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No rest for the screenwriter


Meeting Audrey Hepburn
Frederic Raphael Writer
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So we loaded everybody into the car, and we drove back to Rome and rented a slightly bigger apartment in a slightly more... a suburb, actually, called Vigna Clara. It was a very nice flat, and I settled down to write Two for the Road, which I did on cards. I did every scene on a card, and then I cut the whole film together on the floor before I actually typed it all out, and that's pretty much what... the montage really never changed, and I eventually finished it and Beetle read it and I read it again, and I sent it off to Stanley Donen. And the phone rang latish one night and the voice said, 'Freddie?' and I said, yes. 'It's Stanley. Freddie, it's the greatest thing I ever read, and it will be the best movie I ever make. I would've called you halfway through, but I thought that would look stupid. So would you come back and talk about a couple of things?' So we loaded everybody in the car again and drove all the way back to London and Stanley put us up in an apartment in his... in his sort of duplex place in the Hyde Park Gardens, and what he wanted changed was almost nothing, so he said, 'I'm going to try and get Audrey to do it'.

Audrey [Hepburn]had actually been sent a little treatment and she said, I can't do this film because I've just done one which is rather like it, which has been a flop, and I'm sorry, but, you know... And Stanley said, 'Well, we're going to do it anyway'. So he said, 'I'm going to send Audrey the script'. So when I'd finished doing the changes he sent Audrey the script and I went back... we went back all the way back through France, eating quite well on the way to Rome. And the phone rang and Stanley said, 'Audrey says would we go to Bürgenstock and see her? She wants to do the movie'. So, there was a sort of... it was all utterly fantastic what was happening, because meanwhile they were shooting Darling, and that was going very well.

So Stanley said, 'If you're coming from Rome, would you go to a store in the Via Condotti? There's some jewellery that Adele would like you to bring'. So I thought, I'm going to get caught in smuggling £20,000 worth of stuff into... into Switzerland and it's all going to... all going to turn bad, so... actually, in the end, I don't think it happened. She didn't want the jewellery or whatever. Anyway, I flew to Geneva, Stanley met me, and we drove to Bürgenstock where she was living with her then husband Mel... what was his name? Yes, she was living with Mel Ferrer – not all that happily actually. I could tell, because when Mel came into the room when we were talking she said in a very strange voice, 'Here comes Melchior', and I thought, that doesn't sound quite right, but then I say here comes Beetle, and you may think that doesn't sound quite right, so what do we do then?

Anyway, Mel was, of course, a very conceited man. All he wanted to do was to show us the stills from the film that he was preparing about El Greco, and the only thing that Audrey said to me about the script was, 'I'm not going to say anything about the script because I don't want Frederic to be too pleased with himself'. Those were indeed the days.

Born in America in 1931, Frederic Raphael is a writer who moved to England as a boy. He was educated at Charterhouse School and was a Major Scholar in Classics at St John's College, Cambridge. His articles and book reviews appear in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times and The Sunday Times. He has published more than twenty novels, the best-known being the semi-autobiographical The Glittering Prizes (1976). In 1965 Raphael won an Oscar for the screenplay for the movie Darling, and two years later received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Two for the Road. In 1999, he published Eyes Wide Open, a memoir of his collaboration with the director Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's final movie. Raphael lives in France and England and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1964.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Two For the Road, Stanley Donen, Audrey Hepburn

Duration: 3 minutes, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2014

Date story went live: 10 September 2014