Skip to main content

Julia Child: An American, Forever In Paris

For generations of Americans, chef Julia Child was a fearless guide through the complexities of French cooking — on the page, and on her eight TV shows. Fresh Air revisits an interview with Child from 1989.

15:42

Other segments from the episode on August 7, 2009

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, August 7, 2009: Review of the movie "Julie and Julia;" Interview with Julia Child; Obituary for Budd Schulberg.

Transcript

*** TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY BOUNDARY ***
..DATE:
20090807
..PGRM:
Fresh Air
..TIME:
12:00-13:00 PM
..NIEL:
N/A
..NTWK:
NPR
..SGMT:
'Julie And Julia,' A Labored Blend Of Two Lives

DAVE DAVIES, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies, senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily
News.

Julia Child is recalled in a new film by Nora Ephron called “Julie & Julia,”
opening today. It’s a comedy and a blend of two nonfiction books. The first, by
Julie Powell, recounts the year she spent cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The second, “My Life in Paris,” is a
memoir written by Child with her grand-nephew, Alex Prud'Homme.

In a few minutes, we’ll listen to our 1989 interview with Julie Child, who died
in 2004, but first critic David Edelstein has this review of “Julie & Julia,”
starring Meryl Streep as Julia and Amy Adams as Julie.

DAVID EDELSTEIN: Writer/director Nora Ephron is acidly funny as an essayist and
in interviews, but her movies, like “You’ve Got Mail” and “Bewitched,” and her
biggest hit, “Sleepless in Seattle,” are both snobbish and pandering. Her
characters have no subtext. They’re cartoonish extroverts, dropping judgments
and pulling faces.

Her new comedy, “Julie & Julia,” offers more of the same, except half of it,
the Julia part, is dominated by Meryl Streep, who keeps you gasping with
delight.

Streep plays the middle-aged Julia Child, and the movie follows her from the
end of Child’s government stint in Paris after World War II through the
publication of her seminal book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which
introduced Americans to techniques perfected at places like Le Cordon Bleu. As
narrative, the Julia scenes are not that compelling; what holds you is watching
Streep transcend mere mimicry and cut a path to the woman's soul.

Most American film actors are method types: they begin by digging into their
own psyches and dredging up past emotions. That's not, from what I can tell,
how Streep works, certainly not here. As Julia, she starts with the externals
and moves, from the outside, in.

The voice begins in the chest and erupts into that familiar burbling falsetto
with its trills and diphthongs. Some words Child didn't want to let go of: They
gave her too much pleasure, like butter.

Streep isn't tall, but she's photographed carefully and projects height; she
understands the six-foot-two Child learned not to be ashamed of her size but to
go with it. Her body follows that loopy voice in a kind of sloshy interpretive
dance, and the performance becomes a musical triumph.

She's practically singing in an omelet-making reenactment from Child's ‘60s
black-and-white TV show, which the other main character, Julie Powell, played
by Amy Adams, watches in 2002 with her husband, played by Chris Messina.

(Soundbite of film, “Julie & Julie”)

Ms. MERYL STREEP (Actor): (As Julia Child): I’m going to trip to flip this
thing over now, which is a rather daring thing to do.

Ms. AMY ADAMS (Actor): (As Julie Powell) She changed everything. Before her, it
was frozen food and can openers and marshmallows.

Mr. CHRIS MESSINA (Actor): (As Eric Powell) Don’t knock marshmallows.

Mr. STREEP: (As Child) When you flip anything, you’ve just got to have the
courage of your convictions, especially if it’s a loose sort of mass, like –
oh, that didn’t go very well, but you see, when I flipped it, I didn’t have the
courage…

Ms. ADAMS: (As Powell) She’s so adorable.

Ms. STREEP: (As Child) …I needed to know where I should have – but you can
always put it together, and when you’re alone in the kitchen, who’s to see?

Ms. ADAMS: (As Powell) Pearls. The woman is wearing pearls in the kitchen.

Ms. STREEP: (As Child) I’ve just to practice, like the piano. I’m Julia Child.
Bon appétit.

Ms. ADAM: (As Powell) Bon appétit.

EDELSTEIN: Alas, the real protagonist of “Julie & Julia” isn't Julia but Julie,
who distracted herself from her messy life with a blog that chronicled her
effort to cook all the 524 dishes in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in
365 days.

Powell's book on that yearlong homage/ordeal is fast and fun, and the recipes,
among them a whole section on aspic, are so out-of-fashion it's like a voyage
back in time.

Ephron is a foodie, so the film has some texture, but when she cuts back and
forth between Paris in the fifties and Queens, New York, in 2002 to show Julia
and Julie achieve a kind of autonomy through cooking, “The Godfather: Part II”
this isn't. The connection is labored, and Julie, for all Amy Adams's charm,
becomes a whiny cipher.

All these characters really have in common is they both became celebrities:
Child with her book and TV show, Powell when her blog started getting hits. One
of the movie's emotional high points comes when Powell is interviewed by — gasp
— food writer Amanda Hesser from The New York Times, who plays herself. The end
titles climax cheekily with the news that not only did Powell get a book deal
but her book was made into a movie. For Ephron, fame is the happiest ending.

I prefer to lop off Julie and her obnoxious husband and concentrate instead on
Streep and Stanley Tucci as Julia's devoted husband, Paul. The actors worked
together on “The Devil Wears Prada,” and Tucci knows enough not to compete with
America's most revered thespian, but he enhances her.

His easy, affectionate presence grounds Streep's theatricality. My guess is
Tucci, who's more of a method actor, used his own bedazzlement with Streep to
convey Paul's bedazzlement with Julia. For all the high artifice, the emotions
between the two of them are marvelously real.

DAVIES: David Edelstein is film critic for New York Magazine.
..COST:
$00.00
..INDX:
111655373
*** TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY BOUNDARY ***
..DATE:
20090807
..PGRM:
Fresh Air
..TIME:
12:00-13:00 PM
..NIEL:
N/A
..NTWK:
NPR
..SGMT:
Julia Child: An American, Forever In Paris

DAVE DAVIES, host:

Julie Child introduced millions of Americans to French cooking with her 1961
book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” It helped launch her public-
television career that lasted nearly four decades.

Her long-time editor, Judith Jones, said that Child changed the way cookbooks
are written, aiming them at home cooks rather than professional chefs. Julia
Child died in 2004 at the age of 91. Terry spoke with her in 1989. She asked
Child how she thought attitudes about food had changed since the 1960s.

Ms. JULIA CHILD (Cook): Well, they’ve changed enormously. In the 1960s, you
could eat anything you wanted, and of course, people were smoking cigarettes
and all kinds of things, and there was no talk about fat and anything like
that, and butter and cream were rife. Those were lovely days for gastronomy, I
must say.

In those day, too, it was classical French cooking, and you didn’t deviate from
the rules. And then shortly after that, we got - in the 1970s - we got nouvelle
cuisine, in which a lot of the old rules were kicked over. And then we had
cuisine minceur, which people mixed up with nouvelle cuisine but was actually
fancy diet cooking.

Then we went into the organic phase, where we had bean sprouts and tofu to a
large extent. And now we’re in kind of a fright situation, where people are
very much afraid of fats and oils, and cholesterol has reared its ugly head.

TERRY GROSS, host:

GROSS: Are you afraid of cholesterol?

Ms. CHILD: Well, I think – cholesterol has become such a trendy word now, that
I think a lot of people really don’t know what it’s all about, but they just
know that they’re afraid, and they’re eating oat bran and getting diarrhea, or
some people are.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CHILD: So I hope we’re going to get out of the silly season and get back
into some good sense, because you’re supposed to have a certain amount of fat.
Twenty-five to 30 percent of your calories should be fat or oil because you
need to process your vitamins, and if you don’t have enough fat, they won’t do
you any good.

GROSS: I’m interested about the foods that you grew up eating. Now, you grew up
in Pasadena, California.

Ms. CHILD: I did, indeed, and I grew up in the teens and the ‘20s, when most
people had - or middle-class people - had maids or had someone to help. And we
had very sensible, New England-type food because my mother came from New
England - you know, roasts and vegetables and fresh peas and mashed potatoes.
But nobody discussed food a great deal because it just wasn’t done, and there
was no wine served at the table, at least not in my family, who were very
conservative. We always ate very well, but it wasn’t talked about.

GROSS: Well, your family had a cook. Did you mother cook at all, and did you
like to cook at all?

Ms. CHILD: No, she really didn’t cook at all. She knew how to make baking
powder biscuits and Welsh rarebit, and that’s all she knew how to make, and I
didn’t do any cooking then - at all.

GROSS: Did you have any interest in cooking?

Ms. CHILD: I was always very hungry, but I had – I never did any cooking at
all. It wasn’t until I went over to China in World War II. I was with the OSS,
and I just adored that Chinese food. It was so delicious. We were in Kunming
and Chongqing. And then I met – there were a lot of sophisticated world
travelers whom I met, and food was discussed a great deal. And then after the
war, when I married and settled down in Washington, D.C., I began to cook and
found that I enjoyed it immensely.

It always took me a very long time. I had Gourmet magazine and “The Joy of
Cooking.” And then we found ourselves in France, and I remember my first meal
there. We had come over on the boat because that was in 1948, and airplane
traffic was not rampant, or it hardly existed. And we had our big, old, blue
Buick on the boat and drove from La Havre to Rouen, and I remember my first
French meal. It was just delicious.

Of course, we had – we had wine, which I had not known much about, and oysters
on the half shell, and then a beautiful dish of sole in white wine sauce with
mushrooms, and I just couldn’t get over it. I hadn’t ever had that kind of
food.

GROSS: Sounds very good. Before we continue about life in France, I want to
just back up a little bit and go back to your childhood for a moment. You’re
over six-feet tall. So I’m sure you were a very tall girl.

Ms. CHILD: I’m the smallest in my family.

GROSS: Oh, no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Were you very athletic, and did you…?

Ms. CHILD: Oh very, yes. I played tennis and golf and all kinds of – I was
very, very athletic, as one was in California, anyway, because you could do
outdoor activities.

GROSS: Were you comfortable with your height, or were you self-conscious about
it?

Ms. CHILD: Well, I didn’t like dancing school when I was much taller than the
boys, but I don’t know. I got used to it perfectly easily.

GROSS: When you graduated from college, you went to New York with the hopes of
becoming a novelist or writing for a magazine. Why did you…?

Ms. CHILD: Writing for the New Yorker, at least getting into Time or Newsweek.
Nobody wanted me, for some strange reason.

GROSS: Why did you want to write, and were you sure that you wanted to have a
career?

Ms. CHILD: Well, I was. I was romantic about the idea about writing or being on
the stage. In those days, too, everyone was fascinated with the theater, but I
wanted to do one or the other. And then I got a job at W. & J. Sloane furniture
store in advertising and publicity, which I enjoyed very much. And then along
came the war, and I got into the – I went down to Washington and eventually got
into the Office of Strategic Services, the OSS.

GROSS: Did you want to be a spy?

Ms. CHILD: I did want to be a spy, and I thought I’d be a very good one because
no one would think that someone as tall as I would possibly be a spy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CHILD: But of course, I ended up doing office - menial office work. I was
in the files the whole time, which I actually, though – well, it was a
fascinating as an organization to be in, and at least I knew everything that
was going on.

DAVIES: The late Julia Child speaking with Terry Gross. We’ll hear more after a
break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: We’re listening to Terry’s 1989 interview with Julia Child, who died in
2004.

GROSS: Julia Child, when you co-wrote “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,”
did you see it as a way to introduce Americans to French cuisine?

Ms. CHILD: Yes, I was tremendously interested in French cuisine because it was
– it’s the only cuisine that has the real rules on how to cook, and I wanted to
– because I had start in quite late. I was about in my early 30s when I started
cooking - and I found that the recipes in most, in all the books I had were
really not adequate. They didn’t tell you enough. And I’m – for one, I won’t do
anything unless I’m told why I’m doing it.

So I felt that we needed fuller explanations so that if you followed - if you
followed one of those recipes, it should turn out exactly right. And that’s why
the recipes are very long, but they have full detail. My feeling is that once
you know everything and have digested it, then it becomes part of you.

GROSS: When you moved back to the States and you wanted to continue French
cooking, were there ingredients that you couldn’t find in the States?

Ms. CHILD: No – well, there were some differences. I think the cream was not as
thick, but it was easy enough to make your own, what they call crème fraiche,
by adding a little buttermilk or yogurt to heavy cream and making it thick. And
in those days cream was very chic. Nowadays, people are very afraid of it.

But – and the flour is different, but you could – because the French, general
French flour is softer and more made for pastries, and you can perfectly well
duplicate that by using part unbleached, all-purpose flour with a little bit of
plain, bleached cake flour added to it, which softens the gluten content. And
of course the meat cuts are different, but otherwise, I didn’t find anything
too difficult or impossible to do.

GROSS: What do you think the American attitude was toward French cooking when
your book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” came out?

Ms. CHILD: Well, at that point, when “Mastering the Art” came out, French
cooking was very much in vogue because we had the J.F. Kennedys in the White
House, and they had their wonderful French chef, and at the same time, people
were beginning to be able to get easily over to Europe because air traffic, air
flights were available.

Before, you had to go by boat, and it just took so long that only the upper
classes could go over there. So suddenly, Europe became available, and
Americans were able to go over there and taste the food, and it became very
chic and very – people were very much interested in it.

GROSS: You became nationally famous in the United States for your cooking show.
I read that your cooking show started because you were a guest on someone
else’s show when your book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” came out, and
there was such a big response that they gave you your own show. What did you do
that…?

Ms. CHILD: Well, at that time when they did a book review, and I had to do
something. You couldn’t just talk about it. So I beat up some egg whites in a
big copper bowl, that kind of thing that people had not seen before, and I made
an omelet. And at that time, there were no cooking shows at all on television,
and people said, well, why don’t we have a cooking show?

And so I did three pilots, and they got a lot of response because there weren’t
any on at that point, and French cooking was very much in vogue. So they said
let’s try 13 shows and see how it goes. And at that time, also, public
television was mostly talking heads, and they wanted to have something that was
a little more lively. And it started in Boston, and then I think Pittsburgh was
the first to pick it up, and then San Francisco and finally New York, and so
that’s how – that’s how it really started in.

FLATOW: Were your early shows live?

Ms. CHILD: No, nothing was live, but the early shows, because we were very,
very, very strict budget, it was really live on tape. And so once we started
in, we didn’t stop at all unless there was a terrible disaster, and we only had
about two or three, I think.

GROSS: Tell me one of the terrible disasters.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CHILD: Well, one time, I was cooking – blanching some broccoli, and it was
in a salad basket, which was lowered into a big kettle, and when I picked it
up, my fork slipped, and it all fell on the floor.

I didn’t pick it up and use it, so we did stop because it was a real mess. But
every time we stopped, it would cost, I mean, several hundred dollars because
it always took half an hour to get back again, and you have to pay overtime.

And another time, there was a short circuit on my microphone, and every time I
touched the stove, the microphone would go:

(Soundbite of buzzing)

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CHILD: And I’d clutch my breast. So we had to stop for that, but otherwise,
we just didn’t stop at all. And then people – it’s funny. People would say
well, I saw you drop that chicken on the floor, which of course I never did.
All I was did was flip a potato pancake into the stove, and then I put it back
into the pan, and I said: Well, if you’re all alone in the kitchen, nobody will
know.

It’s funny that people saw me do that to a chicken. Isn’t that funny how people
will say that?

GROSS: So, were there often mistakes in the actual show that you would recover
from, thinking that this kind of thing happens all the time if you’re a real
cook.

Ms. CHILD: And I think some people would accuse me of doing things purposely,
but anyone who has been in the kitchen knows that awful things happen all the
time, and you just, if you’re a cook, you have to make do with whatever
happens.

GROSS: I’m sure you must have seen the Dan Aykroyd “Saturday Night Live”
impression of you.

Ms. CHILD: Oh, yes. We have a tape of that. That’s great fun.

GROSS: Do you? What he’d always do is, when he was doing you, is take little
nips of wine until he got really giddy while he was cooking.

Ms. CHILD: No, I know, and people accuse me of that, too, which of course – and
I know Frank Prial of the New York Times said that he saw me pick up a bottle
and drink out of it, which of course I would never do in public. But I think
his book didn’t sell very well, so I don’t care.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CHILD: No, I would never. That’s a – that would be a very gauche thing to
do in public, wouldn’t it?

GROSS: It was French cooking that got you started as a cook. How much of your
time is devoted now to French cuisine?

Ms. CHILD: That’s kind of hard to say because what is important about – to me
about French cuisine is the techniques, because they are the techniques of good
cooking. It’s hard to say, when you say French cuisine, what that means
anymore. It used to mean the School of Escoffier in classical French cooking,
but what everybody who has any training at all is – uses French techniques
because those are the basis of good cooking.

DAVIES: Julia Child, speaking with Terry Gross in 1989. Child died in 2004 at
the age of 91. You can find audio and video of Child discussing her permanent
kitchen display at the Smithsonian at npr.org. I’m Dave Davies, and this is
FRESH AIR.
..COST:
$00.00
..INDX:
111653075
*** TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY BOUNDARY ***
..DATE:
20090807
..PGRM:
Fresh Air
..TIME:
12:00-13:00 PM
..NIEL:
N/A
..NTWK:
NPR
..SGMT:
'Waterfront' Screenwriter Budd Schulberg

DAVE DAVIES, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies sitting in for Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of movie, “On the Waterfront”)

Mr. MARLON BRANDON (Actor): (as Terry Malloy) There's more to this than I
thought, Charley. I'm telling you there's a lot more.

Mr. ROD STEIGER (Actor): (as Charley Molloy) You don't mean that you’re
thinking about testifying against some people that we might know?

Mr. BRANDON: (as Terry) I don't know, Charley. I mean, I'm telling you I don't
know, Charley. That's what I want to talk to you about.

Mr. STEIGER: (as Charley) Listen, Terry. You know how much those piers are
worth that we control through the local?

Mr. BRANDON: (as Terry) I know that.

Mr. STEIGER: (as Charley) Alright, do you think that Johnny’s going to
jeopardize the whole setup for one rubber-lipped ex-tanker...

Mr. BRANDON: (as Terry) Don't say that.

Mr. STEIGER: (as Charley)...who's walking on his heels? What the...

(Soundbite of car horn)

Mr. BRANDON: (as Terry) I could’ve been better.

Mr. STEIGER: (as Charley) That's not the point.

Mr. BRANDON: (as Terry) I could've been a lot better, Charley.

Mr. STEIGER: (as Charley) The point is we don't have much time.

Mr. BRANDON: (as Terry) I'm telling you I haven't made up my mind yet.

Mr. STEIGER: (as Charley) Well, make up your mind before we get to 437 River
Street.

DAVIES: "On the Waterfront," the classic 1954 film about corruption on the
docks, starred Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy, a boxer turned dock worker who
risks his life to testify against the mobsters who control the Longshoreman's
Union.

Budd Schulberg won an Academy Award for the screenplay. Schulberg died on
Wednesday. He was 95.

Today we'll listen back to interviews about "On the Waterfront" with Budd
Schulberg and with Eva Marie Saint, who starred in the film opposite Brando.

We'll start with Elia Kazan, who directed the film. Some critics interpreted
"On the Waterfront" as a rationalization for informing. Kazan and Schulberg
where both members of the Communist Party in the ‘30s and both named names in
front of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the early ‘50s.

Kazan's other films include "A Streetcar Named Desire," "East of Eden,"
"Splendor In the Grass," "Baby Doll," and "A Face in the Crowd." He's regarded
as one of the best directors in American stage and film and was a founder of
the Actors Studio, where the acting technique known as the Method was taught.

Terry spoke with Kazan in 1988, five years before his death in 2003.

GROSS: I want play one of the most famous scenes in movie history.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: And this is the I could’ve been a contender scene. Now, in your book
you're very self-effacing about it. You said that you’ve been highly praised
for the direction of the scene, but the truth is you didn’t really direct it.
It kind of directed itself. I don't truly believe that, so let's hear the scene
and then we'll talk about it.

Mr. ELI KAZAN (Director): I'll say one thing about it before you do.

GROSS: Okay.

Mr. KAZAN: The scene is good for several reasons, but one reason is because it
was beautifully written by Budd Schulberg. It's a perfectly written scene and
in a kind of a tough language to this, on the poetic in itself. That's all.

GROSS: And the scene is played by Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger.

Mr. KAZAN: Right.

(Soundbite of movie, “On the Waterfront”)

Mr. STEIGER: (as Charley) ... and that skunk we got you for a manager, he
brought you along too fast.

Mr. BRANDON: (as Terry) It wasn't him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night
in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, kid, this ain't
your night. We're going for the price on Wilson. You remember that? This ain't
your night. My night. I could’ve taken Wilson apart. So what happens? He gets
the title shot outdoors in the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to
Palooka-ville. You was my brother, Charley, you should’ve looked out for me a
little bit. You should’ve taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have
to take them dives for the short-end money.

Mr. STEIGER: (as Charley) I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.

Mr. BRANDON: (as Terry) You don't understand. I could've had class. I could’ve
been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I
am, let's face it. It was you, Charley.

GROSS: There's a musicality in the way those two actors read their lines that
is really something. Did you work with them on that?

Mr. KAZAN: No. I didn’t direct that scene much. I didn't direct that scene
really. By that time in the shooting schedule, both Rod and Marlon knew what
they had. And then the lines themselves are so beautifully written: Instead of
a bum, which is what I am. That's the way those people talk. They're perfectly
written lines and Marlon naturally took to them.

GROSS: You know, it's great. It's your classic talking head scene. It’s two
guys in a cab in the back of, in the rearview window, there's Venetian blinds
so you can't even see the traffic coming through.

Mr. KAZAN: There isn't any.

GROSS: Yeah, so it's just two guys talking and…

Mr. KAZAN: If we had traffic, Terry, it would've been a distraction, wouldn't
it? Don’t you think so?

GROSS: Yeah. No, I think you're right, because you're just totally focused on
their faces and on what they're saying.

Mr. KAZAN: Right. Right.

GROSS: You have really taken pride in directing actors who are encouraged to
ask questions about what they're doing.

Mr. KAZAN: Yes.

GROSS: What kind of questions did Brando ask you about this role? Any
questions?

Mr. KAZAN: Very, very little. I think we had an instinctive fraternity. I think
we understood each other almost from the word go very well, and we would talk a
lot about other things but not a hell of a lot about the role. He - this role
is written thoroughly. When he says taking dives, Palooka-ville, all that, it’s
written very thoroughly and beautifully, and he didn't need much instruction.

I mean I wasn’t kidding in the book. I wasn’t being falsely modest. I think I'm
a damn good director and have been a damn good director, but in this scene, I
didn’t direct that scene much. I just put them there and so on.

DAVIES: Elia Kazan recorded in 1988.

We’re remembering writer Budd Schulberg, who died on Wednesday at the age of
95. Schulberg won an Oscar for his "On the Waterfront" screenplay. He also
wrote the screenplays for "The Harder They Fall" and "A Face in the Crowd." He
first became known for his 1941 novel, "What Makes Sammy Run," about a movie
producer who ruthlessly pushes his way to the top.

Terry spoke with Budd Schulberg in 1990.

GROSS: Now, you came teamed up with Elia Kazan to do "On the Waterfront"...

Mr. BUDD SHULBERG (Writer): Mm-hmm.

GROSS: ...after you had both testified to the House Un-American Activities
Committee. He said in his memoirs that he felt that there was a bond of
understanding between the two of you because you'd both been through that. Did
you feel that way?

Mr. SHULBERG: Well, I felt our bond of understanding began when nobody in
Hollywood would do "On the Waterfront," when every major studio turned down "On
the Waterfront," which I think they should remember, and that Kazan, when I was
irritated about it, Kazan said to me, Budd, I want to make this movie. If I
have to take a handheld camera and go down on the docks myself, I'm going to
make this movie. I think that's where the bond began.

As for the testimony, although it is clear that we were both what they call
friendly witnesses before that committee, I really - I reject the theory that
the ending of that picture or the fact that Terry Malloy testifies was related
that closely.

I spent about a year and a half on the waterfront. I really loved the rebel
longshoremen. I saw Father John Corridan go through hell even with his
superiors, and he was...

GROSS: This is the priest that the Karl Malden character played...

Mr. SHULBERG: That's right. He was really - Father Barry was really, Father
Barry in the movie was patterned directly on this waterfront priest. And I saw
Father John or Father Barry in the movie urging these men to get up and testify
at the waterfront (unintelligible) hearings, and I attended them every day.
They went on for about, I think, five or six weeks.

And I spoke to Kazan about it looking for the ending our film, and I said,
guys, I think we have found the ending for our film because these men are
saying, my god, if I get up and do that, you know what's going to happen; I'll
be in the North River, that what they call the Hudson River. I'll be gone. And
that is what - that was the real source of the ending of that picture.

It truly was not, it really was not the fact that we were saying how can we get
back at these people. And I've had some disagreement with Kazan about that. He
might, he could say, and I'll make this very brief, that maybe that intensified
his ability to direct that scene or that it gave him some additional emotion,
but I never thought of it in writing it, and I was the writer of it.

GROSS: Have you ever had regrets or second thoughts about testifying?

Mr. SHULBERG: Not really. No. No, I haven't, because I don't see what the - the
only alternative for me was to seem to be on the side of the communists. And if

you ever saw V.J. Jerome of, a commissar for cultural affairs who tells you
that you can't write the book unless it's checked over by this or that or the
other, I felt the American people had a right to know that.

GROSS: In spite of the evils perpetrated in the name of communism at the time
that you were testifying, did you ever feel that you were participating in what
was practically a witch hunt in America that was having a devastating effect on
the lives of the people being pursued?

Mr. SHULBERG: I thought two things. I thought it should've been done more
carefully. But I thought that the people who were fighting here and calling it
a witch hunt should've realized that if they are against a blacklist, that they
should also involve themselves in the fight against a death list, and that
while writers, maybe better than any of us, were being killed in the Soviet
Union, they seemed to have absolutely no interest in that.

GROSS: I want to ask you, I know that you have - you’ve had a stutter on and
off through your life, and I wonder how that's affected how you’ve dealt with
Hollywood, and I mean that in the sense that I know so much of Hollywood is
about like pitching the script and making the deal and there's all this fast
talk, I assume...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: ...that goes on, and how comfortable you felt with that.

Mr. SHULBERG: I've never been crazy about the story conferences. I remember
Bill Faulkner, William Faulkner worked out in Hollywood a good deal more than
people realize, and one time they had one of these meetings that you're
describing and they're saying, now, the boy and girl have to meet cute and
fast, and how can we show right away, instantly, that they are closely related?

And a lot of the fast talkers were adlibbing and made cute ideas. And Faulkner
was rather withdrawn, extremely withdrawn, wrote a note and he handed it to a
friend of mine and my friend told me about it right after the meeting. And the
note said: what if they were brother and sister?

So to answer your question, I guess there are some people who can get up there
and pitch and there are others who can get up to bat without saying much and
hit a home run.

DAVIES: Budd Schulberg recorded in 1990. He died on Wednesday at the age of 95.

Coming up after this break, a conversation with Eva Marie Saint.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: Eva Marie Saint won an Academy Award for her role as Edie in "On the
Waterfront," starring opposite Marlon Brando. She also starred in Alfred
Hitchcock's comic thriller "North by Northwest." On TV, Saint played Cybil
Shepherd's mother in the series "Moonlighting."

Terry spoke with Saint in 2000 and asked her about auditioning for the part as
the young virginal blond in "On the Waterfront."

Ms. EVA MARIE SAINT (Actress): I improvised with Marlon Brando and it was an
interesting improvisation because I - to this day I don't what he told Marlon.
But he did tell me that I was at home and a young man was coming to visit my
sister who was not at home, so my job was to keep him out of that house. Don’t
let him in the door.

Well, I don't know what happened, but he got, he went in the door. He came in
the living room. We were dancing. We were laughing. I was crying. He was taking
my skirt and – whew - whipping it around, and the sparks flew and Kazan saw
that and suddenly I was in "On the Waterfront."

GROSS: Were you used to improvising?

Ms. SAINT: Oh yes. I was from the Actors Studio. I had been studying there. I
was there about seven years and - all total - and I had seen Marlon there but I
had never, I never worked with him. I actually worked with Lee Strasberg, and
of course Kazan was there too.

GROSS: Had you seen Brando in anything before starring with him?

Ms. SAINT: Oh, yes. I'd seen his movies and - I'm never in awe of another actor
because it's all the same business. Some actors are fine actors, some not quite
fine actors, good actors. I'm never in awe of anyone in our profession. I'm in
awe of musicians or painters, but I was impressed.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SAINT: And he was adorable and he was a prince, and he knew it was my first
film. It was very cold in Hoboken.

GROSS: That's where you shot it?

Ms. SAINT: Yeah. Excuse me, on the waterfront. Yeah, in Hoboken, on the
waterfront right there. And it was very cold and he was always giving me a
jacket to put over my shoulders. And I was skiing at the time, so underneath my
virginal, navy blue dress, I had red long johns on. So, when morale was low, I
would start - I threw up my dress and started doing the cancan for all the
longshoremen.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: That would be very out of character for your…

Ms. SAINT: Yeah, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: …character in the movie.

Ms. SAINT: Gee, I’m glad - I don’t think Kazan saw me because he liked everyone
to stay in character.

GROSS: Oh, that’s funny.

Ms. SAINT: But that got a few laughs. But, he was very kind, Marlon. We
rehearsed constantly, which is what you do on a Kazan film.

GROSS: Right. Now, in the movie, you have this like radiant, pure beauty, but
in most of the scenes, you’re wearing real schmatas. You’re wearing this big
drab, woolen coat…

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: …and a kerchief around your head and…

Ms. SAINT: I still have that kerchief.

GROSS: Do you really?

Ms. SAINT: I – I always say one - I should put it on eBay, right? No siree.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SAINT: I usually got one thing from each film. And I have in a little
cellophane bag with a photo of me and Marlon, and there I have the kerchief.
I’m holding the kerchief.

GROSS: You know, often in movies, you know, the beautiful, young leading lady
is quite glamorous and you’re so unglamorously dressed in this. Did it affect
how you felt in the role, to be wearing this like drab coat and the schmata on
your head?

Ms. SAINT: No. When I was making rounds in New York and the things that I
played on live television were not very glamorous. I think you’re thinking of
“North by Northwest.” I wasn’t really glamorous until Hitch saw me as a sexy
spy lady. And I remember saying to my husband, my God, he sees me as a sexy spy
lady. And my husband said, well, so do I.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SAINT: So that made two of them. But, I - no. The only thing is it was navy
blue and for some reason I never, ever wear navy blue. I think I was tired of
that dress by the time it was over. Everything was navy, the dress was navy,
the coat was navy. And in those days, we did wear those kerchiefs over our
head, on windy days, in cold windy days in New York.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. SAINT: In the ‘50s, we wore them. They were very practical actually. So, I
didn’t feel that I wasn’t smartly dressed at all. That navy blue with the
little collar, that’s a pretty cute dress. I just feel embarrassed in the slip,
I must say.

GROSS: We’ll get to that.

Ms. SAINT: Oh, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: No, in this scene from “On the Waterfront,” you’ve decided not to see
the Brando character any more. But, he’s knocking on your door and you’re
telling him to stay away. Then you lock the door and chain the door. He breaks
in to your apartment and finds you in bed wearing this white slip. Let’s hear
that scene.

(Soundbite of movie, “On the Waterfront”)

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) Edie. Edie.

(Soundbite of knocking)

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie Doyle) Stay away from me.

(Soundbite of knocking)

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) Edie. Come on please open the door, please.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie Doyle) Stop it.

(Soundbite of pounding)

Ms. SAINT: I want you to stay away from me.

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) I know what you want me to do, but I ain’t going
to do it. So, forget it.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie Doyle) I don’t want you to do anything. You let your
conscience tell you what to do.

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) Shut up about that conscience. That’s all I’ve
been hearing.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie Doyle) I never mentioned the word before, you just stay
away from me.

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) Edie. Edie, you love me. I want you to…

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie Doyle) I didn’t say I didn’t love you. I said, stay away
from me.

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) I want you to say to me.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie Doyle) Stay away from me.

(Soundbite of breathing)

GROSS: And that silence and then the little squeaking is them kissing
passionately.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: After she’s attempted in vain to fight him off and then…

Ms. SAINT: Yeah.

GROSS: …and then gives in. It’s really quite a moment in the film. I mean, you
look like you’re almost about to faint with…

Ms. SAINT: Hmm.

GROSS: …being totally overcome by this physical feeling that’s very new to you,
being in…

Ms. SAINT: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: …in his arms. Let’s talk about that scene. How was that kiss staged?

Ms. SAINT: How was the kiss staged? Well, we were struggling. We were
struggling and I was hitting his back and I’m sure it was Kazan who said just
drop that arm at that point and…

GROSS: To show that you’re giving in that you’re succumbing to your feelings.

Ms. SAINT: …yes, that I was sort of giving in. You know, when you just hear it,
it’s almost like two animals, isn’t it? He was very - Marlon - very, very
strong in that. And she dropped her conscience, didn’t she? He overcame her and
yet, she had these strong feelings and he broke through for both of them. And
she, you know, she really did love him. I had trouble actually with that scene
because I was in a slip and in those days I was very modest. And I felt
exposed. I’d never been in a slip on screen and on television. And the kiss and
all of that, it was pretty physical. And I remember just having trouble and
Kazan came up to me and he just whispered the name of my husband. He just said,
Jeffrey. And, you know, it worked. I mean, that was it. I mean another director
might have struggled with whatever, but he just – one word and no one heard it.
Marlon didn’t hear it, no one heard him. And that’s how he worked. And somehow
I just knew that he knew, I would relax if - because he had met my husband, if
I had - if I thought of Jeffrey. And somehow when he whispered that I just
relaxed and enjoyed it.

DAVIES: Eva Marie Saint speaking with Terry Gross. We will hear more of their
conversation after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: Let’s get to our interview with actress Eva Marie Saint. She won an
Academy Award starring opposite Marlon Brando in the 1954 film “On The
Waterfront.”

GROSS: There’s a scene in this where – he’s been called downstairs by some of
the guys who are out to kill him. And you’ve chased after him calling his name
and you find him in this narrow alley. And just as you find him when you’re
running down this alley to meet up with him, a big truck that’s as wide as the
alley is coming after him and therefore coming after you too. And there’s no
way you can be in the street without getting hit by this truck. So he breaks
into a building and you both rush in narrowly averting this truck. It’s such a
beautifully lit scene. You’re kind of like in the headlights of the truck,
illuminated by it, running for your lives. Were you aware of the lighting, when
that shot was being made?

Ms. SAINT: You’re never aware of the lighting. But it’s interesting because I –
when I did see it, it’s almost like the hair has a halo…

GROSS: Yeah.

Ms. SAINT: …as I remember. It was a very scary scene because it was wet. I had
no idea that truck was going to be as close as it was in the scene. There was a
place where we had to get out of the way and Marlon was supposed to open the
door. The door wouldn’t open. He actually broke that glass and he actually cut
his hand a little bit. The designated door was not unlocked or was jammed or
something. So Marlon Brando is that kind of actor, he just – he broke the glass
and we got inside, just in time.

GROSS: I guess you didn’t have to do that scene again?

Ms. SAINT: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SAINT: No.

GROSS: You won an Oscar for your role in “On The Waterfront” and I think four
days after winning the Oscar you gave birth to a son.

Ms. SAINT: Two days. Three days.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SAINT: Better story right, two days. Yes.

GROSS: So those were the two big changes in your life, happening just about
simultaneously…

Ms. SAINT: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: …I think, you know, for most people when they get the Academy Award they
want to be at their most glamorous and you were at your absolute most pregnant.
I’m not sure if you were even able to go to the awards ceremony?

Ms. SAINT: Oh, yes. I was sitting there with Jeffery and it was in New York,
now it’s all in California, but at that time the New York contingency and the
Hollywood contingency - and there was a little jealousy between Hollywood and
New York. So we really didn’t think there was much of a chance for
“Waterfront,” black and white, made in New York but we went. And we were all
there and some of the people started winning Oscars. And my dear husband said,
now honey if they call your name I want you to sit here and count to 10 and
then go up. Well, I heard my name and I felt his hand on my thigh, pressing my
thigh and I’m smiling and smiling and I’m really counting to 10, and then I
walked up. I didn’t rush up, I walked up and accepted the Oscar and said
something like, I’m so excited. I may have the baby right here. And of course,
I had it two days later.

DAVIES: Eva Marie Saint speaking with Terry Gross in 2000 about her role in “On
the Waterfront.” Budd Schulberg, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay
for the film, died this week at the age of 95. Let’s hear one more scene from
the film, when Marlon Brando, as Terry, and Eva Marie Saint, as Edie, discover
Terry’s brother dead in an alley. Charley’s been murdered by the mobsters who
control the union on the docks.

(Soundbite of movie, “On the Waterfront”)

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry) They got Charley.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie) Terry, I’m frightened. Let’s get out of here, please.
First Joey, and then Dugan, and now Charley, and next - please, Terry, some
place where we can live in peace.

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry) I’m going to take it out on their skulls. Charley, I’m
going to take it out on their skulls.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie) Terry, they’ll kill you, too.

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry) Go get the father. Tell him to take care of Charley. And
then come on back here and stay with him till he gets here.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie) Terry, please don’t do anything, please. Terry.

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry) For God’s sake, don’t leave him alone here long.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie) Please, Terry.

Mr. BRANDO: (As Terry) Do what I tell you.

Ms. SAINT: (As Edie) Terry.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: For Terry Gross, I’m Dave Davies.
..COST:
$00.00
..INDX:
111658533
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

You May Also like

Did you know you can create a shareable playlist?

Advertisement

Recently on Fresh Air Available to Play on NPR

08:38

Ironic, Informal And Expressive, 'New Rules Of Language' Evolve Online

With all our texting, tweeting and social media posting, billions of people are using typed words for the kind everyday communication that used to happen more often in conversation. A new book argues that we’ve created a unique new language to reproduce the shades of meaning that we used to convey verbally. Our linguist Geoff Nunberg reflects on the new rules of language that he calls chat-speak.

42:00

Cave Diver Risks All To Explore Places 'Where Nobody Has Ever Been'

Underwater explorer and photographer Jill Heinerth has dived into unmapped caves deep in the earth, and beneath a giant iceberg. She's seen hidden creatures old as dinosaurs, and witnessed scenes of surreal beauty. Her work is so dangerous, over a hundred of her friends and colleagues have died in caves. She talks about the risks and rewards of her work.

There are more than 22,000 Fresh Air segments.

Let us help you find exactly what you want to hear.

Playing

Just play me something
Your Queue

Would you like to make a playlist based on your queue?

Generate & Share View/Edit Your Queue