it's intended audience? The critics and others that commented on them never said whether they had spoken to anyone that had actually seen the films when they were released. As an afterthought, why do so many of the 87 (I think it said) films that the Field Photographic Unit produced remain unreleased? As a veteran, and as someone whose father served in the ETO, I'd be more than a little interested in seeing them. Thanks for spending some of your valuable time with us this week. I just received a copy of your book on John Ford and look forward to reading it ASAP.

As always,

Hollis

Hollis,
The number of films the Field Photo Service worked on is deceptive. Most of them were for in-house use - training films, aerial reconnaisance films, that sort of thing - and were never supposed to see the light of day for the general public. Back in Hollywood, the Disney studio also made a lot of training films for the the government - Disney would have gone belly-up without the government funding, because the studio was reeling from the consecutive flops of Bambi, Fantasia and Pinocchio.
The only Field Photo film made for the public but which got truly balled up in production and release was December 7th, which was directed by Gregg Toland, and re-edited and, if memory serves, slightly re-shot - by Ford.

S.E.

User avatar
Scott_Eyman
Posts: 48
Joined: October 11th, 2007, 1:50 pm

Postby Scott_Eyman » October 17th, 2007, 9:44 am

I was privileged to see the restored print of Drums Along the Mohawk last week at the NY Film Festival and it prompts me to ask a question regarding the film's purported "historical innaccuracies". I bring it up because so often when I tell people I love this movie they always throw in my face it's "totally innacurrate" and yet they seldom give me specifics. I'm wondering if you can shed any light on whether there are any truly glaring historical gaffs to your knowlege. (At least one actual historian has told me that Ford just fudged with the timing of events a little)

S.E.

Mr. Eyman;

Thank you for visiting with us, and welcome to our Site; my hope (and I'm sure it echoes that of many others here) is that you will continue to be a member/contributor after the tenure of this, your "maiden voyage" with us!
As to the inaccuracies topic r.e. Drums Along the Mohawk, the only one I've ever noted is more cultural/genetic than historic - namely, that I cannot suspend my disbelief that even an athletically fit frontier farmer like Fonda's character, could outrace several out-for-blood Iroquois warriors in hot pursuit; eastern woodland tribes in general, Iroquois in particular, and Mohawks specifically were raised to be obsessive foot-racers - it served them extremely well in both their training for war, and in their native sport of lacrosse (which they played with great fanaticism whenever they took a break from nailing scalps to trees).
To this day, other tribals across the breadth of Canada (where most Iroquois migrated to, following the War of 1812), grudgingly acknowledge that citizens of the Iroquois League are still the fastest-footed of all aboriginals.
Myself, I can pretty much overlook the likely faux pas of that scene . . but I'm in the habit of watching classic films with my wife, and as she was born into the Canajoharie Longhouse of the St. Regis Reserve . . well, I'm lucky if I all I hear is a growl or 2 & some teeth gnashing.
(Unlike the time I mustered the nerve to share a couch with her during a viewing of Black Robe . . man-o-man, it was not pretty!)

You're undoubtedly correct, although it's rather like asking the question, "Why don't the Indians just shoot the horses?" in Stagecoach. It means an abrupt, deeply unsettling ending to the movie - a buzzkill.

S.E.

User avatar
Scott_Eyman
Posts: 48
Joined: October 11th, 2007, 1:50 pm

Postby Scott_Eyman » October 17th, 2007, 9:49 am

Mr. E,

It is an honor to meet you in cyberspace after having read your books Flashback and Speed of Sound. I look forward to reading some of the biographies.

I thought it was very interesting that Edison was not interested in pursuing the patents of his first machines overseas. In your opinion, how would it have effected the evolution of movies (if at all) had he done so? I was fascinated by the simultaneous invention of so many parts of the film process.

Thank you,
Birdy

Birdy,

The reasons for Edison's decision may very well have been logistical and practical. Remember, all the renegade movie companies had to do to stymie the Patents Company in this country was move production to California. Result: freedom. The Patents company collapsed in a couple of years.
How hard would it have been to police Edison's patents across the Atlantic Ocean, and utilizing different legal systems?

S.E.

User avatar
MissGoddess
Posts: 5108
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 10:01 am
Contact:

Postby MissGoddess » October 17th, 2007, 10:28 am

Hi again, Mr E:

I have one more Fordian query. My favorite actor is Gary Cooper and I've always thought it would have been a match made in heaven had Ford directed him in an appropriate vehicle. I know Ford attended Coop's funeral service so apparently they had some connection but have never read of any contemplated film project. Have you any light to shed on a project Ford especially wanted Cooper for (or vice-versa) which failed to gel? It is one of those tantalizing "might-have-beens" that I can't get out of my mind.

Cheers,

Miss G

SSO Admins
Administrator
Posts: 851
Joined: April 5th, 2007, 7:27 pm
Contact:

Postby SSO Admins » October 17th, 2007, 12:07 pm

My next question: how do you decide what projects to work on? It seems to me that doing a thorough biography is a huge investment of time and energy in someone's life. How do you come to a decision that a particular person is worth that?

What drove you to choose the projects that you have?

User avatar
Scott_Eyman
Posts: 48
Joined: October 11th, 2007, 1:50 pm

Postby Scott_Eyman » October 17th, 2007, 12:33 pm

]Hi again, Mr E:

I have one more Fordian query. My favorite actor is Gary Cooper and I've always thought it would have been a match made in heaven had Ford directed him in an appropriate vehicle. I know Ford attended Coop's funeral service so apparently they had some connection but have never read of any contemplated film project. Have you any light to shed on a project Ford especially wanted Cooper for (or vice-versa) which failed to gel? It is one of those tantalizing "might-have-beens" that I can't get out of my mind.

Cheers,

Miss G

Miss G,

I too love Gary Cooper - I named my German Shepherd Cooper after him, because he's lean and elegant like his namesake - and I agree that Cooper would have been wonderful in a Ford film. The reason he didn't work for Ford was probably due to two reasons:
1. Bad timing. Cooper was under contract at, respectively, Paramount, Goldwyn and Warner Bros, places Ford didn't frequent.
2. Prior loyalties to John Wayne, always Ford's first choice even when he was wrong for the part (Donovan's Reef...).

Another guess - they knew each other from church - Ford was a semi-regular churchgoer, and Cooper was a serious Catholic after he converted.

S.E.

User avatar
Scott_Eyman
Posts: 48
Joined: October 11th, 2007, 1:50 pm

Postby Scott_Eyman » October 17th, 2007, 12:50 pm

My next question: how do you decide what projects to work on? It seems to me that doing a thorough biography is a huge investment of time and energy in someone's life. How do you come to a decision that a particular person is worth that?

What drove you to choose the projects that you have?

I find that most of my projects are a backhanded way of getting someone to pay me to acquire an education. The books stem from basic curiosity about the subject - I want to know what happened to that person or in that period. And that presupposes that nobody else has satisfied my curiosity with their own books. There were two previous biographies of Mayer, both terrible in entirely different ways, and only two odd books about the transition to sound. No biography of Lubitsch at all. A bunch of books on Ford's films, but nothing good on his life. And so forth.
In line with that, I love Charlie Chaplin, but David Robinson's book and a couple of others tell me what I want to know, so I don't feel a compulsive need to weigh in with my two cents. I'm not that egocentric, although my wife probably thinks otherwise.
Once I get a short list of subjects in which I'd be willing to invest 3-5 years of my fast-ebbing life, it then becomes a question of, Will any publisher buy this? and, ultimately, Does this book make me itch to get started?
The stuff I might do in the future is all very much in line wth these precepts. In a sense, it's probably hurt me financially - as my publisher and I can both tell you, there's a good reason nobody writes books about the transition from silents to sound - but I'd rather get a staph infection than write the 148th book about Bette Davis....or Kate Hepburn.

S.E.


Return to “Archived Guest Stars”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests