Peter Tompkins

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Two old birds approaching ninety.


G. W. Papbst, directing in Italy in 1953.

Tompkins script for THE VOICE OF SILENCE.

Frederic March

In print thirty years, running to thirteen editions in Germany, plagiaraized by the best, it is still worth reading.

The Jaguar symbolizes the inseminating power of the sun.

NEW YORKER cartoon

Searching for Atlantis off Bimini in the Bahamas

PT exiting from a walled off room, his hiding place from the SS.

The Mussolini documentaries played prime time on Italian RAI-TV, were broadcast by the History Channel UK, and distributed worldwide by SKY.


This column may serve as a visiting card to reveal a little of who I am, while still around to kick against the pricks. Twenty-five years old at the end of World War II, with three years as a war correspondent and three as an intelligence officer, it was clear to me, as it should have been to the generals, that war was not the answer. Subtly I was guided to what I was supposed to be doing with this particular life on this particular planet by a charming Rhinelander, remarkable teacher of hermetic wisdom, the Mozartian film-maker Ludwig Berger, director of the first screened play by Bernard Shaw, a Pygmalion in Dutch. Authentic and indefatigable researcher into the great Shakespearean mystery, he was also author of a book with the hermetically bardian title: WE ARE SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON.

Ludwig Berger employed me to research in New York's public library quotations in the original language for his revealing book on the real authorship of Shakespeare. I then helped him with half a dozen projects to cuckoo into acceptable modern drama, his Sufi, Manichean, and Rosicrucian conceits. But Berger was much too subtle for Hollywood. Rather than quarrel with Vincent Korda over his lavish production of Berger's "A Thousand and One Nights" with the young Indian actor Sabu, Berger walked off the stage, leaving an unseeing Korda to emasculate the film. With me, Berger left twenty-two of his as yet unpublished chapters, timorously rejected by Harvard academicians, dealing with the occult language that is the key to the still clawing mystery of the Shakespeare texts.

Pig-headed and obdurate, it was some time before the master's advice about the true function of academies percolated through my system. It only hit me when branded into my flesh by the folly of Yalie "Skull and Boners." Angelically barred from such deadly politics, there ensued for me a highly accidented career, married to book-writing, with film-making as a wayward mistress. Unlimited access to the stacks of the Library of Congress allowed me to rewrite, from sources more rational and better informed, all manner of history, both recent and ancient, deliberately distorted by establishmental hacks. This pursuit, always enjoyable, occasionally hard, and often just one step from fruition, was subtly challenged by scurrilous forces, ready to block my employment, tear down by house, limit my credit.

My actual involvement with filming began with another great German director, G. W. Papbst, for whom I worked on the scripts of two major features; and because he said I was a born script writer, I thought my career assured. I had counted without the subtlety of establishmental censorship. A Franco-Italian co-production with two French leads, Jean Marais and Daniel Gelin, THE VOICE OF SILENCE, was shot by Papbst in the Vatican, in the Jesuit seat of Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual retreats. Each episode dealt with a character who chose to emulate Christ rather than obey the Church. Although I checked the fundamental spiritual orthodoxy of the script with the "good" Jesuit fathers, and obtained their approval, I only learnt with whom I was dealing when this potentially powerful film was also emasculated under the authority of the Ultramontane Christian Democrat Minister of Information, five times Premier of Italy, who had spent the war years as a scribe in the Vatican, a charming but highly devious fellow. Some years later I produced a documentary for Britain's Channel Four, directed by an English cinematograher, Jane Ryder, on that minister's reputed close association with the Sicilian Mafia, starring several top Mafiosi in Sicily, or in jail in the U.S. A hidden microphone revealed much of the New York drug and establishmental involvement with the noted Sicilian Pizza Connection.

The next really great script I worked on was with the New York playwright, Paul Osborn: a powerful biography of Richard Wagner to serve as a swan song for the venerable actor, Frederick March. All was cheerfully settled with his agency in New York over lunch at Sardi's, and I was off to Greece, unable to be with Freddy when he arrived in Rome to meet the original disreputable Italian producer and director. Quite naturally, an offended March backed off the deal; and I was never able to tell him that Papbst had secretly agreed to direct the film, once all the pieces had been put together. It might have been a poignant masterpiece highlighting the struggle of a revolutionary artist of major proportions to bring his poetry, mythology, and music to an incomprehending but expectant world. The selected score alone was breath-taking. Pity, because another life of Wagner was made with Richard Burton, so banal and so bad, that a great subject was virtually destroyed for years.

My next friendly producer, Jeffrey Selznik, had just produced from archival footage for Turner's CNN a two-hour documentary on how his father had cast and shot "Gone with the Wind." So successful was the result that Turner gave Jeffrey carte blanche for his next project. Soon I was scripting for CNN twelve one-hour television documentaries to dramatize the discoveries of a series of extraordinary investigators of the Great Pyramid, the so-called Pyramid of Cheops, beginning with the illumined Greek philosopher Solon, culminating with the profound Baltic Anthroposophist, Schwaler de Lubicz. The series covered the amazing struggle of re-awakening scientists against two thousand years of clerical obcurantism, salvaging much of the remarkable wisdom of the ancients, often at the risk of being burnt at the stake as was the clairvoyant monk, Giordano Bruno. Jeffrey kept saying "your check is in the mail" but as none arrived, we discovered that the Executive Director had moved to Comsat. At CNN no one was left to handle such a project. Then Jeffrey died and I had to switch to another venture.

A German lady producer in Hollywood contracted to shoot my original script of "Jaguar," overtly an adventure story set in the Colombian jungle, subtly replete with metaphysical conceits of clairvoyance, out-of-body travel, past lives, and the effect of Yaje on both jaguars and humans, similar to Peyote. At the last minute the lady was unable to get insurance for her carefully selected actors because of the deadly South American civil war. Pity, because I had secured a score of black and striped jaguars from the Medellin and Bara nquilla zoos and a lady Chinese doctor to tranquilize a male jaguar while romping with a human female: the oldest myth in Latin America, parallel with that of Leda and the Swan. Salvatore Basile, who had found the locations and hired the natives for DeNero's "The Mission," had secured for us some marvelous locations and exotic extras in Khoghiland. And so another shift.


With Wally Green, who had received an Oscar for his Macro micro film on the life of insects, I worked happily on a filmed version of THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS, but the producer, aspirantly suave, was such a dud, so inept, or so corrupt, that he managed to destroy a perfectly plausible production, already advertised by Paramount Pictures with great billboards down Sunset Boulevard. The poor fellow lacked even what it took to urge Stevie Wonder to finish the score fast enough for Paramount to comply with its side of the contract.


Luckily the lavish sale of the paperback rights to the book enabled me to shoot and direct an underwater search for Atlantis in the Bahamas based on Edgar Cacey's clairvoyant predictions. A CBS producer spent a week with us sailing around Bimini, but when it was plain to both of us that although we had some beautiful and original footage, we had no proof of any relic of Atlantis, I totted up the expenses to an adventure. Alan Landsberg used part of the footage to launch his successful series, "In Search Of..."

Two very nice Hollywood script writers came East to work with me on a shooting script for Tom Cruise to play my role in A SPY IN ROME. They promised mega-bucks, but nothing came of it, through my own pig-headedness. I had already turned down $50,000 for the rights when the book first came out in the 1960s because the production company wanted to jazz up my serious historical espionage document (for which a score of my fellow anti-fascist partisans had given their lives) to debase it into a Hollywood Western. It may sound like Frank Lloyd Wright or The Fountainhead, but one has to stand by one's ethics, the only vestment one can safely wear on the other side.


I did manage to produce two more major television documentaries with my own money, lovingly researched, shot, and directed by Maria Luisa Forenza, on how Churchill ordered the murder of Mussolini; but though they were a great succes d'estime (with a full page review in THE TIMES of London) they barely covered costs. In Italy, both Communist and establishmental historians, unwilling to eat crow or to re-write their work, unitedly stone-walled the truth. To nail this truth, a third documentary is needed, with the incontrovertible forensic evidence to which we have access. A contract was signed with RAI-TV, skillfully sabotaged by venal co-producers. Rather than follow in the footsteps of producer friends who financed their own productions, ending up in bankruptcy, we have left the story dormant until further interest is roused by our forthcoming book which gives the details.

I do not complain of my karma, being responsible for it. And I have had more than my share of rewards from a score of successful books. In two of them I benefitted greatly from the determined research of a jovial collaborator, now deceased, Chris Bird. But I do best by myself. For filming, on the other hand, just as it takes two to tango, it should take two -- an honest producer and a dedicatedly creative originator -- to make a worthwhile motion picture with a valid message. It would be nice before I shuffle off this mortal coil to have some sensible producer at least look at my treasure trove of dormant scripts, especially with the current plethora of bang-bang or soft porn productions. Luckily, for private consumption, we still have the BBC, PBS, the History Channel, and Turner Classic Movies.

Essential Ecology
An account of recent breakthroughs--scientific and spiritual--that can save your garden, your farm, and the planet --while there is time.
Essential Tompkins
A glimpse into the private life of PT.
The grandaddy of books on the Great Pyramid, written thirty years ago, plagiarized by a train of followers. Not yet faulted in its original content.
Historical, Anthropological
A novel look into the secret world of the Ottoman Seraglio with its odalisks and eunuchs, leading to an essay on castration as it has been practiced by humans across the centuries.
History of WORLD WAR II
Italy's leading philosopher Benedetto Croce, named King Victor Emmanuel as the prime Fascist and his Field Marshall Badoglio as the prime economic benefactor of Fascism. Their dishonorable flight from Rome was a betrayal of the Germans, the Allies, and of Italy. Yet Churchill supported them in preference to loyal, honorable anti-fascists who contributed with their blood to the renaisance of Italy, liberating a hundred cities in the north before the arrival of the Allied armies.
History of World War II
A closer look should be given to why Eisenhower's poliical mentor in North Africa, Robert Murphy, obliged president Roosevelt to go along with a deal with France's top Fascist, Darlan. The story behind it is more interesting than the overt developments.
History, Archeology
A bloody history of post Colombian Mexico, revealing the wonders of pre Colombian Meso American civilizations, through the re-discovery of their remarkable monuments.
History, Archeology, Hermeticisim
Indirectly, the story of Free Masonry and its struggle over the centuries to free the world from ignorance, prejudice, and enmity, while aspiring to a higher level of ethics.
Metaphysical Research
Scientific proof of "the little people."
Science Writing
#1 on New York Times Bestseller List
A fascinating account of the physical, emotional, and spiritual relations between plants and man.
Shavian History
TO A YOUNG ACTRESS, the letters of Bernard Shaw to Molly Tompkins
A hundred and fifty hitherto unknown letters of GBS reproduced as he typed or wrote them in longhand.
The story of GBS's long love affair with Molly Tompkins.

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