Freddie and movies …..
Only twice in the twelve years I knew Freddie did I ever accompany him to the cinema. The first film being ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark,’ which we saw in a movie theater in Manhattan. He was particularly amused when partway through the second half of the film; a fly crawls into the mouth of one of the actors (Freddie admired the work of the director, Steven Spielberg), a few rows in front of us, a man leapt to his feet and screamed, ‘A fly! That man jus’ ate that fly!’ Freddie was floored. He was in stitches of laughter.
The second movie we saw I should have realised was going to be a disaster. It was in Munich that a group of about ten of us including Barbara Valentin and Winnie Kirchberger went to see ‘Die Unendlicher Geshichte’ (The Never-ending Story, as it had been originally titled). The story had lasted approximately ten minutes when Freddie turned to me and said, “I’m getting out of here. This is ridiculous!”
Freddie never dreamt that even though he was seeing the film dubbed into German in Munich that it would at least not have English subtitles. I think he became extremely frustrated. Although he had a very rudimentary grasp of German, it upset him that there were obviously a good few jokes which he didn’t understand and he could see the rest of his friends laughing. Going to extremes, he might even have been a teensy bit paranoid, thinking that they might just have been laughing at him not understanding.
That apart, Freddie’s boredom threshold was so low that to sit in his seat for an hour-and-a-half watching something that bored him was an impossibility. There were very few things through which he sat all the way and, thus, he was always extremely particular about what he would go out in public to see. Generally it would only be to something where particular friends of his were involved, although on one or two occasions he specifically went to see something because he wanted to see it.
Films therefore he watched mainly on the television screen. He would never ask us to rent movies. He did have a few pre-recorded films and some which he specifically asked us to record for him from the television. Two of the most played were ‘Some Like It Hot’ and George Cukor’s ‘The Woman,’ a screenplay which he had almost memorised by heart. ‘Imitation Of Life’ with Lana Turner was a special favourite. He loved the title. Curiously apt for a man like Freddie whose own life was in so many ways merely a reflection of other people’s real lives. I can remember him on at least a couple of occasions being in tears at the end of the movie where Susan Kohner who played Juanita Moore’s errant daughter arrives too late for Juanita’s funeral and tries to jump on the white coffin in the horse-drawn carriage. Too much for a star in his own front room.
While Freddie was moved by this specific scene, he never lost sight of the fact that he was being successfully manipulated by the director and the writers.
‘An Intimate Memoir’ Freddie Mercury