Harry Erskine is a recurring character throughout your books. Did Tony Curtis' depiction of Harry match your own concept of the persona? (As an aside, I think the opening "Guard well the pips" scene is pretty faithful to the book -- disregarding the disco beer dance. But Harry loses his smoothness for a bit in the middle of the film.)
Tony Curtis came very close to my vision of Harry
Erskine. The role needed somebody with a
self-deprecatory sense of humor and I can't think of
anybody else who could have played it better. Harry's
loss of smoothness in the middle of the picture can be
blamed more on script problems than inconsistent
(Click HERE to hear the mystic motto in Real Audio: 21 KB; or click HERE for an audio Mpeg: 417 KB)
Apart from the lower cinematic body count, the
most striking plot
differences between the novel and the film are Harry
relationship, and the "love conquers all" ending. In
the book, Harry and
Karen are virtual strangers, and a police database
with a penchant for
justice ultimately defeats Misquamacus. But the
onscreen "power of love"
battle stands in sharp contrast to the original UK
printing of The Manitou,
in which Misquamacus is bested by a venereal
disease. Which is your
I thought the love-affair between Harry and Karen
was a neat way of introducing an immediate bond
between them, and giving Harry a reason to risk his
life to save her. The old venereal disease ending was
amusing but I think that the "white man's Manitou"
climax was more exciting and gave the reader/viewer
more food for thought. As well as being more
I read on your site
that you hashed out
plans with Girdler to adapt The Djinn to film. How
far along were you in
respect to bringing Djinn to the big screen?
Bill and I were working on ideas for The Djinn when
he was killed. He was worried, however, about the
whirlwind scene, since at that time there was no
technology which would easily have allowed him to film
it. I thought of Bill rather sadly when I saw
When did you learn of Bill's
I heard the news on the telephone from my then
agent Stephanie Bennett. I was greatly saddened and
felt that Hollywood had lost a young man who was right
on the edge of doing his best work.
Manitou saw release several months after
Girdler's death. It did very
well at the box-office, and even picked up a few
genre awards. You've
remarked that while Manitou's
ending is a mite over-the-top in the Star Wars FX
department, it's an
otherwise fun movie. Would you have changed anything
else given the
I would have changed the ending sequence to make
it much less out-in-space. But - again - given the
limitations of the technology at the time, I think
Bill did a very workmanlike job.
Were there ever plans to film the sequels,
Revenge of the Manitou and Burial?
You're aiming to pen another sequel titled
Manitou Fire. Any teaser
tidbits you'd like to share about it?
The teasing thing is that I haven't had time to
write it yet. But it concerns a Native American spirit
much like the Wendigo.
Lastly, how would you summarize your memories of
working with William
Warm, close, creative and very exciting (especially since he made things happen so fast.) I miss him.