Film Skool?

In the early 1970's, Tom Schulman, then an aspiring screenwriter, enrolled in film school at USC. Schulman soon discovered that, notwithstanding the school's fine reputation, some of his professors were somewhat underqualified.

"The only teacher they had to teach directing was a gentleman named Norman Taurog, who was then in his nineties and nearly blind. I remember his walking into the directing class with a cane and a guy leading him in and his sitting down and saying, 'I suppose you are all wondering how I am going to critique the performances in your movies when I can't see.'

"And of course, that's what we were all thinking. Especially since the movies we were all making had no dialogue. And he said, 'Well, I can smell a performance by the way the sprockets go through the projector.'"

[Incredibly, Taurog (who directed Elvis Presley in more films than any other director) "wanted us to make only comedies, and he would gauge how good the movies were by how much laughter he heard in the room."]

[Following a Supreme Court decision empowering local communities to define pornography, the town of Clarkstown, New York, established a nine member "obscenity committee" to screen films, nightclub acts, and printed matter -- and selected as its chairman a blind retired businessman named Harry Snyder. "My phone hasn't stopped ringing since," he remarked in an interview shortly after his appointment. "We've attracted a lot of attention... Pornography isn't a case of seeing, it's a case of feeling. You know, they say the blind often have more sight than those with sight. It's a matter of heightened senses." He explained that other members of the committee would sit beside him at screenings to "fill me in when the screen goes silent." (Ben Wicks' Book of Losers)]

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