Bob Narduzzo

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Interview Date(s): 
18 May 1998
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Bob Narduzzo (BN) 

BECTU No.434

Projectionist, Laboratory Technician (Shell, ARTV, Humphries)

Interviewer: Rodney Geisler (RG)

Date 18/5/98

1 Tape

Side 1

00:00:00 – 00:06:10 Early life; born November 3rd, 1926 in London; father was Italian and mother came from Bath; father worked as a booking clerk on the London underground; BD first job at 14 in a factory in Kingsbury; his heart was in films; as a child he used to play 9.5mm films borrowed from a local film library; his interest started when he was twelve; the local cinemas were the ABC, Gaumont and Odeon and BN would see every programme each week; he recalls seeing Metropolis on 9.5mm from the library at Burnt Oak (three 100ft reels of silent 9.5mm); BD moved to Powell Equipment for 6 week; he then went to the Odeon, Collindale where they had a vacancy for a projectionist; BN was only 14 at the time but the war was on so he was hired (started March 1941) worked in cinemas for 8 years (moving to Lido, Golders Green); he put his name on the books to be transferred to the production side; he then moved to Denham.

00:06:10 – 00:13:47 As a projectionist, programmes would run Monday to Saturday and then an old film would play on Sunday; the Sunday prints were in a terrible condition which BN had to repair; many frames would be missing; expletives would be scratched into the frame from other projectionists; programmes were made up of second features, main features, newsreels, trailers and advertising slides (they had an egg timer in the booth which measured 15 seconds for each slide); they used to have a stage show on a Wednesday night which was very popular; BN would operate the spot light at these shows; BN talks about his experiences at these shows; bands, comics, singers from the local community would perform. 

00:13:47 – 00:22:15 All film were on nitrate stock at this point and there were a number of strict regulations; 2000ft on one projector 2000ft on another, 20,000ft in the projection suite only; 20,000ft somewhere else in the building; BN was not allowed to leave the booth while the projector was running; Middlesex County Council made surprise visits; BD describes an incident at Golders Green in the projection booth when a projectionist was caught out by the inspector; some projectors were designed to shut down if a film snapped; BTHKB machines at Burnt Oak; the newsreels had to be shared between cinemas during the war due to the film shortage.

00:22:15 – 00:32:35 In 1948 BN moved to Denham at the time when they were finishing Hamlet which took three months to dub; BN discusses his work in the dubbing suite; the film was lit for colour and shot in black and white (everything was in focus); a lot of Two Cities films came through Denham; they did a lot of music recording for other studios; Scott of the Antarctic was recorded there; BN worked there until Denham closed – the last full picture was Treasure Island (dubbed on Christmas Eve 1951); the last scenes shot were for Hornblower; BN then moved to Warner Brothers at Teddington; African Queen was made at Teddington; BN then moved to Shell Film Unit for three weeks; BN never worked freelance.

00:32:35 – 00:46:40 BN then moved to Ealing Studios; the only place where the whole department shook hands in the morning and at night – a solid team; viewing rushes in the morning was a ritual; BN discusses some of the crew he worked with; Cruel Sea, Mandy, Titfield Thunderbolt made at Ealing when BN was there; BN discusses back-projection techniques; BN contributed to sound effects for The Cruel Sea; worked on The October Man at Denham; BN stayed at Ealing for two years; the Shell Film Unit offered him a permanent job in 1953; left Shell in June 1955 to join Associated Rediffusion; commercial television was seen as the ticket to success; when Rediffusion first went on the air they had two flying-spot machines at Wembley and one at Television House; BN explains the flying spot process.

Tape 2

00:00:00 – 00:13:45 His job at Rediffusion remained working in telecine; recording from the monitor looked very poor, particularly on 16mm film; BN was also involved in filmed inserts for programmes; BN talks about meal allowances at Rediffusion; BN left Rediffusion after a year and went back to Shell for a short period before moving on to AEI, running the film library and the becoming Film Officer – moving from projection and ‘behind the desk’; AEI wanted to become an ‘electrical Shell’ with no commercial interest; they had twenty titles in the library which were very well used; originated on 35mm with prints in the library on 16mm; BN talks about some of his colleagues.

00:13:45 – 00:23:00 AEI were taken over by General Electrical Company in 1967; Grosvenor Place premises were closed; BN was made redundant and offered a job cataloguing film equipment at British Rail but went to BISFA as a press and conference officer; BISFA started out as BIFA (Scientific Film Association later merged); the highlight of the BISFA year was the film festival which started in London but then moved to Brighton for a number of years; worked for BISFA for 2 years.

00:23:00 – 00:29:50 He joined Charles Barker to look after distribution of their industrial films; didn’t enjoy this time as it highlighted the immoral workings of an advertising agency (high mark-ups for client); BN had a complicated relationship with his co-workers; Humphries offered him a job as Technical Sales Manager for documentaries; this meant going out and finding the work; Humphries started out in 35mm but the future was in 16mm; BN was offered a job at Universal but turned it down; he was given the job at Humphries to bring the Shell account back (they had held the account in the past); he then left after a big mistake was made on one of the Shell film.

00:29:50 – 00:36:00 BD moved to Universal following that original offer of a job; a 16mm only lab; Universal kept to their promises; BN worked at Universal when video came in; video duplication became part of the business; Unitab system used two telecine machines recording A&B rolls which were then brought together on 1-inch tape; BN worked for Universal for 16 years; the business was taken over and retired BN two years early.

00:36:00 – 00:45:40 BD talks about some of the problems he had as a projectionists and fondness for his early career; procedures in cinemas during the Blitz; smoking in cinemas; sleeping in the projection box during fire-watching.