January 7, 1930|
New York, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 30, 2010
London, England, UK
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Education||University of Miami
|Spouse(s)||Carolyn Hughes (divorced)
Tessa Kennedy (divorced)
Elliott Kastner (January 7, 1930 – June 30, 2010) was an American film producer, whose best known credits include Where Eagles Dare (1968), The Long Goodbye (1973), The Missouri Breaks (1976) and Angel Heart (1987).
Early life and education
Kastner worked in the mail room at the William Morris Agency in New York, becoming a literary agent.
He moved to Los Angeles and became a talent agent at the Music Corporation of America (MCA). When that agency merged with Decca Records, which owned Universal Pictures, Lew Wasserman, the president of MCA, made Kastner vice president of production at Universal. He worked there for two years before becoming an independent producer.
Kastner's first film as producer was Bus Riley's Back in Town (1965) based on a script by William Inge and starring Ann-Margret and Michael Parks. Inge was so unhappy with the final result he requested his name be taken off the credits and the film was not a commercial or critical success.
Kastner then teamed up with producer Jerry Gershwin to form Winkast Film Productions, based out of Pinewood Studios in London. They wound up making eleven movies together, the first of which was the highly popular Harper (1966) from a novel by Ross Macdonald and directed by Jack Smight. The screenplay was written by William Goldman who had been talking to Kastner about a film of Goldman's novel Boys and Girls Together; Goldman suggested that the Ross MacDonald Lew Archer series would make a good movie, and Kastner bought the rights. Kastner then got Goldman to write a sequel The Chill, but it was never made.
Kastner's third film was Kaleidescope (1966), made in England, directed by Smight with Warren Beatty. Kastner and Gershwin raised the finance independently, and sold it to a studio, Warner Bros. "That was the beginning of producers taking control creatively by self financing,” said his stepson Cassian Elwes, who later became a producer himself.
Winkast then made The Bobo (1968), starring Peter Sellers and his then-wife Britt Ekland, and Sweet November (1968), with Sandy Duncan. Both were released through Warners, but Sol Madrid (1968) was released through MGM.
Sol Madrid was directed by Brian G. Hutton who helmed Kastner and Gershwin's next film, Where Eagles Dare (1968). The producer had managed to persuade Alistair MacLean to write an original screenplay as a vehicle for Richard Burton (it was later turned into a novel). The movie was a big hit and led to Kastner adapting several other MacLean stories and working with Burton a number of other times.
Other MacLean adaptations included When Eight Bells Toll (1971), Fear is the Key and Breakheart Pass (1975). He would also reteam with Burton on several occasions - as well as working with Burton's occasional wife, Elizabeth Taylor.
Kastner also partnered up with noted producers Alan Ladd, Jr. and Jay Kanter and together they produced the films Villain (1971), The Nightcomers (1972), Zee and Co. (1972) and Fear Is the Key (1972).
Kastner is also famous for his film adaptations of three Raymond Chandler's novels based on the exploits of one of Chandler's most famous creations, Philip Marlowe: The Long Goodbye (1973), Farewell, My Lovely (1975) and The Big Sleep (1978) the latter two both starring Robert Mitchum as Marlowe.
In a 1977 article Mario Puzo wrote about the Cannes Film Festival said that a group of producers regarded Kastner as "the greatest genius in the movie business... [he] has put together very big films, nearly all of which are flops. And yet he can get the money and stars to produce any movie he decides to. He does it with a phone, irresistible charm, and shameless chutzpah."
Colleague Jay Kanter said Kastner's reputation in Hollywood was "Some good, some bad. He was relentless in pursuing what he wanted. I mean dogged in his pursuit.” He added "If Elliott believed in some material, he'd never hesitate to put his own money into buying it and hiring writers to develop a screenplay. He was passionate about what he did, and he was a terrific salesman as well."
His obituary in the Guardian stated that "Kastner was relentless in his pursuit of getting what he wanted. Mostly he wanted to entice well-known playwrights and novelists to write screenplays, or gain the rights of those works whose authors were no longer around to cajole."
In 1987 Kastner and a partner bought 70% of Cinema Group Home video.
He was married and divorced twice. He was the second husband of the interior designer Tessa Kennedy (m 1971), with whom he had two children, a son, Dillon and a daughter, Milica. He had been introduced to Kennedy by Warren Beatty. "The marriage worked very well," says Kennedy. "For eight years we'd only spend three or four days a month together. It wouldn't have lasted more than a year if we'd been together because we're very different and volatile." Kennedy and Kastner separated in 1995.
Towards the end of his life he had approached David Thomson to see if he was interested in writing Kastner's biography. Thomson recalled: "He was the way producers were once supposed to be—showily cynical yet deeply attached to his projects; absolutely aware that a producer had to make a lot of pictures before the trash and the triumphs got sorted out; belligerent but sensitive, tough-mouthed sometimes; arrogant and Cagneyesque, but very well read; devoted to writers and alert to children... He admitted he had been a scoundrel sometimes—you had to be—but he knew there was good work to show for it."
According to one obituary he: "Was noted for his skill in bringing together writers, directors and stars for generally commercial (though sometimes surprisingly cerebral) films. He excelled in literary adaptations, from popular works such as those of Raymond Chandler and Alistair MacLean to the more esoteric output of such writers as Iris Murdoch, Vladimir Nabokov and Edna O'Brien. He also favoured tales with strong, single-minded heroes and produced films featuring such actors as Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Robert Mitchum, Burt Reynolds and Richard Burton."
In 2014 it was announced a deal had been struck to release all of his films on DVD.
- Bus Riley's Back in Town (1965)
- Harper (1966) - with Jerry Gershwin
- Kaleidoscope (1966) - with Jerry Gershwin
- The Bobo (1967) - with Jerry Gershwin
- Sweet November (1968) - with Jerry Gershwin
- Sol Madrid (1968) - with Jerry Gershwin
- Where Eagles Dare (1968) - with Jerry Gershwin
- The Night of the Following Day (1968) - with Jerry Gershwin
- Laughter in the Dark (1969)
- Michael Kohlhaas - Der Rebell (1969) - executive producer - with Jerry Gershwin
- Phantom India (1969) (TV)
- Michael Kohlhaas (1969) - executive producer - with Jerry Gershwin
- The Walking Stick (1970) - with Alan Ladd Jnr
- The Devil's Widow (1970) AKA Tam-Lim - with Jerry Gershwin
- A Severed Head (1970) - with Alan Ladd Jnr
- When Eight Bells Toll (1971) - with Jerry Gershwin
- Villain (1971) - executive producer - with Alan Ladd Jnr
- The Nightcomers (1971) - with Alan Ladd Jnr
- Cry for Me, Billy (1972)
- Fear Is the Key (1972) - executive producer - with Jay Kanter and Alan Ladd Jnr
- Zee and Co. (1972) - executive producer - with Jay Kanter and Alan Ladd Jnr
- The Long Goodbye (1973) - executive producer
- Jeremy (1973)
- Cops and Robbers (1973)
- 11 Harrowhouse (1974)
- Rancho Deluxe (1975)
- Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
- Russian Roulette (1975) - executive producer
- Dogpound Shuffle (1975)
- 92 In The Shade (1975) - executive producer
- Breakheart Pass (1975) - executive producer - with Jerry Gershwin
- The Missouri Breaks (1976)
- Swashbuckler (1976)
- Black Joy (1977)
- The Stick Up (1977) - executive producer
- Equus (1977)
- A Little Night Music (1977)
- The Big Sleep (1978)
- Absolution (1978)
- The Medusa Touch (1978) - executive producer
- North Sea Hijack (1979)
- Yesterday's Hero (1979)
- Goldengirl (1979)
- Mr. Horn (1979) (TV movie)
- The First Deadly Sin (1980) - executive producer
- Death Valley (1982)
- Man, Woman and Child (1983)
- Oxford Blues (1984) - raised money with his step son Cassian Elwes
- Garbo Talks (1984)
- Nomads (1986)
- Heat (1986) - uncredited
- Angel Heart (1987)
- White of the Eye (1987)
- Zombie High (1987)
- A Chorus of Disapproval (1988) - executive producer
- The Blob (1988)
- Jack's Back (1988) - uncredited
- Homeboy (1988)
- Zits (1988)
- Never on Tuesday (1989)
- The Last Party (1993) - executive producer
- Frank & Jesse (1994)
- Love Is All There Is (1996)
- Sweet November (2001)
- Opa! (2005)
- The Children of Sanchez (1962)
- Flight into Camden from novel by David Storey (1962)
- Hanno's Doll with Jane Fonda and Stanley Kramer (1962)
- adaptation of Boys and Girls Together (1966) - to be directed by Sydney Pollack
- The Telephone Book an original script by Harry Cohn (1966)
- Sard Harker based on a book by John Masefield
- Fruit of the Poppy by Robert Wilder
- Chow Charlie Babybased on novel by David Dodge
- The Violent Land a western to be directed by Brian Hutton
- Revolutionary Road based on novel by Richard Yeates
- musical adaptation of Treasure Island for Cinema Center Films (1968)
- The Chill (1967) - sequel to Harper - at one stage to be directed by Sam Peckinpah
- Rose of Tibet (late 1960s)
- Hall of Mirrors (late 1960s)
- Caribbean (late 1960s)
- The Violent Land (late 1960s)
- Hive of Glass (late 1960s)
- Sard Harder (late 1960s)
- Confidence Man (late 1960s)
- adaptation of Gore Vidal's Julian with script by Vidal (1968)
- adaptation of The Forty Days of Musa Daugh (1969)
- The Pictures of Fidelman (1971) based on novel by Bernard Malmud
- Sleep is for the Rich based on novel by Donald MacKenzie (1972)
- The Boy Who Invented the Bubble Gun (1973)
- Untitled Tony Bennett/Ruby Braff-George Barnes Quartet Documentary aka This Funny World (working title) (1973)
- Gunfighters (1977)
- Serpentine based on life of Charles Sobhraj (1977)
- adaptation of The Deer Park by Norman Mailer (1988)
- adaptation of book Indecent Exposure (1987)
- Jericho with Marlon Brando (1987)
- The Madman's Tale based on novel by John Kaztenbach (2004)
- Obituary at Variety
- Erens, Patricia The Jew in American Cinema ISBN 9780253204936 | ISBN 0253204933 | Publisher: Indiana University Press | Publish Date: August 1988
- Ronald Bergan, Elliott Kastner obituary, The Guardian 29 July 2010
- 'I Like It. I Want It. Let's Sew It Up.' By PETER BART. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 Aug 1966: 95.
- New York times obituary
- Aba, Marika (21 July 1968) "The Burtons... 'Just Another Working Couple'". Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif]. c18.
- How I Went To the Festival But Missed All the Movies: How I Missed All The Festival Movies By MARIO PUZO. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 June 1977: D1.
- Tom Vallance, "Elliott Kastner obituary", The Independent, 17 July 2010
- Blay and Kastner Acquire Cinema Group Home Video Harris, Kathryn. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 10 June 1987: A2
- A Lion of B Movies To Sell Company To an Independent By GERALDINE FABRIKANT. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 Feb 1997: D9.
- Bates, James (February 10, 1997). "B-Movie King Corman to Sell Company". Los Angeles Times.
- "Rourke in Dispute Over 'Homeboy'". Los Angeles Times. May 27, 1989.
- Galbraith, Jane (March 15, 1994). "Ark. Town Gunning for James Gang : Movies: The citizens of Van Buren claim that the producers of 'Frank and Jesse' stiffed them. 'Nobody is going to be shabbily treated,' its co-producer says". Los Angeles Times.
- Kastner Obituary Archived 2010-07-05 at the Wayback Machine.; accessed May 5, 2014.
- Elliott Kastner obituary, nytimes.com, July 2, 2010; accessed May 5, 2014.
- Variety obituary, variety.com; accessed May 5, 2014.
- TEAM SET TO FILM OSCAR LEWIS BOOK: Vittorio de Sica Will Direct 'Children of Sanchez' Will Have International Cast Boccaccio 70" Selected Russian Movie to Open By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 Mar 1962: 17.
- Bruce Yarnell Joins 'Irma La Douce' Cast Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 June 1962: C7.
- Jane Fonda Heads 'Hanno's Doll' Cast Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 June 1962: C7.
- Loads of Culture On the Horizon: More on Movie Matters By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 29 May 1966: D9.
- Kinematograph Weekly 24 Feb 1966 p 12 Archived 2015-12-24 at the Wayback Machine.
- Cinema by, but Not Necessarily for, Television Warga, Wayne. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 July 1968: c14.
- MOVIE CALL SHEET: Team to Produce 14 Films Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Nov 1966: D16.
- TOP PIX DEALS GOPOOF: "Say, what ever happened with that script I read you had all set up to shoot in Swaziland with Paul Newman, Raquel Welch, the Spanish Air Force, Godzilla and the June Taylor Dancers?" he asked, folding his copy of the Hollywood Reporter. "Don't ask," the man answered. Adler, Dick. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 31 Jan 1971: u14.
- Gore Vidal Sought to Pen Film Story of Late W.C. Fields' Life Manners, Dorothy. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 19 Sep 1968: B7.
- Gershwin, Kastner Will Film 'The Forty Days' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Apr 1969: g28.
- The Many-Movied Malamud: Many-Movied Malamud By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 July 1970: 71.
- Drive, Gene Hackman Said: Drive, Gene Hackman Said By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 Feb 1972: D15.
- MOVIE CALL SHEET: Team to Film 'Jailbreak' Scheuer, Lucie K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 June 1973: a6.
- FILM CLIPS: Stardom--Science or Fiction? Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 May 1977: b6.
- 'Serpentine' Book Sold To Films for $1 Million: 'Strictly Cash and Carry' 'Omnibus' to Return to TV 'Modigliani' Bought for Pacino Warner Offers Prize By ALJEAN HARMETZ Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 Nov 1979: C16.
- Rampage' on again, off again, late again: Celebrities Beck, Marllyn. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 27 Aug 1987: D8.
- OUTTAKES: SCANDALOUS Clark TaylorNikki FinkePatrick GoldsteinCraig ModdernoLeonard KladyPat BroeskeChris WillmanLeonard KladyLeonard KladyLeonard KladyBelma Johnson. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 Oct 1987: K18.
- Stones to be together separately: Celebrities Beck, Marilyn. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 14 Apr 1988: D13C.
- The Rialto: A Secret's Out: News of the Rialto Secret Is Out WHY ALBEE? STRATFORD SEASON ROUNDUP By LEWIS FUNKEFriedman-Abeles. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 27 Nov 1966: D1.
- Oliver, Myrna (November 7, 2000). "Stephanie Lawrence; London Musical Actress Starred in 'Evita,' 'Marilyn!'". Los Angeles Times.