• Share
  • Read Later

(8 of 9)

Originally Kubrick, who likes to sleep in his own bed and likes even more to save the money it costs to house and feed a crew on location, had hoped to shoot the entire picture within a 90-minute range of home. He dispatched photographers to all the great houses within that circle, hoping to find the look he wanted. Impossible. He then decided to shoot in Ireland, where the early sections of the book are set anyway. After a couple of months there, however, the I.R.A.—or someone using its name—made telephone threats to the production. Kubrick decamped for rural England, where he used rooms in at least four different stately homes, artfully cut together to give Hackton Castle, Lady Lyndon's digs, spaciousness and richness. At Corsham Court, he was told that if he did not kill his lights within 30 minutes, irreparable harm would be done to the priceless paintings in the room where he was shooting. Similar incidents sent the budget soaring, giving an extra twist to the pressures Kubrick felt. Nerves produced a rash on his hands that did not disappear until the film was wrapped, and though he had quit smoking, he started cadging cigarettes.

Still, things could have been worse. Warner's production chief, John Calley, was always tolerant. "It would make no sense to tell Kubrick, 'O.K., fella, you've got one more week to finish the thing,' " he says. "What you would get then is a mediocre film that cost say, $8 million, instead of a masterpiece that cost $11 million. When somebody is spending a lot of your money, you are wise to give him time to do the job right."

Calley admits he has no idea whether masterpieces are going to sell this season. "The business is, at best, a crap shoot. The fact that Stanley thinks the picture will gross in nine figures is very reassuring. He is never far wrong about anything." If Kubrick is right, he will be rich. By the terms of his deal with Warner, he receives 40% of Barry Lyndon's profits. Only one picture in history—Jaws—has made "nine figures"; it passed the $100 million mark last week.

As for Kubrick, he is still working 18 hours a day, overseeing the final fine tuning of the sound track while keeping one compulsively attentive eye on the orchestration of the publicity buildup. It is something he feels he must do, just as he personally checked the first 17 prints of A Clockwork Orange before they went out to the theaters. "There is such a total sense of demoralization if you say you don't care. From start to finish on a film, the only limitations I observe are those imposed on me by the amount of money I have to spend and the amount of sleep I need. You either care or you don't, and I simply don't know where to draw the line between those two points."

He does not believe a single flop will cost him his ability to ere, ate independently, though he may occasionally think of a line in The Killing, his first major studio release in 1956. A thief muses that people romanticize gangsters and artists, but they are also eager to see them brought low.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9