Richard Koszarski’s The Man YounLoved to Hate is a study of what can benconsidered, in ordinary respects, ansemimadman. Von Stroheim, flying innthe face of studio czars including IrvingnThalberg, made films that werenthousands of feet longer than werenacceptable for almost any theaters—nthen or now, A thoroughgoing believernin naturalism, von Stroheim creatednpainstakingly real sets, virtually authenticnenvironments. Since he couldn’tncontrol the other element of thennaturalist equation, heredity, withnregard to his actors, he often abusednthem—sometimes physically—so thatnthey could cry, laugh, suffer, and generally/ee/nin the ways he thought proper.nHis excesses are obvious. To film what isnconsidered his masterpiece. Greedn( 1924), for example, von Stroheimnbrought the cast and crew to DeathnValley in the middle of the summer,nwhere the temperatures were well overn100°F. One of the main actors is quotednas remembering: “Out of 41 men, 14 fellnill and had to be sent back. When thenpicture was finished I had lost 27 poundsnand was ill in hospital, delirious withnfever.” Von Stroheim didn’t have to go tonsuch extremes for technical reasons, asndesert backlots were available. Hisnartistic requirements, however, couldnbe sated no other way. His commitmentnis unquestionable; that he had any realnimagination is dubious.nVon Stroheim, although an unusualnfigure in the history of film, is in no waynunique. For example, Eleanor Coppola’snNotes (Simon & Schuster; New York;n1979), Francis Ford Coppola’s wife’snview of the making oi Apocalypse Now,n-yim^m^mmmim^mnChronicles of Culturenwhich is certainly more an impressionisticnfilm than naturalistic one, is a tale fullnof personal suffering—physical, emotional,nspiritual—^willingly undertakennfor the sake of creating not merely an”movie,” but a work of “art.” FrancisnCoppola is a technically accomplishedndirector who could quite easily cranknout works like spaghetti from a pastanmachine, but he has consistently workednto create something that’s a cut above.nVon Stroheim often found himselfnfinancially beset as a result of his ownnexcessive requirements; the bankruptcynsituation surrounding Zoetrope StudiosnHacking in HollywoodnThe Lonely Guy; Directed by ArthurnHiller; Based on a novel by Bruce JaynFriedman; Adapted by Neil Simon;nScreenplay by Ed Weinberger andnStan Daniels; Universal.nWhen movies learned to talk, theirnneed for men and women who hadnlearned how to write was insatiable.nDuring the 1920’s and 30’s there was ansecond gold rush, as those scratching outna living in New York chucked it all andnheaded off to the land where the sun wasnbright and the contracts were fat. It’snhard to find a writer who made a careernfor him or herself in that period whondidn’t work for one mogul or another or,ngiven the temperaments of writers andnproducers, more than one mogul. Whilenit is fairly easy to conceive of a Fitzgeraldnworking in Hollywood—given both thennature of his novels and stories and thenaffluent style of living that he madenhimself accustomed to—it’s hard tonpicture a would-be Nobel laureatentoiling among the sound stages. Butnnnis well known.nSince von Stroheim’s works have beennsliced, diced, and riced, an assessment ofnthem can only be a tentative one. Hisncontribution to the film industry hasnprobably been slight, given the feet thatnit has become an industry and not annatelier. The broader question of thenfilmmaker as artist remains. Coppola,nSpielberg, Lucas, Scorsese—are theynmore than story-telling technicians? Thenanswer today, by general consensus,nwould probably be no: general releasesnaren’t thought to be art; art films are onlynseen by a few. However, given thendecline of literacy in this country and thencrumbling of literary standards, perhapsnthe now-aborning generation of videotronsnwill look back some years hencenand see film as art and literature asnartifact. Being directed by von Stroheimnwas probably less discomforting thannthat prospect. ( SM ) DnFaulkner was no exception. While thenworking conditions would have to bensomewhat different, it is possible tonimagine a Humboldt’s Gift or a Dean’snDecember being scripted by their au thornfor a celluloid fling. Perhaps Faulkner isnreally a secret rule, one that is dreamednabout by those writers who have achievednlife on a higher plane of existence.nThe demand for properties that werenfirst found between hard covers droppednoff a bit, but lately Hollywood seems tonbe sending out the message that if thenplot has seen ink, then it’s ready to rollnthe cameras. Consider: Terms of Endearment,nGorky Park, Yentl, and on and onnand on. These works simply prove thatnthose who have not learned to readnnovels inhabit a very restricted universe:nit’s not that all of the original pieces arenso good, just that the movies are, innthemselves, so revolting. One of thenlatest to be added to the pile of cinematicnfertilizer is based on marshmallowweightnnovelist Bruce Jay Friedman’snThe Lonely Guy’s Book of Life.- Arthurn