"I would be the proudest man in the world," Otto Preminger said last night, "if I could make a good entertaining movie for $150. That would be genius."
Preminger discussed movies and movie-making with a group of 100 students in Kirkland House. The movie director sat with the group in the Junior Common Room and answered questions for over two hours.
He consistently turned aside, however, requests for him to evaluate his own or someone else's work. "This is not the place for it," he said. "Besides, you would think I was conceited." For Charlie Chaplin, however, he made an exception, terming him "one of the greatest artist who has ever worked in pictures."
Turning to the Oscar awards, Preminger said they were "honest and really quite fair." But he thought all the advertising for the awards is somewhat ridiculous. "It's a game," he said, "No grown-up person can really take it seriously."
Preminger didn't believe that there is a great deal of difference between American and foreign movies. "The whole idea that pictures are better or worse because they were made in America was invented by some frustrated intellectual," he asserted.
"The recent trend towards high-budget 'spectacular' movies places much too much emphasis on movies' cost," Preminger asserted. "What does the viewer care how much a movie costs? The important thing is whether or not he enjoys it."
Preminger clearly enjoyed himself. At one point he drew enthusiastic applause when his business manager tried to close the meeting and he refused to go. "I'll stay as long as you want," he said. "My plane doesn't leave till 10:15 a.m. tomorrow.
Preminger also discussed two kinds of critics. "One type tells the people what they themselves think of the movie," he said. "These I can accept whether I agree with them or not."
Critics of the second type, he continued, attempt to criticize movies objectively. He said these critics usually fail because they know nothing about movie techniques. "If they are going to criticize craftmanship," he asserted, "they should first learn something about movie making."