A fly-on-the-wall view of the movie business as conducted by a highly eccentric director.
Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was not much interested in understanding the details of modern life; he didn’t do his own shopping, sent others on errands, had artisans make him storage boxes and shirts, and knew nothing about how to fix such things as a printer without toner or a crashing computer. “It’s true,” writes D’Alessandro, Kubrick’s former personal assistant. “Stanley knew absolutely nothing about these frustrations, but it wasn’t a question of class. It’s because all he had to do was call Emilio.” An Italian expatriate in England at the turn of the 1970s, the author opens with the story of him turning down a job offer from John Wayne only to go to work for a rather helpless Kubrick in the uncertain business of moviemaking. His duties grew proportionally, and soon, by D’Alessandro’s account, he was part of the director’s daily routine. Indeed, the author is not shy of taking credit where Kubrick did not specifically give it to him for such things as suggesting the incidental music (“an orchestral piece featuring a French horn, an instrument that I had always liked a lot”) for The Shining and chasing down camera equipment that figured in Kubrick’s still and film photography. D’Alessandro is matter-of-fact and not boastful about these contributions. Just as much of his work involves negotiating a diplomatically delicate middle path between Kubrick and his wife, Christiane, in endless arguments over what to acquire and what to throw out, a case in point being “thousands of beeswax candles” specially made for Barry Lyndon. The book is funny and casual throughout. Of special interest are D’Alessandro’s set notes, revealing, for example, that the cat lady room in Clockwork Orange figured two decades later in Eyes Wide Shut.
As good an insider’s view of middle- to late-period Kubrick as there is.