One Hell of An Eye
The Official Blog of Mike Salisbury
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Who would see a movie about Vietnam so soon after we left?

That was the question Francis Coppola asked the team that polled America to guide Jimmy Carter to election and the making of a presidency that never got to having a generator –the tag team of Caddell and Rafshoon. Caddell’s genius, author Kevin Mattson wrote, was to appeal to both sides of the president’s personality.

I would be educated about how they worked in practice for another client of theirs, introducing a first in the movie business:  market research.

Flying to the tropical Philippine Islands location of “Apocalypse Now” on the same plane as the psychic duo, the Simon and Garfunkle that would build a bridge over anyone’s troubled waters (for a sizable fee), the only two people on the plane with white shirts and ties, we would all three later helicopter to Francis’s headquarters in the jungle under the mountains to have a meet and greet and eat with the director, his family and close crew.

My job was presenting a visual history of Marlon Brando’s pre-pre ”Apocalypse” character–Colonel Kurtz –a history I created For Francis to establish Kurtz’ pre-“Apocalypse” character and which was later shot in the scenes revealing the contents of his dossier—faux army documents, personal photos, Life and Time magazine covers and stories.  I was also going to shoot pictures to document an interview I was to do with Francis for a big deal publication and later, little me, unknowingly, was to be drafted to double for Dennis Hopper whose character I was told much later had to do a lot with my Hunter Thompson christened Mad Dog persona (see earlier blog). Hopper’s wardrobe pants were too short for me so I got to use a pair of French jungle camo cargo pants which–unlike the poly-blend American military industrial complex stuff—actually breathed in the hot and humid location.

Mike on location for "Apocalypse Now" with his band of brothers.

Mike on location for "Apocalypse Now" with his band of brothers.

That warm and clear night a wonderful time was had by all in Francis’ rubber plantation master’s thatched roof manor high up on stilts above the moonlit jungle floor and almost away from the sounds of invisible insects, reptiles and South Asia demons.

And the Merry Pollsters stroked Francis to the max.

Another day a short time away, under a waterfall that streaked white with foam under the sun and fell in slow motion down out of the high jungle down into a warm river pond, I asked actor Sam Bottoms, who played Lance in “Apocalypse,” what did he think the pollsters would discover of Americans’ feelings about the war and a movie basically making entertainment of it.

Sam, eyes closed, tipped his blonde head back under the shower of the falls and said, “Dude, for $250,000 would you come back with bad news?”

Vittorio Storaro, director of cinematography, and Francis Ford Coppola, going up river. (Photo: Mike Salisbury)

Vittorio Storaro, director of cinematography, and Francis Ford Coppola, going up river. (Photo: Mike Salisbury)

Comments:
Never get out of the boat, Mike! Cool stuff, man.  Hey, I’m back on staff at Cycle World if you got any good motorcycle ideas…  John B.
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Did you and your Leica both survive? Robert C.
I had that Leica until about the last ’90’s when I went overboard with it in the Keys and was too dumb to rinse it out asap in a bucket of fresh water.  But under that waterfall in the Philippines I lost a Nikon I had just bought in Japan because we were so fucking stoned. Mike
It’s an amazing photograph. You look either like a prisoner of war.  Or a Marine who survived several weeks of shelling on Okinawa.  Robert C.
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Great shot! Airrion C.

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Great stuff, Mike; I want to be your agent.  I remember you when…  There is a great line which is:  The older I get the better I was.  How true.  There is an extraordinary book filled with profound insight into this era and 40 years later.  I have re-read it and it is not only relevant…it is a look back and into our future.  It is called They Became What They Beheld. It is only in paperback; it belongs on your reading list.  ALSO:  CHECK OUT our website.  It went live today.  I would welcome your thoughts:  www.kkmbrands.com

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When Apocalypse Now was first released in the theaters wasn’t the village blown up in an air strike?  Did Francis do an alternate ending where the boat just leaves the village in the end?  I think I’ve seen both endings.  Tim

It was a replica of Angkor Wat Temple that was blown…I was there.  The boat did leave.  But maybe the new cut doesn’t have that boat bit.  Mike

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Great photo(s) and story.  JB

Did I say thanks? Thanks, JB.  MS

Absolutely. You are so welcome.  It’s fun to get these glimpses into your earlier life before I knew you.  You’ve had an exciting time!  JB

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God, Mike, you had me for a moment there – I thought I was looking at Dennis!  Eric

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Hi, Mike! Enjoying your blog…keep ’em comin’!  Wish I would have had more time to chat at the reunion.  Is there any life-story or documentary in the future?  If so, keep me informed.  Thank you.  Dave & Shay

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Hey, we like Caddell now that he’s lambasting Obama every other night as the house Democrat at Fox!  RCC

I gotta see that. Mike

Hannity regularly includes him in various panels.  And I think he shows up on other Fox shows.  Caddell is, in comparison to the current far Lefty crop of ’60’s leftovers, an old-fashioned Democrat.  He is pretty much disgusted with Obama’s agenda and the Pelosi Congress.  I don’t know how many times I’ve pointed out to Democrats that Jack Kennedy or Hubert Humphrey, let alone Scoop Jackson or Harry Truman, would be shocked and dumbfounded by the modern Democratic party.  RCC

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Always interesting! Jtabler

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Mike, I wish you would write longer essays about the assignments, people, places you’ve been in your career…I have always told you I think you have a flair for writing.  How about a memoir?  A real one?  That’s a very cool photo…Tony F.

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You need to seriously write some more about this topic. This last post makes me really mind-blowed.  Thank you!  Branker T.

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At 12 years of age my son Christopher was trailing slightly behind me in the long hallway of George Harrison’s Crackerbox Palace at Henley on Thames, England.  With slightly perplexed attention, he was studying the gallery of Beatles pictures stretched all the way down the walls–a complete history of John, Paul, George and Ringo.  George had met us at the front door and was silently leading us through the hall to the kitchen where Stevie Winwood and guitar hero Alvin Lee were hanging out over morning tea.  George and I were to discuss the photos I was shooting for his album “George Harrison,” an assignment given to me by the late, great Warner Bros. Records art director, Ed Thrasher, and producer Russ Titelman.  As we approached the kitchen, Chris ran up beside George and I and – not quietly – said, “Dad, those guys in the photos…I thought they all were dead.”

Mike & George lg r smaller

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Quite a picture, Mike. All the best.  MdJ

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What a great shot. I recall being at the US Grand Prix in the 70s in the pits of whatever car Harrison was sponsoring in his motor racing days and his SCREAMING at me as the car came in to fuel to GET THE F OUT OF THE WAY.  MY brush with greatness.  Patrick C.

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Nice Luna Pro!  Scott

Mike: Still have it.  Make an offer?

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Holy crap.
That’s you and George.  Awesome.  Thanks for sharing.  Bob S.

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Love it!
Richard O.

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Nice.
And a nice format, too.  Alan M.

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Blog is looking good.  Keep it up.  Bob G.

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This was amazing! Thanks for sharing it!  Ted RW.

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Nice. U rock…Tim B.

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Looks great. I’d love to work with you again.  Ric F.

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My cousin from Newport Beach was living in Hollywood with a black hooker.  Danny Thomas was her client.

One evening, she was passing around a joint to us three – her, my cousin and me – and she smilingly told us that Danny would rendezvous with the lady, get naked, and whinny as she rode him around the living room furniture on a little miniature saddle.

My stoned cousin, sleepily worrying about the roach burning his fingers, breathlessly asked, “Western or English?”

(excerpted from Mike Salisbury text in Overspray http://www.pictureboxinc.com/product/id/297/)

devil_girl_Clive McLean

And the following e-conversation ensued:

“Hi, Mike.  I don’t go along with having my name associated with Devils, drugs, etc.  Please remove my link.  Hopefully you will seek after your Creator…He will answer you if you search with all your heart.  Your friend, Warren.”

To which Alan, another reader, responded:  “What’s got into Warren?  Jesus H. Christ!”

“BINGO.” I dryly replied.

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Hiya, Mike,

34 years later + you still amaze me just the same.

An elephant never forgets and neither do I.

Lest we refresh everyone else’s memory by reminding them Danny Thomas’ hit FAMILY TV show was called “Make Room For Daddy.”  I am not a betting man and never have been.  But if I was, I’d put my life savings + my beloved dog’s life on the fact that the name of his show was unrelated to him repeating those exact words, both privately and nakedly, to a hooker.

Happy to see you still making us smile + keep up the good work as always.  Your former student (c. 1975) continues to romance of the idea of someday shooting for his former teacher.  Hope that 2010 is finally our year and wishing you a happy new one.           Best, Pete.

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Mike, I felt like I was there. You are a great writer.   Jeff

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I remember that story…the visual of Danny Thomas being ridden by a lady of the night is just too funny…we all have secret lives I think in some way!  Tony

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