Richard Harrison (page 4)
Your Italian movies were sold throughout the whole world. Were you never tempted to go back to the States like Clint Eastwood and restart your career there ? Or would your work as an "Italian B-movie" star have been a handicap rather than an asset ?
In my opinion, it is a death wish for an actor to be in too many B or should I say C movies. I honestly believe I am a good writer, and under the right circumstance a good director. Maybe my greatest contribution to cinema was not doing Fistful of Dollars, and recommending Clint for the part.
You starred in a soft porn / erotic fantasy movie directed by Joe D'Amato called Black Orgasm a.k.a. Voodoo Baby (Orgasmo Nero, 1979) which reportedly had a "hard porn" version with hardcore inserts. How were you involved in that film and what did you think of this experience ? How was the work with Aristide Massacessi a.k.a. Joe D'Amato?
I had never been to Santo Domingo, and the script I read was not at all porno. I don't know how he did those sexy scenes with me, but he was known for this type of talent. I did not enjoy the shooting of this film. There was something about this whole film set up I did not like. They were very good about keeping me in the dark, as was Mr. Lai.
In the 80's, Italian cinema is on the wane, quantitatively and qualitatively, facing the concurrency of B-Movies from the USA or from Asia. What do you think was the main cause for the inexorable decline of the Italian movie industry and its popular cinema ? Was it because you were no longer offered interesting parts in Europe that you took yourself off to Asia, notably to the Philippines and then to Hong Kong ?
There was very little work for anyone in Italy. The Italians had jacked up the costs so much that it was no longer an advantage for foreign companies to shoot there. I had tremendous overhead, which was mostly my fault. At one time I was taking care of five homes, a Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Mercedes and a whole slew of hanger-ons. It was not a slow transition. It was work, no work. It took a while to understand it was over. Except for the Shaw Bros. it was not an over-all good experience.
If Marco Polo (Ma Ko Po Lo, 1975) and La Révolte des Boxers (Pa KuoLien Chun, 1976) can both be considered as good films from the Shaw Brothers Studio, on the other hand, one can't say the same of the Hong Kong ninja flicks you acted in for Godfrey Ho, Joseph Lai and the IFD company. Though we are yet more or less aware of the disappointments and difficulties you experienced there due to Godfrey Ho's dubious practices, we really would like you to take the time to explain it all and well here. Having watched several of the movies incriminated, it seems indeed that your appearance is sometimes due to an improper edition. In some of these pictures you have a moustache, in other you don't ; usually you have ninja parts but not only (as one can see in Cobra vs Ninja with Mike Abott, 1987). As it seems that you feel very strongly about expressing yourself about it, please, enlighten us !*
It is almost painful to discuss this with you. Mr. Ho was a young boy who picked me up at the airport to work with the Shaw Bros [for the shooting of Marco Polo, on which Godfrey Ho was a crew member at the time - Nanarland's note]. I remembered him because he was so enthusiastic about one day becoming a director. I can't remember exactly how I was later contacted for these Hong Kong films, but I was delighted when I learned that Godfrey Ho was the director. Twice I went to Hong Kong to work for them, and even though the quality of the films were very poor my wife and I enjoyed Hong Kong very much, and the crew was mostly made of nice people. Then Mr. Tomas Tang contacted me to make a film for him. I told Godfrey about the offer in strict confidence, but he told Mr. Lair, who told me I could not do the film. Naturally, I told him that after I finished my contract with him I was free to work with whomever I wished. Mr. Lai contacted a friend who was a tax man and was told I owed quite a bit of money in taxes. When I showed that my contract stated I would not be responsible for any taxes in Hong Kong, the man said it was not valid. I agreed then to do another film for Mr. Lai to pay the taxes. There was no script, only sides. Nothing made any sense, but the stories usually didn't. Then a young English boy warned me to be careful because they were pulling some type of dirty trick on me. To be quite honest with you I was not too worried as all the work I had done for them was so bad I was sure no one would ever see them outside the cutting room. Also, during this last film or films, our living conditions were not good. My first call came from Germany telling me how bad the films were and they had only bought them because they trusted me. I have no idea how many films they made from my last filming, but some say as many as ten. I put a lot of trust in friendship, so it hurt more than just professionally.