4 November 2007 | genet-1
Interesting stage in Christopher Isherwood's career
In his memoir CHRISTOPHER AND HIS KIND, Christopher Isherwood devotes an entire chapter to working with Viertel. Novelist Margaret Kennedy wrote an earlier screenplay, but Viertel didn't like it, or her, calling her 'a crocodile who wept once in her life a real tear.' Isherwood, who never saw the Kennedy script, though they are co-credited as writers, was suggested as a collaborator by Jean Ross, the real-life "Sally Bowles" of his Berlin stories (She demanded half his first week's salary in return.) Viertel wanted someone who spoke German, and was new to movies; "He needed an amateur, an innocent, a disciple, a victim," writes Isherwood. A professional would have made Viertel embarrassed at working on this piece of trivia, but he told Isherwood, 'I feel absolutely no shame before you; we are like two married men who meet in a whorehouse.' During production, Viertel used the fact that both could speak German to impress the crew, taking Isherwood into the corner and discussing finer points of the film in that language while the technicians looked on in awe. For all Viertel's contempt for LITTLE FRIEND, it was successful both financially and critically,described by the NEW YORK TIMES as "very close to being a masterpiece of its kind."