Frank Littlejohn

Family name: 
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
13 Jun 1989
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 

Horizontal tabs


 Frank Littlejohn Transcript


The copyright of this recording is vested in the ACTT History Project, Frank Littlejohn, one time managing director, Technicolor England. Interviewer BernardHappe, with additional voices from Alf Cooper and Alan Lawson, recorded on 13 June1989 in the ACTT offices.


AL: Where and when were you born?

FL: I was born in Gillingham, Kent in October 1914. AL: Schools?

FL: I went to the local elementary school first. From that to the local grammar School and from that I won a scholarship to Southampton University where I took a physics degree and I graduated in 1936, I think, no, a little earlier than that,about 1935. And my first job was with GEC, the Osram lamp factory, at which Ibecame rather tired. I joined with 12 young graduates,

12 of us there were, very memorable because it was difficult getting jobs in thosedays, especially coming out of university and I completed, when I had done 6 months we were all told that we would have our salaries reviewed which they certainly did, they reviewed it and said there's no change. Then, at that time wewere about 5 left, by the time I'd done 11 months with GEC, I and the chap who had got the prime job, the plum job because he couldn't get into trouble, we were theonly survivors. I thought enough of that. I saw an advertisement in the newspaper, Technicolor Ltd were looking for young science graduates and went along, was interviewed by a great man called Leslie Oliver who by sheer luck took me on.

And I joined Technicolor in December 1936, on a very memorable day because I think 3young graduates started on the same day. That was myself, Bernard Happe who was unique in that so far as he eventually became one of the very few technicians who became internationally known, an international reputation and George Newton whose vocationreally was teaching but he did two spells with us at Technicolor, he was a greatmathematician and he had a very knowledge of optics, so his contribution toTechnicolor was absolutely fantastic. I'm afraid I was the only one who made no contribution really.

BH:  Nonsense

AL: What was your job.

FL: I joined, we all joined as assistant supervisers, I became assistant superviserof negative control

BH: No, when I joined I didn't have anything like assistant superviser rank. Iwas a control department operator.

FL: Were you an operator? BH: Yes

FL: What about George? BH: He was the same.

FL: Is that why you clocked on then?

BH: No, we were staff which meant that we had five and a half day operation and noovertime. But no titles. They didn't come till considerably later.

FL: Perhaps my memory is playing tricks. I thought I was assistant superviser. Anyway I worked in negative control. The other two gentlemen I just mentioned both went to positive control. And they were very early days indeed, the builders wereJohn Mowlens, they were still in occupation and it was sometime before they got out. In fact one of the staff with John Mowlens became rather famous, also in thefilm industry eventually, was Ron Haig, he was an electrician on Mowlens.                     When I joined Technicolor he was still working forJohn Mowlens.

So I spent my first weeks, months maybe, doing cleaning jobs, cleaning out tanks,cleaning up floors, cleaning walls, I became one of the best cleaners in thebusiness. In fact I always said that I'd finish up as a cleaner on night duty earning the double time, I always thought that would be rather a nice job. But it didn't happen. So that was the way it all started. It was merely a cleaning operation. And we were very lucky, I think Bernard will agree here, we were very lucky in so far as we had about ten very erudite Americans who came to teach us all about the film industry. I in particularly had a mentor, Stu Brown, who was a really great character. What little I know he taught me. And he went on teaching people right through his whole carrer. A very charming man, a man with absolutely, unique knowledge of the film industry and he was always ready toimpart his knowledge to young people and do his best to help them, a really great man.

Then there was another man running neg assembly, his name was Rudi Komaruvius, another real character, Ken Roberts, Ken Roberts ran the transfer department. Kenand Stu I think they lived more or less together and they earned a reputation in asfar as each of them married one of the models for Selfridges. Selfridges had two models, Dawn and somebody or other. And Ken Roberts married one and I think Stumarried Dawn. And then we had Hugh Rossier, a real gentleman running the track printing department and so on. Bianci, who was the chemist, he eventually, went back to America. They all eventually went back to America, whe the war became imminent, they all disappeared. And there was Mac Haynes who was the chief engineer as well. I think that's the whole lot. There were also two, one was running positive control and the greatest character of all was Davies or Davis whoran positive assembly, he was a South African.

BH: Davy. It was Ian Parsons who was running pos1T1ve control, now he was Englishbut he'd been given processing in Hollywood by Technicolor in preparation forcoming back to England. He was the son of a famous visual scientist who was a leading exponent of colour vision. The fact that I happened to be reading Stuart Parsons on colour vision one day as I happened to be coming in on the bus endeared me to Ian Parsons ever after.

FL: He wasn't greatly thought of, was he?

BH: He wasn't greatly thought of. FL: He didn'tlast all that long.

BH: He was mild. He didn't glow in the American context in the way that a number of the others that you mentioned.

FL: Eric Davy was a real character. I can remember his famous expression, "I'vedone every job in the world including shovelling shit from snow."

AC:  Leslie spent time in the States.

BH: Leslie went there to train.

FL: He was engaged in England and then he went to Technicolor in Hollywood for his training.

AC: Did he ever tell you his story about clocking on in the States, on principle he refused.

FL: That would be my story. Do you remember he tried to make us clock on once.

BH:  Yes I do.

FL: I refused to do that. Because after all we weren't getting paid overtime werewe. There seemed little point to it.

BH: There were no particular problems with the control department as we were.

FL: We had two managing directors, Kay Harrison who was the entrepreneur, he had been the chairman and chief executive or managing director of Gerard Industries who were a major shareholder in Technicolor, with the Prudential; and an American gentleman whose face I can visualise but I can't remember his name.

BH: Frank Oakes.

AC: Harrison was the guy who bought the land wasn't he.

FL: Yes. Frank Oakes. That's right. He was the entrepreneurial spirit behind the whole thing. He had the vision and he managed to get the Prudential interested andhis own company, Gerard Industries. And that's the way it was set out withTechnicolor Hollywood owning half, well they had 49% of the shares I think, and the English shareholders, which were largely Gerard Industries and the Prudential, had 49% and somebody or other had 2%, but I've no idea who it was. So that's the way it was.

AC: It was an actress.

FL: There was, you're absolutely right. I can't remember exactly who it was. Butthey were grand days, we did nothing but clean and clean, and we, I was learning from Stu the whole time.

And the great thing about Technicolor was it was the company that brought science and technology to the film industry, it really was ,and the film industry really owes Technicolor an awful lot. Not only did it   bring science and technology to the industry but it brought some sort of order out of chaos too, eventually, the paperwork, Technicolor was very very involved in setting the standards for thewhole of the industry. It was a great company. And if it got off to a slow start that was only to be expected.

The original licence for Technicolor gave them the rights to produce the prints for the United Kingdom and the British Empire as I think it was called then, plus ships that sail with the British flag. But there wasn't much by    way of business going right up to the time, almost to the time that war broke out.           We were very, very limited in numbers, certainly in negative control, so we expected to do everything. Negative control looked after the perforating of the negative, because everything had to be perforated, we couldn't in those days trust Kodak with perforating anything, not even the blank stock. So everything had to beperforated. Negative control looked after the perforating. Sensitising, that was a job I did, that was a wonderful job. Did you ever do that Alf?

BH: Yes, I first met Alf in the sensitising room in the dark. FL: It was a pigsty.

BH: Sensitising and developing and assessing for rush printing.

Fl: Check        lighting, so we set co        lighting, so we set all thelighting for the pilots which were produced.                     Yes, and so all that had to be learned. Developing in those days was done on huge drums, I suppose they were 6 ft in diameter.

BH: Yes, they would just take a 1,000 ft

FL:  We did this in absolutely pitch dark. It was great fun. They were a nice punch of fellows. I think Bernard will agree, because jobs, as I mentioned earlier jobs were very difficult to get, so Technicolor were able to be a little choosy and many of the lads who came to work there had very nice backgrounds, were really rather nice people. And certainly this was true in negative control. So we had tolearn to wind a thousand foot roll of negative on these drums in complete dark and then in complete dark two people would manhandle this drum by sticking a piece of metal tube into each end. We would manhandle it from open tray to open tray, all in the pitch dark and the drums would be moved round on trolleys, everything wasdone in pitch dark.

The only light in the room was a little green light around the clock where we did the timing for the developing.

My god those drums were heavy, my god they were heavy. Once they were full of liquid, my god they were heavy.

BH: It was absolutely necessary to engage your staff of negative developers on the basis of manhandling power.

FL: Although I did it I must say.

BR: But you     were helped out I'm sure, at the other end.

AC: Weeks after I got there they made me foreman down there, remember.

BH: No, ah but I remember when you came, we're talking about 1937, and as I  remember the foreman then name was Priestley, wasn't it.

FL: Yes.

FL: And I think the first neg development we did, apart from putting various test strips through was for the Hendon air display about 1937 or 8, possibly 38 Isuppose and the whole thing jammed up solid.

BH: We were in operation with negative in 1937. We were in full operation with the Coronation.

FL: When was the Coronation.

BH: May 1937, wasn't it. And that was really an occasion. As Alf said, the first full length colour newsreel.

AC: The first one was the Jubilee celebration down at Dufay because I worked on that.

FL: This was a two reeler, we did the first reel before the event.

BH: This was Castleton Knight.

FL: No, it was not Castleton Knight, it was done for Fox. Whatever his name wasfor Fox. Castleton Knight came in later on. We didn't get Castleton Knight until we did the Olympic games.

That's right.

AL: It was Fox Movietone, Ian Craig.

FL: That's right Sir Ian Craig and every single frame of that negative I ranthrough my fingers. Because when we came out of the dark and we had to put thenegative of course, wind it off the drums into a dry box and there was a certain technique which I'li never forget which Stu taught me of holding it, the edges, between your fingers and quite literally my fingers were cut and bleeding by thetime I finished that. But it was a great occasion.

BH: It was a great occasion. We ran the plant continuously throughout 24 hours forthree and a half days. And as Frank says we slept on the premises. And another thing I found interesting was because of the shortage of people you did everything. In positive control, I was not just control, I did some matrix printing, Icertainly did some matrix developing, I operated on the transfer machine, I did some viewing, I don't remember actually any positive assembley.

FL; There was a tremendous atmosphere which lasted until, for many years until Dr Kalmus was ousted out of the presidency, it was a great family firm up to that time.

AC: There was a period, from the operators point of view, if you were found inanother department you were in high trouble, at one period of our life there.

BH: The process was supposed to be very secret.

FL: Strange code names.

AC:Every bottle had a number on it

so the guys mixing it up weren't supposed to know what they were using.

BH:      The   thing which always amused me was  that water was given a


AC: 147, wasn't it.

BH: And the water in London was Ll47.  It is funny, because we found, but wedidn't find “til 20 years later or so that the actual composition of the waterhad a damned important effect on the characteristics of transfer, and it wasn'tuntil 20 years later that Alan Tull started to investigate the influence of components like magnesium on the transfer effects.

AC: Do you remember the problems they had sinking those wells

for water'?

BH:  Sand came up, that was one of our big problems. Then we got salt.   There wassupposed to be water from the green sand at a reasonable depth but there wasn't much. So they went down further, into the chalk, and it was salty.

FL:  The problem was the sand that came up with it  The sand used to get behind the negative on the drums, and as it changed it's size, when it       was emersed, it would rub against this grit and we would get terrible  throughout the roll, so that wasa problem too. We had lots of problems in the early days but they were allsolved in a very cheerful fashion, and that lasted to the war years. We had the excitement of the Coronation,  did we do any, no other big job.

BH: We did the last reel of the Wilcox thing, 60 Glorious Years,

FL: No, you’re wrong there, we did the last reel of Victoria the Great in colour, followed by  60 Glorious Years in 1938.

BH:  But the last reel of Victoria the Great was in 1937.

scrape out the boilers.

  FL: That’s right

  BH Did you ever scrape out the boilers. 

FL:       No my cleaning work was solely concerned with my own department. Neverstrayed. A bit of painting we did when tnere was nothing else to do. Everybody lent a hand with a paintbrush

AC: I've been inside those drums by that babcock, by god it was hot in there. And I lagged the pipes.

AL: You talked about Dr Kalmus, did you have much contact with



FL: He would come over once a year. I never met him until after the war. He came over for the annual general meetings of                                                                     the company.That was the only reason he came to England. And in fact the Americans didn't havea great deal to do with us after the war. Frank Oakes went back to America, likeall the Americans, before the war when the war was imminent. He never returned. Who was that chap who came over for a short while and sacked me.

He finished up in Pathe in America. He was at that time the plant manager ofHollywood, and it was before the war, of course, and he came over, and everybody was running around, and he saw a pilot that I'd timed, he said "This chap is nogood, I'll have to sack him." Then I was given, because much of our work was for advertising, and there was a full length thing, they would often be full lengththings, this for Horlicks milk and I had to time that and I'd already been told Iwould be sacked, so I took an awful lot of time and trouble over this thing and wesaw it about

5 o'clock one evening, and much to my delight, and I think he was a little upset about it, it was absolutely perfect, so they didn't sack me after all. But I can'tremember the gentleman's name.

BH: He made a terrific impact. He was the one, I remember, supervising or comingup to check the mixing of a particular developer who insisted on the last quarterof a .25 gram going into a volume of 500 litres.

FL: He was a dreadful man and eventually he went to Pathe Labs in America.    At that time, when he left Technicolor, he went there to compete and he was a man who believed in the original interpositives and internegatives which were a dreadful quality

if you remember, but he was the man who left Technicolor to give them some competition.

Before the war we only had four cameras, I think that's worth mentioning, fourcameras, which weren't very much demand at first, but as colour began to catch onwere very much in demand and I suppose our best customer at the time was Alexander Korda who made three big films, well I suppose two and a half.                              He made the Drum in 1938, The Four Feathers in 1939 and he started The Thief of Baghdad in late 1939 but that was the film whichgot completed in America. But it was a very interesting film because it was a film in which the first colour travelling mattes were played around with, and I can remember experimenting with Stu Brown and dear old Flash Cahill on trying to make acarpet flying through the air, and we had no special stocks and I remember we used tartrazine dye in order to

BH: That's right. You tartrazened your positive stock in order get, it          was a messy business,

FL: If you ever catch up with Cahill, he'll remember it very vividly. On the samemachines we used to do chemical fades. On the same machine, we were immersing thisstock in tartrazine dye and poor old Flash stepped back into a bucket of tartrazine, he was up to his knees in tartrazine.

BH: Chemical fades were done on another machine actually Frank because you had tohave 3 strips going into the bleach together

FL: Not true. It was done on the same machine and I did all the experimentalwork. I decided, it was I that decided what time they were going to be so that yougot the right number of frames on each of the various stock. It was done on a single one.

Original negative taken and put through.

If the editor decided he wanted a fade in, that piece of original negative was put in this little machine, through a bleach for the appropriate time, frame by frame, Flash or I used to stand by                                                                                                                                   the machine and wind it in ,frame by frame into the bleach and then wash it and hopefully it wasn't ruined

BH: If it wasn't ruined. If you bleached it        away, you couldn't put it back again.

FL: We were able to fade that way. We couldn't, of course, make dissolves in those days.

AC: Before I came to Technicolor I used to make fades for about half a crown a piece.

FL: As I said, we added that touch of science to it.

BH: You had to because you had to have three strips which were being handled the same way.

FL: Try and keep it black the whole time. Of course, we also did in the negdeveloping room the recovery of the blanks which had been transferred incorrectly,the reclaim process, which Alf will probably remember that, again it's a wonder that he and I have any lungs left, because that again was done over open trays, bleaching the colour out of positive prints in open trays.

AC: When they built the machine, they used those damn rubber belts to drive, Iwas wanting stainless, and they were jumping and slipping and I had a hell of a job.

BH: It was an important operation that reclaiming, because it meant that if youhad made an incorrect transfer, you could rub it out and do it again and you couldsave the positive stock and the soundtrack. And since in those days the cost of stock, the actual photographic material was high in comparison with every­ thing else,

FL: And considering it all had to come from America too, by sea.

BH: The ability to reclaim a print and retransfer it was an absolutely vital part ofkeeping the reasonable quality going.

AC: During the war, they kept me back, I don't know why, but they kept me back, I was 3 months, 6 months, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, deferment right through, they were bringing matrices over in submarines or something and they were getting water on them, and 1111 never forget, we were passing them through tanks in one of the drumsand Leslie came round and said "You've got to count how many times you rub eachframe." with a piece of felt, lint, across and we were rubbing on the drums each frame so many times to get this salt off them.

FL: I volunteered for the RAF and got called up immediately war broke out and didn't return to Technicolor until April 1946. I was away for the best part ofseven years, six and a half years, and the piace had changed quite a lot. And by the time I got back, because I wasn't released until rather late, despite being in from the start, many of the women had gone, because it had become during the war,                      with female labour, many of them were gone by then. Another great change I found was that the union had arrived and a chap called AlfCooper, he had me in one day and said "You have to join the union." I said "I'mnot joining the He said "You'll never get a job anywhere else unless you join." I                                                              said "Too bad, I'm not joining." I never did.But we remained good friends despite the fact I didn't join his club. I couldn't stand your club because I didn't want to be called brother, Alf. I just didn’twant to be called brother.

AC: There isn't a person in the land

FL: I had done it as a working class boy, a working class family, I'd got to university.

AC: If the factory next door got a rise through the trade union movement, the otherguvnors had to follow even if they hadn1t got union, because the people went there.

FL: So what.

AC: And when the operator got a fiver the foreman had to get seven and a half.The gaffer got ten and the boss got more. Everybody got benefits from thetrade union movements.

FL: I'm not denying it Alf, I'm just saying I didn't want to join your club Alf.I came back and found a number of differences. It wasn't long before it            had become very popular, Technicolor, everybody wanted Technicolor, TechnicolorHollywood just couldn't cope.

BH: It was the final years of the war

FL: By that time, there was a tremendous backlog of colour films in America. Technicolor just couldn't cope.                                 Europe which had seen no American films or British films for all those years was a ready market for the Americans who wanted to send their films there, so many good friends of minecame over from America working for the big majors, like Jack Cutting of WaltDisney.

You'd find studios made dubbed versions of their films and so there were many versions of existing films to be made and Technicolor Hollywood just couldn'tcope and they, although it was never official, we were given the ok to make prints for Europe. So our licence, though officially never extended, did become a licence which enabled us to print virtually for anywhere. And, of course, we fromthat point on talked of nothing but getting larger and we had some very interesting times.

BH: It was a period of continuous expansion because during the war, of course, wehad been res4ricted to four cameras, the four original cameras and the one original transfer machine, the four original matrix printers which were becoming more and more overloaded and although the speed of the transfer machine had been incrased a bit over those years, it was pretty clear that one transfer machine could never possibly cope. So from about 1946 onwards, we had to think about more machines and the building that went with them because

AC: When you came back Frank what did you come back as when you came out of the services.

FL: I came back as nothing. I was put into positive control and worked underGeorge Newton. Bernard by that time, was plant superintendant, Bernard was there and George was still there, he'd been away during the war at Farnborough but hewas now superviser for positive control and I worked with him on matrix printers, trying to change the way we modulated the light on matrix printers, which was very unsatisfactory, it had been done up to that time by resistances which changed the colour of the light, of course, so we were looking for different methods of modulating the light. I played around with that for some time.

Interestingly enough, in 1947, we had a Socialist government, and they whacked on a 75% ad valorern duty on all films coming into this country with the result that theAmericans put an embargo on their films and there were a number of colour prints ofnew films in the country, which had come over as show prints, and we had a period, which Bernard might remember, when we were making the silver separation negatives from colour prints.

BH: It was a horrible operation.

FL: But we learned all about masking which I think was rather new.

BH: Masking had been studied in colour reproduction but doing it on a continuous printer scale, it involved running separate strips with your positive while you were making the separation.

FL: I remember           was very much involved. So that was an interesting period that we had in 1948, I think it lasted the best part of a year. In 1948, the US was allowed to transfer about 17 million dollars of the money that thefilms took at the cinema, transfer it back to America. The rest of the money they were allowed to spend in England either by                                                            putting into charitable affairs like hospitals or into film production which was rather a good thing, so it gave a bit of a boost to film production at the time.


I got a bit cheesed off with positive control. In fact we were growing terribly.We were pretty much a 24 hour operation and the late shift was becomingincreasingly important, we had to get every foot of colour print off that, still only, one transfer machine, so the night staff became rather neglected, almost like a separate company, they were looked after by a man who was called a night superviser I                  think, whose name I          can't remember, I remember he lived on  barge at Richmond.But I can't remember his name.

BH: John Wells

FL: On one memorable evening, one of the matrix printers seized up and he took apair of scissors and cut the negative in several places in order to untangle it, and that was the end of John Wells. And I               thought about this and I          suggested to management, which by that time was Leslie Oliver, Mike Allen, the secretary of     the company, and Georg·e Gunn had joined us as head of the camera department, and I     suggested, I                    wrote a memo to them suggesting that weought to take night a little bit more seriously and appoint an assistant plant night superintendents, and they would be on rotating shifts so there would always be somebody of some stature available to make the decisions, to keep the place running, and of course suggested myself as assistant plant superintendant. And George Newton was one of the original assistant plant superintendant, and Flash Cahill.

So we three for a while, none of us enjoying it, did rotating shifts. It worked very well indeed. But George got fed up doing it, I got a bit fed up with shift work and Bernard, you were getting more and more involved in technicalities.Because we had several priorities, I mentioned before we were trying to expand and do the best with existing equipment, and meanwhile we were getting more and morecustomers who had to be taken over and the plant superintendant who was originally Leslie Oliver, had been historically in charge of both the customers and the operation was finding it more than a plateful and so the job was split. And you at that time were made technical manager and I became plant superintendant. I thenbegan to disassociate myself from technical matters and became more and moreinterested in the commercial side of the business. So that would be, 1 became assistant plant superintendant in 1949, and I became plant superintendant in 53,       so you must have become technical manager about the same time, because it was asimultaneous appointment wasn't it.

BH: 53, that would be about it.

FL: Then it was the story of more and more work, more and more transfer machinesuntil I suppose it would be, coming up now to making all those cameras in England.

BH: Part of that expansion scheme, on one side, we had to have more transfer machines and the buildings which went with them because a transfer machinerequires a space about 150 ft long and

25 ft wide, so you don't put those down in a corner. And eventually we had to takea building operation which eventually took three more transfer machines, a total of four. But in parallel with that was the demand for more colour photography and

in 1948, it was agreed, with enormous reluctance from America, that Technicolor cameras should, in fact, be manufactured in this country. It was absolutely unpredented and it was thought to be quite improper.

FL: Immoral

BH: Certainly an American activity. And, in fact, in 1948 we had the first of the 3 strip London built, or English built, Technicolor cameras, and that was an enormous step forward and multiplied the resources enormously.

FL: I don't remember how many were made, but I do remember the first few beingtaken individually to America. I remember Frank Bush took one.

BH: I think about a dozen were made, of which two were high speed ones, and someof them eventually finished up in other places, like the French operation whichwas taking shape at that cime. But, of course, really no sooner had we achieved this camera expansion in the early 1950s, because the decision wasn't made until about 1948, so the completion of the programme wasn't until 1951, colour negativewas looming on the horizon. And colour negative started making it's impact about1953 onwards and by 1955 nobody wanted a Technicolor camera.                                               There was no function for Technicolor cameras whatsoever.                                     So that made an enormous difference to the camera department, because for a generation they had had the monopoly of supplying the studios, running the cameras, manning the cameras, cleaning the cameras, nightly service and all the rest of it. And thatsuddenly disappeared.

FL: Can we just harp back a bit because we talked briefly about the Olympic Gameswhich were in 1948, Castleton Knight, and for that we used a Technicolor camera for the opening ceremony and the closing ceremony

BH: Because we wanted the colour of the flags.

FL: But to cover all the games we used something called Technichrome which was abipack process, a slight refinement in so far that we built ourselves a third matrix if we had to,

BH: It was a two colour negative process, bipack as you say, which was printed in three colours.

FL: It wasn't too bad, Castleton Knight was the man got us going on that, a great man,Castleton Knight. rome was really successful, it was used by the Crown they made a lot of shorts about that time.

who really Technich­ Film Unit,

BH: I don't remember making a lot of shorts, I only remember two, in Spain.

FL: No, they make lot, I remember one called                   or something, they made an awful lot in the North of England, sort of travellogues things the CrownFilm Unit did.

BH: Most of them were three strip.

FL: Many of the were Technichrome. Anyhow, in course we did the Royal Wedding and the Coronation for Castleton Knight as well, the 53 Coronation.

AC: When you both became plant superintendant, what was Stu Brown made at that time, because he stayed

FL; No that1s not quite true, because Stu Brown along with all the other Americans went back to America, of course, and he didn't appear on the scene.

BH: Stu didn't go back. He took

AC: Leslie Oliver took me to one side and said "I want you to help me with theunion power and everything else, I want to get Stu an extended work permit." Wewere picking up about Americans over here doing people's jobs. And because of his record teaching people, I know he was very tight financially, with cigarettes and things, in fact he never let go. But with regard his technical capability, he was more than happy and keen to pass his knowledge on to everybody. I spoke to theunion about it and we agreed to support the management to advance his work permit.In point of fact, he stayed with Technicolor right until he retired.

FL: When I came back                 was in charge of negative control, thatwas why I couldn't have the job. Do you remember


FL: He went back to America for a while I'm sure.

BH: He came back from America to help open the French plant. He went back to America. He was one of the few Americans who got a job back in America. Kamaruvius got a job but half of them didn't. Komaruvius and Stu were the only people who got jobs.

FL: He wasn't around when I came back. I'm sure Alf. I can't remember whenexactly we started building the French plant, 53, he was away for a while, becausehe had marital problems, didn't he.

AC: He had trouble with his divorce.

FL: I never knew the salary of anybody at Technicolor

AC: His wife was suing him for the children's maintenance.

AL: When you talk about the building of cameras in England, were they built at Technicolor?

FL: Oh no.

BH: Newalls had the main contract but all the precision work, the movement and so on were in our own shop, but the big castings and the complicated machine tools had to be set up specifically for the purpose, was subcontracted to Newalls.

 FL:  lenses weren't they?  

 BH: The lenses were all


AC: Did we assemble them.

BH: Yes

and had been since the early

AC: I know Ron Hill used to work with all those lens mounts on the camera

FL: If you got in touch with                he would give you some quite valuable information. His job was, I never did understand his job, a sort of clerical job he had in the camera department of the time. He is a veryknowledgeable chap

BH: And he was concerned with keeping records on the cameras, were they were and what their history was.

FL: I always thought of him as a clerk in those days.

BH: In a way, because he took the history of each particular camera as Iremember, particularly those which were made for the first time.

AC: Who was in charge of camera maintenance? FL: I don't remember him.

I suppose that it interesting that you mention that Technicolor Hollywood decided togive a licence to a consortium France and we lent a great deal of assistance toAssociate Technicolor, around 1953, as Bernard said, they built the plant on the GTC lot at Joinville, and we provided technical assistance, a lot of it,                             and bythat time we had a lot of French customers, not only the American majors who at thattime had their main European offices in Paris, we also picked up a lot of Frenchcustomers, French film producers, we did a lot of French advertising films. So I wasvery much involved too in as much as I was having to shed my customers and having to introduce them to new Associate Technico­ lor. Stu Brown was on that scene, and hecame over, as he had done in England, he was over there to teach people all about the Technicolor process and all about filming and he did a tremendous job there, Studid, and he stayed so long as Technicolor stayed in Paris, which wasn't very long, itnever really got going, unlike England where we got on with the Americans very well,the French couldn't get on with the Americans, and the thing was split down themiddle. There half of them were being managed by the Americans, Phil Tucker, he was incharge of the project. And he                                               beingin charge of building the lab to running it as well. And the other half were loyal tothe French manager, anyhow it didn't last long, 5 years.

BH: But the other thing which brought the French plant to an end was the Italian.

FL: The Italian plant started before the French plant finished, that is very true.At one time I can remember going to Paris and

visiting Kay Harrison who was still alive at that time and going to his flat which he also used as his office, because he called himself, he had become nowinternational president or internatio­ nal vice president and he had notepaper for Associate Technico­ lor, notepaper for Technicolor Ltd and paper from Technicolor Italiana. Yes, they arrived on the scene and that was an added competitor to both us in London and the French.

BH: The Italians whacked a prohibition on imported prints.

FL: Indeed, right from the very beginning they wouldn't allow colour prints, it'snot from the beginning because we shipped a lot of prints into Italy in the early days, but as soon as they had their own plant, they stopped.

BH: No they stopped before that. It was the slamming on of the restrictions that really initiated the building of Technicolor Italiana

FL: I suppose so. We were talking of Stu, so he moved from Paris and now he was doing the same sort of job in Rome, he was I should think some 8 years in Rome, quite some time. So did the plant manager from Associate Technicolor, JohnDelmezure, he was also from Paris and went to Rome. It was a good set up that they had there, a very much better set up than there'd been in Paris, very energetic, very enthusiastic, a wonderful man at the head of it and they did a lot of original work.

BH: By that time you'll have to remember that the 3 strip camera had completely disappeared

FL: We went through a very bad period, didn't we. Was that the time we had our first redundancy.

BH: It would be about then. Yes. But the Technicolor Italiana plant was built on thebasis of colour negative and nothing else.

FL: We were right back to square one again, just like we were at the time of the ad valorem tax, we were trying to make our prints from separation negatives

AC: Had we built our Eastman Lab at that time?

BH: No we hadn't. We had a horrid, we were, in fact, technically caught seriously short by the fact that 3 strip negative used black and white negatives and therefore could print on a particu­ lar matrix stock. When you came to colour negative, you couldn't print matrices directly from it, on the same material, so wehad a horrid period when from each colour negative production, we had to makeextractions which in fact were, effectively, black and white separation negatives and print those on the same stock.

FL: Loosing a lot of definition and colour saturation BH: Expensive, slow and not good quality and

FL: I suppose that lasted a year.

BH: It lasted the best part of a year. And Kodak were working

on the free colour sensitive matrix stocks which were called trirobo stocks about that time, but that took quite a

time before they became satisfactory and I suppose it wasn't until about 1956 or thereabout that usable trirobo stocks

FL: I suppose so. And once we got that facility and were making beautiful colourprints, making them quite cheaply, compared with the competition, the vogue thencame for devoted cameramen to mess around with the colour. We had all sorts of strange things happening. I remember “Moby Dick” where they wanted a sort of black and white painted effect and we got to printing with a black and white grain for a while to get the effect John Huston wanted on that.

BH: And making effectively degraded colour separations.

FL: Exactly. We did a film with Ossie Morris called “Moulin Rouge” which he shot which he shot                                       a fog filter, and we were swamped with phone calls from projectionists all over the country who couldn't get their prints in   focus. There was a film called “Reflections in a Golden Eye”, a Marlon Brando films, which started off as a colour film and finished up as a blackand white film with a horrible green tinge to it. A funny time that, wasn't it.

BH: And just at the same time, which added to the excitement of everything, therewere changes of format. Because when Frank and I started, as everyone else had, for the umpteen years before that there was only one 35mm size, nicestraightforward Academy, and you made your cameras and matrix printers and yourtransfer prints all to that particular characteristic. But when the availability of colour negative came along, then the floodgates were open. First of all Cinemascope as the one which started off. But the run that followed, we had literally, and it                             was literally, because I counted them up on oneoccasion, 47 varieties of actual printing. Not all of those required a particular matrix printing set up,                                                                               some of    them combined with various aperture masks, the frameline business, but they were large area negatives and there were squeezed prints, and seezed negatives and enlarged prints andTechnicolor, of course,


Technicolor had to fight back.


Technicolor had to put it's own oar in


And George Gunn, with his Technorama, it came about



And it provided a conversion, interestingly enough,

of some

of the large number of three strip cameras. The 3 strip cameras were built intheir interiors to take 35mm negative running horizontally to give you a doubleframe print, of the same size as Vistavision

FL: I was going to mention Vistavision was just a little bit before that.

BH: Vistavision was going before that and George Gunn had the concept, well the Vistavision frame is fine, it gives you a lot more information but it leaves thesqueeze characteristics to be associated with Cinemascope.

FL: We, being members of the general public by this time, we could never saw what I was getting for my money, I'm sur-e the general public never did.

BH: No, it      didn't. The original Vistavision presentation, despite the fact thatit was derived from a large area negative, and in fact should have been better fordefinition

FL:  It should have been better for grain.

BH: As far as it's size and shape on the cinema screen was concerned, it looked justthe same. And, therefore, it didn't take off and George Gunn said "Alright, thebig frame is a necessary thing to improve our definition and grain but we have gotto have the squeeze on it. Heingeniously worked out a

squeeze factor to go on the camera which could be conveniently either further squeezed to give you a Cinemascope type 2 to 1 compression or unsqueezed to giveyou a normal print. So we had 35mm flat and 35mm scope.

FL:  It wasn't long after that before we were blowing it up to 70mm.

AC: Was that the two perf negative. BH: No that was Techniscope.

FL: That was the two perf. That came from Italiana, but it wasn't really theirdiscovery, it had been used in Spain before, but reintroduced it.

BH: They put the effort behind it. FL: And very good it was too.

BH:  Excellent.

FL:                        He was a great engineer.

BH: He was an engineer and an optics man and they put their efforts behind that.

FL: At that time Italy was one of the biggest film producing countries in the world, they made something like 300 feature films a year and they were always looking for some method for making the expense less. So the idea of using half anegative was really appealing to the Italians, so there were a lot Techniscope was produced

BH:  You'll find some of the spaghetti westerns.

Fl:        Indeed.

BH: But you're absolutely right that it wasn't long before Technorama was used as a source of 70mm films. We had no 70mm facilities in London for years and years.It must have been the first 10 or 12, I remember Alf putting them up on the 70mm developer, the first dozen productions

FL: The first one I remember was “Solomon and Sheba” 1958



BH: Technorarna with the converted Technicolor cameras provided the source of a very large number of English and European 70mm prints.

FL: My great love.

We now got to the time of the first take-over at Technicolor, because that would beabout 1962 I suppose.

Pat Thorley took us over. A nice man, a man with vision, a man who realised, whichDr Kalmus hadn't, of course, that the Technicolor name really meant somethtng andhe hadn't exploit it. PatThorley had all the right 1deas, I must say. He wanted toexploit the name.

AC: I think it was the beginning of the rot setting in though. The Technicolor process b whiskiesecame the plaything of fast buck wallahs, didn't it.

FL:       Yes to some extent.

It was a great pity that Pat Thorley

having been an alcoholic, because he came from the South of America where he had thefranchise for a number of English whiskies and presumably he sampled all his stock. 

And he and a number of the people around had him had all been alcoholics and they'd decided to give it up. And unfortunately Thorley was spending most of histime writing a book about alcoholism rather than managing the business, this iswhat I think you have in mind

It was that time when Fasnet became the president of Technicolor, he came up with Pat Thorley, as a matter of personal vendetta, he got rid of Leslie Oliver,almost as a matter of personal vendetta, 1962, Leslie was a little stupid,because he did say no to some of the things