Saturday, May 17, 2014

Livia J. Washburn; Crime Wave Andre DeToth

Prairie Rose Publications: PRP New Release 

-- Mending Fences By Livia J Washburn...

Prairie Rose Publications: PRP New Release -- Mending Fences By Livia J Washb...: Dime novelist Brianna Stark finds more than she expected in the small frontier town of Zephyr, Texas: not only a ready-made family in th...

Livia will be giving away a digital copy of MENDING FENCES to one lucky commenter today at the Prairie Rose Publication blog! Be sure to leave your contact information in your comment--it may be your lucky day! If you just can't wait to see if you won, here are the links where you can find MENDING FENCES in print and digital formats.
André de Toth

CRIME WAVE directed by Andre DeToth

Crime Wave aka The City is Dark Poster.JPG

Ed here: This is one of my favorite B movies,a masterpiece of tension and psychology. Sterling Hayden is amazing but then so is Gene Nelson. Much of it was shot on location in early 50s L.A. and is fascinating to see. I watched it again last week and then Googled DeToth to see if I could find him talking about this film. This is an excerpt from a long reprint from Senses of Cinema (originally appeared in Film Noir Reader).

ADT: Yes. I got this script for Crime Wave which was quite interesting. But again they wanted Humphrey Bogart…and Ava Gardner. Or if not her, somebody like her, a star. This was all wrong. And for the cop, I needed somebody that walked the line between enforcing the law and breaking the law, that had enough strength to survive in either sphere, but not completely tied up in knots inside, someone who has a warm spot inside.
AS: That wasn’t Bogart?
ADT: I thought that Sterling Hayden in every way would be a better fit. He had a certain rumpled dignity. He wasn’t bigger than life like Bogart. When I wrote the story to The Gunfighter (Henry King, 1950), I thought at the time, they will probably only consider two people: John Wayne, who was big and stupid, or Gary Cooper, who had quiet dignity. How different would that have been from what they got with [Gregory] Peck? Better? I don’t think so.
With Bogart or someone like that, I had 35 days to make the picture. It’s not about film noir, I know, but I think I told you before the story about making Springfield Rifle (1952) at Warners. I wanted to shoot in Lone Pine. They had an attitude: this is Warner Bros. and Lone Pine is a B-picture location. I flew my plane from Mexico to Colorado brought back ten albums of location pictures—with names on the back so they couldn’t see them—and had Jack Warner and the producer pick what they thought was best. And, of course, they picked Lone Pine. That’s how the mind works at the big studios.
When I went to Jack [Warner]‘s office to talk about Crime Wave, he screamed, “What the hell are you thinking of? I offered you Bogart and Ava Gardner, the biggest names. You don’t want them?” I said, “No, thank you.” “All right, then,” he was through with me now: “Go ahead, Tex, and make the Goddamned picture with nobodies. Cut your own throat. But in that case, you’ll have to shoot it in 15 days. Go on, get out.” I was happy. I won. And I made the picture in 14 days.
AS: With the cast you wanted.
ADT: With the cast I wanted. You know, I never made any of these pictures to get reviews or make the studio happy. I made the pictures I wanted to make. It’s only in the last ten or 15 years that anybody has taken any notice of my pictures. Which I appreciate. But back then, I didn’t go to see my pictures in theaters. I was on to the next projects. I didn’t keep posters on the walls. My kids bought the posters in this room for me.
I think there is a reason that I never went in for pictures that cost money. Once you made your first picture and came in on schedule and on budget, they left you alone. From then on, nobody bothered me, nobody looked at rushes, nobody knew what the hell I was doing. After you brought in two or three pictures, you had that freedom. And for me, that meant more than another thirty thousand dollars in my salary or another two or three hundred thousand in the budget. Most of that would have gone to bigger name actors anyway. Perhaps it was my conceit, but I felt that I was creating the picture, so even if you did not like what I had done, if you thought it was shit, it was still my shit.
AS: So you preferred working in B-budget films?
ADT: Yes. At that time, I had worked in a range of budgets from two hundred or two hundred fifty thousand dollars up to six or seven hundred thousand; but no more. Why would I want to do a “million dollar picture”? I didn’t need a million headaches. With the lower budgets, most of the time, I was left completely alone.
AS: Crime Wave has a lot of night location work for a 14- or even 15-day schedule.
ADT: Yes, we shot most of it a night with the slower speed film of that time. But we knew what we were doing, how to light it quickly. And I never thought we needed more time. It’s like a painter staring at an empty canvas, I saw the picture and how much time I would need before I started. On everything I did, I could see what I expected to be on the screen before we started to make the picture. I really did not need more than 15 days.
AS: How did you pick your Los Angeles locations in both Crime Wave and Pitfall?
ADT: Actually I picked a lot of locations after talking with the local police department. Who better to tell you about what type of people live in which neighborhoods? That’s how I decided on where the house would be inPitfall. On Crime Wave, I actually asked the police which physical lay-out would make a bank the easiest to rob.
The real is the simplest and the best. Why build sets or imagine locations to fit some sketches you did, I always laugh at people when they start to work with sketches. That’s not how to have a picture in your mind. When you can find a real place to hear real dialogue, isn’t that enough?

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