Although renowned for his music, Phil Spector also had an ambition to direct and produce films, and in 1966 he asked me to come over to his house so he could explain his plan. At the time, I was a political reporter for the New York Times in Los Angeles and I had met Spector in a political party.
Spector, then 25, was already pale and rather fragile in appearance. He lived in an imposing Edwardian mansion, and as I approached I saw Spector’s limo parked outside. He wore a sticker that read “Send Batman to Vietnam”.
Once inside, I could see several young women frolicking in his pool. Spector was cordial. He told me his first film would be titled The last movie and would be “an art film”. “I am an admirer of Truffaut, Kubrick and Fellini,” he said.
The last movie would be a contemporary western, he told me, and would shoot in Mexico. Dennis Hopper (from Easy rider) would direct and Spector would approach Jane Fonda and Jason Robards to play. “If the studios don’t fund it, I will,” he told me.
A butler arrived with apple pie and root beer. “You could check out the little boppers in the pool and see if they want some,” Spector advised.
I asked Spector if his lack of experience in cinema concerned him. He replied, “If anything, it’ll help me need a new creative outlet to make movies my next career.” Produce hits like Da Doo Ron Ron was no longer satisfactory, he said.
Spector was unable to secure funding for the studio. Production of The last movie was blocked until 1969, when Easy rider became a success. But The last movie itself was a disaster and ended Spector’s career as a producer. He was not listed as a co-producer, never told me how much money he lost, and never tried to produce another film, to my knowledge.