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Submitted by Christoph Michel

Abraham Sofaer remembered

Sofaer (1896-1988), who played the Judge-Surgeon in A Matter of Life and Death, is remembered affectionately by Byron Haskin in the latter's interview book (source data below).

Haskin worked with Sofaer on several occasions, including His Majesty O'Keefe, The Naked Jungle, The First Texan and Demon With a Glass Hand (an episode of the TV series The Outer Limits). Both passages following are related to the production of Captain Sindbad :

Haskin: Then I had my old friend Abe Sofaer whom I used in every film I possibly could. I used him in Captain Sindbad in Munich as Galgo, the magician, I used him as the witch doctor in His Majesty O'Keefe , and I used him as some weirdo in Demon With a Glass Hand. I used him in several other films also. He's a great actor. He came over from England, from rep over there, Shakespeare, and the BBC. He was cast in The Robe as one of the senators.

That was a combination in Munich at the Ambassador Hotel -- the two people most unlikely to become friends: Abe Sofaer, old line English repertory player who bleeds only theatre; and Pedro Armendariz, wildcat Mexican star. (Laughs) Pedro was utterly fascinated with Abe's BORING stories - Abe could absolutely bore you to sobs. But to Pedro it was the most fascinating thing he'd ever heard. He even invited Abe to his home in Mexico City to stay as long as he wished. I thought -- Geez, this must never happen; Pedro'll shoot him after a week. I loved Abe, but Jesus, he was a bore. But not to Pedro! (Laughs)

Adamson: (Laughs) You liked Abe as an actor?

Haskin: Yes. Oh, he was a tremendous actor, a terrific actor. But he'd tell these damn long-winded stories about repertory, some play he'd done, and what some actor said to him, and everybody'd be hurrying through dinner, while Pedro would sit there absolutely fascinated. (Laughs) I'd much rather listen to Pedro's stories about shooting up people at his parties in Mexico. (Laughs) He was a real wildman.

And on working with Sofaer and a wild ocelot:

Adamson: It's amazing that [the ocelot] didn't move.

Haskin: Oh, yes. It was the greatest luck in the world. I just took the gamble the cat wouldn't jump down and savage somebody. It was a wild ocelot.

Adamson: Not trained?

Haskin: Hell no -- liable to take a piece out of you! (Laughs)

Adamson: (Laughs) How did the magician do all those scenes with him? Or was he mirrored in all those shots?

Haskin: No, we had luck, that's all. Abe Sofaer, of course, is such a consummate actor -- he was Galgo, and he had magic, and why should he be afraid of wild animals! (Laughs) Abe was a great character.

Hope this was of interest. This is the source:
Haskin, Byron: The Directors Guild of America oral history series; 1:
Byron Haskin Interviewed by Joe Adamson. Metuchen, N.J. and London:
Scarecrow Press, 1984. pp.273f, 253.


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