Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stephanie Rothman sets the record straight

I want to thank Chris Poggiali for letting me respond to the following text that appeared April 29, 2009 on this website:

“Any halfway decent interview with director Jack Hill will tell you that Dimension was started because of two separate disputes involving THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971), the hugely popular, trend setting women’s prison movie Hill made for New World. The first involved the production of the movie and was between Hill and New World in-house director Stephanie Rothman (THE STUDENT NURSES, THE VELVET VAMPIRE), whose husband, Charles S. Swartz, was New World’s head of production. The other was between Corman and Woolner over the distribution of the movie. This second dispute led Corman to buy out Woolner’s half of New World in late 1971. Rothman and Swartz, still smarting over the fight with Hill over who was going to direct THE BIG DOLL HOUSE left with Woolner and helped him set up Dimension Pictures…”

When I read this Jack Hill-centric version of why we left New World Pictures, I laughed. No, it was not all about Jack. Nor were we “still smarting” from a dispute with him. Charles and I left New World with Larry Woolner to start Dimension Pictures because Larry offered us a small percentage of the company and more money than we were paid at New World. In other words, we were offered a promotion.

Then there is the tiresome claim Jack has made through the years that I had a dispute with him about who would direct THE BIG DOLL HOUSE. This too is simply false.

Here is what happened. At the beginning of the summer of 1970, before Roger Corman left for Ireland to direct his own film VON RICHTHOFEN AND BROWN, he asked Charles and me to supervise New World Pictures’ production activities in his absence. He had just purchased James Gordon White’s screenplay of THE BIG DOLL HOUSE and he wanted us to get a new screenplay written while he was gone. The three of us - Roger, Charles, and I - discussed some new story ideas that would improve it. Since Jack Hill had brought the script to him, Roger suggested that Charles, New World’s story editor Frances Doel and I write a new story line with Jack, from which Jack could write a screenplay. However, he gave us the option of getting another writer if we could not agree with Jack on a new story.

When the three of us met with Jack, he rejected all of our story proposals and we concluded collaboration was not possible. We then plotted a new story line ourselves and with Roger’s approval hired a talented young writer named Don Spencer to write the screenplay.

According to Jack, I instigated all of this. I contacted Roger Corman in Ireland and told him to take Jack off the picture because I wanted to direct it. In fact, I never spoke to Roger while he was in Ireland, nor did we ever have such a conversation.

But when Roger returned from Ireland, he did ask me if I would be interested in directing THE BIG DOLL HOUSE and I told him I would not. While I appreciated his offer, it was not the kind of film I wanted to make.

That was the last I had to do with THE BIG DOLL HOUSE. Roger turned Don Spencer’s screenplay over to Jack and hired him to direct the film. I would like to conclude by saying that, even though my husband Charles has passed away, there are still witnesses alive today who know this is the truth: Roger Corman and Frances Doel.

In over forty years, I have seen Jack Hill only a few times and that was in the company of other people. The only time we spoke at length was in that discussion about THE BIG DOLL HOUSE in which Charles and Frances also participated.

Why do I even care, since it was so long ago and both Jack and I are such insignificant figures in the long and rich history of film? Because once information is put on the internet it stays there forever. I don’t know in how many interviews he has lied about me, and I may not find them all; but on occasions like this when I do, I will not let him defame me.

I am silent when criticisms of my films are made because everyone has a right to their opinion. But I will not be silent when my character is falsely attacked.

-- Stephanie Rothman, 7/27/2010

Click HERE to read Ms. Rothman's statement at AV Maniacs regarding STARHOPS and the RUBY reshoots.

(Above: Original Boxoffice ad for STARHOPS, before Ms. Rothman replaced her screenplay credit with the pseudonym "Dallas Meredith")


Robert said...

Fantastic to finally hear from Stephanie, and hopefully she will eventually share more insight into the making of her films. She brought wit and imagination to her films, and I only wish that she had made more.

Anonymous said...

I saw, Carhops as part of a dubble feature back in 1976. about 10 years later I saw it again on late night televison on one of the local independent stations.

in the late 1980s while channel surfing one Saturday morning, I cought the last 30 minutes of Starhops. the film was all beat up, scratchy, and the sound track skipped, and popped.

while thinking that I'll never see this film again, Carhops left me with a warm feeling as the three girl go their own ways, and that song that I can't seem to get out of my head.

Temple of Schlock said...

Anonymous - That's not the same CARHOPS. The one Stephanie Rothman wrote was rewritten and filmed as STARHOPS. The one you saw at the drive-in and later on TV is THE CARHOPS (1977), itself a reworking of KITTY CAN'T HELP IT (1974) with new scenes filmed about carhops.