Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fleischer on De Laurentiis

by Richard Fleischer

Dino's English was impossibly bad. The only way I could tell that he was trying to speak English instead of Italian was when he talked a little slower. We had to have a translator present at every meeting. It took a while to get used to his vehement manner of speaking; in fact, it was quite frightening at first. I'd come into his office and present him with a suggestion or an idea. The translator would do his job and Dino would go into what seemed to be an apoplectic fit. He would yell and shout, pound the desk with his fists and elbows, jump to his feet and gesticulate accusingly at me, his voice filled with deep emotion. Shit, I would think, I've done it now. He thinks I'm an idiot. I'm fired for sure. Dino would drop back down into his chair, breathing heavily, and nod curtly to the translator, who would turn to me and say, "He loves it."
Over the years his command of the language has changed considerably for the better, but not his pronunciation. English still sounds like a totally unknown, undecipherable, foreign tongue when he speaks it. His comprehension is excellent, except when he conveniently doesn't want it to be. Then he'll say, "I no understand" and revert to hyperspeed Italian. This usually happens in any money discussion, that's not going in his favor. His grasp of the language suddenly evaporates.
His use of primitive sentence structure still amuses me. I know he has a sophisticated knowledge of grammar, but he still will say, "I like!" of "I no like!" I've observed him in meetings when an agent and a producer are pitching a project. Dino will listen for a while, then suddenly interrupt with "I like! We do!"

No comments:

Post a Comment