SIR ANTHONY HAVELOCK-ALLAN
Interviewed by Linda Wood and David Robson on 23 May 1990 Copyright Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan
SIDE 1 TAPE1
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I was born February 23th,1904, at Blackwell Manor, Blackwell, near Darlingtonin CountryDurham
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Iwenttoapreparatoryschool.Bythetime I as due to go to my first boarding school, we had left the north of EnglandandwerelivinginLondonandIwenttoapreparatoryschoolat the age of nearly 9 in Hertfordshire. And after preparatory school I wenttoCharterhouseSchoolbecausemygreatgrandfatherwasoneofthe schoolheroes.Andafterpublicschool,Iwassupposedtogointothe army,Iwasduetogointothearmy.Butmybrotherattheendofthe FirstWorldWardecidedtostayonintheArmy,soitwasdecidedthat therewasnopointinhavingtwomembersofthefamilyinthearmysoI hadtoearnmyownliving,whichIattheageof18setouttodo.
Thefirst job I had was with the Crown jewellers Garrards where I became a salesman. I wasthere for about 2 years, I did that for about two years andthen I left it to go into the gramophone business because I thought that was much more entertaining. I'd always liked the theatre andwhatwas generally known as show business, asachild I'd learned to love thetheatre. And in my adolescence I went to it whenever I got the chance. SoI thought the idea of a gramophone company, itwas just before the first big explosion of gramophones, where there were enormous sales in gramophone records. Jazz was just becoming known and this was an American, a branch of an American company called Brunswick. The British company was called British Brunswick. And I went into that first as a salesman of their new gramophones which were electrical reproducing gramophone as opposed to an acoustic one, the first of them and for about a yearand a half I sold them from a showroom in Hanover St.
Andthenafterthatitwasdecidedwewouldmakesomerecordsbecause Brunswick had a lot of goodrecording artists, as many of them European,classicandotherwise,anditwasdecidedwewouldmakesome records. And I was appointed artist manager which meant I made the contractsfortheartists,whatshouldberecordedandthenstoodby while they were recorded to tryand then stood by while they were recorded,andtrykeepingtheartistshappy,agreeingwiththemasto whichtakesshouldbeprinted.Thatwasveryenjoyable.Ididthatfor
quite a long time. We had a little recording studio in LeicesterSq of allplaces, above a nightclub called Cafe Anglais. And we used to work all night because wecouldn't work during the day because there was too much exterior noise.
From that I wenton behalf of the same companywho bought a German gramophone company, I went to Germany in 1927 andstayed there till the end of 1928. It was the days when Hitler was still a joke. Butin 1928 therewas the slump and the American gramophone company pulled in its horns and abandoned the German gramophone company, and abandoned their English interests.
And then after that I did several things. I was a stock broker and finally ending up managing the cabaret at Ciro's Club which was booking theartists, choosing the acts, etc.And while there a friend of mine who had become a director of a film company came to me and said this is the business for you, it's the film business, and becauseyou love the entertainmentbusiness and know a good deal about the performers in itI think you could make a good casting director. So the company's about to make a very big film. How about you taking the job which I did, grabbed with both hands.And that was 1933 and fromthat moment onwards till I retired in 1970, 1971, I was in the filmbusiness which Iloved
Linda Wood:Were you very interested in films before you went into the film business, because you've talked about your interest in the theatre, but were youan avidcinemagoer
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I went to a lot of films too, but I'm talking about, there were very few films because the war interrupted allthatandfilmsdidn'tgetgoingagainparticularly,certainlynot in England until 1921,1922, 1923. All that time Iwent to films as wellandIsawallthegreatfilms,Intolerance,BirthOfANation,all those when they came out. Ohcertainly This is another aspect of the entertainment business, and anything to do with the entertainment businesswasformeIthought.Ohyescertainly.
Linda Wood:Sothatwasyourtrainingforgettingintothefilm industry.Theequivalentforaproducer,asplayingaroundwith photographswoulbeforacameraman.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I suppose I like dealing with actors, I think that's why.I like being with actors, I like being with stories. I'd always been, whereas a child I collected reproductions of old masters, painters, I havean entirely visual imagination. I can't even remember numbers without being able to see them as it were in my mind's eye. SoI suppose that determined very largely for me.
But on the other hand when you say might have been a cameraman, that required it seemed to me a technical knowledge, and, as I've already explainedto you, when it came to purely technical matters, and indeed anything which has a mathrnatical element, at school I was neverany good at mathematics, or any of those things. If I was good at anything it was English and history and literature and those sort of things. So I suppose it was more or less natural going for a producer. I thinkI might have thought of a director, but the only thing about that was I never enjoyed getting upearly in the morning much. And the idea of
having toget onto a set at 8 o'clock in the morning, snap my fingers and say now, is something I don't think I would have been verygood at.
So it really was the preparation of films, which primarily whatin those days wasa producers job, iswhat attracted me, figuring whether such and such story wouldorwould not be effecting or could be told in screen terms. Who would be the best actors to realise the story. Who would be the best director for that particular kind of story. If it depended on somebody who needed to be very good with actors that's one kind ofdirector. There are other directors who are technically marvellous but don't really want to bother much with the actors. All these are the kind of elements I found very attractive to have to deal with. To choose what you thought was the right cast, the right scriptwriter, the right cast and then the right director. Because inthose days the producer's job, particularly in Hollywood, and it's all changednow,thedirectoristheimportantman,theproducernowisthe man whofinds money , that's all. And you look on the credits and there are sometimes as many as 5 people with producer credit. That means they've all helped to getthe money together to make thefilm.
In the old days inHollywood and everywhere else was on a producer basis. The producer chose the subject in conjunction with the studio executives, agreed the budget with them, and then agreed the cast and agreed the director. And the director would come in sometimes only 2or
3weeksbeforeshooting.Thenitbecamequiteplainitwasaverygoodthingtohavehiminmuchearlier,butstillitwasaproducer'sworld. Butafterthewarallthatchangedandwiththerareexceptionpeople likeSamSpiegelwhowasoneofthelastoftherealproducers,because not only did he understand how to get money, but he also understoodbrilliantly howto makefilms. Because that kind of producer, he was oneoftheverylast.ThereisnobodyoperatingonthatbasisnowthatI can think of. Anybody who can find the money for a film can call himself aproducer.
Linda Wood: I suppose the only name producer is David Puttnam Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: David Puttnam, I beg your pardon,he
certainly is one, abs olutely. T hat is the only example I know of today,
he is. Butit's very rare. We all know about David Puttnam but how many other producers names canyou mention. Whereas directors, we all know the names of dozens of them. I don't know if it's a bad thing. The only thing is the existence ofa producer did ensure that there were fewer financial disasters. Because the primary, the secondary object of any producer , the primary object is to get a good film. But the secondary object is to get it at aprice that it isn't so big that the chance of it ever recouping its money arenegligeable or nil.And who can see long before ithappens a disaster that mayhappen.
Becausealldirectorsbydefinitionit'stheirbaby,it'sreallytheir workandthereforeitisverydifficultforthemtoseethatit'stoo long orthis or that passage is boring and is going to go on the cuttingroomfloor,it'sverydifficultforthemtoseeit.They've conceivedthewholethingandifbyanychancethey'rewrong,ortheir estimateof the costand the timing is wrong, then it's headed for disaster.Whereasifthereisaproducer,thentherearethousandsof waysinwhichanunderstandingproducerwhogetsonwithdirectorscan obviatethathappening.Ifthedirectorwantsasetofacertainsize
havinggotasetofacertainsize,itneedsamuchbiggercrowdthan he thought he needed. Whereas a producer if he knows his job will be abletosayareyouquitesurethatyoureallyneedacrowd,makethis onthebasisoftherebeing2000peopleonthescreen,becauseyouknow youcanpack400,500peopleonthescreenthatwilllooklikeacrowd. It rather depends on how you shoot it. And then if they're both reasonable people they arrive at a point where the director will say no,no,Imusthaveforthisorthatreason,andwillbeeitherright or wrong, or he willsay I think maybe you're right but it never occurredtome.Youknowwhetherawalkshouldbe500yardslongor300 yardslong,whetheryoucan'tgetexactlythesameeffectat300yards fromsomebodywalking,andnot500yards.Allthosesortofthings.So thatistheonlydifferenceitmakes,therewereveryfewerovercosts, overruns that could havebeenavoided.
Linda Wood:Thatisoneofthetalentsofagoodproducer,isn'tit, knowingwhenthedirectorneedstobeheldback
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I think absolutely, knowing when you have a good enough reasonto say to your director have you thought, that you can do this just as well a different way, are you absolutely certain that this scene is necessary. And this is again something which happens very frequently, scenes are shot andthey're on the cutting room floor. That's wasteful, and if somebody isbeing objective aboutit they may see it, whereas thedirector who is being subjective about it because it'sbaby, now. He's worked on it since the beginning. He has initiated it. In the old days they didn't initiate may pictures, the producer initiated. And all the studios hada producer system.
Linda Wood:Goingback,Ithinkyouwerejustatthepointwhereyou joined BritishandDominions
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Yes, Britishand Dominions as a casting director. I did that for a couple of years. Among the casting jobs I didwas to cast, Herbert Wilcox didn't need any casting director except occasionally what do you know about so and so, or what's the price of so and so. But these minor pictures made by Jack Raymond and the quota quickies, I was the castingdirector there when the man who was producing them died andthere was nobody to do it. I was asked if I'd like to do it and I said yes and I did it. I did it for two years and enjoyed it enormously. Started off at the B & D Studios and then when the B & D Studiosburned down we went to the Rock Studios. And from the Rock Studios we went to Shepperton, and from Shepperton we finally ended up at the new studiosin1936.
Linda Wood:Before we get to, at Pinewood, were you still making quota quickies
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: The quota act ended in 1938 and between 1935 I suppose it must have been, 1935, 1936, I think probably I took over making of quota pictures. Whendid B & D Studios burndown.
Linda Wood: 1936, or perhaps it was 1935. Pinewood hadstarted
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I think it must have been earlier than that, they started building it
Linda Wood: Pinewood definitely opened I 1935, but I'm not sure when B
& D burnt down.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I think the years I did the quickies, I started in 1935, and 1936, 1937 and the Act changed in 1938. That's whathappened.Soitwas1935to1937reallythatIwasworkingfull timefor2yearsanddoingatleast23filmsasIrememberitinthose
2yearsofthespecifiedlength,at£1afoot.Andin1938itchanged andwemadethefirstof,Imadethefirstunderthenewact,ThisMan Is News then This Man In Paris, then The Chinese Fish with Rex Harrison.Andthenatleast2others,thenatleasttwoothers.Imade about5or6underthatActandthencamethewar.
SIRANTHONYHAVELOCK-ALLAN SIDE 4, TAPE3
Linda Wood: You've just met Del Giudice and it's the beginning of your partnership,how did Noel Cowardget involved.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Noel Coward got in the following way. When Del Giudice, when I made Unpublished Story, for Del Giudice'scompany, Del Giudice had two backers, two individual businessmenwho believed in him and wanted to put money into films. And the war was on, it was now 1940, and Del Giudice had been in a camp, because he was an Italian, but he had been excused. This is 1940, and I think we made Unpublished Story in 1940. And Del said I want to make a big propaganda film because I love this country and they've been very good to me. And my 2 backers are both very patriotic members of the Cavalry Club and they want to do something and I want to get a very big writer for it. And I know that I can't get Shaw, Shaw is toodifficult,do you think Noel Coward would do one. Do you know him. I said yes I do know him slightly, I've met him and I certainly would be able to ring him up and say where we met and with whom, because they're mutual friends. He said well ring him up and we'll see if we can go and see him. I rang him up, he happened to be staying at the Savoy and we went to see him in his suite. And Del said look we want to make a film, a propaganda film a patriotic film on some patriotic theme. And you remember, we both of course, remembered that he had done that wonderful patriotic thing he did at Drury Lane that Fox turned into afilm
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Cavalcade. And Noel said Ihave no idea in my head as to what to do. I mean thank you very much, I think it is a very laudable idea but I can't think of anything. If I ever do think of anything, I'll get in touch with you. Three weeks went by andhe rang up and he said, to me I dined with Dickie Mountbatten last night and he told me about his war experiences and I think I'd like to do a story roughly ending up with that, based uponthat.
And, we then went to go and see him, and Del arranged payments and how they would be done. And it was agreedthat we had to find someone who would work with him and helphim
with the writing of the script, or when he'd writtenthe script tell him how it should be shaped, etc. I had saidto Del and Del had knownDavid,that I thought by far the best person, the obvious person because he was a wonderful editor, a wonderful idea of story telling which made him such a good editor, to work with him on the technical side of the whole thing. And that was agreed. And he said Iwant Ronald Neameto photograph it because I've seen a film of his I thought rather well photographed. So that wasagreed. AndhesaidnowI'llgoawayandwritea script.
And 3 months later he summoned us and not Del, the 3 boys, his little darlings as we became, to listen to the script. Andwesatin.Gerald Rd I think for 3 ½ hourswhile heread a script which would have taken about 9 hours to unspoolon the screen, 9 to 12 hours. And when it was over there was a stunned silence, and we said Noel the only trouble about that is that it is far, far too long, you know. If we were to film that, the film would last for anything up to 9to
12 hours. And Noel said rather caustically, well I knownothing aboutthe film business except that everybody tells me that you can do anything in the film business that you like. So we said well you can but there is a limit to howlong an audience will sit in their seats watching it. Sohe said take it away and do what you think is right and comeback to me.
We took it away and pretty soon decided, the three of us, the only thingto do was to tell the story of the Kelly, to startthe film with the laying of the keel of the Kelly and end with saying goodbye to the crew after the Kelly had been sunk off Crete, which is what we did. We took it back to Noel and said, that was the outline that he took back to him, and he wrote the dialogue for the scenes where there was any dialogue.And we had 2 navy advisers, one for the lower decks and one for the upper decks, to tell us the commands and the right language to use when they were ordering the ship to do things, and the gunners to do things, torpedoes to do things. And we sat down and wrote a skeleton script and David went off and wrote the shooting script which is exactly what we shot, except for the opening sequence. The openingsequence we simply agreed that we would shoot the laying of the keel in the Hawthorn Lesley's Yard in Newcastle. And Ronnie Neame and I worked out that and we shot that little sequence ourselves.I mean Ronnie and I didit.
Linda Wood: Thefilm is supposed to have been quite influential at the time because it showed life belowas well as about decks, re flec ting the atmosphere of the wartime, it was all people fightingtogether.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I'm puzzled by this, this remindsmeof Eisenstein who repeatedly said, I never ceasetowonderattheextraordinarypsychologicaldepths andmotivationsinmyfilmsofwhichIwastotallyunaware. There is absolutely no social content to it. This was a study of a ship being got ready for war, going to war, meeting war and finallymeeting its death. If you weregoing to do that, you had to do it from every angle, you had to do it from the point of view of the crew. And the crew weren't entirely officers and they weren't entirely belowdeckspeople,theywereamixtureofthetwo.There wasnowayyoucouldhavemadethefilmwithoutithaving both those in. This is what the reality of the situation demanded. There was no social thought behind it at all, simplyifyouweregoingtotellthestoryoftheshipfrom the point of view of the ship as it were, apart from the factthatithadacommandingofficerwhowouldobviously have a more important part to play than anyone else, because he'd be the man who gave the orders for everyone elsetodo.He'dsaywhichwaytheshipwasgoingifitwas goingtobesunk,itwasgoingtobesunkafteracommand from him to go in a certain direction. It was simply whatever was necessary to tell that story. And I'm sure thatsociologistswillworkonitforyearstocomeandsay this was the first beginningof the fading of the class system. It had nothing to do with it, it had to do with whatactuallydoeshappenonashipwhenitiscommissioned and sent to sea in the war and meets war in two or three forms,getsbadlywoundedandlimpsbackandgoesbackon anotherthingandfinallygetskilled.Andthat'swhatthe scriptwas.
Linda Wood: Because the film was made during the wardid you have to have itvetted.
Sir AnthonyHavelock-Allan:The moment the script had beenread by the Admiralty and had been read by Mountbatten we had absolutely every facility that we could possibly have. We had special allowances of steel which was very difficult to get for the scenes of the sinking of the ship, and for the drowning of the captain and the crew. Anything we wanted we got. We had disembarkation at Dover scene, I
think we had a battalion of the Grenadier Guards in the uniforms they wore, wehad everything we wanted, no problem. That extended even onto This Happy Breed, for the lying in state ofGeorgeVat St Stephens Hall, Westminster, we had St Stephens Hall, we had four officers from the Life Guards whose uniforms were packed away in mothballs, and whose breast plates were packed away in Vaseline in North Wales, dug out of the place and four officers, the four people in the scene were Lord Dillon, Colonel somebody else,they were all officers from theLife
Guards who stood round, they weren't actors at all, inthat scene. We had whateverwas necessary.In which We Serve did an enormousamount of good in America, that was the
thing. It was a huge success in America, and America wasn't in the war remember, but that was shown in America about 6 months before the Japs destroyed or tried to destroy the American navy, and destroyed a good bit of it. So it had quite an impact.
Linda Wood: Do you think British films got a better release duringthe war in theUS
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Definitely. I can't sayBritish films, if it was a propaganda film.
Linda Wood: Certainpatriotic
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Yes,allthepropagandafilms did. And I think probably a lot of our documentaries got shown there which would not otherwisehave been shown, thosewhichwerethoughtsuitablefortheAmericanmarket. It made the American market obviously much more sympathetic. For example the one about Nelson that Korda madewhichwasn'tdirectpropagandabutitalmostcertainly got a bigger release than it would have done. It had of course VivienLeighwhich helped it a good deal, and LaurenceOlivier.Iwouldthinkyes,therewasatemporary thingofhandsacrossthesea.Itdidn'tlastallthatlong andofcoursethemomentthewarwasoverandthatwasthe goldenperiodforAmericanfilms,somethinglike42million peopleaweekwenttothecinema,itwentuptosomething like60millionpeoplewenttothecinemaaweek,something likethat.They'veneverhadsuchgrosses.Imeanifthey'dhadthesamekind,thentheyhad21,000cinemasandtheir cinemasshrankwiththecomingoftelevisionnotnearlyas muchasours.Wehad4,500,4,800cinemas,whenIwentinto thecinemabusiness.AndIthinknowwe'vegot1,250.It's
true that they're split up into small ones but the ones which were split up into small ones were ones which were originally 2000 seaters for the most part, 1,500 and2,000 seaters which we don't have any more. The Italians still have about 5,000 cinemas, television never hit, it is hitting them now but it initially didn't hit them. The two countries which were worse affected were America and ourselves.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I'm telling you this now which is relevant to the making of a film called African Queen largely because it's interesting about how certain myths about the film industry and about filmmaking come into being. The scriptwriter of African Queen was a well known Hollywood writer who was the son of a famous German director and a famous writer, Salka Viertel who worked on most of the Garbo films.
The director of the film The African Queen, and the writer of the script was afterwards so disillusioned by the behaviour as he saw it of the director and the way films were made, the light-heartedways that he wrote a book called White Hunter, Black Heart, which was a famous book which was published and which was quite successful. But it was never madeinto a film untilrecentlywhen Clint Eastwood decided to play the part, to produce it and direct it. I saw it last night and the burden of the book and the film is that John Huston was a man without any consideration for the cost. That's really what it says, although it doesn't call the character John Huston. And it relates that when they were all ready to shoot on location in Africa with a huge unit, he decided that he wanted to shoot anelephant before he shot the film. And therefore leaving all these people waiting, he wentoffand weeks elapsed, or a week at least, 10 days, until he shot an elephant,whic h in fact in the film he doesn't shoot but he's in a position to shoot. Everybody is storming the producer, there were two producers on the film, one was Sam Spiegel and the English producer who found the money for it and also partly as I've learned subsequently partly guaranteed it, was JohnWoolf.
At the end of this film the lights goes up and a voice says hello Tony. And I look round and I see it's JohnWoolf.
He'd sat there and I didn't realise I was sitting nextto
him. He said it's very funny this film we've just seen, because you know The African Queen came in £40,000 under budget. He said I made 3 films with John Huston but Inever found him anything but extremely conscientious and very pleasant to work with. Of course the had a tremendous personalityandhehadcertainquirkyideasbutin3 films never once did I find any fault with him in terms of wasting money or wasting time or whatever itwas.
It's an extraordinary comment because of the book and the filmhe joined the legend of big directors who spend moneylike water. Thereareawfully few of them. I've never known one that did. I've never known one. I've known directors, andDavidLean is a splendid examplewho will go on until he has got the result that he pledged himself when he accepted to make the film and the script was finished that he was determined to get the rightresult.
But I've never seen him waste a minute. It may come very expensiveiftherearedifficulties,ifthereareweather difficulties,iftherearedifficultieswiththeactors,it may be expensive to get the right the result. But that isn'tbeingwasteful,butthatissimplydoingyourdutyby a film. So the audience should have the best possible performance and lighting and everything else which is requiredbythescript.Butthatisasidelightonbecause itisoneofthereasonswhichisalwayscitedwhyitisso difficulttogetmoneyforfilmsbecauseitisregardedas a business where people swan around in Rolls Royces, take helicoptersandplaneswhenevertheyfeellikeit.
Particularly big films, and once you get a big film it is ratherliketheChannelTunnel,itisboundtocostagreat deal more than anybodysaid it was going to cost, it isn't true at all. There are very, very few directors which in my experience which had gone over 40 years in the business who for any other reason they are trying to get the optimum result actually waste time or money. Having said thatwe can go backto In Which WeServe
Linda Wood: Very interesting.John Huston did foster this largerthan life image ofhimself
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Absolutely,butwhenitcamedown to it, on the evidence ofJohn,
Linda Wood: And hiscareer
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: When it came down to it, he was an extremely good director and absolutely conscientious and only sacrificed time and money to the result that he'd figured he'd been paid to produce, that is to say the best result he wascapable of getting.
Linda Wood:You'vejusttouchedonDavidLeanandwewere talkingabout In Which We Serve,I was going to ask you how DavidLean came to be involved, what was your connection with him, because you'd worked with him as an editorbefore.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:He came to be involved in the following manner, I had known him from 1933 when I first joined British and Dominions at Elstree. David was then working under an editor called Merrill White whom Herbert Wilcox had brought over from America, a great editor. David always said he learned an enormous amount from Merrill White whowas one of the great editors, one of the great American editor, and it was very clever of Herbert Wilcox to have got him to come over towork in England.
And later on when I was producing quota quickies for ParamountItriedmorethanoncetogetDavidtodirectone ofthem.Andhesaidthat he didn't want to direct until he knew he was directing a film where he knew there was enoughmoneytogettheresults,thisisapropostowhatI wassayingabouttheotherthing,togettheresultsthat hewaslookingfor.HesaidIdon'twanttofeelIcan'tdo thebestIcanbecausethereisn'tthetimeorthe money todoit.Hethenwentontobecomethebestandmost
sought after editor inBritish films. He did all sorts. He did Pygmalion andlater on 49th Parallel, French Without Tears.
Del Giudice, Fi lipp o Del Giudice who had a company called Two Cities with whom at that time I was associated, we made a film about newspapers in wartime called Unpublished Story and Del Giudice wanted to make a patriotic film. But he said I can't do that unless I can get a great writer, a famous writerto write it. Because it has to be a patriotic film, a propaganda film, that's nothing, it's got to be a propaganda film written by somebody who has a big reputation particularly if they have one in that particular field. And rememberingCavalcade which was a highly patriotic film which ran at Drury Lane for a long time and wasagreat boost for England and tradition and writtenby
NoelCoward,hesaiddoyouthinkthatNoelCowardwould write a patriotic film, do you know him. I said yes I do slightly, I think well enough to ring himup.
Anyway that's how it came about, Noel Coward was going to do a patriotic film. And the question became, he wanted to direct it because he was a brilliant stage director, but he didn't know any thing about films so it was necessary to have a technical man with him. And I suggested David Lean, and Del Giudice who had known him from the editing of French Without Tears whichwas a film that Del Giudice had been connectedwith but not as producer but he knew about him. And we both agreed that would be the ideal man because technically nobody knew better how a film should be shot to makeit cutable, and more important still to make itcutable well, than David.So David was approached andasked if he'd do the job. And he said yes, he would be happy to do thejob.
When the moment came to discuss credits, David said very courageously and very rightly I think but somewhat to the surprise of Noel Coward that if he was to do this job he wanted co direction credit. But Noel Coward was a veryintelligent man indeed, and realised how important to him it was. And he had already learned to like and respect David for his views and so he said yes of course, certainly, and that's how he became co-director.
In the end allthe technical stuff that didn't involve acting scenes David shot without Coward, Coward didn't even come down to the studio for those shots. In the main, Coward concerned himself only with watching the acting scenes and making suggestionsifthere was anything in his opinion which ought to be done slightly differently. But all the action stuff, technical stuff, in which Coward didn't figure, David shot entirely himself. Really you could say two thirds of the film, more, four fifths of the film weredirected by David. And the other scenes Noel was there but had nothingto say and didn't attempt to have anything, to say where the camera should be, just simply to sayI think somebody maybe over doing or under doing it or whatever hethought. If he and David agreed, it would be done that way, but it amounted to quite a small proportion of the film. Similarly he knewnothing about the production of the thing and I was his producer but he still took producer credit. But he had in fact provided the raw material and had decided on most of the casting,well
certainly the principal casting. But all the othercasting we did from our knowledge of people in films, many ofwhom he didn't know about.
Linda Wood: It has a very strong documentary feel toit
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Itwasn'treallyadocumentary,it's true it was made in the manner of a documentary. I suppose whatwedecidedtodowhenwefinallydecidedon thescript.ItwasaverylongscriptthatCowardwroteof whichwediscardedagreatdeal,nearlyallofit.Infact allofit,becausehesaidallIknowaboutfilmsisthat you can do anything in films. Well that's true but you can't do it if you're going to ask the audience to sit through 6 or 7 hours of film. The attention span won't standit.Sowenarroweditdowntodoingthestoryofthe Kelly,thedestroyerKelly.Andifyou'ddoneadocumentary it would in some respects I suppose, if we'd have made a pure documentary the film would a) have been an hour long and the stuff that we shot we would have used possibly about one fifth of the film in the documentary. All the beginningscenes,thelayingofthekeelwouldhavebeenin it.Butfortherestitfollowsthecrew,it'sapersonal story of the people in the thing and that's not documentary.Butalltherealisticstuffwasdoneasifit was for a documentary but much more fully and much more expensivelythanadocumentarywouldhavebeenabletohave afford.
Linda Wood: It looks so good. What were the problemsof filming during thewar
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: The problems of the war you would have thought would have been insurmountable, but the moment it was accepted by the Admiralty and it was thought to be a good idea, a nd I'm sure that the government must have known about it, if they knew about it from nobody else they knew about it from Mountbatten whose personal story it really was. So we never had any problems at all, we got a special allocation of steel for, we built in the studio about two thirds of a destroyer on the largest stage at Denham, we built it on rockers because it had to behave like a boat. So that required steel for the mechanism on which it was cradledandwhich went this way and that way. When the sinking scene, we needed a huge xxx from which to deliver a great quantity of water. Whatever we needed we had a battalion of householdfootguards regiment, Ithink
the Grenadiers for the disembarkation scene, I can't remember. They were put at our disposal and we had no problems about, all we had to do was say what we wanted, why we wanted it and how it was going to work when we had it and we got what we required either in terms ofservices, of equipment, of steel, any other thing that was needed which was in short supply,wood for example, even that, we got everythingwe needed, there weren't anyproblems.
And shooting we had only one problem, one of the explosive charges went off too soon, and unfortunately we lost an extremely loveable and liked by all chief electrician. And there was a lighting cameraman had his ear blown off. That was a terrible thing, it was in one of the battle scenes, while they were laying the charges, something tripwired, one of the charges that had already been laid, and it blew up in thestudio and there was one man killed and 3 or 4 injured in the sense that they lost either an ear, not an eye I'm happy to say, but were wounded. But only about 2or
3 of them, and very seriously burnt of course. It started afire but apart from that I don't think we had any problems. Naval equipment we got, Carley floats and things like that that they navy used for ships that weresinking.
Linda Wood: People didn't find problems getting outto Denham, because of wartimerestrictions.
SirAnthony Havelock-Allan: I can't think so. I lived in GerrardsCrossandwentbybicyclemostofthetime.Asfar as possible people lived close by. Otherwise the tubes still ran. It was before the bombing started. I don't rememberwewereimpededbythebombingatall.Lateronit becamemoredifficultandtherewereoccasionalalertsand thingslikethat.Ithinktherewereoccasionalalerts.I'm trying to think what period, I think we made it in 1941, and1941was,thebombinghadstarted.Idon'tunderstand it, I don't remember anyone arriving late because they'd beenbombedoutorbecausetheycouldn'tgetthere.Idon't rememberanyhandicapsofthatkind.LateronIdobutnot then. So we must have done it early in the year of 1941 andIthinkthebombingstartedattheendof1941,inthe autumnof1941.Itwastheendofthatsummerwaswhenwe hadthebattleofBritainandIthinkwestarteditatthe end of 1940 and we finished shooting it by February, FebruaryMarchandthereforethebombinghadn'tstarted.We hadofcourseadviserssecondedfromthenavy,atechnical adviseronthegunnery,atechnicaladviserfortheupper
deck and another one for the lower ratings, to advise uson behaviour and salutes and generaldrill.
Linda Wood: I read a story that when the film wasreleased in America the censor took out words like hell anddamn
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Ohyes,sure.Theydid.Ithink somebody said bugger at one time, and that came out. Oh yes,certainly.Extraordinarywhenyouthinkwhathappens now.Literally,Isawafilmtheotherday,EddieMurphy's films Harlan Nights,the first scene is between Eddie Murphyandfourblackmenandrunsforabout5minutes,and notoneofthemeveropenedtheirmouthswithoutusingthe adjectivefucking.Theyneveropenedtheirmouths.Itwas quiteunnecessary,youbegintothinkthismustbeajoke, this meant tobe
David Robson: Boring
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:Deadly boring and maybe theydo talk like that, but if they do they shouldn't advertise it. They talked about a sofa, they talked about a person, they talked about a book, always it had that adjective in front of it. And they were having a jolly friendly chat about life, they weren't cross about anything, they weren't angry about anything, they weren't scornful about anything, they were just having an ordinary chat telling you who they were, what their business was. You better edit that word out.
Linda Wood: The lighting cameraman on In Which WeServe was Ronnie Neame, again was a central character at Cineguild, how did he come into yourorbit.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:Coward at seen a film which he'd lit for Ealing. And he was the only person thatCoward said I'd like to have the young man who did a film that I saw for Ealing called Ronald Neame. And I knew him because he'd photographed one of the Paramount quickies for me. I don't think David did know him at that stage. So he joined as thecameraman. And then we all three worked together as you know on the next one which was This HappyBreed.
Linda Wood: This Happy Breed, that was made in colour,it was your firstfilm,
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:Itwas
Linda Wood: And it was made at a time when I wouldhave thoughtit was verydifficult to get colourstock.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:It was difficult because the camerawasmuchbiggerandmuchlessmobile,butitwas,itdidn't call for, it played mainly in small interiors. It wasn'tadifficultone.Wecouldn'thavedoneInWhichWe Serve, we ll we could have done but it would have been enormouslymorecostlyandtoourwayofthinking,because wewerestillweddedtoblackandwhite,itwasmuchmore realistic.Ifwe'ddoneitincolouritwouldhavelookedlikeapicnicinsteadoflookinglikegreyandaustereas itwas meantto,ascircumstanceswereandthesealooking grey which it was most of the time, and the sky looking grey which it was most of the time, if we'd had the occasional blue skies the whole thing would have looked like a picnic. So it never occurred to us one moment to havedoneInWhichWeServeincolour.ButThisHappyBreed was a play and was going to be however we extended it, somethingofaphotographedstageplayandwethoughtthis was something which must be done in colour, because otherwise it is going to be small and grey play about a small English family and it's going to look like a small film. And so it was very good to do it in colour in my opinion, as we then sort of reproduced the colours which had existed on the Englishstage.
Linda Wood: It was very close to the stage production Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: It was fairly close to it,it
was not all that close to it but it was fairly close to it.
It was quite easy to open it up a little bit, but itwasn't openedup to a very large extent and the meat of the thing is all played in small rooms by the family. That's what makes it. And I'm happy to say it's become a cult film. I was told this the other day, the man at Rank who is in charge of selling all the old films, he said you'll be interested to know that This Happy Breed is now a cult film and we get orders for it from all sorts ofcountries.
Linda Wood: I always think the title would probably put off contemporaryaudiencesabit.Theywouldn'thaverealisedwhatitwas about.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I would have thought it might too.Whenhesaidit'sacultfilm,it'sforpeoplewhoare interestedincinema,thehistoryofcinema.Andit'sgot
some very good performances by some very good performersby some very good performers who weren't at the time particularly famous. Robert Newton, who became morefamous. Stanley Holloway who became more famous because of My Fair Lady. And Celia Johnson whoby that time, and Johnnie Mills who became much more famous because he's done a lot of things. It's people who are interested in the history of films, andactors and all the rest of it. It never was a blockbuster in terms of the public, it never would be. But it did make a profit and it continues to add to theprofit.
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Itisafilmwhicheverybody canidentifywithatleastoneofthecharactersinthe film.ItwasagainbasedonaNoelCoward,
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:Coward wanted to go on, and I think he was delighted, any playwright would have been. The first job he'd done to films turned out, largely due to David and to some extent to us, was enormously well done and enormously successful. And any writer who suddenly sees three young men who appear to have the ability to make efficiently and rather well almost anything he chooses to write would be very peculiar if he didn't think hey this is wonderful, now I've got suddenly an entirely new world, a newmarket for my ideas and my plays. He said look I hope you three will do something else. And we were still doing it for Two Cities, I'd done a deal with Two Cities for us on In Which We Serve and we went on with This HappyBreed.
But during the shooting of Happy Breed we decided we didn't see that there was any reason for Two Cities to take a percentage of the profits for doing nothing except have us. We were all perfectlycapable of doing it without Two Cities and thereforeI formed Cineguild and the three of us became equal partners in the company and we decided to go on. And afterThis Happy Breed, the next thing we did, we did asCineguild.
Linda Wood: Do you remember what year it was youformed Cineguild
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: If you know when This Happy Breed finished shooting, on the finish of that I said let us forma company, and I thought of the title for it, let's form a company, Cineguild, really because the thing in America was very big the theatre called the Theatre Guild, that's what gave me the idea for me to call itCineguild,
and that we decided to do, and Cineguild will be the company in the future which takes on the business of making the film. And the next one I think was Blithe Spirit.
Linda Wood: I think it probably was. I haveBrief Encounterand Blithe Spirit both listed as1945
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:Well no, in that case Brief Encounter first, because still in black and white. Brief Encounter, still black and white. That arose because obviously we then had to look at whatever work Noel had done to decide what we would do, after Happy Breed,which was a full length appropriate play, also propagandist inits way. So we had to look and there wasn'tanything.
Private Lives had been sold, not that I think we would have wanted to have done it anyway. Some of the other successful plays hadn'tbeen written.Tonight At 8.30 didn't arise at all. And on looking through the Tonight At 8.30 plays, we came across Still Life and we thought that could be made into a film. And did a sort of rough outline of how we would make it into a film, and Noel said fine, lovely, just let me know what dialogue you want, if there is not enough dialoguein the play, or there is too much, whatever it is in certain scenes, you write the script the three of you. I think itwas David and I, Ronnie went to America actually at that time. We wrote the script and Coward simply put in dialogue wherever we neededit.
Linda Wood: Did you enjoy writing the scripts as wellas producing.
SirAnthony Havelock-Allan: Yes, I did very much. I don't think, wethought that we were making just a rather nice emotional film, we didn't think there was anything particularly luminous about it, we just thought it would make a nice film. In WhichWeServe had been a major operation obviously, wartime or no wartime. This Happy Breed had been quite a big, it has a big cast. Brief Encounter we thought well this is a nice, quiet film, we can do it fairly inexpensively.Noel didn't own the rights actually, he'd sold them to Metro sometime before and the Rank Organisationhad re acquired them from Metro. Wesaid we'd look and see and we came back and we came back to him and said of your Tonight At 8.30 plays we think we can do something with StillLife.
And we shot that while he was out of England, he wasn't in England at all. He just saw the first draft script, and from that moment he was off entertaining the troops in India and in Burma and during the shooting of the film he wasn't in England at all. In fact he didn't come backuntil
6or8weeksafterwe'dfinishedshooting,andsoweedited the film and everything without him, put on the music, which was hisidea.
Linda Wood: That was going to be one of the questionsI was going toask
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: It was his idea. It happened to be one of my favourite pieces of music at the time so it worked very well for me, I liked it very much, and received the idea with enthusiasm,and then we showed it to him. He had with him his American partner, and we thought oh he is going to say this is alright but he was very enthusiastic. He said I think you've done a marvellous job, I don't know how you could have done itbetter.
SIDE 5, TAPE 3
Linda Wood:we were talking about the music of Brief Encounter
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:We were showing the film to Coward and a group of his friends including his business partnerfromAmerica,whosenamewasWilson,andtheywere all very enthusiastic which was really, really nice. And theysaidtheydidn'tknowhowitcouldn'thavebeendone better.AndImustsayIthinkifwehadtodoitagainwe wouldn't alter what we'd done to make it any better than whatitwas.Itwaswhatitwaswhichwasquitesimplebut notveryimportantorearthshaking,itwasanicetouching 1.ittlefilm.Wealsothoughtthattheonlycountrywhich mightreceiveitwithsomeenthusiasmwouldbeFrance.We thoughtitwasratheraFrenchsortoffilm.Itwassentto FrancetotheGaumontcircuitwhoturneditdownflat,who saiditwasabsolutelythereverseofanythingwhichFrench audienceswouldlike.NoFrenchaudiencewouldunderstand howitwasthatnothingreallyhappened.Itwassenttothe
Gaumont decided they would give it a second chance and it took off in a mild way and has been playing in France and Italy and Germany and Spain and elsewhere ever since and still is.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I'd seen him in French Without Tears and thought hewas very good, and David had seen him play one short scene in One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing or inanairforce film made by Tolly deGrunwald,
Linda Wood: Way To The Stars
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:That'sright,that'stheone, if it was called Way To The Stars that was it. And he playedabriefsceneinthatandDavidthoughthewasvery goodinthat.AndwesuggestedhimtoNoelandwedid a testofhimandNoelsaidyes,fine.
Funnily enough Celia Howard's daughter raised the pointdid it never occur to any of us that he was in fact about 8 years younger than Celia. And I said it didn't occur to any of us because he always had an old face, he never had a young face. And in the film he looked 2 or 3 years older than she was, or the same age. And he certainly doesn't lookyounger
Linda Wood:Theysaythey'resupposedtobeamiddleaged couple they saythemselves
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:Never for one moment did anyone suggest that he didn't look middle aged. That's how that was. Noel was enthusiastic about hisperformance.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:One of his great characters as an actor was that you could always believe him, you could believe that he was a straight forward honest man. That was his great quality, of sincerity and honesty and trustworthiness, and Englishness too, very, veryEnglish.
Linda Wood: Watching the film also gives you an insight into a certain type of living style, Celia Johnson going off to the library once a week to get herbooks,
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Isupposewhatmakesitgoodis thatitisratherlikeboththeactors,bothCeliaJohnson andTrevorHoward,Ithinkthequalitythatmakesitlast, that has made it last, is its honesty, its straight forwardness. You have a feeling that this is exactly the way English people live, not city people, English people arejust not city - smaller towns, villages. This is an absolutelyaccuratepictureofthesimpleEnglishlifeand howintoitthesamedramaticproblemscanoccurasoccur inthecitiesbuttheyoccurinadifferentway.Andpeople behave in them slightly differently,and that this an absolutely honest picture of how two people who were married and had a reasonable sense of honour and a reasonablesenseofwhatwasrightandwhatwaswrongwould go through if they suddenly found themselves in madly in love,madlyandseriouslyinlove.Youdon'tforonemoment thinkthatthisisaquestionofamomentarypassion,you knowthattheywouldmakeawonderfulcoupletogether,if they could it would be alright. But that honour and conventionandethicssomehowmakeitnotpossibleforthem
to do what far too many people now all over the world do like smoking a cigarette, and I think that's what sells the film, it's honesty, its truthfulness.
Linda Wood: It must have been an issue which was quite topical atthetime as well, with people being split up during the war for long periods, you're bound to be attracted to other people, and seek warmth and affection when there isa long separation, but maintain the original feelings for the person you've left behind. I'm sure it was something the audiences must have identified with very strongly.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I'm sure, I think so in the sense even if they don't live by those sort of rules themselves, realise that there was a certain value, putting not everything in front of your own personal desires.
Linda Wood: The film was a huge success, yoursecond one
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: It was, it was a success d'estime.It'sgrossislaughable,ifyouthinkithasbeen goingfor45yearsor46years,theamountofprofitithas madeisveryniceandveryniceinrelationtoitscost.
Linda Wood: You were making films then under the patronage of ArthurRank
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Thiswasthebeginningandout ofthesefilmsandoneortwoearlierfilms,madebypeople like Launder and Gilliat. This is how the whole idea of IndependentProducers,whichwastheorganisationthatRank foundedabout1946foundedorsomethinglikethat,we'dhad somanysuccessesinAmerica.YouseeafterBriefEncounter David felt he wanted to get away from the overarching coverageofCoward,thathe'ddoneenoughCoward,he'ddone fourCowards,anditwastimetogetawayanddosomething else.MoreovertherewasnothingofCowardsthatwewanted todo.
And he, David, had always wanted to do Great Expectations because he'd seen a production of it at the Rudolf Steiner Hall which had impressed him very much in which Alex Guinness had played Pip and he'd also been impressed by Alec Guinness. So he had him, he was too old to play Pipin
the film, not too old,no t quite right for it so he played the young gentleman. I'm not sure that he did play Pip on the stage, he think he may have played the pale young gentleman onthe stage too. Ithink he did. So that is how we got into Dickens, and as a result of those successes, Great Expectations played at the Radio City Music Hall, the biggest theatre in America for 6 weeks to packed houses and only came off because in those days a house like that could change its programme every week if it wanted to, with the cream of all the filmsin America. Well to run for 6 weeks was something like 3 weeks longer than any film ever had except I think Gone With The Wind, and it came off still playing to packed houses because they simply couldn't keep it any more. They had a backlog of films that, they were beginning to lose all their films because people would say I'm sorry, we can't hang on forever,you made this deal with us. Also they could be sued. So it came off while it was still playing to packed houses. As a result of this Arthur Rank founded Independent Producers and out of that came, Ithink Independent Producers came before Great Expectations, I think that was the first film we did for IndependentProducers. And then Oliver Twist. And then Powell and Pressburger made all those marvellous highly imaginative films. And this was a golden moment, it was a moment when we really thought, when everybody thought we were going to have a solidly based industry which was always going to have enough money to make films and if we went on keeping up as good an average of successful films tounsuccessfulfilms,weweregoing tobeinbusinessand
the British film industry was going to prosper because of it.
Linda Wood: You certainlydid your fairshare.
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Wellitwasluck.Whoknows whatwouldhavehappenedafterwards.ButIthinkthesad thing was that Arthur Rank who had this vision had to directhisenergiesandhisattentionstothefamilyfirm whichwasthefoundationofhisfortuneandhisbrother's fortune, and the very big fortunes which they all had, which had been founded by his father, if not his grandfather,becausetheonlyavailablebrotherdied,who wastheheadofthebusiness.Theyoungerbrotherwasin quite a different business. He had gone into quite a different business. Arthur had to take over the family interestsandthefamilybusiness.AndIthinkJohnDavis whowashisrighthandmanwaslessinterestedin
production than he had been, didn't quite share the view that he had. Ithink he took a more accountant's view of the film business which was that it wasn't a serious business, it was too risky, I think.
Dave Robson: You're right because I worked for the Rank Organisation during that time and he was a terrible man, he would sack you like that
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: He hated anything that he couldn't absolutely control or understand. And he could only control figures, that is what he could control. I hope that's not on the thing, I think we should take thatout.
It's alright when he's dead but notbefore.
Linda Wood: Going back to Brief Encounter it wasnominatedfor a number of Oscars which was quite unusual for British films and one was for the set design by John Bryan. Didyou buildthem
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Brief Encounter
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Sure, because Brief Encounter I think the sets were by David Rawnsley. That was, it has been done again and it will be done again but it will be a very strange day when anyone does a better one. And that was almost entirely David. Beautifully, beautifully directed, beau tifully, a nd wonderful performances, and wonderful sets, and a very good script, because we got script nominations and sets; and what did we get for actress,wegotasupportingactressIthink,I'mnotsure old Miss Haversham didn't get supporting actress. That was made because David said let's do Dickens and I'd like to do GreatExpectations.
Linda Wood: Again it has a marvellous cast. You cast itso well, every single character is justperfect.
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:OurnextDickensfilm,Oliver Twist,didn't have the success that it should have had, whichhadnothingtodowithitsboxofficereceipts.But there was in America and elsewherethat the portrayal of theprincipalcharacterplayedbyAlecGuinness,wholooks afterthechildren,whorulesthelittleboyswhosteel
handker chi efs, I've forgotten his name. Not Shylock, that's the only name I can thinkof.
Linda Wood: I can't remembereither.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Extraordinary, one of the most famous characters in literature.
Dave Robson: It will come to us.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Because of what had happened in the war, the Holocaust, there was some sort of drawing back by some exhibitors in some areas, and of course in Germany you couldn't show it at all because it was felt the part was too anti-Semitic. You might just as well say Bill Sykes was toogang leader, it's a character. It so happened to be. In fact when they remade it, it was remade for America for television,they altered the story and put in a big repentance scene, when you see him in prison he repents and becomes a sort of hero, ends the film absolutely exonerated as a hero. Quite different, absolutely nothing to do with Dickensat all, it was for NBC, because they were afraid that it would be thought too anti-Semitic by the New York population, by the Californian population. So it never did as much, in some places it was not even shown at all because they feared . So it came into profit much more slowly. Now, when some balance has been achieved, itshows well and in a lot of places but it never made as much as Great Expectations because of that factor. I don't know why, they thought he should have been played with less of a nose or something, anything that would have made him less obviously what he was. And none of us have still remembered hisname.
Linda Wood: No
Dave Robson: I ran that film for 6 weeks at the Odeon Leicester Sq., I should know it backwards but I can'tthink of it.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: But he did modify, Alec did a test in a much grotesqueappearance even than the one he did in the film, but of course the trouble is that he is such a very, ve ry good actor that he did an absolutely splendid caricature even down to a lisp, mostwonderful.
Linda Wood: He was very frightening, I can rememberbeing terrified when I first saw thefilm.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: He was very scary, particularly because the more gentle he became, the more scary. The more smiling and the more he rubbed his hands, the more frightening he became.
Linda Wood: Going back to Great Expectations did you actually do the casting for that because there were so many smallparts
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:NowedidittogetherLinda Wood: It was a teameffort
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Although the principal parts we decided from the word go. And the smaller parts we saw people or David did tests. Ronnie actually produced that. I
was theexecutiveproduce,r I just looked after themoney
and the sets and all the rest of it, the schedule and that sort of thing, but Ronnie was the producer of the film. But we did the basic script together and then David and Ronnie did a shooting script together.
Linda Wood:Didyouhavetogettheprojectapprovedby Rank before you started onit.
SirAnthony Havelock-Allan: Oh yes, approved in the sense that we'd said what we were going to do and then when we gotputupmoneyforwhateverwasneededforthescriptor go to placesto look at things we needed to do for the film.And then a script would be presented and it was purelyaformality,itwentbeforetheIndependentsBoard. Andtheoretically anyotherIndependentProducercouldsay they didn't like it, i t shouldn't be done. It never happenedobviously.Wewereallperfectlydelightedtobe self-containedandstandonourmeritsastheyemerged.And weweren'tgoingtotellLaunderandGilliattheycouldn't make their film whatever it was they wanted to make. We couldonpaper,theideawaswewoulddiscusseachother's scripts but it didn't work out that way at all. The theoretical idea was that each thing would carry the approval,buttheonlyapproval,weknewthatFrankLaunder and Sidney Gilliat were first class filmmakers and that Emeric Pressburgerand Michael Powell were first class filmmakersandwehopedtheyfeltthesameaboutusandwe
certainly weren't going to interfere. But there was a board and there was a managing director who was George Archibald who had been with United Artists, one of the directors of United Artists.And we put forward a budget and if the budget was excessive we would be asked whether we would makeit any different. But even that didn't happen because they weren't excessive, the budgets, any ofthem.
Linda Wood: Did you do some shooting onlocation
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:WeshotonlocationonBrief EncounterattherailwaystationatCarnforth.Wewentto Rochesterforthemarshes.Yestherewasacertainamount ofshootingonlocationonboththosefilms,butnotvery much.
Linda Wood: I was thinking particularly of the riverscene because the houses looked so typical Victorian, I just wondered if you'd managed to find them or had youactually
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:No as far as I can remember, apart from the scenes on the water which were shot on location and I think the houses coming down to the water were built, I don't think we found those. And the hulks we didn't find them either. We did find something mocked upas the hulks but there was no sign of the original prison vessels
Linda Wood:Did you have your own little companyof technicians at thattime.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:Usually the camera people, but we used the ones at Pinewood, we knew them all by that time, or Denham, according to where we were shooting the film. It was a sort of splendid thing happened in the film business then that doesn't happen now, everybody who worked on a film felt it was like feeling any kind of a project, working on a relief project after an earthquake. Everybody wasconcerned only with the film, and the hope that it would succeed, it was part of their product and we always used to have photographs at the end with all the people who had worked on it. And that they had seats at the premiere, but that's rather gone now. It usedtobe a very nice thing. There were stirringsthen of because the bigger it got, one had the feeling that the activists in the union were saying chat well this is going to be big, there is going to be money in this so perhaps we better startmaking
some difficulties, but up toway after the war, and in the small studios there was still a great feeling of team work and camaraderie and feeling we were all working to oneend.
Linda Wood: You seem to have been very successfulin picking out a lot of talentedpeople
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:There are an awful lot of talented people around always. And one of the sad things about not having a proper industry and the thing being hand to mouth, an awful lot of people who might be very talented get fed up and either go elsewhere or go into other businesses . Some of them go into television,but it is a different medium, television.It is not one that encourages, very peculiar talents and personalities. It's not a mediumCelia Johnson ever did much in. She didn't fancy it. It wasn't for, a lot of actors didn't like it all that much. Bobby Newton would never have been brought out by television. It producesa high class standard of acting, of the character actors but it doesn't make stars. The stars it makes are the men who do quiz shows and the stars of television are very rarely in this country the actors and actresses, they're the anchor men, the quiz shows, the interview shows,Wogan is a perfect example. That's what television makes a star of and Johnny Carson in America and newscasters but it is hard to think of a television actor who you know there is going to be a new series and everybodysays oh my god, I must go and see him, like in the case of certain film actors and actresses, People say oh I see there is a new film that Garbo's in, or Robert De Niro's in or Robert Redford, I mustgoand see it. It doesn't happen in television. It's not somehow for those special kinds of talents. I don't think Martita Hunt ever did much television. The people who did work withus.
Finlay Currie never did much television. They were always enormously valuable characteractors. I think it's a question of scale I think. Television doesn't really cater for the big scale personalityand the big scale acting talent. It's for high class, first rate competence. Thebig personality in acting doesn't seem to do well on television.
An awful lot of people I worked with didn't dotelevision. Rex Harrison didn't do much television, once in a blue moon. The old ones come back on television, the ones that have ceased to be stars come back and it's nice for them
that there's work for them to do. But I can't thinkof anybody who came out of
Linda Wood: There was always the West End waiting iffilm wasn't giving so muchwork.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:I think if they were theatre actors they were happy with that. They settled for thetheatre and the theatre in New York, which they could do. The period after the war when the Americans were making a lot of films here, they used a lot of stars, they used Trevor, they used Johnny Mills, everybody they could lay their hanos on they had in their films. It is only in the last really four or five years that it's become desperate, and the number of films made I think was 27 last year down from 90 or 80 the previous years. And the years we're talking about there were about 100 made everyyear.
Linda Wood: That was already a big drop because in the30s at one stage they were turning over 200 in some years out. But by the 40s they were more qualityfilms,
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Youcan'treallycounttheones inthe30s,because an enormous number, at least 100 in a yearwerequotafilms,maybemore.Forme23intwoyears, andthat'sjustonecompany.AndColumbiaweremakingthem andParamountweremakingthem,ImeanFoxweremakingthem andMetroweremakingthem,allmakingthesameamount.So altogetherwemusthavebeenmaking80or90ayear,quota filmsofonekindoranother,quiteapartfromwhatHerbert Wilcoxwasdoingoranybodyelse,theactualEnglishfilms.
Dave Robson: Who was the director of This Man Is News
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:DavidMacdonald. He'd done a Paramount filmformeandhehadsomeexperienceinAmerica,andIlikedhimvery much.AndIthoughthewoulddoverywellandhedid.
Dave Robson: It had fantastic pace, beautifully edited
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: That's the point, that was what was needed. I t was not only pace but a sort of swing, it goes fast but it also goes fast rather smoothly. They still do that kind of thing marvellously, however much you don't like the film in America,if it has been made by good people it is a very beautifully crafted affair. It cuts beautifully, it moves beautifully. You may be hating it but you're rarely bored by it. You never say oh dear Iwish
this would get on, it gets on like that all the time. Anything they can do to grab your attentiontechnically they do and they do superbly.
Linda Wood: Another film you produced around this timewas
Take My Life
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Take My Life. That was after, I suppose after Great Expectations I think Ronnie thought he wanted to be a director. I know Ronnie thought he wanted to be a director. We were beginning by this time, we'd made some films together and they'dbeen reasonably successful and we began to think that maybe all of us had, all this amount oftalent if itwastalent, whatever it was, there seemed to be racher too much, this seemed to all ofus.
Ronnie wanted co be a director and so we found a little story and I produced it and Ronnie directed it. I can't rememberanything about it at all except Greta Gynt was in it. I remember nothing about it. I don't even remember who wrote the script. But looking back it's a film I remember nothing about. It came up not long ago ontelevision
Linda Wood: I sawit
Sir AnthonyHavelock-Allan: Did it seem alright
Linda Wood: Yes, it's very good. Marvellous performance from Marius Goring.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I don't remember him in the film.Iremembernothingaboutitexceptthatweshotit, it cost more money than it should have done although we shotitonschedule,Idon'tknowwhy.Thingshadbegunto go up a bit then, it wasn't very expensive but I do rememberthatitdidcostjustalittlebitmorethanBrief Encounter
Linda Wood: Really
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:Well things had started already to go up. Whatyear did you say that itwas made in.
Linda Wood: 1947
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: You see the war is over and we'rehavingasuccessinAmericaandpeoplearebeginning tosaythatallsalariesinEnglandandalleverythingin
England is so much below what is paid in America, and Americans were beginning to come here and were happy to pay much more than we were paying because it was still less than they had to pay in Hollywood. So things were becoming more expensive, that'sthe difference between 1944 and 1947, already things are going up. It didn't have an enormous success, it was quite a pleasant picture. It was one of those pictures that if you have an industry you make several of them. They aren't disasters but they don'tmake
any money. You hope to make some that do to balance the books.
Linda Wood: For a first film it is prettygood.
SirAnthony Havelock-Allan:He is a very good director. The next step away. I thought I'd do something, I thought I'd make a film like the films that Gainsborough was making but muchmore seriously. Instead of making it not really very believable,rather h igh fa la la stuff, people wore wigs and costume clothes but didn't really look like they were people of the period. But I would make that sort of a film for real as it were and made Blanche Fury which was too hard, there wasn't one likeable person in the film, that was the problem I suppose. And that didn't make any success. I keep on meeting people, it had a curious thing, Blanche Fury, I wa s in the lift with Sam Zimbelist who was one of the big Hollywood producers for Metro, he was then producing either The Robe or one of those big pictures. He said you made a picture that I saw, I said oh really, you saw it. He said he saw it in Hollywood. I said an awful picture, I'm very disappointed with it. It just didn't do any good. He said don't knock it, it's the picture on the strength of which Metro took Stewart Grainger under contract and thought they were going to turn him into a second Clark Gable. It didn't work. But that was the picture that made them say ah ha, this is our new Clark Gable. Hethen behaved I think rather unwisely and it didn'tworkoutthatway.
Linda Wood: Of the Gainsborough actors I think Ipreferred James Mason
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: He was a much more subtle actor, he could do much more. Stewart Grainger wasn't really a good actor, he was just a good hunk of manhood. A nice hunk of manhood with a nice voice, but not a very
skilful actor, not a very big range as an actor, whereas Mason had,Mason could do lots of things.
Linda Wood: As yo u said Blanche Fury is very bleak. I suppose in the post war period when you've been going throughso many years of suffering, the cinema audience isn't normally inclined to accept films which don't have happy endings, it would have been less inclined to around the time thac was released. But it's a lovely film to look at.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: It is, that's John Bryan. I rather hoped he would get something for it, because hedid a beautiful job, lovely to look at. And very nicely photographed too.
Linda Wood: How did you happen to employ MarcAllegret
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Because,Iemployedhimbecause he'd done 3 films that I liked very much indeed, he did L'OragewithBoyerandMicheleMorgan,whohediscovered, who was one of his discoveries. He did Gribouille with Raimu who was another of his discoveries. He was a very, verybrightyoungman.AlexKordahadhadhimoncontracttodoElephant,nonotElephant,ThiefOfBaghdad,todo ThiefOfBaghdadwhenthewarbrokeout,buthehadtogo back to France. He was a very talented up and coming director, but the war in some curious way really sort of ruinedhim.Allhedidduringthewarandafterthewarwas hediscoveredVadim,Vadimwasoneofhisproteges,andhe diddothefirstfilmwithBardot,whowasalsoanotherof hisdiscoveries.ButduringthetimehewasmakingBlanche Furyhewashavingterriblemaritalproblemsandwasvery, veryunhappy.Graingerdidn'tlikehimandhedidn'tlike Grainger much. And of course Grainger was, there was nothingonecandoaboutit,Graingerdidn'tlikemuchthat thetitleofthefilmwasBlancheFuryandthatirkedhima bit. Wedidn'thave at all a happy picture and we never got the script quite right. I'm surprised when I see the filmnowhowwellitdidworkoutbecausewehadthemost awfulrewrites.Itwasn'tahappypictureatall.Hewasa miserabledirectorwhowantedofcoursetohopoffanddid wheneverhecouldhopbacktoParistoseeifhecouldn't save hismarriage.
Linda Wood: It doesn't help things, does it.Thatwas the endofcostumedrama,no,youdidonelateron,forthe
time being you decided that was enough of costume melodrama. I'm afraid my notes aren't' that wellorganised. The next title I have listed is InterruptedJourney.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:No, the first film, I formed then, then I acquired a film company called Garrett and Clement who had made a film with Cary Grant believe it or not in the 30s, and someone else. Mr Garrett was a very nice man who had been in the diplomatic service, and MrClement was one of that enormous army of gentleman from the Continent like Max Schach and Alex Korda in a sense who came here and made contributionsof varying value to the film industry but who were entrepreneurs really . And they made two pictures and they didn't succeed, either of the pictures. And I bought into the company with Garrett and we changed the name to Constellationand made first The Arrival of The Empress, called here, it was a remake of a French film. Again it looked absolutely beautiful, wonderfulclothesmadebytheItaliandressdesignercalled Novarese who then went to Fox and was their principal wardrobe designer, dress designer for some years. We shot it in wonderful locations but it wasn't a great story, with Richard Greene and Valentina Cortese. That's the firstone
Linda Wood: That's The Shadow Of TheEagle
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Shadow Of The Eagle. It was called in France originally Tarakonova but didn't mean anything here. It was actually based on historic fact. Then the next thing we did was or did we do The Small Voice
Linda Wood: I've got The Small Voicefirst
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:YesTheSmallVoicefirstwith Howard Keel. The Small Voice first which got very good notices, I was in New York when it came out and got the notices. I really thought I was going to make a lot of moneybutIdidn'tandnowIcan'tfindmycontractorany ofthedetails.IknowI'mentitledtoaprofitandit's beenshowninAmerica,Idiscoveredafter20yearsthat it's been showing in America for the last 20 years. I didn't know what's happening,it now belongs to Mr Weintraub and they can't find. They've got the first and the last page of thecontract.
Linda Wood: They've conveniently lost what's come inbetween
Sir AnthonyHavelock-Allan:That'swhattheysay,they've lost everything inbetween, that's all they can find.
Linda Wood: I don't knowifit's a misprint but the cast list I saw said HaroldKeel
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: He was called Harry, Harold Keel in those days. And he appeared in the first company of Oklahoma at Drury Lane and I had seen him and thought he would be very good for films. And signed a contract with himandmadethefilm.AndthenMetrowantedhimforthey
,,were looking for a replacement forxxx.
Linda Wood: It must have been one of his first straight dramatic parts, because the next part of his career was really as a singer
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:Wellhewasasingeroriginally and a very goodsinger
Linda Wood: But now most people think of him as an actor rather than a singer because of his part in Dallas
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:He'saverynicemanandheis stillaverynicemanandIloveseeinghiminDallas.He neverbecameaverybigstar,butyou'venoideahowmuchmoneytheycanmake,particularlythesingers.
ANTHONY HAVELOCK-ALLAN SIDE 6, TAPE 4
Linda Wood: We were just talking about The SmallVoice
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I can't remember who putthemoney up for it. Who distributedit.
Linda Wood: If Weintraub distributed it perhaps it wasEMI or British Lion
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: British Lion maybe, I never made anything for EMI. I'm sure it was BritishLion.
Linda Wood: How did Independent Producers andCineguild come to an end.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: It just petered out. There was no longer, when Arthur Rank went back to the milling business I don't think there was any, the fundingwent I thinkwhen the funding was in hands on the gentlemanwho's name we are going to erase from the tape, I think therewas nofunding. I think that was it. As far as I remember, Launder and Gilliat went on making films for British Lion. I don't think Powell and Pressburger made anymore.
Linda Wood: Did they go to Korda.The Elusive Pimpernelwas certainly made for Korda.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Pressburger came from Korda, it was Korda who brought him over as a writer originally. But if they did go to Korda I don't know what theymade.
Linda Wood: I knowThe Elusive Pimpernel was for Kordabut I'm notcertain about any of theothers.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: By that time David, Ronnie wanted to do The Passionate Friends, started to do Passionate Friends. And then ceased to direct it after a few weeks because I think a relationship was building up between Ann and David who was nominally producer on the film. So then David took over and Ronnie went off on his own. And David afterthat did Madeleine paid for by Rank and then he went to Korda. And Ronnie I think went onhis
own with a man called Sasha Calperson who had been the· business manager and producer for Paul Czinner and Elizabeth Bergner. He had been the business manager and found the money for their films. Stolen Life I think was made for British & Dominions. And the next one was called xxx and made for Rank, at Pinewood, but not forIndependent Producers. Then there wassome sporadic production including Pygmalion and that sort of thing, but then there was no longer any IndependentProducers, and George Archibald retired I think and some time later John Davis installed a nice American who used to be with Paramount, squashy features, as a kind of whipping boy but alsoin
'charge of whatever they were going tomake.
Linda Wood: Was it Earl St John
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: That's right. Earl St John.And that was under, the filmmaking business was now firmly under Sir John Davis, well he wasn't Sir John then, John Davis.
Linda Wood: About that time Rank quite substantiallycut back his operation. He closed down Gainsborough and Islington. Were you now making films for American distributors again
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I was then what was sowittily called an independent producer, and indeed I represented independent producers on the Producers Association
Linda Wood: Which distributors were handling yourfilms
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I went to whatever distributor that would put up the money. In the case of I think it was British Lion, you're right with The Small Voice. In the case of Shadow Of The Eagle it was half Italian and half British Lion Ithink. Interrupted Journey I have no idea who put up the money. I only know we made it indesperation because we had a publicity department and an office in Hanover Sq and a lot of money going out all the time andwe weren't doing anything. And the third one, there was a third one in that, after InterruptedJourney
Linda Wood: There's one called Never Take No For An Answer
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Never take no for an answerwas part John Woolf and part an Italian company. 50/50.And
that did very well, but it was sold to a distributor in America with the best possible of intentions and without any way of knowing otherwise but it so happened that this company was going bankrupt. So what he did was to sell the film flat rate wherever he could raise the money and still went bankrupt, so we never saw anything. But we had wonderful publicity in America. That was a nice film, that still has some life, it has been remade,disastrously.
Linda Wood: Was that made inItaly
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Made in Italy entirely, shotin Rome and at Assisi, the bulk of the film, 3/Ss of the film take place in the town of Assisi. It was shot entirely on location, we didn't go into a studio at all. Everything was done in real houses, and when we went to Rome we used a large house in a thing called Pallazo Brancacho, to do one or small interiors,which we had. But the actual interior of the place where the little boy kept his donkey was a real one and all the scenes in the monastery in Assisi were shot in the monastery. Weshot scenes in room where St Joseph of Compatinawas supposed to beable to fly, so fervent was his faith that he was able tolevitate. He was supposed to float around on a high ceiling from time to time. It was a very sweet and very dear man and of course so was StFrancis.
I'm trying to get the rights to put it out again because we had quite a nice income from schools for years, and then our licence expired in 1970 andin 1970 the remake was made with stars in the film rather than real people as it were, almost a documentary, the little boy made one film after with a famous actor who played Pasteur, Paul Muni. The boy made one film with Paul Muni in Italy afterwards and then retired from the filmindustry.
Linda Wood: We were in the 50s and you were once more an independent producer away from Rank and you were settingup projects, and Ithink the last film we talked about was Never Take No For An Answer which was filmed inItaly.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: That was before, the Rank thing, I think we got it wrong. NeverTake No For An Answerbelongs to the period of Small Voice,Shadow Of The Eagle, InterruptedJourney, they all belong to a period whenthey
were financed and made by Constellation Films which I had formed when Cineguild broke up as far as I wasconcerned. And financed, in different ways. John Woolf was inShadow Of TheEagle andNever Take NoFor An Answer.Interrupted Journey was I think was British Lion, Small Voice, doyou havethat
Linda Wood: No
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Well they were all financedby individual distribution organisations. John Woolf, Idon't know what he had by way of distribution, but he made alot of films. Whether he was with GFD his father's company,no I don't think so. I think GFD hadstopped.
It's about 1955 that Jimmmy Laurie of the National Film Finance Corporation persuaded with some difficulty the Rank Organisation that they couldn't really opt out of filmmakingas they were thinking of doing or confining themselves only to making Norman Wisdom films and Carry Ons. If they'd started, I'm not sure that they had, Norman Wisdom had because I found Norman Wisdom actually for the Rank Organisation, and he was about to sign with Elstree, and I persuaded him not to sign with Elstree but with the Rank Organisation. And I think he was a very successful investment for them. But they were doing not much else, and somewhere around 1955 or 1956 James Laurie of the Film Finance Corporation persuaded them to go into a deal in which they would, they would take a group of producers, they would pay them an annual salary and that they would during the period being paid the annual salary suggest projects of one kindoranother.
That's were Young Lovers came in and Young Lovers wassold by Rank and directed by Anthony Asquith. I wanted an American star for it but they wouldn't go for andAmerican star so we had a young actor, an American actor who was living in England played it but he didn't carry much weight.
And then Asquith asked me to do Orders To Kill which was done for British Lion. But in the 50s I think that was about all I did. Never Take No was done in 1952, or1953. 1951 and came out in 1952, Ithink.
Linda Wood: There was Meet Me Tonight, the Noel Cowardplay
SirAnthonyHavelock-Allan:IdidthosewithPelissier-also under this arrangement of Jimmy Laurie's.
Linda Wood: In the 30s and 40s most of your work was in the studio, by the 50s were you finding that you were having to make arrangements for filmmaking on more location
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: No I don't think there was any trend. I think in the 30s, certainly in the early part, sound was still something quite new andthere was a sort of prohibition about going on location if you could possibly avoid it. If the studio could do it around that period, you will see a lot of exterior scenes which are clearly shot in the studio. The reason being that the sound people didn't like going on location if they could avoid it because there was practically nowhere in a small country like England where you could get away from exterior sounds. And at that periodpostsynching was nothing like what it became 30or
40 years later when post synching became perfect. Imean you'd never know it had been postsynched.
All Italian films even when we went there after the war, for films like Shadow Of The Eagle, all Italian films were always post synched from beginning to end even if they were shot in the studio. Just to savetime,they shot guide track, they regarded anything they shot as guidetrack.
Afterwards they post synched it, so they were never bothered even if the studio they were in wasn't well sound proofed which in the case of some Italian studios wastrue, they weren't very well sound proofed, they'd all had been put up fairly hastily, there was a great boom inproduction and a great longing to get back to it when the war wasover so they shot in all sorts of conditions. But Romeo And Juliet even the scenes we did in the studio were all post synched, the whole picture, and they were used to it. We still don't' like it much, don't do it as much as allthat.
But in the 30s to go out on location meant a tremendous amount of problems with the sound, the sound of the wind, the noise of animals, the noise of motor cars, noise of aeroplanes, noise of distance trains, if it could be avoided on low budget pictures, you never went onlocation except perhaps at midnight, a shot taken at 2 or 3 in the morning. That sort of thing.
But of course when we got to Italy they had no such inhibitions about location because they alwaysnaturally
post synched. We post synched on Shadow Of The Eagle andwe post synched nearly all of Never Take No For An Answer. We were a bit luckier withNever Take No For An Answer, because Assisi is a very quiet place and it's very muchoff the beaten track and we were able to shoot a good deal of natural sound and having a small young child to deal with it was much better. Strange things can happen sometimes post synching, some people'sperformances get better, some people's performances suffer. It makes slight differences from the sound pointof view though, you can now post sync practically anything.
But the more location thing, certainly during the war we could never go on location because the air was full of aeroplanes. And from time to time full of noises of gun fire, anti aircraft, if there was a raid or anything like that. So practically everything was done in the studio. The destroyer, two thirds of the destroyer we builtin the studio. We built in the studio just for that reason, it would have been easier if we'd had some sky, except that we would have been subject to the weather, but that wouldn't have matter a great deal because most of the stuff was in sunshine, the Mediterranean.
Linda Wood: How did you come to be working in Italy
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Somebody, an Englishproducer, no an English, Robert Garrett who was my partner and the founder of Film Finances Ltd which was the firstguarantee of completion company in the world. He founded it as a business, no one had thought that it was a business.
Guarantees had been put up of one kind or another of course, but to make a business of it, Robert Garrett founded it in 1952after we had made 3 films backed by a groupofCity businessmen all 3 of which had come inunder budget. And he persuaded them that this was going to be a business and founded Film Finances. And Film Finances have guaranteed to date the completion of something like 1,000 or more films. And it was a very successful business. I didn't think it could be because I didn't think anyone would accept the clause on which the success or failure of the business entirely depends, which is that if in the opinion of the guarantors is likely to exceed its budget, they have the right to take over the film, appoint their own director, their own production manager and finish it in whichever way they feel best suited to their interests. And I thought no one would ever acceptit.
And in a sense I was perfectly right, because whathappened always when that situation arose was that the people who invested by that time half the cost of the whole thing were not going to have their product spoiled by somebody coming in and taking over the film and finishing it in the quickest and least expeditious manner and without any necessary caring about quality or anything else, because they never had an interest in whether the film made profit or not. That was the concept and always, the backers said alright we'll release you from the guarantee, we'll take it over. That hadn't occurred to me. I hadn't thought that far. I'd thought no one would sign it thinking how can I afford to have somebody ruining my picture if we go over and they think we're going over too much. It didn't happen. It happened but when it happened they were always let off the hook, until quite late, until the last one which ruined them of course. Finally at the end they did go for a picture which went monumentally over budget and nobody would rescue them and that really put an end to Film Finances and it doesn't exist any more. That was only about 5,5or6yearsago.I'verunoffatthemouth
Linda Wood: No, I hadn't known that about FilmFinance
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I was an original shareholder and I sold my shares after a time because I thoughtsooner or later they must have a risk. I could have got a lot of money for them if I'd kept them, but foolishly I soldthem thinking it was alwaysa risky business, but itnever was until after Garrett had left the business and wasretired, they took one gamble and the gamble went againstthem.
Linda Wood: That's fascinating.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: What was your question. Linda Wood: How did you come to be working in Italy
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Garrett came to me one day and said look there are some people in Italy who'll put uphalf the cost of making a film based on the following storythat they've acquired from a French company. It was made before the war, they acquired the script of the man who made it before the war, it's based upon fact, it's based upon history and it's rather a good story. And I readitand I thought I don't really know anything about Italy andI
don't know any Italian. I'm very happy to go there but·. Anyway there was nothing else and finally I agreed, I said alright, let's do it and went to Rome and talked to the people who wanted to be concerned with it. There was a distributor and a man who came from a family of very successful antique dealers who wanted to put up the money and be the producer at the Italian end. And finally we agreed to go with it and we got Valentina Cortese and we needed a leading man, and we got Richard Greene and that's how it happened.
Linda Wood: Did you find any differences working inItaly Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan:No
Linda Wood: The job's the same wherever youare
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Absolutely,it's like miners, even if they don't speak the same language, other film people are the same way, it doesn't matter if you speak the language or not, once you're talking about the film both sides know what the other's talking about. And you pick up the key words very quickly. The film was to be made in English and then post synched into, dubbed into Italian because Italian audiences always accepted dubbed pictures and post synched pictures and the British didn't give a damn, subtitled they were used to it, unlike the distributors here who kept on saying the British public will not stand for a subtitled or post synchronised picture.
And the Americans say the same today, it's their great defence against the language problem. They don't ever have to give a big release to a picture in a foreign language because their argument is, their argument against us was that nobody understands your English accents. There may have been some justification for it, but not as much as I think theymade of it, but it was a great argument for years for not showing out films outside the eastern seaboard, I mean Boston, New York, Philadelphia,Baltimore, was that nobody understood English.
Linda Wood: Although they talk about the accents, theywere quite happy to take any attractive Britishstar, accent or no accent, such as Vivien Leigh or CaryGrant.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: That's true, but it didn't alter their argument. Ronald Colman who spoke very nice English. It wasn't that they didn't understand, itwas all part of the defence, they didn't want anybody getting intotheir markets if they can help it. If you've got a very successful monopoly, and it's worth millions a year, anyone will protect it. And somebody else can make a product like yours and may one day make a pair of shoes that Americans would like to buy, the American shoe companies don't want somebody coming into their market. It's perfectlynormal.
It's much better now because they've made money withsome English pictures, it's not dead easynow
Linda Wood: The 50s seem to have lean period as faras filmmaking in England was concerned.
Sir AnthonyHavelock-Allan:We were beginning to come up against the thing that the war over, that excuse had gone that got some of our pictures in. The cost of making pictures rose steadily, I mean the difference between the cost of making pictures in England and in America before the war is a perfectly well understood anything, that everything in England, because it was a smaller country with a smaller market, that everyone got, no matter where the picture was being made,muchless money than they'd get in America. Nobody dreamt that English stars got the kind of money that Cary Grant or Gary Cooper got, it wasa ludicrous thing, it was understood. And that was true of everybody.
After the war it began to get a bit more expensive because more and more American companies came here and brought their technicians with them. When they began to look around for English technicians, the English technicians began to ask for money that was more like the American technicians who would have bee brought otherwise. So that bit by bit we began to have a more expensive industry, and it began to cost, and inflation had something to dowithit. The big motive thing behind too, you must remember by 1956 films followpeople who want to make films and have an access to money. Rank had, Alexander Korda had, but by 1955, I don't know when Alexander Korda died but he began to do less and less and he was dead by the end of the 50s. Rank went out for reasons we've discussed earlier, because he had to take over the family business. So there was none of, immediately after the war andimmediately before the war there had been these two big stimulators, Alexander Korda who builtDenham
with money from Prudential Insurance Company and had made bigpictures. And then because of this Rank and Lady Yule built Pinewood. There would have been no Pinewood if there had been no Denham. And these studios, both studios produced some pretty goodpictures.
But by 1955, Korda was doing much less and Rank had gone out. So there was nobody, what happened at BIP, at Elstree I can't speak for, but it was never one of the big players in the game. They played, if we assume film was a poker game, Elstree came in occasionally and went out again, because they had the theatres,that's the chief reason. But the big movement towards making films in production depended on Arthur Rank and Alexander Korda. And so long as they wanted to make films, films would be made. A lot of people when Independent Producers finished, which it did when Rank went out the business, Powell and Pressburger went to Korda, David Lean went to Korda eventually, by1954 he was working for Korda, Carol Reed went to Korda. And then bit by bit Korda went out of business, complications and one thing andanother.
And when that went, it was fragmented,it was a question of who could gather money, who could get a distributor,and another distributor from abroad for somebody for a studio to put in some facilities or something and it became ad hoe filmmaking. And when it's ad hoefilrnmaking we know where we are now, we're back to it, makingwhatever it is, 28 films. But towards theend of the 50s there came the big move, I think I'm right in saying, for Metro cominghere.
And they bought the studio at Elstree which had been built which had been built only because Denham had been built and Pinewood had been built, and a man called Soskin whose nephew was a film producer decided this was going to be Europe's Hollywood and built another studio and pretty soon was only too glad to sell it to Metro Goldwyn Meyer who did decide to make pictures here and for some years made pictures at the studio.
So there was another reason for making pictures, backed by money. There was no individual case as in the case ofKorda or Rank but there was a studio, whose home base was Hollywood who had plenty of money, who made pictures here. So that did cause a little bit of a revival. And that went on backed by American money until, really until, almost until the time when the advantages of making filmshere, the financial advantages were removed. And then wewent
back to ad hoe picture making and there was Goldcrest came and made some pictures, found some money in the City, but that's all.Oh,and MI suddenly becamepicture makers, EMI bought Elstree with the idea of making and they became major picture makers. So for a time suddenly the Elstree studio had a lot of production going, because EMI wanted to make films. EMI doesn't want to make films any more, Rank doesn't much want to make films but it has going to fill the studio and if it's not going tocost too much they will. But there is no great wave of people with money wanting to make films. That is why itdeclined.
As I say it picked up again when the Americansdecided it was good to make pictures here. And then when they decided it wasn't any good any longer we went back after a slight burst, it was rather like the flowering that happenedunder Rank with Independent Producers and the flowering that happened with Korda and then the flower wilted and died again and we're back were we are, because there is no one to water it and no one to re plantit.
Linda Wood: Can you talk about AnthonyAsquith
Sir AnthonyHavelock-Allan: I don't know what I can say about Anthony Asquith except that he was an absolutely darl ing man and very talented director. But a talented director but essentially such a gentle character, such a sweet gentle and really universally loving character, he loved everything, the flowers, the animals, and human beings. It was very difficult for him to make a tough picture, a hard edged picture. And more and more in the 60s and particularly in the 70s pictures became harder and harder edged and more and more violent and more and more cynical and more and more rough in every way because the audience gradually became younger and younger, required less and less sophistication,were less and less educated so that an extremely educated man like Asquith who really only wanted to make films that were for educated people, for gentle people like himself as it were, became more and more of an anachronistic figure. Films like, which were very good, Mona Lisa, that was much later, 1984 or 1985, is a picture that would have left him absolutelybreathless.
He would have admired it but it would have been something that he couldn't remotely make but that was the kind of thing, the only kind, My Beautiful Laundrette, the only picturesthat came out the last 10 years, that came out of England, were pictures that captured some of the hard
edged, some of the toughness. The only example of people who still remained in a sort of special niche but I don't think they've ever made colossal money in America is Merchant and Ivory. Those are the kind of pictures that Puffin Asquithcould also have made but there was not much of a market for them.
Linda Wood: I much admire Asquiths work,as you say his films are thoughtful and gentle and sensitive.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: You look at a list of his pictures, they're all about caring issues for the most part. And when they're not, the two pictures he made with De Grunwald for Metro, the VIPs would have been much more successful if it had been a harder more cynical, rougher thing. But somehow the gentleness touched the films, and nobody evercould behave too atrociously badly, that he wouldn't know how to direct anybody behaving in an inhuman way, he would be so utterly out of sympathy in my view. But within that capability he was an extremely good director, and a absolutely heavenly humanbeing.
Linda Wood: He was nice to workwith.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Yes, but that is slightly different, I had know him. I had been at Mr Gibbs's school with him in Sloan St and my uncle was chief whip of the liberal party under Campbell Bannerman, and when Asquith became Prime Minister he was in the Cabinet until 1916, when Asquith was dethroned by Lloyd George. And he'd beena lifelong political associate and they always kept, because hewas such a nice man my uncle, and he made a wonderful chief whip, he was a wonderful trouble shooter,what the Americans. So I'd sort of know Puffin and known about him all my life. And my father's brother was also a Liberal member of Parliament, my grandfather was a Liberal member of Parliament, so I was steeped in the Liberal tradition.
Linda Wood: That's very interesting.
After Orders To Kill, the next film I've got for youi s TheQuare Fellow
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Well that was brought to meby an extraordinary American director who directed in rather like von Sternberg had and Von Stroheim had but I'm afraid he didn't quite have the talent they had, he always wore Mexican boots and carried a riding whip when hedirected.
He was very short andhehad acquired the rights of this through some American woman that he knew. I thought it was an interesting story and wouldn't be very expensive to make. Obviously because we'd make it in Dublin, it's quite a simple story. All we needed was the interior of a prison and I knew there was one available, the KilmainamGaol was available in Dublin, so that's how that arose . It didn't work out quite as well as we hoped because we had a bit of a problem with the leading man having read the script and accepted the script, accepted to do the script, then decided at a given moment he wouldn't play a certain scene. And so the scene had to be changed at the last moment which rather took the guts out of the picture. But what can you do when you're on a low budget and a short schedule. It's very nice to say well we'll sue you, but who is going to wait for months with an unfinished film and sue. I think it was part British Lion and part Ealing, it was distributed by Ealing. By that time Ealing hadgone.
Linda Wood: That I thought was a very Asquith type film. Then the next one I have is An Evening With The Royal Ballet
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: This really ends the film stuff, because in about 1961 or 1962 I was very caught with the idea that cable television which was then being discussed for the first time, I'd long had the view that there was no reason whatever why television should be the only form of entertainment in the world for which the customer does not pay, because of the accident of there being in every country a national television network, financed out of taxation and then subsequently as in America, although the customer did have to pay without knowing it, advertising paid for the whole schmeer. And it seemed to me that there was absolutely no justification for this whatever. If you wanted to watch television, there should be a price range. If you wanted to spend £80 a year or £100 a year watching television you could. If you wanted to spend £1000, if you had it you could. But it was like any other entertainment, if you went to the theatre, if you went to a football match,whatever it was, and cable television,or any kind of system which would bring television to the screen and you paid, you pressed a button and paid 3d, 4d, 6d or whatever the programme was, you watched what you paid for, like you do with every other known form of entertainment. And I thought this was the only solution for films because you would then have abox
office financing automatically. You wouldn't have to pay 25% to a distributor,you wouldn't have to pay 50% to an exhibitor first, then 25% to a distributor. At that time I think it was estimated that of the money a film took, once you'd, handed it over to a distributor, and he in turned was booking it [end ofside]
SIDE 7, TAPE4
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I was saying the amount of money that came back to the producer after he had handed in his finished film, he knew the price, what he'd spent of the film, he handed it to a distributor who in turn went around and got exhibition, of the money the public paid to see the film that you had made, 14% was all you got of what they paid. Now firstly if we take television, your film would go direct to television, either an advance against what you were going to get but it would go direct, there would be distribution fee. You sell direct. There might be a 5%, 10% commission if somebody took to the television company overseas, but in your own country the producer would go to the office of the BBC or ITV or whatever it was and said look, here's a film, put it on and you would have to agree what they would charge. Andofcourse you can check on television very easily what you got for a film, but you don't know, from exhibitors you don't know. One of the great arguments has always been, actions have been taken innumerable time. As far as exhibition is concerned there are many ways, in which even the 14% taken by the distributor, after the distributor has taken his percentage, there may have been some deal between the distribution company and the exhibitor, or the exhibitor mayhave a position about which the distributor is unable to doanything.
For example in America I was told that all cinemas in Florida belong to one man, and if you wanted to get into Florida you got in on his terms or you didn't get into Florida. In Boston, the very best circuit there was, which was twice as good as any other, if you wanted to appear there, you had to accept, whether it was spent or not didn't matter, but that there would be a given allocation for advertising which would come off the top of the receipts and that there would be a given amount for expenses of exploitation which would come off the top whether it was spent or not. So that you knew yourreceipts had a reduction before they everstarted.
All that went out the window, you would have a direct relationship and people would pay and you would get a percentage, you know what the percentage was, and it wasan accurate percentage of what people pay. Unless they fixed
the machine, or owners of the machines fixed themachines. And this seemed to be the ideal way of having a running fund, which is what you have to have if you're going to have a film industry, it is not good that it is dependent on hiccuping from one group of films, or what one film is going to do, you have to have cash flow and this way we would get it.
And I found that John Brabourne who I didn't know, but I knew him and I'd known his mother in law slightly, was thinking along the same lines. And so we had a meeting and both agreed that we felt exactly the same thing and whatwe must do would be to start a cable television company in conjunction with, we must find a cable company which we did, I can't remember what it was called, it was the one which became CO Stanley's company, began with an R, can't remember
Linda Wood: Was it Rediffusion
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I think that was it, if they would play with us, whether they thought it was a good idea, and they obviously to some extent were thinking that payment was going to get over some of the problems that come with television, they're coming now. We took the view, and again we were about perhaps 30 years ahead of our time, the BBC fee which was then £25 would be £100 within 25 years, well I think we're going to be 5 years out on that. It is £70 now, it will certainly be £100 by the year 2000 if it stays financed thatway.
And John Brabourne when to the city where he and his family, really his wife's family have some influence and persuaded a number of people through one of the institutions there to put up a given sum of money to test out the view as to whether or not, to find out how viable it would be, at what level it would become viable and then to go to the government and say look please, cable is coming, and it exists already, even then it existed in quite a few areas, because of interference and things like that. But there were people pushing to lay more and more cable to get what is nowhappening.
And so we decided to form a company and John Brabournesaid I'd like to bring in Danny Angel. Because he knew Danny, I knew Danny too, he is a very nice man, but very much an individualist, and I thought he might be a bit ofa
problem. And so the 3 of us, there were 3 original directors of a company which was formed and calledBritish Home Entertainment. And from 1962 till 1969, 1968 or1969, I devoted myself to that.
We had a pilot scheme in SouthLondonand pilot scheme in Sheffield. And we notified our shareholders as to the kind of things we intended to do. And we made a lot of programmes, one of which was An Evening With The Royal Ballet. We also did the National Theatre Othello, the National Theatre Uncle Vanya for television only but not for film.We did Othello for film if anyone wanted to see it, with the help of Warner Brothers. We did Romeo and Juliet with the help of Paramount. And we did one of the D'Oyle Carte opera company. We did a programme on fishing. We did programmes on xxx, exactly the kinds of programmes of which we thought there were insufficient on television. And which would enable people if they were paying, it would enable you to make programmes about things maybe ifonly on your whole network you only had 500,000 people, or 200,000 people who were interested in 17thCentury Harpsichord music, if you charged half a crown, therewould be enough people out of the 200,000 people who were interested to afford. You would make what there was an audience for. You wouldknow what your audience was, you would find out beforehand. You would find out how many people would like to watch a programmeon snooker for example. And think of the response we would have had. It's extraordinary. But whether they would have been prepared to pay, assuming that their television was on a pay basis, either because they'd agreed to hook into it, or because all television which is what wehoped would happen eventually was on a pay basis, how much they would pay to see a film about their specialist subject. Itwas greatfun.
We had the most distinguished board of directors you possibly have imagined.And we had every possibility of bringing it off. But it did depend on the government in the long run. And we went to the government and we showed them the results and said if we had 250,000 subscribers we would begin to make money. And the more subscribers, the more money we would begin to make. At the present moment the maximum that we could reach through Rediffusion and the other networks, I'm not sure about Rediffusion, I think we better say one of the companies that were interested in cable, were 120, and it meant more cable. And the government said no, this is inflationary, people don'tpay
for their television, or they think they don't at the moment, and if we gave you permission to push ahead with more homes, that would mean A) you're building to produce nothing more than what is being produced already, it would be inflationary. We can't give you a licence to proceed, but stay on doing what you're doing. We said we've been doing it for a year and we've spent nearly a millionpounds and all you're saying get another million, is spendanother million and see what happens. But unfortunately the Cityis not that soft hearted, so we closed itdown.
And precisely that moment Iran into David Lean, who wasan old, old friend. As you know I'd known him since 1933, and he said I'm going to make a picture would you like to produce it, the picture was Ryan's Daughter. That was the end of the saga
During the course of those years from 1962 or 1961 or whatever it was until 1968, the biggest film venture wedid was Romeo And Juliet. But even that only cost $1.8m. It went nearly $200,000 over budget on a totally unrealistic budget, it was a very large film, and the budget I think was $1,680,000 or something and we did it for $1,870,000 and it grossed a huge amount of money, of course. That's really the end of the story as far as I'm concerned with films.
Because then I went to Italy to live in Italy becauseDavid went to live in Italy and we were when we ended Ryan's Daughter, the idea was that we should do Gandhi. And I went to Indiaand saw all the people about Gandhi deal, and when I came back David said I really can't face it. He had difficulties obviously. He still had an Indian wife with whom he wasn't living and hadn't been living for some time, who was formerly the wife of an Indian politician. And I thinkhe felt that if he went there that in addition to the normal difficulties of making a film about Gandhi. And particularly a film which would have gone a little more into depth about Gandhi's life than DickyAttenborough's.
The script, I think there would have been morein it that might have been thought to have been controvertial both from the point of the Indians and the point of view of the English. It was not just a record more or less of what he did. It's a beautiful, very good film, very well done, beautiful, but you don't really know any more about the man Gandhi at the end of the film than you did before. I think David's film would have been a little different. Butthat
as far as I'm concerned is all I knowaboutthe film business. The only other thing I know about it is what I've told you justnow, a film was made where the legal costs were greater than the costs of thecast.
Linda Wood: Can I just ask about Romeo And Juliet because it's one of the most, I know the Olivier films were popular, but Romeo And Juliet was popular with young cinema goers, it reach an audiencewhich
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: For the simple reason, the story of Romeo And Juliet was that I knew Franco Zeffirelli, I'd met him 2 or 3 times and he brought the project to me after Columbia had turned it down. I took it to Paramount andthe head man at Paramount then was a very nice man but he was very socially minded and he turned it down. And I said to John, he won't do it but it seems to me a great mistake, see what you can do. And John went to see him. In the meantime he discovered who John's father in law was, and that made a big difference to him and so he accepted it. And John got the money for it and John handled the money end of the whole thing and I was there in Italy on the production, on the scripting stage, and then on all of it. But we both got producer credit. John didn't produce it, he found the money, but if he hadn't got Paramount to do it, we never would have madeit.
Linda Wood: Whose idea was it to have the two young people
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Franco Zeffirelli from theword go, there's no question, he had done the production with two very young people at the Old Vic. The whole reason he wanted to do it was because he said this is a story about two young Italian children and it never on the stage can it be played, except as a freak can it be played by two children. And if it is played on the stage by two children, it probably won't be very good, but in films it can be marvellous. And his whole approach to the script and everything was, this is exactly the world doesn't change that much, this group of children in Verona are exactly like the kids on the streets now, howling and yelling for the pop singers, spending moneynobodyknows how they got it, their families not knowing where they are because they're out at a pop concert and won't get back until 5 o'clock in the morning. I mean it'spartof teenage revolt. And this is what Romeo And Julietis.
And when Romeo And Juliet opened in America, because no film makes moneyexcept in America, as you know, you can't make very big money, when it opened in New York, the queues round the block were teenagers and they were going in and saying, you see how stupid parents, are you see how they do it to us. They were having at that moment rows with their families because they were staying out too late, because they were in love with a girl and they were afraid she was going to get pregnant, the girls' parents. The boy's parents thought he was spending too much money and not getting on withdoing what they should be doing, etc. It absolutely hit them where they lived. And all over America teenagers for the first time in their lives went to a Shakespeare film, with the result that the Shakespeare film worldwide grossed about $35 million, which is something like 10 times more than any Shakespearean film has ever remotely thought oftaking.
The kids liked it, it's the same as, it's like theBeatles, United Artists had the idea, their music man in New York had the idea of, the Paramount music man in New York had the idea, no it was UnitedArtists at that time, heard their music and said maybe we can make a little cheap film with them, and theytold their man in London to find out about them and said yes, apparently they'd be glad to make a film. Yes, if they can find the time in theirschedule.
Now the man who was the head of United Artists at thattime was the same man who was later the head of Paramount, had a great friend, an American friend, who had been with Columbia, cabled him, he was in Hollywood trying to arrange something, he wasbased here but he was trying to arrange something, he had made two good filmsand he said would you like to make a film with the Beatles. They came back and cobbledup a story such as it was, made the film for peanuts and proceededto gross $50 million with it, made a fortune.
Linda Wood: And still makingit
Sir AnthonyHavelock-Allan:Well I don't know whether it does, because this same manis a great friend of mine, who produced the film, found by one of those wonderful flukes that very rarely happens in the film business, that the contract was so drawn that after a given length of time the pictures didn't belong to United Artists any more but belonged to his personal company. And when he got this news I was in California and I thought hewas going to getat
least $20 or $30 million, strangely enough it's made some more money but he hasn't made so much money that I thought he was going to be nearly as rich as Spielberg. They've been taken up on television, they've been on in certain cinemas but no great release. He'smade a lot of money and they're very good, but I thought they'd make maybe twiceas much as they made when they first came out. But thatdidn't happen.
Linda Wood: I would have thought they'd have sold verywell on video.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Perhaps exhibitorsperhaps didn'tthinkthat..Therewasnogeneralrelease.AndI think the videos were out bythen.
As a matter offact,now I think of it out of thevideos, one of the biggest video men in Chicago put up the money for a film he made. So I suspect some of that was from the videos. He was an extremely niceman.
And that is literally the endof the entertainment as far as I'm concerned. I can't think of anything else I can tell you about. That is me up to theend.
Linda Wood: There are a number of set questions which everybody is asked towards the end of the interview.The first is do you have a favourite filmdirector.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I suppose my favourite, Ithink that David Lean is unquestionably for the big epic by far the best director I know of alive. In that genre of epic story, noone has equalled Lawrence of Arabia or Doctor Zhivago.
Linda Wood: Marvellous,oreven Brief Encounter
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: There are other directors, particularly Frenchmen who have made films of the same kind, and I think in some cases perhaps even moretouching.
Linda Wood: I think it's people you've actually worked with Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Then certainlyDavid
Linda Wood: What has been the most difficult projectyou've ever worked on
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: That's a very difficult think. I suppose I would have to say Ryan's Daughter because it was the longest and the biggest and we were making a picture entirely on location with a tremendous amount of the action played out of doors in an English summer, and as it happens an English winter and an English spring, you know as well.So there is no way if you make a picture that's practically all of which, as the people who made Revolution found out, if you make a picture that requires a great deal of light and sunshine and it's a picture that is going to run just under 3 hours, maybe a bit more before it's cut, it cannot beanything.
We had a storm in the picture that had to be a realstorm, nothing, no studio storm about it. The actual storm we had that you see in the picture is cut together 5 storms, the first of whichtook place in February 1969, the last of which tookplace in March 1970. The very last shots in the film were taken in March and a bit of storm was added one year later, the second February. And one or two sky shots were taken in March
Linda Wood: Did somebody have to phone the local metoffice every day
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: No, no, no,it was a lot more complicated. We had every single evening theweather reports from New York, from London, from satellite, from Valencia Island and from sea, every night. We had every one and none of them could ever be more precise than saying there will be we think, should be sunny in the morning and rain later. Or rain but should clear early in the morning. So we would have to decide on this,on this very flimsy evidence what we would do. But of course when you're a big unit on location and many of the locations were 15, 12, 20 miles away, maybeeven 30 miles away from where we were staying. So we wouldset out at 7 o'clock in the morning, a cavalcade looking like Barnum and Bayley's Circus on the move. And not infrequently they would be right, there would be sunshine, but by the time we were set up and got the shot, it was looking a little cloudy. By the time we gotto
12 o'clock, it had clouded over and there was no morebright sunshine. Or conversely we would set out ready todorain shots because the script was written to give as muchvariation but once you start a sequencein sun you have tofinish it in sun, once you start a sequence in rainyou
have to finish it in rain. You can't suddenly in themiddle of the sequence have the sun come out, you have to cut to cut. This is a frightfully difficult problem. This is why we were left in October with no hope of there being any usable sunlight with 20 minutes worth of beach scenes left to be done. So we had to find somewhere to do them. And we ended up in South Africa. That I think must be the most difficult, involving the largest amountof money and the largest amount of peopletoo.
Linda Wood: You must have felt you were on a reunion,you have Trevor Howard and JohnMills
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: An awful lot of them are dead. I think John Mills is obviously a survivor but a greatmany of the people I've worked with aren't here anymore.
David Robson: Which film has given you the most pleasurein producing.
Linda Wood: That again is a hard question, I think Brief Encounter because we enjoyed it very much. I very much enjoyed Never Take No For An Answer, because by that time I knew Italy fairlywell. I spoke a little Italian and I loved Assisi and we spent 3 months in Assisi and then we were in Rome and I knew the little boy was wonderful, whether we got it right or not, but I knew he was beguiling us altogether and a wonderful natural actor. So I think I enjoyed that very much. I would think those would be the two. Also it was very nice, it opened in that cinema which doesn't exist any more in Coventry St., I remember sitting in the theatre, we had a lot of difficulties, and we had difficulties with the Italian partners and squabbles, we had an English director and a French director, so it wasn't a very happy atmosphere from that point of view, but the places we made the film in were very nice and happy and I had a very nice sort of right hand man, an Italian, I liked very much who had been with me on Shadow Of The Eagle too. So all in all I liked that very much, but then sitting in the theatre I suddenly realised for thefirst time, much more sharply than any other picture, how much the audience was liking it. And how they were ignoring some of the mild technicalcruditieswhich we were stuck with. And they were really loving it and really moved. And Isuddenly thought how nice, it had come off, it is alright despite all our problems and all our difficulties and not frightfullygood sound in certain places, and one thingand
another, they are interested, they are loving it, it'scome off.
Linda Wood: Did you have a favouritestudio
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I suppose onthe whole I would have to say Pinewood because I lived there, it was my home as wellfor two years. And also I met my first wife there. So yes, I think Pinewood be my favourite.
Linda Wood: Just one final question, if you could have your time again would you change course atall
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I think the only thing if Ihad to have it again, I would be very reluctant to have it again I must say, but that has nothing to do with the question you're asking, I think the only thing that I would do, I would be less slothful than I have been in the years from 1952 until today. I would have tried harder to work, I would have given up some of the things, I liked Italy very much, in the end I got to like it enormously and we lived in great comfort, during the first years of the 70s I had a great frightfully romantic castle outside Rome which was very nice, which I enjoyed very much as a sort of weekend house. So all those things, and it is a lovely climate, it is the kind of climate where you rather give up. I always said to myself there isno reason why I shouldn't make films in Italy. But I never did, I never got an Italian, never tried to finance, find the finance for it, I was too happy enjoying myself. That is the only difference I would make. I would be less slothful than I was. The happiest long period I had in films was making the quota quickies. Those two years were the most satisfying and the happiest because I learned I could do it. I was of some use in a business that I loved, that suited me down to theground.
Linda Wood: I think you've produced some marvellousfilms.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: I've been very lucky, I've worked with some marvellous people, that's the essence to being a producer. Today you have to find themoney.
Linda Wood: During the 50s money was very tight, soit wasn't surprising that you weren't able todo
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: Well, that is partly so, butit is also I don't understand the business of, I think I have one great difficulty, Inever could solicit money fora
film without saying the one thing that would mean I wouldn't get the money. You must face the fact that the film business is a total gamble. Nobody knows until the film hits an audience the extent of its success or failure. It is simply your guesswork, it is simply, it is really what Noel Coward said to us at the very beginning, he said I write what will please and entertain me, you see. If I'm wrong I will have failures, and eventually if I have enough I'll go out of the business. But it is no good trying to make what you think an audience would like because you've seen something they did like and you're going to make something like it. It is no good doing that. You have to do what you yourself would like to see in the cinema, would be pleased to see and would welcome and would be enthusiastic about. And if you're right, often enough you have less difficulty than most people do in raising money. But if you're wrong you'll have great difficulty in raising money. And I think that I never tried hardenough.
Also I think I hadaslight handicap, I don't think that the Americans think that an Englishman with a voice like mine can know anything about their market. It is a curious fact, as far as I know in all the years I've been in and observed the film industry, the Americans in the days when they had producers, not when producers went to them and said I've got some money, will you give me some more, they never had an Englishman under contract as a producer except one, Tolly de Grunwald. And Tolly de Grunwald took with him, and they knew he took with him, the playwright, Terrence Rattigan. And that's one of the reasons they took him. And he was with Metro but he never made a picture in Hollywood. He only made pictures over here for them. He is the only person, English person.They will take English directors, they didn't for years unless they went to Hollywoodand had been there from the beginning like Saville and Hitchcock and people like that who were taken there for a special reason, until Carol Reed made his pictures after the war and David made his pictures, the Americans wouldn't ever take an English director. Eddy Goulding was an Englishman, he was an Englishman who lived in Hollywood all hislife. That was alright, he was one of them. But that somebody from England, and I think producers I simply think they thought there was no way that they could know. I was never able to get money from American companies with any ease at all. Paramount turned me down forRomeoAndJuliet,wegotitforquitedifferent
reasons. So it has been more difficult for me to get· money.
Linda Wood: Also your films have tended to bequality films.
Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan: That's another thing. I never could make a film that didn't have something, some sort of a something to say. And what I wanted to do all the time was to make films, my idea would have done would have been only made films that in some way did something to enlarge the minds or inform the minds of the people who sawit.
When I first started in the films, and in the 20s beforeI was in them I hoped that films could, when they founda
v_oicecoulddoforhumanthinkingwhatbookshaddone.And on that score they haven't done very well. But they have certainly made some films that have made some difference. But I thought we might have a much better informed, much better educated, much better understanding public because of films, it hasn't quite worked out thatway.
Linda Wood: Perhaps things may change
Sir Anthony Havelock- llan: I think there are signs. What could be more wonderful than Driving Miss Daisy. It gets the Oscar. It couldn't have happened unless there wassome feeling.
My Left Foot got the best film and the best actress and they're both admirable films and they're both about two aspects of the human condition, they have something to say about people and about race and about handicap. Wonderful films for that reason, so I think there is a sign that it;s happening. That Driving Miss Daisy won over Born On the Fourth of July is to me little short of a miracle because on paper Born On 4 thJuly was absolutely everything that America would want to hear. A very well made film too.Fine
Linda Wood: Thank you verymuch.