Warner Bros. Studio Burbank, Calif.... 843 6000
STANLEY KUBRICK FEATURE
There is only one boss on a Stanley Kubrick film. That's Stanley Kubrick. On'Barry Lyndon" we missed the familiar traffic of most other film sets, the endless arrivals and departures of fat men in pin-striped suits with their dolly girls.
To onlookers on the set, Kubrick was not immediately identifiable. Usually he had to be pointed out - that apparent idler over there, that's Stanley. He is abstemious. Drink was never used, either at work or while relaxing. His words are few: "Get me a 35 lens, I said 35. Let's go. Action. A cigarette. Again." Never a swear.
The only human frailty one could notice was his smoking, but even that is unusual. He promised his wife never to buy cigarettes again - so he just carries on smoking other people's. At times I would have loved to refuse him a cigarette.
Working in the Kubrick machine was an introduction to a world in which the impossible became the probable. "No way" became "Why not?" Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. If you had any plans of your own, you soon learned to swallow his "forget it" pill.
Looking at Kubrick crouched behind a camera in an autumn evening striving to catch shafts of orange sunlight as soldiers gallop past, one could appreciate the frustrations of such a painstaking genius surrounded by people in the most effective way. Apart from a military operation, he believes the most difficult task is to make a film. The creative battle, he once said, was won or lost in the administration of the shooting schedule.
"One's got to have what one wants, where one wants it and when it is required," he said. From Slievenamon to Blenheim, I've seen him escape the suggestions of art directors by driving off alone to resolve his doubts about a scene. He has said that film -making reversed the old adage that what was needed was a system de signed by geniuses which could be run by idiots.
"Giving an order," he has said, "is only a fraction of the job. One must keep coming up with new ideas of displaying information, remembering, reminding and following up."
By Kubrick's reckoning, man is limitless. Yet he himself will not fly or be flown although he holds a pilot's license. He drives his own car, be cause he wouldn't trust a driver. His car is fitted with the best safety devices available - it paid off for him and Warner Bros. the night a sports car ran into him from behind as he drove back from location.
Kubrick lives in self-sufficient security with his wife, Christiane, who is an artist and a former actress, and his three daughters in a secluded house in Hertfordshire. If Kubrick likes somebody, there is no limit to the lengths to which he will go to facilitate them. Hardy Kruger was a case in point. One particular morning, ~Iardy had to finish a battle sequence in Bath and that afternoon he hoped to be in Munich for a World Cup Game.
In the scene, a beam was to fall on him, half killing him and leaving him covered all over in shine-up-your-buttons-with-brasso. I was put on the job of arranging Hardy's subsequent escape to Munich.
I had to lay out markers for a helicopter and then make arrangements for a travelling bathroom. Near noon, Hardy arrived from the set. By one o'clock he was cleaned up, had eaten and was on his wa.t to Gatwick for a private flight to Munich. Another kind of Kubrickism.
Earlier, while the production was still in Dublin Castle, the governor overheard one of his propmen complaining of a pain. An assistant was immediately told to bring the sick man to a doctor, and return with a written report on his health. The ma.n was given a. month's rest on full pay in a hotel and later got a. golden handshake. On Easter break from shooting in England, the Irish members of the unit were treated to a free trip home to their families.
Another side of Kubrick was his incredible attention to detail and his need to satisfy himself about everything.
Then there was the man's precision and speed. One day he was shooting a scene with Ryan O'Neal riding up a canal bridge into view. I was riding away from the camera and had crossed the bridge and saluted Ryan.
Wham! At fantastic speed an RAF bomber split the clear sky and looked like spoiling the whole scene. "Do you want him back, Stanley?" I shouted. "No, we got it first time."
They say the devil loads a gun every six years, I'd say also that God loads a camera every three years and hands it to Stanley to work the life out of it. Stanley had found a way to use a camera like no one else. With a camera. trained on a scene, he is as sure as death itself. For his exterior scenes, he used no artificial lighting, the 'sparks' played cards more often than they worked. For his interior scenes, he used no lights on the set, only the candles, so when you look at his 18th century, you see it as it was.
"The Killing" was the first picture that I ever inhaled a cigarette at, and that was by mistake. It was also from that four -penny matinee I remembered "A Stanley Kubrick Production." It was by luck I got to know the meaning of that term, and it did me good to work for a genius for a. change.
No one ever panned a camera in Tipperary before so it was virgin land for Stanley. Through his eye we see the innocent beauty of Ireland as in contrast to the rich material wealth of England. "Lyndon" is a story of the rise and fall of a naive yet gallant adventurer who infiltrates into the upper class quarters and climbs a ladder stacked against the wind. It is a tale for the masses by a true artist.
One night Ryan asked Stanley if he had the choice which of his films would he remake to which he replied, he would remake tham all except "2001: A Space Odyssey." I wonder does he feel the same way now about our own dear "Barry Lyndon?
"Barry Lyndon is written for the screen, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and stars Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson. For release worldwide by Warner Bros.
** * * Printed in U.S.A. 11376