6/30/15

BIRTHDAY

It's Raymond's birthday and we're about midway through shooting, so Raymond has no time to blog today. Never fear, as his trusty assistants will post on his behalf. Not too much to say, just a few photos of our beloved leader Ray.


Eating birthday cake on set, overlooking Central Park (and thinking of Anthony Mann?)


Surrounded by his team, taking in a luxurious location at the end of the day.



Holding his mini-monitor, guiding the  action during a busy street shoot.


 HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAYMOND!

6/27/15

"MADOFF" GOES PUBLIC

The first official picture of Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner playing Bernie and Ruth Madoff was released by ABC yesterday and was quickly splashed all over the digital print world--Deadline, The Wrap, New York Daily News and--most importantly for me--Vanity Fair Online. Why are they most important? Because...come back to find out...

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6/21/15

CRACKING THE MANN CODE

Yesterday a quite exceptional moment in the field of film studies occurred spontaneously and quite innocently. I posted an interview with Sara Montiel, former wife of director Anthony Mann, and expressed my frustration at not being able to understand her Spanish. Within moments of tweeting my post, film historian and critic Farran Smith Nehme had retweeted it with a 'calling all cars' alert to her many followers, asking for help with the translation. And within the hour, students of the work of one of our finest (and continually underrated) filmmakers had a whole new set of building blocks to play with. This could only happen at this time, in this century, deeply embedded as we are in the connectivity of all cultures. A major thank you to all who participated!

It turns out that Anthony Mann was not a violent man as I'd feared was being implied. Indeed, he was apparently gentle, caring and more than a little haunted. The person who helpfully stepped up with the necessary translation has summarized it in the comments section of the previous post, but I'll reprint it below.

"The questions are about love and hapiness. Sara says she has loved and been happy, but some people have suffered for loving her, like Anthony. Love for them arrived too late, though. Anthony taught her most of what she knows now, including how to love in a different way and to be less impulsive. Anthony was also the man who discovered stars as Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner and Ingrid Bergman, and created innovative exterior shots working in Gone with the Wind.
She loved Anthony since the first time she saw his movies. Since he was self-conscious about the age gap, his daughter told Sara to make the first move. They then went to walk in Santa Monica beach, she was barefoot (all men seemed to be attracted by her feet). It was 1957, when Sara had lost her husband, and five months later she married Anthony in a hospital. The union was encouraged by his daughter. 
Sara and Anthony had a son, who died when he fell down the stairs. When their relationship began to fade, Anthony went to direct El Cid in Spain, but Sara refused a role in the film and went to tour in argentina and Mexico. But he fell in love with Spain and with time they just got apart and divorced, but she was deeply moved when he died in Berlin in 1967.
She says she felt always protected and guided by Anthony Mann, and still refers to him as "my husband", which she says is logic when the interviewer asks her why ("well, he once was my husband, right?"). She says her image as a seductress is wrong and she fought a lot in her life, receiving a lot of help from "Tony".
Her now husband says he knew Anthony Mann better when he got to know about his relationship wth Sara. He even has a positive opinion on Anthony, the man."

A coupling of dangling issues--'hanging chads' as it were--that remain unresolved.I assumed Mann left his first wife Mildred for Sara as the dates on his IMDB page give 1936-57 for his marriage to Mildred and 1957-63 for his marriage to Sara. Perhaps the marriage had ended earlier, however, thus making sense (sort of) of the strange fact that Mann's daughter 'encouraged' him to go after Sara.  Mann's daughter is/was named  Nina and I have a feeling she's this Nina Mann, an actress who appears as herself' in a documentary called 'A Night At The Movies: The Gigantic World of Epics', which Dreamworks TV had something to do with. If this is her, then she must be talking about her father and the production of the Bronston mega-pix. Perhaps these posts might somehow find their way to her--anyone out there got her number? And assuming the internet trail hasn't led me astray, Nina's mother Mildred may well have been the same Mildred Mann who was a very important figure in the 'new thought movement' of the mid-century. (She's roughly the same age as Anthony and both of them can be placed securely in New York City in 1936 when they were married). If it's her, it gives us a little insight into AM's career trajectory--he went from actor to theater director to screen test director for Selznick, to GWTW apprentice, to 'dialogue director' for Preston Sturges, to B-quickie director, a clear case of a young man in relentless pursuit of a very specific goal. Furthermore, Mann's first batch of films met with little or no positive response from audiences or critics and I wonder if his stick-to-it-iveness and huge work ethic had its roots in the early 'positive thinking/imaging' work of Mildred Mann. (Or maybe she was just a dame named Mildred who wed a guy named Tony). But the most important part of the above paragraph has to do with the awful tale of the kid who died on the stairs. I haven't the slightest idea of whether this tragedy impacted Mann's work in any obvious way, but certainly Sara's involvement in his life was concurrent with his most emotionally resonant film "Man With  A Gun", his most outwardly erotic film "Gods Little Acre" and had to have influenced the unusually deep and evolved romantic plot of "El Cid". 


As I've mentioned before, Mann and I share the same birthday, June 30th which is--yikes--about a week away. I will be 51 and am in mid-shoot of my eighth movie. When Mann turned 51 he was either beginning or finishing 'Man Of the West', my favorite of his westerns. The fact that we share a birthday is much less meaningful than my appreciation of his art. But the fruitcake-spiritual side in me can't help but wonder if he was tapping on my shoulder--indeed, the collective shoulder of the entire film appreciation community--and letting us know that more information was available and that its time to be known was finally here...

6/20/15

THE PASSION OF ANTHONY MANN...I THINK...


Above I've posted a thirty minute documentary about the relationship between Spanish actress/chanteuse Sarita Montiel (Sara Montiel to Hollywood--or is it the other way around?) and her relationship with various lovers, primarily director Anthony Mann (who I posted a very rare interview clip of a week or so ago). Unfortunately, the interview is conducted in Spanish, a language I have absolutely no knowledge of despite taking it in 7th grade. This is beyond frustrating as I have no idea what the hell she's talking about. I've watched it a few times, looking for clues as to the story she's telling. From other sources I've garnered the following info; they met on the movie 'Serenade', a Mario Lanza comeback flop that Mann directed in 1956. They fell in love and Mann, in full fifty-year-old mid-life crisis mode, left his wife for the sultry Montiel (who was twenty-two years younger than him). They married and were together for about seven years when the marriage was either annulled (according to one source) or simply sputtered to an end in divorce.

But did it sputter? Or did it explode? Montiel's demeanor in the interview is mysteriously low-key when discussing Mann. Since I can't understand a fucking thing she's saying, I've been trying to look for body language, eye tells, etc. all in an effort to uncover the tale of the marriage. Along the way there are some great photos and clips. At 11 minutes 30 seconds in, there's a clip of Mann being interviewed (not the one I posted earlier) and discussing violence. He talks of how satisfying violence is to audiences because it isn't happening to them. Mann then characterizes himself as "a very mild-mannered guy." What does this mean? Is the clips inclusion meant to be counterpoint to the tale Montiel is telling? Is Montiel recounting memories of a violent relationship with the director? Unless somebody out there translates this for me, I have only dark implications to go on. About 15 minutes into the doc there's a nice "love montage" of photos of Montiel and Mann. Finally at 19 minutes there comes behind the scenes footage of the making of "El Cid"--this little filmlet is, I believe, available on the two-disc DVD reissue. It's inclusion implies that the massive epic somehow brought about the end of the Mann-Montiel union. In closing, all I can say is: WHY DIDN'T I PAY ATTENTION IN 7th GRADE SPANISH? As I recall, it was because I was hiding in the back of the room reading books about film directors...

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6/10/15

MADOFF IN AMERICA - an Original Rap-Disco Drama

Guest bloggers Sam & Kristina here!

We are Raymond's assistants on MADOFF, an ABC miniseries about the rise & fall of Bernard L. Madoff. Research on this kind of project is a major undertaking. There is always more to know about the Madoff fraud, always another story. The victims of this enormous Ponzi Scheme are an incredibly varied group, from famous actors like Kevin Bacon and John Malkovich, to nurses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Each story is as unique as it is heartbreaking. We'll share their stories and other findings from our research in the coming days. For now we'll with start on a relatively light note with... MADOFF IN AMERICA: AN ORIGINAL RAP-DISCO DRAMA


Ellen Bernfeld's family was invested with Madoff. We first encountered Ellen through reading her eloquent essay about the failures of the SEC and SIPC in THE CLUB NO ONE WANTED TO JOIN: MADOFF VICTIMS IN THEIR OWN WORDS. Ellen is also a Singer/Songwriter/Performer, creating original music under the name Norma Human

MADOFF IN AMERICA is one of her creations, a "Rap-Disco Drama... Reporting on the recession and the Bernie Madoff scandal."