Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: The Village Green
Roger Ebert interviews James Coburn (from 1980)
Back in 1980, Roger Ebert had a sit-down with the late James Coburn. Here's a snippet from the interview...it's quite interesting.
In the 1960s, that decade when the generation under 30 seemed drenched in euphoria, Coburn's grin hinted that he was . . . well, always stoned. Now it is 1980, and the grin still hints at the same thing. James Coburn is not, however, always stoned. He just looks that way; it's part of his image.
Coburn's most famous role was, of course, our man Flint, and he said he's getting a little tired of people still coming to him after all these years with jokes involving trick cigarette lighters. The Flint films came after some early-1960s supporting roles in movies like "The Magnificent Seven," where he had no dialogue but an unforgettable bit with a knife, and "The Great Escape." Flint made Coburn into a world star: "In Marrakech, little kids were coming up to me in the casbah, asking me where my harem was."
But Coburn's own favorite movies, he said, were made by his favorite director, Sam Peckinpah, who used him for the first time in "Major Dundee"--a 1965 Western that was not widely seen at the time, but has become, in retrospect, one of Peckinpah's masterpieces. He used him again in "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973), a revisionist version of Western history, and in "Cross of Iron" (1977), a war movie made under great difficulty in Yugoslavia, and released to a puzzled critical reception.
From the Yugoslavian experience, however, comes Coburn's favorite story about Peckinpah: "Sam would simply hole up on the weekends with a whiskey bottle. So we went to him and said, 'Come, on, Sam! We're only a few hours' drive from Venice. Let's go look at the gondolas.' Sam came along. But when he got to his hotel in Venice, he went straight upstairs and stayed there. The next day, in the lobby of the hotel, I ran into Federico Fellini. I told him Sam was upstairs. Fellini insisted on being taken to meet him. He said Peckinpah was one of his favorite directors.
"So, we went upstairs. I knocked on Sam's door. Sam growled, 'Who is it?' I said it was me. He said to come in. We walked in, He was lying stark naked on top of his bed with a bottle in his hand. 'Sam,' I said, 'I'd like you to meet Federico Fellini.' Sam opened his eyes, sat straight up in bed, said, 'Thank you so very much for giving us all those wonderful films,' and fell back on the bed again, And that was the historic meeting of two great directors."