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Auteurity Figure At The Helm

May 18, 1985|CHARLES CHAMPLIN | Times Arts Editor

CANNES — The ultimate status symbol at the film festival is still the yacht. The ultimate ultimate statement is when you show up on your very own yacht, as Sam Spiegel often has and as Harold Robbins, who also has a villa here, usually does. This year the principal yacht owners are the Salkinds, Alexander and Ilya, of "Santa Claus" and "Superman" fame, who have their yacht berthed just west of the Plais du Festival.

But the hottest yacht of this festival has been the Broka, out of Southampton, berthed near the outer end of the pier, leased by Warner Bros. and marked at almost any hour of day or night by a cluster of photographers awaiting glimpses of Clint Eastwood, who lives aboard and who has been the major star presence at the festival.

What is interesting is that Eastwood is now regarded here not merely as a superstar actor but as an important director, who received a large and respectful retrospective of his films at the French Cinematheque earlier this year. Jean-Luc Godard's new film, "Detective," is dedicated to Eastwood (along with John Cassavetes and the late Edgar Ulmer).

The yacht, as the Internal Revenue Service may be glad to know at expense-accounting time, has some practical advantages. Eastwood would love to walk around the festival and is frustrated that he can't, he says. But he was mobbed when he arrived for the opening of the festival last week, and again--despite the best efforts of police--for the showing of "Pale Rider."

So, barefoot some of the time to lessen the distance he has to stoop to avoid beaning himself on the yacht's low bulkheads, Eastwood takes refuge on the Broka, receiving a string of friends and journalists, venturing out only at night to explore L'Oasis, the Moulin de Mougins and other elegant regional restaurants.

"Pale Rider" is in competition at Eastwood's insistence. The festival would have been glad to have it out of competition, like "Purple Rose of Cairo," but, Eastwood said the other afternoon, "It seems to me part of the fun of being here is to be in competition."

At the press conference after the screening, Eastwood fielded, with patient matter-of-factness, some of those marvelous interpretive questions critics ask. "When you shot the villain, weren't you in fact shooting your father?" was one. "No," Eastwood said, thoughtfully.

Did he think the Western would come back? He hoped so, Eastwood said, but the thing was he hadn't made one for a while, and wanted to, and had a script he liked, and did it.

"Pale Rider" was enthusiastically received at its screenings, though with some reservations by critics, judging from a score card published by Screen International, one of the daily trade papers here.

Director Peter Bogdanovich created a medium-sized stir by paying his own way to Cannes and holding his own press conference to continue his battle with Universal over the trims and the music he said he was forced to accept for "Mask," which is one of the three U.S. selections in competition.

"Mask" was represented at its official press conference by a contingent including producer Martin Starger and the film's star, Cher.

An hour later, at a hotel a few blocks down the Croisette from the Plais, Bogdanovich, accompanied by Rusty Dennis, the woman Cher plays in the film, explained at great length the eight minutes he was forced to cut, and outlined his reasons for having wanted to use songs by Bruce Springsteen, rejected by the studio as too expensive.

At the earlier press conference, Cher had said tartly that for anyone who knew him, "It was no surprise that Peter would serve his own interests against the interests of the picture."

Bogdanovich, responding, said he was amused how much Cher's memory of events differed from his own--"like 'Roshomon,' " he said. He insisted he was protecting the film's integrity. Rusty Dennis, whose 15-year-old son, Rocky, played by Eric Stoltz in the film, died of a genetic disorder, craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, which distorted his skull, said she agreed that the film would have been better with the missing scenes in it (a song at a campfire and a biker's funeral).

The questioning at both press conferences was generally sympathetic to Bogdanovich, although there was some private feeling that he protested too much, but also that it was probably good for business.

Some 15 years after he made it, Dennis Hopper has retrieved the rights to "The Last Movie" and has been in Cannes promoting the sale of European rights. Although "The Last Movie," a hallucinating account of a Hollywood Western on location in Peru, won a prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1971, it has never been seen in Europe. It was not much seen in the United States--two weeks each in Los Angeles and New York, three days in San Francisco, he says. Hopper, who is in the process of moving from Taos, N.M., where he's lived for 15 years, to Venice, Calif., was in competition here in 1980 with his film "Out of the Blue."

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