Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fuck nothing

David Niven was an actor who typically played a certain kind of louche, upper-class womaniser. Which is what he was in real life. He had also been to Sandhurst and during the Second World War he served in the army, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Commandos. He took part in the Normandy landings.

He appeared in several of the Pink Panther films and even won an Academy Award in another of his film roles. But I think he's probably best remembered for his two volumes of autobiography, The Moon's A Balloon and Bring On The Empty Horses. Both books are hugely entertaining, even though it subsequently turned out that not all the anecdotes they contained were strictly true. Some, it seems, were second hand and others apparently embroidered.

My favourite story in Bring On The Empty Horses concerns Michael Curtiz, the Hungarian-born director of Casablanca. Curtiz, whose grasp of English was less than perfect, was an irascible bully, a veritable tyrant on the film set. One day, annoyed at some minor critical comment of Niven's about his directing, he turned on the actor in front of the assembled cast and roared, "You think you know fuck everything and I know fuck nothing. Well, I tell you, I know fuck all!"

I do hope this particular story is true and even if it isn't it still makes me laugh.


  1. Funny story--there seem to be a lot from Hollywood. At industry websites where a lot of professional screenwriters, producers, and so on hang out, people sometimes post up-to-the-minute inside scoops.

    I love Niven in Death on the Nile--but then I love everyone in that movie!

  2. Hi Fran,

    Yes, Hollywood was - is - full of characters. Quite a few good books about them too. I must get round to reading - and listing - them some time.

  3. Oops! I've just realised you're THAT Fran! Okay, okay, let me get my apologies in first! Just in case you're in a bad mood again. You're not, are you?

  4. lol Nope, I'm okay again today....