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Producer Judd Bernard

I sat down with producer Judd Bernard at his San Fernando Valley home on May 9, 2002.

Judd produced such acclaimed films as 1967's Point Blank, the first American film directed by John Boorman.

Bernard grew up in Chicago. "My father was a doctor. I studied pre-Med at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I found out that I didn't want to be a doctor. So I studied English and history before I dropped out. I went to New York to seek my fame and fortune. I became a band manager instead. I wrote a magazine article and earned $200. A movie studio bought the article and they brought me on as a writer. It was a disaster. I got fired immediately. So I went into publicity. Through a friend of my mother, I met the writer Carl Foreman (High Noon), a partner of producer-director Stanley Kramer (Home of the Brave, Champion).

"I worked for producer David Selznick and producer Robert Lippert who made such films as 1951's The Steel Helmet. Samuel Fuller shot it in eleven days. I also worked for producer Jack Broder, who made such exploitation pictures as Battle of Chief Pontiac and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. We had a sneak preview of the Bela Lugosi movie that 450 people demanded their money back.

"I got a job working for the Stanley Kramer company. We made such films as The Men, Cyrano de Bergerac, and High Noon.

"Then I worked with Ben Hecht. We made this [1952] picture called Actors and Sin, starring Edward G. Robinson and Eddie Albert. We shot the picture in seven days.

"Composer George Anthiel introduced me to writer William Saroyan who had an office above Factors Deli on Pico Blvd, near Beverly Drive. Saroyan wrote a story about guy who came back from World War II and sees his old sweetheart. Saroyan thought we should cast the biggest stars of the time - Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon and Barbara Stanwyck. Nothing ever came of it.

"I then met Armand Deutsch, an MGM producer. We produced a stage play with Betty Davis and her husband Gary Merrill called The World of Carl Sandburg.

"I worked for Louis B. Meyer after he left MGM. He had an office on Canon and plotted how he was going to come back. We were going to make Paint Your Wagon but it never happened."

Luke: "How did you come to produce your first film, 1967's Double Trouble, starring Elvis Presley?"

Judd: "I was trying to get another project off the ground starring Julie Christie. I was told that Irwin Winkler was her manager. Irwin and I had dinner at Cyranos on the Sunset strip, across from The Dome. We sat around until 3AM talking, and we became fast friends. He said that if he delivered Julie Christie, he'd want to be a co-producer on the project.

"Julie Christie was in Madrid doing Dr. Zhivago. MGM sent me to Madrid. I had lunch with director David Lean. I met Julie Christie at the Hilton. They were preparing to shoot the parade down the street in the snow. And it was hotter than hell. And Julie couldn't have been nicer except when I mentioned her manager Irwin Winkler. And she said, 'He isn't my manager.'

"I formed a company [BCW Productions] with Irwin Winkler and his partner in New York Robert Chartoff [manager]. We had a deal with MGM.

"Once we got Double Trouble organized, I was in London. And I saw this girl [Annette Day] on the street who looked like a girl in the script. I introduced myself to her and asked her for a photograph. She had this small black and white photograph. On the back it said 'Sam Shaw.' He was a bigtime magazine photographer. I had a close friend in London named David Steen who was also a prominent photographer. He took three color pictures of her and we blew them up.

"This girl had never acted a day in her life. She was 17-year old. She was good. She had no fear. She starred with Elvis Presley. Then she got married and never made another movie.

"I met my wife [Patricia Casey] on Double Trouble. I had two kids from my marriage to Australian model Pauline O'Dwyer - Adrianna Bernard (who died in 1995 in a car accident on Pico Blvd outside The Mint) and cinematographer Michael Bernard. I adopted Alicia, now Alicia Richards, who works as a commercials producer.

"I got divorced when I moved to London at the end of 1967. Patricia was working for me at Paramount and she mved to London when I did to do the Glenda Jackson movie Negatives [1968].

"Patricia later produced the first Monty Python movie, And Now For Something Completely Different [1971], a collection of skits from the first two years of the Monty Python TV show.

"Point Blank was John Boorman's first American movie. Patricia knew these two guys, David and Rafe Newhouse. David was a film editor. David and Rafe had optioned this book and wrote a screenplay.

"I was in the commissary at MGM eating lunch by myself. This guy came up to me and asked, 'Do you mind if I sit with you?' It was John Boorman who was taking a tour of the studio. I took him back to my house. He stayed and talked with me until 2AM. I gave him the script to Point Blank and the book.

"I was in London and Lee Marvin was doing Dirty Dozen. We spent some time together and I gave him the script.

"I saw this Canadian mini-thing about a coroner. There was a marvelous actor in it named John Vernon and a good actress named Sharon Acker. And Boorman and I flew to Toronto to see them for Point Blank. We blew the jet engine out and we thought we were going to die. And I remember saying goodbye to him. And somehow they landed the plane. And we brought them back and they were in Point Blank.

"We wanted to shoot at Alcatraz. I called Jack Valenti [present head of the MPAA}, an advisor to President Lyndon Johnson. I got a call from my secretary at MGM with a number to call Jack. I dial. A man answers and says, 'Who's this?' I said my name and asked, 'Who's this?' And the man said, 'Lyndon Johnson.' It was a private phone at the White House. We were the first movie ever shot at Alcatraz.

"We were shooting at Alcatraz and at 3AM, this motorboat comes up with these two ladies in evening gowns - one a redhead and the other a blonde. They had a bottle of champagne. They said, 'We want to watch your movie.' QANTAS had had an inaugural flight from Sydney to San Francisco. And this woman Hazel Phillips was a Sydney journalist. And she so charmed Lee Marvin that he must've spent three days with her. And he never gave interviews.

"And when I was in Sydney, I saw her on television.

"We had our first sneak [showing] of the picture at a Chicago theater. And everybody was stunned when it was over and nobody said a word. I don't know if it was ahead of its time or what. It was recently remade by Mel Gibson as Payback.

"[Movie executive] Robert Evans had been a publicity client of mine when I had a publicity agency. Bob Evans became head of production at Paramount. He sent over his assistant Peter Bart, now editor of Variety, to have lunch with me. I [as Kettledrum Films] was the first producer they signed. I left my partnership with Winkler and Chartoff, the dumbest thing I've ever done. These guys became wildly successful making such movies as Rocky.

"Robert Redford was going to star in our [1968] film Blue. And six weeks before shooting, he walked. We were desperate to find someone to replace him who had blonde hair and blue eyes. So we got Terence Stamp.

"When we got back from location, the hot thing was A Man and a Woman [1966 French film directed by Claude Lelouch]. I came up with an idea for a small movie. What if a guy working on a movie has an affair with a woman working on a movie. We made a [1968] picture called Fade-In. It starred Burt Reynolds and Eli Kazan's wife Barbara Loden.

From the Imdb.com: "A sophisticated Hollywood film editor, on location for a film she is working on, falls for a local cowboy who is hired to work on the film."

Judd: "Then we made Glenda Jackson's early movie Negatives. My then-wife divorced me. I stayed on in London.

"I think one of the reasons Paramount sent me to London was so that Peter Bart could take my house in Brentwood. Joke.

"Leslie Ann Down, at 15 years old, was an extra in my 1970 movie, The Man Who Had Power Over Women.

"Telly Savalas starred in [1975's] Inside Out. We originally wanted to do the movie with Tony Curtis and Jimmy Coburn. John Calley, who ran Warners then, said, 'We'll get the biggest star in the world to play the lead. Telly Savalas.' It was Telly's first year as Kojak.

"When we shot at the flower market in Amsterdam, there were 25,000 people wanting to see Kojak. They had to call out troops. Then when we went to Berlin, Savalas walked into this police convention and they went crazy to see him.

"Blood Red [shot in 1986, released in 1988] was Julia Roberts' first movie. We cast her because her brother Eric was the lead and we needed somebody to play his sister. My son Michael worked on the movie. My daughter Adrianna, may she rest in peace, did her first job as a wardrobe assistant for Ruth Myers."