Posted at 5:07 AM on August 10, 2007
by Euan Kerr
I've been trying to think of a phrase similar to "truth in stranger than fiction" which describes the way that the story behind the making of some films is far more interesting, and stranger, than the film itself.
As you may have gathered from recent posts I am in Edinburgh enjoying the various concurrent festivals which explode through the city each August.
Now clearly Mr Niven has been dead for some time, but actor Paul Lavers does a pretty good impersonation.
He told the bizarre tale of how a whole lot of people tried to get in on the early success of the Bond phenomenon by doing a Bond spoof with a huge number of big stars and directors.
Sadly there were problems from the start, including the fact that Peter Sellers signed on to play Bond, but with the stipulation that he play it straight. He then went on to become a monster on the set, demanding that sets be destroyed one day and then rebuilt the next. He also got into a huge ego battle with Orson Welles which explains why out of the whole film there is actually only one shot with the two of them in it. Sellers eventually quit midshoot, leaving the everyone else, and Niven in particular with the problem of how to shoot enough scenes to stitch a movie- any movie- together.
If you have ever seen the film and wondered at it's strangeness, what with Jean-Paul Belmondo, Woody Allen, John Huston, cowboys and indians, and even performing seals, this play by James Gross, explains it all.
It was a great evening of theater, tucked away under an arch of one of the huge bridges which allow access to the center of Edinburgh's old town.
I am now going to have to look up Niven's memoirs, and read more of the escapades.
I'm so pleased you enjoyed the show. It's a pleasure performing it. I actually met David Niven whilst he was filming 'Candleshoe'. He was as charming and amusing as one would expect. To be given the chance of playing him was a privilege.
Over the last two years I also had the privilege of working in Minnesota on a TV channel (WSS) unfortunately it went out of business - otherwise I would still be looking forward to my trips there. What a friendly and courteous State.