I feel like I was never more confident in my life than when we made that film and never less confident then when we screened it. The first time we screened it was Part Two of my life. Because up till that point, my attitude was, “Just wait till they see this.” And a lot of people were—does this story hold together, or are people going to understand why these boys are acting like this and everything. “I think they’re going to understand. It’s pretty funny.” And then we screened it, you know, you’ve heard me tell this many times I suppose, but may we relive it?—and we screened it in Santa Monica at the AMC 17 or something like that on the Third Street promenade. And as the reels unspooled, during the thing—I watched—I was sitting in the back row with all the studio executives and everybody and I began to see people leaving. They were leaving in groups. People don’t go to the bathroom in groups. They’re not coming back. You know, they take their coats. It became really excruciating. At a certain point I left. I tried to be very discreet about it, because you don’t want to add to the exodus feeling, but I also couldn’t take it, and I watched. I went up to the projection booth and watched and they just left all through the film and it was really a miserable thing and—but I remember there was afterwards we had the audience cards, the reactions, and they just, you know, S-U-C-K-D. That’s the sort of thing you get—and a lot of things were “favorite whatever”: “none.” One after another. But I remember that we going through it, you know, and we’re kind of analyzing. Everyone’s feeling bad for me that I won’t be able to do this with my life. And then I remember I got one of these and it was like an outline of a dissertation. This girl had sat there a lot longer than everybody else and she’d written a whole thing and she quoted things and she said this stuff and I was like, “This is our audience!” Literally, there was one positive thing. And I didn’t get this—“She’s getting everything.” A few years later, several years later, like six years later, I was at like some kind of function, and this girl—some kind of film thing, or DGA thing, or something and this girl was—introduced herself to me and said, “I was at your screening in Santa Monica.” “I know who you are. I know exactly who you are.” And she was uncomfortable, she wasn’t sure what I was talking about, “No, no, no, I know you.”
Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by, but the Red Shoes go on.
The Red Shoes (1948), Michael Powell