INT: You started working pretty steady. [NJ: Oh yeah.] And you did a lot of westerns. It says here, TUMBLEWEED, LAW AND ORDER, GUNSMOKE. [NJ: Yeah.] There were... THE GOLDEN BLADE, HIGHWAY DRAGNET...
NJ: Now wait a minute. THE GOLDEN BLADE was with Rock Hudson. [INT: Oh yeah.] See, Rock Hudson had never been a leading man before. [INT: That was his first starting role?] That was his first role. [INT: Was it... Was it a swashbuckler? What was THE GOLDEN BLADE?] It was a tits and sand show. [INT: Tits and sand, I love that.] Yeah. [INT: And was he a pleasure too? He was a nice guy?] Oh, very much so, yeah. [INT: Well, now, I look here, you do all these westerns and things, and then there’s this wonderful movie here, 1957, HELLCATS OF THE NAVY, which I think is the only movie that Ron and Nancy Reagan were in.] Together, yeah. [INT: And did you ever think that Ronald Reagan would be the president of the United States?] Never in the world. I just thought he was a great guy, a nice guy. He was a pleasure.
INT: And then, let’s see, okay. Now you get into a whole bunch of science fiction films, starting with THE DEADLY MANTIS.
NJ: Yeah, that’s my first [LAUGHS] science fiction. [INT: That was a low-budget picture.] A low-budget, and didn’t rise very high. [INT: But that wasn’t a studio film, was it?] Yeah. [INT: Oh, it was? They did science fiction?] Universal [Universal Pictures]. [INT: And then BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS. But on that’s the first time you take the credit, Nathan Hertz.] Yeah. [INT: Now why did you use a false name on that picture?] I tell you, the Producer of that show was Barney [Bernard Woolner]... Barney somebody. A guy I thought was a no-talent, nothing guy. [INT: Right.] And... I thought the script was terrible, terrible. And I was toying with the idea of forgetting it. But you know, after a lifetime of nothing but work, you don’t want to quit somehow. So I did it. But I didn’t want to do it under my own name. I thought it was that bad. So I told him that I would do it, but I know... He said, “Well, who’s going to be the Director?” I said, “I’ll be the Director. But it’s not... It's not...” [INT: Not under Nathan Juran?] That’s right. [INT: So you took the name Nathan Hertz. You did that once more with ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN.] Yeah. [INT: Was that the same Producer?] Same Producer, yeah. [INT: Now, you remember the Directors Guild [DGA]?] Yeah. [INT: And what did they...] They called me up, and they said, “You know, you can’t do that. It’s against the rules. And you can be fined for that.” And I... And he said, “Now, we’re going to pass this one, but don’t let it happen again.” And this is after the first one. I said, “But it already has.” [LAUGHS] So he said, “Oh, all right. Two you got." He said, "That’s all.” [INT: And you never did it again?] No.
INT: Well now we get to a picture that excites me tremendously. This is your first collaboration with Ray Harryhausen and Charles Schneer. [NJ: Oh yeah.] 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, 1957.
NJ: Yeah, now I can’t figure out why they would hire me. I had no… [INT: Well, they were looking for Nathan Hertz, I think, is what they wanted [INAUDIBLE]?] Maybe, maybe [LAUGHS] [INT: But so, you don’t know how they got to you?] No. I could ask Charles and I’m sure he’d tell me. But I never have. [INT: But that was a good experience?] Yeah, yeah. [INT: What was it like working with Ray Harryhausen?] I couldn’t answer that because I rarely saw Ray. He went to... He and Charles went to Italy to do all the background scenes of the Coliseum and so on. [INT: So they shot all that stuff in Rome?] All that in Rome. And Ray came and did his stuff in front of the film that they shot in Rome. [INT: Right.] So it really was not great for me. [INT: Well, one of the things I’ve always liked about that movie is you cut from these, you know, big Roman palazzos to, clearly, the backlot. You know? The... It makes, you know, from these, you know, Roman Italian buildings...] Yeah. [INT: It’s very funny. But still, did... how did you do the sequences with the, what was it called? The Ymir?] Ymir, yeah. [INT: I mean, was Ray there to block those?] Oh yeah, well, actually, there was no Ymir. [INT: Of course not.] He was doing it with a little bit of paste, or whatever he used. But I kind of resented that they didn’t take me along because I would love to have gone to Italy at that stage. [INT: Sure.] But that’s all right.
INT: Well now, but very soon after, then you did ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, which has become a classic. Did you ever think that would become a cult classic?
NJ: I thought it would go down the drain. [INT: It’s a classic. You know, she’s an icon, that image of that woman in the diaper.] Isn't that amazing? [INT: All right, well now comes the movie--] And you know, excuse me. [INT: Go ahead.] Some of those scenes where we, where she’s 50-feet high walking through the telephone poles and things, they were just double exposures. I think that they took the film before it went through the lab and ran it again to get a double exposure, because the budgets were zero, practically. So much so, that in one of the scenes where the flying saucer came down, and they figured, they were trying to figure out what…
INT: So in the scene of ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN when the flying saucer came down...
NJ: Yeah. They were trying to figure out what--they hadn’t seen a flying saucer before--what powered this thing? [INT: Right.] And there was a scene in the script where this local sheriff or something, walks in looking for the power place and finds it. I was ashamed of that. I mean, all I did... I couldn’t do anything else, but I did what I only could, was to put up some muslin sheets, no equipment or anything. And then I went out and bought four big fish tank bowls, or fishbowls. [INT: Right.] And I filled it with water. And I put the camera on one side of the fishbowl and the Actor on the other. And this sheriff came in and he looked around and he looked real close and then he drew back a little, and I got a wonderful effect out of it. [INT: Very simple] [LAUGHS] And I’ve used that since, you know, a lot. [INT: And so that’s the... that movie’s very famous for that big rubber hand.] Oh yeah. [INT: When she’s going “Harry...”] Yeah.
INT: Okay, but now comes 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, and you got Charlie [Charles H. Schneer] and Ray [Ray Harryhausen] to take you to Europe. [NJ: Yeah.] So, do you, what can you tell me about that picture?
NJ: God, I’ll never forget that first... I went from Los Angeles straight to Madrid. [INT: Right.] And it was a long, long flight. And when I got to Madrid, I figured at last I can relax and get a night’s sleep, thank God. And in walks Charles Schneer, and he said, “Hello,” and everything, in these offices in Madrid. And he says, “You know, you’re taking the train to Granada on the night train.” So I went to Granada on the right train. And they were bumping, and the rails aren’t matched up real well and I was so tired when I got there. And then the generators wouldn’t work, and the stuff in the... It was just a disaster. I was... [INT: But you had to shoot very limited hours because the building [Alhambra] was open?] The building is open to tourists all day. [INT: It’s a famous Moorish building and you were using it for its Arabian Nights quality, right?] Yeah, that’s right. And... Because there are a lot of beautiful tile work in there and fountains. And you know, in those days, I was getting the use of lenses and I liked that, and you know about that. And I put a 30-millimeter, or an 18-millimeter lens on the camera and shot Kerwin Mathews running through the Alhambra. And when I looked at the rushes, it looked like he was flying through them, you know? So, yeah, I learned the hard way... [INJ: So was that where you had a lot of problems on that shoot?] Yeah, well for power. And the locals weren’t as professional as Hollywood people, particularly in the camera and the grips and people like that didn’t function as well as they might. [INT: But again, on the scenes with the Cyclops and the dragon, and all the Ray Harryhausen puppets, did you work from storyboards? Or how did you...] Ray is a brilliant guy. Not just for moving the puppets. There are other guys that can do that, I mean, not as well as he does, but... But he’s kind of a painter, sculptor, draftsman, art connoisseur. Ray’s a pretty accomplished guy. And has good ideas too.
INT: Do you have any memory, a particular memory of that movie [THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD]?
NJ: Oh I know the movie. I could, you know, I know it back and forth. [INT: You’ve seen it a lot?] I’ve seen it a lot, yeah. [INT: Do you know, that’s the picture that... that’s why I’m a filmmaker, did you know that Jerry?] No. [INT: 1958 at the Kress Theater in Westwood Village, I saw 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD.] Really? [INT: I was eight years old. I went bananas.] Wow. [INT: I just said to my mom, “Who does that?” She said, “The Director.” That’s why I became a Director.
INT: But okay, so then there’s an Italian title here. Did you do an Italian movie that, LE IMPRESE DI UNA SPADA LEGGENDARIA?
NJ: Oh yeah. I didn’t know what the title was. [INT: But it was in Italian?] I did it... I did the picture, if it’s the same picture I think it is... [INT: I mean, this has an Italian title, so I assume that you shot it in Italian because I’ve never heard of it.] Yeah, well, I shot it in Italian because there weren’t any English-speaking Actors around. [INT: Did you shoot that in Spain or in Rome?] Yeah. [INT: Oh, in Spain?] No, we shot it in Rome. [INT: You shot it in Rome.] Yeah. [INT: What was that like, working in a whole other language where everyone's...] We had problems about sound because the soundmen couldn’t speak English and the script was written in English and they were delivering the speeches in Italian. They were-- [INT: Were they Italian Actors?] Yeah. That’s all we had in our pool to choose from. And at times, if I had a guy that could speak a few words, or at least finesse that he was speaking English, I would have that set so full of cards with those Italian and English words on there for him. Depending on how the action went, if he was looking at you, there’d be a board in that direction that he could feel his way through the dialogue and same over here, there, and so on. But... [INT: You were going to tell me a funny story.] About the... [INT: The Italian.] Oh yeah. The sound. We had a Producer on that show, part of the Italian hierarchy, by the name of Colonna [PH]. And he was a prince of the blood, by the way. Nice man, and when they do the clappers for the... the fellow would always say, “So and so, scene so and so, pro-duc-tour-ay Colonna Guida.” And I didn’t know what Colonna Guida was, or... And I don’t know if, you know... Colonna Guida means that Prince Colonna was a guiding light of what was going on, [LAUGHS] so to speak. I thought it meant Colonna Gui--guide track. [INT: Right, oh you thought you were getting a guide track?] Yeah. [INT: And then he was just telling the guy’s name?] The guy’s name. [INT: The Producer’s name. So you weren’t getting a, you didn’t get a soundtrack?] We had sound, but when I thought I was getting good sound, I was just getting a guide track from Colonna. [INT: Oh God.] And of course, it didn’t take me long to savvy the Italian language. I don’t know how long it would take anybody. But I soon discovered what was wrong, and seeing the rushes and all. Even so, one time I had a love scene to do. A beautiful, idyllic sort of a little place, grotto, and the boy and a girl were in love and talking. And soundman was there and set up properly and everything. And when I saw the rushes, guess what I heard? The Pope giving an, one of those speeches of his. [LAUGHS] [INT: Oh.] The sound man had been listening to the Pope and didn’t turn it right... [INT: And recorded the Pope.] So... [INT: So there you go.] That’s what happens. And we had so many things like that in Italy.
NJ: There was a case in that show [LE IMPRESE DI UNA SPADA LEGGENDARIA] where there was a coach bearing a princess Infanta, or whatever. And going through these wonderful woods and laid a nice insert road, of a pretty good shot. And the carriage was... contained the princess, the little princess, I think. [INT: Right.] So... And the musketeers were chasing the carriage to grab this little princess out. And they finally stopped the carriage and did what they did and the carriage went on. Well, to... the horses and the carriage were going on a road, nice road, and in order to stop the carriage, these musketeers, or whoever they were, had to get in front of the carriage and grab the horses’ reins and so on. [INT: Right.] But to get them in front of the carriage and past all these mounted guards didn’t seem to be impossible... but we found a place that had a little ditch in it, and a little bridge over the ditch. So that one of these two forces would, with the carriage, would go over the bridge and the other force wouldn’t go for the bridge. They’d go for the depressed... [INT: Yeah, go under the bridge.] Yeah, go under, so to speak. [INT: Right. To get the...] And catch up with them. [INT: Right.] The only way to do that was to have the horsemen leap over the bridge that wasn’t there, so to speak, into the gulley, or whatever. So one outfit is going steady, roads, bridges, and so on. The other one is going woods, ravine, and so on. So you had this all set. We got everybody practiced a little bit, and made the shot. And the horse refused to jump over the thing. This is the kind of thing... So, we decided well, we’d come back and do it later with a better horse. So when we came back, I said to this Italian assistant of mine, “Now, are you sure that this horse is going to be better than the previous one and make that jump?” “Oh, we Italians have the best horses in the whole world. Yes, they will do it fine. No, don’t worry.” And I said, “Well, have you tried it out, the horse?” “Ah, we spent the whole afternoon. He’s jumping every time, and easier every time, with no problems. Rest easy.” So we go out there, same thing. [LAUGHS] Horse won’t take the jump. And that’s the sort of thing that is frustrating.
INT: Well now you make a transition in the late ‘50s [1950s] from features into television. And you worked on a lot of shows: MEN INTO SPACE, WOG, WORLD OF GIANTS, which I remember and, you did a lot of television, then more features: FLIGHT OF THE LOST BALLOON, JACK THE GIANT KILLER, SIEGE OF THE SAXONS. Then you got into, sort of a Irwin Allen period. You did VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, LOST IN SPACE, THE TIME TUNNEL, LAND OF THE GIANTS.
NJ: I was in my heyday, having a wonderful time. [INT: Did you enjoy doing those shows?] Oh yeah, I did. Some of them were so imaginative, like TIME TUNNEL, beautiful little... complete in their own way.
INT: Now, did you feel there was any difference in working in television or features?
NJ: Well, I knew... I mean, when you work in a feature you’ve got 28 days or something like. You’re working in television, you got 6 days. And you better be prepared exceedingly well to make the schedule. I used to do a lot of... that’s where my art directing helped me so much, because I was my own Art Director. And if I thought of an idea, I could work it right there. If I had a particular Art Director but they always did what I suggested. There wasn’t any problems there.
INT: And then you had quite a run on DANIEL BOONE. [NJ: Three years.] Three years. [NJ: Yeah.] And how many of episodes of that did you, it was an hour, film, one-camera film show?
NJ: Well, they do about, what is it? 30-something shows a year, don’t they? And... [INT: Would you do every other one?] I did, yeah. [INT: And that was quite a gig. That was a three-year gig.] Three years. Then I did television off of this Italian feature we were talking about, but... and I did every show on that series. Six days, and then start next Monday with another six days. [INT: And that was in Rome?] That was in Rome. Well, actually, they had... They rented a little studio, oh God, outside of Rome a little bit. Thetis was the name, the telephone answerer still rings in my ear “Pronto, Thetis.” [LAUGHS] But... And we not only had the studio to ourselves, but we had a wonderful location. It was a Bracciano castle. Big, beautiful castle with a wonderful turret and oh boy, did we use that castle. And... [INT: You shot every inch of it.] Every inch. [INT: Right.] And nearly got shot ourselves, for, you know what? One day I walk in. The grips, they weren’t professional movie people. They were just guys with a hammer and chisel that could do whatever you asked them to. And these guys were driving railroad spikes into a mural that went all around this princess’ bedroom. And we got thrown out of the castle for that. [INT: I would think so.] Yeah. But I just... oh, had a hard time with my stomach when I saw that. [INT: Were you, were you the only American on the show?] Probably, yeah. [INT: Was it all Italian?] Yeah. [INT: Okay, so now you end your career with hundreds of hours of television.] Yeah.
INT: And I’m going to ask you some generic, general questions about filmmaking here. We know how you got... let’s see... What filmmakers do you admire? Are there are directors whose work you particularly admire?
NJ: John Ford. [INT: John Ford? Now, did you work with Jack Ford in the war too?] Yeah. [INT: So you worked with him on HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, and then in the military.] Yeah. Yeah. I was surprised. I mean, I didn’t know that’s the way things were going to go. But when I got my uniform on and got my orders, they sent me to Washington D.C. I didn’t... I thought I was going to be on board a ship throwing missiles into the cannon bore. [INT: Right.] But it didn’t turn out that way. One thing that changed all that, when I went to Washington, I met a guy by the name of Colonel Richards. He was one of the five families of Hawaii, a very nice man. [INT: One of the missionary families?] No, Dole, Pineapple, for one. [INT: Yeah, do you know that the... what Mark Twain said about those families? They were the missionaries. He said, “They went to Hawaii to do good, and they did very well.”] [LAUGHS] That’s funny. [INT: So you went, you met Colonel Richards?] I met Colonel Richards. And we’re just talking, you know, about Hollywood, about whatever. And he was in the OSS too, same as I was. And he had a stack of photographs of, captured photographs of Japanese war objectives, or... And he says, “You know, if we could ever measure these things, but they’re all in perspective there. You could measure a window close to the camera and it would be eight feet tall. But that same window, as it goes farther away will diminish considerably.” And I said, “Well, you know, in the movies, we have that problem in reverse. We have to take a... if we want to show a Director, let’s say, what a scene’s going to look like when it’s photographed, we have to build the parts of that scene in such a manner and know what we’re doing. That when it’s photographed it’ll come out to look like you want it to, with perspective in it.” [INT: Right, the perspective.] Yeah. “So you, in your case, you’re looking at the perspective, and you want to know what the real horizontal and vertical...” [INT: True dimensions?] “True dimensions. And in our case, we want the true dimensions from the perspective, just the opposite." And I said, “I think if a guy sat and put his mind to it, he could do that.” He said, “Would you be willing to put your mind to it?” And I said “Yeah, I think that’s real interesting.” So he set me up in an office, right there, in Washington. I got an instrument that the Navy built for me that would do that. It had a point source of light in it and you could... And it had columniation marks where you know what’s horizontal and vertical. And you could put a picture in there, line it up with the columniation points, which every military camera has, and get the results you want. Just by turning on this light, it would project. In effect, it’s taking the light rays that come out of the subject into the camera and there they get stuck onto the film, and taking that film and throwing the light rays back through the lens. [INT: Right, figure out the size.] Size. [INT: That’s fantastic. So did you... Did you do a great deal of that in the war?] I did, yeah. [INT: Aha, so you took your art director skills.] That’s right.
INT: So now, how would you prepare? Because television especially, and the low-budget films, you have to be very prepared because you have such a short schedule. [NJ: That’s right.] Did you draw storyboards, did you do shot lists? What would you do?
NJ: Well, I did storyboards as an Art Director for Aaron Rosenberg. He was going to do a picture, a war picture, and storyboards were awful easy in a war picture because all uniforms are alike. [INT: But how would you--Let's say, let’s say you were do a DANIEL BOONE episode, and you have your script and you have your breakdown. How would you prepare for the next day shooting? Would you, would you...?] Oh, I always had one, on, like, a lined paper, describe what you’re going to go, how far. [INT: Right.] Two, how far from Point B to Point C. [INT: So in different shots you’d break it down?] Right. In different shots. [INT: And would you do that the night before? Or the week before? What?] The night before. [INT: The night before.] Yeah. I’d stay up ‘til about 11 o’clock. I’d take a sleeping pill about 10 o’clock and go ‘til I got sleepy. I don't know about the times exactly, but that’s the pattern. [INT: So you’d prepare the night before you’d do a shot list?] Yeah.
INT: Did... how closely did you work with a Cinematographer [Director of Photography]? Now, you worked with many, many different cameramen, over the years. [NJ: Oh yeah.] And were there any who you were particularly were fond of?
NJ: Oh, I, my best friends were always cameramen. Always. Bill Daniels [William H. Daniels] was just like a brother with me. [INT: Did you work with Bill Daniels?] Yeah, I did. [INT: On what show, do you remember?] One of those Westerns. But see, I worked with Bill Daniels before I was the Director. I was an Art Director. [INT: Art Director.] I remember one time, we were working in Old Tuscan and you know how you got, you can do... you can shoot through the window and see the outside. But you can’t do that on a stage. And I was tarping in a set to keep the sunlight out, and Bill says, “What are you doing?” And I said, “I’m tarping the set in.” “Oh,” he says, “You know, you’re going to cut out a lot of good light.” [LAUGHS] He was a master of light. He had what he called a “Rifle” that he used to put in, in his sets, general lighting… units. And he liked to pre-light a set before he ever got in there to light for a particular scene. He, the general light, he was very interested in. Bill owned an airplane. We used to go flying on weekends [LAUGHS] together. We were very close. [INT: Isn’t it fun?] It is, it sure is. [INT: Riding around on horses, it’s really fun.] Yeah, it’s real fun. [INT: It’s beautiful out there.]
NJ: I... You know, I used to carefully divide up the work from reading the script to what these shots were going to do on the way through. I did an eight-day picture [HIGHWAY DRAGNET] one time, for Allied Artists. I forget the name of it. And I had it all laid out because the Producer, Billy Broidy [William F. Broidy], said, “Look, if you... Can you really do this picture in eight days?” I said, “Yeah, I think so.” “Well, if you do it in eight days, I’ll give you a bonus of X dollars,” whatever it was. He said, “But you know, you can’t let me down because you’ll never work for me again if you flop.” And I said, I said, “That’s all right.” So I carefully laid that picture out. And about, it was shot in Apple Valley. And we got about the fourth day of the eight-day picture, the Producer called a meeting at the end of the shooting day and he said “You know, we’re not going to finish this picture on time.” He said, “I can’t see how you can do it. And from now on, I’m going to tell you what shots you can make and what shots you can’t make.” This is extraordinary. So I said, “Billy, I can’t work that way. I’d love to do whatever to help you, but I.. I’ll be harming you instead. I think you ought to get another Director. I’d gladly step aside, but I can’t work like that.” Well, he left the meeting and he never showed up again [LAUGHS] on the set, and we finished the picture in eight days. [INT: Did you get your bonus?] Got my bonus and a travel clock on top of it. [INT: There you go.] Yeah. But that’s because of organization.
INT: And did you have a certain continuity person you liked working with? Or did you just take the script person, whoever it was?
NJ: I... oh, you mean like the script girl? [INT: Script girl, yeah.] No, I never expressed preference of that. [INT: Right. And you sort of functioned as your own Art Director, huh?] I did, yeah. [INT: So you really feel that your art directing background was tremendous help to be a Director.] Big help. [INT: Yeah.] And I used to... if there was no set and we had to arrive at some kind of a set, I used to do my own layout of the set, which I knew would work for me when I worked for someone else. But I always gave those to the Art Director.
INT: Well now, let’s talk about FIRST MEN IN THE MOON. That was a period, that was a Victorian picture. [NJ: Yeah.] It had a... had a wonderful... that was beautiful looking production design.
NJ: Oh, and listen, Ray Harryhausen should get all the credit for that. He was just great. The design of that, the ball that was shot to the moon, and how it was eight... multi-sided, and it bumped around on the moon, and the wonderful... The Actors were so good. Lionel Jeffries was just sensational in that. [INT: Sensational.] And... [INT: Edward Judd, who was in that movie?] Edward Judd, and the girl was... [OFF-CAMERA: Martha Hyer.] Martha Hyer, yeah. [INT: There you go.]
INT: Now let’s see, I’m going to go ask some Directors Guild [DGA] questions. Ah, you’d asked about... Now this is funny. This says, “Why do you hire a certain Production Designer? How do you work on the design of a picture?” Well, I know how you work on the design of a picture. But were there any other Production Designers or Art Directors you particularly liked working with?
NJ: Yeah, there was an Art Director named Bill Ihnen [Wiard Ihnen], I-H-N-E-N, who was very talented. Gee, I just adore the guy for that. And he was Edith Head’s husband. [INT: Oh.] And they had a fabulous house in Stone Canyon or some, one of those canyons. And there were always a couple of ladies out in the kitchen. It was a Mexican house. The bedrooms were separated from the rest of the house with an outdoor patio, sort of, that you had to cross to go from one part of the house to the other. [INT: Sounds wonderful.] Oh, it was so beautiful. And there was, in the guest room, they had all sorts of pretty decorations that Mexican houses lend themselves. And outside the door was a plaque, a bronze plaque. And guess what it said? It said, “Elizabeth Taylor slept here.” [LAUGHS] [INT: Elizabeth Taylor slept here.]
INT: Now, how did... how closely did you work with the film Editor? Did you often work with the same Editor? Or always different Editors?
NJ: Actually, in doing television, which first came to my mind, because Joe, the same Editor on all the parts... he had a way with him that sort of made all the episodes look alike. [LAUGHS] [INT: Oh yeah? Well, that's not good.] No. [LAUGHS] [INT: So you would shoot stuff and then he would just chop it together?] Yeah. [INT: But that’s TV. What about in features? Did you always work with different Editors?] No. I didn’t. [INT: Was there some you really liked?] You know, I worked... I think it was fortunate. I worked from one picture to the next like clockwork and no in betweens. And when you do that, when you finish one picture, not only are you tired, but you don’t have the time to get into the editing because you got another picture [LAUGHS] to start right away. [INT: Right.] So I don’t think I ever really... [INT: Did you ever supervise the mix of any of your movies, the sound?] No. [INT: No? You never finished them?] Never did.
INT: So let’s see. Now, okay, I have a question. When did you join the Directors’ Guild of America?
NJ: Oh boy, well, when I... When I started directing, obviously. [INT: In the early ‘50s [1950s]?] Yeah.
INT: When you look back on your career, because you made a lot of movies, and a lot of TV, what projects do you remember with particular fondness? And which of your films or TV work do you think is your best?
NJ: You ever get an inkling about that Catherine? [OFF-CAMERA: Well, you were very fond of FIRST MEN IN THE MOON.] Oh yeah, I liked that picture. [INT: You had not only enjoyed making it, you enjoyed watching it.] That’s right. [INT: Yeah, that’s a very entertaining picture.] Yeah. [INT: Now what’d you think about when the astronauts landed on the moon? You were waiting them... for them to find a little Union Jack?] [LAUGHS] Yeah. I liked the part, you know, where they first feel their weightlessness. And Lionel Jeffries is, “Ho, ho!” you know, and he’s having a hell of a time jumping up and down. And he gets [LAUGHS] stuck up in a tree somewhere, can’t get out. I thought that was good.
INT: What part of the job of being a Director do you dislike?
NJ: I don’t know. I was crazy about directing. I liked it. [INT: What was the part you liked the best? Do you remember?] Getting done on time. [LAUGHS] I don’t know. [INT: Feeling satisfied that you got the work accomplished in the time allotted?] Yeah. [INT: You, almost always, not always, but almost always, you were working against a very tough schedule.] That’s right. [INT: And most of the pictures were low budget.] Charles Schneer [Charles H. Schneer] used to say to me, “You know, Jerry, I like the way you prepare your work and how you zero in on what needs to be done.” He said, “You know, I’ve had Directors who come on the set after I arrive in the morning and say, “Well Charles, what are we going to do today?] [LAUGHS] [INT: Well, that must be why you did so well in television, because you could really... do the job].] And it’s fun to do a job and do it properly, with a good result.