Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 1:15 am | Overcast 65º


Michael Deeley’s New Movie Memoir Reveals ‘Extra’ Scenes

Montecito resident's Blade Runners, Deer Hunters & Blowing the Bloody Doors Off My Life in Cult Movies gives a big-screen view of behind-the-scenes action

What goes on behind the scenes when making movies can be even more fascinating than what we see on the screen, as Academy Award-winning producer and Montecito resident Michael Deeley proves in his juicy new memoir, Blade Runners, Deer Hunters & Blowing the Bloody Doors Off My Life in Cult Movies.

As the producer of some of the most iconic films in the past 50 years — including The Italian Job, The Deer Hunter, The Man Who Fell to Earth and Blade Runner — among others, Deeley’s had a very successful and eclectic career. Not surprisingly, he has some great behind-the-scenes stories to tell, with more than enough drama to rival any film, and starring larger-than-life characters like directors Ridley Scott, Sam Peckinpah and Michael Cimino.

He doesn’t mince words when it comes to describing the headaches — and heartaches — of making movies and working with difficult characters, but somehow his accounts of their acrimonious relationships make hilarious reading.

(Jack Kimball / Noozhawk video)

It may be due in part to his charming British accent, but Deeley still manages to come across as a likable guy, both on the page and in person, even when describing his 1979 Best Picture Oscar for The Deer Hunter: “The only flaw I can find in my Oscar is that Michael Cimino’s name is also engraved on it. I keep it on a high shelf so I can see the award but not the unpleasantness minutely chiseled there.”

As Deeley demonstrates, a dark sense of humor is obviously important if you want to make it in movie production, but beyond the entertaining anecdotes and jaw-dropping revelations, the book is also an interesting account of everything a producer has to do to get a film made. There are very few worthwhile books about the business side of movie making and Blade Runners, Deer Hunters & Blowing the Bloody Doors Off My Life in Cult Movies is definitely one of them.

While it varied some from film to film, in general Deeley’s role was to pick the director, find the financing, organize the film distribution and consult on the casting. He describes a producer’s job as “raising funds and providing everything a director needs.”

(Jack Kimball / Noozhawk video)

He says, “A producer must deliver,” and deliver he does indeed. The book is loaded with great stories, such as his receiving an 11 p.m. visit from Warren Beatty, who’d been dating Julie Christie, star of Deeley’s film Don’t Look Now. Beatty wanted the (now famous) scene in which Christie and Donald Sutherland make love — a scene that is considered to be one of the most erotic in modern cinema — removed, claiming it was vulgar and that Christie had been talked into it against her better judgment. Luckily, Beatty was ignored.

Then there’s Peckinpah, whose cocaine and alcohol abuse were legendary, storming into the edit suite on Convoy, and declaring, “to be or not to be, that is the question,” and then passing out on the floor for two hours. And Deeley dishes on Blade Runner, where Rutger Hauer goes to meet his director, Ridley Scott, wearing pink silk pants, Elton John glasses and a fox fur, and says Scott was terrified he’d been given a gay activist to play his tough guy.

(Jack Kimball / Noozhawk video)

Stories like these and many more, reflect Deeley’s eclectic tastes in movies, some of which are now regarded as classics, and make this book a great read for anyone interested in the film business.

For an autographed copy of Deeley’s new tell-all book, send your name, address and a check for $25 (includes shipping and handling) made out to “Pegasus Books LLC.” Mail to Noozhawk, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93102, or call 805.879.1701 for credit-card orders. A Noozhawk drawing will be held for a free book.

Noozhawk contributor Leslie Dinaberg can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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