Entry dated :: September 28,1960
Athens, Greece   
The Iliad :
Waiting for Brando

      "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

assure 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      Nor were there extras: the previous day Colonel Cactemilitus,the accommodating liaison with the Greek Army, had withdrawn the 1,200 troops because of some crisis over Cyprus, telling me the Defense Ministry would bill Iliad Productions for the expenses, including the missing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 to teach.

      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. 

"No 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 airport.

       "What about our wrap party," he asked. 

        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.


Questions? Email me at edepstein@worldnet.att.net
The webmistress can be reached at june@jooon.com