Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Michael Curtiz and some quotes


A few days ago I printed some Samuel Goldwyn-isms, commenting that not all attributed to him may actually be his,

Nonetheless it prompted an email from Byter Steve M: 
What a terrific Bytes today Otto, thank you, I really enjoyed the Samuel Goldwyn segment.
 I remember reading David Niven’s The Moon’s a Balloon... was it SG who said “Bring on the empty horses”? Steve M

It was actually Michael Curtiz who made the comment about the horses.

Image result for michael curtiz

Curtiz (1886 –1962) was born in Hungary and had directed 64 films in Europe when he was invited to Hollywood at age 39 in 1926.  Recognised as one of the most prolific directors in history, director of 102 films in Hollywood,  he was responsible for classic films from the silent era and numerous others during Hollywood's Golden Age up to the 1960’s. A demon for work, he spent little time to try to improve his command of English, giving rise to numerous anecdotes.

Here are some . .


On the set of Charge of the Light Brigade, when wanting riderless horses in the battle scene, Curtiz directed the wranglers to “Bring on the empty horses.”

Image result for michael curtiz flynn niven
 Flynn, Curtiz and Niven on the set of Charge of the Light Brogade

David Niven made the Curtiz-ism immortal by naming his autobiography “Bring On the Empty Horses”.


When Niven and Errol Flynn, the lead in Charge of the Light Brigade, heard Curtiz make the empty horses comment, they cracked up laughing. 

Curtiz responded with “You people, you think I know fuck nothing; I tell you: I know fuck all.”


By the way . . .

Errol Flynn in The Charge of the Light Brigade

Errol Flynn reported Michael Curtiz to the Humane Society for the mistreatment of horses on the set of Charge of the Light Brigade, including for use of a trip wire to make horses fall.

Yay for the Day for Errol.

Flynn on location for Charge of thge Light Brogade, Curtiz standing on far right


The following occurred when directing Casablanca and arranging a scene:

Curtiz:  Very nice, but I want a poodle.
Prop master: But you never asked for one.  We don’t have one.
Curtiz: Vell, get one.
Prop master:  What colour?
Curtiz:  Dark, you idiot, we’re not shooting in colour !
[A few minutes later. Curtiz is called out to see a standard poodle].
Curtiz:  What doe I want with the goddam dog?
Prop master: You said you wanted a poodle, Mr Curtiz.
Curtiz:  I vanted a poodle inn the street! A poodle.  A poodle of vater.

Image result for curtiz casablanca
 Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergnan and Micahel Curtiz on the set of Casablanca

Comment by Michael Curtiz when an assistant director failed to bring what he had been sent for:

“The next time I send a damn fool for something, I go myself.”


Warner jokers once hung signs on a Curtiz set reading “English Broken Here: and “Curtiz Spoken Here.”


Some other Curtiz-isms . . . 

“The scenario isn’t the exact truth, but we have the facts to prove it.”

“It’s dull from beginning to end, but it’s loaded with entertainment.”

“Don’t talk to me while I’m interrupting.”

A final note . . . .

While Curtiz himself had escaped Europe before the rise of Nazism, other members of his family were not as lucky. He once asked Jack Warner, who was going to Budapest in 1938, to contact his family and help them get exit visas. 

Warner succeeded in getting Curtiz's mother to the U.S., where she spent the rest of her life living with her son. However, he could not rescue Curtiz's only sister, her husband, or their three children, who were sent to Auschwitz, where her husband and two of the children died.

Jack Warner and Hal Wallis plan Captain Blood, Michael Curtiz (centre) looks on

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