ROLE AS MENTOR IN UNTOUCHABLES, STRENGTH OF MAMET SCRIPT, WORKING WITH HITCHCOCK/DE PALMA, MORE
Thanks to Neil for letting us know about the Sean Connery press conference video (above), which was posted to YouTube by take2markTV this past Sunday. The main thrust of the questions revolve around The Untouchables. Early in the 29-minute video, Connery is asked to compare working with Brian De Palma to having worked with Alfred Hitchcock:
Well, first of all, Hitchcock, in fact, gave very little directorial advice to me as an actor, and yet we got on famously. I know that Brian is a bit of a disciple of Hitchcock. But in this case, with The Untouchables, with Brian, he was, I must say, very very considerate and helpful with the actors. And we had quite a bit of discussion before we started. He very much wanted the Malone character to be the old teacher with the three guys. And this was very much how we worked off-screen and on-screen, and he was very supportive in that way. Keeping them, you know, on their toes all the time. And he had infinite patience, I must say. But then again, I think that if one can make one comment about this script, the film, The Untouchables, I think it was a very good choice for De Palma, because it involved him with very, I think, well-delineated characters that you could feel some sympathy for. I feel in his preceding films, he had a tendency to distance you a bit from the people. But not in the case of The Untouchables. A lot of that’s to do, of course, with the actual writing.
With Connery saying that De Palma "very much wanted the Malone character to be the old teacher with the three guys," and saying that they had "quite a bit of discussion" before filming, one wonders if perhaps De Palma, with this aspect, might have been thinking at least a little about his college days, when he and William Finley and Jared Martin were mentored by Wilford Leach. De Palma and Martin would spend most of their time at Sarah Lawrence College, where, along with Finley, they appeared in Leach's production of Jean Giraudoux's Ondine. According to Justin Humphreys, author of Interviews Too Shocking To Print!, "Finley played an old man, Martin played the lead, a knight, and De Palma played various roles. De Palma's then-girlfriend, Kristina Callahan, played Ondine. Finley, as usual, also designed some of the sets." The show was a "major success," states Humphreys, and they followed it up over the next year with two more: The Italian Straw Hat, and A Soldier's Tale.
Back to the video, when asked to talk about De Palma as a director of action scenes, Connery responds:
Well, I like very much the way De Palma films his scenes. Particularly the point-of-view scenes. He makes the audience very very aware of the geography and what you’re seeing, and you’re inside the action all the time. Some directors use lots of whip-pan and jump cuts and a lot of, like a mosaic – tiny pieces of film. I like his method of… it’s quite epic, the space he uses in getting to what he wants, and then taking you in with it. Really, I mean, his techniques and things really speak for themselves. It’s nothing that I can really embellish on. But I think that sometimes the blood and the violence, he gets carried away with. But technically, he has, I think, a marvelous sense of the cinema.