Ray Bradbury. A MILESTONE AT MILESTONE'S: BONDERCHUK REMEMBERED
During that two-week period more than twenty years ago, when the Russian director Sergei Bonderchuk’s quite amazing War and Peace was being previewed in Hollywood, and shown, especially at my Film Society, in its twelve-hour length, Bonderchnk arrived to be wined and dined by all the celebrity directors. I was invited up to Lewis Milestone's house for a private reception for Bonderchuk one night. I don't recall if there were any other screenwriters there; I remember only the incredible roster of directors who stood in a line waiting to receive Bonderchuk.
John Ford was there, as well as Billy Wilder, King Vidor, Sam Peckinpah, William Wyler, Frank Capra, Rouben Mamoulian, George Cukor. Sidney Lumet. and on and on. another dozen, all famous.
Bonderchuk arrived and moved along the line exclaiming quietly to each name as he was introduced. With him were two other Soviet directors, whose names escape me.
Needless to say, I was not in the receiving line with the godlike directors. I loitered near the wine and hard liquor. I watched Bonderchuk with awe and admiration as he moved among all the famous and powerful. I was struck not only by him but at being in the same room with heroes from my childhood.
The procession moved quietly, with agreeable compliments offered, but with no great outcries.
Until at last, with all the cordial comments, and fine compliments finished, Bonderchuk and his cohorts arrived at the finale. And there I stood, hearing my name pronounced by Lewis Milestone.
The sun exploded. Three Russian faces took fire. Bonderchuk’s eyebrows flew up, his eyes widened, his mouth gaped, as did the eyebrows, eves, and mouths of his friends.
"Bradbury!'' he cried.
"Bradbury!" they all cried.
Three sets of arms grappled me. Bonderchuk seized me first with an immense bear hug, as he rained kisses on my checks
"Bradbury!" he cried, turning to the twenty stunned directors. "Do you know who this is? Do you realize what is this talent? Your greatest genius, your greatest writer. My God. Get out of the way! Come! Where's the vodka!"
One of the others produced a bottle and held it high.
"Where are the glasses?"
Milestone brought tour glasses.
"This way. Down. Sit. Open. Pour."
And before the astonished crowd, Bonderchuk sloshed my glass full, filled the other glasses to be lifted in a toast.
"Bradbury!" they shouted.
And then, "The bottle's empty' Another!"
Another was brought. They drank me, literally, under the table. There must've been a thud bottle. I lost count. I never laughed so much in my life. I never, cried so much with joy. My shoulders were bruised from being slapped. My ribs ached hem being hugged. My cheeks were blushed with interminable kisses.
I haven't the faintest idea of how I got home. Someone must have poured me into a taxi. I don’t recall how long the evening lasted. I only remember being surrounded by Russians who kept pawing and hugging and kissing me, while the two dozen Hollywood directors, riven by lightning, watched ruefully and finally retired to their own drinks.
I awoke the next morning thinking, It didn’t happened. I am ruined. All those directors will never call, never speak tn me, never hire me. My God, what have I done to myself? What has Bonderchuk done to me!?
Well, some of the directors eventually did call. Peckinpah, for one, and Robert Mulligan, and Tony Richardson, and Sidney Lumet, about various projects. And eventually some of my other ideas got made into films, mainly for TV by directors who hadn't stood under the storm of Bonderchuk’s inattention and found themselves rained out.
I have never written about that evening until now. Even as I write, it seems an inordinately fantastic time. The Russians cannot have loved me all that much. But they did. I must be lying through my teeth. I am not.
Краткий пересказ для тех, кто английским не владеет (из интервью Дмитрию Диброву):
- У меня была своя киноассоциация, и я показал здесь в Голливуде «Войну и мир». Был дан приём, и все большие режиссеры Голливуда тех лет собрались, чтобы встретиться с Бондарчуком. Были Билли Уайлдер, Уильям Уайлер, Джон Уэйн, Джон Форд, режиссёр фильмов с Гретой Гарбо и другие знаменитые режиссёры. Они все выстроились в длинную очередь, и Бондарчук шел вдоль нее, и узнавал многих: «О, мистер Форд, мне нравится ваш фильм». Узнал режиссера Греты Гарбо, ещё кого-то узнал.
Я пристроился в самом конце очереди и молча наблюдал за всем этим. Бондарчук закричал мне — «Рэй! Брэдбери! Это вы?» И он подлетел ко мне, сграбастал меня в объятиях, потащил вовнутрь, и схватил бутылку этой «Столичной», усадил за свой стол, где сидели его близкие друзья. И все режиссеры, стоявшие в очереди, — самые известные режиссеры Голливуда, недоумевали. Они смотрели на меня и говорили: «Кто этот Брэдбери?» И чертыхаясь, они ушли, оставив меня с Бондарчуком наедине.
- Как вы думаете, почему он выделил именно вас?
- Почему? Да просто он любил меня. И он знал мои книги. Ему было наплевать на голливудских магнатов. Но ему было не наплевать на «Марсианские хроники».