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When Pam Grier Met Federico Fellini And Taught Him How To Make Fried Pigeon...

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 18, 2013 7:11 PM
1 Comment
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Pam grier

Over the weekend, I learned that Pam Grier follows Shadow & Act! Needless to say, that made my day.

It was also over the weekend (March 15-17) that the Film Society of Lincoln Center (NYC) ran its film series, Foxy, The Complete Pam Grier, a retrospective of all her films, several of them highlighted by the attendance of Grier herself, ending on Sunday with a live conversation with Ms Grier, during which she took the stage to discuss her storied career, illustrated by clips from some of her most audacious and unforgettable performances.

I wasn't able to attend that conversation (although I was present for earlier functions), but the folks at Flavorwire were there, and they reported on it, on their website, which is from where I lifted the below piece, detailing Grier's rather amusing run-in with one Federico Fellini that's one for the history books!

It happened in 1973, when she was making Roger Corman’s “epic” The Arena at Cinecittà Studios in Rome. “I’m playing this Roman slave girl,” she recalls, “in the skimpiest, thinnest, fakest leopard skin — with no bra — and sandals on a black stallion, who’s the lead horse.” But that horse panicked on the set, taking off through the studio. Grier, who’s been riding horses since she was six (her family comes from Colorado and Wyoming), knew she just had to ride it out, and she did — with no reins (“I’m hanging on the mane”) and no stirrups (“it’s just my butt, grabbing on to this horse”). Then she saw “this big, huge wall — a backdrop. And I didn’t know what [it] was. I said, ‘Okay, there’s a crack in between, I’m gonna go right through there. And it was Fellini’s Amarcord, it was a big ship. I rode in, in the middle of his take, and he said, ‘Ah! My fantasy has come true!’”

Hah! Although I'd say that Pam Grier in 1973, wearing very little clothing, coming out of nowhere on a horse, taking you by surprise, is probably a fantasy of many a filmmaker. 

The story continues...

Grier was embarrassed, but Fellini was delighted, and invited her to come to lunch with him at the studio commissary. (“But we just had lunch!” she whispered to her producer. “Go, it’s Federico Fellini!” he whispered back.) So she went, in her slave girl costume, for lunch with the maestro.

So, wearing the exact same skimpy outfit, she goes to lunch with friggin' Federico Fellini, only one of the greatest auteurs of our time. It's the kind of story I wish I was present for, although I wasn't even born then.

And there's more...

“I love America!” he told her, explaining that he’d been to Harlem, “and I had mucho fried chicken! Do you know how to make fried chicken?”

“I can!” she said. “Double crispy!” He suggested they go back to the kitchen, where he would teach her to make red sauce and she would teach him to make fried chicken. Trouble was, they were out of chicken. What they did have, she discovered, was squab. “It’s pigeon in American,” he told her.

“Fried pigeon,” she laughed, recalling the moment. “Oh-kay. So I’m gonna make this fried pigeon!”

Hah! Just another day in the life of Pam Grier, on the Cinecittà Studios lot...

This alone could make for a cool short film.

But that's not all of it; there's actually more to the story, so click HERE to read the full report from Flavorwire.



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1 Comment

  • getthesenets | March 18, 2013 8:33 PMReply

    there are some clips of her Q&As....or is that Qs &As...up on the usual video sites

    The Arena is the one Pam Grier film that I've never purchased/rented...

    When I've seen Pam in her non action films or in tv appearances..I'm startled by how small she is.
    Because she was kicking ass in films and had such a strong screen presence...I've always imagined her as being a statuesque powerful tall woman.

    I saw her on an old Cosby Show episode and noted how small she was.

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