Hell’s Bells

19 Apr

Years ago we attended an event at a midwestern university where Robert Altman spoke.  This was around the time that his film “Three Women” was released, and the evening was to include a screening of the film. Alas, it was not to be; those who held the purse strings decreed that only one reel could be shown.  Altman declared the reel ‘a cheat’ as it was not the work in its entirety. During a question-and-answer session, a young man approached the microphone and asked the director about a film entitled “The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling.”  We had never heard of the picture.  Altman explained that this was a film for which he had done the preliminary work. Before shooting began, the project had been yanked out from under him.  Those who had done the yanking apparently regretted their decision, as they subsequently approached him and asked him to direct the film after all.  Altman turned them down.

We don’t know if the picture was ever made by someone else (we tend to doubt it.)  Nevertheless, it’s a slice of cinema history (or non-history as the case may be) and we were there. There are other things we could tell you about that evening (At one point, Altman declared “Hollywood is just a sign on a hill.”) but we’re lazy. Perhaps we’ll put them in another post, if you’re at all interested.

"Hollywood is just a sign on a hill."

“Hollywood is just a sign on a hill.”

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