It worked like Clockwork. And I don’t mean Orange. One week to the day after the American release of Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic grand finale, Eyes Wide Shut, the director’s career-long nemesis, Louis “Lou” Breque, crawled out of the woodwork.
Breque kicked off a European book tour in the lobby of the Mayfair Bookstore outside of Brighton this morning to promote his new highly-unauthorized Kubrick bio, Director Strangelove.
Breque, whom film historians and casual Kubrick fanatics refer to as “The Anti-Kubrick,” was largely responsible for landing Stanley Kubrick his first job in film, working as a parakeet wrangler in the early 1950’s for England’s largest independent studio at the time, CineGold. Breque was an expatriated New York writer, frustrated with his struggle against Hollywood’s studio machine.
He met Kubrick on a ferry across the English channel in 1952 and immediately took a liking to the young auteur, who was at the time eight years his junior, yet was a full foot taller. “I took that missing foot and put it in the door for (Kubrick),” says Breque. “If I hadn’t, he wouldn’t’ve. He was too much of a sissy.”
Twenty years later, Breque’s never-disguised venom for Kubrick would be fictionalized in Breque’s 1972 novel “Psycho” (in quotes, and not related to the Hitchcock classic), which painted broad strokes of the tumultuous history between Kubrick and Breque, and offered the possibility that Breque was in fact the true creator of some of Kubrick’s most highly-acclaimed movies, but proved seldom and stingy with its details. In Director Strangelove, his true-life return to that tumultuous history, no such punches are pulled.
“The Killing was the first strain between Stanley and I,” says Breque. The low-budget 1956 heist-noir film was considered to be a noteworthy critical success, and was based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel White. But Breque insists otherwise. “Stanley never read that f*cking book. Nobody ever read that f*cking book. I’ll tell you why. That f*cking book didn’t exist!”
Breque claims to have written The Killing’s screenplay in the summer of 1955 while touring the Uruguay Alps with his pet twin chimpanzees, and claims the reason Kubrick fought to relieve Breque of his screenplay credit was a dispute in 1954 over who would pick up the month-old tab from a pub near the studio the two used to frequent together. “That piece of crap bought hard liquor. I only drank beer. Ask anyone. He wanted it split down the middle. Everyone knows hard liquor costs more than beer. … So I told him to go hump himself,” remembers Breque. It was the spark which lit a fuse, one that neither man would ever be able to extinguish.
According to Breque’s book, Kubrick and he continued to work tenuously together, developing projects for CineGold for another half year before Kubrick landed the Kirk Douglas starrer, Paths of Glory, funded by United Artists. It too was based on a novel, or so we’ve been duped, according to a passage from the book:
“I wrote that one too. I wrote it at the Chateau Faliseaux, an Italian castle I helped renovate in the early 40’s, before the war. I met a French Italian named Boiarrddi who was starting up a canned food company and needed him a name. I said ‘How about Franco-American?” because I am both French and American myself. Well, he loved it. Just loved it.
“He wanted me to write copy for his company. … to be his ‘American Liaison.’ So he bought me my first IBM Selectric 1000 electric typewriter. Of course, I didn’t do much ad-writing, but I ended up writing a devil of a war script. When I let Stanley read it, I only did so with much trepidation. When he liked it, I felt we had taken a step closer to repairing our friendship.
Then what happens next? He makes a mimeograph copy excluding the title page — my title page with my name on it — and mails it to Douglas’ agent with a note that reads ‘K.D. — Behold. My latest, hopefully greatest. Help me achieve. Your friend, Stanley Kubrick.’ I was incensed.”
Nine months later, the picture had indeed “achieved.” It was released to heapings of critical praise in New York and Los Angeles. It was then that Breque and Kubrick had their first showdown in court. Kubrick insisted to the jury that he had never even met Lou Breque. Despite Breque’s apoplectic ragings to the contrary, the all-black jury believed Kubrick.
Kubrick counter-sued and was awarded $250,000 in damages from Breque. When Breque was unable to come up with the cash, Breque claims Kubrick took “Spartacus” and “Lolita” instead, two hot script properties Breque was shopping around Hollywood.
“I’d written Spartacus in my high school woodshop. Only then it was called ‘Spartanysus’ and was about a family of five trying to make ends meet in Ancient Greece,” claims Breque. “And don’t believe it if they try to tell you Nabokov wrote Lolita all by himself. It was a joint effort.”
Breque briefly served time in a Finnish POW camp with the author in 1944. “Vladimir had a 10-year-old step-niece he wanted to bone real bad. And I could empathize because he had a picture of her he’d show me all the time. This girl was a hottie. I immediately said to him ‘Vlad. This is a powerful story that needs to be told. We owe it to humanity.’ … So we saved up lead filings when they wouldn’t give us pencils, and we wrote the entire script on the cell wall, behind the drapes, next to the Monet.”
Breque says he cheered when Kubrick took heat for the controversial film, but there was little else he could do but continue to write. And write he did. Of Kubrick’s thirteen feature films, Breque claims to be responsible for eleven.
“It didn’t matter if I had an idea or a 1200-page manuscript, Stanley would hunt it down and steal it. … He was like a submarine. Always waiting for my big juicy ship to pass in the night so that he could torpedo it and save all the pieces for himself.” Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining were the only two films Breque claims to not have had a hand in. And that’s fine by him.
He refuses to see The Shining because he proclaims Stephen King to be a “rampant fascist,” citing King’s alleged behind-the-scenes involvement in 1968’s infamous Kent State Massacre. “It was all too obvious. King was one of the Hitlers pulling the strings from the Hoover Building. Those hippie kids who were rioting had read too much of (King’s) tripe,” lunges Breque.
But what about Kubrick’s final hoorah? Breque takes comfort in one of many of his tell-all book’s juicy tidbits:
“Eyes Wide Shut was written by Arthur Schnitzler, which was a pseudonym. In fact, the pen-name belonged to my first girlfriend, Claire Gigoux, a very sensual, liberated woman whom I knew long before she wrote (Traumnovelle, the book Eyes Wide Shut was based on). Traumnovelle is actually a pen-name for the real book, written by myself, entitled ‘2,001 Fully Metallic Jacks.’ Stanley found this out and immediately optioned the story.”
When Gigoux refused to return any of Breque’s phone calls after the option, Breque sued Gigoux and was received fully half of the option money received by Gigoux, then in her late 40’s with three children, two of whom were dying of brain cancer.
“I didn’t feel too bad because I knew deep down that she was grateful that I gave her the initial story idea and helped her to set the mood. The sexual mood. She was always very impressed that I was terrific at knowing how to do that. She knew I was incredibly clever. She always said to me ‘Louis, you are endowed like a hawk.’ And I don’t mean to blow my own horn, but I agree with her 100%.”
Breque may or may have not wittingly or unwittingly contributed to the sexual intoxication which categorically defines the undefinable Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, but without a doubt, his new book has brewed up a lot of controversy as to who was the real drunken poet, and who was the muse. Breque hasn’t seen the film, but anticipates that telling his story will keep him too busy to watch movies, and keep his eyes wide open for new stories to tell. In his own words.