LEGENDARY EDITS 3: ARTSY’S CRAFT

by EDWARD PETRENKO

This installment of Legendary Edits focuses on the work of Arthur “Artsy” Farber, one of the most controversial romantic comedy directors of all time. Trained as an editor, Artsy had a fine eye for what could use improving, and by the time he took command of the director’s chair and speaky-horn, this keen eye relentlessly reappraised everything on set. Artsy would constantly demand actresses’ hairstyles be changed, backgrounds’ drapes be re-hung, lights’ filters changed then changed back, and most of all, scripts be rewritten. Often he would rewrite them himself, crafting unforgettable bits of movie history from what were once run-of-the-mill scenes. One of his greatest edits came early in his career, in the production of 1966’s Jeepers, I Love You, where he took an exchange between Annette Funicello and Burt Lancaster from scoffo to boffo with this visionary edit:

ORIGINAL

Daisy: Don’t you love me like I love you, Frankula?

Frank: Yes, I do, my love, but I have a horrible secret!

Daisy: Oh, tell me, I love secrets!

Frank: I’m not really Count Frankula! (removes fangs) I’m Frank, your dorky neighbour.

Daisy: Jeepers, I still love you!

Artsy felt the scene lacked “energy… or maybe gravity”, and it wasn’t long before a scientifically superior scene emerged from the pen of this genius:

EDIT

Daisy: Don’t you love me like I love you, Frankula?

Frank: Yes, I do, my love, but I have a horrible secret! (farts)

Daisy: Oh, tell me, I love secrets!

Frank: I’m not really Count Frankula! (removes fangs, farts) I’m Frank, your dorky neighbour. (farts louder)

Daisy: Jeepers, I still love you!

They say that you can ask any actor who worked with Artsy and get a different response as to whether he was a genius or a fraud. Burt Lancaster swore on the last day of filming Jeepers to never set foot on Artsy’s set again, yet Annette Funicello came back for an astonishing four sequels, as well as a small role in his best-known production, 1971’s The Tempest (Of Farts). Reimagining Shakespeare’s play as a romantic comedy set in his own backyard, Artsy flexed all his Hollywood muscle to bring together his most dynamic cast.

Said Garry Marshall of his role as Caliban and associate editor, “I think what amazed me most about myself working under Artsy was how much I grew. Any other actor working for any other director, I think, would simply have read the lines, and gone to Sardi’s, or whatever. But we weren’t made of money. We were made of edits. We turned that dusty old play into something magical.”

Magic wasn’t the only thing in the air in the film, as Artsy’s backyard became a strange place where ill-timed farts threatened a burgeoning love between two fellow castaways: a young Kirstie Alley and an aging Elvis Presley. Their love cruise wrecked by a tremendous “magic fart / wherein doth toss twin throbbing heart”, the couple must learn to survive as a couple, and as shipwrecked individuals in the backyard of Prospero, portrayed by Bunny “Plan 9” Breckinridge. Breckinridge would deliver what is undoubtedly the finest edit of Artsy’s career, his mammoth reworking of Prospero’s famed speech, in which Prospero’s “druidic fartisanry” begins to fail him and his world grinds to a standstill:

Our revels now are ended (starts to fart, but doesn’t). These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all (screaming) g-g-g-ghosts!, and
Are passed (farts, winks at camera) into air, into thin air (farts gently);
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision (begin rolling credits),
The cloud-capped towers (farts it to the left), the gorgeous palaces (farts it to the right),
The solemn temples (farts it up and down), the great globe itself (farts it out of sight),
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve;
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded (cue Rock & Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter)),
Leave not a rack behind (female extra shows big boobs). We are such stuff
As dreams are made on (dodges thrown pie), and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. (farts with the passion of a dying way of life)

Many film experts, most vocally P. Adams Sitney of Princeton University, believe the lack of awards that marks Artsy’s off-set life is due to the sheer idiocy of those Academy members who don’t get it, and the sheer jealousy of those who do. “Farber has, like the supernovae and Serengeti floodwaters before him, breathed glorious new life into dying worlds of the kinematikon through his flatulal gesamtkunstrewerk-ing of filmically exhausted topics like love and Shakespeare. Had my left lung not collapsed from sheer amazement at Love Bus 2: Next Stop, Marriage, it would surely be expelling air right now in the singing of his praises, and cursing his petty rivals.”

With his liver-failure death projected for 2008 release, it is uncertain whether or not Artsy will have time to finish his final project: a computer-generated children’s romantic comedy about two anthropomorphic hearts who fall in love, and the ornery liver who gets in their way. But what is certain is that with a legacy including 36 romantic comedies and over 14,000 script changes, Artsy will be making us laugh, cry, and just maybe, by accident, fart for some time yet.

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One response to “LEGENDARY EDITS 3: ARTSY’S CRAFT

  1. I laughed so hard that this chair squeaked. I swear. Never buy vinyl.

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