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Donald Cammell was introduced to Nu Image by producer Elie Cohn, with whom he had worked on the unmade Marlon Brando film "Jericho". Nu Image was also familiar with Cammell's work and appeared to like the "Wild Side" script. However, the relationship between Nu Image and Cammell quickly turned sour. First, the company tried to prevent the casting of the then completely unknown Anne Heche as Joan Chen's lover. Then they questioned Cammell's working methods, sparking a battle of wills between him and Cohn. When Cammell delivered his rough cut, the producers were horrified. They fired off a memo ordering the film's editor Frank Mazzola to remove all flashbacks, flash forwards and jump cuts. Unsatisfied, the producers sacked him and re-cut the movie themselves. See more »
I met Donald Cammell shortly after he finished production on "Wild Side" We were at director Martin Donovan's house in Los Angeles. It was one of those eclectic memorable evenings in front of the fire in that fabulous Italian villa of Whitley Heights. Johnny Whitworth and Liv Tyler were there, so was Renee Zellwegger with her director Dan Ireland, Valeria Golino and Benicio del Toro, Shirley Knight and even Fabrizio Mioni with Faith Domergue, yes the legendary Faith Domergue, Howard Hughes's protègè. Donald Cammell dominated great part of the evening, exhausted but bursting with energy. So excited about his new film, about Joan Chen, Steven Bauer and Christopher Walken's performance. Editing with his long time collaborator, Frank Mazzola. It was a dangerous movie, it walked a very thin line, but he trusted his abilities as an tightrope walker. Years of experience. A few weeks later I was invited to see his cut of the film. I must admit, It took me by surprise. The darkness of the film didn't seem to match the lovely, kind, gentle Donald. The film was also brutally funny. A very individual, frightening, fascinating vision of the world. Shortly after I found out the film had been taken away from him and re edited. I saw Donald Cammell a couple of times after that, he smiled, he was charming and kind as usual, but in his eyes you could see his sadness. The next time I went back to Martin Donovan's house was to attend Donald Cammell's memorial service. He had killed himself, leaving a tangible, painful, tragic void. That day was also memorable, to be part again, with China, Donald's wife, of an eclectic group, from Drew Hammond and Bud Cort to Ken Russell and Cassian Elwes, to pay tribute to Donald Cammell the man, the artist, the friend. The other version of "Wild Side" hit theater for a second and disappeared without a trace. Frank Mazzola, the original editor, has restored it since, with love and for love of an unforgettable friend.
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