Hugh Attwooll

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19 Nov 1993
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BEHP 0306 S Hugh Attwooll Synopsis.


Born 1914. Educated Hampton Grammar School. In 1928 offered a job as an assistant Stills man at Worton Hall Studios. He also worked in Automatic Barnes laboratories, then worked at Twickenham on the RAYCOL colour system. Became an electrician in 1930, working at Ealing Studios, moving to Islington Studios, worked at Albany Street Studios as a general handyman. Together with two others started their own documentary film unit for the Ministry of Defence. The building of Pirbright Camp. In 1939 called up to Territorial London Scottish.

He relates some of his wartime experiences. Demobbed in 1946 went to the Bush [Shepherd’s Bush] and got a job as Second Assistant Director, later to be made Production Manager. Went to the United States in a reciprocal arrangement, along with George Hill. On return continued as production Management, worked on Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1950). In 1959 approached by Cyril James of the Disney Organisation, with whom he worked until 1965, and then he worked on various “odds and sods”.


This side consists of reminiscences of his early career and the various directors he has worked with. He winds up talking about the changes and how the “accountants” have taken over.


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Alan Lawson  0:00  
copyrighting of this recording is vested in the back to history project. Hugh Attwooll Feature Film Production Manager. While Disney's UK representative interviewer cidco. recorded on the 19th of November 1993 at Pinewood side, one

Sid Cole  0:31  
we go, right. Who you prefer to be called you, Bob?

Unknown Speaker  0:37  
Yes, yes. Well, I

Unknown Speaker  0:38  
don't mind if you don't mind, by the way.

Sid Cole  0:41  
But tell me how, you know, when you were born and where

Hugh Attwooll  0:46  
was born in 1914, and eventually went to Hampton, which was Hampton grammar school. And in this, just before the school holidays, 1928 I was offered a job as assistant to the stills camera man at Walton Hall. And I said, Fine, you know, this was for the school holiday period. And I went over there on a Saturday morning, and found that the chap got the sack on Friday night. Anyway, they said they could do with the office boy. And I hung around for the rest of the day. And thought, this is a job for me. And I started on Monday 10 shillings a week, less five months insurance and had a whale of a time running around thinking myself the the cat's whiskers and getting kicked around as well. And came into the school holidays that was there. I'm not I wasn't going back. There was a big family confrontation. My mother paid school fees. And I was hauled before the headmaster. They said that all your nervy anything but a an errand boy. He was quite right. Highly pay one but and that was aired I, my mother decided that I pay her school fees. Back in turn six a week, the subsistence of turn six a week. And I could have the rest which was about foreign seven pins. She bought me a bicycle to get there just to work anyway. And you're only 14 I was only 14 and a half. Yeah. And that was that I sort of became office boy. Relief left in this call boy. And everything that's on her side and pictures on federal

Sid Cole  2:51  
films that they're making.

Hugh Attwooll  2:53  
Well, the very first film was held youth and chilli Boucher as a juvenile leads. In a film I think it was called downstream with a chap called David Dunbar American director of war big Stetson hat and was marvellous at throwing knives and things like that. But he wasn't a very good not. Not, not everyone I used to throw the playing cards and was fascinating. I mean, he you know, he told his six guns and things like that. But I don't think he's a terribly good director. And I didn't meet Howard Hughes until after the war when he was producing and directing

Sid Cole  3:33  
the root of all evil, which is a while afterwards. So you had no your family have no connection with

Hugh Attwooll  3:39  
none whatsoever? No. I mean, they'd be an amateur theatricals and things like that, but nothing more.

Sid Cole  3:46  
So how long did you stay at watering hole?

Hugh Attwooll  3:48  
I stayed there until really sound came in British acoustic and

Sid Cole  3:56  
Turkey rang when roughly

Hugh Attwooll  3:57  
that was 1929. I remember I saw a half joined the sound department of it with Stuart Rome. He came over and did some locations for dark red rose from Wembley,

Sid Cole  4:14  
I have figured out how the actor acting Yeah. And

Hugh Attwooll  4:19  
I thought well, I've got to learn something about sound. And British acoustic came in and the sound on disk. And I went out I went to a place called IRA violet because I thought that they had learned something about sound and I went all over the place I've been town but they ended up in office jobs. Went to Siemens. And then finally I found that there was a job back in the lead automatic bands, a warden Hall. So I went back there and went down to reduction printing. We're doing the total standard army contracts. Reducing 35 to 60 millimetre.

Of course, black and white black men, I think was must have been about 19 beginning of 1930 the ship called the vestry sank in the Atlantic, remember here and a chap was on it had a 16 millimetre camera with negative and he photographed the the beginning of the sinking. he photographed it from the lifeboat and then photographed it from the ship that saved them, took it into movie down and sold it to him for I think 100 pounds, which they bought immediately. They didn't know what to do with it. So send it out to us to see if we can blow it up. We did the first blow up. I think we got it on a Thursday. And we weren't right the way through to the Sunday. It was sheer trial and error. And we all we did was reverse the optics. I was only assistant the time was putting my two parents in. But finally on the Sunday night, we managed to get it It looked like fog of course. I mean the grain was enormous. But they did put it on on the Monday as a scoop for British movietone News.

Sid Cole  6:27  
And they never you never did. rebar had never done that. Nobody's ever done it before.

Hugh Attwooll  6:34  
And then I worked on the 16 millimetre side with egg for doing their reversible stuff until they found out that I was doing it. And that was that. So I stayed on an automatic band for a little while but it was a bit of a dead end. I thought of messing around doing very little. I decided to move and went to talking them to recall. They were doing a two colour process.

Unknown Speaker  7:06  
What did you do that?

Hugh Attwooll  7:07  
Just dog's body

Unknown Speaker  7:10  
that the name of the the head man of recall.

Hugh Attwooll  7:15  
I'm trying to remember I can't ignition Yes. But it was a dead end. I again I thought and I was wanting to get some money and I found that if I became an electrician I get one and six and three filings and so I moved over to Teddington to Henry I was Legion Norman studios. And they were doing a film called stranglehold with Isabel jeans, Ellen J's. And that was my introduction to the electrical side.

Sid Cole  7:56  
Yeah. What year was that? That was

Hugh Attwooll  7:58  
about 1930. Again, I restoring that area. And Stan double. Oh yeah, it was a chief engineer there. And he had been contracted to instal Ealing. And he promised me a job as this boy again. And I went over there and couldn't find Stan and got myself a job on one of the cement mixers nearly broke a bag in about three days. blisters all over. And Stan double game on Monday did literally did a double take and so for me as well the hell are you doing here? You won't give me a job and I gotta find something. So So we're going to start so that that was it. I was at Ealing. Right from the outset. Yeah, as an electrician, as an electrician is when I remember

Sid Cole  8:51  
Yeah. Yeah, I knew then you must have worked on the film called escapes. Did

Hugh Attwooll  8:55  
you know The first thing we did was nine to six with Louise Hampton, Elizabeth Allen. And then over the series of things, The Sign of Four years with Arthur whitener. The passive footman, loyalties. loyalty is looking on the bright side with

Sid Cole  9:21  
fuel gra racing

Hugh Attwooll  9:22  
fueled all that stuff. And the last one I did there, I think was the perfect understanding. for glory Gloria Swanson.

Sid Cole  9:32  
I always quote that because I was a that was the first time I was strictly at Ealing. And because perfect understanding was the misnomer of all

Hugh Attwooll  9:44  
times. Yes. was so bad learn kept current and all that lot where you started off

Alan Lawson  9:49  
with several bristan remember what

Hugh Attwooll  9:53  
Yes, yes, that's right. And then Eric cross came in. I remember The current current subarna wanted this and then kolcraft wanted it there. So they Bronx, Eric Carlson,

Unknown Speaker  10:08  
he put it in the middle.

Hugh Attwooll  10:11  
Remember Larry and Nora Swinburne in a carriage I don't think there's any form of the camera but they had to keep them going for them got the money and they just want to close down. It was quite a quite a show that when I went over to

Sid Cole  10:29  
is when when did you get that was that was quite early, perfect. That

Hugh Attwooll  10:32  
was 30 again. So 30 to 30 to grow as I was reading quite a quite a long while.

And then I in November 32 I went over to his victim. And there are more or less stayed until the coffin arm whenever I was out I used to there was a tschappat watering hole called backwash. I don't if you ever remember him, he was the general manager. And then he left there and he opened the studios in Albany Street and used to do commercials and things like that. And I whenever I was out of work, I used to go up and he used to give me a job as a either cutting room assistant or assistant director or buyer or whatever job there was, for a few. A few Bob. And I spent most of my time when I was not, you know, you always you'd have the hours notice. Anyway, I I did reasonably well it isn't and I got myself a blue ticket, got my cell phone on 11th. And

Sid Cole  11:51  
the way things operated in in, you know, engagement of electricians in those days.

Hugh Attwooll  11:56  
It was an hour's notice. You used to go up to the door and wait and they come in, come out and say you can come in and you worked and he would work for a couple of hours. And they say well that's it

Sid Cole  12:09  
of your own you earned an evening there. Was it not more regularly? Oh, yes,

Hugh Attwooll  12:13  
it was it was Yes. We were there all the time. I

Sid Cole  12:17  
don't think there were staff in fact,

Hugh Attwooll  12:19  
yes. I don't think we're ever laid off there at all. In fact, I'm

Sid Cole  12:24  
almost out of money was

Hugh Attwooll  12:26  
performance monitoring for three filings and the pink ticket rate. And the union. Ealing, they weren't really militant. I don't think they're really militant at all anywhere. Except the VIP, of course, they were they were pretty, pretty rare. Yeah. And that was the cause of the downfall really of in 1938 because we were on the lady vanishes. And VIP went on strike. And we were ordered to come out on strike as well. And Charlie Wheeler and Harry craps and all all those. We all came out at reluctantly been the district officials all ladies foot down and said that's it. And of course netkey went straight in. We were out in the Gulf. We did eventually get compensation from the edu. But that was the end of the

Sid Cole  13:35  
era. Yeah, that was a bad time with that in the Union. turnovers interest the only people

Hugh Attwooll  13:42  
who stayed in with the generator engineer and the the chief chief electrician and Stan sergeant. The rest came out and the bush came out as well. Ted Scaife and the sound the sound boys stayed in although they were edu. Les Hammond Ted Scaife friend slog it and all those people they all were wise and stayed on the job, which was very sensible of them. And then that was

Sid Cole  14:18  
so what happened to you then?

Hugh Attwooll  14:20  
I was I was dabbling with some chums and we started a sort of a documentary. Job. And we did finally get a job with the Ministry for photographing the beginning of the Pirbright camp. The minister camp that started in about what the end of 38 and it was a you know, we scratched a living I think we were earning about we gave ourselves a couple of quid a week. I think I lived at the London Scottish heart at Bisley because I was a member of the London Scottish and that was free living for me.

Sid Cole  15:08  
How did you come to be that? London Scottish owner knows the rugby club?

Hugh Attwooll  15:12  
Oh, no, no. is London Scottish Rite? Yes, yeah. And I joined them in 37. And of course, we travelled long until 39. And I was Lance Corporal then key party because I was a signaler. And in August that was it. So I was in the in the in the army for the next six and a half years

Unknown Speaker  15:42  

Hugh Attwooll  15:44  
I stayed on afterwards as well. It'll tear brought it on.

Sid Cole  15:48  
Before you go into the more years didn't didn't this little documentary setup you had have a name?

Hugh Attwooll  15:56  
company. I can't remember it now. The other two chaps stayed on for a little while and then they packed up. But we were paid 40 G, I think the amount of footage we we shot and it was from the time they started building the camera to the actual mission room there and drilling. And I suppose we shot about two or 300 feet of film a day. A week I think. Core version I'm setting our heart. Oh, no, no, no. If you wouldn't know me. I mean, really, we're all amateurs. I say well, semi professional. So they weren't

Unknown Speaker  16:45  
very they

Sid Cole  16:47  
say what happened to you immediately on the outbreak of war. I mean, you were

Hugh Attwooll  16:51  
well, we were mobilised and I went to Chelsea barracks as a lance corporal, then because the regiment is such had a lot of reserved occupation people. I was promoted sergeant.

Unknown Speaker  17:11  
And then

Hugh Attwooll  17:13  
shortly afterwards, getting 40 hours commissioned back into the signal platoon and stay there until I was captured in Anzio. 43. The only really amusing thing of I can think of truth was, you remember you did the next of kin, revenue O'Rourke and David Pilbeam and Norton. Way norwayne in the bezel Radford. We were in Iraq in 1943. We got back to erect and my Batman doesn't Aberdonian he was a projectionist. And he came to me one day and said, Have you seen routine orders? And I haven't looked and he said, Well, they want projectionist. What do I do? He said, I know you are you've not done it. And I am. So as to keep quiet. Don't volunteer for anything is you know, in the army. So we kept quiet. About two days later, I was hauled before the CEO. Who should I know you're in the film as as you've talked about, using projectors? So he said, Well, you and your Batman are the only projection is to the whole of pie falls. go immediately to divisional headquarters. So off, I travelled. And we cook the time with a big mad heart, cinema. And I went and saw the G one. They said we have a very special film that we can't allow any of the Iraqis to see. And we've got to do it. coming in in half again, starting at six o'clock in the morning, March in and they see the film March off and the other half brigade comes in. So we arrived on the day surrounded by military police. No film. All we had in the thing was Roxie Hart with Ginger Rogers. And they had all simplex machines, they're beautiful machines, you could do anything with them. And my Batman was very, very clever. And after a while he's chapter in there and even nine o'clock in the morning, eight o'clock in the morning. It was pretty sweltering so the brigade major came out and said you can't do something I can't keep these ships sitting around all the time. So we put on Roxy how They don't want to spoil it. The thing is a half dozen times. We ran it fast. We ran it slow. We turned it upside down after about 20 minutes we, we couldn't think of anything else. And we said With that said, so they dismissed the brigade, the other half brigade back. And then we said, no phone.

Alan Lawson  20:21  
Eventually I went to

Hugh Attwooll  20:28  
I was a captain. And eventually I went to divisional headquarters and said, Well, what happened? Is it always between here and Baghdad, somebody stole the film is absolute disaster. I said, Well, what was the film? I saw a very special film. It's all about sort of keeping mum. I said, I remember a film that we showed was now on public release, called next of kin Was that it?

has been on general release for about a year and I have I have gone to Lisbon and Berlin in the rest of life.

Unknown Speaker  21:15  

Hugh Attwooll  21:18  
after, after the demobilisation, I went back to when we were demobilised. 46 March 46. And I having seen a lot of damn good films, I thought I really got to learn the business again. So I crawled back to shepherds, Bush and I got a job as a second assistant at five pound a week. If I'd have been wise, I'd have gone banks, and I'm now a major and all that and what got myself a job with a bank authorization, which a lot of people did. But I think I was wise in not doing it. Anyway, I started off on the root of all evil with the Herald youth. And the next picture was the brothers with David McDonald.

Unknown Speaker  22:15  

Hugh Attwooll  22:19  
I think it was one of those things where people were going to be called for the first time and the casting department decided that they'd have to call people. And it was one of these usual mix ups that happen in in those days. And I remember getting down into the makeup department one morning and looking for Meg's Jenkins and Rosamond john was in the chair, as it were as Meg she did one. She's home in bed as in my gun she's supposed to be here was the first time she'd been supposed to been called. Anyway, I got on the phone asked to get over as soon as possible. She was due on set, quarter to nine o'clock. She's what I can't be there to tell you. And by the time I'm made up, it's going to be about 930. Overall, that's it. I went up sore. Oh, David MacDonald said, David, I'm sorry. I've dropped a clanger. Next Gen, he's not here. You can't do the setup. He's always do something else. About an hour later, he came over and said, Did you draw? I said, David, I don't know. But most will take the blame. Because, you know, he's over and done with now. He says you were the first on his path seems to care. And that was that we submitted a sort of fairly reasonable relationship. And then he when he was offered to do good time girl, he was with pet rock at the time. And gene Kemp was supposed to be doing the picture. He was a bit reluctant because pet rock didn't want him to direct the picture. Sydney box did. And his final excuse was he wouldn't do the picture unless obviously his first assistant which was very nice. And that was it. I was fascinated about three or four more pictures first. Linda decided to make me a production manager. And

Sid Cole  24:32  
we were under contract them were you? Yes.

Unknown Speaker  24:36  

Hugh Attwooll  24:39  
yes, we Yeah. Of course. They the one of the funny things was going to the States. You know what they came over with. So well remembered. Adrian, Eddie dimetric and Rosenberg, Ruby Rosenberg. And the AC He decided that they'd let them work, providing there was a reciprocal arrangement. And out of the blue for no reason at all, like, I've never managed to find out that George Hill will myself and Mark Evans, were chosen to go back there.

Unknown Speaker  25:18  

Hugh Attwooll  25:22  
mount George Mark Evans Couldn't he was doing some work, he couldn't join us. We went over on the Queen Mary on its first trip. George George himself a first class and arrived in New York. They didn't know what to do with this, but they eventually sent us out to Los Angeles. And we arrived, of course, when Adrian and Eddie were prescribed by the UnAmerican Activities Committee, and they were suspended. So we left in limbo. Anyway, they found things for us to do. And when we have a novice five months, really going around doing all sorts of things, I eventually ended up as a unit manager on back to back cowboy thing called roughshod with Tim Kelly and Tim Holt, Nancy Kelly. And I learned a hell of a lot about, you know, the American, the American way of life in that short period, and many came back. That would have been when that was 1947. And I've yet yet yet find out how we were chosen. I don't know what the general counsel did. At that time, it came right out of the blue. And very gratifying, I must say, because we, we were paid. I think I was getting 20 pounds a week at the time, Rosario, yeah. wasn't bad as a production manager. And we got I think, about $100 a week, which was enormous, because it was $5 to the pound, and the time, and I got friendly with a bank teller. And all all he was getting was $42 a week. So you know, we weren't living the life of Riley. In fact, we were sending nylons and everything home. nobody's business. And when we came back, I continued caraval pictures then we came over here and did a thing called roses for her pillow with goofy with us. And they were in the middle of Blue Lagoon and things like that they're here, yeah, yeah, yes. And then I went back to the bush when we finished that off. Then I went to his LinkedIn. And they closed that down on us. JOHN Davis closed it down. And then I was sent back over here to do startup poison brown and the astonished heart. There we, we stock and they course they In the meantime, they closed, Chevron's brush down and everybody moved over here.

Unknown Speaker  28:18  

Hugh Attwooll  28:20  
when we finished the astonished heart, there was very little going and I was offered Oh, yes, I was offered to do first assistant on what was it? I can't remember the film up in Liverpool. Ken horn was production manager. And I was then I think I was getting I was getting 40 pounds. We then that was the standard contract figure. And Paul soskin decided that it was too much. And Arthur Walcott called me and said they won't pay your your salary. I said how much will I pay as well 25 as well take it goes to 25 pounds a week I was on overtime. And the first week up in Liverpool I under over 100 pounds. We were 40

Sid Cole  29:26  
we went by what tire or

Hugh Attwooll  29:28  
that we got getting on for getting off of 50 other URLs because that finished and we went on to all the the studios here closed down at that time and they were going to do cloudy yellow, which never materialised and Tony keys came along and said you've got panda on the Flying Dutchman would I like to do that? That was fine though. I joined Join them and did Pandora and worked right the way through to the end of that that picture. Of course, when everybody had gone out, Lewin was determined that he was going to have this role command performance. When we knew them, the mudlark got it. And I think we were over at Sheppard and I think we had about 15 editors sound and picture editors trying to get the picture out. And Romulus we're getting mad the money we were spending. But our Lewin had the final say, because he never got the, the the command, the Mad Dog did it. And I then that was the end of that. And I joined Sidney banks again, he left he left the Rank Organisation he had words or with the john Davis. And he was now an independent producer and they had a place over at Mill Hill. And we did a couple of films, small things. And then I came back to do the locations of the plant his wife because they thought that I knew all about the Malaya and the army and things like that we never got to Malaya because of the troubles we finished up in Ceylon. But that was quite fun. And from then on, I had another contract with rank organiser with Rank Organisation and went on to do things with puffiness with the net mortar story. Various other pictures as well. And the last one was operation Amsterdam, which is great fun to do. And we just finished that and I had a lot of time off in lieu of work, and he suddenly said to me one day, young john Wilcox has gone sick. And the Anna Lee Neagle pictures about to start they want you to take her when I say Oh God, I don't want to that because I was coming to the end of my contract with the Rank Organisation and they're working with Paddy Carstairs on a phone call bats in the belfry, which we hope to get going. And the phone rang, or Arthur, all guts had come over to the office. But I knew what he wanted. And I was just about to leave the office and the phone rang again. And it was so James from Disney. And if you would you like to come and work with Disney. I said of course I would. I had previously been offered a job with them but couldn't take it for various reasons. That was the Rank Organisation. They called it banner in the sky, which they did in Switzerland and then they're in the middle of preparing Swiss Family Robinson. And walk apparently walked into their conference with Bill Anderson and Ken Annakin, baffle keys and john Howe. And so I want to production man in England know anybody. They said me and that was it. So as I put the phone down, over the office, saw Arthur all gone. And I said, I know what you want me to do, Arthur, I don't want to do it. He said, Why? I said, Well, I don't feel like I can cancel my contract. I've only got a few more weeks to run. He said, Oh, good. Yes. They were desperate to get rid of anybody anything. Anyway. So that's all thank you very much. Next I went up to town falls through James and the next thing I was on my way to Los Angeles. What year was that? That was in 1959. January 59.

I just do the one off which was kidnapped in the middle of that to all work towards the middle of the end of kidnap. Walk came over and he started quizzing. about where I worked and did I know Italy and I said not to work in or Germany not to work in but I knew Holland and Switzerland, Sweden and Spain and France. And he decided then he was going to do a lot of live action pictures they split the European into he had a Peter Harold and Steve Previn to Italy and Germany and I was sort of more or less given the the remainder of Europe wisdom and They had a Norman Foster x actor who was doing Hans Brinker in the silver skate. And he brought that over and it was a bit of a mess. We sorted that one out and then he was going to do a thing called dances of Spain. So what sent me out there to see what I could do for that. Anyway? We did. He did these series of dances of Spain, which were very, very good. And then said he got Greyfriars Bobby Duran over writer. Well, in the meantime, we he sort of seen a number of writers like jack Whittingham West be Brian Forbes, Debbie Clark, and he suddenly produced hole for the head, three lives of Thomasina Prince and the Pauper. JACK Whittingham did one hotel ahead was Timmy Clark. That's the fantastic one with Debbie. They gave him the story. He said I want to go to Paris for about four days. And I said Yeah, fine. Came back wrote the script had water there's good put it on the shelf. This is the first time I've ever seen a script accepted just like that. And that was the Brendon progress. We did Greyfriars Bobby then

Unknown Speaker  36:39  
not in fact, we did that

Hugh Attwooll  36:40  
Don Chaffee EPS is first really his first big picture. Yeah. And then we did. The horse masters bill fair, fair jobs directed that. Then Don did the Prince and the Pauper. And then we went on to instantiate the castaways, the Cowboys to call for the head honcho, head to Thomasina and it was just one after the other right up until about 1965 when what had become too involved in his Orlando, Disney World. And he lost interest and left it to Bill Anderson. And by the time when he died, of course 66 that was about the end we did the fight he prints of Donegal. Then the whole of the Disney Empire, more or less came to a grinding halt for quite a while. And I went on to the Battle of Britain got the sack from that moment where I crossed souls with Harry Saltzman and Benny fish. Because they said the picture could be made for $8 million. And I said it couldn't cost more and hurt you. It costs 15 in the end I said it because their team

Unknown Speaker  38:15  

Hugh Attwooll  38:17  
so that was that the line join the Dayton Duffy thing for only when I laugh

Unknown Speaker  38:26  

Hugh Attwooll  38:28  
that. I was offered to go to Paramount under contract. But in the meantime, Disney came back into the orbit and they wanted to do a film sizable what to parents. What do you want me to do either I can join you and you can loan me out this new I stay with Disney. They worry most will stay with Disney but probably the worst thing I did because about six months later, Paramount close town, everybody got a golden handshake?

Sid Cole  39:00  
You still wouldn't have got a very big

Hugh Attwooll  39:02  
No I've got I've got something. I've had a two year contract that they had to get rid of. And so we did a thing called dancing the Heather and then older the fabulous Fred Brogger turned up. We did with his Omnibus we did David Copperfield which was very, very good indeed. We had practically every known artists, the business in it. And then he did Jane Eyre with George Scott. And then we did kidnapped which was a absolutely which was a rehash of, of the old kidnapped Stevenson's kidnapped. And David Katrina, which is a follow up. And it wasn't very good with Michael Caine. And that was really the end of Fred because he then went on to try and do a voyage round my father and That was the that was the end. Fortunately, I'd left in by that time and I was doing other things. And Disney kept on, you know, recurring every so often. right up until 1980. And then the the whole thing Ron Miller, who taken over, got the Porsche. And the last film we did was watch her in the woods, which wasn't very good. And from then on knives, sort of fiddle around doing our bits and pieces, the IDE sort of did watchdog for Fox, on some stuff that noise cakes, did a series of horror movies. Then I did sort of London contact for inside the Third Reich, which is a television series. And then eventually, born remembrance, which was great fun. I was on that for four years, off and on.

I started in 1984. And I finished in 1988. Which was, I was, all I was doing was doing budgets,

finding English locations. fiddling around, we did the special effects here. Of course, we've got three Emmys for the special effects. Godfrey gold, I've got it for camerawork, theme, audio, the underwater camera man who died with a heart failure, Gill sauce, and the special effects the American special effects steps. And we did it all on the Oh, seven stage in the tank, but it's really excellent stuff. And we do some locations in England as well. But they worked all over the world they worked from in parallel, they worked at Auschwitz. They were in Yugoslavia, Italy, France, Germany, Hawaii, Washington, everywhere you can think of. And since then, that's that's all I've done nothing. Apart from. I come in here. We've got the Guild of film production executives, which is variety of odd, odd persons. We did. Thank you very much. I think my main claim to fame is we we produce enough, about 2500 pounds a year to the cdbf

Unknown Speaker  42:50  
annual dinner dance,

Hugh Attwooll  42:51  
no old thing. We give an award and for people in business outside the business we think of you know, done reasonably well. And that that really it I come in here on a Wednesday and a Friday just to sit down

Unknown Speaker  43:12  
and think, think

Hugh Attwooll  43:14  
and do a couple of other accounts and things like that send out rude letters to people who hadn't paid their subscriptions.

Sid Cole  43:21  
And can we pause that because

Alan Lawson  0:01  
Okay,we're here at side two

Sid Cole  0:04  
Hugh you would starting to tell could you

Hugh Attwooll  0:07  
rent on the set with the camera setting it up dp Cooper was the camera man, a chap called Norman I think was the director. It was a silent film that was destined to become sound so we had to articulate and I helped to dress the set help to light the set notice sent over to get the leading lady who was these opposing Secretary brought her on the set. And then they said steps and makeup on your the office voice. I went and sat down and they turned over and my runs I'll never forget. Where did Adam invent this loose leaf system? I didn't know what the hell I was talking. But he was all supposed to be very clever. And that was my morning's work. But I was this this was at Bolton Hall. This was just before the sound for really took over with British acoustic and all the rest of it. But the other one was talking you talking to me day? whilst remoto D mortar story, to me was continuity. And we were in the bar one night, and I was recounting stories of the past. And I said, I remember right, very early days, when I ran a gobo what have you and I said one day, they called me out and said, You've got to do a bit of acting as if this was my leading part. And they had a chap called Ray who had the who raised kids were almost identical to our gang. They had the little pig in in the in the pet boy and all the rest of it. And the his son was Hooray. And they were doing a mock jack in the beanstalk or something like that. And they wanted me and I became the front of a cow that hence my leading part as recounting this story. And now totally days on his head. Do you remember the young less that was sitting next to the camera there? I said well vaguely excuse that was me. Continuity girl on it.

Unknown Speaker  2:25  

Sid Cole  2:25  
could ask you about reminiscing about the various directors because you've worked with a whole range of them at any point you'd like to memories you have. Oh, yes.

Hugh Attwooll  2:41  
One one chap who sticks to my mind who I think did a remarkably good job. On a thing called pit ponies It was called the littlest horse thieves in America and escaped from the dark here was Charlie Jarrett. Who I think did a magnificent job on that there between is one of the one of my favourites I must say Don Chafee was great. You know

Sid Cole  3:05  
tell me about dawn I worked with him great deals. Yes.

Hugh Attwooll  3:08  
I am a tremendous extrovert. But I he was he was a good director. He knew what he wanted he did it well. I don't think he really made a bad picture. I can't I can't recall one I mean not made the most sparkling in the world but he he never made a bad one is Greyfriars. Bobby I write pretty highly I think that was a very good film, as one of his first principles was quite good, but won't didn't like it because we modelled faces and made teeth black and things like that. And he got very upset about that. But he did relent and got done to do horse valour head and Thomasina as well, at least wrong. But I think it wasn't a bad It wasn't a bad film. In fact, it won the TV Guide award in America for Prince and the Pauper.

Unknown Speaker  4:03  
Whatever happened to him he

Hugh Attwooll  4:04  
went to he died. Oh, yes. He had a he had a heart disease. He died in New Zealand. Yeah. His wife died and it you know Edna, she died cancer and then he married I think it was a coloured lady. scene. I think they're very happy together. And then he was hopping between Australia and America and he bought an island on in off New Zealand somewhere. A small island and he went there and I think he died there. Which is a great, great tragedy because oh, no, he was why he must have been still in his early 60s I suppose.

Sid Cole  4:53  
But what about the, the I he actually made one of the students in All right, I think we just knew that, you know, watch this knowing the English director but worked

Hugh Attwooll  5:05  
up students and obstacles, great character. He stuck to the book. I worked with Bob. Way back when he was here. The cameras are coming. Oh, Bob, the man who changed his mind with Boris Karloff. And that's why I became Hugh. Because I've always known as Bob. When we started on kidnapped, people kept running out Bob and we both hopped up. And he said, I know your name's Hugh. He was he'd known me way before the war. And he said we're going to change it. Of course he created all sorts of confusion. I suddenly became huge overnight, and people haven't got a problem that's a finally stock and that was that was it but you know, as long as you don't call me sounding rude, I don't know he was good. He was good. He was good. Direct, very, very good director. He liked his storyboards he watered got him into the storyboard complex and he stuck to that pretty rigidly, but very he was good. He became a bit waspish towards the end but he wasn't he wasn't a terribly well man. I believe he married enough enough times of course. But then, the The other thing where the camera man, one remembers more than anybody of the world. I remember Bernard Blakely, who did the stranglehold always known as burn them up Blakely, the American he did burn him out. But all the other chaps who came over and during that time, Bob Martin bahiagrass he was Bob as of evening wasn't Yes, but Bob started when Ealing started and Bob The gospel is second cameraman Bob went back as a camera operator. I met him in 4047. By Marty beanie, he been off for eight years and he came over here and started lighting and then went back as an operator with MGM. But filter Nura. Glen Williams, Charlie venango all those chaps who were almost American throw outs but they did quite well that no because they are gone for cramps and people like that as well.

Unknown Speaker  7:41  
It was a bit of a misery.

Hugh Attwooll  7:42  
He was a he was a terrible misery. He and masa Helman together we're about the worst.

Unknown Speaker  7:50  
So looking at

Hugh Attwooll  7:50  
his watch every vironment is granting max green down max green he

Sid Cole  7:59  
Max's life

Hugh Attwooll  8:00  
motto in Madison here terrible practical joker Of course. He and Hitchcock together they were dreadful

Sid Cole  8:09  
did you work on it? Yeah, lady. Are you near some famous very famous fan? Yes, I need to get on with it.

Hugh Attwooll  8:16  
Oh, very rarely deed very well. I mean, he was he was a damn good right. I mean, he

Sid Cole  8:23  
bit of a magic it's about shaders. Oh, yes. And

Unknown Speaker  8:27  

Unknown Speaker  8:28  

Hugh Attwooll  8:30  
I didn't get a sec but it really did was I was doing some practical work practical electrical work. And we had 110 bulbs in the in the carriage, inadvertently put two forward in through not wet showering hitch. That was that was not not a happy

Sid Cole  8:55  
day. Tell me about Africa with Antony Asquith. He

Hugh Attwooll  8:58  
worked Oh, he was great. He was absolutely great. I did a couple of films with him. And he was because he was he gives you the shirt off his back. I literally saw him Do not the shirt but his jacket. Somebody admired a jacket. He took it off and said there's been a wonderful character. I think the funniest thing really was with Disney when they were going to do Beethoven

Unknown Speaker  9:34  

Hugh Attwooll  9:36  
somebody with an American was going to direct it, but they wanted they wanted to ask his opinion about it. And I gave him the script. And he came to the Dorchester and saw a ward and literally told that script to pieces because I didn't realise he who's

Unknown Speaker  9:55  
a bathroom.

Hugh Attwooll  9:56  
Beethoven really wanted me Who is his stand? But

Sid Cole  10:06  
when I imagine it would have torn it pieces very gently,

Hugh Attwooll  10:12  
beautifully Oh, beautifully done. I mean, no, it was in the most gentlemanly sort of way. But the he did really sort of slay them with the script. He did the lovely film called the net. Desmond Dickinson lit that one. It was very enjoyable.

Sid Cole  10:34  
And that David McDonald, he was a bit of a character.

Hugh Attwooll  10:37  
He was quite a character. I pretty forcefully.

Unknown Speaker  10:42  
I don't

Hugh Attwooll  10:44  
I wanted to he wasn't the World's Best Director, but I he. He knew what he wanted. And I good commercial. Commercial chap. I think you his problem was the bottle eventually.

Unknown Speaker  11:02  
Did you work on down in the city?

Hugh Attwooll  11:04  
No. I say no, I did a couple of days on it. But only only in the studio here.

Unknown Speaker  11:11  
I met

Unknown Speaker  11:12  
Dave and also Alec Bryce

Unknown Speaker  11:15  
in Joburg.

Hugh Attwooll  11:16  
Did you Yes. But I like David.

Sid Cole  11:22  
I drove to to work the he got involved into period pictures which was a

Hugh Attwooll  11:31  
good time God I thought was an excellent film. I mean, he did a damn good job on that with the gene can't

Sid Cole  11:36  
this man is newsman his news is good at that.

Hugh Attwooll  11:39  
Yes. Practical. But no. The Columbus's of this world were not for him Maybe he was out of his depth and wasn't really interested. And his his relationships I think with the ladies at times have not I think you finish up quite well. I he had a nurse did he not I looked after him. I don't Yes, I think eventually. But

Sid Cole  12:12  
any other directors of Tamar menu? Remember? A request?

Hugh Attwooll  12:18  
Oh girl can I can?

Unknown Speaker  12:19  
Oh yeah, sir oak, panic Anakin.

Hugh Attwooll  12:25  
If not a bad rate driver.

Unknown Speaker  12:29  
Can you do chrome? Well, no, no, no.

Hugh Attwooll  12:33  
No did sort of various things with him value for money and on the 12 things

Sid Cole  12:40  
raised, he went to America. He still lives. He went

Hugh Attwooll  12:42  
to America and I heard he was in Spain just recently. But I hadn't really heard of much of him. Ralph smart Of course.

Unknown Speaker  12:54  
Oh, yes. What happened? I don't know. I don't know what how do you find out about him?

Hugh Attwooll  13:00  
Because of the various people who who became bad directors when mainly cameraman Bernie knows for one. Arthur Crabtree for another? Yeah, I need to stay to the the professional aid lady being good. But once I went over to director or side, it was the only person was running name who's is really made the grade.

Unknown Speaker  13:27  
Guy green did

Hugh Attwooll  13:29  
not really know. He was dead. He was boot camp. And he

Sid Cole  13:32  
only made one very good picture of government. I tried to record there was about a haunted house. But he worked. He was a good TV director.

Unknown Speaker  13:50  
Yeah, probably yes. Yeah.

Sid Cole  13:52  
I mean, it's a different

Hugh Attwooll  13:54  
different techniques.

Sid Cole  13:57  
Which are we who what are the most outstanding changes you've seen in that long varied and interesting career of yours? Oh, gosh.

Hugh Attwooll  14:10  
Well, I think the the violence that's come into to everything that in practically every aspect of sort of filmmaking or television making as well as mainly now. It's ideal. He's helped us at all. Some of the very exciting films that one can think of the old Hitchcock's the man who knew too much and 39 steps. You got a little bit of action and violence but nothing much and it was never They're all terribly interesting and well made and enjoyable films. And nowadays you have nothing but sex and violence, it seems to me which is I suppose when you look back on them now some of them they they look, I when you look at Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, it was a very slow flow from, but you could still sit and look at it and it was quite enjoyable to watch. Maybe Alright, a bit boring for the youngsters now, but that is only to be made boring because everything is so fast that once you slow things down, it's so boring.

Sid Cole  15:53  
In the world, pictures of me nothing was detected. equipment has changed, but the actual approach to filmmaking really hasn't changed.

Hugh Attwooll  16:03  
Really? No, I think a lot of people become pretentious, I think and but basically, it's no different from when I first started than it is now.

Unknown Speaker  16:21  
The improvements been really been incredible.

Hugh Attwooll  16:24  
Yes, yes. I mean, when you think of it, I saw the ghost goes west on television the other day, the sound there was Abu squeaks up there. Now, of course, different Jordan G's, except when you look at some television shows, they've forgotten about sound, and you can't understand half of what they're saying. And they you know, they go into, or big mansions, or they they don't think about baffling it at all, and is booing all over the place.

Sid Cole  17:00  
I find it interesting to say that because I find in one marriage age or something, that the balance very often between music, for instance, and dreadful dialogue is all the wrong way to me. I mean, I find it very difficult to hear the

Hugh Attwooll  17:15  
family enough last night that I don't know if you see London tonight, they have a thing called your shout it from six o'clock to seven o'clock they have a thing. There's a thing called your shouting people come on and say silly things or some profound things. And I was talking to Benny last night. And as I remember now what I want to go on your shout is the balance of sound because the music comes through bash. And then the next thing you go on to dialogue, you can't hear it. You have to switch it up. And then of course, the next thing the music comes through again and is thumping your eardrums. There must be somebody on a monitor they're controlling or should be idle. But that's that's one of the big, big bugbears of television that I find at the moment. Do you

Unknown Speaker  18:09  
regret the passing of the you know, the real studios with crews?

Hugh Attwooll  18:15  
To an extent Yes. You just got bricks and mortar. Yes, yes. And I think that they've gone too far in some respects. I recall one thing that when we did only when I laugh with Lynn, Dayton and Duffy, they wanted realism. They didn't want to go into a studio at all. And they decided that they would use a place of counsel Catherine's Doc, come in. They wanted to use scatterings dock with the Tower Bridge in the background.

Unknown Speaker  19:06  

Hugh Attwooll  19:08  
I said, why not? If you want to use BP, build it in the studio, because you've got to go up three storeys. Now they had they, they're going to have that room. So they built the room. It took about four weeks to build the set, because you had to haul everything up on a rope. All the equipment went up on a rope. And when you came to shoot it, you couldn't shoot because the sun was in the wrong direction. So you couldn't shoot out that window except for certain parts of it. And it took us two days work took us about seven months. Where if we'd have come into studios, we're going to build three in a week. Use VP That was it. Oh, for blue backing anything. But that sort of thing is it's people don't use them. That's rarely in when they're sort of organising these are there are times of course when you know, you've got to use the, the brand new or what have you because you can't possibly afford to build it that. is there's a happy medium all over all the times. Yes, of course. Exactly. I think they've they've they've lost that. I think that accountants have got a lot to blame to nowadays.

Sid Cole  20:45  
Mark, Could you expand on that a little bit?

Unknown Speaker  20:50  

Hugh Attwooll  20:55  
it's down there in black and white, it's going to cost x and that's it. But, and you get a y return or she'll get away return. Whereas if you take an artistic viewpoint, all right, is going to cost you x. But maybe x plus one. But you might get you might lose that little bit, or but you might get x plus three, because it's artistically Far, far, far better and more people are going to see it is the the old old thing that is the nuts and bolts seen that you can't, you can't make pictures that you make nuts and bolts. We've got to take that that little risk. And you're not allowed to. I think that one of the things now is that with all the trials and tribulations of all the we have made terrible mistakes in the past I know. But I think anybody goes into make a picture now.

There is going to actually lose money is a fool or an idiot. I think who can make pictures, artistically and economically. Without the tremendous risk, it might not make a fortune. But you shouldn't be so desperately in trouble, that you pack up halfway through or lose lose a lot. There are too many charlatans around doing that sort of thing and to the detriment of the business. It means taking money out of

Unknown Speaker  22:47  
the actual product they're

Hugh Attwooll  22:48  
taking out to the production and the production falls down more. But I think there's not there's not the tremendous future or big, big picture future in this country. But I think there's with all the television that needs on so many repeats at the moment that is hardly worth turning on on television. They've got to have new material. There's no reason why they shouldn't be some good stuff around economical stuff and entertaining, but his needs the organisation it needs the people do who know how to do it to do it.

Sid Cole  23:47  
Well, here thank you is one final thing. If you had your life over again, would you do the same?

Hugh Attwooll  23:57  
Exactly, yes. No, yes. Because I don't regret. I don't regret anyway, I think that the wisest thing that my first wife did was in 1946, I was offered to stay on in the army. And I thought very hard about and I thought well, it's been a good life, really All in all, and I could soldier on for a few more years and come out with a nice little pension and and she said Well, look, we've been married now for since 1940. We spent a total of a year together if that. In actual days. He said you'll be going off to Malaya or somewhere or you'll be living in a suitcase. She's not really The lifer as you said, You've got a chance of getting back in the film industry. You like it? Why not do it? So I said, All right. She said you can always stay in the Territorial Army ganja. get the best of both worlds. So I did that. And fortunately, I went back in the Territorial Army and stay there till 58 had the best of that world and the best of the film world. I didn't do too badly.

Sid Cole  25:36  
Great. Anything.

Unknown Speaker  25:43  
You talked about Harry Kratz. Yes.

Unknown Speaker  25:46  
Did you also meet Lyndon Haynes? Yes, we did. Yes,

Hugh Attwooll  25:50  
the bush both of them bush. Well, Tommy Lyndon Haynes was here. In fact, funnily enough whilst I was when they were doing African Queen who was I can't remember who the chap was a fell by the wayside and they Romulus rang me up and said would you come and do it and I said, I can't I've just started on on the film, which fell by the wayside about five days out. And I said why not get Tommy and Tommy Lynn lanes did it.

That was but and Victor Linda and I didn't want to ever happened to Victor his brother.

Sid Cole  26:33  
A nice bloke, really?

Hugh Attwooll  26:34  
Oh, very nice. Man. I tell you another man, we're talking about cameramen who turned he became eventually became a makeup man again, was the old Dave a lot Do you remember him? He used to do the British green Gazette system and that the Toytown series, they you know, one frame and he he was the cameraman. And I always remember I thought he was very wealthy because his family lived in Manchester and he used to send me down to Hounslow post office to send five pounds a week to his wife. I will call he's, he's a wealthy man. Of course, he's he his sons became very wealthy. You know, Dave and Eric. They became they did I look. Remember? They they eyelashes and things say that they became millionaires. That one of them's just died recently died. I think they David Young Dave is died about they they will make up men and Daryl Dave eventually went back and became a makeup man as well.

Unknown Speaker  27:53  
Right. Okay, fine. Well, thank you very much.

Hugh Attwooll  27:57  
It's a pleasure says it's a pleasure.


Born 1914 took job in school holidays in film studio and left school at 14 to work at Wharton Hall. 1929 to British Acoustic in sound department. Then to Siemens . And back to Wharton Hall in print lab. Part two is anecdotes about many British film personnel. Recalls using the wrong voltage lamps for Alfred Hitchcock. Talks of a run in between Anthony Asquith and Walt Disney.