Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001311, Mon, 16 Sep 1996 08:53:21 -0700

(Fwd) Schiff's Defense (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE. Below is a rerun of an item that commented on Stephen
Schiff's response to Brian Walter's comments on Lyne. Mr. Frick, who
appears to be associated with MGM, originally sent his comment to
Suellen Stringer-Hye who did the original Schiff interview that ran on

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date: Wed, 4 Sep 96 20:27:46 EDT
From: africkxs@counsel.com (Admin Frick S -- MGM/UA Inc - Santa Monica )
To: stringers@library.vanderbilt.edu
Subject: Schiff's Defense

Thank you for the clarifying remarks from Mr. Schiff. He is for
the most part persuasive (easily so, because the EW article was
written by a hack in typical Hollywood trade style) that there
need be no conspiracy to prevent the intelligent reception of the
new film. However, I must take exception with Mr. Schiff's
assertion that "there is no such thing as a succes de scandale in
the movies these days." The movies he cites to support his
statement were simply not scandalous. "Waterworld," which is
projected to turn a profit even in theatrical release (after
overseas ticket sales are tallied), earned more at the box office
because of the relentlessly bad press it received than it would
have had it opened to little fanfare and suffered from
word-of-mouth. People had to see it even though they knew it
would be bad. Here the scandal was the amount of money spent in
creating such a film. Not naked dancers, which are hardly
scandalous. Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" was a
succes de scandale (one whose essence was repeated by Joan
Osbourne with her dull millions-selling hit "What If God Was One
Of Us"). More recently, I think "Trainspotting" is a succes de
scandale. Elaborating on the human side of Christ or arguing
filmically that taking heroin produces a joyous sensation are
still scandalous things. And so is pedophilia. Mr. Schiff may
well have helped to make a wonderful film, but its success at the
box office and the amount of press it receives will be influenced
by the fact that "Lolita" is known to all those who have not read
the novel as a story about a pedophile.

Suellen Stringer-Hye
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
Vanderbilt University