Who Lives In The Star Wars Galaxy? Written by Stephen Schochet
It's hard to say where old Hollywood ended and new Hollywood began. People in industry don't think of themselves as making history, they are just going to work. But day in 1967 that Jack Warner cleaned out his desk at Warner Bros. studio, George Lucas and Frances Ford Coppola arrived on lot.
The two young filmmakers were very different in demeanor. Coppola a legend at UCLA film school was 27, a loud boisterous mixture of mogul and marxist, who prided himself in dressing like Fidel Castro. He impressed film executives at first with his bravado, but later would upset them with his reckless overspending. Five years younger, Lucas, who went to USC, was quiet and introspective. The only guys at Warners who were below 30 and wore beards, they hit it off instantly with Coppola taking mentor role. Lucas had made a thirteen minute science fiction film project called THX 1138, a dark look at a computer controlled future. Coppola convinced his protégé to extend it into a full-length film and talked Warner Bros. into financing it.
Over next few months wily Coppola played both sides. "I'm telling you this kid Lucas is making a great film." Coppola told Warner brass. "Don't put pressure on yourself, they don't expect anything," He reassured Lucas. When they saw completed THX 1138 Suits were furious. "Francis what is this?" "I don't know, I've never seen it." replied bewildered producer. To Lucas's dismay studio cut out parts from THX 1138 before they released it. "They're cutting fingers off my baby."
THX failed at box office and Coppola was held financially liable for $300,000, but two filmmakers were given another chance to make a low budget movie at Universal. Impressed by success of Easy Rider (1969) old guard at studio was reaching out to new talent, once again Coppola would produce and Lucas would direct. Lucas was encouraged by his wife Marsha to make second project more positive. At USC he had studied anthropology learning that American male has a unique mating ritual, he drives around in cars trying to pick up girls. Lucas combined this observation, with his own love of classic cars, his small town upbringing in Modesto, CA and his appreciation for top 40 songs played on radio by disc jockeys like Wolfman Jack. The result: American Graffiti.
When Stars CollideWritten by Stephen Schochet
During silent era it was thought a waste of money to make a movie with more than one star. Personalities like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton were considered potent enough box office on their own. But with dwindling attendance during great depression MGM decided to feature Hollywood's first all star ensemble cast in Grand Hotel (1932) starring mammoth egos of Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, John Barrymore and Greta Garbo. The director Edmund Goulding was unable to let Joan Crawford and Garbo have any scenes together for fear they might try to upstage each other. Although she complimented her Swedish co-star's beauty, Crawford hated Garbo's demands for top billing. Knowing that Greta hated tardiness and Marlene Dietrich, Crawford was constantly late and played Dietrich's records loudly on set.
Crawford had another classic encounter with rival Bette Davis on set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962). Betty, knowing that Joan was widow of Alfred Steele, former head of Pepsi Corporation, had a Coke dispenser brought in for cast and crew. When Joan was late Bette, an often nasty woman but a total pro, would proclaim loudly," Is Widow Steele ready yet?" Joan retaliated by lining her dress pockets with weights so in a scene when Davis had to drag Crawford's nearly dead character across floor, she almost broke her back.
Male stars don't always get along either. On location in Japan, for filming of The Teahouse Of The August Moon (1956), Glenn Ford paid a visit to his co-star Marlon Brando's dressing room. "Marlon did you eat one of chocolate chip cookies my wife sent me?". "No I didn't Glenn." "OK." Ford hesitated at door. "Marlon, all you to do was ask, you didn't have to take one." Ford left to shoot his next scene giving infuriated Brando time to go into Ford's dressing room and smash remaining cookies with a sledgehammer.
Another Ford, Harrison, had a dustup with Brad Pitt during making of The Devil's Own (1996). At first Pitt was excited to be working with older actor, but his enthusiasm waned as script focus moved away from his sympathetic young Irish killer to Ford's middle-aged, happily married policeman. Ford perhaps threatened by younger star, accused Pitt of trying to be an apologist for IRA. The film was delayed almost every day for hours as Pitt, Ford and director Alan Pakula would argue about script. The budget skyrocketed to over ninety million, became a box office failure and led to Columbia Pictures head Mark Canton, being fired. During production when two had stars had fight scenes together they took out their frustrations by landing real blows.