"The Minister would like to
know if Brando is in Greece," asks Spyros, Interior
Minister Martis' persistent assistant. Despite
the report of a sighting of Brando reported in the English-language
Athens News, I
Spyros, as I have the hotel owner, the Tourism Minister,
the Army liaison, and the waiter at Floca's cafe, that
it was a false sighting. Brando is not yet in Greece.
Nor will he likely arrive during my stay here:
I am departing Athens tomorrow for New York.
Yesterday, O' Donovan called
to tell me that he had finally finished the last shot
in the Battle of the Ship sequence, that of Patroclus
(wearing Achilles' armor) leaping through a burning
fire. The stuntman Joe Powell had demanded an
extra $100 for the leap ($10 for the ten foot fall)
and I agreed, even though I barely had $100 left in
the budget. In any case, it had to be the
last shot because, with it, O'Donovan had exhausted
the supply of diesel fuel from the LST. By this
time, there was also an acute shortage of German
napalm, junkyard tires, plywood prow heads, rope nets,
and cardboard boxes (to break the Joe Powell's fall),
and the area was so denuded of telephone poles that
the telephone company had declared a state of emergency.
The chariot had also mercifully disintegrated off-camera.
Nor were there extras: the previous
day Colonel Cactemilitus,the accommodating liaison with
the Greek Army, had withdrawn the 1,200 troops because
of some crisis over Cyprus, telling me the Defense Ministry
would bill Iliad Productions for the expenses, including
the missing diesel oil, and propeller for the stranded
LST landing craft. Also, Spyros Vassiliou, our
ingenious production designer, had to return to Athens
O' Donovan said that he still wanted
to shoot his "contingency scene" of an old
man and dog, a scene that did not require pyrotechnics,
telephone poles, or extras.
time," I said, the shoot was over. A bus
would transport him, the 3 stuntmen and the German
technicians from the Tolon location directly to the
"What about our wrap party,"
It could take place on
the bus, I offered.
Tonight, for our own "wrap" party,
Susan and I go to the venerable Platanos Taverna in
Plaka under the flood-lit acropolis.
The open air seating, street noise, and gregarious crowd
drinking ouzo gives it the feeling of a small village.
Even with these atmospherics, reality is beginning
to poke its finger through the haze. All the money
invested in the Iliad is now gone-- even the $20,000
supplement Susan's father generously added last week.
And my Diner's Club card is fatally encumbered with
debt, including charges for the crews' air tickets to
Germany. I anticipate with dread the scary bill that
will come any day from the Defense Ministry for disabling
its one and only landing craft.
Susan who had seen the rushes last night, is rightly
concerned about the many gaps in the battle of the ships.
She wants to know why I ended the shooting so abruptly.
"Rudy Mate told me it was enough for a great battle
scene," I say in an effort to reassure her.
In truth, Mate's advice, after seeing all the footage,
was expressed in a single word,"Enough."
"But will you able to do the rest of the movie
in a studio?" She asks.
"First, lets get it edited," I temporize,
spotting the huge frame of Spyros Skouras, rising
from a nearby table and approaching us.
"Is it true Brando arrives tomorrow," Skouras
ask."Everyone is waiting..".
It is clearly time to leave-- Susan agrees.