In his 1992 autobiography Flying Through the Seat of My Pants low-budget movie mogul Samuel Z. Arkoff wrote, “Thou shall not put too much money into any one picture. And with the money you do spend, put it on the screen; don’t waste it on the egos of actors or on nonsense that might appeal to some highbrow critics.”
Of my session with Mr. Arkoff at the Hotel Vancouver in May of 1991 I remember next to nothing except that he knew how to pose and I was not bothered by his cigar. At the time I smoked them. Arkoff and I compared notes on the differences between Montecristos and H. Upmanns. I favoured the former and he was smoking the latter.
Of the 463 films he made I only saw one, Machine Gun Kelly with Charles Bronson. The reason for this apparent anomaly is that I had inherited from my mother a taste for films with good (and expensive!) actors. Joseph Cotten and Samuel Arkoff probably never met or worked in the same circles.
I was never a lover of B-movies unless they were Westerns (Colt .45 with Randolph Scott) or science fiction (This Island Earth). The first “horror” film I ever saw and one of my last, I saw with my father around 1951. It was Abbot and Costello Meet Frankestein. I was scared to death by the sudden appearance of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.
This South American who until now has never been able to stand Hollywood musicals (How can it be that perfectly sane actors suddenly begin to sing to each other?) is suddenly enjoying a few. And most recently I went to listen to Stephen Sondheim talk about his plays were actors do just that, sing and talk. Perhaps Mr. Arkoff and I have some catching up. There are those 462 films I have not seen. There is one that I will never see that Mr. Arkoff never made. The film that was never made would have featured two naturals, two anesthetists, Tony and Igor. Arkoff’s film would have been called Going Under.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.