Freebie and the Bean (1974) – The Daily Movie Wallpaper – First Day of Shooting & Kovacs King Kong Moment

Richard Rush and Alan Arkin and James Caan and Laszlo Kovacs on the set of Freebie and the Bean 1974

The Daily Movie Wallpaper
Thursday, December 24, 2009


This rare behind the scenes image is a continuation from the still from yesterday (here) with an additional press release going over this crazy shooting of its first day of shooting and Kovacs King Kong moment (posted below). I hope that these two days in a row of rare Laszlo Kovacs stills and Richard Rush cinema and from the great underrated Freebie and the Bean serve to put you in the Happy Holidays spirit! Note that Freebie and the Bean is available on home video from the Warner Bros. Archives (here).


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was one disadvantage in getting the reality producer-director Richard Rush (foreground) wanted for scenes in Warner Bros.’Freebie and the Bean.” Following Rush are co-stars Alan Arkin and James Caan. Cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs is at right. Screenplay for the outrageous action comedy by Robert Kaufman from a story by Floyd Mutrux.
Warner Bros. Studio (Press Release)
Every good film ought to have an auspicious beginning, preferably one which does not threaten the survival of the stars. Warner Bros.’Freebie and the Bean,” produced and directed by Richard Rush and starring Alan Arkin and James Caan, had one which made duck soup of the most hairbreadth action which was to follow.
Selected for the first day’s shooting was a scene atop a 66-story skyscraper under construction in San Francisco. Another day and crews would begin placing the facing on the massive skeleton. It was that day or never. The moviemakers were to wish that they had given greater consideration to the latter alternative.
The scene called for police investigators Arkin and Caan to rise to the top of the building in an elevator outside the building, then to interrogate an informer on top of a crane swinging out over the city, 65 stories above the ground.
The stepped onto the platform which was enclosed by thin wire mesh and began their ascent. Director Rush did not know then a small detail which would make the journey fraught with danger. He did not guess until he called out the word, “Action!
Suddenly I heard a series of incoherent murmurings, mumbles and squawks coming from Jimmy, who has a severe case of acrophobia. He can step off a curb and suddenly have to reach for support in his dizziness. I mean, he’s a tough guy and athletic guy, rides broncos, though I’ve no idea how he gets up on them,” Rush recalls.
We managed to get Jimmy’s hand unclutched from the wire mesh and rewoven in a clutch at a lower level, out of camera range. We were filming sections of the scene on the way up. I was totally wrapped up in the scene. Unfortunately, so was the operator, a congenial 75-year-old man huddled on the floor with his hand on the control button and his mind on the wonderful new world of show business.
We overshot the 65th floor and came to a jolting stop somewhere around 66-and-a-half and jammed there, suspended in space with the rain pouring down and the high winds and the cable partially off its track. Arkin and the acrophobiac were just finishing their lines.
To accommodate the crew members who were huddling in that over-sized bucket along with cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs and a Panavision camera, the safety ladder had been removed. The ancient operator suddenly sprang to life, crawling up the inside of the wire cage like King Kong, balancing atop the elevator and banging on the cable with a ball peen hammer.
The tune he was playing was ‘Abandon Ship!’ I swung open the cage door and jumped to the 65th floor,” explains Rush, “extending an arm to help Arkin and Caan. The entire crew followed.
Not a word was spoken. As they found a skeletal staircase and walked 65 stories down to the street, where they were greeted by the waiting operator, ball peen hammer still in his hand. They continued without a look at each toward the dressing rooms, to their cars and back to the hotel. Despite the problems, enough of the sequence remained on film to edit. Shooting was over for the day.

Image Source:
Official still that was used in the original US release of the film.


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