|Terry Southern, photographed by Stanley Kubrick|
From the introduction by Nile Southern, son of author Terry Southern...
This is really the story of two killings.
In the summer of ’62, my father received a fateful assignment from Esquire to interview Stanley Kubrick whose film Lolita was about to be released. Terry admired Paths of Glory, The Killing, and Spartacus and, despite the list of canned (mostly trivial) questions from Esquire, engaged Kubrick in a provocative discussion about film, literature, and eroticism. After submitting the piece through his agent, it was clear Esquire wanted something more “gossipy” on Kubrick. … As the interview languished at Esquire, Terry began working on the screenplay for Dr. Strangelove, and in 1963 asked Esquire if he could do a piece on the movie.Incorporating bits of the squelched interview, he found the time to write the article during filming.
In the piece that follows, Terry introduces the reader (and the masses) to Kubrick, this revolutionary film, and the all-important (and ever looming) topic of the day: nuclear annihilation. Much to his astonishment, the editors dismissed the article as a “puff piece” and prodded him to go more gonzo. ... Terry protested, quite presciently, that this was one of those “rare instances where something genuinely great was at hand.” He wrote back: I have obviously failed to persuade you as to the phenomenal nature of the film itself — i.e. that it is categorically different from any film yet made, and that it will probably have a stronger impact in America than any single film, play, or book in our memory. To say that the piece is a “puff” is, to my mind, like saying that a piece about thalidomide babies is “downbeat.”
Read the rescued Esquire piece, as finally published in FilmMaker Magazine, 40 years after it was written, HERE.