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Guillermo del Toro on working with the great William Friedkin on his final movie

Guillermo del Toro gushes about working with the great William Friedkin on his final movie, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.

It’s always great to hear directors gush about their colleagues, and few do it with the same enthusiasm as Guillermo del Toro. While speaking with IndieWire, Guillermo del Toro spoke about the late William Friedkin and his experience serving as the backup director on The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Friedkin’s final movie.

He is an original,” Guillermo del Toro said of William Friedkin. “He blends the lessons of documentary with complex and precise technology and narrative prowess. Every decision he makes is infused with his idiosyncrasies, his personality. Look at the ending of ‘The French Connection’ — that final frame he holds, brutal, mercilessly elliptical — or the final minutes of ‘The Exorcist,’ how he lands the audience softly out of the experience but never loses the mystery. Then try and figure out the mastery in ‘Sorcerer’ or ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’

Before The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, it had been over a decade since William Friedkin’s last movie and Guillermo del Toro really wanted to see him direct again. “I told him that I would be honored to serve as an ‘insurance director,’ which means you are at hand by the director’s side and ready to step in if any emergency occurs — a policy required for directors over a certain age in order to be bonded and insured,” del Toro said. “I said as much hoping it would be an open invitation for Billy just in case he considered climbing back into the saddle.” His wish came true, and del Toro was on the set each day, learning all he could.

He said to me, “This [is] about the actors and the words — and I have to service that. This is a work by a Pulitzer Prize-winner and I am not gonna get in the way.” He knew he had a very limited budget and time and within that he demanded 100 percent, and he did so 100 percent of the time. He changed the sets down to the last possible minute and pushed his crew but always for a good reason: He would find a painting or a prop distracting and he wanted it out or changed.

Getting to watch a master at work was greatly rewarding for del Toro. “I went to set every day with a zest and a joy I had not felt since my youth,” del Toro said. “Like all great spiritual rewards, this happens only when you surrender to something greater than yourself. That was Billy.

Barney Greenwald, a skeptical lawyer, reluctantly defends an officer of the navy who took control of the Caine from its captain, Lt. Philip Francis Queeg (Kiefer Sutherland), while caught in a violent sea storm,” reads the official description of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. “As the court-martial proceeds, however, Greenwald increasingly questions if it was truly a mutiny or rather the courageous acts of a group of sailors who could not trust their unstable leader.” You can check out a review from our own Chris Bumbray right here.

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/guillermo-del-toro-william-friedkin-caine-mutiny-court-martial/

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