(Sorry to post this twice; the first version had a few typos.)From an interview I did with co-writer Jeff Lieberman for Ultra Violent Magazine (published in issue # 5; 2003):BH: You next co-wrote the script to Blade (1973), a French Connection-like drama. JL: That was with Ernie Pintoff, who won an Academy Award for a short called The Critic. He actually just died a little while back. I was in contact with him on and off over the years, but we got really close working together. Anyway, he was the reason I got into writing. Ernie taught screenwriting at the School of Visual Arts for a very short period and caught me when I didn't know what I wanted to do. I don't think I wrote more than one thing for him, but he singled me out because it was something he wanted to read to the class. He basically told me I could write and actually had me write something on spec with him. He was the one responsible for the movie Bullet, even though his name's not on it. He optioned the paperback 'Mute Witness' that it's based on and cut a really good deal for himself, making millions. It was a whole thing where he wanted to direct, but when Steve McQueen got involved, he didn't want Ernie, he wanted Peter Yates. Since the film made everyone a lot of money, Ernie wanted to do something McQueen-esque. So he said to me, "Bullet = Blade." Basically he wanted to write a low budget thing that he would direct and I would produce. Halfway through the script I told him I just wasn't into it. I said, "Ernie, we're two middle-class Jewish guys that not only have never been arrested, but the only time I've talked to a cop is to ask for directions!" It was all so fake. We were imitating really bad T.V. shows and writing the kind of cop dialogue they have all the time. I actually wanted my name pulled off the script. I was too young to know any better. I wasn't thinking in terms of, "Well, it's a credit," or anything like that. He got really pissed off at me over the whole thing. After that I went to work for Janus Films. They were primarily distributing 16mm classic films and wanted me there to expand the company and exploit the titles. That's where The Art of Film series came from.
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