Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse II: Letters from Hollywood

Sumner welcomes the world’s greatest living fantasy author, Michael Moorcock, back to Hard Agree for the latest installment in their ongoing series of conversations about Michael’s life and work. In this second episode, Sumner & Moorcock discuss Mike’s wild ride through Hollywood – including working with Irvin Kershner, Peter Weir’s high-level conjuring ability, the limitations of Ray Harryhausen movies, meeting the extremely-tall Christopher Lee, scripting The Land That Time Forgot for Amicus, the brilliance & charisma of Doug McClure, working with underrated director Kevin Connor and partying with Milton Subotsky, JG Ballard, Max J Rosenberg & John Brunner. They wrap up with a discussion of Donald A Wollheim’s massive contribution to the global fantasy genre, the unsung greatness of Piccadilly Cowboy authors George G Gilman & JT Edson – and Moorcock’s evaluation of Eric Clapton vs Eric Burdon.

This is Moorcock’s Multiverse, we’re just living in it.

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[00:00:00] Michael Moorcock: A little squid. No, you can’t say because it’s up to right. It’s up to push.

Andrew Sumner: Is that right? Is that right?

Michael Moorcock: So really you’re right. Oh,

Andrew Sumner: fantastic. Yeah, well, you know what, that’s down from my thing I’ve learned today already. That’s brilliant octopuses.

Michael Moorcock: academically inclined. I wouldn’t say particularly bright, but academically inclined people

rolling doing stuff like that. I’m fine. How are you doing Mike? Yeah, I guess I’m fine. Oh, damn we wearing the same shirt today. We, they wouldn’t be able to tell us

Andrew Sumner: just as well. I had to [00:01:00] shave

Michael Moorcock: earlier. I think that’s good.

Andrew Sumner: Oh, well, this, this one’s audio only. So we’re all good. So I’m just, I’ve just got the cameras on.


Andrew Sumner: our last conversation might, just to recap, we talked about your parents, we talked about your dad’s estimation of Arthur, C Clark. We discussed your all new upcoming Elric of NIBIN, a novel. We talked a little bit about Jerry corny. And the concept of the multiverse. And I’d like to come back in more detail about both of those things.

On a future episode, we talked about your friendship with the author, Andrea Dworkin. And we talked about your movie years, as you wrote about in your book letters from Hollywood and it’s Michael Moore, the movie years that I’d like to get into detail on in this episode.

But before, before we start again, I’ll just, I’ll just say [00:02:00] welcome to Hardegree. I’m Andrew Sumner, and welcome to my very special returning guests as part of our ongoing conversation.

Michael Moorcock: How’s your, how’s your dad by the way.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah. Yeah, no, he’s, he’s great. My dad’s in great shape.

 , when you had that, you know, that those relation to urban Kirsten, what, how did you look back on it? How did you, I mean,

Michael Moorcock: Kushner, they both, both Kushner and fuse two did the final program, had it in their heads. They both had successes, which really didn’t have much to do with them.

The Dr. Phibes films could have been put together by anybody who had contact with 20 British character actors, you know, who knew exactly what they were supposed to do and frequently lived it and did it went home, you know, [00:03:00] and that was it. But that was adopted by themselves. People loved them and they did well.

So EMI then let him have the final program, which I didn’t really want him to have. But nonetheless, that, by that time EMR were controlling it, they had the, you know, they put all the money in and so that, that, that was fused anywhere. And I’ve already talked about that. Kirschner actually came through a friend of mine who, who was the producer of the final program.

Sandy. Oh, your son, his name’s just gone out of my head. I’ve known it for years. I’m sorry. This happens to be it’s all. Is it happened to me all my life. I’m terrible. Proper names. Yeah.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah. It happens to me all the time as well. So I really do

Michael Moorcock: emphasize the final program and had really been the person who understood the final program and was actually asking me to rewrite [00:04:00] pew script as few spas, buttering it up as far as we were concerned.

And so I did, I actually broke free over a weekend. The new script for for Sandy, Sandy, Sandy remained a friend and remains a friend he’s American, but he lives in England and he was working then he started working for the lab company, I think. And. And Kushner had a joke in the company to do a Lancelot picture and king Arthur picture.

And he wanted it to be as good as an king out of the pictures. It could be, they’ll say that. I mean, I remember Mel Milton’s laparoscopy saying that about last seizure, the Saxons, which was a an Amicus film and it covered 2000 years of his, because of the number of library shots he’d used and then had to try to match the costumes to the library shots.

But it was, it was, it was, it was amazing. I [00:05:00] mean, at Robin hood in king Arthur, everybody is in it at a distance.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah, everyone’s been trying to make the the, the definitive king Arthur movie for my entire life and I’m bulldozing it up for my entire life. That’s what that, that’s what is always, always

Michael Moorcock: very nice guy and very easy to work with them.

Very smart. I mean, he’s a, he’s a, he’s a really good old fashioned film producer, the best kind. And I think he just, I think in the end he gave it up and started teaching or something because it’s a, you know, you know, it can be a horrible, horrible job anyway. Yeah, so he, he said to me kosher was looking for a writer for this king out the picture as it happened, Linda was in was in Los Angeles and I was in London trying to sort out the remains of my previous marriage, which was a nightmare because.

[00:06:00] Having said she you know, the, she was up and down on, on, on the whole thing, poor woman. I mean, she wasn’t particularly stable. And I don’t like to say this about somebody whose mother, because her son is such a nice guy and very sort of straight guy. But anyway, she had a place, but obviously, but she wasn’t, she was so in the middle of all this, he was actually either taking Valium and pretending to kill herself.

Or she was coming at me with a kitchen knife about, you know, about 18 inches long. And there was one just ludicrous scene where I was trying, I wasn’t working on the script at that point, but this was the situation I was in, whereas trying to do the great rock and roll swindle for you know, the, the the sex pistols newspaper.

It was, we did the newspaper that was supposed to get, who was given away with the. Anyway. So I was trying to do that mean, well, [00:07:00] she’s coming at me. I had to sort of bolt the door. I think she had already smashed the bowl of the toilet I put on this is in my office as it were. And she got, she managed to do that anyway.

And I’ve got this image of writing that with a knife, this big knife coming around the door while I’m trying to keep her keep it closed. And the heel came off my boot at the same time, some sort of whole thing becomes a total fast because she’s also taken Valium, you know, enough to make a go to sleep eventually.

And eventually she does, but this time I’ve got her in the pictures where she says she wants to go. And I’m thinking about the picture’s going to be safer than anywhere else. So we’ll go to the beach. But then she pulls better sleep in the pictures. I have to carry a home. I mean, the whole thing was, this was just one scene of many [00:08:00] scenes.

Never want to go through again, I’m not a natural as it were drama queen. I don’t, I don’t get up on trauma. And there was a, there was a lot of drama before that marriage was anyway. So I really wanted to go back to Los Angeles and and so eventually I took the job for that reason. He said, you can do it here.

You do it in England. I said, no, no, I’ll my rate. I’ll come over there and do it. And I I took the Concorde. I spent the entire, the entire I mean, which is a re I suppose it’s supposed to be a return fare, but anyway, I spent it in those days. Concord was only about double what what it costs to fly, you know, so it wasn’t a hugely expensive I think it was about 700 quid, but I always wanted to go and Concorde, I thought bugger this, you know, I’ll do the job, but I’m going on code.

So I went to Concord, Linda met me [00:09:00] and I went on Coco. Linda met me and eventually we, we, we we took the train down to LA and I started working and I encouraged that turn out to be even more of a nightmare.

I mean, these people I know very well because I’ve met them and I’ve even, they’re extremely sane. Well-focused film directors. They exist. They make very good films. You know, they’re efficient, they’re businesslike. They teach people a thing or two, well at doing whatever they’re doing, you know, people will say that Kachina was not one of those film directors.

He actually wanted to be one of those. He wanted to be an altar. Both fused and Kirschner wanted to end up their lives being known as the sort of carousel or the company carousel, the Hollywood, you know, whatever. And they weren’t good enough at it. They just weren’t. I mean, [00:10:00] but they both been lucky Kushner had the star wars job, which I think, as I said before, my dogs could have directed and become a, you know, got a, got a Hollywood job next as it were.

And fused had the vibes jobs, both of which had been incredibly lucky for them.

cause my cousins, because I think Kershner got rid of Lee bracket, probably the best script writer you could possibly have got for any movie crying, Western, you name it, Lee could do it. And she was the originator of most of the stuff, or at least a good deal of the stuff that they were using. I mean, the kind, you know, she was a genre as it were mover, you know, she was an original and, and getting rid of Lee was, I didn’t know that he’d done this at the time.

Cause Lee Lee had been ill. And by the time I got there, I think she died. [00:11:00] She was a friend of mine and, and you know, but, but yeah, Oh, God, I’m

Andrew Sumner: such an amazingly.

Michael Moorcock: I had some bad ones as well, but she knew they were bad too. And as did hope some of the time she, she, when she was doing the next movie after Rio Bravo hooks did, which is exactly the same as Rio Bravo.

I think it was called Bravo, Rio. Something very close. Yes.

Andrew Sumner: Lobo was one of them. There’s about three of them. They’re almost identical. Bravo

Michael Moorcock: you just either said, I want you to be so, I mean, she, she, she knew exactly what, you know, what the movie business was like. She was very well grounded. And I’m very sorry that she, she didn’t live to do that empire [00:12:00] strikes back. Anyway, it got the empire strikes back, which is probably the worst of the star wars, boobs.

I haven’t seen them all, so, but I certainly didn’t like it very much, but I had to watch it because he sat next to me. Well, the bloody things screened, not just that, but other movies he’d made, which were all sequels. He made return of a man called horse.

Andrew Sumner: Yes, correct. He, he, he met, he made S P Y S didn’t they, the the, kind of, it was a film that reunited Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould after they’d done match recast them as spies. Yeah. And, and yeah. And it’s the only thing that recommends that movie is Dave still got the chemistry. Yeah. But the film itself, but when you look at Kirschner’s when you look at his filmography with the exception of arguably empire strikes back

Michael Moorcock: Yeah.

Andrew Sumner: I find [00:13:00] madness. He did didn’t he with him? Cause he did

Michael Moorcock: that too.

Andrew Sumner: Oh, yeah, he, well, he did never say never again. He did the heat. He did. He did the bad Connery.

Michael Moorcock: He didn’t, he wasn’t, he wasn’t the man talented film director. Like a lot of, you know, it’d been an, I think he started as an artist or a photographer or something you gradually, but, but it was, he actually sat there, put all this as you know, in letters from Hollywood and we’re kind of repeating myself, but, but, but most people haven’t seen that book.

So, yeah.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah, I’m going to, I’m going to link to that in the show notes for this, by the way, if anybody’s listening, cause letters from Hollywood is well worth, pecking up and checking out, which I’ve done since our last, last conversation. I think it’s phenomenal book, but it’s, it’s like with anything.

[00:14:00] It’s, it’s very interesting. You, it very interesting hearing you tell this story, in addition to just reading it. I

Michael Moorcock: agree. I know what you mean. Yeah, so, so anyway, he he, he he’d done all these unsuccessful films with one or two there’s some, the eyes of Laura Mars. Did he make that? And that one, I think that made them decide to use him anyway.

All he did was bad mouth script writers, and I’m looking at some of these movies, I’m thinking. That’s one of the best script writers in Hollywood that’s Jackson. And so, you know, that’s Walter so-and-so and you know, I’m thinking they can’t all have been that bad because you know, these are these guys. I don’t know a huge amount about Hollywood, but I do know these guys have got reputations and I’ve seen some of the, you know, the other films and they’ve done some very good films.

So eventually [00:15:00] others there’s one common denominator that, oh, and I said, I said, why the hell did you give me that job? You know, recommend me for that job. He said, well, you know, news difficult, you could probably handle it. And I wish you’d told me before that he was difficult. At least I have been prepared.

And, and. Yeah, Sandy, just

people. He was doing me a favor, this man, this man wanted to want it. He said in the end, this is when we’d been working on idiotic ideas, but a long time where I was trying to kind of keep it back to what he told me he wanted, which was which, which, which I discussed, which was like a fifth century Romano CELT in a fifth century remote Celts environment and so on.

[00:16:00] And I had, because he was a romantic cult. I had him, I had his sidekick the way we worked it up. But as being black. Because I mean, it’s happened in Robin hood film since then, but, but B there are a lot of black people around, you know, and they never get mentioned in these things. And so I just had him as a, as a, as another Roman Roman, you know, from a different part of the empire and the crumbling empire and all of that.

But, but I, I think I made a pretty good job of it if you wanted what he’d asked for, but of course he didn’t. And at one point he had obviously been to see the rushes of Excalibur, which I hadn’t seen. And at one point he says to be, we have a scene. The guys all in this AMO, I’d already gone through the, the playtime.

It didn’t come in for another 500 years as it were, but nonetheless, he wants to even play [00:17:00] almond. He’s all in play. Tommy says, and he makes the love to this woman. How about that? And I’m thinking it would be difficult,

but he’d seen something like Onyx caliber. And I can’t remember there was, I didn’t really like Excalibur much, so I didn’t really, yeah, I don’t

Andrew Sumner: sorry. It’s the, I’ll tell you what it is. It’s the, it’s the opening scene with Gabriel Byrne, where he plays, oh, pen dragon. And it’s when Arthur is conceived. And and, and Gabriel Byrne is all in the armor.

Yeah. So, so, you know, the, make it taking off his mother, you know, he’s quitting it after a battle. He in the opening 10 minutes, it’s

Michael Moorcock: exactly. I couldn’t give it to him. I just could not give it to him. Given the nature of what I was supposed to be writing. And another point I’m I have them up in the north and, and suddenly I say something about [00:18:00] Hadrian’s wall and I’ve, I’ve added in some, some piece of reference, so you can see Hadrian’s will, and he looks at me and it’s a photograph of Hadrian’s wall.

To me. He says, was that real. I said, it’s a photograph. And that was about the level of which

he says to me, he says, he says, one-on-one is the, oh, I can’t remember one director, the dynamism of somebody and the such and such a cure. So he decided let’s have a mall walking because it costs in curse of it. Most of your walking about doing samurais strategy, you know, straightened down the road and all the usual stuff.

And I’m thinking, you know, again. Okay. But the horse was pretty fucking important to this particular period of time. [00:19:00] Yeah, it’s just, it’s just a, it’s a you know, comical, Hollywood produce a stereotype. And the baffled intellectual, trying to help, you know, trying to do what this guy is asking for, but reminding him that you can’t have this all and that you’ve got to have this, all that.

And so, so it went on like that for for, for, for, for several months in which I became seriously involved with drugs.

Andrew Sumner: I couldn’t sleep

Michael Moorcock: at the same time.

It was hitting on me. So every a G was driving me. She was driving me back home, you know, where we lived in. [00:20:00] We were living in north Hollywood and take me to Burbank or wherever it was. We were going, you know, that, that particular day usually Burbank usually know a very interesting and and she’d be hating on me and I’m thinking to myself, I’m sitting there thinking you’ve just picked me up from my girlfriend’s place.

So I’m done dealing with that as well. Cause I’m not a natural, I’m not what you call a serial lover or whatever it is.

did I stop

Andrew Sumner: doing it? It didn’t suit me still.

Michael Moorcock: I was always the one who told what I was up to. I just couldn’t stand somebody looking baffled. And when I was doing it, nobody should go through that.

I’m shocked myself.

[00:21:00] Andrew Sumner: Yeah. So, so it sounds like, you know, parts of the Hollywood equation where okay. Drugs. Yes. Model bankruptcy, but that’s pretty much it

Michael Moorcock: for a while who no, no, hang on. He was an agent and then having got, hold of handling my film work there’s film agent, Bobby Lichtman Bobby then decided to become a producer, which meant that he already owned my film work.

It was just sort of ridiculous. And so suddenly Bobby is a producer and I’m meeting these directors. This is barren Alrick picture that he wanted to make. Well, I’m still at the same period. I was in Hollywood. I don’t know if it was, whether I’d made a trip to back home. I don’t know. But then it was that period.


And sort of starts courting me in a funny way. You know, I’m meeting these directors, I’ve heard of some of them, some of them are still in there, but they’re all, they’re all good, good people, but I I’ve no idea what, [00:22:00] and some of them don’t know why they’re there. We got, we got invited to pub for dinner, then dinner.

Then, then Bobby puts on this sort of production, which I wasn’t expecting. He puts music on the, you know, on the, on the bloody record player, you know, darkens the room. He starts to describe the scene and all of it’s come out of a comic. I know exactly where he’s going from. He hasn’t read the books.

He’s read Frank com Brunner’s comic version in, I think Marvel. And so I’m thinking what’s the music. The music. I dunno, some fashionable boss at the same bloody music over and over and over again with slightly different tones on it. It’s like tubular bells, which I can’t stand. It drives me crazy. It’s this sort of thing you put in prisons to make people mad anyway.

So I think to myself, I’m sitting there, there’s Peter, whatever his name is, he became well known in literature [00:23:00] Australian director and Bobby me that’s all pizza will that’s right. Pizza. Very good. Yeah, absolutely marvelous. He he loves country and she just fell in love with him because he could, you know, you could say, is this your cuddle?

If you go to the refrigerator and look in, you’ll find your car anyway.

Andrew Sumner: Mate that that was a super anecdotes. I would never heard that before and now I’m never going to forget it. That’s

Michael Moorcock: fucking awesome. I have no clue. None of these people were, but most of them were affable pleasant, you know, and, and, and quite a few had read, read my stuff.

So they were kind of interested, but I, I actually, I wasn’t really trying to sell a wreck at that time. I didn’t really want to, because in those days the effects always took over the [00:24:00] film. You couldn’t help it. It was the way they were made. All the money went into hairy housing as it were. And then there wasn’t anything much left for actual acting actors.

Andrew Sumner: And that that’s a great example. I mean, Harryhausen movies, whatever your position is on them. I know people who absolutely loved them, some of whom, some of whom worked with Ms. Hanson, but they’re all about the effects sequences and the scripts are really, the mentoree under-performance is a very poor from the list actors aren’t there.

You know, you’d never find an A-list actor unless the plant character,

Michael Moorcock: I really didn’t want to. Oh, at the same time, Ralph Bakshi had come to me and I’d had a day with Ralph Bakshi, which was not the best of my life. So I had to sit in his bucket projection studio watching his version of Lord of the rings.

He did a rotisserie. Yeah. And it was just terrible subsidy, nothing. He goes prints the cut, which is his first success. And, you know, and really he should have stuck in that area. I think he would probably would have been all right. But anyway so I have to sit through through this awful rotoscoping and your world is.

Get me to plug in Merrick [00:26:00] and, and in the end, what I did was I put the price up so high that he couldn’t possibly, I knew it was a cheap bastard too. So, so, so well, okay. You know, it’s a million or nothing as it were. I can’t remember what it was. I was much more sensible than making it too big, but I made it too big for him.

And so I got out of that and I’m very glad I was too. I mean, it would not have been a happy time, but, but at the same the I’m trying to think. I’m not even sure where, where, you know, in what sequence, all these things happen because I was out, I was out there for quite a long time and oh I, you know, I met I met gene Wilder, which is great for me, you know, a great fan of gene Wilder I met.

And that the guy did a performance. Yeah. The other guy did. Nick rogue, who actually comes up talking about dragons. Now I’m looking at him like, what the bloody hell are you talking about [00:27:00] next, next, next movie, Michael dragons drunk as a skunk. And I’m thinking what?

So yeah, I did. I did, I did have an interesting time. I’m not a, I’m not a great stop. I’d say people say, I just am like, yeah. And

Andrew Sumner: yeah,

Michael Moorcock: I, you know, I wasn’t thinking, Ooh, know, I’m meeting Christopher Lee and Chris was good because I think I put this in Hollywood. He’s taller than me and I was pretty tall in those days.

I’ve shrunk a little bit since. And so I’m looking up at him. I mean, he must’ve been six foot four. Difficult for, for a screen act drive to say, cause they can’t get into the little screens. TV’s terrible. You know, you can only see that. Yeah. Middles really cause anyway. But you don’t see many tool film actors, they tend to be short.

I mean, I, I said yesterday, you know, I’m [00:28:00] in the movie, you would, he would not be towering over you in the, in real life. He’s about five foot. Four probably is shorter than Harlan Ellison and Harland was, the show is best. Barry Bailey was probably a bit shorter, but anyway, you know, well in that league midget anyway, so we’re I do that.

I met, I met some people I admired, I had. So that, that I liked, and I had a good time, but that, but I didn’t want to make a fantasy movie at that time. I mean, I didn’t mind making a historical movie where we didn’t have to have many effects, you know, many big effects, but I didn’t want to make a fantasy movie.

I just didn’t and I didn’t want anybody to buy it. I, you know, I wasn’t, I wasn’t trying to sell Elrick in, in Hollywood. I was just trying to learn how to be a decent script writer, really, because the final program, I was so disappointed [00:29:00] in and I turned down the chance to do the script. So I, because I didn’t think I was qualified.

And that’s why I did the land that time for God. Entirely that well, Agra aspires asked me to do it, but apart from them wanting me to do it, I, yeah, because I thought I’ve got to learn how to do this semester. I can’t, I can’t lead this in that. So, so that was what I did then, then if I look back to Hollywood and working on whatever it was, I was working.

Oh, Lancelot that’s right. That really was, I mean, it was a classic Nathaniel west type Satirical version of Hollywood. I know that many people are not like this. I was very lucky. I got the kind of last I did. I did. I did the same thing happened on landline time for God. I got John dark now, John dark was a comedy producer.

I mean, he was like, I mean, he didn’t produce comedies, but he was like a comedy [00:30:00] producer. He had cigars that were twice his size and call everybody baby. And I mean, all the stuff, you know, that know, say a doctor who you think, nah, you know, you you’re going off. You know, this is, this is too broad. This is, this, this won’t do you like bring yeah.

Bring in a bit, you know, but he was a very nice guy. I mean, he wasn’t an actor, but he was a, he was a professional. Yeah.

Andrew Sumner: Actually, yeah, the thing is he was certainly McClure certainly have a far higher caliber than any Harryhausen actor.  Andy had charisma of course, right. I mean, he was, he was fucking great as Trump.

Michael Moorcock: He was, but he was a working actor. He’s a practical working at the new, new way you’re supposed to do. You had to do it. And it was wonderful. Well, I [00:31:00] wasn’t working with them directly, but it was wonderful to, to have him in the, in the mix. He taught all the British actors, how to, how to not do enough punch without actually hitting somebody.

They were all learning from him. You know, th th the little bits busy, the Bollywood business, you know, that, that they hadn’t been taught that Radha.

Andrew Sumner: That’s that’s phenomenal, which it makes complete sense because his screen craft after all those years and years of all those years and years of working on those TV shows, I mean, Virginia nit was wasn’t even a normal TV show. Was it? It was essentially a citizen of the Virginia at the episodes were 90 minutes long.

It’s like making 22 minutes.

Michael Moorcock: No question of that. I mean, he was probably the most key Kevin. Can’t remember the director’s name, Kevin. But he actually, it [00:32:00] was his first movie. And as far as direct was concerned, it wasn’t that bad. I mean, I didn’t like what happened to it, but that wasn’t his fault.

That was the producers coming in and ask him for volcanoes going off at the end of the picture and everything, which they’re actually promised me with on their mothers lives that they would not do. And of course, immediately they think of the, you know, I was trying to stay away from the, from the usual tropes, the usual endings.

And also it was part of a series of three books or three short books which are never going to do the sequels. So I’m thinking, you know, the bloody thing blow up when you’re next, going to do the people at time forgot. Jim, Jim Cawthon stayed on, he was a bit more. I think in love with, with Hollywood movies.

And I was this wasn’t Hollywood, this is shepherd. And so Jim stayed on the people time for a bit [00:33:00] longer than I did. I, I got off it almost immediately. Yeah. Kevin. Yeah.

Andrew Sumner: So it was

Michael Moorcock: he didn’t get, and he was, he was a pro I mean, he may have been young, but he knew, you know, he was a decent enough director. Yeah.

Andrew Sumner: Oh, no, for sure. For sure. I mean, and he stuck with that pretty much his entire career because he did people at time for .

Michael Moorcock: He did. Right. I think, I don’t know if John dart was all of them.

You probably know the name.


Andrew Sumner: was

Michael Moorcock: Yeah. The other guy, I knew them. I mean, I knew him socially. I’d never actually worked with them before, but, and actually Milton had once told yeah, it was, it was that [00:34:00] right? Right.

they, they were, they were condescending to me because they thought that the pictures they made were fairly crappy pictures. They’ve had, you know, they had an idea that maybe they were, and maybe they weren’t, but, but but they’d bought moderate. Drabbles the waterfall, I think. And he, one of my, one of, one of Margaret troubles books and they will, and here I am, and I’ve already done a fair amount of substantial writing and they’re treating me like, I’m a hack.

As it were just coming through. And then they come to sending to me, I say, you know, we, we do Margaret drabble, you know, as well. And that’s going on about as far as I’m concerned, much as I’d like us. And she’s a nice person, very nice person, but I’m not a great admirer of her books. I don’t have to be, she’s not ingrained in my [00:35:00] mind.

It’s just the way it is. But it’s, you can, you know, this was the literary world talking to the scum of the science fiction

and I’m sitting there being condescended to you by these two idiots. And they’re nice as they were, they were edited.

It was, it was a third year. It’s a very strange experience. But you know, it wasn’t, it didn’t take long. This is a thing I would never, when I wrote scripts, I wrote some more. Because I wanted to get my hand native never filmed and nothing happened, but I did, I wrote them. I would only I’d write just straight a union rates.

I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t ask for above union union. You’re not norm because it didn’t seem to be that they were getting a professional. They were getting somebody who was trying to learn the business of himself, you know? So, so I saw that as being fair. If they, if they paid me, you know, just the basic I would, [00:36:00] I would take the amount of time that was needed, which is usually about three days, but they thought it took months.

And I made the mistake in the beginning with with Kushner he said, well, how long do you think the scripture will take you to do to do you know, if you, if you come over to Hollywood and I said, well, probably about three days for the outline about a week for the script. And there was this, I see Paul’s.

And whoever was with is probably Sandy was with us. We were at the St. James club, that club in the don’t like in, in, in club street anyway. And yeah, and I’ve completely forgotten what I was talking about. I suddenly remembered park street and how much I disliked that club.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah.

No, we w w we were [00:37:00] talking about your your, basically the fact that you the way you handled yourself, you, you didn’t charge him.

Michael Moorcock: Let’s say that. He said, he said, it may only take you three days, and it may only take you a week, but you have to make it seem a lot longer than that.

And most of my time out there was not really spent working. It was spent bullshitting, which I hate doing, you know, I’m a, I’m a worker. That’s where I’ve got so much stuff. I don’t, I don’t go to the pub, do go to the pub, but I didn’t go to the pub so much that I can’t produce this stuff. You don’t reduce that amount of stuff if you’ve been at the pub every night as it were, or bullshitting on the Hollywood.

And I like to get the job done. Do it make it a good one, you know, and move on to the next one. But, but, but this was it really was a [00:38:00] genuine, he was, he was, he was he was crazy in in he, he would, he would spend hours going on about his wife. He was in the middle of a divorce. So it was getting all this awful stuff that I did not want to know about what a bit she was, what this was, you know?

And I knew, I didn’t know that woman. I did, you know, she’d probably, I thought fused them in most my experience. And and then she’d phone and he’d be all kind of sweet and negotiable and trying to sort of, and I was getting so sick of that for a start. And then he talked about it again and he also, he kept, he kept rotten cantaloupes in his, in his, in his wardrobe and his.

Yeah, where he kept his clothes because he said they made them smell sweeter. So the whole bloody apartment smelled

somebody’s house in the Hills, [00:39:00] the whole of Los Angeles. It was a wonderful house. And I had to go there every day, you know, working with the house that I liked, the apartment. I even liked the food because his assistant was really giving me some very nice food because she was after me. I was doing all right.

From that point of view, it was only, it was the only fly in the open and, and Hebrew. I mean, he, I think he made another film, a fairly successful film after after. Poor move is, but anyway, I think he died near the money. If he’s not dead, he’s going to Sue the fuck out of this. I probably hope

Andrew Sumner: He

Michael Moorcock: was the

Andrew Sumner: same Justin as long dead. Yeah.  10 years ago. Completely in the Claremont. Yeah. Yeah. [00:40:00] And yet Don dot went about five years, six years ago.

Michael Moorcock: He lived alone because I’m not sure he did much after his anyway, I don’t know what he did. I do know, you know, a new mill Milton used to, used to turn up at John Brunner’s parties.

You know, he was classic Jewish film producer. I mean, this is, we all know Jewish film producers, and that’s what he was.

Andrew Sumner: The guy founded the business that kind

Michael Moorcock: of, but that’s who he was, you know, and that’s when he was dying and he talked like that and he was very sort of, he was actually refreshing from my point of view at John Brenda’s parties, because John used to used to have these, I think he called him  his or something.

He had the idea of well I say this sort of salon. Yeah. Him and Marjorie had this salon, which [00:41:00] you he had I think once a month, if not once a week, I mean, they seem to be forever. They all, Jimmy and I used to go there. Jimmy said he was Jimmy Ballard. He used to say he was going there for industrial espionage and you’d always catch him in gyms, in John’s bedroom where John had all his books and Jimmy was in there.

So nosing about the, see what John was up to mostly while he had in his bedroom was sex books, hundreds of sets. I mean, I’m thinking to myself book 15

Not my business, his, his sex life was always strange kind of logical, like, like, like, it was a sort of, hi Harrison thought that, that John had invented himself as a, as an author. He wore velvet jackets. He lived in Hampstead, left wing, you know, all of that stuff. Wasn’t really fair to John.

John was very sweet underneath all this stuff. He was, you know, he was like, like everybody, I know a nerd in [00:42:00] disguise. He’s not getting around. That’s a big thing. The nerdy. The nerdy suit is actually pretending to be an actual, normal human being. But, you know, damn well just as I am, he’s a nerd.

And so he was strange guy and everybody in, who knew him in science fiction and in England had stories about him. Sometimes you couldn’t, you couldn’t go through an evening. I mean, an entire evening, but people just talking about John, he was a kind of focus because of his peculiar self invented persona.

And the way he was, he was very, he was not really capable of you know, normal expression. He didn’t sort of get easy and drunk and pissed off the rest of us, you know, just around. So.

Andrew Sumner: Well, some of it was very

Michael Moorcock: good [00:43:00] when he, when he rose, when he rose to his best, he could be brilliant. He spent a lot of his time, like many others. I mean, I didn’t have to go through this as much as a lot. Did the only work really regular work was from people like Don Waldheim doing ACE books, which were essentially the novella from a pulp mag, the doubles and the novella from Paul magazine, which was, they called novel.

Would be the first half of a double and then another novella this, because this is how the science fiction magazines work would be on the other side. And you could do that forever really because the magazines would grew up providing you with it. John, John did a few magazines, but you worked directly for Walheim a long time doing doing, you know, I stumbled on not just books.

I have a huge admiration for Dunwell Heim. I admire him and respect him far [00:44:00] more than the many do he deserves far more than many. Do he, he pirated the Lord of the rings without pirating, the Lord of the rings and the princess of Mars without pirating them, which he did other sheer frustration because talking would not sell American rights.

He thought they were too bold. I knew a number of writers in those days, including the peaks who would not sell to America because they were afraid of what America would make of their books. And so talking had never let the American rights be sold. I don’t know a lot about talking. I, you know, this, you know, I mean, I’m not a Tolkien scholar.

There’s probably more to it than I’m saying, but yeah, but this, this was the basic basis of it. And Don who loved the books couldn’t get them. So eventually he discovered that they weren’t in copyright in the states because they’d never been published there. They hadn’t been established there. [00:45:00] So Don brings out the Lord of the rings and.

Paperbacks, I’m sure they would have killed talking. I can’t remember talking was still alive or not. Then we know what they look like. They weren’t, they were, they were commercial paperback covers and and of course began what, what is now a phenomenon? It started in America. It didn’t start there. Or there I’m in America come to think of where you are now.

It did not stop. And and talking, you know, this suddenly starts to get phone calls at three o’clock in the morning from, from enthusiastic high school students, as it were, you know, or, or, you know, or students where it mainly was mainly the focus at that time, what the hell is going on? I mean, he, he, it was done.

Don immediately let those books go. As soon as [00:46:00] somebody stepped in to try to establish some, you know, to, to repair the damage because all dumb wanted was the bloody things to come out. He didn’t, he didn’t, you know, he either paid for them, although he would probably wouldn’t have paid much. Yeah. It just

Andrew Sumner: wants to them to be secular,

Michael Moorcock: the editor of Lancer books and a, and a fan too.

Together in the fifties probably put out all of the substantial fantasy fiction that had been published in English. And some that hadn’t been published in English. They, you know, they were, they were very, there was broad as they could be at the time. These are non-educated men by a long shot, but they were great enthusiastic and they were willing to, you know, in classic.

They, they accepted as classics, you know, and published them as best they could. In those days in the old public paperback publishing world, [00:47:00] they Larry did the dying first time really, the dying has been a tiny edition before that. And he, and he published me. He did the first L Ricks and the first Conan’s I think.

Good. So on. So, so, between them and there were one or two others, but between those, those two guys really did begin, what is now an established fantasy genre and everything, you know, everything, it means fans all the rest of it. They just weren’t there before, before, before Larry and Don. So I think I don’t know how I’d gone to this, but, but, but they I’m talking about,

Andrew Sumner: but it’s fascinating.

I think we’ve got onto it from Yeah. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And we got into John Milton, these parties.

So it’s, it’s all completely Descemet discourse. This is, this is what I love about chatting with you, [00:48:00] mate. Cause I I’m a great fan of pulling the string of the conversation and seeing where it goes. You know, the fact that we made that leap from Milton’s parties to John Brunner,

Michael Moorcock: my Facebook, I love. And I’ll say the question like, then I’m curious about, I mean, I really want to know what people have to say about it and, and the conversation starts up and that goes, that goes the same way anywhere. I, I like that too. Anyway, back to John Brown, I suppose to be fair, John, John began to rise to the occasion when new worlds, when you will When I started when I started editing new worlds.

And I think it was just because he had an editor who, or in an atmosphere too. I mean, it wasn’t just me. You know, th that he knew he could, Tom dish said this, he said it wasn’t worth writing your best for most of the magazines, because they didn’t like it when they got [00:49:00] it. That, that apparently I was the only editor they felt, you know, it was worth riding up to, to, to, to aspire to whatever.

And I, I mean, I’m, I’m not, I’m trying to be, I’m trying to be straightforward without sounding

Andrew Sumner: Yeah, I think you’ve earned being an egomaniac. So I’m here to deliver the mania for you. So yeah, let’s just go ahead. Give it,

Michael Moorcock: Oh, the last lonely man, it had been turned down by every other science fiction market in the universe because John was very, you know, he would send it to everyone. It was a good story.

A very good story. I happened to know it was based on, even though I didn’t know, he hadn’t told me that, but I knew the guy that, you know, it was the central character of this story and he got him very, very well. And [00:50:00] so I published the story and about two years later, it was on television and John, John got his first TV this thing.

So, so proved to be pretty popular. Once I published the thing, which proved which sort of not proves, but it shows you what the difference between new worlds and the other magazines was like for some reason we could just see this stuff and you know, it wasn’t just me long Jones was reading as well.

I mean, we, we, we could just somehow spot it. And so, so John, after that started to get more ambitious and you got things like the squares, the city, and stand on Zanzibar.

Andrew Sumner: W w which we

Michael Moorcock: did  he wouldn’t give me the bloody manuscript to take away and read he was paranoid. So I had to go over to his place for lunch.

He said it wasn’t much of a lunch up per se, but anyway, he said for lunch and and read, read, read the book while I [00:51:00] was in his flat. So, Marjorie was a good cook. I’m not saying it was a bad lunch, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I expected a better lunch.

Anyway, he and I sat there and read it and I picked out, he helped me to pick out some pieces. Got, I couldn’t run the entire thing. It was huge. And to run it as a serial, it would have taken, you know, taken up issue. You know, God knows. So, so I ran extracts. But it was very, very good. And so he did, yes.

Towards the end of his life, he began to get fractured. He was no longer able, he didn’t have the markets for the call. It hack work. I mean, it was better than hack work, but for the standard science fiction kind of story, that he was writing to Boeheim, he just didn’t have the market. He didn’t, he had a great ambition to write a Steamboat story, a [00:52:00] Mississippi Steamboat story.

Now this is a man with a cloth. No question of it. His one book set in America was called the brink. It was an anti bomb. It was a warning novel. And I mean, he’d been in the states. I don’t know how many times he could have heard nothing. He had no air for dialogue. The toll these people taught. Right. I don’t know.

Not even, no, not even. Don’t even fleet way. Americans every w we had stereotype Americans  even worse and talking in a way that no American would talk. I mean, it was, it was a disaster. I thought an artistic disaster anyway, about a disaster. But that was, that was John, I mean, so, so, so spent years doing this Mississippi book you know, I’ve spent some time in Mississippi, myself, I’m married [00:53:00] to a Mississippian.

But his John during this Mississippi, it was just, I mean, it was huge.

Andrew Sumner: Oh, I mean, there’s a very specific cadence to the way they speak. And it was the music ,

Michael Moorcock: you know, there’s the music of the voices and the, all the time. Good cultures that made me move here in the first place. I didn’t think I was going to be here this long, but I, but I, you know, it was hearing the voices Southern voices and the mix, you know, black Latina, Latino.


Andrew Sumner: Yeah.

yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. A huge influence me is, you know, something you’ve made me think of and is that, you know, who, I think funnily enough, I think two British authors who who perhaps [00:54:00] I’ve, I’ve I’ve captured American conversation the best or not two great authors, but two very difficult is the two the two main Piccadilly guys, JT Adson, and George G Kellman.

When you read the books, you don’t get any sense that they’re written by an English person. That’s all, you know, and they take

Michael Moorcock: you know, not being good, solid writers and, and incidence in the states. That was the great thing. I mean, I mean, this is an English Russ. Plus story, Jack Travis store, his first wife, she was the Western. Right. So Jack wrote some westerns too. I think she sold in the states too. I mean, I think probably we get a newer to this.

I mean, the way the blues gets into a little suburban lads, you know, bedroom in 1955 for me, how does that happen? And you are [00:55:00] identifying with these guys you are playing with, with guys who worked themselves to death with their hands, most of their lives when they weren’t getting doing a con recording or two.

And, and I dunno how it happened. We, you know, that’s what happened. It happened in London and Liverpool. It wasn’t quite the same. Liverpool. It was more rock and roll. And, and th th th they were getting direct stuff from buddy Holly and the like, and it, and it made the Beatles. I mean, no question of it.

Didn’t get, what was going on in London was a different vibe, a blues vibe, and that’s where, you know, the likes of little Eric stupid, whatever his fucking name is. I hate him.

Andrew Sumner: Oh yeah.

big influence on them. Eric buttons. I don’t know. I agree with you by the way, mate, but does amazing content leaves a lot to be desired?

[00:56:00] Yeah.

You know, what made I actually think that this is almost the perfect moment to pause for, for this session, because we’ve, we’ve literally just started talking. We’ve just segwayed into music, which I think I could probably feel an entire podcast talking about. And that’s what I’d love to get into next time around because this journey through Hollywood’s been APIC and the fact that we are the fact that we also finished up talking about John Brunner, by the way, I think the I’m presuming the reason he ended up at those Milton Backi parties is because he wrote the script for the terrible, which is an error.

Michael Moorcock: Jimmy was Jimmy ballad was never noisy about last days.

[00:57:00] Andrew Sumner: No, no. And these are, I mean, the truth is these, the late sixties, our kiss movies absolutely make the land that time, forgot school, look like, you know, Oscar winning masterpieces by comparison. You know, I mean, I, in in fact I would say that London that’s, I’m forgot.

Michael Moorcock: I must admit Milton and max who had some strange ideas. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew Sumner: But let’s get into, let’s get into the music next time around Mike. And that has been, that’s been a great tool through your Hollywood career in far more detail to point last time that’s been brilliant. Yeah. I, I, I, I love those anecdotes.

Michael Moorcock: I haven’t written any autobiography, so this may be all that it’s going to be.

[00:58:00] Andrew Sumner: Well, we’ll keep on rolling with it. My it’s once again, Mike, great to see ya and I’ll see you for the next

Michael Moorcock: episode. Good, good, good, good luck to all your family.


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