In the continuing tribute I'm paying to my late father Frank De Felitta, I was planning on posting the theatrical trailer for the film version of his novel 'Audrey Rose.' But while you-tubing around, I found a tribute reel for the film itself, compiled by a fan. It's a beautiful three minute tour of the story, showing the emotional thrust of the scenes and the very eerie and deeply sad nature of the climax of the tale.

My father's book sold zillions of copies in paperback, spending 22 weeks on the NY Times Paperback Bestseller list  (and a few on the Times Hardcover List as well). United Artists bought the film rights and the movie was made in the summer of 1976, shot primarily on soundstages at the old MGM lot (it's now Sony). It was the summer I turned twelve and I was supposed to go to summer school. My dad took me to the set one day to see how things worked and, alas for my scholastic life, I was hooked. No more summer school. My parents generously (as always) allowed me to follow my own instincts and interests and let me hang around the movie set all summer. It was, of course, through the graces of Robert Wise, the director, that I was permitted to do so though my father (was was also a producer on the movie) carried quite a bit of weight.

I was a watchful and quiet observer and immediately knew that being the director was the only function that I would be capable of performing. I watched Bob Wise shoot the whole movie in his careful, measured, extremely well-covered style. It was an old school production directed by an old-school master and even the crew were old-school Hollywood. Many of the grips and electrics had been working on movies for over thirty years which meant they'd started off in post-war Hollywood. The script continuity supervisor was a woman named Marie Kenney who started off working on New York movies of the 50s--Kazan, Lumet etc. Charles McGuire, the UPM, had been Kazan's first AD on 'On the Waterfront' and the editor Carl Kress was the son of a man named Harold Kress who'd been an editor at MGM since the 1920s.

It took 75 days to shoot this under two-hour movie and I thought that all movies were made at that gentlemanly pace. Jesus, was I wrong. (Last spring I shot a four-hour mini-series in 38 days. I'm still bushed). The page count couldn't have been more than two pages a day and most of the mornings were spent rehearsing, with the first shot often not getting off until after lunch. All the interiors were built on soundstages and at the end of twelve weeks of shooting there was two weeks of location work in New York City. I remember staying with my parents at the Essex house and looking out the window at the crew setting-up a few blocks away on Central Park West. Later we went down to the set and saw Bob (or Mr. Wise as I always respectfully called him) buckled into a seat on a crane. He had himself taken down and unbuckled, motioned for me to come over, helped me into the seat and the crew gave me my first ride on a crane. Come to think of it, it might have been my last...

 Subscribe in a reader