The great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, the deceased half of the creative team on Steven Spielberg's film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, was famous for thinking outside the box. His genius, writ large via back-breaking hard work, more than anything else is what makes his films classic.

Kubrick's incredible personal work ethic often did little to endear him to his collaborators. He pushed himself and his actors and crew to—and often beyond—their limits. But he was a man, as well, of great good humor.

When he died in March of 1999, The New York Times published a collection of reminiscences by friends and enemies alike, compiled by film director and critic/historian Peter Bogdanovich.

Bogdanovich had interviewed Jerry Lewis, the American comedian-writer-director-producer-telethon host.

It seems Lewis was editing a film just down the hall from where Kubrick was sculpting 2001: A Space Odyssey. In recounting their meeting, Lewis went right to the heart of Kubrick's genius; as we like to say in the trade, he cut to the chase:

"He's in the cutting room and I'm watching this man investigate his work, and it was fascinating. He was intrigued with the fact that I did more than one thing. He was a very big fan of 'hyphenates.'

"I think he would have loved to have written 2001 without Arthur Clarke. But he did have a high regard for people who directed their own material.

"I was in my cutting room around 1 in the morning, and he strolls in smoking a cigarette and says, 'Can I watch?'
I said: 'Yeah, you can watch. You wanna see a Jew go down? Stand there.'

"That was the night I coined the expression, 'You cannot polish a turd.'

"And then Kubrick looked at me and said,

"'You can if you freeze it.'"

Thinking outside the box. An essential ingredient in the makeup of genius. And comedy.

What They Say About Stanley Kubrick, Peter Bogdanovich, 1999.

On Hollywood and filmmaking:

Below the Line

sex drugs and divorce

a little life, interrupted
  1. Hecho en Mejico
  2. Entrances
  3. Sam's Song
  4. Hemingway and Fortuna
  5. Hummingbird on the Left
  6. The Long and Drunken Afternoon
  7. Safe in the Lap of the Gods
  8. Quetzal Birds in Love
  9. Angela in Paradise
  10. And the machine ran backwards

a secondhand coffin
how to act
Right. Me and Herman Melville
Scylla and Charybdis Approximately
snowflakes and nylon

I could've kissed Orson Welles
the broken dreams of Orson Welles
the last time I saw Orson Welles
The Other Side of the Wind

Below the Line
completion bond
Film Editing
Film Editor
Final Cut Pro
forced development
HD Video
king of the queens
Kubrick polishes a turd
movies from space
Persistence of Vision
Sven Nykvist
Wilford Brimley

21 Grams
Andrei Rublyov
Apocalypse Now Redux
Ivan's Childhood
The Jazz Singer
The Sacrifice
We Were Soldiers
Wild Strawberries

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.