Thursday, October 6, 2011

Daredevil of The Skies: James Doohan

From issue #146 of Starlog, published September 1989, comes this article on everyone's favorite Engineer, Montgomery Scott. Or to be more accurate, the much-loved actor that brought him to life, James Doohan. It's interesting to learn that, but for being hired a day or two earlier for Trek, he might have become the engineer of the Seaview. Fate was kind to him (and us) by beaming him up before he could take that voyage to the bottom of the sea into obscurity.

It's also revealing to see how he and the other secondary cast members were chafing at the meagerness of their parts in ST 5, which was thanks to the ego of the director, who just happened to be the star. It's my outlook that giving an egotist like Shatner the directorial reins of a film he was also starring in was like giving the fox the keys to the henhouse. (No offense, Bill, but your talent for self-promotion was often at the expense of your co-stars, and nobody likes that.)
(Click on images to enlarge.)

One amusing bit from the article is when Jimmy says he would never guest-star on "The Next Generation," but we all know he did later. He didn't want to have to appear older through aging makeup, but when they found a way to get him in that century without aging him, he was ready for it! I'm glad he did it, it was a great homage to him.
Bonus: Below, a vintage photo of Bill Shatner from a TV/Movie magazine around 1967.

"I don't know why the extras like Jimmy and George hate me, they get to bask in my stardom!"


Erik J Kreffel said...

The really sad thing about STV:TFF is that the Shat isn't a bad director; he just needs a strong guiding hand (eg. Nick Meyer) to keep him on course, so to speak, and a decent script not emanating from his own brain. Given a better Exec Producer than Harve Bennett was at that time, STV could've been leaps and bounds above the final product. Then again, one could shift some of the blame to Paramount's chintzy budget dept. for that VFX debacle.

Frederick said...

Thanks for commenting, and I agree. The way I understand it is that Bill held out on starring unless they also let him direct. If they didn't have Bill, no movie, so they were in a corner. But the bad script and poor effects hampered it more than necessary.

Jackie T said...

Indeed, but the bad script was down to him as well. He insisted on the grandiose subject matter, and grandiose shots too. Funny, though, that everyone agrees, for the first time in his public life, that he behaved beautifully. Maybe he just needed all the power after all.....

Hank Drake said...

For me, the problem with STV is not Shatner's directing - he clearly knows how to handle a camera and get good performances from the cast. DeForest Kelley is particularly compelling in the euthanasia scene. The problem is the lousy script - and of course Shatner had a hand in that, as well. If Paramount had handed the script for The Undiscovered Country to Shatner and said, "here, direct this" I think the end result would have been just as good as it was with Meyer. A very different movie, with a different look, but strong on its own terms.

Anonymous said...

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Press Room:

murt said...

Ya - Star Trek V sucks, to the point that I get embarrassed by watching it -- that does have more to do with the script rather than the directing though. Somebody really needed to restrain Shatner's ambitions on that.

Admittedly, Star Trek IV also had a horrible script, though, and for some reason it worked out.

One thing I which I've never understood is Doohan's complaints about his part being too small. He's always had a small part from the beginning.

I do feel that Shatner and Nimoy were right that the characters other than Kirk, Spock and McCoy were interchangeable, and as a kid I felt that having uhura, sulu, scotty etc. in the movies did more harm than good -- why would these talented people be following Kirk around their entire careers rather than doing their own thing?

They would have been better off not having them around.

SpacerGuy said...

Star Trek V has some entertaining aspects, though many seem to regard it as being inconsistent with the Star Trek universe. Its nice to see Uhura and Scotty expressing their affection for each other on the bridge of the Enterprise.