Broadway By Light / William Klein / 1958
I did this book on New York: black-and-white, grungy photographs. People said, “What a put-down–New York is not like that. New York is a million things, and you just see the seamy side.” So I thought I would do a film showing how seamy New York was, but intellectually, by doing a thing on electric-light signs. How beautiful they are, and what an obsessive, brainwashing message they carry. And everybody is so thankful for this super spectacle. Anyway, I think it’s the first Pop film. ➡︎
It was Resnais who said to me, “Now you’ve done a book, you must do films.” There were people in my family who were very hot lawyers and United Artists was their client; they were smart enough to take over United Artists. I did this first film and I wanted my cousin at UA to run it as a short before the feature, and they said, “If we show it, people will leave and they won’t see the feature!” The film was very far from the book, but it was the same subject, more or less. I rented a camera and just filmed what I saw. The idea was to use these commercials in Times Square as readymades, like Marcel Duchamp.
With Marker and Resnais, what happened was they had introduced me to this producer Anatole Dauman [of Argos Films], who had done films with both of them, and I showed him the rushes and he said, “I’ll pay for the post-production, the editing and the music.” Dauman made his films with the help of the [French] government and he had to have French technicians, and so on my film he had Chris Marker and Alain Resnais. But Alain never saw the rushes; he saw the rough cut. Still, he became ‘technical adviser’! Chris wrote those few lines, which were typical French intellectual bullshit, you know?
I was coming back from New York and on the quay I saw this big figure: Orson Welles, with a cigar and an attaché case – no luggage. And I said, “Listen, I did a film. You’re going to take the boat – can I show it to you?” And he said, “Sure.” I showed it to him in the cinema on the boat and he said that: this film couldn’t have been made without colour. Which was true! ➡︎
◼︎ “I’m Disillusioned All the Time”: William Klein on His Legendary Film Career / Steve Macfarlane / Hyperallergic / 2018