Do Leni Riefenstahl and L. Ron Hubbard write together? How the hell did that happen?
When I came across the story of the famous cult leader L. Ron Hubbard and Nazi Leni Riefenstahl working on a script together in 1960, I was understandably shocked. But it turns out the news has been around for a while.
Riefenstahl’s biography mentions it, and there are records of Hubbard and their meetings and even exchanges of letters. In fact, she stayed in his private apartment in England for a while.
But how did it all happen?
The daily beast posted the amazing article last night which has parts of the script that you can read on her side. It turned out that years after Riefenstahl’s involvement in the production of Nazi propaganda films, Hollywood had become deaf to its war crimes and was once again open to working with the filmmaker.
But at that time Riefenstahl’s last film was TielandShe had been ravaged by critics and she wasn’t sure she would go back to work. Enter Philip Hudsmith, a 35 year old English film editor who would pitch a pitch Riefenstahl to reinvent their careers. The idea was to remake their film, the blue light.
It was a thriller about a woman suspected of being a witch and had a lot of great reviews. If she could make it for American audiences, maybe she could turn her career inside out and get more movies.
To get her vision onto screen, Hudsmith thought she needed a talented co-writer. As Riefenstahl wrote in her memoir“Philip wrote that he had found a talented American writer to work on the script. ‘This American,’ he enthused, ‘is a brilliant and famous writer who has written many screenplays for Columbia in the Hollywood of the great international organization that across the globe and with over a million members. His name is L. Ron Hubbard, he’s a psychologist and a Scientologist. ‘”
Yes, that meeting of thoughts took place in Hubbard’s London apartment, where Riefenstahl and Hudsmith ventured so that they could all work on the script. When she got there, Hubbard was apparently called to South Africa.
Riefenstahl and Hubbard were writing letters to each other when the script surfaced.
So what happened to this movie?
Well, it turns out that not all filmmakers have forgotten Riefenstahl’s collaboration with Adolf Hitler. Hudsmith and Riefenstahl knew they would need good publicity to produce this script at home, so they arranged a screening of Riefenstahl’s Olympic documentary Olympia for the first time in London. It was supposed to be a showcase for Riefenstahl’s talent, but the journalists present had some questions about their past.
Riefenstahl wrote in her memoir: “When Philip introduced me to journalists, one of them refused to shake my hand. Another yelled at me: ‘Why didn’t you kill Hitler?’ That was horrible. The press conference had to be canceled. ”
It all hit the headlines and effectively killed the blue light.
Even so, her work with Hubbard did not end. According to the Daily Beast, there was a portion of Riefenstahl’s memoir, which was not translated into English, in which Riefenstahl describes how he received a letter from Hubbard. He invited her to Johannesburg to make a documentary about South Africa and told her that “money is not a problem”.
In the end, Riefenstahl did not accept, and their collaboration ended there.
This is a crazy story, and one of the craziest footnotes in 20th century film.
Let us know what you think in the comments.