The Little Movie That Couldn’t: An Oral History of Elliott Gould’s Never-Completed “A Glimpse of Tiger”

The four elements: "A Glimpse of Tiger" stars Elliott Gould and Kim Darby (top), director Anthony Harvey (bottom left) and author Herman Raucher.
The four elements: “A Glimpse of Tiger” stars Elliott Gould and Kim Darby (top), director Anthony Harvey (bottom left) and author Herman Raucher.

There are few in-depth Elliott Gould profiles that don’t mention “A Glimpse of Tiger,” the abandoned 1971 Warner Bros. dark comedy that Gould was slated to co-produce and star in. Fresh from the harrowing but ego-boosting tutelage of Ingmar Bergman, who’d selected Gould as his first American actor to star in his 1970 melodrama “The Touch,” Gould was imbued with an enhanced ease for experimentation in front of the camera. Having formed a production company with partner Jack Brodsky and achieved critical–if not financial–success with their debut effort (the theatrical adaptation “Little Murders,” also starring Gould and released in early 1971), doubling once again as co-producer and lead actor in a more commercial (albeit bizarre) movie seemed a smart move for Gould.

Screen darling Kim Darby, hot on the heels of “True Grit,” was to co-star (as were character actors David Birney, later of TV’s “St. Elsewhere” fame, and Oliver Clark). Anthony Harvey, the celebrated director of “A Lion in Winter,” was at the helm. No one could have predicted that the production, which launched in New York City in late February 1971, would come to a grinding halt after a mere five days, leaving Gould’s career, just a year after “M*A*S*H” shot him to super-stardom, in indefinite jeopardy.

What every Gould follower knows already is that he behaved erratically on the set; that he clashed with Harvey creatively (to the point where Harvey temporarily walked off); that he frightened Darby (to the point where security was hired to protect her); that he eventually stopped showing up entirely; and that, in the aftermath of the botched project, he was considered too mentally unsound to work and disappeared from cinema until his renowned comeback in Robert Altman’s 1973 Raymond Chandler adaptation “The Long Goodbye.” (Meanwhile, “Tiger” was re-developed, loosely, as “What’s Up, Doc?”, released a year later with–in a cruel twist of fate–Gould’s ex-wife, Barbra Streisand, cast in the role initially meant for Gould).

With the exception of producer Paul Heller, the Warner Bros. executive eventually tasked with shutting down the film, the only participant in “Tiger” who has publicly commented on the experience, in the last 43 years, is Gould. In interviews, he has variously depicted himself as a victim (to the producers, agents and other business folks that, in his mind, misunderstood him and helped plant the seeds of his virtual blacklist); as hopelessly naive about the financial side of the movie industry; and as unable to cope with his rising fame.

But hardly anything has been written about the film itself: about its content, about how, exactly, Gould and Harvey came to blows, and, most importantly, about what Gould’s true intentions were behind his sometimes alarming behavior. There were several key figures in the “Tiger” production who have died and who could have provided more insight on this subject: Jack Brodsky; Ted Ashley (one-time chairman of Warner Bros.); producers John Calley and Dick Shepherd; David Begelman (a top Hollywood agent and later a producer); Sam Cohn (talent agent); Frank Wells (head of Warner Bros. and later Disney) and Ray Stark (the Columbia Pictures powerhouse whom Brodsky temporarily worked for). Fortunately, enough surviving people were willing to give me candid observations, after racking their brains to remember that far back. A handful of them asked me why the hell I was writing about this topic, and I did feel at times that I was beating a twice-dead horse.

But all in all, I think that behind the “Tiger” production is a story about creative frustration, about the consequences of expressing the full capacity of that frustration. It’s about an eccentric star clashing with his practical-minded employers (even though these employers were operating within a decidedly eccentric medium). On a simpler level, it’s a look at perhaps the most profound learning experience in Elliott Gould’s entire career (which, though long ago revived, has continued to undergo its share of highs and lows).

(A brief summary—spoiler alert!—about Herman Raucher’s book of the same name, written the same year as the film shoot, whose devil-may-care lead character, Luther, seemed tailor-made for Gould’s hirsute, tongue-wagging, smirking style at the time):

Luther and his girlfriend, Tiger, are young New York City layabouts who are first seen impersonating beggars in the subway. Then they brashly break in to a high-priced dinner, pretending to be a socialite couple. Ah, you think: they are grifters. Wrong: these pranks are purely for kicks. Luther, high on life, is the epitome of impulsiveness; if he wants to do something, he does it, and he doesn’t care to ask Tiger if she’s on board. She’s in love with him but perpetually afraid of his cocksure control over her, which sometimes manifests itself in violent tantrums. The last straw for Tiger is when he insists on housing two decrepit street urchins (one hideously overweight) in their ramshackle apartment, failing to let her in on the secret, twisted project they’re developing. She leaves, gets a typist job at a law firm, tries to escape him, but he keeps stalking her. Just when he seems to have accepted their breakup, he blows up her office building. She’s dead.

What a deranged, scary farce this could have been on-screen! (The book, though very contrived at times, begs to be adapted into macabre cinema). Seven years later, Darby played a similar role to Tiger in the godawful comedy “The One and Only,” in which Henry Winkler, as an obnoxious aspiring actor, annoys his way into marrying her. And Gould portrayed many smug rogues in films both before and after “Tiger.” But it remains heartbreaking that the potentially scorching rapport between two such offbeat performers as Gould and Darby will never be seen.

The powers that be: clockwise, from top: David Begelman, Jack Brodsky, Paul Heller, Ray Stark.
The powers that be: clockwise, from top: David Begelman, Jack Brodsky, Paul Heller, Ray Stark.


The book was, to me, about drugs. I was working with [actor] Tony Newley on the West Coast, on [the 1969 film] “Heironymus Merkin” [full title: “Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?”] and I was introduced to this society of addicts. I would see little girls on the street, couldn’t have been more than 16 or 17, sitting in doorways in the morning, asking for money, and they had been out all night long on drugs. It was a strange time. It’s why I never wanted to live out there and raise my kids out there. I didn’t like what I saw.

It took me 49 rejections to sell “Summer of ’42,” and I think “A Glimpse of Tiger” sold overnight. I don’t remember what I got for it.


When we started to work on “A Glimpse of Tiger,” it appeared that I had a potentially fertile career as a producer. Jack Brodsky [Gould’s co-producer and partner] worked at the time for Ray Stark [producer at Columbia Pictures]. We had a meeting with [agent] David Begelman. I remember Jack very much wanted me to do the film, because he wanted to buy a house. It’s probably a project that I shouldn’t have done at the time. I was just doing so many things.

“A Glimpse of Tiger” looked to me like “The Little Prince.” I would have been the aviator and the girl, Tiger, would have been the prince, in the ‘70s in New York City. I was so taken with the possibility of creating and I thought, after we’d made “Little Murders” and I’d worked with and had been endowed by Ingmar Bergman, that I could make “A Glimpse of Tiger.”


I had a personal relationship with Jack Brodsky. I’d worked with him at 20th Century Fox in our younger days, in advertising and publicity. He championed “Glimpse” and so did Elliott.


I remember when I met Herman Raucher. He came to see me at 58 Morton Street, where I was living at the time. And he came early, which I thought was interesting and perhaps a little rude.


Elliott had just come back from Europe, working with Ingmar Bergman. And he was really hot, he was the hottest guy around, and he was acting that way. I would go down from Connecticut to the Village, where he lived, in between his meetings with his analyst and the New York Knicks, whom he worked out with. And as I remember, I [eventually] said, “I can’t come down from Connecticut. It takes me an hour and a half for a one hour meeting with you, because you’re going to work out with the Knicks.” And the next thing I knew, I was told not to come to the set.


I don’t know [about Raucher being banned from the set]. He certainly didn’t deal with me. He dealt with Brodsky.


I never discussed the piece with Gould. He just bought the property. I’d done a few movies and usually the stars want to talk to the writer. I did a picture called “Sweet November” with Tony Newley [in 1968; a rather lukewarm remake, starring Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, was released in 2001, to Raucher’s chagrin]. Tony insisted on my reading every line I wrote for him. He wanted to hear how I heard them when I wrote them. And Bob Mulligan, who directed “Summer of ’42” [released in April 1971], wanted me there all the time.


Sam Peckinpah wanted me to do “Straw Dogs.” I would have done it prior to “A Glimpse of Tiger.” Richard Brooks wanted me to do “Dollars” with Goldie Hawn, and I remember saying to him when he was editing “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” that I was sorry I didn’t do “Dollars,” because he would have been able to give me some sense.

I had a problem with authority. I didn’t know that I had no perspective and no judgment in the world. I know that I was difficult to do business with. It was so new to me. The business people would have had to educate me and tell me the facts of life.


He was the producer and the star at the same time. If he was just the actor in it, nothing [bad] would ever have happened.


I was interested in a film Tony Harvey had done called “Dutchman.” I had heard that Stanley Kubrick used to chase Tony Harvey [Kubrick’s editor on “Dr. Strangelove”] around a desk, wanting to hit him with a ruler, because I think Tony was so meticulous and so precise that it would drive Stanley crazy. Tony Harvey was a lovely man. Really good, but I needed freedom.

One of the things I learned with Ingmar was that he would test the wardrobe and sets and colors prior to shooting. I thought that was a good idea. I remember going in the first day to do tests, and [costume designer] Ann Roth had been hired without meeting me. She was a wonderful, fabulous artist but we had not met. They [Ann and Tony] had made decisions without me! I had to be comfortable. I knew that my character Luther would wear earth colors. And Tony said, in a lovely way, “I feel that you’re like a blue dart.” He was interpreting Ann or Ann was interpreting him. At the beginning, that was a suppression of what I wanted to do. I tried on the blue corduroy pants and they were too tight.

I remember saying to Tony, “You’re the director. I have no problem with you. But you’re directing before I show up! This crew and I worked together on ‘Little Murders.’ We know and love each other. You’re imposing. And all I want from you is, let me come here, and be here, and get a feeling of the life and the environment on your set.”


I don’t remember Elliott Gould being nasty to me. I’m sure he had a tantrum, but who gives a shit about tantrums? I wasn’t interested. I had a baby. I had to get home.

At that time, I was 40, and my whole background had been working with directors from the theater, like [John] Schlesinger. I wasn’t very smart about the [movie] business—I’m still not—but I was very firm in my training. I was trained by [renowned stage and screen costume designer] Irene Sharaff, and there was a way we approached things. It was the way I worked with Meryl Streep or any actor. When actors say, “I don’t like yellow,” I don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m only interested in the character.


In “M*A*S*H,” there was a poker scene, with the wonderful actor G. Wood, who played the head of the other army camp that we played football with. And Robert [Altman] said to me—it was not in the script—“This guy’s gonna stand behind you wearing sunglasses with mirrors on it. I want you to see him standing behind you and say something like, ‘There’s two ways to die in this war. One is to go out to the front and fight, the other is to stand behind me when I’m playing poker and wear those glasses.’” And we did it, and Altman said, “It’s distracting. I can’t keep my eyes off you.” And I said, “Then don’t look at me. I’m always in character. Don’t cut the scene until you see it on screen with me doing it, in concert with everyone else.” The next day, Altman said to me, “I watched it and you were right. It works.”

For me, that was the key to [my performance in] “A Glimpse of Tiger.” “I’m always in character.”


In the 1950s, there was a very strong New York [film] crew. It was formed by [Elia] Kazan and Sidney Lumet and…who directed “The Goddess?” [John Cromwell]. They were very proud of their work and they were very different from the California crews who, as far as I could tell, were like the Prudential Insurance Company. They were very straight, corporate working people. The New York guys all had amazing personalities.

There was a prop guy, [gaffer Willy] Meyerhoff and [cinematographer] Gordon Willis. One time, I saw Meyerhoff go in and recomb the leading lady’s hair, and he had nothing to do with hair and makeup. It was very much a small class and they loved each other. They were the crew that did “A Face in the Crowd.” They were called “Keep ‘em in the East.” They were a very hot team. They made restaurants like the Brittany du Soir, on Ninth Avenue, very hot spots in the film world.

Then came the 1960s and ‘70s and drugs. On “Midnight Cowboy,” the Warhol gang was sort of seeping in and I saw drugs. In California, there were far more. The “Easy Rider” crowd, they were the heroes. They brought in a whole new sensibility. They were very revolutionary.

Anthony Harvey came out of England. He was part of [producer] John Foreman’s social life, and I think he got this gig through Foreman. He was also a great friend of Katharine Hepburn’s, so he had this sort of New York in, but he was not a part of this hip, swinging, New York druggie world.

I remember [shooting] in a subway location, which are very hard locations to get. We had like an hour and a half, or two hours, one of those terrible things. And Elliott and [actor] David Carradine and [Carradine’s then-girlfriend/later wife, actress] Barbara Hershey [were on set], and they sensed that Harvey was oldie-timey, oldie-fashioned, from the THEE-ay-tur. And my feeling was, they made fun of him all the time. They only wanted to argue and fight with Anthony Harvey. I’m not a doctor and I didn’t take any blood tests, so I don’t know if Elliott Gould was a heavy-duty drug guy at the time, but these guys were not behind Harvey. No matter what he wanted, they didn’t like it.


I couldn’t vouch for what Elliott did or didn’t do to get into that condition. At that time, we all assumed he was doing drugs. No one knew that [for sure]. People that knew him closely said they never saw him involved in drugs. I don’t know if they were protecting him at that time or whether it was the truth.

I didn’t remember Carradine voluntarily, but now that you mention it, I remember he was there.


[Hershey and Carradine came with] their dog. They had a very nice dog.


From what I heard—I was not there because I was banned—the three of them [Gould, Carradine and Hershey] absolutely subverted the production. Carradine and Hershey showed up just one day, or maybe three days. They knocked the pins out of the production. I got a lot of that information from Tony [Harvey]. We had the same business manager at the time.


On the first day of shooting, David Carradine had written a song called “Big Mack Truck” that we were talking about using for the picture. Barbara Hershey and David were staying at my house with his dogs, Buffalo and Bird, and David came to the set. Martin Scorsese was talking to them about doing “Boxcar Bertha.” I think Kim had a friend there, Kristoffer Tabori, whose mother was Viveca Lindfors, a fabulous actress. They were freaked out. Kim may have been a bit taken aback that Barbara was around. Maybe she was insecure. It was poor judgment on my part, not considering that Kim Darby was insecure.

In the first footage we shot, on the subway car—this wasn’t in the script—David Carradine was walking like a zombie—zombies are in now, right?—in the opposite direction [of me], which was great. I believe the producers showed Barbra [Streisand], my first wife—we had just divorced—that footage and she didn’t understand why I put David in the film.

David was a total professional. They [he and Barbara Hershey] did not misbehave. There were no drugs [on-set]. [NOTE: Gould admitted, in a 1982 interview with Playgirl, that David Carradine gave him acid for the first time, though he said he preferred “frozen twists.” In a 1984 interview with TV Guide, he said, “Sure, I smoked grass and did psychedelics a little, but I was not a druggy (sic) or a crazy. Gimme a break—I was a lamb, unaware of the laws of the jungle.” Barbara Hershey declined to be interviewed for this story. David Carradine died in June 2009, at age 72.]


He brought David Carradine, but there was no Barbara [Hershey].


Kim and I were in New York. She was getting ready to make the movie, and she asked me to read the script. I went, “Oh my God, this is a great movie!” And then there were all these problems, with Elliott Gould. He was going through a crisis about how he was conducting his career, and by nature, he has a kind of distant, ironic thing. He has a wall around him, so he wasn’t particularly accessible. And he and Kim weren’t getting along. He didn’t know how to or didn’t wish to—I don’t know if she was someone he wanted to work with or not. But rather quickly, she became frightened of him.

Kim was a pretty high-strung individual. I only heard things third-hand, because I was the boyfriend. When you’re the significant other, your role is to be the dumping ground for all of the anxiety, right?  So I was hearing all of her anxiety. But I don’t remember anything about David Carradine and Barbara Hershey on the set. And I can’t imagine why [that would alarm us].


“I was just doing the score for the film, but because I was so close with Elliott, when everything started to go down the drain, people blamed me for it. They said I advised Elliott to do crazy things; that if it wasn’t for me, the film never would have been scrapped.” As far as he’s concerned, Gould acted on his own and had plenty of grounds for his tigerlike behavior on the set.


At the beginning of the film, as you hear the sound of the subway car, I wanted the first image to be vapor on the glass of the subway door window, and Kim and I would write “Warner Bros. Presents” on the glass, and wipe it out, and you see the two of us. And then we open the subway door and I’m pretending to be blind, she’s pretending to be a boy, and we’re begging through the subway cars, and I would walk up to someone and just look at them and scare the hell out of them, so they’d give us money. That was the first day [of shooting], the day that I hollered at Tony and he walked off. I sure misbehaved.


It was [something about] the way the scene was being shot. Elliott suddenly became very upset or angry, or both, and started to give Tony [Harvey] a really tough time, and that ticked Tony off and they started to argue. It was an ugly scene. We were stunned that this early in the shoot, all of a sudden the director is walking off the set.


[Tony] Harvey was a joke to those guys. He was not a hipster. If it had been someone like Sidney Lumet, he would have slammed them away. “Get out of my sight!” [John] Schlesinger would have gotten rid of them. Harvey was sort of a sissy gentleman.


Not true. Harvey was tough. And I wasn’t a hipster either.


Anthony [Harvey] decided to go home, and we were [shooting on] the subway. I also did a [subway] movie called “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.” Working on a subway isn’t that easy, and we still had to finish up.

My job was to help the director. The picture is the most important thing. I don’t really want to comment on behaviors between people. Whatever was on Tony Harvey’s mind, whatever was on Elliott’s mind—Elliott’s an old friend. I helped on his movie “The Night They Raided Minsky’s.” We’re still friends. So whatever tension and animosity and anger [was expressed], I’m not sure what they mean to Elliott.


Burtt did take over and Tony was very upset, and I think he had a reason to be. Burtt went after him. Burtt had a good heart and a soft way to deal with situations like that, like bringing a director back to set when he was really angry.


My experience was fine. It’s a movie. You wake up in the morning, you go to work, you get your coffee and do what you gotta do.

Clockwise from top left: Burtt Harris, Ann Roth, Vic Kemper, Barbara Hershey and David Carradine
Clockwise from top: Burtt Harris, Ann Roth, Vic Kemper, Barbara Hershey and David Carradine


Tony is an English gent. He’s very quiet and withdrawn and proper, and Elliott was being a wild man. Tony was very distressed, because he couldn’t really work with Elliott. He wasn’t responsive to anything. He would just go off on tirades and rants.


I said to David Begelman during the first day of shooting that I didn’t think I had the right director. Nothing personal. I said, “The picture will make itself. I’ve got the crew and all that. Please let me make this picture.” And the answer was no.

There were two directors. One was Alan Arkin, who had done “Little Murders.” I thought he might do it, and he came to the set and said, “The next time you want me to come in and take over a picture for you, call me in Long Island.” But he didn’t live there! I think it was [his way of] saying, “I can’t deal with this.”

The other one was Richard Rush, who’d directed me in “Getting Straight.” He needed the [production] to stop. I said, “I don’t want to pull the plug. I’ve got a whole schedule, everything is aligned, you’ll catch on very fast. And then you’ll take over.” And he used as an analogy “The Great God Brown,” a play by Eugene O’Neill, where the part is played behind a mask. He said, “What if I said that was me under the mask but you were playing the part?” And I said, “I don’t have an ego here! Don’t you understand? I don’t care who gets the credit. I just want the freedom to bring my life, to put my heart and soul into this, and believe me, it’ll be new and it’ll be fresh and it will work!” But it was way, way, way too revolutionary and much too hot to handle.


He had asked me, but I wasn’t in a position to do it, which I’m sorry about, because Elliott was a dear friend and I’m very fond of him. It was shortly after we’d done “Getting Straight” together. I knew there were big problems and that Elliott had a very hard time dealing with it.

[Alan Arkin declined to be interviewed.]


I’m not a big Anthony Harvey fan to begin with. He’s sort of a traditionalist, and you have to come at this movie at an odd angle. What [would’ve been] interesting about someone like Alan Arkin directing it is, you’d get a kind of rough, edgy, American take on it. Anthony Harvey is a well-mannered, good director, but it felt a little soft in the middle. You need a Robert Altman to direct this. You need a guy that’s gonna throw this fucking thing up in the air a little bit. It needs a sort of madness or it becomes a series of well-constructed little vignettes. I never thought he was the right guy to direct this movie.


I will say this for Elliott. Tony Harvey was an eccentric. He could make you crazy. He invited me and my wife down to the Bahamas. He had another picture in production, and he kept trying to get some information on the phone. Anybody that stiffed him or didn’t know [the info], he’d ask them, “What’s your name, what do you do?” Like he was going to report them to the principal!


I didn’t like the way Harvey was being treated, and yet he was, in a way, asking for it. He would say the wrong thing. His presentation was not something that crowd would—I don’t know why they had him, because they didn’t like him from the very beginning.


Sidney Lumet [whom Kemper worked with on “Dog Day Afternoon”] was wonderful with most of the crew, because he let each of us do what we felt was right. He told me up front, “I’m not gonna bug you about lighting or camera position. I just need you to tell me what you’re going to do, and then I’ll walk away.” And he did. Sidney just wanted everybody prepared. He came out of live television, which is where I came from, as an engineer, and his big reputation is that he was fast. Indeed he was, and I don’t think we ever did more than two takes of any given scene in the entire movie. Maybe three takes, twice. More often than not he would do the first take and say, “OK, print that,” and move on. He always felt the first take was going to be the most fresh. It doesn’t give the actor time to correct things he did that were good, and then make them not so good. That was his theory and it worked most of the time.

Tony Harvey was a good friend of mine. But he could not [work like] that. He couldn’t even come close. He wasn’t exorbitant, like Arthur Hiller. But he did many takes.


Anthony Harvey was a beautiful, beautiful man. It was not a good time for Elliott. He was in an altered state. I don’t want to go too much more into it than that.


The night after we started shooting, Ray Stark came to my apartment, with Jack Brodsky, David Begelman and [talent agent] Sam Cohn. The purpose was for me to get some advice as to what to do. Ray said, “What do you want me to do, jump out the window?” And I said, “No, we lost Peter that way, and I don’t want to lose you, too.” Peter was his son, who had fallen out of the 20th story to his death several months before. Ray was sitting behind my desk. We were on the first floor.

All I needed was for Ray to say, “What do you want me to do?” I would have said, “Tell me what to do,” and he could have told me, “You have a commitment to make this picture. Fulfill your commitment, and then we’ll talk business.” But once I heard, “What do you want me to do, jump out the window,” and I said what I said about losing Peter, I realized, “Uh oh, I’ve gone too far. I didn’t mean any harm.”

Then Sam Cohn said, after about eight seconds, “You can’t talk to Ray like that!” And Ray stood and came around my desk—do you remember Abbott & Costello? “Slowly I turned, step by step?” That routine they used to do? It was like that. He came around, and I thought, “Oh my God, this guy’s gonna punch me.” And I backed up to my armoire where I had all my music components, and he tried to punch me. At that point, I was extremely agile, and so I sort of ducked, and he went off balance and fell down. I stepped over him and I said, “Please, please take him home.”


Elliott and I have made up. I was at a Screen Actors Guild meeting, maybe five years ago, and Elliott was the recording secretary there for a long time, and I saw him walking down the street and I put my arms around him and said “Elliott, I love you very much.” We were able to connect again. And I saw him last year at an event and we talked. But [at the time], it was bad. He was acting bizarre and it didn’t come together.


My wife and I became Kim Darby’s psychiatrists du jour, because she really got upset by Elliott. It was a tough relationship there. I don’t know when or how he frightened her, because he certainly didn’t do it openly on the set, that I ever witnessed. But I know that she was scared to death of him. It might have happened when they were rehearsing or perhaps in one of the motor homes.


When we were trying to cast “A Glimpse of Tiger,” I met [actress] Jennifer O’Neill [whom Gould was later romantically involved with and co-starred with in “Whiffs.”] I remember the shoes, the hat. There was Susan Sarandon, Blythe Danner, Jennifer O’Neill and Diane Keaton. I met them and they read with me. Marion Dougherty was casting, and I remember Keaton would hardly look at me. When we got to know each other, I asked her, “Why didn’t you talk to me? You would have been absolutely great for it.” I think it was that she was very shy and very new then. But Keaton is an American treasure and I love her. Sarandon was the only one we tested.

[Eventually] I cast Kim Darby. I remember when Ted Ashley [then chairman of Warner Bros.] and [producer] John Calley came to visit me and [Gould’s then-girlfriend/later wife, actress] Jenny Bogart at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and they wanted to cast Goldie Hawn to play Tiger. And I had seen Kim Darby in “Bus Riley’s Back in Town.” There was something in Darby that was dark and also pure. But I scared her. And also it was a very frightened character. [Our rapport] was more limited than I thought it would be or should be, and I feel that it was an error that I didn’t do what I could for Jenny [Bogart] to play the part. She was it.

I remember saying to Kim, “It’s not easy for me to be producing this and come in and out of character. If you get frightened, or I act in some way that you don’t understand, just say, ‘Time out,’ and pull me over to the side and talk to me, because I’m really easy.”

[FROM MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE, JUNE 25, 1971: Kim found herself caught in the middle of the warring director and his star—a most uncomfortable position. She admired both men. Their antagonism was in no way concerned with her. But for a while, it looked as if she might become involved, like it or not. It seems that Gould maintained that Harvey had broken his contract…and Elliott wanted Kim to back him up. “But I couldn’t do that,” Kim said firmly. “I couldn’t. I explained it to Elliott, and it was all right. He wasn’t mad at me.”]


I was one of the executives at Warner Bros. I had just gotten there. Frank Wells [then head of business affairs/vice president at Warner] sent me to New York to see what was going on, because Elliott was acting very strangely and Kim Darby was scared. According to her, he was making threats against her.

Security [eventually came to the set] for Darby’s sake. She didn’t want to come unless there was security for her. Elliott said he was afraid of security being there. I said, “They’re not there to hurt you. You made some threats to Kim and she’s scared.”


I never made a threat to Kim. But I now understand that my actions were threatening to her.


The security people, that wasn’t at my request. My agent just told me that these two men would be going to work with me.


“They’d been hassling him and finally he just refused to go to work. It was the day that Warner Bros. sent men down to the set with guns. I don’t blame Elliott for not wanting to work under those circumstances.”


Elliott was going through a bad personal period. He is a very talented and wonderful person. I see him from time to time and he is fine now. I had him read some children’s books at the Skirball Cultural Center [in 2010].

But at the time, he was not acting like a normal human being. He showed up a couple of times with two large, ferocious-looking dogs. And he’d stand there and glare at Kim and she’d go back to her trailer. I remember him showing up in his bathrobe with a banana in his waistband and he’d pull it out and point it like a gun.


I remember the bathrobe, that one time.


I just heard he showed up in funny hats.


We were pretty scared. But there were no dogs. None of those stories are true.


I don’t remember. I just don’t think [Gould] wanted to do [the picture], particularly. This is something I’ve put out of my mind and I have no memory of it, really clearly, to give you any good answers. I’m not really particularly interested. It’s water under the bridge. All I know is that Kim Darby is a terrific actress. It was bad luck we never made it.


I don’t remember anything like that. The only dog I had back then was Humphrey, and he was the sweetest angel of a spirit. I don’t think I brought David Carradine’s dogs to the set. I did wear a three-quarter-length peacoat and an American flag scarf and a Scarlett O’Hara hat—that was Jenny [Bogart’s] hat—just designing this character.

[One day], I went to the set wearing my helmet from “M*A*S*H,” with a stocking cap over it—a Knickerbocker cap, probably—and a baby’s pacifier in my mouth. It was [my way of saying] “I don’t know how to talk to you. You have a preconceived notion and mindset as to how this is supposed to be done, and I’m just a baby! I’m bringing more of my life into this to play this character.”

I did Johnny Carson that week, because the word was out that I was fucking nuts. I wasn’t crazy on his show.

[FROM NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE BY ARTHUR DALEY, FEBRUARY 8, 1971, ABOUT GOULD PLAYING BASKETBALL WITH THEN-KNICKS SUPERSTAR WALT FRAZIER: “Atop [Gould’s] wild mop of hair was an orange stocking cap with a blue pompom and, in blue lettering, ‘Knicks,’ woven in a circular pattern around it, evidence of his lunatic loyalty to the Knicks.”]

Clockwise from top: Ted Ashley, Kristoffer Tabori, Frank Wells, John Calley
Clockwise from top: Ted Ashley, Kristoffer Tabori, Frank Wells, John Calley


[Cinematographer] Douglas Slocombe and I worked on the remake of “The Lady Vanishes.” He asked me, at Pinewood Studios, outside of the shooting stage, “How did you escape?” This was 1978. And I said, “To begin with, there is no escape. No one escapes life. But how I endured, and survived, was that I hid in my worst fear, which was darkness.” Even my beloved parents, when they would project a conscious thought in my direction, if it was less than positive or divine, I would withdraw deeper into the darkness and live there forever, until I learned to see through the darkness into the light.

That would be part of the underlying theme of “A Glimpse of Tiger.” I wanted it to be interesting and entertaining and perhaps something new, because at the end, when Tiger has left Luther and she thinks she’s OK and he sends a note to her—he’s gonna blow up the building [she works in] and everyone is evacuating and she doesn’t know, and she gets a note from him, saying, “You’re the only person I would have given my get-out-of-jail-free card to.” There was a love story here. But she realizes this is the end of life as she knew it, and [the camera goes] right into her eye [as she sees] him push the plunger. That may have been an interesting title, “Get Out of Jail Free.”

I was also interested conceptually in “The Three-Legged Man Alive” as a title. That was a giant poster from a freak show, with a football player kicking with three legs, and another football player blocking him. I have a black and white picture of it.


I remember Jack [Brodsky] telling me, “We’ve gotta change the title.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Well, the word ‘glimpse’ sounds so Jewish, it might upset people.” I said, “What, ‘glimpse’? What [does it sound like], like a knish? What the hell are you talking about?!”


I realized we had a problem. We couldn’t have me blowing up a building in New York. We had a certain budget. So we [arranged to] have fire trucks and police cars speeding past Luther, and then you see Tiger coming out of the building through the revolving doors. 
Her spirit is free, and we walk off together. It’s a metaphor.


It was really a sort-of European movie. It wasn’t really an American film. It was an “is this real or is it memory?” film. Is he seeing her, is he really experiencing her? He meets her and then he loses her.

Elliott was very right for it, though I think he was a little old for it. I thought it would be a great part for me, because the behavior—and this is a real vague memory I’m having—is less forgivable to the audience in an older person. They say if Hamlet is 20, he’s a brilliant young man desperately trying to avenge the murder of his father and reconcile complicated feelings towards his mother. If he’s 30, he’s a fucking neurotic. And I remember feeling that when I read it, that it needed a young man, or the behavior started to become just infantile and a little unforgivable.

Luther pulls Tiger out of her shell, and she’s the reality-based character. That was Kim’s dynamic as an actress. She was sort of a shrouded, Julie Harris-type of actress. At one point, I remember Kim was saying, “Maybe we can put this together with the two of us,” but I wasn’t a big enough name to carry the movie.


I used to live across the street from Elliott on Morton Street. We knew each other casually as neighbors. I was trying to appeal to him, and I said, “Whatever you’re doing, you gotta cool it. If you’re not there, the picture’s over.” And he still couldn’t make it happen. We were trying to keep shooting, and he would show up occasionally on days he wasn’t supposed to be there, and on days he was supposed to, he’d come late and act oddly.


I went to the offices at Warner Bros. in Manhattan one day, where they were shooting. There was a big building and it said “666” and I thought, “Oh God, I’m not into that, but things have meaning, and I break things down.” And I’m absorbing all of that now.

On another day, I went there and they were shooting a scene with Kim Darby. I wasn’t in the scene. I wasn’t necessarily expected to be there. Tony [Harvey] was directing, and it was the scene where Tiger’s come back to work at the insurance company. That was the next-to-last day of shooting, the beginning of the last reel of the picture, and we hadn’t even shot the first reel. And I’m sitting at a table, and I’m wearing cowboy boots, and Kim was wearing a sweater with a butterfly on it.

They weren’t talking with me about interesting intellectual choices for Kim, in terms of her character. What did she get from Luther? What did she get from living free? Again I thought, “You’re making choices and you’re not allowing me to be in the process of the choices you’re making.” I was the producer and Jack Brodsky was aligned with the business people and I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to communicate other than through character.

When I saw what they were doing, I wanted to be as careful as possible, but I was really upset. And I lifted my right foot and there was a big ashtray on the table I was resting my legs on, and I brought my heel down and smashed the ashtray. And that was totally unacceptable, to represent any kind of violence.


I would say that the attitude of the company was fair, because Elliott was acting too strangely too often to include him in those [creative] decisions. But I’ll project myself into his head. I’m not a psychiatrist, but if I were the boss or thought I was the boss and no one would do what I wanted or even include me in what they were doing, I’d be pretty damned upset too.


[His behavior resembled] nothing that could even be generously attributed to creating a performance.


There were times when he was terrific. He remembered his lines. He seemed to be lucid and know what he was doing. And a couple of times, everyone was looking at each other and going, “What the fuck’s wrong with this guy?” It was very erratic behavior.


There were hardly any lines [shot on film]. There was a scene shot the second day, at a coffee shop—I think Tony [Harvey] came back—and I thought, “This is killing me. I can’t do these lines. How can I act any scene if something wild is being cut out of me?” And I couldn’t continue.


I remember one morning, it was so bad. They couldn’t contact him. They sent a couple of assistant directors to his apartment to coax him to come out, and they couldn’t even get past the door. The producer said, “Listen, Elliott seems to trust you and like you. Would you mind going over to his apartment?” He felt that I was probably the most calm and sane person in the entire company—everyone was pretty uptight. So I did. And when he heard it was me, he kind of opened the door a crack and I could see that he looked quite disheveled, and there was no reason for me to stay there and try to coax him out. I knew it would be a futile thing.

I went back to the production manager and the director and the producer and we had a little tete-a-tete. I remarked, “Why bring him here? His condition won’t change in a taxicab or a car that you send. And when he gets here, he’s gonna be the same as when he leaves the apartment. He won’t be in a condition to work.” And if my memory serves me right, we didn’t do any more photography that day and everybody left.


We finally reached the point where we told Elliott he had to show up for the scene. I had a tape recorder, and I was keeping a very accurate account of all the things that happened for whatever might follow if we shut the film down. Just my personal observations. And the crew didn’t want me to have that, and they stole the tape recorder!

I remember we were in Central Park shooting. Elliott was supposed to show up at 8 AM. I had spoken to Frank Wells, and his instructions to me were, “If Elliott doesn’t show up by 11 AM, the production will be shut down.” And he didn’t show up. I went to the phone booth in Central Park to call Warner Bros., and the crew had cut the phone line! They didn’t want it to shut down because it was months of work for them. I took a car and went to the phone booth at the edge of the park and called Frank and he said “Shut it down.” I told everybody to pack up and go home.

[FROM MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE, JUNE 25, 1971: Kim Darby spoke softly and soothingly into the telephone. It was her only chance for success, and she knew it. “Come on, Elliott. Please? Try it, at least. Let’s get on with the picture. Please?” But on the other end of the line, after a pained silence, a male voice replied wearily, “I can’t, Kim, I just can’t, and that’s the truth.” Kim sighed and tried again. She had to, for she was talking to Elliott Gould. Elliott was not showing up for work, nor was he willing to talk to anybody else involved with the film. Therefore, it was up to Kim. “Look,” Kim said. “I’ll help you. You know that. I’ll do anything to try and make it easier. You can count on me. Can’t you come down and let’s try it? We’re all here, waiting. We can’t do anything without you.” But the same terribly tired reply sighed through the wires. “I can’t. Kim. I just cannot do it.”]


I don’t think I spoke with Kim [at the end of the shoot]. It’s possible someone made her call me. [If it happened], I was probably thinking, “You’re afraid of me! I can’t talk to anybody there. Why would I come in?”


I was trying to think of a way that this whole thing could be put back together. We had a whole crew there. I kept going, “If Elliott doesn’t want to do this movie, I’ll step in and do it.” I was being very ambitious and of course it didn’t work at all. I was sort of an up and coming actor, I had a little heat behind me, but it was too big a film.

I took the script to my agent, John Gaines. I have a vague memory that I gave it to Paul Heller. I tried to get him to let me do it. My oeuvre as an actor was doing trickster parts, and that’s what the role was. I remember also thinking there was something wrong with it structurally, that it didn’t pay off, that it sort of ambled along. It had a European feel; it wasn’t trying to resolve itself in the way American movies often feel they should.

The whole thing was up in the air. I had that script for years, I carried it around with me, I tried to get it made. But this thing was a quagmire, legally. There was so much against the movie, financially.


I don’t remember that. The name Tabori sounds familiar.


I don’t think I got that close to [Herman]. I just remember scurrying around when it first fell apart.


Years earlier, Barbra [Streisand] put up $100,000 for Jack Brodsky and I to come into business, and we were able to earn 50% of that back. When it was all over, I gave Barbra back the other $50,000 out of my own pocket, because I didn’t want her being involved with me business-wise to cost her any money. The one picture we [produced] that made money—”Little Murders” didn’t make any money—was Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask).” [The film, released in 1972, was eventually sold to United Artists after the dissolution of Brodsky and Gould’s partnership]. How we got that was, I was so hot and successful at the time, it was assumed that I understood the business, and I didn’t.

I owed Warner Bros. $175,000 when we couldn’t continue with “Glimpse,” and then they made it [back] in spades when they got Barbra to do “What’s Up, Doc?” It took over seven years to pay $25,000 a year back to Warner Bros., which I did.


I was in a hole, I had a couple of kids and I had just mortgaged [a house on] Baltic Avenue [in Staten Island]. And all of a sudden, Warner Bros. asked me to re-write the script for Barbra [Streisand]. I called her, and she made dinner for me and we chatted, and she was wonderful. We’d both gone to the same high school, ten years apart.

I worked with a very good director. I can’t remember his name. We were working on a script when suddenly he was fired, for no reason that I knew, and Peter Bogdanovich came in. And it was announced in Variety that he was gonna direct “A Glimpse of Tiger” with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. And then all of a sudden, I was told that it had evolved under Bogdanovich’s baton into a remake of “Bringing Up Baby,” called “What’s Up, Doc?”


Barbra loved “The Last Picture Show” and she wanted me to direct “A Glimpse of Tiger.” It didn’t appeal to me that much. It was just soft material for me. I didn’t think it was that interesting. And so I said, “Well, I don’t really like the script and I want to do a comedy. This is sort of a comedy-drama.” She said, “I just did a comedy. I’d like to do a drama.” So we were at an impasse.

John Calley called me into his office. He said, “Barbra really wants to make the movie with you.” I said, “I can make a movie with her, but I don’t like that script. It’s not a bad script, but it just doesn’t interest me.” He said, “If you had to make a picture with Barbra Streisand, what would you do?” I said, “I’d do a screwball comedy, something like ‘Bringing Up Baby.’ Daffy dame, square professor, she screws everything up but they get together at the end.” He said, “Fuck it, then. Do it. Who would you get to write it?” I said, “Well, I used to work with Robert Benton and David Newman at Esquire.”

So they came to town, and they had to do another picture, so we only had three weeks. They did a draft. The only thing we took from “A Glimpse of Tiger”—and I don’t remember it very well—was the idea that the leading character had been to a lot of different colleges. He or she is very well-educated in a lot of different areas. And we put that into Barbra’s character. Then I did a polish, which was OK, it wasn’t great. The actors committed, based on my polish, and then we hired Buck Henry to come in and do a final draft, which was quite different, but it was the script we used and it was quite a tremendous improvement on both drafts. I don’t think he or Benton or Newman ever read “A Glimpse of Tiger.”

[Barbra Streisand did not respond to interview requests.]


I was supposed to own 10% of the picture. It was printed in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter that Bogdanovich was directing Herman Raucher’s script. Warner Bros. in effect said that I was not entitled to my 10%. I had lawyers, and they looked at [the contract] and said, “Technically, Herman, you’re screwed.” They told me I wouldn’t work again if I sued Warner Bros.


I have no knowledge of that. I never spoke to Herman.


“What’s Up, Doc?” was old-fashioned. It was funny, it was charming, there were some lovely elements in it, but it had nothing to do with “A Glimpse of Tiger.”


I didn’t see the picture. I couldn’t bear it. They told me to rewrite Elliott’s role for a woman. And I told John Calley at Warners, “You’re gonna get a lovable dyke! That’s a man’s role!” I think that’s part of why I never stood a chance of getting my 10%.


I get how they flipped it. You have a free-spirited character who’s impacting a straight-laced character. But I don’t think any of the sequences are the same, and there’s that whole plot of the suitcases and the mafia, and they’re being chased by badguys. The Herman Raucher script that I remember was a sort-of odd memory tale. I remember sequences that were very moving. This character that had been on top of the world had lost this girl, and she was appearing to him in a sort of fractured dream state. She’s there and she’s not there. It was an art movie. It was a much more meditative film.


After a year and a half, I finally did “The Long Goodbye” for United Artists, and Warner Bros. offered me “Freebie and the Bean” [directed, coincidentally, by Richard Rush and released in 1974; the part eventually went, also coincidentally, to Alan Arkin]. In between, David Begelman offered me “Pocket Money” to do with Paul Newman, which was a First Artists picture [released in 1972; the part eventually went to Lee Marvin] and it was directed by Stuart Rosenberg, whom I’d already worked with and not succeeded with [on “Move,” in 1970]. I loved Paul Newman. But Stuart’s strong suit wasn’t comedy.

Nobody told me, “You have to go to work. You must work to show the establishment that you’re willing, able and capable. We’ll get past your lack of judgment and perspective.” So I didn’t do it. I didn’t think [the film] worked, anyway. [Other than that], I couldn’t find any work. Thank goodness for Robert Altman!

For “Freebie,” I drove up to Warner Bros. in the 1948 Lincoln Continental convertible that I had used in “The Long Goodbye.” I drove Groucho Marx around in that car, and when Altman saw it he wanted to use it. I went into the office and said to Dick Shepherd, who was running Warner Bros. at the time, and his colleagues, “I understand you want to work with me again, and I want you know that there’s no hard feelings or bitterness, and I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me by burying me so deep to necessitate my puncturing a hole, to get somewhere I never was before.” Dick said, “Oh, good. Your agents are inside right now negotiating for you to do ‘Freebie and the Bean,'” my agents being Tony Fantozzi and Roger Davis, who was the top lawyer at William Morris. And I said, “I don’t want to do that, it’s too violent.” This was so naive and stupid of me. I said, “We’ll find something funny and romantic for me to do.” And Dick said, “Oh my God, I’d hate to be at the meeting you’ll have with your agents.”

Then I went to a delicatessen in Burbank with Roger and Tony. And Tony said to me, “We think…” “We think,” he repeated himself. He may have said it a third time. And I thought, “Am I in trouble here! My agent is telling me he ‘thinks!’” He said, “We think that Warner Bros. will pay you $175,000 to do ‘Freebie.’ They’ll keep the $175,000, because that’s what you owe the studio, and you’ll pay taxes on it. They’ll give you $1,000 a week for expenses.” That’s what spinned me around like a top. I said, “For you to make me an offer like this, you’re not my agent.” And I said to Roger Davis, “Tell Tony there’s nothing personal here, but I have to go further back to see how you could have the nerve to make this kind of an offer.”

My great aunt, Zella Abrams, had said, “No matter what you think, you say you’ll sleep on it.” And I realize, if I had slept on it after hearing the offer, I think I could have made a deal with them. I would have said, “Look, I really feel privileged and grateful that you’ll allow me to come back to work and do this picture at the studio, and that you want me to do it. I’ll take what you offer, but I can’t pay the taxes on it. I don’t have any money. I’ll tell you what. I’ll take the $1,000 a week for expenses, and then you pay the taxes on the $175,000. Then, as part of a back-end deal, if it makes any profits, you’ll take the first monies of my profits to pay yourselves back on the taxes.”

Eventually, I would have done the sequel to “Freebie.” The sequel had a really good script, though it never got made. But I thought their offer seemed rather unreasonable, and I didn’t know how to work with them.


I’m 81 years old. I retired in 1997 after 40 years at William Morris. I can’t remember back then. The only thing I remember is that Elliott went through a period of time where he was having trouble getting work. And I and a couple other guys at William Morris were thinking positively, of helping him somehow get back into the game. I was personally very interested in Elliott getting back into the business.

Clockwise from top: Dick Shepherd, Tony Fantozzi, Peter Bogdanovich and Barbra Streisand, Sam Cohn
Clockwise from top: Dick Shepherd, Tony Fantozzi, Peter Bogdanovich and Barbra Streisand, Sam Cohn


I’m very grateful to be here. I’m very happy to be working. I’m a much older person. I didn’t ever direct. But I’ve got nothing to prove. I gave up a lot that might have been fruitful career-wise. But my freedom, my education, and my perspective and judgment now, is priceless, as to understanding the life of the business in the world.


At one point, I lost [the script]. I’d love to read it now. I don’t know how good it is. My guess is it doesn’t hold up, but I’d be interested to see what I fell in love with then. I imagine that, when separated from its moment in time, it lost a certain chimera, where it didn’t quite work.


I remember talking to John Calley about possibly doing it again, and he felt that its time had passed. Would I be interested? You’re damn right I would be. But I think today it would call for a serious rewrite, because it was about drugs. I wrote it many, many years ago in the 1960s and 1970s when people were on drugs. I think that period is gone, especially with the legalizing of marijuana.

[NOTE: Brodsky and Gould eventually mended ways. Through sheer coincidence, Brodsky was cast in a small role in the 1976 Gould-James Caan caper comedy “Harry and Walter Go to New York”; Gould said that Brodsky was a friend of that film’s director, Mark Rydell. Brodsky appeared in small roles in a few other films, including Herbert Ross’ “Dancers” in 1987 and Paul Mazursky’s “Scenes from a Mall” in 1991, and produced such films as “Rookie of the Year,” “King Ralph” and “Daddy Day Care.” He died in 2003 at the age of 70.] 


Jack cried enormous tears after Ray Stark tried to hit me, saying “It’s only money!” To me, it wasn’t only money. It was about freedom, it was about clarity, it was about nature, it was about integrity and honesty. It was about love. But that’s naive of me. Of course there’s a business. There’s a machine involved.

5 thoughts on “The Little Movie That Couldn’t: An Oral History of Elliott Gould’s Never-Completed “A Glimpse of Tiger”

  1. Michael

    Kudos. Utterly fascinating story. I hope someday that a bio of Gould will be written. He is such a interesting actor. I remember with fondess, back in the early 70’s after I turned 18 in 1973 and could go to movies by myself, enjoying such films of his as SPYS, CALIFORNIA SPLIT, BUSTING, HARRY AND WALTER…., etc….He was and still is very special.

  2. Marco A. S. Freitas

    “Stanley Kubrick used to chase Tony Harvey, Kubrick’s editor on DR. STRANGELOVE, around a desk, wanting to hit him with a ruler, because I think Tony was so meticulous and so precise that it would drive Stanley crazy.”
    Damn! Stanley was knows an the most meticulous filmmaker of his era…my mind boggles at the THOUGHT of havey´s working methods as an editor…wow!
    Very good article, Sam!

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