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This sort of storytelling, related to balladry but a lot less long-winded, is not new to the screen. But it has been neglected so long that it is as good as new. Combined with evocative sets and appropriate performance (by Lawrence Tierney, Edmund Lowe, Anne Jeffreys and others), and admirably terse, it provides a tinnily entertaining, cinematically energetic antidote to the two-hour doses of pure unflavored gelatin now alarmingly on the increase. Significantly, it was made quickly on very little money, as pictures go, and for a humble but reliable audiencethe general equivalent of the audience which reads pulp magazines. Its overall cost was $150,000. It was shot in 21 days. The screen play was slapped together in a week.
"I Should Bother . . ." The authors of Dillinger, both 30, are lean, bespectacled Philip Yordan and ebullient, jut-chinned William Castle, whose melodrama When Strangers Marry (which Castle directed as well as coauthored) was so well liked by carriage-trade critics last fall that it is soon to be rereleased. Of these white-haired boys, the one that shines the brighter in the terms Hollywood best understands is Yordan. Reason: Yordan is already up to his ears in the jackpot.
His Anna Lucasta is more in demand in Hollywood than any play since Life with Father. He has been offered as high as $1,000,000 for the screen rights. Hedy Lamarr and Lauren Bacall and Greta Garbo have all tried to persuade their bosses to buy it for them. (In the play, as first written, Anna and her family were Polish.) Among the top bidders are David Selznick and Mervyn LeRoy. Yet Yordan refuses to sell Anna Lucasta at any price unless he is allowed to co-produce the picture.
He is in demand as a $2,500-a-week screen writer, but is strictly undazzled; he walked out on a polishing job (Mil dred Pierce) at that pay as soon as he learned that Jack Warner requires his writers to show up at 9 : 30 and leave at 5.
Yordan can well afford such independence.
His 10% of the weekly gross on Lucasta ($21,000) has hardly varied a quarter a week since the play hit Broadway, and Artkino wants him to bring the show to Moscow an offer which he plans to ac cept as soon as the New York audiences begin to fall off. At the same time he is enjoying too much freedom and making too much money as a partner in King Bros. Productions, an independent unit with Monogram, to have to feel that his position, for the time being, is im provable. "We are making A stories on a C budget," he explains. "I should bother with the 'prestige' of writing for a big studio!" $250,000 a Year and Freedom. Frank and Morrie King are young promoters (in their early 30s) whose other interests range from slot machines in Los Angeles to horse racing in Mexico. At the time they met Yordan, in the spring of '43, they had already made a couple of pic tures. Though they had realized a respect able profit, they did not receive the ac claim they had somehow expected. Their deal: Yordan would contribute "class" and a third of the money; in return they would give Yordan all the freedom he wanted (all there is), and 'a one-third share of the business. Result: between King Bros, and Lucasta, Yordan makes not far short of $250,000 a year. And he is probably the only man in Hollywood who has complete autonomy over what he is doing.