One-Eyed Jacks is one of my favorite films of all time. Number one: spectacular performances. And a great script: the idea of the thing was great. It was really a character piece, and every character was breathtakingly wonderful. The casting was amazing, the costumes were great, the dialogue was fucking wonderful. Particularly "You great gob of spit!"
It was truly mythic as well, that one. And the sense of contrasts: this great bulk of Brando there, and the girl, Pina Pellicer, the most delicate creature you've ever seen. And then Karl Malden and Katy Jurado and Ben Johnson.
Great masochist too, Brando. He obviously had this Christ complex, because the whipping scene is a crucifixion. And what better but to be beaten by your best friend? The real evil, the real bad guy in Brazil, is the best friend. I'm sure that's coming from One-Eyed Jacks, because that was the first time I really felt that idea. It stuck with me. And that's what's so awful: Michael Palin in Brazil is funny, he's charming, and yet the choices that character makes are totally horrendous.
One-Eyed Jacks was phenomenal. I think I watched it three times in a row. When the film came out, I didn't have any money and so I had to go to one of those shitty little 42nd Street theaters. And I just sat there all day. It was on a double bill, and I had to sit through the other film each time.
Brando was raked over the coals critically about One-Eyed Jacks, because he was doing things only David Lean should get away with. He was waiting for the surf to crash, waiting for the waves to get from 7-foot high to 20-foot high. In those scenes where they ride along the edge of the cliff and we see those great waves - David Lean can do it, but Marlon Brando, this actor, taking over and trying to direct the film, he's not allowed to do that. - Terry Gilliam, Film Comment (you can read it here).
I'm like a bad witness in court. I don't remember things. I don't remember films. I remember the films that I really like, but not the ones I don't; if I've suppressed them, I've done it incredibly successfully. Plus, guilty pleasures aren’t really guilty - I don't feel guilty about any of them.- Terry Gilliam, Film Comment (you can read it here).
Fred MacMurray always made me laugh - the Flubber series. I love Fred MacMurray. He's wonderfully funny, a great performer. I remember MacMurray most in The Apartment; he was the slime. He was so smooth, so charming, so distasteful. The strange thing is, I never thought I was interested in actors as such, and acting, but when I look back... - Terry Gilliam
Smokey and the Bandit is not bad. The Smokeys are jokey films and I don't get much long-term thrill out of that, but what I do remember are performances and ways of doing things. The subject matter's useless, but you get caught in this syndrome that things have to have meaning and weight to be good. And they don't. - Terry Gilliam
The Silence of the Lambs is a case in point. I think it gives the impression of being about something, but what it basically gives you is a couple of good thrills and spills and a great monster.- Terry Gilliam
I was a great fan of Walt Disney. Everything Disney did, I fell for: the live-action stuff - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island; all the cartoons, Pinocchio. As far as other animation, Mr. Magoo was good. I never knew who the other great animators were, despite watching their cartoons. Even after I was in Python, I never knew who Chuck Jones was. Or Tex Avery. They represented a shift from Disney, but in all of them there is the creation of these amazing worlds. That's what Disney always did...
And then going to college, when I discovered more serious films, then my old favorites were an embarrassment to me. Then I spent my whole time trying to get away from Disney. That's why my cartoons were like that: I was going in the opposite direction, away from everything that Disney stood for. And the awful thing is, I love those things.
But you end up coming out of all that.- Terry Gilliam
Mary Poppins I really liked. Terrific songs. That side of Disney - when it's ingenuous, it's really magical and delightful - and she's actually saying interesting things. Everything I've done has come from the song, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" All my films have good funny bits, but then there are all these other things that disturb or get to you. The trick is, you coat those moments, which are the moments I’m really interested in, with all the sugar - the silly things, and the spectacular things - to get people in and interested enough to get this other, the more bitter pill, thrust down them. Julie said it all. - Terry Gilliam
Julie Andrews I think is very good. The film of hers I like most is The Americanization of Emily, with James Garner. It's a wonderful film, and she's great! Because she's really sexy in the thing, she’s this English rose, but like most Englishwomen, underneath that cool, prim, ordered exterior is something sexy. I think that may have sent me off to England in '67. I actually met Julie Andrews once. And I thought she was one of the sexiest women I'd ever met. Interesting sexy. Not like Raquel Welch - it's more subtle, because it's not displayed. But it's there. For the perceptive, it's there. - Terry Gilliam
There's a whole string of romantic films I was crazy about. I was always falling for Wuthering Heights kind of films, and Rebecca and The Red Shoes. They tend to be lush period pieces with lots of old stylized passion running around the place. I think my films are always very romantic. Nobody else does, but I mean, with Munchausen waltzing like that in the air, there's no justification for it other than just gushing old-fashioned romanticism. So I slip that one through while they think I'm doing some very hard-biting comedies. - Terry Gilliam
I'm a real sucker for all the great epics - Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, all the Cecil B. DeMille films, even The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Hercules movies. It’s sort of the breeding ground for megalomania, that kind of film. Anything that had to do with creating another world on a grand scale was always just amazing. - Terry Gilliam
Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country - love that - and The Wild Bunch. Because they're great romantic pieces about people whom time has passed, people who are set in their ways and it's too late to change. They can't adapt, and ultimately they die. That's dealing with things on a very high mythic level. - Terry Gilliam
I didn’t have a great memory of Forbidden Planet. When I saw it again - because somebody's trying to remake it - I realized why. It's not a good movie. Robbie the Robot's all right; I liked the beginning - and then they just got very static. I thought it was so fucking stupid. What it does is, maybe, tell us what times were like in the Fifties, how naive people were about psychiatry - the Monster from the Id! I just started giggling at that point. It would have been more interesting to have the Monster from the Libido - the X-rated version of Forbidden Planet! "What's he knocking that door down with?" That was the nice thing about Alien - that wonderful mixture of writhing sexual imagery and totally violent, awful stuff. That works because it's not spelled out. It's working subconsciously. - Terry Gilliam
I fall for animals - where the dog comes running up panting and lands in the kid's lap and they hug each other. I hate myself for it. I saw the display for The Incredible Journey in Tokyo; it was called The Adventures of Shakra, I think, in Japan. There were these great cut-out birch trees outside the cinema, and this giant head of a cat. It had gone from something cute and cuddly to something gigantic and bizarre. Quite wonderful, actually, because it was so tasteless, so horrendous - and people were rushing in to see it.
I just like the fact I can make a film which might give comfort to some people who think they are the only crazy person in the world and suddenly they see there are two crazy people in the world. - Terry Gilliam
His picks for the 1992 Sight & Sound directors' poll.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Seven Samurai (1954)
Seventh Seal (1957)
8 1/2 (1963)
2001 : A Space Odyssey (1968)
Sherlock Jr. (1924)
Children Of Paradise (1945)
One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
The Apartment (1960)
Terry Gilliam chose ten unranked films for Time Out: Director's Choice. The list is no longer on TimeOut.com.
01. Citizen Kane
04. The Seventh Seal
05. Seven Samurai
07. Birth of a Nation
08. Sherlock Jr.
09. The Exterminating Angel
10. Lawrence of Arabia