Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015) Movie Script

You have the term power couple.
I don't know what you would
call Harold and Lillian.
They were the heart of Hollywood.
They really were.
They were the best of it.
They were the best of those days.
Harold and Lillian
enhanced the quality of movies.
Both of them are these secret weapons
that people used to have access to.
That nobody talked about.
But everybody was trying to get.
All the movies that I worked on,
I've always gone to Harold.
He would always come up with cool things
that would give you ideas
or suggest things to you.
You're really a spaceball,
you know that, don't you?
Thanks, sir.
Spaceballs, Harold said,
Why don't you put balls on their heads?
I had helmets,
but Harold changed the helmets.
He made them balls, white balls.
He said, So they're Spaceballs.
Nobody knows about the little goodies
that Harold Michelson could give you
and make you look like
a great filmmaker, you know?
There may be napkins around
with Harold's drawings on 'em.
I know Harold's got some of
the most beautiful storyboards.
What's that little thing?
- Oh, that's her in the knife.
- Yeah.
That's the reflection.
When I think of Harold and Lillian,
I go right to a smell and sort
of tactile sense of charcoal.
The predominant sense of his tool
was not only the ink but the charcoal.
But I'd never seen charcoal and ink used
to create frames of cinema.
Most satisfying is doing storyboards.
There's a place where you are in a room
and you're practically
a whole studio in yourself,
and you just draw.
Just the idea of creating your idea,
you're kind of directing
visually on sketching,
and that is very satisfying.
Harold's talent
was something that was sort of lost
in the '60s and '70s.
And that talent was to explore an image
that was gonna be the essential image
or the key frame of a scene.
He was a visualist,
and he understood the language of cinema.
He understood what it took
to tell a story visually.
There were two kinds
of images that he produced.
One was a concept illustration
that shows you a key shot
of a scene in the movie
so you can now take it
to the director and say,
This is what the whole thing
is gonna look like.
And this is how the action
is gonna occur in there.
Does that make you happy?
The next step was another thing
that illustrators do,
is a frame-by-frame view
of how the shot's gonna work,
how the action is all gonna lock together
and tell the story,
and Harold had this innate ability
to see what the camera saw.
Pa, take my hand.
Winter Kills,
the whole group was back east
location hunting,
and I was doing the storyboard
of John Huston falling out a window
and going through a flag.
I thought it was, you know,
the best thing that I ever did.
When they set up the shot,
they did something like it.
I haven't seen the picture actually.
The office building
they laid down on the stage,
and they had a rail on it
and John Huston attached to the rail,
pulling him down through it,
and through the flag.
I don't know how close
they came to my drawings,
but I was quite proud
of the drawings that I did.
Each one of these frames told us exactly
what we were gonna see, with which lens,
and what angle
the camera should be pointed.
That was part of the thrill
of working with Harold,
was making these things happen.
Harold was married a long time
to a loving, witty woman,
who not only supported him,
but was able to even expand
beyond his world
into how that related
to all the other aspects
of what it took to create the image.
And then, thus she was making her version
in a complementary way what Harold was.
Everybody was familiar
with the research libraries
that were in their studios,
and everybody was familiar
with Lillian Michelson,
because she had one of
the better research libraries.
FRANCIS: The studio's research library
was at the heart of the concept
to be able to do any movie in any setting
in any period, right there on the lot.
The first step you take
in almost anything you do on a movie
is you do the research.
You don't want to pull
something out of your brain
that might or might not be right.
It might be your distorted view
of the world
and not what the director wants.
So you really go and you find out
what was really there.
Our son is dead!
- Can you get that through your head?
- Let go of me!
Listen to me carefully.
We got a telegraph.
who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?
was a very provocative movie.
I was asked to research the costumes,
the sets, the cars.
And Harold was the illustrator on that.
The most innocuous things,
a living room table,
a sofa that might just seat two,
become an arena of war.
Ll Full Metal Jacket,
I had to supply uniforms, armament,
everything that had to do with war.
Tunnels Vietnamese had built,
and very, very military information.
When I'm asked to do research on a movie,
it's usually a question
or a series of questions
by the art director
or the production designer,
sometimes the writer,
and it would involve
mostly visual research.
1968, my first movie that year
was Rosemary's Baby.
That was my first attempt to find out
about the surreal or the occult.
WOMAN 1: We're your friends, Rosemary.
WOMAN 2: There's nothing to be afraid of,
Rosemary. Honest and truly there isn't.
It was fascinating
to learn about witchcraft
in various countries, in various periods.
Also, the various outshoots-
It was a fascinating movie
to do research on. I learned a lot.
A big part of your job as an art director
was actually already
being inspired by Lillian
and her library.
And I found it to be not like
a normal generic place
to go to get information.
It was much more like, I want to say,
an alchemist's lab to find vision.
It starts with Harold and Lillian
being a loving couple.
They truly were people
that together created art.
They were like two peas in a pod.
They fed each other in a kind
of a really great way.
They fed each other,
not only their passion and their love,
but they fed each other
their creativity, their ideas.
She was so supportive,
and he was so appreciative,
and then in turn so supportive,
that you felt like you were watching
the best of Hollywood
as it could be as a lifestyle.
In our industry, in Hollywood,
marriages don't seem to last very long,
and there are many reasons why.
The fact that our marriage lasted 60 years
is a big surprise,
mostly to Harold and me,
and to our friends.
When I first met Harold,
I was his kid sister's best girlfriend.
And all that I knew about Harold
and his brother were that
there were many, many photographs
in the family living room.
The two boys who were fighting the war.
I was drafted in 1941,
before Pearl Harbor.
But I- I always wanted to fly,
and here was a way
to get free flying lessons.
MALE NARRATOR: Our ever increasing
fleets of fortresses and liberators
pressed on to their targets
and dropped their loads.
At the beginning, you're in a movie.
- You know what I mean?
- Sure.
And I'd think to myself,
Jesus, if my father could see me now.
Here I am with all this stuff,
all these tubes hanging down,
and the goggles and the helmet
and all that stuff,
and I'm about to bomb a place.
Who's gonna believe me?
Nobody's gonna believe me.
And then after the fifth mission,
we went a little off course,
and we got shot at something awful.
And that's when
I became religious, you know?
I thought, Jesus, what am I doing here?
This is ridiculous. I've had enough.
I want them to send me back.
I'll sell war bonds.
They'll see this terrific hero,
and he's selling war bonds.
That was my fifth mission.
Well, I had 35 more after that.
And then he came back, discharged,
when he was 28 and I was 17.
I came back from the war,
and I was kind of fed up
with the civilians.
They were really a pain in the ass.
They were asking me questions
that you couldn't answer.
How does it feel up there?
That kind of stuff.
It got on my nerves.
And little by little I was drawn to her,
and we used to sit on the porch and talk.
He said, You're gonna be
Empress of Japan, the way you talk.
You just talk about women being so equal.
I said, I think they can be equal,
which was really not well thought of
in the early '40s.
I was not very nice to her
in many cases, you know,
because I thought, Here's a 17-year-old.
Where the hell has she
got the nerve to be smart?
You know what I mean?
She has absolutely no right.
I had just been through a war
and all that sort of crap.
What the hell was she telling me?
She was very smart.
She was the champion speller from Florida.
When I was 12, the Miami Herald
sent me up to Washington
to the National Spelling Bee.
And since I didn't have parents,
so to speak,
I took my very Southern
English teacher up there.
I didn't have much of a family life.
What there was was brutal.
I was sent away to orphanages.
And that's about all I can say on that.
When I was five,
I would read fairy stories
and that would really
transport me to another world,
out of the depression.
It's a most wonderful gift, I think,
that a child could have.
Your imagination is let free,
and it could go in any direction,
and it gives you food
to work with in your mind.
My determination to pull myself
out of the situation that life put me in
was so strong.
Maybe I read books to find
the solution. I don't know.
I ran away from one orphanage
because I had read some book
that gave me the idea of running away.
I found myself in the middle of a swamp.
I had enough common sense to realize
there might be quicksand
or whatever in there,
so I turned back and walked the whole way
back to the orphanage.
Well, It worked in the book,
but it didn't work in my real life.
And then suddenly he invites me
for a pia colada.
I said, This isn't a date, is it?
He said, No, it's not a date.
I don't have any money for a date.
And he says, Well, when we get married,
I know what color I want
to paint our front door!
I started to laugh.
It's just out of nowhere!
One day I asked her to marry me,
and she looked at me and she laughed.
Which is a great feeling. You know?
Then I said, I want to go to California.
Don't ask me why.
Maybe they could use somebody who draws.
So I said to him,
Suppose we go out to California
and we live together and see
if we really like one another?
Oh, he got very upset.
He was very traditional.
And very honorable.
L wouldn't do such a thing to you.
I definitely would have to marry you.
So I said, Okay, if you marry me,
then we can get divorced
if it doesn't work.
It was a whole big thing, big fight.
Anyway, we went back and forth about it,
and he said, You can leave Miami.
You never wanted to be here,
and there's nothing keeping you here,
and we'll start a new life.
And I know that you'll like me.
I know that.
I know that it will work out.
All the old ladies who sat
on the veranda told his mum
that he was after me,
so she threw a lot of fits.
And I don't blame her, a Jewish mother.
I'm a poor orphan, no family,
no money, no nothing.
Absolutely, in Miami Beach, Florida terms,
I was not desirable at all.
MAN AS 'Dearest Lillian.'
It' looks like I 'm all set' here,
except for one thing, and the! 's yo u.
Your presence
will make everything complete.
80 please make plans to come out here.
The weather is better than Miami.
I love you more than ever,
and/ wanna marry you
just' as soon as you say yes.
Now, to my job.
I'm a background art/st here.
lt's pretty easy Work.
The backgrounds / do are
for those little reminders
you see on the screen like, 'No smoking,
merry Christmas, kiddie show,
do not' urinate in the aisles. '
Now you know.
It's simply fascinating
I0 be in show business.
WOMAN AS Dearest Harold,
Since you 've been away,
I've missed you more than
you can possibly realize.
L! actually hurts sometimes.
I feel silly writing this,
but/ want you to understand
exactly how if is with me.
I 'd also like to sleep with you.
'Dearest Lillian, Here it is,
only 7:00 p. m., and I'm in the right place
to read and answer your letter, in bed.
You'll never know the phenomenon
that takes place
when I read your letter.
A stiff problem like that
is hard to understand
I just' can 'I Wait to see you
and snuggle with you again.
My plans for the future
include living, to its fullest.
A no' I can only accomplish that with you.
I'm not very proud of this.
I kind of liked the idea
of linking up with him
because I wanted to spite his mother.
Isn't that an awful thing?
Well, the truth is the truth.
And his mother's busy getting all
these sedative injections in her thing,
and I thought,
I really am gonna show that woman.
I'm gonna go out to California.
I'm going to marry her favorite son,
and I'm going to show her
that I'm going to make
a good marriage of this
and that I will not be the poor orphan.
At that, things really came to a head.
We got a summons from New York
where the matriarch
of the family was... Aunt Ceil.
And Aunt Ceil, she invites me to dinner,
and she says,
You really can't marry my nephew.
You have no money, no status, no nothing.
And If I were a logical person,
I would have retreated.
But I'm rather stubborn
and this was my only way
out of Florida, and I said,
I don't think I'm going to listen to you.
I'm going to go with Harold
and see how that works out.
'$4 uni Ceil gets me so goddamn mad
throwing her fa! nos y face
around the wa y she does!
Please, don 7 lei anything change.
I'll be at the station to meet you.
I love you so much,
I can I even draw right.
I'll be a! the stat/on. Hal.
The period from 1947
when we eloped in December, to '49,
was a very hungry period for us.
He had been going to art school
and looking for work
and working in a camera place.
It didn't last very long,
because he wasn't a good salesman.
I ended up as a messenger
for the telephone company
because I could walk there.
And I made $53 a week,
and we lived on that
for a very, very long time,
until I got pregnant.
And that changes everything.
Civil rights not being what they are now,
I was fired immediately
from the telephone company
because I was an insult
to the public's eyes being pregnant.
These were different times.
You had no recourse. So I had no work.
I worked until my seventh month,
and that's when they fired me
'cause I was such an insult.
And I was doing a good job
delivering the mail
within the telephone company
and being a messenger
with this huge stomach.
I was really upset that they fired me!
But they said, That's the only reason,
you are an affront.
That was the word they used.
An affront to the public's eye.
Our first baby was just born,
and Harold was desperate for work,
because we had nothing.
We were so hungry.
We were both malnourished.
I brought my stuff around
to all the different studios.
One day I get a call,
Are you the guy who did these drawings?
I said, Yes. And he says,
Can you come to work Monday?
I said, Yes.
Well, I never did those drawings.
Whoever did those drawings
now may be selling insurance.
And he started at Columbia.
And since Harold was the lowest apprentice
on this totem pole,
he was the one
who was always laid off and rehired.
Oh, getting fired
was very, very depressing
because now I was a father,
for crying out loud.
This is a whole new ball game.
Now people really depended on me,
and it was scary.
One day, Lillian was walking
with the baby on the street
outside of Columbia.
Being a great affront to the public's eyes
and pushing our little baby.
And Dick Pearl, the department head,
just happens to catch
a glimpse of us, and he says,
Harold's wife is pregnant again?
Put him back on.
He told me later he felt very guilty,
so he put me back on.
This was a great achievement
for the company.
We worked for the studio.
The studio was our General Motors.
We were on the bowling team.
We had our commissaries.
It was a real big family.
We also had our tyrants,
but we also had the chance,
when you were in the art department
starting out, to get your training,
there were all these marvelous draftsmen
that you could learn from.
They called them sketch artists.
At Columbia, I was a sketch artist
working on a movie,
and Harold came in
as sort of an apprentice.
I taught Harold projection of scenes
of how to do camera angles
and how to project them
and do 'em on the paper.
What concerned us
was the mathematics of the lens,
that it is just so wide and so high.
Within those limits,
this is what you're going to see.
The way
we worked together is, I would say,
I got to build this set on a stage.
This is not gonna be a location.
I need to build the living room,
the dining room.
The first time we see Momma
is in that dining room,
where she comes through the two doors.
- Hurry up with that soda!
- Coming, Momma.
So we would literally say,
How is this gonna look
with a 21-millimeter lens?
Once I get outside on the porch,
how far back can I get?
Well, you can get as far back as you want
if you spend a lot of money on the set,
but what we had was X.
It was just fantastic,
because his tools were measurements.
He understood perfectly perspective.
So that helped him render things
exactly as the camera would see them.
He was a bombardier-navigator
and sat in that little glass nose,
and he had this panorama
of Germany or Belgium or Holland
or wherever they were supposed to bomb.
The panoramas that he saw
and the different visions
of the different angles
that he had to see
through the Norden bombsight,
which really was so precise.
That might've been where he got
this incredible mental view
of how things could look
to make them look real
although they weren't real.
Because what he was bombing was real,
but when you're thousands
of feet up in the air,
he would say how unreal everything was.
When my son was born,
I had the oddest feeling
when they put him in my arms
for the first time.
He just felt different.
And when he got old enough
to sit up, which was delayed,
he would just sit in a corner in a trance
and rock back and forth.
And I knew there was something
terribly wrong,
but I didn't know what.
Alan was born with autism,
but in 1949, autism was not known about.
A Freudian psychology group was started
at the Rhys Davis clinic, and they said,
Would you be part of it?
I didn't know much about
Freudian psychology.
If I had known,
I would have never said yes.
Ten years of terrible damage
to our whole family.
We were saddled with this term
that we were refrigerator mothers,
which means that
we gave our children no love
and no attention.
They had no idea that it was, organically,
something was wrong with the brain.
I stayed in it for ten years,
and then I got up the courage,
I don't know from where from.
There were six mothers in this group
who stayed ten years.
And I said to this psychiatrist,
You've damaged my family beyond belief.
No help with my son.
He's worse than he was before.
And my other two children
think I love only that son
because I'm always making them travel
to go to his doctor.
And so I quit.
And then the next day,
four other mothers quit.
I think raising a family
is one of the most consistent tensions
that a couple can have in trying
to keep a marriage together.
Our problems in raising a family
affected our marriage greatly.
It's a matter of daily coping.
I guess coping would be the word.
At 6:30 AM it began.
In roared the Michelson clan.
Ricky started to dance.
Dennis came with full pants
and Poody was banging a pan.
Through slit eyes, we looked a! our boys
who brought us our Woes and our joys.
December 74th was the date,
anniversary number eight'.
Wondering how in hell
We produced all this noise.
Happy y anniversary, baby!"
Harold had a marvelous gift
of making household crises a joke,
something that we could laugh about
when I read his poems.
He started to make cards for me
for every occasion.
Mother's Day, our anniversary,
my birthday, Valentine's Day,
Our youngest son, Dennis,
got them all together
and made a really gorgeous book
out of them.
You know, studios used to
trade people like baseball teams do.
And one day they got a call.
They wanted somebody to work on
The Ten Commandments.
So they sent me over there,
and I was interviewed
at Paramount, and I got the job.
I have hundreds of storyboards
of The Ten Commandments
and sketches that I worked on.
That was the big break for me.
I know we did almost every setup and scene
in The Ten Commandments, Bill Major and I.
Hundreds and hundreds,
maybe thousands of drawings,
and they were all used.
William Dieterle called Ken Reed,
who was sketching at the time,
to meet in the men's room
to talk about a certain sequence.
That's how strict it was.
He didn't want anybody to know
that he was using storyboard,
and we weren't allowed
to contact these people.
There was a terrific caste system then.
I'm talking about sketch artists.
In those days,
when you were drawing boards
for somebody like DeMille,
you wouldn't even see the director.
You'd hand it to the art director, and he
would show it to the production designer,
and he would show it to
the director and say,
Can we use this?
I never had contact with DeMille.
And I don't know who his cameraman was,
but I never had a contact with him.
But I know when I see the movie,
I'd see my sketches.
From there, because now
I've been doing something biblical,
I got a call from MGM
to work on Ben-Hur, and so I went down
and worked on Ben-Hur
because I was good
with people with sheets.
From there, went up to Spartacus.
With doing all these things,
I almost forgot
how to draw a guy with a tie.
When we were married,
women were not expected
to have any kind of career
outside of motherhood and children.
It was a big hole in my life always
when I was rearing our children.
And I was vaguely dissatisfied then.
Didn't know what it was.
I read all the time.
That was my escape.
When women were asked if they could type,
when it was the only kind of job
they could get, well, Lillian didn't type.
And so what do you do
when the kids are in school?
So, by God, you know,
she found what she could do.
Harold was working at Goldwyn Studios
on West Side Story,
and the research library
was right across the hall from his office,
and he used to go in there
quite often for research.
The lady there was completely by herself.
Her name was Lelia Alexander.
And he said, You could use a volunteer.
And he came home and told me what he said,
and I said, I could be that volunteer.
I was getting a college education
working on all these different movies.
I was plunged into a different life
with each movie.
In 1962,
I was given a lot of responsibility.
I felt very honored and very apprehensive.
I was asked to research
Manchurian Candidate.
And then Cape Fear and The Longest Day.
And then the high point
of that year was The Birds.
That was Harold's picture,
and so much happened on The Birds.
I was asked to research
the behavior of various birds,
how they looked, how they flew,
what their habitat was.
I would give the research
directly to my husband.
Harold and I became a team in work
as well as, I hope, in our marriage,
because I was helping him
with his research
whether I was on his picture or not.
We hashed things out at the dinner table
when we could get ourselves
heard above the kids yelling.
It was a good thing. It really was.
It made us feel that we two together
were against the industry
that might be trying to harm us
or stand in our way.
We were the team.
In this town, what works
against a marriage lasting
are locations.
So often the husband is sent away,
and usually the wife is encumbered,
if you want to say it that way,
with growing children.
You must have shared experiences
for a marriage to have
some kind of soil to grow on.
If you're living a separate life at home,
and he's living a separate life
in Yugoslavia, that doesn't work.
When he was on The Birds in Bodega Bay,
which is quite a distance
from Leos Angeles,
I would have a chance to go up
once a month by air.
And then I would have to take a bus
where they were in Bodega Bay,
it was rather isolated.
One weekend, our bus was filled
with such pretty young girls,
and they were all joyous and energetic
and having a great time.
That evening, we went out with
several of his buddies from the picture.
And the buddies had some
of these pretty girls with them.
Suddenly, I felt a hand
on my thigh during dinner,
and a lightbulb went on.
All those pretty young girls
were hookers
who were hired for the weekend
for these very, very lonely men up there.
And Harold, of course, had no idea.
I said, Harold,
I have to see you for a minute.
And I took him outside and I said,
Harold, they're all hookers.
And I think that your buddies
think I'm a hooker too,
'cause you just introduced me
with one name, my first name.
So I think you better get it over to them
that we're married,
because I don't want this
to happen again.
He was just horrified.
So that went smoothly.
His relationship with Hitchcock
was very, very special,
because Hitchcock
deliberately asked for him
to leave the studio and come up
to where Hitchcock was on location.
It was his big break,
the first time that a director
ever asked for him
to work with him directly.
I was working on The Birds at Universal
and then Marnie.
And I got to meet Hitchcock,
and I learned a hell of a lot.
I learned a tremendous amount
from this man
who, to me, is cinema.
Well, I'll tell you quite frankly,
after I would do a sequence,
which I thought was terrific,
and I'd show it to him,
he would look and agree
that it was terrific,
but he couldn't use it at this spot.
And I couldn't understand that,
because this is terrific.
What's with this guy?
But then he would proceed to explain why,
because he was building up a certain area
and it was very much like a symphony,
and I was constantly anticlimactic
with what I was doing.
It was no place for it,
and he was absolutely right.
And so I did learn a lot from him.
When I was given the script to The Birds,
I felt that the script itself,
the words itself,
had to be enhanced by a lot of images.
I did little compositions,
and many of my sketches
were accepted by Hitchcock
and actually were shot that way.
When I read about the scene
when the attendant was hit by a bird,
and gasoline started to flow
down the street.
Well, I just drew it that way.
Cut back to Tippi
and cut back again to the stream,
and then cut to the man
getting out of his car.
It was very obvious to me
that these were the scenes.
There was no talking.
And it worked.
A lot of the indications
for how an action scene would be done
would appear in the storyboards,
not in the script.
A Hitchcock script
was a pretty simple thing.
Storyboarding is writing in a lot of ways.
You're telling more of the story
through the visuals in a film
than you are through
the dialogue necessarily.
And, at least,
ideally that would be the case,
and certainly that was the case
for somebody like Hitchcock.
The storyboards are a working document
that the crew can look at,
but really they're sort of
a visual screenplay.
Well, actually, you see,
this is not the script.
This is pure Hitchcock.
The script doesn't say
that these are individual shots.
Hitchcock put them up in slides.
He would show them on a screen
and the editor, Tomasini,
and Hitch and myself were in this room.
And he was cutting it by calling out
how many frames he wanted.
He would say to the editor,
Twelve frames,
and the editor would take it down
a foot of film or whatever,
and he actually sat there
in the screening room
and edited this whole sequence.
And he would see
these quick cuts of absolute terror
with blood running down
and her screaming and everything.
And by God,
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
That was Hitchcock. I was there.
It was amazing.
Tomasini was a brilliant editor.
Harold was a brilliant art director
and storyboard illustrator.
Boyle was a brilliant production designer.
Whitlock was a brilliant matte artist.
These guys weren't just good.
They were geniuses in their own right.
The ones they did together
were Marnie and The Birds,
and there's just no two
more beautiful films than that,
and these are the guys that did it.
They could give him
exactly what he wanted.
They could see it when he saw it,
and they could make it
come to life for real.
That's why I call them
Hitchcock's visualizers.
That's what I think they were.
Pardon me,
but you're Peggy Nicholson, aren't you?
Remember me?
These were all nice people.
I didn't find a real shithead
in the whole bunch.
And Lenny South, he loved storyboard,
because it's a form of communication.
And there it is, it's there.
How did you think of this?
I don't give a damn how you thought of it.
It looks terrific. Or it doesn't.
"A vision of beauty, my heart's desire.
Sonnets write that you inspire.
Songs that are sung by a heavenly choir,
a Work of art' that makes masters ref/re.
But my ardor burns highest',
like a six-alarm fire,
When you 're sitting and cooking
in your GE dryer.
From your 1.965 Valentine, me.
She said to me,
I have been here since 1932.
I can't even fathom moving my library,
or going anywhere else with it.
You buy it.
I said, With what?
All of our extra money
was going for treatment
for our autistic child.
So money was always tight.
Let's put it that way.
She was very psychic.
She was very spiritual.
She says, Oh I see you owning
this library, Lillian.
Make it happen.
I said, Really?
She says, You can make it happen.
I went home and I said,
Harold, can I borrow the money
to buy the library
on your life insurance policy?
He didn't hesitate one bit.
He said, Of course.
When Lillian showed up
with the research library,
it was a natural.
I mean, here was a research library,
and these are all filmmakers.
I had space and religion
next to each other
because they both belonged in the heavens.
So I had a rather unusual filing system,
but it worked for me.
David Lynch was one of the students there,
and he was the only one
who took the time to figure out
where the borrowed book was supposed to go
and he'd put it back in the right place.
And I do thank you, David, for that.
Solid research makes great storytelling.
Without the research,
you don't have the depth of the content
for character and story.
And it is critical,
and we take it for granted.
Lillian is an incredible resource
for every bit of history.
You know, all the architecture,
all the props,
all the costumes, all the design.
Like as quick as could be,
if you talk about a movie
that you were thinking about making,
I'm telling you,
she would follow up
without even asking her.
She would send you moldings
from the building
that you think
you might be wanting to use.
And that was like synergy
with Harold Michelson.
He would take her research
and he would transpose it
into a visual that related to
whatever movie you were doing.
The way we utilize research is,
this is a starting of a conception
of the inside
of a locomotive factory in the '30s.
And I have no idea what it looks like,
so I got a lot of information
from all the research
that Lillian sends me from the files.
When I was working on Fiddler on
the Roof, I was still at Greystone.
There was this song,
Matchmaker, matchmaker.
And they said, We don't know
how to make these underpants.
So I said,
I don't have any pictures of that.
Nobody took pictures
of Jewish girls' underwear
in 1890s or '90s.
They said, What are we going to
put on there? It has to be right.
And, of course,
everything has to be right.
So I sit on the bench
at Fairfax and Beverly,
which is a Jewish section.
And I sit there, and little old ladies
are sitting right by me.
And I start talking about,
I have to get pictures of this
for a certain project,
and does anybody remember
what you wore in those days?
Because they were of that age.
One little old lady says, You stay here.
I'm going to my apartment
and I'm gonna cut you out a pattern
'cause we had to sew all our underwear.
And she brings me back
a pattern with little scallops
on the edges of the knee-length bloomers.
It's just that I'm terrified
Why it was so important
to have authenticity
in the research that I did?
Because it was the truth.
It was the reality of the subject.
And it was a matter of pride...
to get to the essence of the truth.
Or to show them
as many versions of the truth
as I thought were possible.
And also because
we were working in a lying industry.
An industry that depended on lying
to all of its customers.
This that you're looking at
on the screen is reality,
but we know it's a fantasy.
So I was giving them reality
that they were changing into fantasy,
that was changing back into reality
for the people in the audience.
The art director on Rain Man came to me
and I had to supply the mental institution
that Rain Man was kept in.
And then, of course,
all of the stops across the country
had to be really, really researched.
Rain Man was a picture
that touched me very deeply
because we were contacted
by the film people who were making it,
and they wanted to know if Dustin Hoffman
could follow my autistic son around
to see his mannerisms
and get the feeling of an autistic person.
I said no, because that would be
really interfering with my son's privacy,
but I did give the names
of six other so-called savants.
And Dustin Hoffman
was able to follow one around.
But it turned out to be
very much the story of our family.
I was really troubled by Alan.
He was already 23 and living at home.
He started banging his head,
which is an autistic way
of showing great frustration.
Dr. Kivovitz at UCLA
gave me the best advice.
He said, You're going to have
to let him go at a certain time.
And he said,
Just imagine that you're dead.
You're six feet under.
Because I was saying,
He doesn't even put a raincoat on
when it's raining.
And he said,
Are you going to get out of your grave
and put a raincoat on your wet son?
And those were the most valuable words
that were ever spoken to me
by anyone in the medical field.
And I said, That's so true.
I have to make him self-sufficient.
And I started from that time on.
I think Harold
was very, very proud of him,
but very protective of him.
Once he said to me,
we watched him going down
the street to catch a bus
and he was in his 30s.
He said, I feel so afraid
to let him out of my sight.
I don't know
what's going to happen to him.
I said, I feel that every day.
You just get used to it.
He's gone to college
and graduated college,
has a degree
and works in computer science.
He has his own apartment
and has a wonderful job
and has had it for 15 years,
being a computer scientist and programmer.
And he's ready to retire in five years.
He's 63 now.
I'm very proud of him.
Hello, darkness, my old friend
I 've come to talk with you again
I got a call. It was from Mike Nichols.
Come on over to Paramount
and we want to talk.
And he had this book,
this soft-cover book.
He said, I want you to read this.
Funniest damn thing I ever read.
So I took it home and I read it,
and I didn't think it was funny.
It was a soap opera
if there ever was one.
So I gave it to Lillian to read,
and I said, Did you think it was funny?
She said No.
The most important thing about
being a storyboard artist
is understanding filmmaking.
The essence of storyboards
is communication.
It's not about fine art.
It's not about pretty pictures.
Lots of people could draw better than him.
Quote, unquote.
But that doesn't mean that they can
convey the cinema better than him.
Would you want that person
who can create those images
or would you want Harold?
Not just because he's a nice guy,
but because he can understand your movie.
He can give you back
your movie on a visual level
that inspires you to make
a much better movie
than you would otherwise.
It's your ideas that they want.
They don't want your style.
In reality, and I won't say this,
it's like directing.
You have to have
all this knowledge of directing
just for this piece of paper.
After that, they can do whatever they want
with the piece of paper,
but all these truths
are part of the art of cinema.
Forget previs with all of our computers,
Harold's brain
was the best computer there was.
And he could draw
any sequence to any lens,
and you couldn't argue
with the careful realization
in his very simple drawing.
As a textbook example,
I tell students to go look at
a sequence of drawings of his
for a film as simple as The Graduate.
You would think, why do you need
storyboards for The Graduate?
It's just people in real time,
in real life.
But there's that amazing sequence of Ben
diving in the pool...
coming out of the pool
and leaping into Mrs. Robinson's bed.
Ben, what are you doing?
Well, I would say that
I'm just drifting here in the pool.
Well, it's very comfortable
just to drift here.
And it's a seamless sequence
of storytelling,
much of it with music in the movie.
But Harold previsualized
that in a series of images,
and they're absolutely spot-on.
Nichols shot to those boards.
The editor edited to those boards.
And you could almost look at his boards
and use them as a flash book.
Mike Nichols did rehearsing on the stage.
They'd all sit around a table
and read the script,
and I was there, and we had a mock-up
of the bedroom with tape,
and there was a bed there.
And as they were talking and going
through the motions with Anne Bancroft,
I would be walking around to see
what would be good shots for this
so I could draw it up.
Anne Bancroft wondered who I was,
and she challenged me,
What are you doing here?
I said, I'm doing
the storyboard on this scene.
Harold must have seen
a lot of Fellini at that point.
And the New Wave and all of that,
'cause whoever made The Graduate
really knew the evolving visual language
of that period very well.
When you have images
that are like Mrs. Robinson
lifting her leg for Benjamin,
or Benjamin in the church
like a Christ figure up there,
you know, shouting, Elaine.
Who is that guy? What's he doing?
These are types of images
that Harold would be able to evoke
by reading the script
and not necessarily being literal
to what was in the script...
but trying to take it to a moment
where it's a punctuation,
so then you can move on
to the rest of the story
and realize that the story
has been elevated
to another level
because of the visualizations.
Oh, I guess this isn't
the bathroom, is it?
I'm trying to get
as many different compositions
as I can without making it
a dull two-headed monster
or a two-headed screen
of just two people talking
and cutting back and forth,
which makes it absolutely deadly.
I don't care how good the dialogue is.
I know in The Graduate
there was this scene,
and I decided to have in the foreground
the angle of her leg,
which created a triangle,
and put Dustin Hoffman in between.
We saw him immediately,
and you also got the feeling
of a sexual escapade.
Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me.
It worked. They did it that way.
Most people don't know
what a storyboard artist is,
and yet here it's obvious
that Harold was responsible
for one of the most iconic moments
in cinema history.
Which is actually pretty crazy
when you put it in those terms.
Oh, Surtees was marvelous.
He came up to the art department and said,
Keep them coming. I love them.
That's the first time
a cameraman ever said that,
and this was Bob Surtees.
He loved the storyboards,
and he set up for them whenever he could.
When they were in the hotel room
and they were finished
with their lovemaking,
I took a shot from the TV set to Dustin.
And I had her walking back and forth.
He is watching TV. You just see him.
And you see her, you don't see her head.
It's from her neck down to knees, I guess.
And she walks past in front
of the screen, getting dressed.
She goes from left to right
and she puts on her underwear.
And as she goes by,
she has more clothes on.
Then from right to left
she puts on something else.
And finally the door slams.
I just did it. I thought it was
a hell of a shot, and I'm proud of it.
Well, as we went through
the picture and as they were shooting,
Mike Nichols has this sense of timing
and of comedy that's fantastic.
I found myself laughing like hell
at the dailies.
It was really funny.
What he saw in it and what I saw in it
were two different things.
And he made it.
I mean, that's strictly a director's thing
with the dialogue.
When Alan was 23
and the emptiness started,
the first great
enormous feeling was relief,
because there wouldn't be
so many interactions
among the other children.
When Rick was ready to leave,
he lived in a tree house
with some of his friends for a while.
And then he was married
and went to New York
to try to be a photographer.
He is an excellent photographer
and artist.
Then Dennis was the closest one to follow
in what his father did in the industry.
He became an excellent
supervisor of visual effects.
It's ironic, a hospital set.
And Harold climbs up on the hospital set
because his friend invited him.
And the whole set crashed,
just gave way, disintegrated,
and hurled Harold two floors
down to a cement floor.
When they dug him out,
they thought he was dead.
He had a bad concussion
and the leg was crushed.
They took him to Saint Joseph's,
and they said they wanted
to amputate the leg, and I said no.
So we got him out with an ambulance,
and we went to a private hospital
on Ventura.
And this guy who I never met before said,
I can save the leg.
He was operated on the next day.
And then I found out
from a disgruntled lady nurse
that this hospital was mostly renowned
for face-lifts.
So I whisked him by ambulance to UCLA...
and there he recovered
as well as he could,
considering the orthopedic guy
was not at the top of his profession.
And, uh-
So that was the start of a year
where he was in pain constantly.
What it did to his head,
I can only imagine,
because he was literally,
knocked out of commission.
And he had to stay in bed.
His leg was so painful.
I think the first thing
was a very, very normal thing
for him to have happen to him.
He went into a very deep, deep depression.
He was worried that
his talent had disappeared.
I said, It just doesn't up and disappear
just because you had an accident
on your foot- leg.
He said, How do I know?
How do I know when it goes
or when it comes?
We all know it's mysterious.
I said, Yeah, that's true,
but I don't think it goes that quickly.
I said, Do you want to draw at home?
He said, No, no, no.
I draw only with my friends around me.
This was a very, very difficult year,
and I think the way
that Harold coped with it was
how a lot of brave men did,
they started to drink.
And Harold drank.
I'd come back from work
and find him smelling from liquor
and being difficult.
When Harold was drinking
during those months and years,
he became mean when he got awake
and he would argue with me.
I'm afraid that I gave him an ultimatum.
And I said to him,
If you continue this drinking,
I have to leave you.
And that's- That was it. He just stopped.
And I admire that tremendously.
It was- I can't imagine
how difficult it was for him.
I just can't even imagine.
So skip over a few months,
really sad months,
and he gets a call
from his friend Ted Haworth,
and he says,
I'm starting a picture in Yugoslavia
and it's called Cross of Iron
and I'd love for you to be my assistant.
I can just about imagine
what it meant to Harold.
He said, You know what
I want to do when I can?
I want to camp in Europe.
Anything he wanted was okay with me.
He was alive.
And so we went to Europe,
and we bought a boxy orange VW camper
with a top that raises.
But it didn't work out very, very well,
because in the middle of Germany,
he was moaning with pain,
and I was frantic.
I didn't know what to do to help him.
I don't speak German.
I drive up to the Krankenhaus,
the hospital on the hill,
and thank God,
the head director speaks some English.
And he explains that this town
is Garmisch-Partenkirchen,
it's the ski center of the European world,
everybody breaks a leg here,
and their hospital
is the forefront of research
on breaking legs and how to heal them.
It was a crazy hospital.
They had heart patients there.
They fed them sausages
and beer all day long.
Germany has a different outlook
on some things.
After nine weeks, his leg healed
to a considerable degree,
and he could put more weight on it,
and he thought that he could really work
on Ted's picture.
That was an experience,
getting the camper over
from Germany to Yugoslavia in a blizzard,
and I was driving.
When you go through Switzerland,
it's just sheer drops.
There are no guards.
It was a big camper.
It was snowing so badly
I couldn't see in front of me.
And I thought,
If I get Harold and me through this,
I will never be scared
of anything in my life again.
That didn't work.
I'm still scared of things.
But I got us through.
Well, Harold's job on that film
was Storyboarding.
And Ted Haworth
made fun of him being a cripple
in front of the whole company, saying,
Come on, cripple.
Try to keep up with us.
That's a direct quote.
And then he got somebody to fire Harold.
That was a very, very
bad experience for Harold.
Really, it just shriveled his soul.
And I wrote a nine-page letter
to Ted saying,
That was the shabbiest thing
that you ever did
in the shabby life that you have.
Then I get a letter back from Ted.
He's dead now, so I feel I can talk.
And he wrote me an 18-page letter
which shows what a psychopath he was.
And he says,
You're a baby-faced killer...
and I wouldn't be surprised
if you come after me
with a gun one of these days.
I saved the letter.
So in one of the poems,
I'm a baby-faced killer,
to make it relevant.
Also very funny.
We must proceed with gentle stealth
when We discuss Ted 's mental health.
Each day driving to the studio's piran
with the Oscar-winning Sirhan Sirhan
His letter is full of raving and yelling
and loaded with second grade spelling.
On the toilet of life,
he pulls his own chain,
and, like Nixon,
We Watch as he goes down the drain.
One thing he left me, and I! is a chiller,
that' / am the husband
of a baby-faced killer!
Happy Birthday 76.
After ten years, in 1979,
the American Film Institute told me
that they had no room for my library,
they needed the basement for filming.
In 1980, Francis Coppola bought
the old Hollywood General Studios
and created his own Zoetrope Studios.
It had always been his dream
to have a Hollywood studio
in the style of the old-fashioned ones.
So he said, I want a research library
for my studio.
And then Mary Anne Biddle came to me
and said she was representing
Francis Coppola,
and they would like very,
very much for me to join them
and make quality films,
and it would have a creative renaissance.
So of course I said, Yes! Lovely.
I am thinking back to those first days
when we first took occupancy
of the Hollywood General Studios,
and there was a bungalow on the studio
that I'll never forget.
It was the Lillian Michelson Library.
I was told he would sit on
one of the benches
and look at the bungalow
where the library is
and he'd say, I'm so happy
there's a library on my studio lot.
Lillian and the facility
of the library was so helpful
on any request that we had.
He would come in all the time,
maybe even every day,
because he loves libraries.
As you can see,
I'm surrounded by his library.
I owe Lillian a lot.
I owe the fact that I'm here to her.
I owe my career to her.
I called Lillian, told her I was a student
that wanted to volunteer,
and she just immediately said,
When can you be here?
I remember thinking
the first week that I worked there,
ls this a library,
or is it a social club?
And it was both.
Everybody went there.
It was the heart of the studio.
And everybody found Lillian's bungalow
and would go there for tea,
chatting, read a book.
Most of the people that came in
were these young men
who worked in art departments,
young attractive men, so I thought,
Oh, I'm in
a pretty good situation here.
And, of course, they all looked on her
like the den mother,
dispensing advice-
not only research but advice.
The secretaries would come in and hang out
and tell Lillian what was happening
in their lives.
Francis would come in, hang out.
Francis's wife would come in, hang out.
Tom Waits certainly came in a few times.
Tom Waits was definitely an individual.
I didn't know who he was
'cause I'm a musical idiot.
And he just liked to sit there
and just talk about his life.
He had this gravelly voice
that just was fascinating,
because everything that came out of him
sounded as if it should be
a police confession.
These are films
that Lillian was working on
at the time I was with her.
You can see One from the Heart, Annie,
Stripes, Personal Best, Looker, Body Heat,
Hammett, Reds, Brenda Starr, Tucker,
Mommy Dearest, Ronnie Rocket', Rocky lll,
Blade Runner, Escape Artist, Idolmaker,
History of the World Part I, etcetera.
This is for Annie the movie.
This is what we were asked for,
and you can see the value of the library.
New York City bread lines,
strikes, lunchrooms, offices,
ticker tape machine, mounted police,
a coffee can 1933.
The movie Stripes,
the one with Bill Murray.
Mexican village square with fountain,
German hotels,
Italian billboards, Russian army bases,
jungle guerrilla camps.
Obviously, they built all that stuff.
They didn't go there.
And I thought, This is amazing.
This woman,
she's like at the top of her game
in terms of doing research.
There was nobody at my library school
who could compare with her
in that department.
Having been trained by her,
I would say that I do things
the way she would've done them,
a lot of ways of looking
for the subject in a roundabout way
and thinking outside the box,
thinking creatively.
If you can't find it
in the most direct way,
think all around it.
Lillian has this wonderful personality.
People don't say no to Lillian
when she's asking for something
or she's looking for information.
She was so charming.
I mean, she's basically a Southerner,
so she had this very sort of
Southern charm
that could especially charm men.
Lillian is a small person.
She's nonthreatening,
unless you know her very well.
Then she could be very threatening.
Lillian is a force of nature.
You either get with her
or you get out of her way.
And the best thing about her was that
she was like a bulldog holding on
to your pants leg with her teeth.
She would never give up
on finding something.
If she didn't have it,
she would be calling somebody
who would call somebody
who would call somebody.
I mean, her Rolodex
was the size of, like, a tire.
And I'm sure even to this day,
the CIA would like to get
their hands on her Rolodex.
I don't know where that ended up,
but that was a treasure.
That should be in the Smithsonian.
No one was better than Lillian
at finding something
that you weren't allowed to see.
If you needed to see
the inside of the CIA-
which happened on one film-
Lillian got photographs of the inside
of the CIA from an army general
who had a friend
who was a doctor in Washington, DC,
who knew a doctor here in Leos Angeles
that Lillian knew.
Lillian once was doing research on a film
about the drug trade in Latin America.
And she was getting information
from a drug lord
who had retired and taken a new name
and was living off the radar.
She was also getting information
from a DEA guy
when they were busting a drug lab.
Well, one day the two guys were there
at the same time, sitting together,
and they didn't know that they were
on opposite ends of the game.
That was the kind of place it was.
I am not one of those voices.
I know that. But you know why, Vic?
'Cause you got your head
up your culo, that's why.
This was for the movie Scarface,
and I had to find pictures
of cocaine laboratories
and huge estates with menageries and zoos
that drug lords were really in love with
in the '70s and '80s.
So I decided I'm going to ask my friends
on the wrong side of the law.
Through that wonderful circuit,
I found the name of a drug lord.
He was a nice Jewish boy.
And he says,
What about my sending you my private jet,
and I'll jet you down to Bolivia.
This was the first-
I knew he trusted me then.
He says, I still have a few things going
in South America.
I thought, Oh, a few things.
So I go home all excited.
And I say, Harold,
I'm going to Bolivia or Ecuador.
I'm going to South America.
I'm going to film these.
He says, What?
Did you forget that you're the mother
of my children?
Are you gonna go alone to South America
in a drug king's airplane?
And I said, Why not?
He said, I forbid you to go!
Oh, we got into a terrible fight.
Oh, boy.
But he said,
Don't you have a responsibility
to your children to stay alive?
I had no argument for that one.
Nobody was a more talented
film researcher than Lillian Michelson.
There are so many movies
that Lillian gave nuance
and texture and period to.
Lillian contributed so much
to so many of the great films we have seen
that I want to come up
with an extra little credit
they could just throw up on the screen,
Research by Lillian Michelson.
You never see it.
She's been so helpful for so many people,
and she's been such a resource
for 30 years, that I know of,
that she should get an Oscar, you know,
the Thalberg Award or something.
Because she's really made
a contribution to this business.
I think our love has been mutual,
and that's why I'm in love.
I've been the aggressor all along.
I know you had no interest in me at all,
and I went about trying to change that.
If there had been tension in our marriage,
it came from the fact that
Harold didn't entirely trust the idea
that I truly and completely loved him.
Because we didn't start out
in the conventional way.
I think by this time
when we were at Zoetrope,
he really, really felt that I loved him.
And that was a very wonderful feeling,
that he finally believed
that I cared for him.
From the time I met them,
they were just simpatico.
He treated her with such respect.
Being in his position,
that also surprised me a little bit.
Storyboard artists,
it's an awkward position,
and Harold is one of the few
who's made the transition
into production design.
He was kind of bumped up
to be a production designer.
He had complete rapport
with Dalton Trumbo.
Harold used to sketch
while Dalton Trumbo
was in the bathtub all the time
because he had a bad back.
So he would have this typing thing set up
across his bathtub,
and Harold would sit
on the toilet and sketch.
And Harold would come back
from these days lit up,
just lit up that he was talking directly
with the director,
creating a movie
that was so close to his heart.
Harold Michelson
could see what you were doing,
and he knew,
without interfering him too much
and costing you any money,
how you could improve it...
how you could make it a little better.
That was the genius of Harold Michelson.
Let's make this a little better.
And he always did.
I was in Alabama
working on a picture when I got this call.
Everybody looked at me as though
I was an important person then.
I mean, Star Trek The Motion Picture
was really big.
When he was offered Star Trek,
Robert Wise wanted him very badly.
And Harold says,
I don't like science fiction,
all this make-believe up in space.
It's all real fake stuff.
I wasn't a Trekkie.
I hadn't seen hardly any of the series.
And I was a Trekkie.
I love science fiction.
I read Heinlein when-
I think I was eight years old.
But I did want him
to work on this picture,
because I thought
it would be really fantastic.
He could use his inventive mind
to build a universe out there.
Then I got the idea,
'cause he was always in the garage
fixing gadgets, making something,
building something.
And I thought, Harold,
this whole picture could be
you're inventing gadgets.
He says, Gadgets?
I'll be able to make gadgets?
I designed
a clear plastic, or Plexiglas, engine.
It wasn't based on any scientific facts.
I designed the engine,
and they put this lighting in it.
And it had a long tube going back
towards the tail of the ship.
I went ahead and made it
in forced perspective,
which means smaller and smaller
and smaller.
There was a ramp on the side
where we had a five-foot man,
four-foot and a young boy.
They had to make special costume for them.
And they were working on the engine.
But this was all fake.
This was all forced.
But he did have fun with the movie,
so I felt good about it.
And then he got his nomination,
so I really felt good about that.
The limousine comes up to your house,
and you're going down there with this guy,
this driver who loves you.
We went through the red carpet
along with all the stars and everything
and the people going crazy.
We got in there, and I thought to myself,
I hope it's not me.
I would be scared to death to go up there,
and what the hell am I going to say?
Then it was not me.
Which was a tremendous relief.
When we went to the hotel afterwards,
the same thing,
the red carpet and all
that Hollywood stuff with searchlights.
And a good meal, and we got
an awful lot of souvenirs.
After-shave lotion
and all these sort of things.
Everybody's gotta get in the act.
Funny, when somebody would say,
What have you done?
and you say,
I've done the Star Trek movie,
well, all of a sudden you're elevated,
so I use that.
Just like the other nomination
I got was Terms of Endearmenf.
Those are the things that get you jobs.
I worked on an awful lot of bombs
that I wouldn't even mention,
and I did some of my best work on them.
So, you know, it's political.
You just lay around and,
Oh, yes, Star Trek, I did that.
Harold, of course, was very warm.
Lillian is a very warm person.
They both nurtured
a number of people in their careers.
And certainly, Harold did,
as an art director,
encouraging young people that
he saw were capable and had a future.
When I was young
and the business seemed so hostile,
and we used to joke all the time about,
Best friend in Hollywood
is someone who stabs you in the face.
And, uh- And I met Bummy and Harold
and all those guys at Universal
after I had done E. 7'.
And there was a congeniality
and a real openness.
And especially Harold.
He had such a loving heart.
He was a really warm person,
and whatever he had, whatever he'd done,
he was very, very open to sharing.
If there was a technique that he could
share with you, he would do it.
Then I'll get this one... here.
That's the end of the wall here.
What Harold represented to me was
the entree into the art form of cinema.
And the entre point was Harold Michelson
and his wife Lillian,
just as though you were
the most welcomed person in the world.
And what had I done? I just had walked in.
Now, to me, I would hope
that I could be that gracious
with people that walk into my life.
Now, maybe they said,
Hmm, maybe there's something there.
That kid's gonna actually
have some stick-to-it-ness.
But I'll tell you, I didn't know that.
So whatever they knew,
they made me feel like
they knew something that was-
You know, Lincoln says,
The better angels?
They saw my better angels.
And they made me see them.
Good evening again, everyone.
A melodrama is currently
playing itself out in Hollywood
that for sheer emotionalism
rivals anything put on film.
The embattled figure in this drama
is director Francis Coppola,
who once again finds himself
waging a war
to keep his dream financially afloat.
Of course, when he lost the studio,
Lillian lost her home for the library
and had to move again.
It was a very sad time at that point,
'cause we didn't know where she would go.
I was really desperate because,
again, I had a deadline.
And I had to keep my library together
because by this time
it was my fourth child.
I entreated Earl Lestz,
who was the Paramount studio manager,
and he said,
No, why would I give you any space free?
You have to pay rent. Don't you know
how the outside world works?
Back I go a second time. Refused.
Oh, was I desperate.
So I went a third time and I said,
Please think about this.
This is a service for your whole studio.
And he said, You just wore me down.
Okay, you can have this cellar.
I couldn't believe it.
And who comes driving up in a limousine?
Ha, a limousine.
My husband steps out of this limousine
with a chauffeur, and he says,
What are you doing here at Paramount?
I said, I just got some space here!
He says, I don't believe it!
And we started dancing around
in the middle of the studio street.
So that's how I started at Paramount,
and I stayed there nine and a half years.
Somebody came from DreamWorks,
Sandy Rabins,
and she said,
Would you like to join DreamWorks?
And I said, DreamWorks?
What's DreamWorks?
And she said, um,
Spielberg and Katzenberg and, uh, Geffen
have started a studio,
and they want you to join them.
Just that minute, Danny DeVito called.
And he said, How's Harold feeling?
I said, Much better.
And I said, Danny, you wouldn't believe
who just called me.
And I told him this whole story,
and he starts to laugh.
And I said, Well, what's so funny?
And he said, I think everybody
in our industry
has got their resume on those guys' desks,
and they called you?
And I- Yeah.
And he said, Don't sign anything,
and I'm gonna send
my lawyer over to talk to you.
Is that okay?
And the lawyer came,
and he's in his gorgeous,
Italian expensive suit,
and he's looking around
with such distaste.
And he says, Listen, why don't you
sell this to DreamWorks,
and then you go get this money
and you go lie on a beach somewhere?
And I said, I don't want to do that.
And he says, Look at this.
You want to do this
for the rest of your life?
And I said, Yeah.
And he says,
What do you want out of your life?
And I said, I want three things.
I want my husband to be well,
I want my children to be happy,
and I want to be able to buy panty hose
that don't run.
When she got the offer
to move to DreamWorks,
it was like hitting the lottery for her.
She won the lottery
when she got that space.
We used to have screenings
at DreamWorks every Monday.
They decided to do the favorite movie.
And Jeffrey Katzenberg,
his favorite movie was West Side Story.
And here we go, Harold,
with his original of West Side Story,
presented it just before the movie.
Harold was always
with his big gigantic magnifier glass
looking at this stuff.
He was retired at the time,
but he kept having all those people
coming to see him.
And they were celebrities at DreamWorks.
Basically everybody loved them.
They got to the point
where they were this center
of knowledge and friendship and family.
They treated everybody like their kids,
and everybody felt like
they were their kids.
So the group that was doing Shrek,
they decided the king and queen
ought to be Harold and Lillian.
I got all this other stuff
addressing envelopes, you see?
- I got this one.
- Oh, pretty. That's very nice.
At DreamWorks, Harold wasn't well,
and, of course,
I had nobody to leave him with.
So I would take him to work with me,
and he would draw and putter
and do stuff for Danny DeVito.
The thing about it is Harold's my friend.
He's always been,
like, from the time we started.
We had so much in common
in talking about visuals
and movies
and this, that and the other thing.
They were laughing all the time.
That's all I remember.
'Cause I would be at the other end
of the warehouse, stuck in my corner.
And Harold would be in my office
with Danny,
and I just hear all this chortling
and galumphing and carrying on.
We also loved to eat.
Even though- Don't tell Lillian.
We would just eat. You gotta have
a big corned beef sandwich or something.
Basically what he does is,
and what he always did for me,
was he got you to think about it
in a kind of a visual way.
That's the fantastic thing about Harold.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
That's what I did with Harold, see?
- That's the value of it.
- Yeah.
Besides being a great guy. You know?
He was a- you know, a really good friend.
Oh, boy.
Why are you smiling?
'Cause he was going through
a really, really bad time
with visits to various doctors
I dug up out of nowhere
I thought would be able to help him and...
they were charlatans and...
et cetera, et cetera.
The doctor persuaded me to put Harold
in the Motion Picture home,
because they said
I couldn't lift him anymore.
And so he was put
in the Motion Picture home
in the fall of 2006,
and he was here for a few months,
and he died on March 1, 2007.
And the final months
were, urn, unspeakably tragic.
Lillian never seemed young or old.
She was just Lillian.
And she remains that way.
She truly is kind of a force of nature.
Research has been
a great comfort to me in my own life.
How many people are as fortunate as I am?
I get to float among the centuries.
I dip into a time machine every day.
They're all in my books.
I've been fortunate enough, with research,
to gain a certain perspective
on my tiny little life
and other tiny little lives,
and things don't bother you so much.
If they do, you just open another book
and go into your time machine.
I can pick anything.
When Harold first came out to California
and was setting up
our foundation for our life,
when he said, Come on out.
I have an apartment for you-
I had a few days on the train from Miami
to think about what I was getting into.
And I'm thinking, What am I doing?
I'm going to an unknown state,
a man I don't know,
I just know his sister.
Is this a reason to get married?
Is this a reason to leave everything?
I had two days and two nights
of not sleeping,
just sitting and wondering.
I never felt that I was worthy
of all this love,
so that's the crux of it.
I guess because I was an orphan
and not the center of the universe
from a very early age
and, uh, had to fight... everything.
All my life's circumstances
had to be fought against
and resisted
and made to fit me as a person.
So I never felt that I was really worthy
of anybody's sustained
and consistent love.
I was thrilled by it, but secretly
I never thought I deserved it.
That's why I loved the poems so much.
Oh, another year, and he still loves me.
When I get to the train station,
this stranger comes to me and says,
I even forgot what he looked like!
I couldn't even really like him
if I don't remember what he looks like.
And he kind of gives me a shy little hug,
and we're so shy with each other.
And he says, I got this apartment.
You can stay there,
and I'm staying with my friend.
And, of course, he was so honorable.
He stayed with a friend
until we were truly married.
The challenges
that one has to overcome, I think,
is making the other person feel
that you are really vital
to the partner's life in every sense
and that there's no enemy there.
Even if you fight, there's no enemy there.
We were a team.