In addition to my article about Phil Yordan, (here’s a link to it on the Film Noir Foundation website), here are some other interesting details gleaned from my research about Yordan:
- Claimed to have watched every movie with Jean Gabin who served as a model for his Western characters in Anthony Mann’s movies.
- Believed that The Bravados wasn’t successful because director, Henry King, was too old.
- Wanted to use the standing sets from Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) for something called, Luke the Magnificent for $1million from Paramount but Samuel Bronston turned him down.
- His approach toward Joan Crawford to convince her about the script revisions on Johnny Guitar: “I’ll do anything you want. Anything you want, I gotta do”
- During his glory days with Samuel Bronston, Yordan lived in a Paris apartment that had 28 foot ceilings in a 2 story complex at the foot of Avenue Victor Hugo.
- Originally tried to cast Richard Burton as Jesus in King of Kings (1961), but after having trouble with his agent, used the $200,000 ticketed for Burton to cast all eight principal actors except the title role that ended up going to Jeffrey Hunter.
Yordan on Method Acting:
“If you asked a New York actor to sit during a scene, he would ask ‘Why? Why should I sit down?’ ‘I’m standing. What is my motivation to sit down?’ I cured that by telling the asshole if he stood and the other actor sat we couldn’t get both of their faces in a close shot”.
Producer Sam Bischoff:
“Nice fella, but this is a guy that should be running a bookie joint”.
Yordan and the King Brothers
Frank King was like a “300 pound Chinaman with a fresh cigar between his lips and his file desk drawer was filled with chocolate peanut Hershey bars. He was puzzled why he was overweight. Maurice King had an undistinguished career as a pugilist and subsisted principally on black coffee.”
“The rumor persisted that they were gangsters. They weren’t, but they did own a string of slot machines. If they had any other illegal enterprises, I never found out about it.”
“I had to repeat my offer to Mama King in Boyle Heights when I asked for a cash advance to live on. She had to approve each film. She treated me like the fourth King Brother (God, help them).”
About his long term friend and colleague, Bernard Gordon:
“Had Bernie been given a proper budget, I truly believe he could have been a vital force in cinema”
“Do not drown your script with endless dialogue and long speeches. Every question does not call for a response. Whenever you can express an emotion with a silent gesture, do so. Once you poise the question permit it to linger before you get a reply. Or better yet, perhaps the character cannot reply, he or she has no answer. This permits the unspoken response to hang in midair’.
“Don’t let an actor pull a gun or knife without using it”
“I guess I was a whore whose services were always in need”.