Stanley Kubrick: Five legendary stories of the filmmaker 'with the black eyes'

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In his early years, Kubrick sold photographs to Look magazine and worked on documentaries before his first feature film, 1953’s Fear and Desire, about a fictional war in which a group of soldiers gets stuck behind enemy lines.

It co-starred a young Paul Mazursky, who would go on to become a well-regarded director in his own right with Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and Enemies: A Love Story.

Asked by McDowell if he thought Kubrick was “a genius” even in their mid-20s, Mazursky replied: “No, no, no … I thought he was a crazy guy with black eyes.”

McDowell said Kubrick reportedly raised money for Fear and Desire by hustling chess games in Central Park, but it turns out that wasn’t quite enough financing to finish the project.

“The movie cost $20,000, but he needed an extra week. He needed another $5,000,” Mazursky, now 82, told the crowd. They were outside Los Angeles, shooting at a Boy Scout camp in the San Gabriel mountains, when young Kubrick packed up his actors and drove back to town to pressure a pharmacist uncle into giving him the money.

“When we drove down the hill, he got so determined — ‘I’m going to get the five. I’m getting the five thousand’ — that he spat on the windshield. That kind of determination I’ve never seen,” Mazursky said. “I realized if I wanted to get anywhere in Hollywood, I’m going to have to spit my way through!”

Kubrick finished the film, but despite that drive to complete it, he later considered it an embarrassment and succeeded in having it pulled from circulation. For years, it was only available as a rough bootleg — although it was recently re-released.

“Stanley tried to have the negative burned. He hated the movie. Hated it,” Mazursky said. “Little did he know … how much we all hated it.’”

NEXT PAGE: The awkward tale of A Clockwork Orange’s closing sex scene

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