Original Written Content Copyright 2001 P. Breen
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  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 acting.

(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 and Karen's 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 favorite ending?

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 politically incorrect.

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 Twister...

When did you learn of Bill's helicopter accident?

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 opportunity?

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?

No.

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 Girdler?

Warm, close, creative and very exciting (especially since he made things happen so fast.) I miss him.

END

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