“It is a director’s job to translate life into screen terms,” explained Daniel Mann at Paramount, where he is currently directing The Rose Tattoo, for producer Hal Wallis.
Mann, along with other top Hollywood directors, has helped bring about the return of the “adult, realistic” motion picture. His direction of Come back, Little Sheba for Hal Wallis won him a great deal of praise and many citations.
In The Rose Tattoo, Mann has one of the top international motion picture actresses, Anna Magnani, making her American screen debut. “The part was originally written in the play with her in mind” Mann stated.
Mann is enthusiastic about Miss Magnani in the role. He explained that she speaks good English, with an Italian accent, which blends in with the role. For Burt Lancaster, he also stated, it is still another different role, which help even more establish Lancaster as one of the most versatile Hollywood actors.
Mann also directed the Broadway theatrical version of The Rose Tattoo. “In the play,” he said, “you direct the actors and on the screen, you direct the actors for audience attention.” He also pointed out that motion pictures differ from the stage in that the technicians work as a team with you. “In making a motion picture, you are constantly involved in mechanics.”
“The story material I have here is most unusual.” Mann stressed. “Tennessee Williams did the screen play from his own play.” Mann also directed About Mrs. Leslie for Hal Wallis and Paramount release.
Mann pointed out that “life, action, violence and movement that only the camera can bring in the screen” will be in the film version of the play.
Working with a camera is “more fluid,” and Mann likes this. He stated that when he comes to Hollywood, he returns to New York after he has completed a film a better director for the stage. And when he returns to Hollywood from the stage after directing a play, he is better director for motion pictures.
Mann cited the fact that there has never been a picture made on the theme of The Rose Tattoo. It is the story of an Italian woman who has the obsession after her husband’s death that he has been unfaithful to her. How she overcomes this and comes to her senses to lead a normal life again is the rest of the story.
The director pointed out he has only worked for Hal Wallis although he has had many other offers to direct feature films. “I’ve tried to do only things that interest me,” he said.
A former actor, Mann understands thesping more and more about the theatre and stagecraft and moviemaking. What is the most important job for a director? “You know what plays if you have directed the stage version and it is completely different to translate into screen terms. In this film, it is a very personal story and the camera helps make it intimate.”
Mann has lined himself up both a cast from Hollywood and also people who appeared in the play for him. Besides Lancaster and Miss Magnani, Mann cast Marisa Pavan, Virginia Grey and Ben Cooper here in Hollywood, while Jo Van Fleet, Dorritt Kelton and Florence Sundstrom were cast from New York where they appeared in the play.
Mann stated that in his opinion Hollywood will be more aware of Broadway properties that lend themselves to films; also the adult aspect of plays that lend themselves to films.
In regard to his directorial techniques, Mann pointed out that he tries to get much movement in a picture. His movement is not just arbitrarily put in, but is inserted from the point of dramatic action. He likes his camera “to float.” He is very happy to have James Wong Howe, one od Hollywood’s top cameraman, working with him. The camera follows a person or people for the reason that you make a point dramatically, he stressed.
There are no rules for making a picture. A director has to embrace all intelligent approaches, Mann said. Every picture has its own logic.