Daily Archives: November 9, 2018

Afterword to THE BIG BRASS RING, A Screenplay by Orson Welles (with Oja Kodar)

Published with the screenplay by Santa Teresa Press in the fall of 1987, and reprinted in my 2007 collection Discovering Orson Welles (along with the introductory paragraphs that follow, tweaked and abridged somewhat). The photograph of Welles’s typewriter reproduced below was taken by Kodar’s nephew, Aleksander (“Sasha”), and Oja herself can be seen lurking indistinctly in a corner. (What I presume is one of her sculptures, on the desk, is more visible.)

When I presented [a] Welles tribute at the Santa Barbara film festival in 1986,
one person in the audience who introduced himself to me afterwards was James
Pepper, a local rare book dealer who, in response to my assertion that the        Welles screenplay for The Big Brass Ring should be published, expressed some     interest in bringing out a limited edition of 1,000 copies. Having already brought out a handsome volume devoted to Robert Towne’s original screenplay for Chinatown in a similar way, he seemed to know what he was talking about, and  I conveyed his proposal to Oja Kodar [whom I had recently met at the Rotterdam Film Festival].

The following year, around the time I was preparing to make a permanent move to Chicago to write for the Chicago Reader, the book appeared.Read more »

Two Key Moments from DEFINING MOMENTS IN MOVIES [from FULL METAL JACKET & THE NEON BIBLE]

Two particular (and very different) moments that I described for Chris Fujiwara’s Defining Moments in Movies (2007). — J.R.

1987 / Full Metal Jacket –- The closeup of a dying Vietcong woman, a sniper.

U.S. (Warner Bros. Pictures). Director: Stanley Kubrick.

Cast: Matthew Modine, Ngoc Le.

Why It’s Key: It condenses the film’s power into an intense, mysterious moment.

I had the rare privilege of seeing Stanley Kubrick’s last war picture — an adaptation of Gustav Hasford novel’s The Short Timers, about his experiences during the war in Vietnam — with war specialist Samuel Fuller, shortly after the film came out. He didn’t much care for the picture, he said afterwards, because he didn’t much like films about training, and besides, this movie wasn’t antiwar enough for his taste; he thought it might even encourage some teenage boys to enlist in future wars. Of course, Fuller had extensive war experience and Kubrick had none, which might have also played some role in forming his bias.

But one thing in the film that he loved without qualification was the close-up of the wounded Vietcong sniper at the end while she’s begging for Joker (Matthew Modine) to finish her off —- above all, for the look of absolute hatred in her eyes.… Read more »