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Interview with Gerry Arbeid by Anthony McKenna and Andrew Spicer
12th October, 2010

Interview conducted by speakerphone
duration : 55:02

[General opening pleasantries omitted].

AM Did you get my list of questions? [Section of general introductions omitted.]

GA I’ve had a look through and I’ll answer them one at a time. [Section omitted.]
Michael was a very secretive man. He was... he only allowed one or two people to be close with him and I had the good fortune to be one of those people. But I’ll answer your question, ‘How did I meet Michael Klinger?’ he hired me as his technical director, technical man, actually the term was technical manager, for Compton-Tekli. And my duties were to look after all the films. To do promo films, to help shoot as low budget ...
[recording interrupted and section of general talk omitted].

I was up to where I only became close to Michael after he sold out to Leslie ... can’t remember his other name. He sold out to a group and then we became very close indeed and I would spend, when we were in Los Angeles together, I would spend every evening with him, every evening. But that’s going down the road a bit. What people don’t know about Michael Klinger, which was a very close secret with him, is that he had a photographic memory.

AM We’ve heard something about this from Tony.

GA Yes, well, I told Tony, because Tony didn’t know. He once demonstrated that to me by handing me a thirty, forty page contract and said, ‘Take a page’ and I took a page and I said the page number and he just let, let go and he told me everything that was on that page.

AM Incredible.

GA I’m going down the list now. You’ve got my role in Compton-Tekli. [Reads question:]‘What was Klinger’s background?’ I know that he was born in Soho because when we used to walk along the streets in Soho he said, ‘This is where I came from’. I’m not sure what his background was before he opened up the Gargoyle Club and the Nell Gwynne strip club. Well, I used to go to the Gargoyle Club because on Sundays the Gargoyle Club was converted into a Jewish get-together club. All Jewish girls and boys in their late teens would go there and dance every Sunday night. And it was for strictly for that particular society.

[Reads question:]
‘Do you think that Klinger’s ambitions ...?’

His ambitions to move in the film business was basically triggered by - he was - my brother Ben, who is dead now, hired the Gargoyle Club in a film that my brother was producing at the time and he met with Michael, who, of course, was the owner, at that time, of the Gargoyle Club, and Michael got a taste of what a film unit does and what it didn’t do, during that time. And he got bitten by the bug.

AM Right. Can, can you tell me the name of the film?

GA I’ve got no idea.

AM OK, I’ll try and find out.

GA [Reads question]: ‘How did Klinger meet Tony Tenser?’ Tony came to him with the idea of a cinema club, I don’t know whether you know that?

AM I know about the Compton Club, the cinema club.

GA It was unique. It was the only one in England. And Tony Tenser came up with the idea of a cinema club whereby you put up five shillings to be, to join. You’d go away for an hour, then you’d come back and then you could come in legally and see the films. The films, compared to today, were innocent. All you saw was ladies’ breasts. You never saw their lower half at all exposed naked. The biggest hit was a film called Copenhagen Call Girls.

[Reads question]:
‘Did you think that Michael Klinger would have moved into the film business ... ?’ Tony Tenser was only a minority shareholder of the Compton Cinema Club. It was

Michael who put up all the money. He sold his, he sold his clubs to raise the money to buy the cinema club. The quality of the screen was dreadful, absolutely dreadful, because the club, the club was in a basement and it didn’t have a back, front projections throw. So they had to erect a screen and back project all the films and the quality was very poor indeed. We used to call ...
[inaudible because of poor quality recording].

[Reads question]:
‘Some accounts of the relationship refer to Tony Tenser helping to reinvent Klinger as a film producer. [How accurate is this?]’ No, not at all.

AM Right.

GA TT, as we called him, had nothing to do with reinventing Tony, Michael, as a producer whatsoever. In fact, he was a detriment, he would hold back, he was very nervous about going into film production. I mean, I’m talking about legitimate film production. Because prior to going into legitimate film production, they made some near, near silly films like London in the Raw which I worked on for Michael.

AM Yes.

GA Tony Klinger [means Tenser] had very little to do in fact with the running of Compton-Tekli or the running of Compton Productions, or Michael’s producering role on films, in any event, he had very little to do with that.

AM Right, ok.

GA He had a bit of sour grapes about that.

[Reads question]:
‘As a distributor Compton distributed a variety of films, including Last Year at Marienbad. Yes, ‘How involved was Klinger in this process?’ In the distribution of films, Michael was the figurehead and the president of the distribution company and he had the final decision on everything that went on there. He was very much involved on a daily basis, hands on, managing director or president or whatever you wanted to call him.

[Reads question]: ‘What do you think that Klinger learned from the distribution and promotion of these films?’

Michael learned the hard way from making mistakes, till eventually he became the ultimate expert in producing and distributing films. He was a real film producer, there are very few real film producers. Most people think that motion pictures is a director’s medium and it’s not a director’s medium, it’s a producer’s medium. Those who are in the profession realize that it’s a producer’s medium. It is the producer who hires the director to direct the film - he wants it directed they way he wants it directed. That’s why there are a lot of producers - directors who also produce their own films, so that they can maintain that control.

‘Could you give me some background on the Compton Film Club?’ It was an immediate success. They used to line up day and night to get in. Money was flowing like water, which, well, enabled Michael, of course, to look around for other things. And then he started to think, he and Tony, actually, it came from Tony, well, we should make our own, what I call, ‘dirty’ films. And Michael assigned me to work with a guy called Arnold Miller. And another guy called - Arnold Miller and Searchlight, Searchlight Films. Arnold Miller who directed London In the Raw. And I worked on London In the Raw as the production manager, the prop man, I was everything. I was representing Michael’s interests on that film as well as That Kind of Girl. It was like an affiliate company, like a small company, with, and I was working on that for Michael.

AM So Michael entrusted you to oversee the film for him?

GA No, didn’t, er, yes, sort of, yes.

[Reads question]:
‘Did Klinger have a role in scripting Compton films?’ Very much so. Not with the London In the Raw films, or those sort of films, he didn’t really have anything to do with those at all, he just left it to Arnold Miller to make them as dirty as possible within the limits of the law.

[Reads question]:
‘Was Klinger an initiator of films at Compton or did he wait for projects to come to him?’ It was more of an accident, I suppose. The first real film of course was Repulsion which Roman and his writer, he had a writing partner, a Frenchman - his name, I’ve forgotten - came to Compton-Tekli and Michael had seen his previous film Knife In the Water.

AM Yes, I know Knife In the Water.

GA And Michael recognised the talent of Roman, he liked the story, a horror story. Good, it was good media to make horror films in those days. He had very little to do with the script of those two particular films, which were Knife In the Water - not Knife - which was Repulsion and Cul-de-sac, but during the making of Repulsion and Cul-de-sac he learnt about the contribution that a producer created and gives to a project and subsequent films he had very much to do with the screenplays, but not those particular two films.

AM Just as a side question, getting ahead with the Polanski stuff, but I was just wondering, do you feel Polanski learnt a lot on those films as well? Like how to work with a creative producer?

GA Very much so, very so. Roman’s first film was made, as you know, in France, I think it was in France.

AM Czechoslovakia, I think.

GA I thought it was in France, Knife In the Water. I don’t know, and now, of course, they have a very different method of making films than we do. If it was Czechoslovakia I don’t know. Where did Roman Polanski come from, I can’t remember?

AM He was born in France and he grew up in Poland but I ...

GA He was Polish, that’s right, but he lived in France.

AM He’s a French citizen now. He was actually born in France, I think. That’s why he’s able to be a French citizen. I have a feeling his first film was made in Czechoslovakia, but I could be wrong.

GA In any event, the French, the Czechs etc, made films where they didn’t shoot synch sound and they still don’t. They put the sound on afterwards. Also the director of the film is the boss of the film over there. And ... which is contrary to how we do it in England and in America of course - the boss of the film is the producer. So it was a learning process for both of them. The sparks flew a bit here and there between Michael and Roman, but that’s, that’s part of a creative process.

AM Well, we’ve got some more Polanski questions later, I just wanted to get that one in. So to go back to, yes, well, Klinger and Tenser, what did they learn from each other? Question 11.

GA Well, Tony Tenser came to Michael as publicist. His claim to fame was inventing the words for one of the French actresses, I can’t ... What?

AM 'Sex kitten' for Brigitte Bardot.

GA Yes, that was it. And he never attained that level of sophistication ever again. He, in the way of things then, we used to meet once a week, all the heads of department at Compton-Tekli and all of us just thought that Tony [inaudible because of sound quality] ... and that Michael was up the on top. [Interview is interrupted here because of technical problems.] Where did I leave off?

AM We were talking about what Klinger and Tenser learned from each other. And about the meetings of the Heads of Department for Compton.

GA Well, they thought he was a joke, yes.

AM Really? Ok.

GA There were other things that Michael did learn from Tony Tenser but I - it’s a delicate matter and I don’t want to discuss those.

AM Ok, ok.

GA And unless you, it’s irrelevant to put them in a book in any event.

AM Ok, ok.

GA And it would upset Tony.

AM Ok, so we’ll skip over that. Do you think Tenser learnt anything from Klinger? Because he had a moderately successful career after his break with Klinger.

GA Yes, I guess, I suppose so, he learnt to be, I guess ... Michael was ruthless, ruthless. And it was in a dog, a dog, a dog eat dog world and he was, he had very little principles in regard to making motion pictures. But that’s the way you have to be, otherwise you don’t survive.

AM Sure.

GA ‘Who initiated London In the Raw and Primitive London?’
Arnold Miller initiated them. Arnold Miller had offices just down the street from Compton-Tekli and it was Arnold who came to Michael and said, ‘I’d like to make these films,’ and Michael said, ‘Sure, give me a budget,’ and that’s what they did. The thinking behind the project, the thinking behind any project that Michael did was profit. He would not make a film if he didn’t think he could make money from it.

[Reading from question sheet]:
‘Mondo Cane ...’.

AM So, the thing, the reason behind this question is, I know you said that Klinger was born in Soho and these films are largely about Soho. Did he have any special connection to these films?

GA None whatsoever.

AM No? So, pure money?

GA Just put up the money and exhibited them and distributed them.

AM Right, ok.

GA Mondo Cane. Well, I’ll be blowed. I haven’t seen that for a long time. Mondo... we made a film called Mondo Bizarro.

AM Yes, I’ve seen Mondo Bizarro.

GA Did you know about that one?

AM Yes, I’ve seen a lot of the Mondos. They’ve enjoyed something of a revival.

GA How unfortunate.

AM Yes. [Laughs]

GA I worked on all of those films.

AM Oh, really, as a publicist in the UK?

GA Pardon?

AM As a publicist?

GA Who me?

AM Yes, on the Mondo ...

GA No, as a technician. No, I worked on them as the Production Manager/Assistant Director.

AM Oh, wow. Do you have any fond memories of the Mondo films, or how do you, how do you think of them now?

GA I think they were, I think I would never work on them now, of course.

AM Ok.

GA But then I was only a young lad then. They were fun to do.

AM What do you think of ... Sorry, they were massively influential worldwide, in the UK, in America, all over Europe. What do you think of that - they continue to be influential?

GA What, those films?

AM Yes, the Mondo style.

GA Really?

AM Yes.

GA I’d love to see them, they’d bring back memories. I don’t have too many memories.

AM Ok.

GA [Reads question]: ‘Some of Compton’s productions films have the feel of “ripped from today’s headlines”.’ Really, I didn’t know.

AM Yes, there’s stories of venereal disease, girls losing their virginity. Pleasure Girls was apparently based on the Profumo affair, Secrets of a Windmill Girl was about exploitation. You know, they’re very much exploitation films.

GA Well, of course they are. You know, rape ...

AM Relevant to, like, the dark side of Swinging London, maybe of the time.

GA Yes, yes, I agree, I agree. The films that were made, Klinger’s exploitation films, they had no influence whatsoever on his more legitimate productions, other than the fact that he would come and visit the set from time to time as a learning process.

AM Right, ok. So these films, the exploitation films, were his apprenticeship in the same way that his distribution ...

GA Indeed they were.

AM Right, that’s interesting.

GA [Reads question]: ‘His relationship with Herman Cohen?’ Herman was a very, very bright guy. He came, he came to Michael in regard to The Study in Terror, that’s all I really know about it. I worked on it as the technical manager. That’s really all...

AM Right.

GA [Reads question]: ‘How did he meet with Roman?’ I, Roman, Roman came to him with his writer, that’s all I know about that. I wasn’t party to that particular time, the only other time that I was really party to Michael and ... Michael and Roman, as I said, the sparks flew from both of them really. On one occasion, Michael came on the set and they were, they were filming and filming, they were into heavy overtime and he went to the camera, he just went and took the film out of the camera and he said, ‘That’s it, everyone go home’. He just literally did that. Because of Roman’s indulgence. And any good director will indulge. It’s found that, that really, really good directors are absolute arseholes to work for. And the poorer directors are really nice guys.

AM Ok.

GA And that’s pretty standard stuff there. At the end of the film, we were shooting on location at the pub. And we couldn’t get the last shot in because of heavy overtime. It was an insert shot of the clock on the pub wall.

AM Yes.

GA You know about this?

AM Yes, there’s something about this in one of the books I’ve just read. Just remind me.

GA One of the books, what books?

AM It’s in, I think it’s in the Tony Tenser book, a book about Tony Tenser and there’s a book about Polanski as well. This story about him trying to get the shot of the clock in the pub.

GA Ah, really?

AM I think so, if you just remind me of the story, it’s ringing bells.

GA I’d like to see the Tony Tenser book. I’ll have a look on the web. There was an insert shot and we were moving into studios the next day. And Bob Stern, who was Michael’s production manager, came into the office when I was there and said, ‘Roman’s going back to the pub tomorrow and he’s not moving into studios until after he’s done a shot, some more stuff in the pub’. And Michael said, ‘What does he want to do? What does that mean?’ You still there?

AM Yes.

GA Oh, good. ‘What does that mean? What shot is it?’ he said, ‘It’s an insert shot of the clock on the wall’.

AM Right.

GA And Michael had a very short temper. And when he had lost his temper he would go very red, Michael. And when he’d go very red, you’d better duck. I was, I was in the office discussing something else when Bob Stern came in. And Michael said, ‘Well, you know, get Roman up here’. Roman was in the floor, in the office downstairs, one floor down. And Roman came in and he said, ‘What are you going to take of it, the whole unit, 45 people, to do an insert of a clock?’ He said, ‘I will take the, we’ll get a clock, we’ll stick it on the studio wall and we’ll shoot it’. And Roman said, ‘No’, he said, ‘I want to shoot that clock, on that wall’. And Michael said, ‘Ok, I’ll get the bloody clock from that wall and I’ll match the wall with a flat and we’ll shoot it in the studio’. And Roman said, ‘No, I want to go to that clock, on that wall and shoot it’. And Michael saw the integrity of why he wanted to do that, he wanted to do that because of the atmosphere and the realism and to shoot that any other way would be cheating and Michael, and Roman didn’t want to cheat. That’s why Repulsion was such a unique film when it came out. And Michael agreed that he could do that and that’s what happened.

AM Right, great.

GA Michael didn’t realise that ...[Reads question]: What’s that? ‘Compton seems to be trying to tap the horror market?’ Yes, the horror market was a good market.

AM Right.

GA To [question] 21 - he didn’t realize that Repulsion would be as successful as it did. And Cul-de-sac wasn’t as successful as Repulsion. But it was a better film than Repulsion, in my opinion. It, it poured money into the coffers of Michael overnight. He became a very important figure in the British film industry.

AM Right, right.

GA You have to remember at that time, Tony, my lovely, dear friend, he was only 12 years old and he really had nothing to do with anything to do with Compton-Tekli, he was still at school. In fact, I went to Tony’s bar mitzvah, well he was a schoolboy. He didn’t work at Compton-Tekli at all. In fact, Tony Klinger’s first job was with me as an assistant editor.

AM Oh, yes? What was that on?

GA When he was about 15 years old. It was a film for Searchlight, films about the Navy.

AM Right.

GA About the Navy, we had a rig out to do a film about the Navy.[Reads question]: ‘Some reports suggest that Polanski’s script was deliberately deceptive, written to placate the producers with horror, whilst leaving room for his own vision.’ No, I don’t think that’s the case at all.

AM Yeah, ok, that makes sense. I think a lot of the material that’s written about directors tends to take this angle that the director gets one over on the producer somehow. It’s rarely true but it’s nice to have it confirmed.

GA Nobody gets one over on Michael Klinger. Nobody, nobody. Not that I ever heard. [Reads question]: ‘Popular mythology regarding Repulsion sees Klinger the producer incessantly complaining about Polanski going over schedule.’ Yes, he bloody well did! Every day they had screaming rows, every day, every day.[Interruption.] [Reads question]: ‘What do you feel were Klinger’s other contributions as producer of this film?’

Other than the fact that he watched the money, not, not - he didn’t contribute very much at all, other than selecting the film to make it and providing the money to make it with and to make sure that, or try to make sure, that they didn’t spend any more money than had been originally assigned to make the film with. Because he was a greenhorn then. So his contributions to the actual creative process of making Repulsion were very limited indeed.

AM Right, ok.

GA It changed, it changed after that when he learnt as he went along. [Reads question]: ‘He [Polanski] was frustrated by the unionized workforce.’ Yes, he was, Roman was very much frustrated, because the unions in those days were very, very tough indeed. And he didn’t understand why he couldn’t keep filming until he felt that he had everything he wanted - into making these long 12, 14 hour days, which is massive overtime of course.

AM Yes. Did Michael ever have to intervene in these disputes?

GA Very much so. As I told you he walked on the set one day and took the film out the camera. And sent everybody home. [Reads question]: ‘Was it always Michael’s intention to produce Cul-de-sac?’ I suppose it was, because of the success of Repulsion, but it was a different sort of film than Repulsion. It wasn’t such a horror film, although, in fact, the horror in it was much more sophisticated than Repulsion. Right, that’s all I can really say about that.

AM Ok.

GA [Reads question]: ‘The box office receipts or the film’s critical approval which was of greater importance?’ Of course, the most important thing to Michael was making money. What’s the point of making a film unless you make money? I don’t see the point of making a film unless you make money. Because that’s what Michael taught me, anyway.

AM Sure, sure.

GA [Reads question]: ‘Given the reports of project overruns and budget expansion Repulsion did Klinger seek to have a closer involvement [and take a tougher line as the producer of Cul-de-sac?’] Yes, sure, he very much took a tough line with regards to the money. [Interruption.] [Reads question]: ‘What were the reasons for the split with Tenser?’
Because Michael had grown up and now realised that the contributions that TT could make were insignificant. Michael really wanted to go. Michael, after splitting up and going on his own, became the most important film producer in the UK really, in Europe. He was offered, I remember being with him when he was offered to be head of one of the American big studios. I don’t remember which one it was. I don’t remember if it was Fox or M-G-M or one ...

AM This was about 1971?

GA A big studio.

AM And why did he turn that down?

GA Because he wanted to have his own independent company and he didn’t want to be a powerhouse in, in America. I can’t remember which major studio it was, but it was a very big compliment to his talents etcetera as a producer.

AM Yes. I think it was Columbia?

GA I can’t remember.

AM Yes. Ok.

GA [Reads question]: ‘Did Klinger always harbour international ambitions?’ Yes, yes he did. He spent half of his life, in the latter part of his life he spent most of that in Los Angeles where I was living at the time. And that’s why we would go out every evening. The phone would ring and it would say, ‘Gerald? Gerry? How are you doing? Are you coming over?’ And I would go over. Sometimes I would take my wife, but most of the time it was always me and Michael together, going to eat, every evening. And our relationship grew until he let me into his inner sanctum. He began to trust me and I learnt a great deal from him. The last question is: ‘Who influenced him in the world of film and who did he most admire?’ He admired a man who was very similar to him, actually, he was a guy called Fat Sam Arkoff.

AM Oh, aye, yes, Sam Arkoff, a great man.

GA Who ran a company called AIP. But he was, he was, he had great admiration for ‘Fat Sam’, who in those days was an extremely successful film-maker and distributor. That’s really the list of questions.

AM Ok.

GA Other than that Michael, of course, being a very successful film producer, like being a successful film director, other than the people he let into his inner sanctum, and they were very, very few people indeed, was a very tough guy to deal with. He was a ruthless monster.

AM Right. My colleague, Andrew Spicer, got a couple of questions, if that’s ok?

GA Sure.

AS Hi, Gerry, it’s Andrew.

GA How do you do?

AS I’m fine, thanks. I’m interested in why or what your opinion might be as to why Michael didn’t raise any production finance in Britain? He was always looking for South African backers or American studio money. He never really ...

GA Yes. His South African adventures, of course, were very unfortunate. I presume you know that?

AS Yes, yes.

GA He had to flee the country with his arse on fire. I don’t know exactly what happened, because I was in Los Angeles at the time. But I know when subsequently I shot, I worked on two films in South Africa a number of years later. And if you mentioned the name of Michael Klinger, it wasn’t a happy event at all. Somehow or other Michael had done something, or had been accused of doing something, I don’t know what it was, which was not kosher. As I said, I didn’t, I was not involved in the South African shooting, I think Tony was, I think Tony was there. By then, Tony had got out of short trousers.

AS [Laughs] Yes, I’m sure, I’m sure he had. I just wondered why you felt that he had to look abroad for finance. Why ...

GA Because the money in England was very hard to come by in those austere days. There was really not much of a film industry in England in those days. The government fortunately had what was known as the Eady Fund, you know, the Eady Fund. Are you aware of the Eady Fund?

AS The levy, the levy on seat prices. Yes.

GA Correct, which was very, which was some incentive. But to get money from English investors or banks in those days was extremely difficult because the only, the only way that one could, the only window that one could exhibit one’s films in those days was on, basically, on, in the cinema. Because films in those days were not shown on television - feature films. And that didn’t arrive till much later. So they, the opportunity to recoup and make a profit was much slimmer than it is today with all the media involved. And he would seek money wherever he could, South Africa particularly.

AS I just wondered if you felt he was always regarded as a slight outsider by the kind of film establishment in Britain.

GA Yes, indeed, because he was, he was a West End Jew and was not accepted by, by the upper-class aristocracy, or whatever one wants to call it, of British society or the aristocracy of, of the film industry like Lord Rank, for example, but that changed, of course, over the years. But initially, yes, I think, he was regarded as an outsider. Are you there?

AS Yes, yes, I’m still there. I understand that. What do you think, I just wondered what the American attitude to him was? Very different? That he was ...

GA Very much so. He - the British film industry were very jealous and resentful of Michael’s immediate success and they wouldn’t forgive him for that. The Americans had a different attitude, of course. America’s attitude to making film is, ‘If you have talent, come. If you want to, if you have talent and you can contribute in any way to making a film that makes money, we welcome you in Hollywood.’ That’s their attitude and it hasn’t changed. That’s why Hollywood is always so successful and why England, with all its restrictions and Canada and all the other countries like Europe who have restrictions on content will never be as successful at money-making endeavours as the Americans are.

AS Yes, yes, I understand that. What do you feel there are any other factors involved in his career as a producer? In terms of acceptability or the subjects he chose?

GA Only the fact that he became extremely skilful at being a film producer and beating the bushes for money. Extremely skilful. He would go to greater lengths, greater lengths to try to raise money. He would go to, he once flew down to South America to try to - he heard a rumour that there was some money sitting there that he could get his hands in. He would go all over the place to try to get his money to make his productions with. Unfortunately, in his latter years, his last four or five years of Michael’s life... Are you guys still there?

AS Yes, we’re still here.

GA It’s making a little bit of a noise. In the last couple of years of his life Michael was not as productive of course, He couldn’t, it didn’t seem that he could strike it the way that he used to be able to. I guess mainly because motion pictures is a young person’s industry and by then he was getting a bit crockety in his latter years.

AS I think, I think Tony’s mentioned to me on a couple of occasions that he feels that the heart attack that Michael suffered during the filming of Gold or Shout - Shout At the Devil - was quite a major influence on that, that he was never quite the figure, the driving force that he had been after that time.

GA Ah, yes, probably right, yes, Shout At the Devil, yes, yes. Although he did work, he did do some other productions that he was involved.

AS Oh, yes. Because he did some Canadian productions, didn’t he?

GA Yes, he did. Which I was involved with.

AS Yes, how were you involved with those productions?

GA I found him the money from a guy called Julian Melzack. Melzack had a Canadian tax deal and I introduced Michael to Melzack because I was living in Canada then.

AS Ah, right, right.

GA And, and I can’t remember, who - the ah, it was, the director was Peter, the guy - can’t remember his name. In any event, and because I introduced Michael to ...

AS Collinson was it, Peter Collinson?

GA Peter?

AS Collinson?

GA Yes, Peter Collinson. And Peter was going to direct it and I was going to be the Canadian producer. I’d already produced a number of films in Canada, I’d already worked in Montreal. So, and I went and flew to London and worked on the budget in Michael’s offices. And I came back and we started, I started to look for locations and came back to Toronto to wait for the word when we were going to start preparation. And my, my production manager phoned me and said, ‘They’ve already started preparation’. I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘They’ve started preparation and they’ve got themselves a new producer’.

AS Oh.

GA I went to Montreal immediately and Michael was there and took me out for lunch at a very famous sandwich place. And he said he had, he had to get, Melzack was insisting, because it was his money, that he produce the film and became the Canadian producer and I was dumped.

AS Which film was ... Sorry ...

GA And I understood what, that he had to dump me because if he hadn’t dumped me he couldn’t do the film.

AS Right. Right. Which film was this?

GA It was a film called Tomorrow Never Comes.

AS Ah, yes, yes, the one with Oliver Reed.

GA Correct.

AS Yes. Oh, I didn’t realise you were involved in that.

GA I was, only to start off with it didn’t last all that long.

AS Right. Were you involved at all with trying to get The Chilian Club produced?

GA No, no, I was not. I was involved in trying to get his other film, A Man and a Half, produced.

AS Yes. Ah, the war film, yes, yes.

GA We went to Yugoslavia and we went in the Cadillac.

AS Ah yes, Tony told me about that.

GA What?

AS Tony told me about his penchant for driving Cadillacs, yes.

GA Well, he had a chauffeur who was a thief. Who stole money from Michael and Michael eventually found that out. And I went with the chauffeur and we drove from London right through to Dubrovnik or somewhere. I don’t know where it was. I found the money, I was working at that time for Stanley Baker.

AS Oh, yes, right, right.

GA I discovered this money in Yugoslavia and told Michael about how these studios in Yugoslavia would put up facilities and crew and provide a bit of money and of course, Michael was always seeking money. So he sent me with Bob Stern and this driver, who’s name was Reg, to, in the car, to meet, to meet with the guy who had all the money and the studios, who’s name was, I remember his name, his name was Tumar. And we drove in the Cadillac down all the way and Michael flew in and met us there. And it was like we’d come from outer space. You could, would have thought that we were in a flying saucer because no one there in those days had seen a Cadillac. It was unbelievable. Every time we stopped or parked or when, there was crowds around this huge Cadillac car, I remember. And Michael wanted to do Man and a Half there and in my presence he phoned up M-G-M and said to the guy at M-G-M, who was the, he got straight through to the president whose name I can’t remember, it was a Greek name, Karic, Karalco, Karikly or something, I don’t know. And he said, ‘I want to do this film and are you going to give it distribution, blah, blah, blah. And they did a deal on the phone in front of me just like that. Unbelievable. And then I made the mistake, in the evening after dinner, when we were staying at the hotel, of playing table tennis with Michael. And I figured myself a pretty damn good table tennis player. And he wiped the floor with me. I didn’t win one game. He was a champion. I didn’t realise he had been a champion table tennis player.

AS Ah, was this from his time at the West Central Jewish Boys Club, because i think ...

GA That’s right, that’s right. You know quite a bit about him.

AS Well, one way and another we’ve found out quite a bit about him, yes.

GA Yes, I’m sure you have.

AS I have to say that the papers we have of his relate much more to the 70s. Obviously all the Compton papers have gone somewhere else.

GA Yes, yes, yes.

AS Which is a shame. And nothing about the Polanski films unfortunately.

GA No, are you going to get him, are you being, are you in touch with Roman?

AS Well, Tony is hoping to interview, you know Tony is making this documentary about Michael. He’s ...

GA Yes, who’s he making it with?

AS Well, I don’t know the production team, I’m afraid.

GA He told me about it. It’s for television, isn’t it?

AS Yes, yes. he’s interviewed Michael Caine recently for it.

GA Yes, he told me. He set me a photograph.

AS And Kenna and I are going on Thursday to London to be part of that, talk about him.

GA Oh, good.

AS So it will be nice.

GA Are you going to see Tony?

AS Yes, we’ll see Tony.

GA Well, give him a big wet kiss from me.

AS I will do. I’d tell him about this interview, obviously.

GA Tell him he’s got to be a better sailor than the last time we went to sea together.

AS Sailor, oh right.

GA I took him, because I did this film for the Navy and we were on this frigate. We were going to sail to the Channel Islands and I took Tony as a junior assistant director with me. And I was directing this documentary. And we got up on this trip and we sailed out and he never got off of his, he never got out the bunk. He was seasick, unbelievably seasick and his contributions were not what I expected them to be.

AS He contributed a few ...

GA You could remind him about his sailing abilities. He’ll be amused by that.

AS I’ll bring that up with him. So, your professional relationship with Michael, did it end over Compton?

GA Yes.

AS And then it sort of picked up again on occasions, did it?

GA We just became friends and he was like my guru. I never worked for him again. We just, we were socially very close.

AS I think that’s all the questions I have at the moment.

GA Let me know if you need anything else.

AM Gerry, is it Ok if we email you if we think of anything?

GA Yes, sure.

AM Any more stuff?

GA Well, have a good time and don’t forget your promise about the book.

AM We certainly won’t. Email us your address and we’ll send you a copy. And thank you very much, Gerry, It’s been really enlightening.

GA Pleasure.

AS Thank you, again, Gerry. That’s been great. Thank you.

GA Bye, bye now.

AK & AS Cheers, bye, bye.