I have made four movies in Israel one of them was with John Wayne, Yul Brynner, and Frank Sinatra Israel was never the same – My Blog
Hello Mr. Douglas. Is that a tape recorder? I’malways amazed how these tape recorders get smaller and smaller.
It’s digital, so there’s no tape, just a chip. Before Iget carried away asking questions, let me find out what you areworking on. I am just polishing up my ninth book, whichwill come out in December, when I am 90. The title is Let’s FaceIt. There are so many things in life that we must face. I dedicatethe book to my seven grandchildren. I am concerned that the worldis in a mess. How are our children going to deal with all theproblems we have given them? That’s what the book is about. It’salso got a lot of humor in it, because I feel that you can’t facethe hard problems in life without a sense of humor.
Your books are inspiring to people who have sufferedsome of the things you have written about — a serious accident, astroke. Have you gotten a lot of response from them? Oh
yes. My book about my stroke — so many people have written to methat the book has helped them, or their relative. I got a call fromLucy Baines Johnson. She was reading the book to Lady Bird, who was
finding it very helpful. I sent it to Lady Bird with theinscription, “You’re a big girl now — you should have your ownbook.”The books help people to feel that no matter whathappens to them, they are not alone. Is that something you set outto do? I have been aiming for that for a long time, evensince before I became an author. A movie is made to help people.Movies exist to take you out of your life for a few hours while youidentify with the people on screen. That is a very therapeuticthing. To make someone laugh, that’s a wonderful gift.
I am going to ask you a couple of serious question, thenone that is more fun. First, today Israel is at war with Hezbollah.I know that this must concern you. Do you have any thoughts on thefate of Israel? Oh yes, I have great feeling for Israel,and I have been there many times. I have made four movies inIsrael. One of them was with John Wayne, Yul Brynner, and FrankSinatra. Israel was never the same. These statues [points to hisgarden] are by an Israeli artist.
The thing about Israel is it’s such a small piece of land. It’sthe size of Maryland, and think of the impact it has had. I havelots of friends in Israel, and I’ve met [former Prime MinisterAriel] Sharon when he was mayor of Jerusalem. But when you look atthe map, Israel is surrounded. [He lists all the neighboringcountries.] All enemies. You can’t believe it still exists.
They say if the Arab countries put down their weapons, therewould be no war. If Israel put down its weapons, there would be noIsrael. It’s almost shameful that in our life now we have peoplekilling people and most of it is in the name of religion. I thinkthat is horrible. When I look at the blue sky, I know there is agod. What must he think of these people killing one another?
Down at the Getty Center in Brentwood [Los Angeles] theyare opening a replica of a Greek theater to stage Greek tragedies.Is the connection between drama and democracy that was establishedby the Greeks alive today? Of course! Movies help us to bebetter citizens. I have never met a good actor who was notintelligent, or who did not have other talents — writing orpainting. Frank Sinatra was a good painter. Anthony Quinn was withme on Lust for Life and he made me some beautiful cuff links thatmy son who lives here stole.
Lots of people at magazines make their living knocking actors.If they have a marriage and a quick divorce, that’s news, but whenI celebrate my 50th anniversary, that’s not.
My son Michael made a documentary in the Sierra Leone withchildren who are suffering. Most of them were 11, 12, or 13 yearsold. And what they have been through! It made me cry. One kid wasvery sad. He had lost his mother, and Michael started singing, “Ilove you a bushel and a peck,” and he smiled. Michael got an awardfrom the UN for that film. He has done so much — given awaymillions of dollars. A million and a half to the Katrina fundalone. As far as that goes, I am proud of my son and of the peoplein my industry.
I received the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1981, and foryears I traveled the world for this country, mostly just telling myown story, about an immigrant who came to this country from Russiato give me, his son, a better chance. That’s what’s reallyAmerican, to give everyone a better chance.
Here’s a hypothetical question. You have a big lovescene coming up, and you are cast opposite the contemporary femalestar of your choice. Who would that be, and why? Hmm. Ilike thinking about this question. A female star from contemporaryHollywood? I will say Angelina Jolie, because I know she’s a goodperson. I know her father and he is a great man. He’s done so muchfor other people, so I know that she has that in her genes. Andshe’s so sexy. I am back on the open market to be her leading man.I don’t even need to see the script. I’ll do it.
Last question. My favorite, and I know one of yours, isa movie called Lonely Are the Brave. What made that one sospecial? It’s my favorite of all my films. At one time,they were going to call it The Last Cowboy. I guess I love itbecause I was the hero, and for once I was the good guy. (Laughs.)That picture is great because it is so simple. He loves the horse.He has got people coming after him, but he can’t leave the horse.It’s beautiful.