Michel Ciment: secrets of the seventh art


CRITICISM – Billy Wilder, John Huston, Marlene Dietrich… In Passport to Hollywoodreissued, review review Positive delivers many sound bites from movie stars.

He is like a fish in water. Over the years, Michel Ciment met filmmakers for the magazine Positive. Often he seems to know their films better than they do. Credit where credit is due: this collection of interviews*, originally published in 1987 and no longer found, begins with Billy Wilder. In his office on Santa Monica Boulevard, there was a stuffed bird in his cage. Wilder remembers his early days when he typed scripts on his machine: “What we wrote was a bit of the toilet paper they used or not.” He makes fun of Godard and his acrobatics, evokes Marilyn (“Directing her was like pulling teeth”). Marlene? (“She’s a German Hausfrau. Her favorite things are scrubbing the floor and making scrambled eggs.”). Barry Lyndon ? (“One hundred miles from Reynolds and Gainsborough”).

He points out that William Holden had not undergone a facelift. “It’s remarkable, in a city where, with the pieces of skin that you…

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