Adventures in Hollywood: The Doors

The DoorsDirected by Oliver Stone
Written by J. Randal Johnson and Oliver Stone
Produced by Sasha Harari, Bill Graham, and A. Kitman Ho
Cinematography by Robert Richardson

Starring Val Kilmer, Kyle MacLachlan, Frank Whaley, Kevin Dillon, Meg Ryan, Kathleen Quinlan, Michael Wincott

Released in 1991

Before I began writing the screenplay I logged more than 50 hours of taped interviews with two dozen individuals who were close to Jim Morrison (including his parents) and The Doors.

One of the most entertaining was with UCLA film school professor Ed Brokaw. Morrison and future band-mate Ray Manzarek had been students of his in the mid-1960s – as had I in 1981.

Balding and rosy-cheeked, Brokaw’s avuncular appearance belied an eccentricity – or perhaps the onset of dementia. I’d see him walking the streets of Westwood at all hours of the night and day. Sometimes he’d be quietly talking to himself. There were rumors he lived in his faculty office. Indeed, a strategically-placed Oriental screen blocked the view to the inside whenever he slipped out. Many times I would pass it while taking a break from editing in the dead of night and hear a blistering jazz (Impressions-era Coltrane) coming from behind the door.

Eccentricities aside, Brokaw possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of both the art and technology of film making. He had served in the Army Signal Corps in World War II Burma and afterward ran his own production company in New York City. At UCLA, his editing class lectures might incorporate John Cassavetes, wartime experiences, Miles Davis, and the grain count of a specific film stock.

When I interviewed him in 1986, Brokaw was 69 years old and Professor Emeritus. I met him at the North Campus area of UCLA. He guided me to a nearby grassy knoll and proceeded to walk off the exact dimensions of Bungalow 3K7, the Quonset hut that had once stood there, housing the film school at the time Morrison and Manzarek had attended. Next he vividly described its interior. He finished by pointing out where the port-a-potty that serviced the department had been erected. On the inside of its door, he recalled with a grin, was a graffito that read, “Jim Morrison has the ass of an angel.”

Long after the old film school had been torn down, Brokaw added, the door to that crapper mysteriously appeared in the lobby of the film department’s new building, Melnitz Hall. It lasted there for a while – perhaps as a waggish tribute to the school’s famous alumnus – before it disappeared forever.

Ed Brokow, too, disappeared forever on December 9, 2002. He was 86 years old.

The Doors