Articles

Hollywood Diary, March 2010

Austerity has hit the film industry. No first class travel. Not even business this time. The company (an independent, not a studio) flying me over to Los Angeles for script & casting meetings has me in super-economy. The Qantas staff, who know me as a regular customer, exchange furtive, telling glances. My career, they...

Jeffrey Smart – Australian painter

SMART It is probably not too great an exaggeration to say that I owe my entire appreciation of art to Jeffrey Smart. Growing up in the west of Sydney, with parents who were struggling for solvency in the years after the war, I had virtually no acquaintance with paintings or drawings of any description....

Diary, January 2010

I finished 2009 by re-staging my production of Andre Previn’s opera of Tennessee William’s play “ A Streetcar Named Desire” in Melbourne. Luckily – due to a superb cast ( Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Yvonny Kenny, Antoinette Halloran, Stuart Skelton) and a superb set (John Stoddart) –my contribution being minimal – the brief season was...

André Previn and “Streetcar”

The opera of “A Streetcar Named Desire” is the culmination of an extraordinary career in music. Sir (he has a British knighthood) André George Previn was born in 1929 as Andreas Ludwig Priwin to a German/Jewish family who wisely moved to America in 1939. André had his music talent recognized – as a jazz...

Down Mexico Way – 2009

A look at my diary tells me I’m due in Monterrey, Mexico, for a film festival. Having been invited earlier in the year I had forgotten all about it. I look up the website. There I am, listed as one of the film director guests. Further, it’s an “Australian“ film year. Three of my...

Memoir of Horton Foote (1916-2009)

In 1980 my feature film “Breaker Morant” attracted some notice outside Australia, mainly because it was selected for competition in Cannes. After 23 years in the film industry I was an overnight success. For the first time agents who had long shown a strong lack of interest in my career began to call and...

Making “Mao’s Last Dancer”

I had already read Li Cunxin’s autobiography “Maos Last Dancer” when Jane Scott and Jan Sardi first approached me with the idea of making a feature film. The story, a rise from rags to riches, is of such epic proportions that it makes all other examples of the genre seem trivial. Li Cunxin grew...

European Diary, 2009

A stopover in New York to discuss an adaptation of William Faulkner’s “Intruder in the Dust”. Having found the script capably written but unremarkable I re-read the novel on the plane. The problems seem to lie there. The story, of a black man in the deep south accused of murdering a white man, is...

Literature and Film

A few articles have appeared in the press recently implying that Australian films would benefit if more adaptations were made from acclaimed literary works. Comparisons are inevitably made with foreign films, particularly English and American, where various eminent authors of those countries have had their works adapted to the screen. Probably a majority of...

Gian-Carlo Menotti. A Memoir.

The most acclaimed “serious” opera composer working in America, at least during the 1940’s and 1950’s, was Gian-Carlo Menotti. He was born in Italy in 1911 but studied in America from 1928. His first opera “Amelia Goes to the Ball” was performed at the Met in 1936. A string of successes followed, all with...