Check out this little bit of Gore Vidal bitchery. Vidal, while doing the old anti-promotion for Caligula, the current film that he had originally been involved with but then distanced himself from when the production turned into the sort of thing that could only result in one of those infamous cinematic disasters, reached back into the past to get a few digs in at Mike Sarne, the director of the film version of Vidal’s novel Myra Breckinridge. The following is excerpted from Views From a Window: Conversations with Gore Vidal but was originally published in American Film magazine.
Alpert: I take it you’re more than dissatisfied with the way Caligula turned out.
Vidal: It’s not just another bad movie. It’s a joke movie like Myra Breckinridge, which was not just a bad movie, it was an awful joke. And I have you, Mr. Alpert, to thank for that. You once reviewed a film called Joanna, made by an English pop singer named Michael Sarne. This film was like fifty-two Salem commercials run back-to-back—people running in slow motion through Green Park, girls with long hair, and lots of plummy dialogue. Anyway, you must have suffered a sudden lapse, because your judgements are usually impeccable.* Richard Zanuck and Dan Brown, who were then running Twentieth Century-Fox, suddenly asked me to see Joanna, and I knew something was up. I looked at what I thought was one of the ten worst films. The next thing I knew they said, “Well, he’s directing Myra Breckinridge, and will also write the script.” I said, “What has he done to justify giving him a major film to direct, a movie about Hollywood, a town he has yet to visit?” They said, “Joanna is a great flick.” I said, “It’s a terrible picture.” They said, “Just look what the critics say.” And there was the Hollis Alpert review. I said, “What about the other reviewers?” They said, “What difference do they make? He’s the best.” Anyway, Michael Sarne never worked in films after Myra Breckinridge. I believe he is working as a waiter in a pub in London where they put on shows in the afternoon. This is proof that there is a God and, in nature, perfect symmetry.
* This is an example of irony. [Gore Vidal, 1979]
It turns out that Mike Sarne wasn’t actually working in a pub. In fact he was still writing occasionally for Films and Filming magazine as he had been since the early 1960s. Sarne, upon seeing that Vidal was still dragging his name around, took pen to paper and wrote a typically near-incomprehensible column defending himself. (Click to enlarge)
Films and Filming. October 1979.