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Mr. Disney and Mr. Kubrick
Two men with very different ideas on making films - and money

LONDON - Except for the fact that they both happen to be making films about children, Mr. Walt Disney and Mr. Stanley Kubrick have little in common. The children about whom they are making their respective films have even less in common.

"Too violent"

Mr. Disney's child star, Hayley Mills, plays identical twins who bring their divorced parents together. Mr. Kubrick's child star, Sue Lyon, plays Lolita, an American schoolgirl of twelve who seduces a middle-aged man.

Mr. Disney and Mr. Kubrick clearly have somewhat different ideas of what constitutes entertainment. Mr. Kubrick said that he would not allow a daughter of his to see certain Walt Disney films because they contained an excessive amount of violence and brutality. On the other hand, he felt that any child who was too young to see Lolita wouldn't understand it, and any child who did understand it was, for this reason old enough to see the film.

"Only Reason"

Mr. Disney had some pretty sharp things to say about the current preoccupation with themes of a sexual nature. "It's kinda disgusting," he said. "If you can't find anything to say about people except sordid things you shouldn't make films. I always felt you ought to deal with the nice side of life. I mean all the stuff about incest in the home, well there's a lot of homes where that just doesn't exist. The reason these sort of films are made is that the people who make them figure they're gonna make some easy dough that way. That's the only reason they make them."

Mr. Kubrick said he wasn't interested in making money. He had been offered a million dollars plus 50 per cent of the profits to make Lolita for Warner Brothers, but he had turned down the offer because it would have meant handing over artistic control to a big Hollywood studio.

He wanted to make Lolita his way. He could prove that he was not primarily interested in making money: he had spent the first ten years of his career as a director not making any. He had received no salary for directing his two most highly praised films, The Killing and Paths of Glory. Instead, he had agreed to work for a percentage of the profits. As neither film has yet made a profit, Mr. Kubrick hasn't made any money.

At a Loss

"For the first ten years of my career" said Mr. Kubrick, "I only earned money for not directing films. I was paid to make a film for MGM that never got made. And I was paid in full by Marlon Brando to direct One Eyed Jacks, but we disagreed and I left. I started off by making short documentaries with my own money and I sold them at a loss."

Mr. Kubrick has, of course, been paid for directing his most recent film, Spartacus.

Mr. Disney who created Mickey Mouse, at just about the time when Mr. Kubrick was born, said he didn't have any money either. "All I have," he said "is in my studio. At present we own about 25 million dollars to different lending agencies. I've got about 7.000.000 dollars tied up in British productions alone and Disneyland represents an investment of around 33 million dollars. But I personally haven't got anything. We finally managed to pay off the mortgage on our home about a year ago. To me, making films is sort of an obligation. I have a studio to keep going. I have a staff of around 1500 people that I have to keep employed."

To Mr. Kubrick the cinema is not just an industry but also an art. "The reason I am making Lolita," he said, "is because I consider it to be a masterpiece. "It would be hypocrisy for me to pretend that I am unaware of the notoriety of the book, but I am not allowing that in any way to corrupt the intention behind the making of the film. I have absolutely no misgivings about it. I think it is a perfectly suitable subject of entertainment. It is a great love story."

Mr. Kubrick said he had not yet decided whether Lolita and her middle-aged lover would actually be seen kissing in the film. "We're thinking about that," he said.

Mr. Disney said he was sad to see that even his old friend, Alfred Hitchcock, had now begun to overplay sex in his films. "A film like Psycho I just wouldn't want to see. I don't see why Hitch makes stuff like that. Hitch don't need to. A while ago he wanted to shoot a sequence in my Amusement Park, Disneyland. I can imagine what he wanted to do. Have somebody pushed off one of my rides. I said no. I don't hold with that sort of thing. Same as when I was approached to let Hayley Mills, who's under contract to me, play Lolita. I wouldn't want her to see it, let alone play it."

If any conclusion can be drawn from all this it is that there are some films which are not fit for children to see and some that are only fit for children to see. On the whole, I prefer the former.

The Insider's Newsletter, December 1960

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