By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Then you escaped . . .
DETOTH: I shot that footage out of focus. Then, you see, I had to go, because it took about three weeks to send the film to Berlin to develop. [Pause.] And three weeks to find out that a dead horse’s flank, if you cut it up and put it on the fire, it‘s very good. Or you don’t eat.
After something like that happens, how does it affect you? I know you savor every day.
DETOTH: You cannot get away -- knowingly or unknowingly -- from the various effects of the life that you went through. Just look at it as it is. Don‘t make it a drama, and don’t diminish it. I‘m always learning, growing. You have to. There’s no patent on tomorrow, man.
Real violence, fictional violence, is marketed to us every day. And to some degree we like watching it. Why the fascination?
BOETTICHER: It‘s everywhere, and it’s just awful. Mary and I stay home and sit in our bed and flick channels. When there‘s some truth to it, that’s different. I mean, I can tell you word for word The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. [Laughs.]
DASSIN: I wish I knew. There‘s a difference between brutality and violence. We can go back to the American Revolution. We took up arms. Violence served our cause, and we were right to use violence. That’s one thing. But to show Schwarzenegger as glorious, as a hero, with a triple somersault he gets off the shot . . .
DETOTH: Life is violent. To depict it truthfully can show us what not to do. Make us look at our ugly faces in the mirror. You can go from a duck pecking on another duck in the yard, to two dogs fighting -- there is a certain amount of cruelty in everybody. People are the same, but we are much more intelligent, so we hide it. Look at the Roman gladiators. We‘re going the same way.
The point being, our history is violent, so when we embrace it, it gives us what?
DETOTH: The point is, as human beings we don’t know a goddamn thing about ourselves. Go ahead, say something . . .
* * *
It‘s strange interviewing two men you’ve never met, and one of them you never will. Budd Boetticher died on November 29, 2001, of multiple organ failure. Our interview went unfinished. It was his last.
Sitting at an outdoor cafe, days after his memorial, I share my sadness about his death with de Toth. His blue eye watches me closely. “Memento homo qui pulvis est et pulvaram reverteris,” he replies in Latin. “Remember, man, you are from the dust and to the dust you will return.”
I look at my friend, 60, 70 years my senior. With a smile, he tilts his coffee cup: “Such a lovely day. Let‘s have another one before we go.”#
Patrick Francis is currently making a documentary film on the life and career of Andre de Toth.
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