Pontiac Descending or I Hit a House

Pontiac Descending or I Hit a House

It was the Age of Aquarius. I wasn’t getting a haircut as often and when I did I made sure the barber left my sideburns long.

I had a new pair of bell-bottom jeans (which my mom said made me look like a sailor – but what did she know?).  I also had a “new” car. I don’t remember how long I had this, my third vehicle, but it was long enough to get into trouble.  The first two, the aforementioned Desoto and the subsequent unmentioned two tone green Plymouth were stolid monsters. This third one was more of a boat – long and wide and despite that, I may say sleek.

It was a 1959 Pontiac Catalina, white outside with a red interior. And it had tail fins – twin twins, two on each side. With the tail lights strategically placed under them on the back panel, it gave the illusion of the glowing red engines of a rocket. And with a 389 under the hood it had plenty of power.

I was all set to go out on a date. My first. But I didn’t know where my date lived. She worked with me at the Renton Cinema behind the concession stand, and had given me her address. I just wasn’t sure that I had taken the right turn off of the main highway.

So what was I going to do? There were no cell phones in that day. No phone booths in sight. And I didn’t want to go all the way home to call. So I backed into the driveway of the first house I saw to ask for directions.

I walked down the driveway and over to the front door and knocked. The owner answered the door and my question. I indeed had the right street, I just needed to go further up the gravelled road and hang a right in the stand of trees at the top. The trouble came when I went back to my Pontiac.

I hadn’t noticed when I backed in that my car was resting on some loose earth on that side of the driveway. I was soon on my back clinging to the open door as my car rolled down the incline. It was a slow but inexorable procession, only stopping when the rear end struck the garage door of the house. And only then was I able to gain my feet. Quite shaken.

After another round with my insurance company, I was on my way. For the Pontiac was in no way impared. I was able to pick up my date, meet her mother, and head to downtown Seattle  – destination the Coliseum Theater, where we saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We both liked Paul Newman and Robert Redford, but she soon let it be known that she was not interested in me.

However, don’t cry for me. Soon after I would go out with another “candy” girl who was interested in me, and later became my wife. Instead consider the rest of the story and never wonder again why guys don’t like to stop and ask for directions.

The Adventures of Howard Kazanjian

Landing a Job as an A.D.

After a stint at the TV company Four Star Productions right out of college, Howard Kazanjian had the opportunity to settle in at WB for his trial period as an assistant director. Four Star, the TV firm begun by Dick Powell, Joel McCrea, David Niven and Charles Boyer had been a good training ground. In the three short months there, he had helped on the TV series Amos Burke – Secret Agent, Honey West, and the Big Valley. He even gained some experience working on a couple of pilots, one a western, a spin-off of the feature High Noon, and another one The Sea Wolves which showcased a submarine. Neither of them made it past the pilot stage.

With the move to WB, Howard continued to work in TV, on the series Mr Roberts and The F.B.I., before switching to feature films (see credits below). It was during this period that Howard worked on two musicals Camelot and Finian’s Rainbow. (Both of which I hope to touch on in future posts). With his assignment to Finian his trial period with the DGA was over and he was now a full fledged assistant director.

Then, word was out that Sam Peckinpah was looking for ADs for his next feature, The Wild Bunch, to be produced at Warners. The buzz about town was that another western was in the works. History had been made with the $400,000 sale of William Goldman’s script for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” to Fox. Peckinpah with his $100,000 script in hand wanted to beat it into production and onto the screens. (He did.)
Peckinpah’s normal practice was to give a candidate a copy of the script, then call him in to grill him on his read of the project. [Howard – “I never was interviewed regarding the script by Peckinpah. His team had overlooked me in the interview process, or perhaps thought I had been interviewed. WB was pushing for me to be on that show.”] So he never heard those words – “We’ll call you later.”

Instead he was sent for, but when he entered Peckinpah’s office suite it was anything but promising. The outer office was empty. A female voice called out from behind the closed door to the next room. ”Be right with you.”

Howard stood waiting.

When the woman popped her head out of the door to call him in, Howard could’t help but notice that she was not an office worker, but rather a nurse, her tell-tale cap giving that fact away. No sooner had he entered the room and the door closed, than she instructed him to pull down his pants. Right then and there out came an hypodermic and she injected its contents into Howard’s gluteus maximus.

Howard says his muscles must have tensed up automatically, and it was much more painful than it should have been. In fact, a rather large knot developed that stayed with him for the next month.

One plus though. He knew immediately that he had the job, and would soon be going south of the border, down Mexico way.

 

FOUR STAR
Amos Burke, Secret Agent
The Big Valley
The Smothers Brother Show – one week only
Honey West – one week only
Ace of the Mounties – Pilot
Sea Wolves – Pilot   (Submarine)
High Noon – Pilot

WARNER BROS
Mr. Roberts (TV)
The House of Wax – Pilot
The F.B.I. (TV)
Not With My Wife, You Don’t
An American Dream
The Cool Ones
Chubasco
Cool Hand Luke
Camelot
Finian’s Rainbow
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!
The Wild Bunch
Once You Kiss A Stranger
The Great Bank Robbery
The Arrangement