Lupita Peckinpah is a successful costume designer working on Mexican, Hollywood and international productions. She is also the daughter of the legendary filmmaker Sam Peckinpah and actress Begoñia Palacios, whom Sam met whilst they worked on the film MAJOR DUNDEE together in 1965 and married the same year. Their relationship was a loving, passionate but stormy one, reflected by the fact that they married and divorced three times up until Sam's death in 1984. Their daughter Lupita was born in 1973. I spoke to Lupita about her memories of Sam Peckinpah as a father and a man, and about her own experiences in the film industry.

Can you explain why you are known as Lupita?
Actually, my name is Maria Guadalupe but my nickname is Lupita. My name comes from the name of The Virgin of Guadalupe, the most important Virgin of Mexico. Mexicans feel very devoted to her. My grandmother had the same name, so this is kind of a lineage from my family.

What are some of your earliest memories of your father?

I lived with my mother most of my life, and my father died when I was only 12 years old, so it is kind of difficult to talk a lot about my memories with my father. I have only small memories about my father, but there are two memories that I really love. The first is that my father was a great cook in the kitchen. He loved to cook. I remember him cooking for us on vacations and one of those moments was in a villa in Rosarito, Mexico, and he cooked us a great Asian dinner. The other memory is of him taking me to a shopping center. I remember there were Eastern festivities and I remember he bought me almost all of the shopping center! As a kid it was all I could wish for, so I was very happy. It was like I was in a dream. I remember there were also chocolate eggs everywhere in the department stores, so I was like Alice in Wonderland, so little with all these clothes and dolls and all these toys around me. It was my best day ever!

What was his relationship with your mother like? How did she feel about him?

* Sam and Begonia.
My mother could never love anybody as much as my father, and could never forget the love of her life. I saw how she felt sometimes unhappy and frustrated in a lot of ways because they couldn't make it as a couple and as a family living together. She always lived with only his memory and unfortunately both of them were essentially very difficult people, and when they tried to live together as a family they were like dynamite. They were so in love with each other but they were two people who couldn't be together but couldn't be separate. There was a lot of passion and love between them. She lived in the past and agonised about losing him. My mother always respected my father very much and she always told me great and beautiful things about him. That's the reason why they decided just to see each other from time to time. They lived together for a couple of years in Malibu on Paradise Cove. They had this beautiful house next to the ocean and they called it 'La casa de los pajaros'. I don't know exactly when they bought this house because they got married and divorced 3 times. Maybe this happened during their first marriage. She never got married again and she never loved someone with that intensity again.

*Sam and Begonia.
I think the two of them were very unique human beings in general.They were two people who had pretty much kind of the same childhood and had a similar way of looking at life. I think they both were sometimes misunderstood by their parents and that gave them pain and a sense of guilt at times. I am not saying that they didn't receive lots and lots of love from their parents but their mothers where pretty tough I think. In both of their families, the mother was the central, dominant figure as far as I know. The 'mama' ruled the house. In our era, normally people do what they like professionally and not what their parents want them to do, but back then it was very different I guess, and in the house of my father the lineage was of judges. In the end, my father took another path, which must have been a difficult decision for him to take. I guess both of them had a difficult childhood in some respects, but in other ways they were very happy. For example, my father loved his time sent during his childhood in Fresno, California. They were in the mountains, hunting and enjoying the nature, and the calm, quiet and mystical style of life up there. I think that is why my father used to love to travel a lot to Montana, California where he had a ranch or cabin up there. He could escape up there to relax and enjoy the quiet and the nature.

Can you remember the last time you saw your father?
They both died very young, they both died at 58 years old and the last time my father came to Mexico to see us it was in Puerto Vallarta, and he suddenly got very sick one or two days before we were due to travel there to meet him. My mother got an emergency call to Mexico City to say that my father had gotten very sick. So she had to fly to Puerto Vallarta on a private plane with all the special support of medical assistance, and then travel to Los Angeles with him to a local hospital. All I can say is that those moments where they were together on that plane were the most painful moments for both of them because my father was actually dying on that plane. At least my mother had the opportunity to be with my father before he died. My mother was devastated but in the end at least I could feel happy for the love they felt for each other in this life and beyond, and that they could be together during his last moments. The ashes of my mother and father are spread in the ocean of Paradise Cove in Malibu, California.

*Sam and Begonia.
I wished I could have seen him for a last time on that trip that he made to Vallarta, but when he got sick, my mother and I were in Mexico City and that is why I didn't have the opportunity to be there and say goodbye but fortunately for me I had the opportunity to talk with him on the phone one day or two before he got sick, and I remember he told me that he loved me so much. Maybe for us that was our goodbye! I really remember that phone call so clearly in my mind. From his voice on the phone , I got the impression he really felt like something was going to happen. Maybe he had a premonition or something. That was my last time talking with my father.

How was he as a father?
It is difficult to answer this question because I only used to see my father on vacations. Obviously my father always tried to do his best, and he gave me all his love and more in those little moments. We used to travel a lot, the three of us, so he really tried to make the most out of our time together. My father was very sweet with me, but unfortunately for him on the other hand, it was not easy at all for him. My mother never let my father and I spend time alone together, like in Los Angeles for example, or to go on a trip together alone just him and me. I don't know why my mother was so strange about this situation. I think it had to do with her background or something. I wish she had let me travel alone with my father and spend more time alone with him. I really wish we could have gotten to know each other better. I grew up as I said with my mother so it was difficult for me to feel comfortable at all sometimes when I was with my father. It was a difficult situation because I could only see him from time to time and we never had a real life as a family together. I really don't know if my father lived with us at all. I never really asked my mother.

What was he like as a man?
*Lupita and Begonia.
My father was sometimes like a little kid.I can say he was very generous. He loved freedom, he was a poet, a visionary. He loved Mexico, he loved to read all the time (he used to say that books were his food for the day). My father was funny, mysterious, and he loved kids. He had this deep look in his eyes that sometimes people felt kind of intimidating. He was highly intelligent. A man who loved nature, animals and hunting. My father was sometimes a solitary man, with a lot of fears. He lived with shadows sometimes and was a difficult man to understand in many aspects. He was someone who would die for his beliefs. He was a great human being, a legend in his movies and in real life. He was a unique person, and my idol, the best father I could ever wish for and have. I really love him so much. I think I would need to write pages and pages to describe the great human being my father was.

Did you ever see his dark side?
I think we all have a dark side to our personality, but that some people expose it more than others. I think I have a dark side too sometimes, but I try to transform it into something positive.

Why did Sam love Mexico so much?

My father found love and freedom in certain aspects in his life here in Mexico. For him, Mexico represented liberty and freedom.He loved the culture, the women, the landscapes, the towns, the traditions, the folk music. He loved the humor of Mexico and Mexican people in general, whom he found to be warm and friendly. He loved the bohemian style and the intellectuals and painters. Actually he had good friends here in Mexico like El Indio Fernandez, Chano Hurueta, Jorge Russek and Alex Phillips Jr. He liked tequila and the Mexican festivities. He loved the bizarre contrasts in Mexico to his American life. Mexico is a great country in all aspects, with so many beautiful places to visit, both touristy and non-touristy, places where you have the possibility to explore. It's like an adventure with all its mystery and contrasts, so many places to visit. A lot of visitors fall so deeply in love with my country and they always want to come back. It really can change your life!

*Lupita and Sam.
What did you learn from your father?
I think I learned a lot of things from my father. I wish I could have learned more things and had more time with my father. I wish he were here now to teach me things in life, that he could see how great I am doing in all different aspects; to have him be proud of me about my goals and successes. I wish he could hold me and hug me and kiss me and give me love again, now that I am 38 years old. As I said I only had 12 years to get to know him and the distance between Mexico and L.A. didn't help at all. Of course I learned a lot of things in life about my father but mostly this was after he died. Now that I am older and I am more aware about life, I can understand more things about my father and what he taught me. I can also have more insight into my childhood with him.I understand now how important it is to focus only on the good things and remember the good memories and transform them into love.

What I have learned the most from him is to be a happy person who lives in the present, who enjoys the simple things in life, who trys to live in equilibrium, and who knows what pain is but learns how to transform it into love with the passing of the years. I had to grow up pretty soon and learn to be a mature person since I was very little, because of having two parents who acted like little kids from time to time. Nevertheless, I learned what love is from my parents and thanks to them I am who I am right now because of what they tasught me and what they believed in.

I am blessed with all the love I received from my mother and my father. They both gave me life and thanks to them I am here with my legacy from them. I just feel so happy that I had the parents I had. They always let me be myself and believed in me, allowing me to go with the flow and follow my dreams. For me this is the greatest gift, a treasure so valued that it doesn't compare to anything else.

How similar a personality do you have to to your father's?
Oh my God, I have inherited a lot from both my mother and father. But from my father I have his dedication to work and perfection; his generosity; his love for Mexico (my country); a sensibility for art, movies, and literature; a love for good living; a love of the ocean and of nature; a love of freedom; his rebel spirit; and a belief in the importance of justice, faith, love and sincerity. Like him I am sometimes a very solitary person, and am a bit of a restless gypsy. I have difficulties staying in one place. I also have his approach to life in that I strive to be happy and have the wisdom to enjoy the simple things in life.

Did you ever visit the sets or locations of his films?

The only occasion I remember is visiting him on the set of THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND (1983) in the early '80s. I remember a scene by a pool. I remember being in the hotel in an office waiting with my mother and my half-sister Kristen, and that I started making stories about some objects that were in the room! I think I must have been bored and I just did it to pass the time. That's really all I can remember.

Why did you follow Sam into the movies?
I don't think I followed in the steps of my father or my mother I just think it happened naturally. For a long time in my life I was against working in the film industry or having any relationship to his career. Actually, I studied Fashion Design, but because of people I knew and because of destiny, I ended up working on films. I never thought it was going to happen but it's my life now.

*Lupita and Anthony Hopkins.
How did you get involved in film costuming? Why do you love it so much?
I got involved because of the cinematographer Alex Phillips. He was a good friend of my father's and I remember I contacted him once and he introduced me to some people from TV. I started working when I was 22 for a Mexican TV channel. Of course I am more involved in the film industry now. I love so many things about working on films. I can show my creativity and I can help tell a story through my work on the costuming. I enjoy the creative process, being on the set and travelling a lot. I like to to meet intresting people and that I get to transport myself to all kinds of different eras every time I work on a project.I don't like to be sitting in an office, and thanks to my job I can move from place to place, and have a spontaneous lifestyle. I like to work with different directors, and each project is a very different challenge. I love the magic of the movies!

In what ways are Mexican and international films different to work on?
I would say that the most marked difference is the money, as my experiences on working on productions here in Mexico have taught me. Hollywood films and international films have much more money.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

*Javier Bardem and Lupita.
Dealing with producers here in Mexico can be difficult. Working conditions can be tough, especially on productions that don't have restrictions on working hours. Salaries for my crew and I can be low. The government doesn't support the film industry at all like it should. On the other hand, Mexico is my home country and I have lived here my whole life. I work mostly in Mexico and it has supported me in so many ways in my career, so I appreciate this. I'm not saying it's so complicated at all. I have met some lovely people in this industry, made some good friends and worked with some very good directors. 

Can you talk about your experience working on THE MASK OF ZORRO (1998)?
It was a great experience working with Martin Campbell and the actors on THE MASK OF ZORRO. It was the first movie I worked on, actually. I was 22 years old at that time so I was like a sponge, picking up all the information I could. It was so magical and epic working on the movie.I really thank the costume designer Graciela Mazon for giving me my first opportunity working on it. There were great locations and great actors. In all the early movies where I was a wardrobe assistant I was making my first steps and it was like going to school and learning all I know from the best teachers I ever had.

How about BEFORE NIGHT FALLS (2000)?
My best film experience was working on BEFORE NIGHT FALLS. The director Julian Schnabel is a very creative person. I really admire him as a painter and director. It was great to see how he could mix all the elements of the arts and put them all together in a movie,visually and intellectually. It is a great movie and we all had a great time working on it. We shot in some of the most beautiful places in Mexico like Merida, Guaymas Sonora and Veracruz. I worked for the Costume Designer Mariestela Fernandez and she was my best teacher ever, I learned from her everything I know.

And MAN ON FIRE (2004)?
I didn't work directly on the set of MAN ON FIRE, or have any interaction with Tony Scott, although I wished I could have. It didn't happen that way, so it was a different kind of experience and a great opportunity. I was more involved in the creative area of purchasing the fabrics and clothes, working for the Costume Designer Louise Frogley.

What are some of the other productions you have enjoyed working on?
NACHO LIBRE (2006), LA LEY DE HERODES (aka HEROD'S LAW, 1999), HOUSE OF WAX (2005), THE BOY WHO SMELLS LIKE FISH (2011) and some other features were great experiences.

When did you graduate to becoming a costume designer?
A few years ago. I now design the costumes for Mexican, American and international productions. I worked recently with the director Carlos Bolado on a movie called TIATELOCO, which will be released this year. I have worked here in Mexico for very good directors such as Roberto Sneider, Jorge Aguilera, Carlos Bolado, Olallo Rubio (THIS IS NOT A MOVIE, 2011), Fernando Lebrija, Leche Ruiz, Analeine Cal y Mayor, Gary Alazraki, Carlos Cuaron, Luis Estrada, Antonio Serrano and now I am working on a movie with the director Gustavo Moheno. Also I work a lot for foreign directors on publicity so most of the time if I am not working on films, I am working on publicity. I travel a lot and I have lived and worked in the States, especially in Los Angeles, with directors as Jaume Collet Serra (HOUSE OF WAX) and Jared Hess (NACHO LIBRE). I have also worked in publicity as well as fashion in the US.

Does your surname make your career easier or more difficult?
I wish it would be helpful sometimes but it is not at all, and to tell you the truth if they don't like your work you just don't get the job, as simple as that. So I think I must be good at what I do. 

Do people ask you about Sam all the time?
Yes of course, all the time and in all kinds of places, in the US and in Mexico, where he is also very loved! My father has a lot of fans and followers everywhere. I get asked questions by my friends, my co-workers, people in the industry, film directors I meet or work with. I remember when I was s working as a fashion designer in a retail fabric warehouse in Los Angeles, where you might think they don't know who Sam Peckinpah is, they asked me once about him and if I was his daughter.  

How different was the real Sam to the legend of Sam?
My father was a legend, both as a father and as a director. I don't think there are any differences between the real Sam and the legend of Sam. He was a legend in all senses of the word. For my father there was no separation between his movies and his real life. He put his heart and soul into his movies. As long as I knew him, he never lived any other way. His movies were his babies. Making films was his passion, he lived for it. He was never happier than when he was making a movie. I think that is the reason he is considered a legend, a rebel, a myth. He lived over the edge, he lived in a time where being a director was for real. That is why he will always be a legend. He died for his art, in a metaphorical way. He lived in very difficult times, when having a personality like his was not accepted by the system at all. Some people in the industry loved him so much, but some hated him as well. He was a rebel during a time when the independent industry didn't exist and he wasn't fully understood in his time at all.He was a great man! A beautiful poet and a genius. Not only was my father a revolutionary who helped transform the cinema of his era, but he he also changed the way we now look at the Western genre. I just love him more and more every day, I am very proud of being his daughter. 

Of all your father's fims, which ones are your favourites? How do you feel when you watch them?
My favorite films of my father are RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962), THE WILD BUNCH (1969), THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE (1970) and STRAW DOGS (1971).

When I watch the movies of my father I watch them as a spectator and not as a daughter. I just like them more and more each time I watch them. I try to invite friends to the house so we can watch them togther and I am really into the reactions people have watching my father's movies. It is very intersting. It's like an excercise for me.

I have unique feelings for each movie.

I love the photography, the music and the landscapes of RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY. It is a historical movie and a classical Western, with a great story behind it. For me, it is a very poetic and epic film.

THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE also has a great story and great actors. I really enjoy the performances of Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner, LQ Jones and Strother Martin. I find the story funny and unique with great humour and a message behind it.

THE WILD BUNCH is pure poetry, his masterpiece! It's ultraviolent, crazy and bizarre. It gives me all kinds of emotions. The Bunch themselves for me represent pure adrenaline and my father's sensibility. You just love their heroism. They don't have anything to lose so they just go for all. My father chose the perfect actors for the Bunch and I just love all of them - Warren Oates, Ernest Borgnine, William Holden, Robert Ryan and Ben Johnson. It's an epic film, a mix of sensations, and I just love so many things about it - the dialogue, the structure of the movie, the editing, the camera movements and the music. I can see a lot of the unique things about my father in this movie. The portrait of Mexico and Mexican people is done greatly. The performances of the Mexican actors are excellent. I just love El Indio Fernandez, Jorge Russek, Alfonso Arau, Chano Urueta, and Elsa Cardenas.

STRAW DOGS causes me turbulence. It is a unique film, and I love it. I really like the script, there are so many scenes that I just love. All the characters in this movie are amazing, so creepy and bizarre. I love their darkness, and what they reveal about our own dark natures. This film is pure poetry as well, and I love the themes of the movie and the way it is structured. The photography is great. The last scenes of the movie just drive you crazy, they transport you to this weird atmosphere with the music, the camera movements and the reactions of the characters.

In November I am going to a film festival here in Mexico, which is well known and important. It is called Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia, and they are going to do a retrospective of my father. They are going to show THE WILD BUNCH, THE GETAWAY (1972), PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID (1973) and BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1974). It will be a nice opportunity for me to talk about my father and see his movies on the big screen again. I am really excited about it! I enjoy talking about my father and working on projects involving him. I worked on a documentary called 'The Wild Bunch - An Album in Montage', for Paul Seydor and Nick Redman a while back. You can see it in the special features of the DVD and Blu-ray.

I never got to talk about my father's movies with him, and if he did at some moment, unfortunately I just don't remember.

I love you dad forever and ever!!!!!!
I dedícate this interview to you wherever you are.
I will always love you so much.
Love, Lupita.

I spoke with Lupita by telephone and through email during September 2012. I would like to thank her for her time and for her candour.

Photographs marked * are courtesy of and property of Lupita Peckinpah.


E.B. Hughes is an exciting new independent filmmaker on the tip of breaking out with two edgy, character-based dramas in the spirit of the New Hollywood films of the late-'60s/ early '70s - PACING THE CAGE and TURNABOUT. A former boxing photographer turned screenwriter, and now writer-director, I talked to E.B. about his influences, his thematic concerns, the highs and lows of filmmaking and about his exciting new films.

Can you remember the first script that you ever wrote?
I've written about 25 now, so it's difficult to remember! One of the first ones I did was a revisionist slant on BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) in which at the end Sundance lives. That was the title - 'Sundance Lives'. Sundance has to live below the radar so people didn't know it was him, under different names and so on, and without Butch Cassidy.

When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was 20. Back then I was able to turn them out a little quicker than I am now. As you get older your style changes, and you become more conscientious about your mistakes.

Were you naive when you started out? Did you think you were going to sell your first script?
Yeah, I was naive to the whole process, but not as much actors. A lot of the young generation think it's going to be easy to make it. And it's not. Back then there was no Internet, no IMDB. You couldn't email an agent. I had an attorney and I would send out my screenplays to directors that I loved like Robert Ellis Miller, a great director who did THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER (1968); Frank Perry, who did THE SWIMMER (1968); Charles Burnett, who directed KILLER OF SHEEP (1977) and became a friend of mine, and David Burton Morris, who directed PURPLE HAZE (1983) and also became a friend. Some of them were kind enough to mail me back and give me comments or advice. I still have those letters. I hang on to stuff like that.

It took you a while to sell a script. Do you think this made you stronger and a better writer?

Absolutely. Rejection is a big part of the process. You learn from it and get a respect and admiration for the process. You have to pay your dues. The directors that I became friends with kind of took me under their wing a little bit and gave me pointers. Those guys struggle as well. I don't think anybody has it easy at the beginning and keeps a career going except guys like Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino. There's something to be said for the struggle of a filmmaker.

When did you decide to become a filmmaker?
It was probably in the early '90s. Before that I had been a boxing photographer and I was getting my work published in 'Ring' magazine and actually 'World Boxing Japan', if you can believe it! I was always interested in film and I got into scriptwriting. I did a documentary in 1991 on the former light-heavyweight boxing champion Matthew Saad Muhammad called ONCE A CHAMPION, and after that in 1994 I did a short film called A DISTANT CHORD. I am a big jazz fan and this was about a jazz musician - his music and his relationship with his girl, and how the two collide.

In 1997 I did another short film, called HARSH LIGHT, which won a bunch of awards. These were all shot on 16mm.

How did you get ONCE A CHAMPION financed?

ONCE A CHAMPION didn't cost much money and was pretty much just me with a camera chronicling the guy's life as a boxer. A DISTANT CHORD, for example, was financed through friends and family, and cost $13 - $15, 000. 

With PACING THE CAGE, some of the money came from a screenplay sale. The screenplay was originally called 'The Messenger' and I sold it in 2007. They shot the film in 2008 and it got released in 2010. It's called THE FALLEN FAITHFUL.

I did everything I could to get PACING THE CAGE completed. I took out a small loan and did a Kickstarter campaign.It was a two year process because I went back, reshot some scenes and replaced some actors. It should be ready to be shown in film festivals this fall.

How did you cast PACING THE CAGE and your latest film TURNABOUT?
On PACING THE CAGE, I met a lot of actors through Facebook actually. There was a project that I was going to do that fell through, and I met the lead actor Denny Bess through that. I had wanted to cast him in the other project. We auditioned some actresses in New York for the lead female but it didn't really work out, so I called upon an actress, Sayra Player, who had appeared in HARSH LIGHT. She did a really nice job. I cast the rest out of New York. We networked and branched out, and did it all over again many times. That's the way it works in this business. All the actors were experienced, coming from either the stage or from the Actors' Studio or with four or five features under their belt. 

On TURNABOUT we had a better known cast because we got a bigger budget. George Katt had been attached to the project for two years and we had gone through several producers before we were able to get the project off the ground. We got Waylon Payne, who was in ROAD TO NOWHERE (2010), through George. They are friends. I got Peter Greene, who was in PULP FICTION (1994), through my friend Federico Castelluccio (Furio in 'The Sopranos').

What were some of the advantages of having a bigger budget for TURNABOUT?
Well, apart from the cast, we got to use the RED camera, which is as close to film as you can get without it actually being film. It's a phenomenal piece of equipment. PACING THE CAGE was shot using the Panasonic HD camera, which is great quality, but the RED camera just takes it a step up.

Was there a buzz in the independent film sector regarding PACING THE CAGE that allowed you to get TURNABOUT made for more money?

Not at all. I actually had to put the editing of PACING THE CAGE on hold for about eight or nine months because the opportunity to shoot TURNABOUT suddenly happened. We finished the last reshoots of PACING THE CAGE in March 2011, and started filming TURNABOUT in December 2011.

Which filmmakers have inspired the movies you have made?
John Cassavetes has always been my favourite. I am always looking at his work. He is the pioneer of independent cinema. When I was out in California in the early '90s I attended a John Cassavetes retrospective and saw all his films, such as FACES (1968) and SHADOWS (1959). I also like Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, Jerry Schatzberg, all the early '70s filmmakers who, even though they did some studio stuff, always had their own vision. PACING THE CAGE was mostly influenced by Cassavetes in the range that the characters had to improvise. We had a script of course but we improvised a lot. TURNABOUT is more of a mystery thriller and very different. We had storyboards, more money and lots of tracking shots and long takes. It was more influenced by Altman.

How would you describe THE FALLEN FAITHFUL?
I didn't have a lot of say on that one, it was a straight sale. The film is a lot different from my original vision, which often happens. I wasn't involved with the rewrites. It's about a caretaker of a church who lives in the basement and is a hitman at night. Like all my scripts it has the same central themes - flawed characters imprisoned by their lifestyles and trying to escape them. I've always enjoyed films like FIVE EASY PIECES (1970) and THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS (1972) where the characters suffered tremendous alienation and didn't have things handed to them in their lives, where they had incredible difficulties and obstacles to overcome. At the very least, are all my scripts are mostly character-driven and story-driven dramas. Some of them have suspense or thriller as a sub-genre.
How would you describe PACING THE CAGE?
 It's about an ex-con, with drug problems, who gets out of jail and tries to straighten his life out but his past comes back to haunt him in the shape of some shady characters he worked for before he got busted. We shot it in locations in Manhattan, guerilla style, without permits! Very unlike TURNABOUT, where we had the permits!

It concerns two former high school students who haven't seen each other for fifteen years. One calls the other after a failed suicide attempt, and as they spend time reconnecting, an event occurs that changes their lives forever. The story takes place over the course of a single night.

Are you a director more focussed on the visuals or the performances?
I'm more of an actor's director really. I like to stick to the performances and let everyone else do their own job. I like to have my DP have his own style, but I do like to have a lot of creative input into the way the fim is shot.

What do you enjoy the most about making films?
I get an incredible adrenalin rush being on set. I enjoy the creative process of working with the actors. TURNABOUT was a 90 page script shot in 15 days. It went by quickly without many problems. I loved being in the trenches with some really dedicated people.

What are the main stresses?
Getting the money and getting the projects off the ground is always the biggest problem. But it's actually only part of the battle. Getting the projects out there in the marketplace is the next big problem. There's no secret formula. Each one's different. There's no right or wrong way to do it.

Which modern filmmakers impress you?
I'm a creature of the past! The problem I find with modern filmmakers is that they don't put out a continuous body of work, which is partly due to the fact that they are still young and in their early careers. I like Darren Aranofsky and Steve McQueen. I like some of PT Anderson and Lars Von trier's work. I like filmmakers that are willing to take risks like Larry Clark, but again, he doesn't put out enough films. I think KIDS (1995) and BULLY (2001) are brilliant. I like some of Gus Van Sant's work. To an extent, he tries to stay independent. I like the way he aproaches the medium in films like ELEPHANT (2003) or GERRY (2002).

How important is Ocean City, where you live, to your work?
Ocean City probably doesn't have a lot to do with the stuff I write. I live in a very quiet, island town where the winter population is only a couple of thousand. I venture into L.A. every now and then, and I did actually live there for a while, but I prefer Ocean City. It's about two hours from New York, and being away from the daily grind and hustle of New York allows me to concentrate on my writing and editing.

What projects are you working on now?
I have a couple in development. P.I .CAIN is at a standstill at the moment, but THE ART OF DYING, THE ACT OF LIVING will start shooting most likely March or April next year. I am collaborating with David Von Roehm on it. It's about a struggling musician who has to deal with his personal demons, his ailing father and a mystery woman who enters his life. There is another script I'm pitching heavily to a company in New York. We have two names attached, which should help financing. It's a name game. You get a name attached, you get money. I was talking to Joe Pesci about a film, but it fell through. I have a project I am developing with Robert Forster.

E.B. spoke to me by telephone on 23rd August 2012. I would like to thank him for his time.

Watch a clip from PACING THE CAGE.

Watch the trailer to TURNABOUT.

Photos courtesy of, and property of,  E. B. Hughes.


Stuart Galbraith IV is the author of seven books, including the acclaimed joint biography of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, 'The Emperor and the Wolf'(2002), a book no less than Martin Scorsese described as 'a must read'. Since 2003, he has been based in Kyoto, Japan with his family, and is an expert on Japanese film, also writing such books as 'The Toho Story' (2007) and 'Japanese Cinema' (2009). Stuart has also worked on either the commentaries, booklets or features on various DVDs and Blu-rays, including SEVEN SAMURAI (1954), THE HUSTLER (1961), THE VERDICT (1982) and TORA! TORA! TORA! (1970). His reviews can be read at I talked to Stuart about some of his favourite overlooked films.

ANVIL - THE STORY OF ANVIL (Sacha Gervasi, 2008)
It's basically THIS IS SPINAL TAP for real. Indeed, it's so much like SPINAL TAP it's a little scary; the drummer is even named Robb Reiner. (Rob Reiner directed and co-starred in SPINAL TAP.) But, more than that, ANVIL transcends SPINAL TAP in its unexpectedly moving and even profound story about determined lifelong friends who, like real friends everywhere, can't stand one another as much as they're bound at the hip like brothers. There's a great exchange that I think encapsulates the entire picture, where a frustrated Robb talks about jumping off a cliff and committing suicide, which his partner casually dismisses. "No, you wouldn't do that," he says. "Oh, yeah?" asks Robb, "What makes you so sure?" Lips replies, "Because I'll be there to stop you." Wow.

I think the heavy metal world setting is what turned off a lot of people. I'm not a fan, either, but was sent a DVD screener and, late one night, just spun it on the player for the heck of it -- and I've seen it at least five or six times since. Absolutely everyone I've recommended this to has fallen in love with this film.

AVANTI! (Billy Wilder, 1972)
The general consensus is that Billy Wilder's output declined after about 1961, and that by the '70s, certainly after THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1970), he was pretty much washed up. But I adore AVANTI!, starring Jack Lemmon as a wealthy American executive trapped for several days in Italy while retrieving the body of his father (who died in an automobile accident with his mistress), to be far funnier, more sophisticated, and ultimately much more moving than some of Wilder's more famous films, namely THE APARTMENT (1960). It's grade-A prime Wilder (and I.A.L. Diamond) but, my guess is that it seemed unhip to the 'Easy Riders/Raging Bulls' generation of critics and audiences. And yet today it plays a lot more adult and polished than many early-'70s 'classics'.

CLOUDBURST (Francis Searle, 1951)
This is a real find, and it makes a great companion piece to Michael Powell's PEEPING TOM (1960), which like CLOUDBURST was written by Leo Marks. Marks adapted his own stage play for this Hammer release, which stars American Robert Preston. Both Preston and Marks had been intelligence officers during World War II, Preston with the U.S. 9th Air Force and Marks as a cryptographer for the Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.). Their personal histories lend enormous credibility and verisimilitude to the film's setting and its dramatic complications. Marks sometimes wrote richly romantic code poems for the agents he sent behind enemy lines, the most famous of which, "The Life That I Have," was immortalized in the excellent British film about spy Violette Szabo, CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE (1958). His fascination with codes also plays a role in his script PEEPING TOM. CLOUDBURST incorporates all of these same elements, including its strange, beguiling romanticism.

It sounds like the title of a Japanese roman porno movie, but in fact it's a unique documentary, an intimate study of a would-be Japanese feminist with delusions of worldly sophistication. Miyuki Takeda is the bitter estranged wife of Kazuo Hara, the film's director, who later made the excellent THE EMPEROR'S NAKED ARMY MARCHES ON (1987). When she suddenly moves to Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa, their toddler in tow, he, rather like filmmaker Ross McElwee in SHERMAN'S MARCH (1986), decides to make a documentary about her as a means of working through his own relationship issues. Miyuki comes off not so much as a feminist but an obsessed exhibitionist who masturbates for Hara's camera and later eagerly invites him to film her giving birth (without assistance, she boasts) in Hara's Tokyo apartment, and later she muscles in on the delivery of another mixed-race baby like her own, nearly pushing aside the busy midwife to get on-camera. She tries to position herself as some kind of anarchist fighting the system, yet after giving birth tells her new baby that Japan is the best place to live, apparently oblivious to the rude awakening awaiting her as the single-mother of a half-black child. A must-see.

GOLD (Peter Hunt, 1974)
Peter Hunt was one of the all-time great film editors, who through his work on the early James Bond movies all but invented the style of cutting action films still in use today. (He is sometimes credited as Peter R. Hunt so as not to be confused with the director of 1776 - Peter H. Hunt.) He also directed one of the best 007 movies, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969), but his other films are virtually unknown. GOLD has a lot of Bond people behind it. Besides star Roger Moore, the editor and 2nd unit director was John Glen, the art director was Syd Cain, and Maurice Binder did the titles. It's a thriller set in the world of South African gold mines, and it's really top-notch, with a positively pounding Elmer Bernstein score, one of his best. It was barely released in America, and I'd barely heard of it myself until stumbling across a Region 2/PAL DVD that's 16:9 enhanced.

HEROES FOR SALE (William Wellman, 1933)
A real eye-opener. It's an at times gut-wrenching tale of multiple tragedies in the life of a self-sacrificing war veteran who becomes an almost Christ-like symbol of the Common Man. The great silent film star Richard Barthelmess is Tom Holmes, who's left for dead on the front lines while his friend makes it back with the German officer Holmes captured. Winston, the friend, is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and promoted while Holmes spends the remainder of the war in a German P.O.W. camp in perpetual agony with shrapnel splinters embedded in his spine. Winston returns home a Big Hero, while Holmes becomes addicted to morphine sympathetic Germans prescribe to ease his agonizing pain. And that's just the beginning.

It's a really terrific movie that's all over the place. Early scenes are grim and realistic about the horrors of World War I - and the DVD transfer is so good one can really feel the texture of the cold and muddy trenches - and the almost worse treatment these hard-luck veterans receive upon their return by a society disinterested in healing their wounds. Later on, the film covers a lot of ground from the exploitation of the worker by greedy capitalists (played by Hollywood's two great specialists in such roles, Edward Arnold and Douglass Dumbrille) to, conversely, the hypocrisy of many American communists.

While the film fascinates as a document of its tumultuous era (there are billboards declaring "Jobless Men Keep Going...We Can't Take Care of the Our Own," the sort that really existed during the Great Depression, and which anticipate Steinbeck's THE GRAPES OF WRATH, 1940), so much of it has come full circle and will strike a chord with modern viewers.

HOUSEKEEPING (Bill Forsyth, 1987)
Bill Forsyth is well-known for his quirky Scottish comedies, particularly GREGORY'S GIRL (1981) and the magnificent LOCAL HERO (1983). HOUSEKEEPING, filmed in British Columbia (though set in Idaho) and adapted from Marilynne Robinson's novel, was apparently not very successful in the commercial sense, and only recently was it made available on DVD, through Sony's MOD program. But it's a brilliant, indescribable film, genuinely poetic, about two sisters and their contrasting relationship with an eccentric aunt. It captures that unique rural environment better than probably any film I've ever seen, in several haunting, unforgettable sequences particularly, while its basic themes of nonconformity and societal/familial pressures are ultimately nonjudgmental but also offer no easy answers. This and THE RIGHT STUFF (1983) are my two favorite films of the 1980s.

ONE FROM THE HEART (Francis Ford Coppola, 1982)
This film had such a terrible reputation for so many years I confess to never seeing it until earlier this year, when it was released on Blu-ray here in Japan. It was Francis Coppola's infamous and wildly unsuccessful attempt to follow the extravagantly overbudget and troubled APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) with a 'small scale' little musical shot entirely on Hollywood soundstages. Of course he ended up spending many times his original budget but, in this case at least, his unbridled self-indulgences were worth it, and the money is all up there on the screen. On Blu-ray, this is one of the most visually dazzling films I've ever seen. It's very adult in ways few expensive movies these days are. It's extremely funny and features maybe Teri Garr's best-ever performance, and the songs by Tom Waits and Crystal Gale are exceptional. And those sets - my God!

PARK ROW (Samuel Fuller, 1952)
Despite a budget really too low for its ambitions, this is at once a romantic, exciting, and authentic portrait of the New York newspaper business circa 1886. It's Fuller's CITIZEN KANE (1941): the subject matter is similar and like Orson Welles's masterpiece Fuller crams every scene with innovation and terrific performances. His passion is infectious and it's genuinely exciting and at times even exhilarating. He overcomes most of his budgetary deficiencies through sheer chutzpah. For instance when thugs hired by a rival paper attack the hero's newsstands, Fuller audaciously opts for a frantic tracking shot covering the length of his massive Park Row set. I've never seen anything like it in a fifties film. This everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach doesn't always work but it's continually visually arresting in a manner similar to Laughton's likewise low budget THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955).

THE RAILWAY CHILDREN (Lionel Jeffries, 1970)
This children's film is revered in Britain but virtually unknown in the United States which is surprising. While singularly British in some respects its main themes are basically universal so I'm surprised that, like WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971), CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (1968) and some other films from this era, it didn't find a cult audience via U.S. television airings. Grandpa Potts from CHITTY CHITTY, the great character actor Lionel Jeffries, directed RAILWAY CHILDREN with great taste and intelligence but also a lot of visual flair, and it's one a handful of really good children's films that unfold from a child's perspective rather than an adult's. There's a recent UK Blu-ray of the film, Region "B," that looks just marvelous.

THE RAPTURE (Michael Tolkin, 1991)
I've only seen this once, when it first came out in 1991. I was one of three critics writing for The Ann Arbor News in Michigan, and that year THE RAPTURE was very high on all our lists, along with things like Frederick Wiseman's NEAR DEATH and, I think No. 1 on my list, a touring show called 'Jan Svankmajer - Alchemist of the Surreal', prompting the publisher to complain, "Aw, can't you guys ever pick something good -- like PRETTY WOMAN?" Anyway, this Michael Tolkin film is one of the most admirably audacious I've ever seen, about a sex addict (Mimi Rogers) who converts to fanatical Christianity believing that, correctly as things turn out, that the Rapture is imminent. I really admire this film: it not only goes out on a limb, it does so blindfolded while doing pirouettes.

SALT IN THE WOUND (Tonino Ricci, 1969)
In Detroit we had a low-wattage UHF station, Channel 62. It was the first black-owned television station in the country, but it was so poor that all they could afford to broadcast was religious programming like the PTL CLUB during the day, and the most obscure (and cheapest) Eurotrash at night. However, perhaps deliberately in those pre-cable/pre-VCR days they'd run these middle-of-the-night movies uncut. This had to violate FCC rules but as a hot-blooded teenager I'd sometimes stay up half the night hoping these various giallo and nunsploitation-type movies would feature the occasional naked breast or two. One of the films Channel 62 showed that I actually really liked was SALT IN THE WOUND. When a label called Wild East released it to DVD, I snapped it up. Star Klaus Kinski was between his Edgar Wallace-krimi period and later collaborations with Herzog, and in this delivers an excellent performance as an American foot soldier named Brian Haskins. Can you imagine: Klaus Kinski as G.I. Joe? Say no more!

SKIN GAME (Paul Bogart/ Gordon Douglas, 1971)
In this dreary age of political correctness, how refreshing a movie like SKIN GAME is. I'm a lifelong James Garner fan, from THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) and THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (1964) through his years on THE ROCKFORD FILES and beyond. SKIN GAME is a little like Garner's two comedy Westerns directed by Burt Kennedy, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969) and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER (1971), only SKIN GAME has an edge. Co-written by Peter Stone (CHARADE, 1963; 1776, 1972), the film stars Garner as a con artist who goes from town-to-town selling and reselling his 'slave' (Louis Gossett, Jr.), actually a free man born in the north, and the two split the profits. Subtler and edgier than BLAZING SADDLES (1973), with which SKIN GAME would make a great double-bill.

THE UNKNOWN (Tod Browning, 1927)
Pretty much everyone is familiar with Lon Chaney Sr. movies like PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923), but THE UNKNOWN is far better than either of those. It's one wild ride of a movie, quite perverse and shocking even now, 85 years give or take after its release. It's a movie best experienced totally cold, knowing nothing about it going in, so I won't say much more about it except that Burt Lancaster used to say Chaney in this gave the finest performance he'd ever seen, and that in this modern age where few films are surprising, this one has at least two major plot twists as demented as they are genuinely shocking. Run! See it! Now!

I was reminded of this film a few years ago when I saw the nearly equally fine film by the same director, Jim Brown, called PETE SEEGER: THE POWER OF SONG. THE WEAVERS (2007) documents Seeger's folk group with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, and Fred Hellerman. It discusses their history and blacklisting and climaxes with a triumphant final reunion concert at Carnegie Hall, the kind of thing so joyous one sheds happy tears watching it. Unfortunately, the only way to see it on DVD (there's no Blu-ray version) is to donate a lot of dough to PBS; as of now they haven't made it available any other way. It's a truly great and wonderful film that deserves a wider audience, and I hope PBS will release it wide eventually.

Stuart was interviewed via email during August 2012. I would like to thank him for his time and interesting choices.

Paul Rowlands is a Japan-based writer. After completing a BA Humanities course (majoring in English and Science) at the University of Chester, he moved to Japan in 1999. He writes for the James Bond magazine, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has had articles published on Press Play and other sites, and has had an almost lifelong obsession with cinema, something the advent of DVD only increased.


Patti D'Arbanville is a legend. She appeared in some of Andy Warhol's films whilst young, and was a model in the late-'60s in London, New York and Paris. She mastered French and her acting craft and spent a decade living and working in France. She has worked with some of cinema's great directors, and also distinguished herself on stage and in television. I talked to her about her extraordinary life.

What memories do you have of the student film you appeared in at the age of eight, TUESDAY AND BLUE SILK (1960)?
Actually, I remember quite a bit about it. I haven't been able to find it, but my mother has a whole bunch of things I should probably check through. It was done by some students from the New York University and won some kind of award. I was in it with a boy called Noah, but I don't remember his last name. Blue Silk was the name of a cat in the film. I was drawing with chalk on the sidewalk down the street from my house, and a guy came up and said ''Wow! This is exactly what we want for our movie!'' My mom had always told me to watch out for strange men approaching me and telling me things like "We're going to put you in a movie'', and here was a guy doing exactly that! I told him he would have to ask my mom and I ran home. My mom agreed, and she accompanied me when we were filming.

I had already been on TV before, actually. I had done a campaign with Ivory Soap. In 1999, I went back to the studios where I shot the commercial to shoot a soap opera called 'Guiding Light'. It was wild!

How did Andy Warhol discover you?
I was very interested in chess, and I used to go to this cafe across the street from my house called Cafe Figaro after school, or sometimes even during school! I would play chess with these older gentlemen who thought it was adorable that I could play the game. One day I was sitting with a man called Steve Winston, and these two guys walked in. One of them was really tall with a shock of red hair and the other guy looked like he had a squirrel on his head! They sat down at the table near the window and then the red-headed man approached me. Again I got asked if I wanted to be in a movie. I told him I would have to ask my mom, mainly just to check if he was on the up and up. At this point my mom was a free spirit and I was a bit of a wild child, let's say. My mom said "Fine", and away we went. I did FLESH (1968) with Joe Dallesandro and my friend Geraldine Smith, which Andy directed.

What were your first impressions of Warhol?
Andy always kind of reminded me of steam. He was there, but he was ephemeral. You always got the impression that he was thinking of something else while he was speaking with you. The only time I ever saw him truly concentrating on what I was saying was when I was teaching him how to crochet on the set of L'AMOUR (1973). He got quite good at it, and I also taught him how to knit.

He was a highly interesting man with a unique artistic vision. Andy spoke slowly with an indifferent cadence, and was vague in his direction on the films I made with him. He was quiet, reserved and very observant. He didn't miss a trick. Andy really enjoyed being the centre of attention as long as he thought no-one was looking at him. He was a strange individual in that way. I don't think he was very different from the image most people have of him, but he was definitely a deep person. Once you spoke with him, you realised that he had a lot going on. You wouldn't think it, but he did. Andy was painfully shy in fact, which I think had a lot to do with the way he spoke and presented himself.

Andy also looked like he wore the same clothes everyday, but he actually had a wardrobe with multiple versions of the same clothes in it. Which was comforting!

What impact did the Warhol era have on your subsequent career?
Well, during that period I wanted to work in the acting industry and be taken seriously. So I tried to distance myself from all of that. I never mentioned my connection in any interviews or to any colleagues because I thought they would look down on those films as fake or avant-garde. I think it was the right thing to do that at that time. I wouldn't have been taken seriously. None of the actors from Andy's films have ever really gone on to real acting careers. It's interesting now to look back at that period and see that I was involved in such a great period. At the time it didn't feel that way! I didn't feel like an Andy Warhol superstar, if you will.

Did acting come naturally to you?
Yeah it did actually. And I always wanted to do it. As a kid I would always perform tunes from the various shows that were on around town in front of my grandparents' guests. Performing came quite naturally.

In some of your films you have done nudity or appeared in sex scenes. Is it something you are comfortable with?
It doesn't bother me. I have always been in touch with my sexuality, and understood the kind of image I presented. I don't think I ever went too far with it.

Do you think erotic films like BILITIS (1977) and your beauty hurt your chances of getting certain roles?
I have always been able to work, and to come back pretty much when I felt like it. I got to raise my children, because I didn't want them raised by a nanny. I've only ever used one when I absolutely needed one, like when I starred in the TV series 'New York Undercover'. I have lost roles I wanted because of my looks, but what are you going to do? (Laughs.)

How did you get into modelling?
We would often go dancing at Max's Kansas City. It was a restaurant, where we would sit in the backroom and drink and eat and smoke. But there was this vast storage space upstairs where nothing was going on, so Mickey, the owner, decided he was going to use it for music. One night upstairs I ran into this amazingly flamboyant couple, Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos. Antonio was a world-renowned fashion illustrator who worked with the New York Times and various other high-end publications. He truly was an artist without compare in his field, and some of my friends have just put out a book about him. We started dancing, and later he said "I want to draw you''.

I went to his studio and he started to draw me. When you draw someone you can draw them to look any way you want them to look. I am a short woman, and I was a short girl. I am 5'4''. Some people saw the drawings and wanted to interview me for modelling work. When I turned up for the interview they signed me up on the spot, thinking that as I was young, I would continue to grow as tall as my mother, who was close to 6ft tall. I never grew another inch after that! It was quite a coup being signed so young by Wilhelmina Models. They worked with my lack of height, and I modelled in New York, followed by London. I went to Paris to put together my portfolio and then returned to London. I signed up with Models International and worked for a few years there. I was able to be successful because even though I was short, I was well-proportioned and looked taller in photographs than I actually was. Still, I couldn't work with other models because of my lack of height, so i did mainly beauty, legs and hand work.

What was London like in the 'Swinging Sixties'?
It was wonderful, we just had the best time. I was with an agency called Models One. I remember strolling along King Road. We would all go on our appointments and then we would all meet up at a restaurant called The Casserole. We would hang out and sometimes we could carry on through dinner. Then go home, change and go out again! We would dance until early morning. It was quite an interesting little life. It was exhausting, though, when I think about it! I certainly couldn't have a lifestyle like that now.

How did London compare with the likes of New York and Paris?

I just found London the most exciting. I loved the way the boys sounded with their English accents. It was a wonderful time to be young and in England.

Did you enjoy modelling?
I had a ball. I was working a lot. British girls are a bit smaller anyway, and the girls I was working with weren't much taller than me. One of my best friends, though, was a very tall Danish model called Kirsten Nefer, and everywhere we went we looked like Mutt 'n' Jeff!

How did you meet Cat Stevens?

I remember seeing him perform 'Matthew and Son' years before we actually met. You can see the clip on Youtube and it has dated a lot. But he looked so cute in his black and white suit. He had contracted tuberculosis and I met him after he got out of the sanitarium. He was smoking cigarettes! We met at a party in a house in the English countryside owned by William Piggott Brown, who had all sorts of people there. Steven (I called him by his real name, his real surname is Georgiou) and I just started talking, and that was it. We just connected on a very deep level. It was lovely.

Who was at that party?

Everybody in the music industry that you would want to know was there at that party - Stevie Winwood, Ginger Baker, some of The Beatles. It was surreal. I remember listening to and idolising The Beatles when I was 13, and here I am, 16 or 17, hanging out with them.

It sounds like every day was a mindblowing experience!

It was! Funnily enough, I was with my friend Pamela Des Barres about 12 years ago at a birthday party for Bob Dylan at Tom Petty's house (as you do!). We were talking about the old days with George Harrison and he said to me "You're a legend''. I laughed and said "You are George Harrison and you are calling me a legend?" Fun times!

Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?

People tell me I should write a book, and I have been offered money over the years to write one, but I don't have the discipline and I don't feel the need to reveal intimate, sweet, lovely things that would hurt or embarass anybody in any way. My story is their story too. I don't fault anybody else for doing it, but it's just not for me.

Cat Stevens wrote two songs for you ('Lady Darbanville' and 'Wild World'). How does it feel to be immortalised in these songs?
 I quite like 'Wild World', but 'Lady Darbanville' is about me - dead. I found that weird. I got a lot of publicity and interview requests from that song, but it was odd, because I didn't have much to do with it, apart from supplying the name. The period when I was with Steven was a bittersweet time. I was sorry to hurt him. But he fell on his feet. He was a sweetheart. I haven't spoken to him in years. I hope he is well and happy. I hear he has a big family. That's terrific.

How does modelling compare to acting?

They are much different. You have to be disciplined in both areas, but you have to be really really disciplined and punctual for movies. I learned that very quickly. I was late once and I was never late again. It was on the set of THE MAIN EVENT (1979) with Barbra Streisand. She called me into her trailer and pretty much read me the Riot Act. I just sat there and took it. She was signing my paycheque! "You don't keep people waiting. They're on the clock. They're getting paid whether you show up or not. You don't do things like that in this industry. You'd better get a move on. " After that, I understood.

Which industry do you prefer?

Modelling is fun when you're a kid. But it's basically standing there and making clothes look good! Bring a book! It's not that stimulating. I prefer acting. I'm an artist. I'm an actress. I studied to do what I do, and I take it seriously.

When did you begin studying acting?

It was after I got back from Europe. I decided that since I was acting in French movies I needed to take acting lessons. I was fluent in French but I didn't sound like a French person. As I had an American passport, I thought "Why not go home and learn my craft?" I decided to take it seriously and I studied with Herbert Berghoff in New York. He invited me to the playwright's classes. These were classes where he wanted students to be introduced to playwrights who were coming up. It was a big honour. He was devastated when I told him I was leaving for California because I had a part in a movie. He wanted me to be in the theatre. Herbert taught me well and he was a lovely, lovely man. Later I studied improvisation with Howard Storm in Los Angeles. You also learn a lot by just working.

How did you end up acting in quite a few French films in the '70s?
I was in a pub in London one day, and guess what? Another man approached me and asked if I wanted to be in a movie! This time I didn't have to ask my mother! The movie was called LA MAISON (1970), and starred Michele Simon, who was the Charles Laughton of France back then. It was a sweet little story about a young American girl who travels to France and winds up at an old mansion. It was written and directed by Gerard Brach, who wrote many of Roman Polanski's films. The film was only a minor success, because people expected something different from Brach, but it did get me started in an acting career in France, where I stayed for quite a while. They told me I could have the role if I could learn French in two months. They put me with a French teacher. She spoke to me in French for three or four hours each day. They put me up in a hotel in Paris and after two months I learned enough to be able to do the role at least. I just took to it. It was a language that just opened itself up to me after three or four weeks, although I was frustrated with my progress up to that point. I was telling my teacher that we needed to find a new approach. But when she asked me to get her a glass of water in French I quickly understood and got up and got it. It just clicked in at that moment. I think she was just waiting for me to get so frustrated. It was definitely some kind of technique she had. It was wild, but it worked! I've been speaking French since then.

Did you enjoy making the film?

I think it was the first real film that I had done, and Brach was the first real filmmaker I had worked with. I'm proud of it, if only for that.

How did living in France compare to living in the US?

It's apples and oranges! I loved the idea of going out and buying your food every day as you needed it. I never had fresh produce like it in America. I loved everything about France. My family is of French extraction. I just felt very much at home the minute I got there. I can't explain it.

Was there a marked difference for you between the '60s and the '70s?

In the '70s, everything got a lot more slick and the people who had been so dedicated to communal living and being hippies suddenly became disco queens and polyester babies dancing to Donna Summer. It was a complete 180 degrees. We went from the Summer of Love to the disco ball! It's been a steady progression since. The music has changed quite for the better and it's come back around to some really wonderful stuff happening.

What were some of your favourites from the films you made in the '70s?

I don't really have anything that I am absolutely proud of, to tell you the truth. I'm hyper-critical of my work and other people's work. Actually, I think I have done my best work on television.

Which TV work are you the most proudest of?
I very much like 'My So-Called Life'. I loved my Rose Boscorelli on 'Third Watch' and

Lorraine Calluzzo on 'The Sopranos'. I also loved playing Virginia Cooper on 'New York Undercover'. It was a wonderful character - a feisty, no holds-barred, 'my way or the highway' kind of woman. I enjoyed it immensely.

It must have been a great experience working on 'The Sopranos'.

It was wild. Although I only had four episodes on it, I had the time of my life. It was very strange because everybody was pretty much in character all the time. It was scary. I was very much exposed to that lifestyle for real because I grew up in New York. Little Italy is surrounded by the Mob. I knew people like that. Boy, did they really get that right on 'The Sopranos'.

How about your role in 'Wiseguy' as Theresa 'Amber' Twine?

That was fun too. That was pretty much my first foray into television. Working with Ken Wahl was terrific. He's a wonderful guy.

You must be proud of winning a Drama-Logue Award for the stage play 'Italian American Reconciliation' in 1987.

That was great, and a wonderful experience. Creating that role for John Patrick Shanley was quite a high point in my career. Unfortunately, because I had three small children I couldn't really pursue a career in theatre. I wasn't going to sacrifice my time with my kids in the morning for anything. That goes quickly.

How was working with John Milius on BIG WEDNESDAY (1978)?

John is quite a character, and I like him very much. But I do remember that we would have rehearsals down at the beach and he would have his gun and shoot horseshoe crabs, which was not exactly delightful! He would have a big cigar in his mouth. He looked like the Great White Hunter. I think if the studio had left him alone and let him do his own movie, it wouldn't have been such a boring film. Why was it so boring if it was such an amazing script and he is such a dynamic director? It just didn't work. It was like three different movies in one. I don't think that was John's fault. I think since then John has told the studios to go and ***k themselves and lay off. He probably should have done it then, but of course the movie might not have ever been released.

How about Oliver Stone on WORLD TRADE CENTER (2006)?Like John, he's crazy and quite wonderful! Very erudite and well-read. He's amazingly knowledgeable about pretty much everything. You can talk to him about sticky rice and he knows everything about it!

And Tony Scott on THE FAN (1996)?

I love him so much. I wish I could work with him forever. He was so much fun, so irreverent and truly funny in that droll English way! He was kind of taking the piss out of everybody all the time! It was a ball working with him and the most fun set I have ever been on in my life. Everybody was having a good time.

What was it like to work with Robert De Niro on that film?
He was wonderful. He's very serious and reserved and very much into his work but he has a keen sense of humour. He's pretty funny, in a sly and offbeat kind of way, which you wouldn't realise until you've spent a little bit of time with him. I mean, he's Bobby De Niro, a legend, and you're slack-jawed anyway! He'll say something and wait, and then you suddenly get it.

When I was auditioning for the movie I read with De Niro. I was so ****ing nervous that I forgot my lines over and over again. I am professional to a fault. I know my work before I get onto the set. Not just the day's work, but everything. I'm immersed. I know it backwards and forwards. And it all went out of my head. It was the first time I had ever been struck dumb like that. I was so embarassed. In the movie, I am supposed to get angry with him because he left my kid at a baseball stadium, which being a mother, was easy for me to get angry about. But my lines were gone. And Bobby said to me "Well, what do you want me to do? Stick the dialogue on my forehead?" I got so mad at him, that he spoke to me like that, that I went over and hit him! I whaled on his ass! All my dialogue came back and it was he who got it out of me. It was fantastic. They called me that day and told me I had the role. Movie stars are very much aware they are movie stars. They're not blind to the fact. And so very often they will go out of their way to make an actor comfortable. Which is essentially what Bob did. What happened between us broke that kind of grasp that his celebrity had on me. With any good actor, eventually a movie star is just another actor. And so was he. He basically helped me very much to get that role. So thank you Bobby!

How was working with Woody Allen on CELEBRITY (1998)?

He's the kind of director who wants to hire actors who know their craft. He is like "You have to speak now, so you sit over there and after he finishes talking, you speak..." When you'd finish your scene he'd say "Excellent. What did you think?" "OK. Good." And that was that. I'm not kidding, that's what he did. He would stand there and roll a quarter in between his fingers, very adeptly I might add. That's a nice way to work, but not if you're a young actor starting off! Not that he really ever uses young actors. It was interesting working with him because he let you do what you wanted to do. Which is wonderful in a way.

You appeared in the John Belushi biopic WIRED (1989). Were you friends with the real Belushi?

I wouldn't say I was close friends with him, but I knew him and hung out with him a few times at the Blues Bar. There was talk around Hollywood that anybody who was going to appear in the film was going to be blacklisted. I didn't pay any attention to it and I don't think it had any effect on my career. I just needed the work! It was an interesting thing to do. It was flawed. It certainly could have been done in a much tidier way. I thought Michael Chiklis gave an amazing performance. The movie itself was mediocre, which was unfortunate.

How do you feel about the availability of good roles for women now compared to different decades?

My generation has aged and different roles are coming our way. There's not a lot of them and not as many as for men. People have a problem with that. I have never really experienced any problems, and personally, I remove myself from it once in a while anyway and I'm taking a little vacation from my craft at the moment too. I think immersing yourself in the life and devoting all your waking hours to the industry is for me like living the tortures of the damned. Living here in North Carolina was an absolute decision to get away from the Hollywood life. I have no reason to be there. I have a house that needs fixing up, my family, and I am pursuing other endeavours like fund-raising, jewellery and pottery, things I didn't think I had time for and yet amazingly I do! In order to keep my career back on track, I am going to have to go back to L.A. for a little while in January and see what I can dig up, and if my lock in that area holds!

I spoke to Patti by telephone on 18th July 2012. I would like to thank her for her time and for her candour.

Patti's official website.

Paul Rowlands is a Japan-based writer. After completing a BA Humanities course (majoring in English and Science) at the University of Chester, he moved to Japan in 1999. He writes for the James Bond magazine, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has had articles published on Press Play and other sites, and has had an almost lifelong obsession with cinema, something the advent of DVD only increased.