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Max Thayer

Si nous aimons rire d'un certain cinéma déviant, nous sommes très loin de mépriser les hommes et les femmes qui s'y sont impliqués ou compromis. Il nous a ainsi paru enrichissant de faire raconter le nanar et son univers par les gens qui l'ont vécu de l'intérieur. La diversité des intervenants et de leurs réponses nous a rendu encore plus proches du cinéma que nous aimons : vous découvrirez, au fil des entretiens que ces différentes vedettes ont bien voulu nous accorder, des informations précieuses pour le cinéphile et le cinéphage, des anecdotes cocasses et, en esquisse, le portrait attachant de personnages souvent hauts en couleur.
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Max Thayer (page 2)


In 1980 I suffered an injury that would set me back until a wonderful tip from a friend got me back on my feet, three years later. Buck Flower, a great character actor who I had met on “Ilsa…”, phoned one day to tell me that some people were looking for an actor to go to the Philippines to star in a movie. This is how I met Hubert Frank, a very nice man and a talented director. I auditioned against many others but a week later Buck phoned me and said, “Hey kid, you want to go to the Philippines ?”

Again, this is that adventure part about being an actor.

“Story of the Dolls” was the story of a photographer for a Playboy type magazine on location shoot with centerfolds from France, Germany, Austria and Senegal who discovers a stunning Filipina beauty in the outer islands. The girls were actual European Penthouse centerfolds and Tetchie, Tetchie Agbayani was a real life Filipino Playboy centerfold. There was a delightful scandal going on at the time with Imelda Marcos suing Tetchie for besmirching Filipina womanhood and Tetchie suing back for slander and hypocrisy. That was Tetchie. As fiery and headstrong as she was beautiful. She would later try her luck in Hollywood only to land small, but featured roles in films like John Boorman’s “Emerald Forrest”.

Anyplace in Manila with her was like being with Mick Jagger. Shooting a street scene would attract thousands in a matter of minutes and create mini-riots. Three or four takes and we were gone. The fact that the entire movie was shot without sound didn’t bother me. Disappoint, yes, disturb, no. I concentrated on my performance and everybody was professional in their endeavors. An actor’s voice is who he is and when you take that away, you take half the performance. In the end it’s a sappy though lovely to look at movie. I had so many adventures that I won’t go into now but when I was asked to return for “Deadringer / Laser Force” in ’84, I didn’t hesitate. I was recommended by a friend I had made shooting “Story…”, who knew the producer. Sometimes it works that way.

Besides, how do you turn down playing twins, one good, one evil ? An actor’s dream and the first time I would work with Teddy Page (a Filipino) and producer Mr. Lim.

"how do you turn down playing twins, one good , one evil? An actors dream"

You asked about the risks involved and I will tell you that I felt confident in the stunts that I did. They were choreographed and set up with meticulous care. The one thing that went wrong was a special-effects scene that involved what was supposed to be a smoke-bomb that turned out to be a phosphorous grenade (stupid special-effects guy).

I was Lucky Luke on that one. Some of the burning material from the grenade blasted past my face and only left a few tiny skid marks that remain to this day. My pants were literally on fire as I ran outside after the blast. Sadly, some people were burned very seriously and we were forced to shut down for a day or two.

The biggest regret I have though is not meeting Richard Harrison. I missed him by one day. We were shooting in the countryside and staying at the same place the cast from Richard’s movie was staying. I was given his vacant room but that’s as close as I got. Oh how I would have loved to have just spent some time chatting with one of my screen idols.

As for “Deadringer“, would you believe I’ve never seen it ? If you know where I might get a DVD or video please let me know.

Again, I was asked back in ‘85 to work for Filipino director Jun Cabreira (Aka Danilo Cabreira, Aka J.C. Miller), on “No Dead Heroes”, originally titled, “Blood Machines”. Subtle, no ? It was a very tough shoot but Jun had assembled an incredible crew and all went well.

The cast was put up in the very nice Manila Garden Hotel, that was also hosting the cast of another Filipino production being directed by the great Cirio H. Santiago. Martial-Arts star Richard Norton along with some other actors from Hollywood. We would mingle in the lobby between our time off and I became acquainted with a fellow American actor named Robert Patrick. A few years later his breakthrough role was in “Terminator 2”.

You asked about the conditions of shooting movies in the Philippines and I must tell you there are some tough things to overcome. I am going to include some photos I took on the various movies I worked on. You will see some astounding sets built by incredibly hard working and industrious crews. The Filipino film industry has a long and unappreciated history. Appalling poverty is countered with a cheerful resource matched by few in the world. I have never seen people do so much with so little.

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