Johnny's movies

Shocking news! Craig Brown author with Bonfiglioli of The great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery is furious: “I hope Johnny Depp’s mustachioed new film is a flop”

Posted in Books, Johnny Depp, movies by Anna Maria Polidori on December 12, 2014

Craig Brown VS. Mortdecai. At first when I read the title of the article appeared on the Daily Mail yesterday and read today in a bar while I was sipping a tisane I thought: it will be a joke, it can’t be possible.  10734279_351846358322347_906932846813032983_n

Brown is a collaborator of some of the most important british newsmagazines: The independent, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, Private Eye, and he is a writer of several successful books.

Craig Brown has completed the book written by Bonfiglioli, “The great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery” left by the author unfinished because of his premature departure. It was released in 1999 thanks to Brown.

But so what happened to Brown for being so upset with Johnny Depp?

Craig Brown in an article written published by the Daily Mail this past dec 11th wishes with all his heart and I guess without irony to Johnny and the movie a great flop.

His work in fact as co-writer of “The great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery” not recognized.

Johnny Depp is an intellectual. He loves books, he loves human minds. I am sure that the story can be sorted out successfully. I hope.

Craig Brown tells the story about Mortdecai and the first contact with the Black Spring Press.

He writes in his piece on the Daily Mail: “In the late Nineties, I received a letter out of the blue from the head of a small publishing house, the Black Spring Press. He wanted to publish a novel called The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery. There was just one problem: the author, Kyril Bonfiglioli, had died without finishing it. Would I write the missing chapter?

Brown tells that they couldn’t offer him a fortune just 200 pounds and something. Good money just for a final chapter but of course not a lot. So why did he accept? He explains in the piece: “I thought it might be an amusing exercise, and certainly a lot easier than thinking up a novel of my own, so I said yes“.

At time we think that just writing few pages would be better than writing an entire book. Well, sometimes a chapter can become a little nightmare. It happened this to Craig Brown.

Who knows if he had read, before accepting the work, the manuscript, but I strongly doubt it.

Completing the book appeared to be a very difficult work. Why?

Brown writes on the Daily Mail: “Bonfiglioli had written a last chapter, but had failed to write a second-last chapter, in which all the various ends had to be tied up. The reasons soon became clear: his loopy plot had spun completely out of control, and all the ends were in a most frightful tangle.Having created a hundred loose ends, he was just the sort of person who would have put off tying them up. Nevertheless, I persevered, did my best to mimic his black humour and baroque, sub-Wodehousian prose style, and posted the completed chapter to the Black Spring Press.”

Bonfiglioli’s writing-style and stories are for courageous people. I have always written it. He is absolutely interesting stylistically, but reading Bonfiglioli is like to climb a mountain. He is researched. His humor very dark. At first, when I started to read Mortdecai I was fascinated by the idea of living adventures like the ones of Bertie Woodster and Jeeves created by Wodehouse.

Well: forget it. I mean: a lot of adventures but dark humor and certainly less less less relaxation.

I absolutely love Johnny’s characterization of Mortdecai because he has given to this character a lightness that there is not in the books according to me. I am sincerely grateful to Johnny for it.

The main difference between the Mortdecai Trilogy and this final, crucial book written by Bonfiglioli and later completed by Brown is this one: “The great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery” is absolutely much more clear to me in every sense and linear.

I thought that maybe Craig Brown would have put something of himself here and there also in the rest of the book.

For what I read in the article and specified in the book as well, he worked just at the final chapter of the book.

Brown writes in the piece that of course later in 1999 the book was released without too much publicity and mainly bought by Bonfiglioli’s fans. Brown admitted that: “The few reviews it received suggested that I had done a pretty good job. And that, I thought, was that. But then, some years later, a film company bought an option, so I started receiving relatively modest annual cheques of a hundred pounds or so“.

Movies options

Hollywood has been interested to releasing the final chapter of the adventures of Charlie Mortdecai from various decades. So after a while the idea of a movie started to take some shape. “Many books are optioned but few are filmed so I wasn’t getting my hopes up. Sacha Baron Cohen was keen to play the hero, Charlie Mortdecai” writes Brown.
Just an idea, the project a dream.

Years passed by when Brown’s son received an e-mail from a friend some months ago explains Brown. This friend of his son told him Johnny Depp was starring in London as Charlie Mortdecai.

Brown reports this great emotion: “I Googled Craig Brown + Johnny Depp , not a combination of names that usually springs to mind, only to find that, sure enough, Johnny Depp was indeed starring in it, alongside — wait for it! — Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany and Jeff Goldblum. Furthermore, this was not just some distant dream of some pie-in-the-sky film producer: the film was already in production“.

Brown pretty solid in his expectations. “Obviously, my first thought was of money falling out of the sky straight into my pockets. I began daydreaming of hobnobbing with the stars on the set, and, a little later, on the red carpet. ‘Hi, Johnny! Seen Gwyneth around? Just wait your turn, Ewan — can’t you see I’m talking to Johnny?’ But it is not to be“.

What happened in fact?

Craig Brown discovered at the Penguin that the production had specified in a clause: “That if nothing from my chapter was used, then I wouldn’t get a penny. Still in a rush, I had pointed out this seemed a little unfair. After all, the book would never have seen the light of day if I hadn’t completed it. But it seemed churlish to go on whining, and, at that time, there wasn’t any real hope that it would ever be filmed. So I dutifully signed on the dotted line. It now turns out that nothing in my chapter will be used, or so I am assured.“.

Craig Brown is a successful man. Not the story of a poor man not paid who can’t put on the table food. It’s not that kind of story and point.

Surely what Brown would want to see, is to seeing recognized his work mainly as a writer and later in economic terms as well.

The end of the piece: “I have seen in the Press that the premiere is scheduled for early in the New Year. I haven’t been asked, but I plan to pay to see it soon afterwards, a sad, embittered figure, sidling in through a sidedoor with a pair of binoculars, pen, notepad and a copy of the paperback with my name on the cover. Heaven knows what I’ll do if I manage to spot a detail lifted from my chapter. Presumably, I’ll corner the person selling the popcorn and she’ll direct me to a security guard, who’ll direct me to someone in the box office, who’ll direct me to the duty manager, and so forth. Somewhere down the line, I’m bound to reach Johnny Depp.
Either that, or I’ll just sit and brood“.


Anna Maria Polidori




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