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474   Michael Curtiz: Collection of (23) Letters Remembering the Casablanca Director  $500 $605 $666 4 You must login to place a bid.
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#474 - Michael Curtiz: Collection of (23) Letters Remembering the Casablanca Director Estimate: $6,000+

A remembrance of Oscar-winning Casablanca director Michael Curtiz—collection of 23 letters from collaborators like John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, and Ingrid Bergman

Collection of 23 letters from various Hollywood stars and filmmakers to Candace Curtiz, the daughter of Oscar-winning director Michael Curtiz, sending personal anecdotes about her father that she intends on using for a book. Dated between 1974 and 1978, the collection, which consists of nine ALSs and 14 TLSs for a total of 36 pages, offers a wealth of insightful and often amusing stories regarding the notoriously difficult-to-work-with director, with many of the letters featuring fond if not entirely frank remembrances of the Curtiz method of tough-love moviemaking. The collection includes letters from Ingrid Bergman, Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Olivia de Havilland (2), Bing Crosby, Walter Matthau, Robert Buckner, Nanette Fabray (2), John Gavin (2), Lou Greenspan, Carolyn Jones, Garson Kanin, Howard Koch (2), Rosalind Russell, Rudy Vallee, Hal Wallis, and Michael Wilding. Also includes a letter from Kirk Douglas that has been signed in a secretarial hand. The majority of the letters are accompanied by their original mailing envelopes.

Highlights are as follows:

Ingrid Bergman: ALS, February 5, 1975: “I belong to the people who loved your father. He was extremely nice to me during the shooting of ‘Casablanca.’ He was under such stress, because the script was written day by day. All his actors were nervous, not knowing what was going to happen, all of them asking for their dialogue. He sat mostly by himself in deep thoughts, while the lights were being changed. He was very impatient and couldn’t stand people that worked slowly. How wonderful, if he had known he was making a masterpiece, a classic that would be loved for generations! I never met your father outside of work, so I really only know him from the set. I think Hal Wallis, the producer and still here in Hollywood, could help you. They fought over the story every lunch hour!!”

John Wayne: TLS, August 25, 1975: “I am one of the fellows who had a great affection for your father, although I didn’t get to work with him until, as you know, his last picture…At the moment, I am in the hospital and the walls are closing in on me, so I do not feel that I could do justice to any anecdotes that I might have on him at this time.” The 1961 adventure western Comancheros was the last film directed by Curtiz. When illness prevented Curtiz from finishing the film, Wayne took over as director, though his role remained uncredited. Curtiz died shortly after the film was completed.

Ronald Reagan: TLS on State of California, Governor’s Office letterhead, November 12, 1974: “I have often said you could number the directors in Hollywood on two hands who could get a better performance from an actor than the actor had originally intended to put out. Your father would have been among that small number. Yes, he was tempestuous and controversial, but while my experience in his pictures was limited, I must say he had that way of picking up what an actor’s own instinct had prompted him to do and getting a little more, taking him further along in the same direction with an additional thing that an actor could see and understand and very often wonder why he had not thought of himself.”

Lauren Bacall: ALS, August 29, 1975: “As you know I was in two films directed by your father. He was a character indeed. And a genius with the camera. I think actors tended to get in his way…I recall one incident on ‘Bright Leaf.’ Gary Cooper was late for shooting one morning, had been late on occasion before. Not badly late mind you but Mike was ready & in a fury. God-damned actor bums. Keeping him waiting. To vent his spleen he took it out on me. Screamed at me about nothing—instead of screaming back I rushed off to my room in tears. He came in and apologized saying he was furious with Coop & had to take it out on someone.”

Olivia de Havilland: ALS, August 23, 1975: “Working with your father could be a very difficult matter, for, on the set, he was exigent, emotional, and even harsh. I first worked with him on ‘Captain Blood,’ which we began filming, as I recall it, just before my 19th birthday; and although I had already experienced William Dieterle, which should have prepared me, I was still quite intimidated by Michael Curtiz. I continued to be so in subsequent films, and not the least of my suffering came from the conviction that Mike Curtiz liked neither me nor my work. The film which I remember most darkly, among those we made together, was ‘Dodge City.’ We made others later, but that one was the absolute nadir, and eventually I left Warners…I did not see Mike Curtiz all those later years. Then one day in Paris, in early July of 1975, the phone rang. It was Sam Goldwyn, Jr, calling from Los Angeles. He wanted me for a film, he said, because the director insisted no-one else would be right for the part but me. The director was Mike Curtiz, and he came on the line to persuade me to play Linnett in ‘Proud Rebel’ because, he said, he had never forgotten me in ‘Dodge City’…For the first time I was able to guess something I never guessed before: Mike Curtiz liked me, and he liked my work.”

Walter Matthau: ALS, February 5, 1975: “I remember your father calling me ‘Walty’ and Elvis Presley was ‘Elvy.’ He told me that he was on the stage as a young man and that he tended to overact too. He admonished me to keep my gesticulations to a minimum. He would say that ‘this scene was not Academy (accent on ‘demy’) as in demi-tasse Ah-ward scene and to take it easy—Another way of saying the same thing was ‘Walty, you are high price actor—make believe you are low-price actor, don’t act too much.’”

Bing Crosby: TLS, November 18, 1975: “I worked in a picture with him called ‘White Christmas’ with Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen and Rosey Clooney and we had a marvelous time. He was so full of zeal and enthusiasm for everything that we did. In back of the camera when the scene started, it was dangerous to look in his direction because he would be grimacing, smiling, frowning, making gestures and faces and being so thoroughly involved in the scene that it was sometimes distracting when you looked at him!” In overall very good to fine condition, with wrinkling and dampstaining to the Reagan letter.

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