Juicy stories of excess on the sets of film productions? Well, there’s no shortage of them.
The abandoning of the expensive sets for 1963’s Cleopatra, only for them to be used by the much cheaper Carry On Cleo instead. The shooting of 1990’s Days Of Thunder and how it became a prolonged party for some of its crew. Or what about 1980’s Heaven’s Gate, where among the many jaw-dropping stories, a giant irrigation system was installed on a chosen field at the insistence of director Michael Cimino, just to get the right kind of grass?
Filmmaker Peter Medak (The Krays, Let Him Have It) certainly didn’t go into the making of 1973’s Ghost In The Noonday Sun expecting to attract such similar stories.
Yet as he revisits the wreckage of the film in his new documentary The Ghost Of Peter Sellers nearly 50 years later, it’s clear that’s just what he ended up with. An infamous production that was quietly pushed out on video over a decade after it was finished, dominated by headlines to do with its troubled star.
Medak, now in his 80s, clearly still remains rocked by what happened, and he’s the face of this documentary, chatting candidly with those who worked on the film and the executives charged with bringing it into line. That he has the inside info on what happened – backed up with copies of memos, drawings and plans that he’s kept – lends the telling of the story real substance.