Fake Films & A Man Lies Dreaming

By Lavie Tidhar

Posted on October 21, 2014 in Books with tags Lavie Tidhar

One of my favourite moments in A Man Lies Dreaming comes when Wolf runs into an old friend – the notorious Nazi film maker and actress Leni Riefenstahl.

Riefenstahl (1902-2003), began her film career as an actress, starring in some 7 early films before turning to directing with The Blue Light in 1932. Around this time she met Adolf Hitler, and became his intimate confidant. She was detained after the war but never convicted of a crime, and died at the ripe old age of 101. Susan Sontag wrote her famous essay, Fascinating Fascism, about Riefenstahl. In her obituary, the Independent called her “famous for being the woman you love to hate.”

In A Man Lies Dreaming, Leni ends up in Hollywood – where she’s cast opposite a little known actor, Humphrey Bogart, in a film set in Morocco, where refugees from Communist Germany find temporary shelter, and a disillusioned bar owner plays complex chess problems against himself – until an old flame walks through the door.

From early on I knew I wanted to not just write the gag (the film is in fact a sequel to The Great Gatsby), but to see it, and this was the original collaboration I worked on with Sarah (the second one was the Re-Elect Mosley poster). There is always something so fascinating about #fakefilms, a perennial what if? question.

To create the poster, we used as our base one of the original release posters. There are several, so we ended up going with the one that features Ingrid Bergman’s face, and a smaller scene set in Rick’s bar. We replaced Bergman with Riefenstahl as a first step. Then there was the matter of casting. It was obvious Paul Henried (Victor) had to go, and it seemed obvious to me to replace him with – who else – Boris Karloff. At this point it became obvious we were engaging in some imaginary casting, too.

But next to go on the poster was the Soviet red star – further indicating the historical diversion point – then the casting. Hattie McDaniel replaces Doolie Wilson (Sam) – she was the first African-American actor to win an Oscar, for 1939’s Gone with the Wind. Finally, Burgess Meredith and Ronald Reagan replace Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet.

For the visual scene (Rick’s bar in the original) we ended up using the image of Soviet troops, marching. We also added the tagline “Everybody Comes to Gatsby’s” (Casablanca itself was based on the unproduced stage play, Everybody Comes to Rick’s).

The result was this:

Though we weren’t able to reprint the poster in the finished book, Hodder have very kindly printed 4 copies for our exclusive giveaway!

As above, tweet @hodderscape with your favourite #fakefilms for a chance to win a copy!

A Man Lies Dreaming, which the Guardina calls ‘a twisted masterpiece,’ publishes on Thursday.

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