The craziest thing? I met my wife and married her in two weeks. We went out every night for about 13 nights and then got married on the 14th. We're still at it. After 48 years we think that it's going to work.
Do you have the same sort of arguments that Rachel and Ryan have in the movie?
No. My wife and I have never had any real loud arguments. I had a separation once, but it had nothing to do Well, it had something to do with my wife, but not totally. It had to do with my health. It had to do with my work. It had to do with my children. It had to do with her. I said, Honey, I just have to go get away from everyone or I'm going to crazy. If I do, I'll blow the whole store. My wife was caring enough and all her girlfriends told her, You've got to divorce this son of a bitch, and she didn't. I went back and we're still happily married.
How long were you gone?
Almost two years. I got a house out in the valley and for the first six or eight months, I didn't do anything. I was just tired and worn out.
What was the hardest film to make?
Well it might be my favorite be my favorite movie, which was The Americanization of Emily. We worked awfully hard on that picture. Julie [Andrews] worked extremely hard because we were out in the rain and the cold and we traveled to England and did a lot of work there. That was awfully hard. Westerns are different hard. You're on a horse and you're banging around and whatever, but that one was hard because of the content of the film. What a great script. What a great script, just beautiful. It was an anti-war film at a time when you didn't say anything anti-war or else they might get you - as they are now. Be careful, the President might get you. They may redraft me and send me to Iraq. I forgot to mention that when I hurt my knee with the National Guard, they gave me a medical discharge and then I got drafted.
Do any of your leading ladies hold a special place in your heart?
All of them. All of them - Audrey [Hepburn]. Shirley MacLaine. Those were two of my favorites. Of course, Julie Andrews. I just love her to death. She's a sweet lady. They're all wonderful, wonderful ladies, and the only one that I wasn't particularly happy with and I don't have anything against her particularly, but I didn't know her very well and she was really demanding on the set was Kim Novak. I just didn't know her well enough. She had other interests than the script or whatever, how she looked.
How did you get along with Steve McQueen? The Great Escape DVD mentions McQueen was obsessed with the fact his part wasnt important enough.
Well, let me go back. When we did the film, a month or so into it, they had an hour and a half of dailies and they said, Anyone in the cast who wants to come see them, come see them. Well, Steve went out of there so angry and so mad or whatever, and he was going to leave the picture and so forth. He wanted to re-shoot everything that we'd done. And hell, we were hurting for money and time and everything. So a couple of days later, John Sturges came to me and said, Jim, you're the star of the picture. Steve is out. His agents were in route. There were loads of agents flying in to Germany.
I took Steve and Jim Coburn and we went over to my house in Munich and we went through the script and I said, Well, what's your problem, Steve? Well, I don't like this. I don't like that. We went through a lot of scenes. I said, This is silly. You don't like anything, Steve. So we looked at it and we finally figured out. Steve, you want to be the hero, but you dont want to do anything heroic. He didn't like the thing of the little Irishman going up the wall and getting shot, and then pulling him down. He didn't want to do anything physical that was heroic. So what they did, if you'll notice, he's the hero because he escaped, got captured, but when he came back, he had information of all the area there. Oh boy, what a hero. And he didn't have to do a lot of stuff. John Sturges called me one day when he was putting the film together and he said, Come have lunch. We did. He said, Jim, I've got to tell you, the two best acting scenes in the film are with you and Donald Pleasence. They're on the cutting room floor. He says, I've got to stay with McQueen and the bike. Hey, it made the picture. Sturges was absolutely correct, but as far as acting went, out the window.