Stanley Kubrick and his loyal driver Emilio D’Alessandro.
More than a chauffeur.
Emilio d’Alessandro: Driver, courier, secretary, estate manager, and indispensable middle-man to the world. All these things meant Emilio to him during Kubrick completed A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket, arguably the centerpieces of his revered legacy. Emilio comes from a small farming village in the Cassino region of Italy before leaving to England at age 18 to avoid military service. Later, working as a mechanic, he discovered his passion for racing, and at one point was competing against Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, and Niki Lauda, all of whom went on to become Formula One champions. During the crisis years, Emilio worked as a chauffeur and met Kubrick in 1971. Their relationship spanned 28 years before it was cut short by the director’s death in 1999.
Three decades of faithfulness.
During filming in the late 50s Kubrick bought a small black model from Mercedes-Benz, the first in a series of high-end German cars– the director would own over the next three decades. According to Emilio, Kubrick thought Mercedes was the perfect car: powerful yet quiet, spacious inside without being too big on the outside. The fact that, in the 70s and 80s, Mercedes sealed its a reputation for making the world’s safest and most reliable cars was surely another, just amplified the prefer of the director more. One time there was a gold 450 SEL, notable for having been crashed into the house by the director. There was also a red 350 SE, used for production purposes during the making of the iconic horror film.
Before these models came into the picture, Emilio cared for the director’s famous “White Mercedes,” a 280 SEL. Ryan O’Neal, the lead in Barry Lyndon, loved this car so much that Kubrick became concerned the actor wanted to steal both it and his driver. The director then offered O’Neal his own pairing.
“The experience of all of Kubrick’s writers has been remarkably similar – driving in his car to the isolated estate, the daily work with a charming companion. The cars changed, but Emilio stayed”, mentions the co-author of the screenplay for The Shining Diane Johnson. But if Emilio was the person who came in closest contact with Kubrick’s motorized fleet, he isn’t the only one who fondly remembers being inside of the director’s trophy cars. In fact, many-a screenwriter and actor has singled out being driven by the Italian driver in a German car as an essential element of a Kubrick collaboration. Emilio put a face and soul to this obligatory component of working with the master. The director Alex Infascelli, who is currently working on a documentary about Emilio’s life, titled S for Stanley, says it is hard to overstate “how much Emilio meant for Stanley to be Stanley Kubrick. There would have been a Kubrick of course, but it would have been a different Kubrick.”
That’s no submarine.
Emilio finished winning his employer’s heart when he turned out be the only person Kubrick knew who could drive his adored yellow Unimog, a four-wheel-drive truck manufactured by Mercedes-Benz that the director had bought from a farmer while filming Barry Lyndon. The Mercedes-Benz Unimog has been in production since 1951. Its name is an acronym for the German “UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät“. When he first heard the sixteengear vehicle’s engine, Emilio thought it sounded “like a machine gun”; when he first saw the thing, it reminded him of a “yellow submarine.”