RB: Any sense of how many movies you have seen in your life?
DT: I've never worked it out like that. I used to see—in the days that I was really pounding on this book in the first edition and when I was teaching—I kept records then, I would see about 500 films a year. It's dropped a bit. If you allow that that was the high point and I'm sixty, I've probably seen about 15,000 or 20,000 movies. I don't mean 20,000 distinct movies. For me seeing certain movies many times has been vital. An obvious example is when I did a book on Orson Welles. By that time I had seen Citizen Kane many, many times. I taught it a lot. I still see it a lot. I'm obsessed with it.
RB: No saturation point?
DT: Yes. I taught it for ten years up until '81. And I really needed a break from it and probably didn't see it for another 10 years. And then I did the book. And I went back to it and I found that I loved it even more. You can overdose on a film. But repeated viewings of films, for me, generally pays off well. I love to see old favorites and I get more out of them.
RB: You've published 17 books ranging from essays to personal memoirs to biographies, some novels...
DT: A book about Nevada.
RB: What do you call that one?
DT: I guess I would call it a travelogue. With history. It's about the place of that state in our culture. For me, Nevada is the place where America experiments.
RB: Las Vegas, the Atom bomb.
DT: Yeah, but also divorce and gambling. Things that the country is not quite sure how to handle.
RB: Is there a big project or book that you would like to do but you are waiting for the right time?
DT: Well…yeah…all right. I'll tell you. And you can tell me whether it's insane or what. I would love to write a book, it would be called American Weather. It would be several things. It would be about the extreme varieties of weather you get in America. And about how the weather affects life locally and how within the American character and culture you can see weather types. And it would be about the way weather is a subject that is one of the universal small talk subjects. You meet a stranger you can talk about the weather before anything else. Why is that? And is weather natural, our responsibility? Are we damning our own weather by things we are doing? Is weather religious in the end? So, it's a topic that just fills me with interest and wonder. It would allow me to travel across America.