We’re welcoming back Michael B Druxman, author of Basil Rathbone: His Life & His Films, to answer some of the questions put to him by our readers following his recent Q&A
The Baz: We’d like to thank you Michael for taking the time to come back and do this.
DRUXMAN: No trouble, and I want to thank your readers for all their kind words. It’s always great to know that your work is appreciated.
THE BAZ: OK let’s begin…
Bryony asks – I’d like to ask Michael Druxman if he ever met Basil
DRUXMAN: Unfortunately, no.
Winnie the Pooh asks – I have a question. Why does Mr Druxman think those like Cukor stipulated they wouldn’t talk gossip about Rathbone but not about Muni? Was it a tribute to him as a man?
DRUXMAN: I didn’t interview Cukor about Muni. However, some people, like producer Henry Blanke, I did interview for both books.Perhaps the truth is very simple: Rathbone was a nice, gentle man who did his job and didn’t create waves, and Muni, the great actor that he was, was a pain-in-the-ass to work with. Indeed, no disrespect intended toward Basil, but Muni was a much more “colorful” character to write about.
Philomel asks – When writing your book, did you talk to Basil’s ex-wife and son?
Hipolita asks (as a follow up to your favorite movie)- What about The Last of Mrs Cheyney, or is that just for his lady fans?
DRUXMAN: I don’t recall if I saw MRS. CHEYNEY or not. If I did, it certainly didn’t make much of a lasting impression. You must remember, when I wrote this book, it was before the advent of home video. In order to watch these films, they either had to be shown on television or I had to get my hands on a 16mm print, which was not always the easiest thing to do.
Frank B asks – I would like to ask Mr Druxman if he is in contact with the family and if they would like the originals of the letters I have as if so I will let them have them. They are their property IMO and I would not expect any money.
DRUXMAN: Sorry, I am not really in contact with the family…although Rathbone’s grandson did order a copy of my book for his son a year or two ago. The young man was about to play Tybalt (his great grandfather’s role) in a school production of ROMEO AND JULIET.
Alyssa asks – Do you agree the suggestion [made briefly by Rose Hobart in an interview] Basil was a womanizer is ridiculous?
DRUXMAN: He was not a womanizer.
C asks – Did you manage to view all of Basil’s movies?
DRUXMAN: Many, but definitely not all.
Roxanne asks – Did you like Ouida? She has had some bad press here and someone called her some terrible things, but I think she has been unfairly treated do you agree?
DRUXMAN: I didn’t like or dislike Ouida, because in our 2 telephone conversations, I didn’t really get to know her. However, after I did this interview with THE BAZ, I pulled my 35+ years old notes out of my storage space and reviewed them. Many of the people I spoke to were not too kind in their remarks about her. They all “loved” Basil, but the general consensus about Ouida was that she was “manipulative”, “controlling” and that her spendthrift ways did “break” Basil, who she could “wrap around her little finger”. One person even suggested that her parties were so elegant and so frequent that people in Hollywood made fun of her behind her back.
I’ve also learned, via the Internet, that her actual background is not what she claimed.
To answer the obvious question: I didn’t use this information about her in the book because (1) This was always meant to be a “Films of” book, and was never intended to be an in-depth biography about Basil or Ouida, and (2) Ouida was still alive, and neither the publisher nor I wanted to invite a lawsuit.
THE BAZ: And no one can blame you for that. Thank you Michael, and good luck with all future projects.