Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. This has been described as your father, Frank Sinatra’s
finest story, but there’s a story about how you got permission
from him to do the remake?
Tina Sinatra (producer): I didn’t get permission
from him but it’s a good story. Essentially, the rights
had revered to the to my father’s estate about 10 years
after the original film was distributed. We re-released the film
in 1987 and it was a hit, successful compared to its initial run
and I really hadn’t thought about the film till then.
I sat in a movie theatre with a bunch of college kids and saw
how they reacted to it so I went back to my dad and said: “May
be we could remake it and update it – what do you think?”
He said he thought the country had healed from the assassination
of the president in 1963 and it was worth a try because the characters
from Richard Condon’s original novel could also be updated
and were quite wonderful to begin with. I got his permission to
do a lot of things in my life but that wasn’t one of them!
Q. Is it fair to say this was a theme that fascinated
your father he made another similar movie called Suddenly as well
A. Yes, in that he played a presidential assassin a really
mean, bad man another black and white film made I think by Republic.
When they reissued it on DVD they colourised it and made his eyes
But my father was really a political animal and loved thrillers,
he also thought films should make people think give dinner conversation
rather than over household bills or something. He really believed
in a more sophisticated kind of movie.
Q. Legend has it that the
original film was withdrawn after the Kennedy assassination in
1963 - were you aware of any feeling that a film about presidential
assassination is beyond the pale as it were and did that concern
A: I never felt that way and I’m kind of a shy
kid. Someone in New York asked if I had any sense that I’d
been part of an Anti-American film and I couldn’t have been
more offended. I was taken aback by it.
It’s a two-hour fictitious psychological thriller that has
real elements to it. But that was to be more entertaining and
to make it a more exciting film, which I was desperate to get
Jonathan to direct since 1991.
I think the world caught up to a really good script that perhaps
made it a little more controversial – may be we appear smarter
than we really were. I never felt I was being irresponsible.
Q. Was it ever a matter of debate about not making a
'how to' film?
A. I marvel every day that the Condon novel is
a half a century old – when you put it in perspective it’s
extraordinary. I remember that Lee Harvey Oswald was reported
to have seen the original film two weeks before he killed the
president and I don’t believe that either.
Q. Has your famous name ever made it harder to get involved
A: No I just move forward. I do remember as an actor
that doors opened but if you didn’t have the talent you
didn’t stay in very long. I never found favouritism I never
experienced nepotism. Did I find more difficult to break in as
a young female agent? Yes, but probably because I didn’t
know shit about business! I’ve never let that kind of thing
get in my way if it did and I don’t remember if it did.
Q. Was it deliberate or a coincidence that such a political
film came out in the year of a presidential election?
A: It just worked out that way. It didn’t bother
Paramount they felt it would be beneficial. I wasn’t sure.
I was a little worried for a while.