Patrick Leigh Fermor scriptwriter for The Roots of Heaven

Some may not be aware that Paddy was pressed hard by Darryl F. Zanuck to be the scriptwriter for the 1958 film The Roots of Heaven, an adventure film made by 20th Century Fox, directed by John Huston and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. The screenplay was by Romain Gary and Patrick Leigh Fermor and is based on Romain Gary’s 1956 Prix Goncourt winning novel The Roots of Heaven (Les racines du ciel).

The film had a fine cast and starred Errol Flynn, Juliette Gréco, Trevor Howard, Eddie Albert, Orson Welles, Paul Lukas, Herbert Lom and Gregoire Aslan. Paddy describes the negotiations and some of his time on set in Chad in letters to Debo Devonshire published in the book In Tearing Haste. I think Trevor Howard was drunk most of the time and Paddy appeared to be quite struck by the beautiful French actress Juliette Gréco. It was Errol Flynn’s last film

Set in French Equatorial Africa, the film tells the story of Morel (Trevor Howard), a crusading environmentalist who sets out to preserve the elephants from extinction as a lasting symbol of freedom for all humanity. He is helped by Minna (Juliette Gréco), a nightclub hostess, and Forsythe (Errol Flynn), a disgraced British military officer hoping to redeem himself.

I have a Spanish produced copy on DVD (English with Spanish subtitles available on eBay or Amazon) but the whole film (bar one scene) is available on You Tube. The quality is very good and you may like to watch it. It is scene eight that is missing.

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7 thoughts on “Patrick Leigh Fermor scriptwriter for The Roots of Heaven

  1. Pingback: New York Times Review – The Roots of Heaven (1958) « Patrick Leigh Fermor

  2. Pingback: Patrick Leigh Fermor – star of the silver screen? « Patrick Leigh Fermor

  3. Pingback: Paddy recalls his time on set with Errol Flynn and Orson Welles for The Roots of Heaven « Patrick Leigh Fermor

  4. Tim

    In the 12th ‘episode’. around 5.25 in, a character comes around a corner and calls to those seated around “Listen everybody, they’ve spotted him… The character looks to me like it is being played by Paddy! I don’t notice the character in any other scenes, and Paddy is only mentioned as the script writer from what I can see – but it looks so like him on my screen. Anyone any thoughts either wayt?

    Reply
    1. proverbs6to10 Post author

      Tim I have had a close look and it is definitely Paddy. Very typical to have a little walk-on (or run-on in this case) part in those days. Think Alfred Hitchcock. I will add a separate post with the picture. Well spotted.

      Tom

      Reply

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