Jim Clark (Session 1)

Forename/s: 
James Arthur
Family name: 
Clark
Work area/craft/role: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
342
Interview Date(s): 
25 Jan 1995
6 Feb 1995
6 Mar 1995
Interviewer/s: 
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
440

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Speechmatics Transcript.

Jim Clark Side 1

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SPEAKER: M1
Right. This is about James Clark a distinguished film editor preferred to be called Jim actually rather than to say that from now on I'll call you Jim. For the record James. Yes yes. Anyway Jim yes we always begin at the beginning with you if you could tell us informally Where when were you born. A little let me about your family your father.
SPEAKER: M9
Yes. My father was very influential on my final decision to go into films. I was born in thirty one in a small town in Lincolnshire called Boston Boston Lincolnshire which of course gave the name to the rather larger town in America. My grandfather had started the company business in Boston which was a printing concern. My father was an only child had been drafted therefore into the family business which he never liked. He was never really a happy as a business man and always really behind it or wanted to be a photographer and therefore his hobby of photography was the most important thing in his life was actually more important to him than his work and because he was always with cameras and always in his darkroom and always concerned with film that rubbed off onto me I was the youngest of three children the youngest by quite a long way and he had also branched out into home movies and he'd he'd bought a nine point five millimeter camera and I think finally I'd bought a sixteen mil c amera and when I was growing up and I was very small I actually became very interested at a very early age and in the films that that he made. They were only family films or local events and stuff like that. But he was quite good at it.
SPEAKER: M1
Sorry to interrupt. They still exist.
SPEAKER: M9
They all exist. Yes. My sister has all of them. I think the nine point five have probably gone but all the 16 million exist. And he also had.
SPEAKER: M17
Bought a number of 16 mil films with excuse mom. He'd bought a number of 16 mil films which I used to look at used to project for me regularly and those included some early silent Chaplin's some very early Shirley Temple.
SPEAKER: M2
I think they were our gang movies Mickey Mouse and stuff like that which rules silent of course. And I was always fascinated by these things from very early age going way back to sort of three or four years old. And he realized I was interested in all this stuff because I was always asking for it and when I was 10 he gave me as a Christmas gift parfait ace nine point five millimeter.
SPEAKER: M11
Projector which was the turning point of my life really because I was constantly using it. Not only did he give me the projector but he also gave me a set of films with it notably Hitchcock's blackmail.
SPEAKER: M15
He gave me that side the silent version obviously which I would whine through over and over again.
SPEAKER: M10
Well I knew every frame of Hitchcock's blackmail.
SPEAKER: M2
In addition of course he gave me many other things but that was the most important for the formative mind because it was at that point I realized much later that I was not only interested in in the film itself but I became interested in and why the film was what it was how it worked. I became interested in why one shot would move to another shot how an angle would change and why it would change and so on the grammar the grammar of film I suddenly woke up very early age to realize that it was all a form of manufactured imagery and that it was it was a storytelling process which I then applied to my own mind and said to my self I'm sure not necessarily consciously that when I grew up I wanted to do the same thing.
SPEAKER: M18
And from then on he of course was a remarkably generous man. Not only had he given me all this but he allowed me to use the Wallace heat Heaton film library and in Bond Street in order to rent more films. I started a little film club around about the age of twelve in the nursery in the converted nursery in the nursery had now been converted into a cinema. By the way with a booth where sorry in my home today still no no no no I did not. It was not a very big room but that since I had grown out of the nursery stage we converted the nursery into what became known as the plaza the plaza was operating once a week in aid of the Red Cross. Penny a week fund and I used to circulate the program by printing a fly leaf on my Adana printing set which of course I'd also spend a lot of time a hunter hand setting all this stuff and I used to whip around the neighborhood on my bike and give the children the fly leaf so they would turn up and see these movies for which they contributed sixpence. I th ink so. We were operating this little cinema. It was me and a friend we had we had curtains surrounded by it by Christmas lights on a dimmer. We had music supplied with the whole thing was very professional and we had these movies from all this heat and the greatest thrill of the week for me was cycling to the station to pick up the browned fiber box of film which had just been deposited at the bus stop at the luggage department whatever they call it the parcels department the brown fibre boxes were of paramount importance to me. They became the sort of totem of my existence.
SPEAKER: M2
So anyway that was the early life. And from then everything to do with film became a form of fascination and it wasn't just going to the movies and I've admitted to tell you that one of the most important things in the formative years was the fact that my grandfather a big fish in a small pond actually owned shares and two of the three theatres that we had in the town at the time. And when I was ten years old gave me a pass to these theaters where I could take myself and a friend for nothing. I became very popular at that point.
SPEAKER: M18
Here it is these these were cinemas sorry they were cinemas and one had been a legit theatre in the past but the other was. It was a special cinema so I became very much the film fan and the other important thing was when I think back to it the manager of the of the Regal Cinema in Boston was a man called Mr Howard and Mr and subscribed to the monthly film but not the monthly film but in the daily film rental and the Kinney weekly which used to pile up in his office unread and his his sister was the lady at the box office who was always knitting.
SPEAKER: M20
She sat in this booth pretty much all day knitting and never opening the copies of these trade papers and I spied them one day and I wondered what they were. I could see they were to do with film and she said well if you want them take them. Nobody ever read them so I was picking up piles of these trade papers and taking them home and poring over them because the great thing about them was the advertisements the advertisements for forthcoming movies were but glamour personified. These were these were things which of course we never saw these films until like six months later or even a year later because we lived in the sticks and in those days you didn't get a movie for a long long long long time unless by some extraordinary chance you're of the cinema whose name was drawn out of a hat and you got a new release which very very rarely occurred but did on occasion and a little later if we wanted to see the more recent movies in the summertime we used to go to Skegness because Skegness in the season would have the latest releases.
SPEAKER: M11
That was the nearest centre really that sort of thing anyway. So grandfather's stock holding in two theatres was of paramount importance to me because I could get into all these movies for nothing. And in those days with double bills we had the three theatres in the tower one of which I had to pay to go to. We could see on an endless films of double bills running for three days each. That amounts to something like 12 features a week. You could see better than television.
SPEAKER: M2
So that was very important now. All that stopped. More or less when I went to boarding school although I went to boarding school at the age of eight so I did it already. I was already at school before any of this happened. That's 1939. I went in 1939 19. I think I went in 1940 early 1940 the war just started and the other important thing for me was that thank God the headmaster of my prep school I went to a prep school called Neville Holt which was near market harbour. An absolutely ideal spot totally isolated from the rest of the world on a hill. Surrounded by the most beautiful countryside etc. etc. It was an idyllic place to be a lot of people hated it because the headmaster was a despot and something of a bully and my brother who preceded me that absolutely loathed his time there and couldn't way to leave. I on the other hand fell in love with the place immediately and furthermore he was a movie fan.
SPEAKER: M3
Mr. Phillips The headmaster was a movie fan so much so that he had purchased an amp pro projector American made which sat in the Elizabethan ballroom which was a real Elizabethan ballroom of the most exquisite nature most beautiful room and on Sunday nights in the winter he would give us a movie show. It was the high spot of the week. It was a sound projector of course and he used to get these pictures from government British Jebus scope film library. Always preceded by a short which would be the secrets of life or the secrets of nature with a VHS limit on the narration and Merrifield I remember was involved in them I remember these names quite clearly and presumably the news as well.
SPEAKER: M5
No we never had the news we weren't allowed to read a newspaper. We weren't allowed. No. In no way. We had no radios in no way where we allowed to know what was happening in the world.
SPEAKER: M1
So you didn't see any of the traditional newsreels.
SPEAKER: M11
No we didn't see the British news. We would have either a Popeye's short or a Mickey Mouse short or the seekers of life nature. Then we'd have the feature is used it as far as I remember was a whale Hey or George Formby or obviously the delight of the headmaster was Jesse Matthews because we had all of her films up to date titles they were going back for a little bit a little bit because in those days the 16 mil films were slightly delayed release of nine point five.
SPEAKER: M2
What is they the nine point five from Wallace heat and where were exceedingly old they all came from the pathway library in France a lot and they were they were usually silent features editor readmitted reduced I imagine. Yes. And also I used to get quite a lot of of comedies.
SPEAKER: M7
Excuse me.
SPEAKER: M8
Yes I most of those films were were silent films that were cut down. There was one little anecdote connected with the plaza cinema which I should tell you it had to close. Finally it was forced to close by the parents because I had inadvertently borrowed from Wallace Heaton. Battleship Potemkin which I think I must have read about or had seen a still probably of something looking rock gory like a lady being shot in the eye I was probably what turned me onto that and unfortunately the classic step sequence gave several children nightmares showing the power of cinema yet again and I was forced to close the plaza cinema due to the fact that the children were no longer allowed to come because we it was a sort of certificate age so far as they were concerned.
SPEAKER: M13
That was your first experience of censorship. Absolutely.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes. Could you name some of they wanted to. Not many of the films you saw in the early days were they. Those you mentioned would accept of particular British outing. Yes.
SPEAKER: M2
It must have been American to the films that we rented ourselves. Do you mean or the films I saw even before that.
SPEAKER: M10
Well I remember well my first encounter with with going to the movie house with my parents was it was a Shirley Temple film but I forget exactly where this was it wasn't in Boston.
SPEAKER: M11
I think we were on holiday somewhere and they took me to the Shirley Temple movie thinking it would be highly suitable. But when we got in there it was it was something else that they had mistaken the program and it was something really violent going on with a great deal of swordplay which upset me dreadfully. I remember it affected me badly and I had to take me away from the theater screaming and yelling.
SPEAKER: M10
I was easily affected by five films when I was a child. I would dream about them a lot. I remember I was very susceptible to the more dramatic films.
SPEAKER: M8
I remember a terrible B picture I'm sure called the black doll which I have never seen since that was had to do with when. Whenever somebody was going to be bumped off a black doll would be sent to them sort of voodoo doll and I dreamt about that black Darwin. Dreadful nightmares for ages anyway. That's of no interest to anybody but the film does have a powerful effect on the young mind no doubt about it and of course as everyone else of my generation I was also affected by snow white which also had its macabre side.
SPEAKER: M2
As far as renting films are concerned I think largely on the nine point five front one did see an awful lot of early UFO films early Fritz Lang.
SPEAKER: M8
I remember the neighbor neighbor long saga Siegfried. I remember metropolis very clearly. Those were very powerful films and of course I was hand winding through them with my on my path ice and great thing about winding through with a hand as you can slow down and actually see these things stretch the time out so that that those films were powerful. The other things that affected me then were farces not Pollard. I remember it affected me greatly. I thought he was a scream rather more than than Chaplin who I never found actually that terribly funny.
SPEAKER: M10
I was always much more a fan of snob Pollard Caroline maybe.
SPEAKER: M2
Lloyd certainly yes. Ben Turpin Lara Seaman all of those I love them. KEATON Yeah. KEATON Yeah. Yes. So anyway I think we'd got up more or less to the point where I was at school so I was having that. Yes. I was having that weekly dose of movies which the headmaster kindly provided the biggest punishment one could have in that school was being denied the film. And that happened to me once and I remember how dreadful it was because the dormitories were not far away from the from the room where the projector was and I could you could you were sent to bed at four o'clock if you were denied the film and you had to lie in bed and listen to it and you could just vaguely hear the soundtrack.
SPEAKER: M13
Was there a something for you from this period such as you know Citizen Kane.
SPEAKER: M14
No not not like Citizen Kane which I certainly didn't see at that stage much later I saw that. I don't know that there was anything particularly seminal.
SPEAKER: M2
I think there were certain aspects of British cinema which got to me and which never left me really which were with the government British films the Gainsborough films. I remember there was always a thrill for me when when the Gainsborough lady got up and bowed and Louis leave his music had a powerful effect on me.
SPEAKER: M15
I was I must have been always very influenced by the scores of these films without perhaps realising it because since then whenever these films were revived thank God they are on Channel 4 usually in the middle of the night and I recalled them now I realise that the music had a powerful effect on me.
SPEAKER: M14
The musical numbers perhaps in the Jesse Matthews film that was there was clearly something working there. Also the Will Hey films the trio of comics again with the Louis leaving music somehow worked on me but I was I never considered myself as it were of an intellectual film Senay asked. There was never an intellectual cinema. I was always the think I'm more intrigued by the popular side of cinema.
SPEAKER: M6
Really what you're seeing at this stage shows rather than the mainstream almost all.
SPEAKER: M14
Certainly at school almost always British. I think the America the the headmaster perhaps wasn't too keen on exposing us to the dialogue in American movies which was considered racy.
SPEAKER: M1
The day I was gonna say I honestly don't remember even could probably couldn't get hold of copies.
SPEAKER: M14
Well we had the honor. DURBIN I remember she was considered okay. There were certain people that we had we had. Shirley Temple was denied us. He obviously didn't think much to her but he did like he did like Diana Durbin because I think the music was supposedly sort of semi classical. But anyway my main memory is of British films.
SPEAKER: M2
I remember 60 glorious years was considered to be the high spot of one year. Tom Walls was very big with us very big yes.
SPEAKER: M16
And we were always fascinated I was put up a little note on the bulletin board during the week to tell us what the film would be on Sunday.
SPEAKER: M15
And we were always fascinated by the number of reels because clearly from the from the program from the catalogue the secretary of the school would simply type up what it said on the catalogue and it would say Tom Welles turkey time Seven reels and we'd think that's not very long. That's not too long as it would be better if it was nine reels ratio.
SPEAKER: M19
Only that I don't think the headmaster considered him racy. I think he was kosher. He was all right.
SPEAKER: M2
I was given a very heavy diet of British movies at an early age and in a curious way I still love those pictures. There was one on I think it was last night called Cracker Jack with Tom Walls. I remember that one. I remember seeing that when I was about 12.
SPEAKER: F1
Anyway after that after um prep school I went off to public school which was Arnold's school.
SPEAKER: M3
Arnold's school had already got 35 millimeter projection and it had it for some years but it was a mock up facility done by the science teacher. So what we had were two very old 35 mil silent projectors which had been converted to sound by the science master who had done of sort of reasonable botch job and for some long time certainly for the last ten years they had used these machines which broke down regularly and they used to have movies where like two or three times a term a download pure escapism and those were American films and they were mainstream films and we would see Betty Grable musicals and a lot of them are very lightweight very few heavy dramas mostly musicals and comedies. And I was fortunate to be at the school when the war ended and all the masters had been at that the war returned and the headmaster was changed at that point the old guy had had been there far too long and was replaced by a younger man and one of the first things they did which was also important to me was that they scrapped these old projectors and put in a proper projection booth. With new equipment brand new equipment and into the school hall and I said to myself I was 16 at the time I said to myself Now we've got this machinery it would be ridiculous not to use it and use it more often and more wisely. So I wrote a manifesto which I directed towards the headmaster urging him to please allow us to open a film club a film society in the school where we could show foreign films and classic films in addition to the normal rota of entertainment pictures.
SPEAKER: M15
Now the other great stroke of my life at that point was that my my housemaster was Arthur Marshall now Arthur Marshall was not desperately well known to the public at that time because although he had been a writer of comedy and had appeared on radio he'd gone to the war and had returned to Arnold to teach again and was my housemaster now.
SPEAKER: M2
He was a man of enormous charisma and influence over me. And he was amazingly supportive of this idea of having additional films and he got behind it as well. So to cut a long story short I started a film society around old school which was enormously popular and only certain boys were allowed to join it. There was a kind of only boys of a certain age who had reached a certain level of education were allowed to join it so as a third exclusive little club and we had very good films and I used to do the programmes write all the material and do all the posters and stuff. This it sort of took over my life really at that point and when I left until finally I was 18 I didn't go to university because my father wanted me to go into the family business which had always been my my future. So when I was living in Boston Lincolnshire it was a pretty dull place to be to be honest for an 18 year old it was more interested in cinema than imprinting. So I started another film society in Boston. I th ought at least I can do that. Got that going and we started a 16 M.. My father kindly bought me a projector a really good debris projector very first rate solid machine and we used to run monthly in the church hall was very successful. We had about 300 regular members which in a small town wasn't bad. And again I did all the program notes and I still have all that material by the way which is nice too to have to look at from time I've got all the programs that we did and that was at that point that we actually started making films. It was the first time I've actually ever done anything creative myself. I thought well we've got a society we've got people we've got amateur actors we've got the friends we've got this that and the other. And my father again always coming to the rescue here was willing to buy me a camera so he bought me a burlesque 16 new burlesque age 16 and we set off and we made with friends we made a little film in which I actually although I was so I wasn't really t he director of this film I was the actor. I was seen as an escaped Borstal Boy running across the fence being chased by a lot of policemen on my way towards the North Sea where I conveniently drowned in the fade out. There was a director anybody who would know if he was a local teacher called Charles Whitaker who was not a film director at all. He was the local art master in one of the schools and he was a friend of mine and he'd never done anything before either. I can't know precisely whether he photographed it as well every little. There were five or six of us who made this over the course of two weekends and we call it absconded and we projected it of course at our film society right rapture. And we put music with it and so on and I don't believe we have a married it up. I think the music was off disc. Anyway we entered it for some amateur competition and we won. We got top billing Harry Watt there Harry Watt who subsequently mattered Ealing was the judge and gave us the top mar ks. Then we made a film because it was Festival of Britain 1951. We made a film called the Boston story. I think it was called it was pretty dreadful but it was a sound film and this involved all sorts of stuff I'd never dabbled in before. Not none. It wasn't sync sound it was all done afterwards but we had what we did was film newsreel style all the events that took place in the town over the course of the Festival of Britain which was like pageants and affair and this and the other and we had Charles Whittaker again my friend. This time was the actor played the part of a visiting American tourist who was seeing it. We were seeing it through his eyes so it's very corny but of course did remarkably well at the box office in Boston. Did you read it. Yes I did. I edited this on on a little I come in what they called those. They were little they were had a little screen here and rewind. Now I stuck it together and then I actually dubbed it in London using boozy in hot desks and some mu sic that I'd recorded on on my tape recorder.
SPEAKER: M19
Gosh I had an I had a German tape recorder. Was it a groundhog. Could it have been. I think it was. I think it was the very early groundhog reel to reel thing. 1951 it could be. Yeah I know it was a tape recorder and we dumped it at Brent Brent laboratories which I believe is existed until quite recently.
SPEAKER: M2
Anyway it wasn't exactly a great film I do have a copy of it it's pretty dreadful I have to say but it taught me something and gave me even more interest in actually going into movies as a profession. Now of course I was going to London quite frequently from Boston in those days I was a direct rail link.
SPEAKER: M20
So one used to get on train about seven thirty and be in London by about ten thirty and then I could spend the day at the movies and I used to come up at least once a month and go to the Academy of Studio One or wherever the more interesting films were and furthered my own education that way and also had got to know a few people in London because my father unwittingly had decided that because he wanted me in the printing business I should go to the London School of printing for a year. Now that was 1950. So I spent more or less the whole of 1950 in London. First of all he had me living in Bromley in Kent which was ghastly because it was meant getting on the last train and about eleven thirty to get back to my digs. I hated Bromley and after about six months I moved myself out of Bromley and came up to the Gloucester Road and I got in bed sitting room in Gloucester Road which is far more handy.
SPEAKER: M2
And at that point I got involved with the film institute. I'd got to know a lot of people connected with the institute because I was involved with the Federation of Film societies. I was their publicity officer at the age of 19. That was probably our first paid job was it.
SPEAKER: M15
I don't believe I was paid but Margaret Hancock was in charge of that organisation at that time and I knew Francis Howard who was also involved with the Film Institute and involved with the Federation. And we used to have regular meetings in various centres to discuss policy and so on. I'd only got involved because having started to film society as myself at a rather early age they obviously thought I had the pulse of the younger people. So I've got this job as the publicity person. And actually it was a very interesting sideline and I met an awful lot of people very early on people not connected with making films but people connected with showing them and critically so I got to know Penelope Houston Lindsay and and Gavin Lambert I met Richard winning and I met LA t I met many of those people really as a as a listener more than any Danish foreman and director of the FIA.
SPEAKER: M2
Yes time he was Danny's Foreman was there and I met him there. Ernest Lindgren was still there and the NFTE had just started it had just been converted from the old festival of Britain thing actually. I'm getting my dates slightly wrong here. Well I think it was 52 while I make about fifty and I'm talking about fifty I design slightly I've slightly askew with my dates.
SPEAKER: M15
Anyway I got involved with a lot of these people and found myself not going to the London School of printing which I was supposed to be doing but very often I was going to trade shows in the mornings and then I started writing reviews for the monthly film bulletin which I did for a short time. I was never very good at that and I think Penelope had given me a break or Gavin had given me a break decided I wasn't awfully good at that so I was sort of eased out but I did meet all those people then and got quite friendly with them. Walter Laszlo was another of that group that time. We used to eat at Jimmy's a lot. I'm sure you remember all those periods because that's your period too isn't it. That's sort of early.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes I go to Alexandra Palace in 1950.
SPEAKER: M2
You say so that's why I love it any time any time a year or so yes your reviews with the initials J.C. J.C. or interesting are dreadful dreadful pathetic they sort of attempting to be a C I'll adjourn and not not achieving it anyway then once that year was over I I finished with London and I was hauled back to Boston where I proceeded to work not happily but I had to. That was it. And one day I went up to London and my mother thought that I'd gone up to see a movie or to see some friends.
SPEAKER: M15
But in point of fact I'd gone up to get a job because Francis Howard whom I'd met at the Federation had taken a job as a company secretary with it with a film production company and grazing Road which was called industrial colour films to 16 mill house employing about six people. So he said look I think there might be a job for you as an apprentice or a gopher or whatever they call them in those days. So I went up to see him and I met the boss who was a man called Mallinson I think and the camera man was Arthur Lavers and to cut a long story short they gave me a job and it was a job cut. It was a job undefined but it was like do a bit of everything.
SPEAKER: M20
So I had the owner's task now going back to Boston and going home and saying to my parents I've taken a job and I'm leaving home now.
SPEAKER: M12
This went down very badly.
SPEAKER: M15
My mother and father were very distressed and very disturbed and thought I'd made a terrible mistake and couldn't believe that I could do this to them because although my brother was already in the business I was the one who they were looking upon to take over really from my father who was in his fifties at that point. Anyway it was a very big drama until I went down to see my grandfather who was really the boss.
SPEAKER: M2
He was in his 80s and I had to explain to my grandfather exactly what I felt and he normally I would have thought he'd be the one person who would say you're making a terrible mistake. Instead of which he said you're not making a terrible mistake you're doing exactly what your father should have done all those years ago and he was the most understanding of the family.
SPEAKER: M19
And once he had agreed to let me go my father suddenly said of course that's exactly what you should be doing. You should be doing what I should have been doing all these years. So when in fact they all rallied around me to such a degree that they even paid my rent which I couldn't afford to pay for a flat in Ealing where I ended up I ended up in a very nice flat in the House of the doctor who we had known in Boston.
SPEAKER: M20
A guy who had lived in Boston I knew his family very well and knew his daughter very well. They'd moved out of Boston. They'd gone to Ealing they'd bought a big house and converted it and I got one of their flats going that route was actually the thing which later on totally changed my life.
SPEAKER: M5
I didn't know it at the time. The job at industrial color films went on for a year and then the company went under. The company went bankrupt and there I was in London with no work.
SPEAKER: M2
Should we stop there for a moment. I'm getting a bit hopeful industrial color films was a small company that specialized as the name implied in making industrial films. And when I got there I don't know whether they were already in trouble or not. But though they were making a lot of films but they were pretty bad and they were fairly boring.
SPEAKER: M21
But it was very useful for me because it was the first time I'd had an opportunity of dipping into various areas of filmmaking and having some experience in actual production which I'd never really had a talk so in my amateur way so I found myself doing everything from projecting the rushes to going to the labs to pick up the rushes liaising with the labs to joining up stuff. They had a editor there I think and I did some joining. I used to go to the recording of the commentaries but best of all I became an assistant Arthur Lavers who was the cameraman and he and I would go off together to cover these various things which were required of us. And I remember one year well that year it was 51 I believe if I've got my dates right.
SPEAKER: M2
We were covering the Farnborough Air Show for Sperry gyroscopes for which they were making a film and we had gone to the big press days at Farnborough weather along with all the other camera people and had had some problem I forget what I think we had a stock problem with our Kodachrome which had produced some some blistering or something. Anyway the results were not good enough. And because of that we'd gone back on a public day. I think it was a Saturday we'd gone back on a public data to get more material and because it was no longer press day we were the only professional camera team at Farnborough on that particular afternoon which was the afternoon when one of the planes exploded.
SPEAKER: M22
It was a De Havilland fighter and it exploded in midair. Arthur and I had two cameras running. I was on one he was on the other.
SPEAKER: M23
And he happened to have this. He had had this fighter in his sights and his viewfinder when it exploded although he didn't get the moment of the actual explosion that he turned on immediately of course and said Get over here get onto the onto the thing so I swung my camera around and he said you follow the engines which is shot out of the plane the engines had actually come loose from the plane and were headed straight for us.
SPEAKER: M2
So I was filming.
SPEAKER: M23
He was filming the fuselage which was coming down very very slowly but the unfortunate pilot in it and I was on these engines which were coming like that's out of hell straight for me and they was just across my head and of course one doesn't feel anything at the time but they've plowed into the crowd behind us and killed 50 people. Which was what we then had to film. And that was the most dreadful afternoon. It was a ghastly experience.
SPEAKER: M24
We were we both went off and got terribly drunk afterwards because it was so unexpected and so horrible.
SPEAKER: M23
The next horrible thing that happened was that we turned in our rushes which should all come out and they were all fine and our beastly boss Mr. Mallinson. I think his name was then proceeded to sell the entire batch of rushes to the game of British news who made an entire issue out of it and we never got a penny not one cent. They gave it to them. He gave it to them. He gave them all this material. Well of course he got paid. He got plenty of money anyway. That was that was a pretty traumatic experience. But it was something which I never forgot and again I was on the cameras. I was learning a lot about all sorts of things rather quickly. Then this whole thing folded the company went down. I'm sure the guy was a crook but I was never absolutely sure of that.
SPEAKER: M6
Maybe give a word about Arthur at that stage in his career was real to me but he must have been I suppose I don't know what his age was at that time I should think he was probably in his late 20s early 30s.
SPEAKER: M19
Perhaps he and I got on extremely well. He was a bit of a rough diamond in those days but we made quite a good team. He had very little help. He was a one man band really was doing the lighting and the operating and everything but he was a very sound technician. He knew exactly what he was doing and if they were very lucky to have him it was an easy shot. No no no it was a roundhouse. Otherwise I wouldn't have been there because I wasn't in the ACTU. If that's how you know.
SPEAKER: M2
No I couldn't get a ticket all through them. That was now my big problem because out now I was out of work had no union card and no prospects. I knew nobody at all. Not a soul so I didn't know what to do and I was thinking I'm gonna have to creep back to Boston again when the biggest stroke of luck happened because my landlord Dr. Booth was the medical officer of health for Ealing.
SPEAKER: M18
So I said to Dr. Booth one day I don't really know what I'm gonna do my my career has died before it's begun and it's terribly difficult to get into the film industry. Sergeant.

End of Side 1

Jim Clark Side 2 

=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M2
Well. Well I'll stop.
SPEAKER: M1
So the big stroke luck of luck that I had was that my landlord was the medical officer of health for Ealing. And I said to me I don't know what I'm going to do. And he said Look you said one of my doctors visits the studio regularly. And furthermore if they have a problem or if there's an accident they always call him in. He said so I tell you what I'll do. I'll ask him next time he's at the studio to mention your name to the personnel manager. Well I thought I'd never hear any more about that. However he did this. This kind doctor mentioned me and I was called to the studio to be interviewed by Diana Monterey Bay Henry at that time was the personnel manager.
SPEAKER: M6
I think that was his role.
SPEAKER: M1
So I went to see him and told him exactly what I'd done and what I'd like to do. Cetera et cetera gave him all sorts of information about my life. And I thought Well that was the end of that because I thought Ealing must have hundreds of young hopefuls going into his office and giving their Seabees and their resume shows and so on and I never expected to hear another word but I had said to bay that I was specifically wanted to go into the cutting rooms. I said I wasn't really interested in anything else. I wasn't didn't feel suited to any other particular area but that was the area that I had always wanted to be involved with. So I said if there was the possibility of any kind of work in the cutting room I would jump at it.
SPEAKER: M6
But he said they don't have anything at the moment. The studio is full. They were full of staff. There's nothing. But he said I'll take your name. And so I went back and I said well that said I've done it but I don't expect to hear anything when of course. Lady Luck happened along and within a month I had a call from him saying can you start on Monday. I wasn't in the union. He was aware of that I said Of course I can. And that side started dealing on a certain Monday morning in the in the Sound Editing Department on the Ted Field Thunderbolt which Charlie cried and was directing and I was working with Mary have a field who was the sound editor on that particular film. Basically as a rewind boy. But I was in there. I was I was actually employed three pounds a week. Now the physical distance from my flat to Ealing Studios was about a third of a mile. So I cycle there every morning and you had to clock in at Ealing ailing was at eight thirty o'clock in and you weren't allowed to be lat e if you were late three times you were fired. So we always made a point of being early and we were dominated by the famous dominatrix of the cutting room Mrs Brown.
SPEAKER: M2
I'm sure you've heard of many times and she ran a very tight ship indeed. Mrs Brown and terrified us all even the editors. I mean nobody was safe from Mrs Brown's wrath. She was she was the dominatrix personified. She would sail down the corridor like a dreadnought huge bosoms massive woman she was always seem to be massive. I'm sure she wasn't as big as I remember. She dominated everybody and she was the lackey of course of Sir Michael. And Sir Michael's rushes was the high spot of her day and we all had to be absolutely on the ball for some Michael's rushes to Michael's matches.
SPEAKER: M4
Sir Michael's rushes had to be absolutely ready on time with no problems. So we were terrified of anything going wrong and we were always rushing to the joining machines. There were only two on the on our on our floor there were two bell on how foot joiners us and we had to splice the rushes very quickly on these things. Always terrified that they were going to fly apart in the projectors.
SPEAKER: M1
Anyway I started dealing with Mary who was a very good sound editor she'd already done tremendously well with the man in the white suit and all its funny bubbling noises and to feel Thunderball was a very pleasant film to work on so I had a very easy start also because I was employed I was now eligible for union membership which of course at that time was essential and it was terribly difficult to get in and all my friends like Lindsay Anderson and Carol rice people far and away more able than me were unable to get into the unions at that time. They were surging around in documentaries where they didn't have to be union members and working through for the Film Institute and stuff like that. Not not question. Did you see the rushes separately from the director. Or did you see it in my recollection and it could be wrong. He would see them with the producers the associate producers. I don't believe he saw them with directors because the directors were working he had he had rushes at twe lve o'clock sharp every day so I'm pretty sure it was the producers who sat in with him and of course Mrs Brown and the editors I wrecked.
SPEAKER: M4
I recollect that they were in the room. I think they were in the room but I'm not sure. Now there was a strict embargo on assistance watching other people's rushes. That was a studio rule which I happen to transgress at one time and got severely hauled over the coals for the discipline at Ealing was exactly that of a public school.
SPEAKER: M1
So one was I since I'd been to a public school I knew exactly how to behave I knew how to play the game because it was a game and there were many things about Ealing which of course in hindsight one looks back on as a sort of cosy family a family shop which Balkan always liked to pretend it was. But in point of fact it was a fairly bitchy place full of arcane rules and traditions and despotism. Absolutely. And if you transgress the rules you were ostracized. It was it if you played the game right you could survive at eating very well but if you transgress the rules or you tried to be an individualist you were severely sat on it.
SPEAKER: M9
The director said he wasn't there. He screams he'd already seen them presumably.
SPEAKER: M1
No I don't see that as I wouldn't be there when they were first seen as I recall. As I recall unit rushes were either at lunchtime or after work but it's a long time ago and I'm a bit hazy on that but certainly the directors were not sitting in with Mick and his comments or asked to the associate yes. You see they didn't have producers are dealing as such. He was the producer. But but he had associate producers and directors. They weren't. They were all as you know dealing. They were all in-house boys who had been promoted. He was very good at that. A lot of the directors had been editors. Charlie friend Michael Truman Seth Holt probably others that I've forgotten. We're all film editors at one point and a lot of the producers too the associate producers had also come from the room. He was very good at promoting from the cutting room something which doesn't happen nearly as much now as it used to. But I think in those days almost all those people like lean cry and friend Truman. Harr y what I was going to say Sid Cole said Co. Oh I think almost all of them and had cutting room experiences. No no he hadn't. He was one of the exceptions of Norman. He he loves Norman had been an editor that all nearly all of them. So when I got there the editors were Peter Tanner who was cutting the Cruel Sea which was their biggest film which I subsequently worked on as an assistant.
SPEAKER: M12
We had Bernie Gribble Bernard Gribble was cutting. He was the youngest feature editor in the world. He was cutting features at 21 because he'd been Michael Truman's assistant I think. And Michael had been jumped up so in the natural order of things Bernie Gribble had gone up gone up as well. I worked with. I worked with a lot of people there and it's always interesting to me to realize that my contemporaries the other assistance at Ealing at that time all went on themselves to be fine film editors. I think that but very very few assistants that didn't actually rise. My contemporaries there were John James and John Victor Smith to name but two.
SPEAKER: M3
And there were many others they were hired first I believe.
SPEAKER: M1
So I don't know exactly how they got there because as you know nepotism was rife in the business. Again it always has been and always will be.
SPEAKER: M2
So some of them may have come in through other channels. I don't really know. I've never even asked them as a matter of fact. I suspect John Jim's probably gone in through his father James and Harmon has was the critic. So it was probably a friend of mix and James probably said you know give my boy a break. That's possible. But John Jameson proved to be a very fine editor.
SPEAKER: M1
Another film editor we had there who was a great influence on me later was Jack Harris. Now Jack was not a regular Ealing ite. He wasn't on the under contract to Ealing. He was freelance. And normally they didn't employ freelance people because it was obviously cheaper for them to have them under contract. We were all under 52 week year so-called contracts. We were all fully employed but we were paid very little. And it was considered to be absolutely fatal to resign that you did not leave. You were considered to be an outcast if you left your career would end he would end. There was actually at Ealing there was no film industry outside of Ealing. They didn't acknowledge anything else. They despised everything else they had they dumped on everything. Everything that was made at Pinewood and as being very inferior despite all this it worked and it worked extremely well it worked extremely well. They made that they're bad films along with the good but the good of course at that stage w ere very good. They were extremely well crafted films. They had a very good team of people and they did work that undeniably it wasn't always as I said it wasn't always as cosy or as rosy as historians have made out. And it's very rare to read people knocking Ealing and I'm not particularly knocking it I'm simply saying that it was hierarchical and if you didn't fit in you were an outcast.
SPEAKER: M4
You really saw the heyday of it and you saw the end of the heydays the way I see it I guess I'd got there just after that it seemed to feel Thunderbolt they were beginning to wind down the best one I worked on was the lady killer Nicholas that was the best one and I think actually one of the best of all of the Alec Guinness pictures and working with McKendrick was fascinating. He was a man who never knew what he wanted. We could never make up his mind. It was absolutely charming and in the process an absolutely wonderful slightly stuttering man who was whose whose mind was always racing but he was he was very bad at decision. He was never sure where to put anything whether put the camera. Never quite sure where to make the cut. Never quite sure of this never quite sure of that.
SPEAKER: M9
He was always he was always a little bit on edge cases surprisingly and Pandit themselves so good.
SPEAKER: M1
Well he was very well controlled you know there were many stories anecdotal stories about whisky galore how he was nearly removed from it more than once during the shooting and how people were always being flown up to Barrow or wherever they were shooting to help him out. I mean I believe several people went up I suppose to.
SPEAKER: M5
Save that film I think. Yes yes. But I think a lot of people pitched in to save Sandy and make sure he wasn't fired because they all loved them.
SPEAKER: M1
He was a great guy was a wonderful man but he had no ability to decide and made his decisions. Well I think I think it was a sort of slight committee job that is hard for me to remember precisely as on the lady killers.
SPEAKER: M12
Seth Holt was the associate producer and Seth of course had been a very fine editor and Jack Harris was cutting it and I was the second assistant on that so I was way down the line but I don't remember on that film that he was particularly indecisive in the cutting rooms.
SPEAKER: M4
But I do remember on that they had problems on the floor with him.
SPEAKER: M1
I'm not sure where to put the camera or how to cover something. But on that film the make had a sort of rule about comedy that they shouldn't run over ninety five minutes I think. I think 95 was the absolute limit. Hour our director's cut of lady killers I think came out at about 100 minutes and this was not allowed. It was it was a very fine version of the film the 100 minute version was absolutely wonderful. And Mick forced him to remove the five minutes and the only way he could do it was by attacking Alec Guinness his performance because Guinness had done the most wonderful filigree performance where at the end of everything he would he would do some business with his scarf or with his hat or whatever but that some remarkably fine comic acting was going on which was all slashed out hot. Unfortunately because of the length sadly it was really gross self-regard.
SPEAKER: M7
Most of the.
SPEAKER: M1
You know I never got closer to Mick than opening a door. And I think that would be the experience of most of my contemporaries unless you were a director or a producer or a writer or some knob you didn't get close to Mick Balkan I actually met him socially many times. Years later when he was retired and I once told him I work today I don't remember you boy. I don't remember you at all. I suppose of course you don't but you. You would surely not remember most of the people who were there except that the important people because you were protected from why should you meet them why should you have known them. I sense you know I opened doors for you. But that's no reason to remember me. Oh if I'd only known that you were there I would have made a point wasn't a lot of nonsense of course.
SPEAKER: M7
He had a lunch he had a round.
SPEAKER: M8
There was a round table in the commissary next to the commissary I believe that's where they had all their meetings because it was a famous round table with the BBC they took it over a table was still and was still there. Yeah. Did they. Yes.
SPEAKER: M5
No I had personally no contact with Balkan at all except very occasionally seeing him or perhaps some maybe even sitting in a theatre with him from time to time. Who's that around.
SPEAKER: M1
Well it was it was it was that group there would be there would be how Mason who was the studio manager that debate him hungry then there would be all those producers and directors I'm not even sure that the directors would be there for lunch or anything. Of course there was always the the the famous business of the two pubs the two pubs outside on Ealing common one being the red line and the other being the Queen Victoria or the Victoria. I think it's called One did not go into the red line as other ranks other ranks when one were there. You wouldn't be spoken to if you went in there. Now the director that you were working with would be in there because that's where the directors the writers and the producers went to drink.
SPEAKER: M9
Yeah fine I'll put a footnote to that when the BBC took it over I was then called assistant head of films for three years. It was the same principle only the top hierarchy went into the red line and everybody else went into Victoria.
SPEAKER: M5
This is precisely but I've always maintained I say that Ealing was like a public school but of course it also reflected as public schools did England itself. These were all microcosms of exactly the same class structure and loathsome really in many ways and yet productive in others.
SPEAKER: M10
So what can one say about the system. The system worked. But I remember the day that says Holt was promoted.
SPEAKER: M5
He and I had been as thick as thieves we'd been friendly in the studio and friendly out of the studio.
SPEAKER: M14
The day that he got the call telling him that he was going to be promoted to producer he changed. He began to change and about three weeks later we had a big party in the Victoria to say farewell to the set.
SPEAKER: M10
It was as if he was going to another world. So I had this big party and everybody got very drunk on the Monday. He never spoke to us on the Monday you would pass sat in the corridor and he would look the other way.
SPEAKER: M5
I barely spoke to him again. He just was that he was.
SPEAKER: M3
Both.
SPEAKER: M1
I think it's a bit of both. I think that was the game that was played and you had to play by the rules.
SPEAKER: M5
It's ridiculous of course it's complete in my head. It's demeaning demeaning and demented.
SPEAKER: M11
But it happened on him. It's on the thing. So what else can I tell you about Ealing.
SPEAKER: M1
I remained there going through all the stages of one's profession. I climbed the ladder along with a lot of other people. Inch by inch it was very pleasant.
SPEAKER: M14
It was extremely pleasant. We never had difficulties. We always met our dates making the films compared to making them now was a doddle.
SPEAKER: M1
We didn't have previews. We didn't have cards. We didn't have opinions. The films were never shown to anybody except presumably the distributor. We just we cut the pictures. We dubbed them. We released them and we never saw them again.
SPEAKER: M3
It wasn't like a little family factory.
SPEAKER: M1
It was exactly that and we were very proud of our work and very defensive. And as I say nothing else existed. That was the world. We didn't work excessive overtime. We worked as it were eight thirty to five thirty. We didn't work very late hours but very very very rarely did we. Did we work overtime. And I I look back on it with with great pleasure in a way and I met a lot of very nice people. A lot of them have remained friends and we made some decent films now towards the end. They started painting the place they got a lot of workmen in and they started painting all the buildings and everybody knew that the gig was up really soon as they start painting a studio you know it's going to be sold. And that's what happened that evening very suddenly one day we were all holed into one of the stages and Mick gave an impassioned speech to us all. Tears in his eyes that it was the end the end came very quickly but of course it wasn't finally the end because everybody was maintained. Everybod y that was kept on moved over to MGM where Ealing continued to work for a number of years. I went over to Ealing at some point and did another Alec Guinness film with with with Jack Harris called Barnacle Bill which was not a very successful picture anyway. I didn't say I had John Davis. No I can't remember the precise financial problem they were in. I don't think it was John Davis. It was to do with with capital and I don't know. It was a financial problem. No I had done the thing which you never did. I had resigned at some point round about nineteen fifty six. I could be wrong but around 56 in my former years as Federation of Film Society publicity chief I had met at Edinburgh. The director and producer of documentaries Basil Wright Basil Wright had taken a shine to me and we become quite friendly. And he'd always said to me that one day would like me to come for him. Well that was even before I was a film editor even before I was an assistant. So one day when I was at Ealing I'd kept in touch with basil and he was making children's films at that point. And he phoned me up he said can you help me out. I'm doing this children's film and the editors suddenly decided she wants to go to do to Jerusalem or someplace. She's leaving the film. Could you possibly take it over. Well I'd never can't afford a film in my life but I thought this could be it this could be the call. This could be the thing I've been waiting for all my life.
SPEAKER: M14
And it was and it was curiously but yet it wasn't. But you know everything in life you do you never know what it's going to lead to you think it might lead to this and it might lead to that and you've no real idea where it's going to lead you. You have to take a chance. So I went to Mrs. Brown one day and I told her I was resigning and she said You can't resign. Nobody ever resigns.
SPEAKER: M8
I said well she said if you go you'll never be allowed back.
SPEAKER: M12
I think that was her. That was the like. So I said well I'm taking this chance. So I left and I cut this picture called The Magic marble for the Children's Film Foundation through Basil right. And it was a special effects film.
SPEAKER: M14
It was a strange little picture about a boy had this marvel of any rubbed the marble everything grew big. He could command things to enlarge. So his little toy train would suddenly become an engine and so on. It was actually a very ambitious little film and probably frightfully crude if one saw it now. Anyway I got through it. I staggered through it through all the stage of actually. I had never cut off for the film. I'd been around film for years and by now I'd watched very good film editors working. I'd seen what they do but I'd never done it.
SPEAKER: M1
And as you know you never learn anything until you do it yourself. So I was holding this stuff and doing it and I staggered through it and got through the whole process without actually falling. So I was really thrilled with myself. I was now a film editor. I had a credit on this picture but I only a 50 minute children's film but it was a picture but then I couldn't get arrested. Nobody had heard of me. I tried to get all sorts of jobs. By now I was married I had children. I had absolutely no employment prospects at all. I finally got a job cutting cutting puppet films for Disney in a basement in SoHo and I got mortally depressed. I thought you know I've of snakes and ladders game as well.
SPEAKER: M4
In the late fifties we are the snakes and ladders game and paid played me a bum hand here. So I thought I've got to do something about this I can't spend the rest of my life in basements in so how doing puppet films. So I phoned Jack Harris up my old friend and mentor and I asked him what he was doing and he said he was about to start a feature at Pinewood but he was already crewed up. That's to say he had a first assistant already. He said but I don't have a second. He said you could be the second if you like.
SPEAKER: M10
So I said Okay I'll do it. And I thought this is a game of Snakes and Ladders.
SPEAKER: M14
I've now gone from being an editor to being a second again. I've gone way down right to the bottom of the ladder. But I took the job.
SPEAKER: M12
And of course it was the right thing to do because on the next film Jack promoted me to first again. So I was his first on a number of pictures and the film we did at Pinewood when I was the second was the prince and the Showgirl with Olivier and Marilyn Monroe and it got me back into features instead of grubbing around in Soho or with children's films wondering what the hell I was going to do next. It got me back into the mainstream which was important. And even though I was doing menial work it was on a feature which was important. Thereafter he promoted me and we did a number of films finally we worked on the film together call indiscreet which was a Stanley Donen film made at L Street with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. I was the first assistant so I got to know Stanley Donen very well and the film was again a simple dialogue film no problems. The film came and went and was quite successful. Then Stanley a little while later came back to Europe to make another film which Jack was to cut but which I wasn't to work on because it was being shot in Paris and they didn't want an English assistant. They wanted a French crew. So although Jack Harris went there I didn't go with him. I stayed here and worked on the sound of the film in London.
SPEAKER: M1
When that was cutting we were finishing it in London at RCA the old RCA Hammersmith facility.
SPEAKER: M12
Long since gone. Stanley was about to make another film here in London with Yul Brynner a comedy with your brain. And he'd asked Jack to do it and Jack said he didn't want to do any more films with Stanley because he'd done two not too many of them. He wanted a change. He said I'd really rather like to work for somebody else and I think actually Fred Zimmerman was after him to do something at the time. So I said rather boldly to Jack maybe Stanley would give me a break. You know perhaps you'd like it because he knows me. Perhaps he'd like to have me. So Stanley R. Stanley was asked whether he would have me and he said yes. Big surprise. That was that was what launched me into features proper. We did a film at Shepperton called surprise package which was unfortunately very bad. No surprises and not not a happy film in as much as it wasn't funny. It was supposed to be Yul Brynner was never very good in comedy. But Noel Coward was in it rather interesting that he played the king of Rari tan Yo some such role was an odd role for him but quite interesting. He went to 60 takes I remember on one set up unable to remember a single word.
SPEAKER: M7
Memories playing era would be interesting.
SPEAKER: M1
Well the memories unfortunately only revolve around the film itself because that's what occupied my time physically Pinewood hasn't really changed much as you know the cutting block that we were in is exactly the same now as it was then. Except I think it was about to fall down not long ago. It's the big cutting block on the main car park there. I do have happy memories of walking along that long corridor that leads from the commissary. Now that the restaurant these from the restaurant right up to the theatre the other end I used to have to take Marilyn along there very often to take her to rushes. That was one of my jobs. That was one of the nicer jobs cos she was actually a very charming girl. She was a sweet girl. She wasn't nearly as dumb as people make out. She was bright woman but of course she'd had a terrible fallout with that with Olivier on that film. They weren't speaking. The atmosphere was chronic on that picture was frightful. Oh absolutely. And they all started off lov ey dovey and within three weeks the wheels clattered off the relationship and it was grim. Arthur Miller was always hanging around her. They'd just got married. She was always clutching the poems of Dylan Thomas but never seemed to read them. I never saw actually open the book but she was always holding it. Nice nice little sort of touch. But my memories of Pinewood. What sort of memories can you jog.
SPEAKER: M3
I was wondering about the politics of the rainbow.
SPEAKER: M1
I honestly can't tell you a thing about it.
SPEAKER: M14
I always stayed way way away from politics and never got involved but then there was no need to know I was there servicing the film and looking after my editor really.
SPEAKER: M7
They were independent productions here.
SPEAKER: M1
We never got involved with the rank organisation really or the John Davis nonsense. None of that really affected us. This was I think a Warner Brothers film or something like that I can't remember exactly who made it but apart from the fact that we had all this political trouble within our own film between Olivier and Monroe that form actually went through quite well. Except that she because of her her attitude towards him was not very cooperative and he wanted retakes and they finally scheduled the retakes to be the very last day of shooting.
SPEAKER: M12
She turned up very late as I recall around 11:00 with crates of champagne for the crew. She was already a little tipsy herself and then she sailed into these retakes which were usually single shots she was drunk.
SPEAKER: M1
He was furious. The day he printed every frame that they shot we used one foot of that day's work. One foot was found to be usable and I regret to this day that I didn't have the common sense to keep those rushes under my bed. They would have made a fortune for somebody but I couldn't have done that. No one didn't do that in those days because one didn't own these that would have been stealth on couldn't do it and actually it never occurred to me until years later.
SPEAKER: M14
So that was the Ealing period and the Pinewood period thereafter once I'd got my break as a film editor through Stanley Donen I remained with Stanley on two films I did surprise package and I did. The grass is greener immediately after that grass is greener again. Wasn't a particularly fine film but it was a classy film and as much as it had a big star big stars in it and it was a prestigious piece. I was very lucky because Stanley was an easy man to work for and he trusted me and I never had any problem and I learned enormous amount on both films.
SPEAKER: M1
So I had my first two features really taught me everything I needed were you know total because I'd done my little children's films I knew exactly what I was doing I knew how to handle film I knew how to use a synchronize. I knew how to keep things in sync. I knew how to do it and I have had complete self-confidence in as much as what I never have complete self-confidence. Even to this day I always feel that the beginning of every job that I'll never get through it. But that's that's of course nerves more than anything. It's not a question of confidence it's a question of nerves.
SPEAKER: M9
I mean the general question really goes on and on is the important creative relationship between the director and the editor.
SPEAKER: M4
If there is of course personalities and also to do areas from film to film I think it's terribly important that film editors as well as other members of staff are able to be chameleons in some way that you can change your personality according to the person you're working with. It's very important to remember that you are subservient to the director. It's no good being arrogant and saying My way is best it doesn't get you anywhere except out the door rather quickly and it doesn't help the project.
SPEAKER: M14
The project is not yours. I think that's something which editors and cameramen and some men and any any of us in its senior creative jobs should always remember that we don't sign the thing. It's not our total responsibility. We are there I believe to serve the people who have employed us they trust us. I have confidence in us otherwise we wouldn't be there and we are there to do our very best to make their film as good as it can be. And I have never myself believed that one should be dominating or try to dominate the director.
SPEAKER: M12
I've always tried to be not the slave because slave is the wrong word.
SPEAKER: M14
One doesn't feel as if one wants to be flogged through something. But I've always felt that it's my task to take the rushes day by day to make them into the best scene I can and to then change them accordingly. When the director has said I like it better this way rather than that way it's when you get there that you can say well we must consider both ways. We must try this brute. We must try that route. We must come to a decision which is the best for the project.
SPEAKER: M12
So I personally have always attempted to maintain a very good relationship with my director and producer as well because I don't believe that you can make films with a bad atmosphere has it always been easy.
SPEAKER: M1
Very very rarely bad experiences I can remember one very bad experience which isn't even worth recounting since the film was never released.
SPEAKER: M12
And that wasn't too long ago.
SPEAKER: M1
But generally speaking I've never had a bad experience. I've I've worked for very few directors in my career. Curiously. Because a lot of them have become friends and we've maintained a relationship and usually if if the if the if the synchronization of our lives works we find ourselves working together again. After I'd worked with Stanley Donen on two films cut two films for him I went off and did a film for Jack Clayton which we did the innocence which was a very good film I thought and one of the most interesting that I ever worked on. And then as luck would have it Stanley was ready with charade. So I went to Paris and cut charade where I met my wife which so that was a very fortuitous event. She working on the film. She was working on the film.
SPEAKER: M13
So we met in the cutting room.
SPEAKER: M1
Then I came back here and I did another film The Pumpkin Eater for Jack. So there were two films for Clayton 1964 says. That's correct. I think Michael know where we are. And I think in between the in-between I'd done a film with Peter Glanville called term of trial with Olivier.
SPEAKER: M3
I worked with Olivia a number of times if we're talking about individual pictures we or we can we can. Well yeah. I didn't want to. No we can't go. Yeah yeah yeah.
SPEAKER: M9
Sorry I I made a generalized point about relationship with the director of is less if we sort of go on from there. You mentioned the grass is greener the Ellison's charade next to pumpkin eater.
SPEAKER: M3
Isn't there a lot to be said as you say. Oh yeah.
SPEAKER: M14
Again you know one of my great problems. One of the reasons why I was a little wary of of talking to you is because I find it extremely hard to talk about individual films unless perhaps you can raise a point that I can know that the films have their own lives.
SPEAKER: M1
And I do find when I go through my memory about individual films that it's very hard for me to do anything but generalize about them unless somebody comes up with a perhaps a way of pushing me towards some area of the film that would revive my memory. I find that hard I read that film to me was a very interesting exercise in trying to make a film based on a classic novel which was psychologically interesting and which was technically interesting from the point of view of using maps and stuff of that kind to to bring on the phantoms because we had the two ghosts to play with in that film. I mean it wasn't a difficult film to cut in in technical sense. Well. Yeah. Yes there were matte shots and that of the ghosts of of the the lady ghost whose name I forget standing in the lake.
SPEAKER: M15
Things like that but the film itself I think one of the things that one remembers about the innocence was first of all the script which was written by William Archibald I think his name was he'd written a play called innocence which Truman Capote he had adapted and Truman came over while we were making the innocence and he was extremely funny man. I must say one didn't speak much when he was at the table.
SPEAKER: M1
And John Mortimer and his wife had also contributed to the script. It was it was a very literary group. But Jack was on very good form at that point. Jack was at the sort of I what I figured to be the height of his creative powers which was sort of like a bottle of brandy a day about point but he would.
SPEAKER: M15
He was wonderful to work with Jack was tremendously enthusiastic about everything. Meticulous cross a total. He was like a sculptor if anything too meticulous. Everything had to be perfect and Jack would Jack would come in to see the dailies in the evening always of course with the drink because he was a great topper but he never got drunk. I never saw Jack drunk. I don't think ever.
SPEAKER: M1
But he was always constantly sipping the old brand in soda and he would come in and he would sit down and because at that time Jack was not married to anybody in particular. He didn't have anywhere to go. Stop there.

End of Side 2

Jim Clark Side 3
=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M1
Come on. So he he wasn't married at the time and therefore didn't have anywhere particular to go. And I was between marriages at that point so I had nowhere particular to go either. So we used to spend almost every night in either in the theater at Shepperton or then in the bar at Shepperton which we regularly closed. And I was astonished at Jack's powers of recovery because he could be in the bars until God 9:00 or 10:00 at night and he'd be back on the stage at eight thirty raring to go. How did you move to and fro. You were driving. I'm afraid so. In those days I think we didn't think too much. I died. I don't think we've drank great quantities of stuff. I don't remember ever being drunk at all. I think we basically was sitting there sipping and talking but he was he was very very good to work with. I must say he was meticulous. He was a craftsman. He was devoted to the film and he was also of course a notorious prankster and spent a great deal of his time when he wasn't thinking about the film dreaming up tricks to play on genie Sims his servant his companion in work.
SPEAKER: M13
Jeannie has been Jack's assistant since high. I guess that film perhaps even before she's still within that relationship has lasted over many many many many many many years and they've been fighting one another all the time and then to things come to mind. One is while you're on the subject of Tolkien generally reading there is an industry wide thing moving or.
SPEAKER: M4
More the.
SPEAKER: M22
I suppose this applies to almost every every business and certainly now it applies to the advertising business. I'm not I'm not very close to other businesses but I should imagine that they all have their fair share of dopers chemical substances I suppose.
SPEAKER: M1
Well I think they status. Yes I guess they did at some point but not so much in England but very much more in America against attention. Yeah I think so. I think I think Norman would agree that in television it is the same thing one more so if anything. But you know I very rarely saw any of these people actually falling down drunk. There wasn't that so much as keeping sort of topping up topping up once one's self-confidence a little. It's funny that of course in those days we smoked a lot. And I guess we drank more than we do now. But I don't think that that had much effect on the end result No I don't.
SPEAKER: M22
I don't think one could write a paper about about the relationship between drinking brandy and the finished result destroy some people that is destroyed.
SPEAKER: M1
Hammer. Certainly. Oh yes. Well some people were alcoholics. I wasn't really thinking in terms of alcoholism because that's that's that's a disease. I mean that's an illness. It's a sickness.
SPEAKER: M22
A lot of people didn't have that but I think there was a good deal more drinking went on when we had studio bars. I mean the old bar at Ealing was always full and there was a bar eating wasn't there. And I'm thinking I'm sorry I'm thinking Shepparton. The bar Shepparton was always busy and it was a very pleasant place. The old bar that that face the the big garden the park at Shepparton. You remember that in the old house the bar at the back of the old house was was extremely pleasant place to be out of a summer's evening.
SPEAKER: M1
It's lovely.
SPEAKER: M21
Yeah yeah the was a very gentle person. I don't know if this is the time to raise it but.
SPEAKER: M7
Taking the innocence as an example the time is spent on the floor with you you had more than any input into a great many.
SPEAKER: M1
That's right. Well that was. That's a good question actually Roy because I've always been a little nervous of going onto the floor.
SPEAKER: M26
I've never really liked it and even though I directed for a time I've never been at home on the floor. It makes me nervous and I think it's because it's not my natural home and never was.
SPEAKER: M10
I also think it's because I get nervous around actors very often. I find actors difficult to treat as real people.
SPEAKER: M17
And I can't relax with them very easily. I think I'm much better now than I was then but I find I get I don't I'm not myself.
SPEAKER: M1
I become somebody else. And although I do have a reputation of being helpful on the floor with certain directors there are many directors who never ask you on the phone certainly don't need you but there are others who do. I've never been happy in that role. And that's one of the reasons why I didn't pursue the directing career because it made me nervous. Whenever people do asked me to get involved creatively other than the editorial aspect I'm very happy to do what I can. But I always think there's a limit to what I can do. Now when I've worked with lesson Joe which is a long long standing relationship he and I got to know one another so well that I would be on the floor rather a lot with John because he used to use me a lot as a sounding board not that he didn't know what he was doing but because he felt that I might come up with an alternative or I might steer him in slightly a different direction or I might be able to solve a problem that he had a need and he trusted me.
SPEAKER: M5
But then he trusted a number of other people too. He would he trusted his script girl he trusted his operator and so on. But John always liked to drag other members of the crew into the creative process. Some directors would never do that because it's not normal. It's not the normal way and they don't need that. They don't need that input.
SPEAKER: M11
The first film we did with him was darling wasn't it.
SPEAKER: M4
Yes well darling darling was was interesting because they started shooting that film on location in I think they started on a very on the very very early part of the shooting they went off to to Italy to shoot and I was apparently about John reminds me of this that I was sending reports to him of the rushes and making terrible comments about all sorts of things like the performances and this happened and putting the film I think John was about to fire me because I was I was being far too critical far too soon and something which I think ever since then ever since he he told me how upset he was.
SPEAKER: M1
I've been very nervous of actually commenting too quickly about other people's work though much later in my career on the killing fields I had the same situation which I had to tackle very straightforwardly and very quickly but I might get to that later I go oh I've got no voice left.
SPEAKER: M11
So it was round about this time that you and I worked together just once.
SPEAKER: M10
It was indeed it was it was decided that I was right. It was because I started directing after darling at the behest of Jo Yanni who was the producer of darling.
SPEAKER: M18
He had a he had a commercials company called Augusta and he got me to direct a few commercials at the same time a little earlier than that.
SPEAKER: M17
I should I think in sixty one or two I had put together a little film of my own called St. Denis which was a portrait of a mining village which I had shot using the the short ends from charade which I'd bought for about twenty five pounds and I had an arrow flex and I went off with my assistant and we made this little Welsh mining village film which won a few awards and was quite popular on the arthouse circuit.
SPEAKER: M1
I won the John Grierson the world that year a member of with that and it won the Best Short Film at the the the tour festival that did very nicely that little picture.
SPEAKER: M2
And that sort of gave me a little entree into documentary and I got involved with James Archibald at that time as well who was making films and I think my agent steered me towards you around that period after darling.
SPEAKER: M3
That was that was that period yes but I.
SPEAKER: M1
So I did start directing after that and I fell into directing a feature purely by accident through and through Ned through actually through lesson Jr..
SPEAKER: M18
To be honest I remember what made darling and Darling had sat on a shelf a little while and wasn't immediately released and I had gone over to Germany to make a film for James Archibald about the army a short film and I'd got back from from Germany on the night that Darling was premiered in London and there was a party afterwards and I met Celeste enjoyed the party and I said What are you doing John.
SPEAKER: M1
And he said Well curiously you won't believe this but I'm having a great deal of fun I'm doing a tiny little film for Ned Sherrin for. That was the week that was. It's a spoof of nudist films he said at that time those dreadful nudist films were around where people played a lot of volleyball and danced around their socks on and he said it's great fun and it's been written by I forget who but good people. He said Why did you come down to Woburn Abbey next week and watch us shoot it so Woburn Abbey would that be the Jacob Bedford's place Woburn park. I think so anyway that was on a Thursday on the Saturday. I had a call from John saying I've had terrible second thoughts about this. I don't think I should be doing this at all is. I think it's terribly bad for my reputation I've just opened this big film. Now here I am going off to do this this little nudist thing is that I really shouldn't be doing it. Would you do it.
SPEAKER: M5
Nice but good god I've never directing anything like that with actors prancing around doing comedy I said keep in mind this is dreadful. They said no you can do it you can do it. It's not difficult it's all prepared it's all cast. It's written all you have to do is say Action. I said well alright.
SPEAKER: M3
So he said I got a phone that Sharon and tell him that I'm not I'm bowing out and you're going to do it. And that's how I got to start directing actors in these funny little things. And it was very popular that little picture and about three years later Ned was setting up a feature and thought of me and that's how I got to direct. Every home should have one.
SPEAKER: M11
I've digressed again push me back all the power far from the madding crowd not far from the madding crowd. Well it is only that.
SPEAKER: M6
Further point about your input into those situations where you're working with the director how you proceed. Your role obviously still as be dealing with specific problems or on a more. Social scale.
SPEAKER: M8
Oh gosh. Well it's both really and what I do now whether I did it then I can't remember because I was a little bit more humble perhaps in those days and I would I would I was always so grateful to get a job that I don't suppose I ever said a word about the script at that point. But now I do because I've had too many experiences of trying to save scripts which could have been helped earlier on. So now I do I do have considerable input into the script if allowed to have anything that I can put my finger on which seems not right or which looks like it's going to be a problem. I do attempt to get fixed.
SPEAKER: M1
So I do have script in put I can't claim that they always take notice of these notes but I do make an effort to create the notes and give them the notes and hope that somebody will listen. So there is that side of it but of course once we start shooting there are times when notes are useful from me if I can see things are going in the wrong direction very quickly I will as diplomatically as possible put in my objections state them. Now there are times when you're in a situation where negative input is of no help. Like for example if you suddenly realize that somebody is miscast which happens all too often sometimes you can perhaps get the performance changed altered. It's very very rare that you can persuade anybody to recast because that involves scrapping material already shot and that sort of thing. And most people are loath to do that. I've had examples where the leading leading actor for example is miscast and I've known it from the very first day of work. I have not always gone to the people and said You have to face the fact that you've miscast the lead because I know that if you if you do that all it does is upset them because they can't change it.
SPEAKER: M10
Now I'm sure I'm a little braver these days and I do say it and I'd say hold your horses this is wrong. And if there's anything we can do to change the situation let's do it now. I'm a little brave. Yes I'm a little braver than I used to be but to be honest I know that. It's very. I think I was always nervous that it would be a shoot the messenger period if I wasn't careful.
SPEAKER: M1
You know that they don't want the editor coming into the office and say well let's face it folks if you've miscast the lead you know your judgment from what is coming into your head yes.
SPEAKER: M7
Not just from the same scene.
SPEAKER: M22
No I look at the material and I know from the script and I know what my supposed to be getting out of the script and I look at it and especially with comedy I look at it.
SPEAKER: M11
The thing is this man making me laugh this man is making me laugh at all you sometimes you must have a hunch before it reaches that stage.
SPEAKER: M4
Well unless casting even before you see any of the images shot in your room I think you'll certainly certainly have misgivings whether I can honestly say I'm right or wrong until I see the result. I don't know.
SPEAKER: M12
You mentioned you before. I never saw the picture. Oh well a disastrous one. I always knew that he wasn't a comic actor or he was. Not really an.
SPEAKER: M14
Amazing moment. It was a bold man I got lucky. A lot of the stuff he did he did.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes yes yes. But of course in those days I certainly wouldn't have said to Stanley Donen Hey Stanley you know putting your Brynner in a comedy is the kiss of death. You wouldn't have said that in those days. I certainly wouldn't. I was only too pleased to get the job. But I'm braver now than I was and I'm in a better position although I sometimes wonder about that. I don't want to be too outspoken. It doesn't it isn't right to be too outspoken if somebody is employing you. You can gently lead them but you must bulldoze and put down.
SPEAKER: M12
Yeah. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M1
And I think mostly when people employ you they do trust you. And part of the trust has to be being honest but being honest of course can also lead you into into traps. I've many times been honest and found that it falls on deaf ears because it doesn't help. Now I'm a little wiser and I don't always say precisely what I believe because it doesn't help. And it's no good. After two weeks of shooting going to the director and say I tried to tell you this but your leading man is no good you would stay with a disaster. I've stayed with a number of them not many no a few though few though than not not always through casting one has to say that disasters that one has been involved with have not always been casting problems that very usually normally go back to the script. It just doesn't work. And if it isn't working on paper it will never work on film. That's my belief. But you have read the script before you accept the job. Yes. And sometimes regretted it and sometimes misread and sometime s envision something that was quite the reverse of what the director finally produces which is possible too. You can misinterpret scripts but very often I've done films not because of the script but because the directors people I know people who've come to me again and I've worked with Schlesinger a number of times. We only ever work together on one positive disaster which was honky tonk freeway. But neither John nor I realized it was a disaster we both loved that movie and still do. So it's hard for us to accept that everybody else hated it. Interesting that we both of us like both of us liked it. Still do. Yes we recognize it as a bastard child but it's still like it.
SPEAKER: M11
I think the time may come when looking back another generation will say it was great.
SPEAKER: M10
I don't think so because it wasn't great Norman. It wasn't great but it wasn't as bad as it was made out to be. It was a flawed film and we made a lot of errors on it but it has individual sequences which are extremely good.
SPEAKER: M3
And I would defend it. My Dying Day is a.
SPEAKER: M7
What did go wrong was done. It was John Ziegler it was.
SPEAKER: M1
The budget went wrong the budget. It was the budget that was reviewed in that case. Yes I think it became a sort of a farm a film fertile was out of control. Someone was.
SPEAKER: M14
Always.
SPEAKER: M8
I mean at the time. I didn't realize that anything was out of control.
SPEAKER: M1
I knew the budget was escalating and I could see that we had problems of scheduling and stuff of that kind and I could see that we were going about it in a very expensive way but nobody was saying telling us to stop. Nobody was pulling any plug. Nobody was saying you've got to you've got to do this you've got to do that we carried on willy nilly would you make it for it was made for EMI which was a company that was going under as we were making it which was part of the problem. The film was flawed. The script which John and I thought was hilarious turned out not to be as hilarious as we thought. We we we we misjudged ourselves. I think that happens but it was the budget that got reviewed it became a film that cost far too much money and it wasn't seen a as funny and b was seen as an anti-American comedy. So the Americans hated it the first screening of honky tonk freeway was a complete nightmare. Not one laugh not one.
SPEAKER: M5
And John at the end was reviled and castigated and given the most terrible talking to by the heads of Universal who had taken it over they'd taken over this movie they hadn't seen it. We unveiled it to them in all the glory of six track.
SPEAKER: M1
Heaven knows what we did great big presentation at the Alfred Hitchcock Theater. We would dump ton from such a height. Poor John Oh God that's terrible.
SPEAKER: M16
That was a disaster and we spent we spent weeks and weeks and weeks trying to trying to make good the damage because we never could. We ended up with a much worse film that we'd started with if we'd released our first cut we would have had a much better movie than we ended up with.
SPEAKER: M7
As you say it was done down there. It was equally done down here.
SPEAKER: M23
But it was hardly shown we thought it was hardly shown.
SPEAKER: M1
It has a few fans has a few families a forensic point did it become frantic. Well I suppose when it was written but but it became even more frantic in the early reals after previews because they were urging us to get a move on and we recut a lot of the early part of it and not to it's to do to the detriment of the film for sure. Who wrote it. Well it was the only script written by a young American called Clinton who John and I liked a lot and we thought that Clinton was extremely funny he was and the script was funny but somehow or rather as you rightly say you sit and look at it and you wonder why are there or why they are there doesn't work alas anyway we've jumped the gun again we've gone well it's a very useful footnote yeah as a useful offensive note chronologically it far from the madding crowd and Midnight Cowboy that night cowboy the next to right well well that's far from the madding crowd I only did certain scenes on and I didn't take a credit for.
SPEAKER: M17
You won't find Knight my name anywhere near it. The reason why I didn't have my name on it is because the film was being cut by Malcolm Cook who had been the sound editor on darling and Mark was an old friend of mine and an old friend of John's. And what happened on that Madding Crowd was a very big film. And John was shooting a lot of film and Malcolm was a neophyte.
SPEAKER: M18
He'd never cut a feature film in his life. This was a very big task for a first time editor and Joe Yanni decided at some point that Malcolm wasn't good enough and was going to fire him. And John phoned me up one morning when I was in Sheffield doing a film for Granada. I was making that film for Dennis Mitchell called a delivery man which one night in Sheffield and I was in some boarding house in Sheffield having my breakfast one morning when when John phoned me at around seven thirty in the morning and said look if if you don't join us if you don't drop everything you're doing and come to Shepparton Malcolm is going to get fired. SIGHS Well this is an absurd situation but I'll do what I can. So I shot finished shooting the delivery man and went to Dennis and said to him look this is the situation can we just put the rushes on the shelf and let me go and then I'll come back and finish it which Dennis obliged. Thank God he allowed me to do that. So I went to Shepparton and my assista nt and I took over from Malcolm. The action scenes which had not been cut.
SPEAKER: M1
That was the whole of the opening of madding crowd with the sheep going over the edge the the fire the storm the sword fight courting scene with Terry stamp and Julie the barn dance anything with action which had been stacked up in large large number of cans. I did that and I worked on it I think for three months and I left it before before they mixed it.
SPEAKER: M18
So that was my contribution to madding crowd.
SPEAKER: M19
Then I was directing chronologically I can't remember what happened actually next.
SPEAKER: M3
We had done the locust in 73 we've we've we've glossed over that one I think.
SPEAKER: M4
No that comes later. No it's I've got. I mean I gotta admit like I've always been alive right 69 so I was trying to remember what I was doing at that point.
SPEAKER: M2
What was I cutting because I was called by John to go over to New York to look at Midnight Cowboy.
SPEAKER: M1
That was my initial role. I think I wasn't doing anything. I think I was free. Yes that's what happened.
SPEAKER: M9
What happened was this John shot Midnight Cowboy while I was doing something else and I don't remember what it was probably a documentary could be may have been anyway.
SPEAKER: M1
He told me after he'd shot the film he came back to London and he said I have a suspicion I'm going to have problems with the editor. He said I don't really know him. And I've taken a big gamble on him. Again it was a first time Ed not only was it a first time editor but it was a black man.
SPEAKER: M2
Now this was at the height of the period where the white creative people were being very liberal towards the black people. If you recall that there was a sort of movement in the arts to liberate the black people and give them jobs and make them more prestigious.
SPEAKER: M20
60s decade.
SPEAKER: M14
That's right. Several ladies that sort of mid 60s it. Yes.
SPEAKER: M4
And I think it was a movement that Leonard Bernstein's and Arthur Penn and a number of other people were quite quite big in.
SPEAKER: M18
And John sort of joined them and he decided he would give the job to this black editor who were black assistant who'd worked on a lot of Arthur Penn's films. Hugh Robertson was his name and he was a black man from Trinidad. He was actually English by extraction I suppose or Trinidad Trinidad Dalian.
SPEAKER: M3
He had his own set up in New York had his own cutting room and all of that in the Brill Building there. Anyway John came back from shooting the film and said he thought he was.
SPEAKER: M9
He didn't have terribly good feelings about you finally and he said you may get a call from me.
SPEAKER: M18
Well I was hoping rather that I wouldn't because I thought that might open up a whole can of worms which is subsequent they did. So what happened was that he called me one day and said look I've just seen the movie as cut by Hugh and I'm very disturbed and it's not right and I know I'm going to have monumental problems getting it right. Would you just come over and take a look at the film and give me your advice on what I can do or what I should do.
SPEAKER: M1
So his agent at the time happened to be my agent Gareth Wiggin Gareth and I flew over to New York and saw the film that the night we arrived and were both knocked out by this film and as much as we could see that it was a great picture with wonderful performances but a certain kind of structural problem particularly in the beginning of the film was clear and so I said to John look I think a lot of the film is fine and I don't think there's anything wrong with it editorially.
SPEAKER: M22
But I do think the first two reels are a mess and you need to do a lot of work on them. He said Well would you stay and do it.
SPEAKER: M9
So illegally I stayed on for about three weeks until we got to Christmas.
SPEAKER: M4
I said I'll I'll do work on the first two reels until Christmas and then I'll go home.
SPEAKER: M1
So I started on the first two reels and it was a giant task. It was it wasn't just a question of taking the stuff and re cutting it it was an entire recut.
SPEAKER: M2
So I had it all. The first two reels of the movie were all put back into Russia's form completely into Russia's form and I started restructuring the material.
SPEAKER: M10
There was far more material than I'd ever dreamed of.
SPEAKER: M5
It was a huge amount of film not only first unit but loads of second unit and no clear way of getting Joe back to New York in a and telling the back story.
SPEAKER: M1
Clearly it wasn't really scripted very cleverly and with all this additional footage it was I could have done anything with it it was it was an open book. So by Christmas I barely started so it behoves me to come back.
SPEAKER: M4
So I came back after Christmas I was on it for three months and I recut the whole of that opening and various other sequences not the whole film by any means because a lot of it was fine. A lot of it was cut perfectly well.
SPEAKER: M1
Hugh had done a very good job but John had fallen out with it by now totally. So he left the production. No he never left it because he owned the building he owned the equipment he wasn't going to leave. He was being paid.
SPEAKER: M12
You weren't undercover doing this. He's aware.
SPEAKER: M4
He knew I was in the next room and John by now was no longer as liberal as he had been to put it finally.
SPEAKER: M1
I don't tell you that but he was saying because it would go on record. But it was not particularly pleasant. So although Hugh stayed on and he was very tolerant of John he would come in.
SPEAKER: M18
And after John had rage I could hear John raging at him. In the next room it was quite brutal because John can lose his temper very easily and I would hear all this going on and think Oh my God is going to come in and John would appear at my door absolutely bright red with his bald head glistening with sweat saying you've got to get that real away from it.
SPEAKER: M5
He's wrecking that scene you've got and so on and it was very unpleasant for me. It was very awkward except that Hugh thank God didn't take it badly. He didn't have he didn't take umbrage or consider John was racist or anything like that. He'd simply come in he was a very big man. He's dead now by the way.
SPEAKER: M1
He died young. He was a very very big man very tall and he smoked very big cigars. He had a huge pot belly and he was only about 35. Huge huge guy. And he used to come into my room lean up against the door and say Mama sure got the rag on today. Now you can't exactly repeat that but I'm afraid I've now said it you said and that was precisely that was precisely Hugh's attitude.
SPEAKER: M24
But he said it with a smile because we all called John mother. He didn't like that much.
SPEAKER: M4
That was John's nickname well anyway we got through Midnight Cowboy in the film as you know was a tremendous success and I was very very thrilled for John because it was a dangerous film I was also thrilled for Jerry Hellman a director who produced it because they and for United Artists they'd all gone out on a limb with this movie and it was a big success and this this last year we had the 25th anniversary of Midnight Cowboy and there was a big screening at the Directors Guild in Los Angeles and thank God I was there. The survivors were there except of course there are wild assault who'd written it who had died. Everyone else was still living.
SPEAKER: M1
Dustin was Jon Voight Jerry John ME THE CAMERAMAN All the main people were there and they had re made the print and rerecorded the track in the most brilliant way. The soundtrack was put into stereo. God knows how digitally done. It was magnificent. The picture's looking a little tacky now. The quality of the pictures looking a little tacky and they'd lost the original negative which is hard to believe they'd lost it so they'd had to work from dupes and eyepiece and things.
SPEAKER: M21
You've worked with a great many Americans. This was the first time you actually physically worked in the States.
SPEAKER: M5
So yeah I guess it was yes I was curious about the union.
SPEAKER: M1
Well the union didn't know you know and he didn't.
SPEAKER: M5
He didn't shop me. He didn't rat on me.
SPEAKER: M10
No you actually behave very well considering that considering the duress he was under.
SPEAKER: M9
He was a gentleman anyway.
SPEAKER: M17
That was finished. And after that I directed every home should have on that was my next job. So I went through that which was a good experience actually. My first film was a great deal of fun. Everybody had had a good time on it and it wasn't exactly a success.
SPEAKER: M22
It was neither good nor bad but it was not good enough to get me and immediately another job as a director. And so I was bumming around for a while and I went off to lecture at the old London Film School for a year or so I made the documentary. I was not in a very happy state at that point.
SPEAKER: M7
Do you have a credit on Midnight Cowboy and creative consultant.
SPEAKER: M23
It's the best credit I ever had. Yes I was I was surprised that I didn't throw.
SPEAKER: M21
A lot of very fancy words because.
SPEAKER: M5
I know I know but you said I wasn't the editor. Nobody quite knew what my role was.
SPEAKER: M12
John was always very generous and telling everybody that I'd save the film which isn't really true. I didn't save the film I improved it. You were so was very good anyway. You once told me you were underpaid.
SPEAKER: M23
Did I. Gosh you've got a good read. Yes. Did you agree with.
SPEAKER: M12
The first time when you were cutting darling. Yes yes. The last one day. Yes. So it's a long time but I don't remember being underpaid.
SPEAKER: M4
I probably was but I don't remember it. I can't remember what I was paid to be honest.
SPEAKER: M9
Gosh no.
SPEAKER: M7
I can remember very specifically what you were more or less specifically John makes that much money on the scene.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh no no no that's true. I didn't I didn't because I didn't have a part of the film naturally enough. I was on salary but I actually going back. You've just jogged a tiny bit of memory I was looking at some other contracts the other day and it's funny how money of course changes in terms of the amount you earn. But I was looking at the contract for charade which was sixty one or two or three three sixty three and I was paid seventy pounds a week to cut that that I guess was a good salary in 63 anyway. So I think after I directed that film and I was pretty much unemployable I went off and cut a rather bad film called and Co. Is that not next on THE LIST OR excellent is I've got a day of rest.
SPEAKER: M14
Oh gosh where do you find that Roy and Roy found day of rest 1970 day rest. You're credited with it. I know.
SPEAKER: M2
Unfortunately unfortunately they're not a very good film that was a short film short film that I did again with Ned Sherrin.
SPEAKER: M1
I've almost totally forgotten it. Bill Norton wrote it. It was not very good. And I don't remember why we made it. Now 30 minute film I suppose Well 25 minutes I suppose at that time we were still making supporting films and could be well they were very useful for E.T. money.
SPEAKER: M12
That's probably the reason I go out with the same distributor as the US in the future. That's right. All the money.
SPEAKER: M4
That's right. Yes.
SPEAKER: M23
I don't remember much about that to be honest except I know it wasn't very good rented ish rented Dick went to Dick around to get it right. No I get it right. No I rented this shit. Michael donated money.
SPEAKER: M4
Yes it might have made money on the rent a dish but rent a dick everyone thought it was a porno film and first sort of male porno film. Of course it wasn't anything of the sort it was a comedy about detectives. I was rather upset about that because the very first film had in preproduction that film had been called Rent a sleuth which I thought was fair enough. And then the very first day we were shooting Ned Sherrin came to me and he said Oh what decided to change the title to rent a dick. The rank organisation think it's wonderful. I said Well I don't think it's wonderful I think it's dreadful. It sounds like a film about a male hustler.
SPEAKER: M14
Well thank you very much. With Nature big capacity to do downtown.
SPEAKER: M10
Well of course of course of course with his prep school humor. Anyway that was a slightly unfortunate film. It was originally written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman for John Cleese and Charlie craft and to direct how lucky they were not to do that and wait until all the fish called Wanda. I was.
SPEAKER: M16
So I soldiered through that I don't have much to say about rent today.
SPEAKER: M22
It was not a very funny comedy visions of visions of eight visions of it was the Olympic Games film of 72 which is less than a year contributed the marathon to that was an interesting job editorially and as well as a I was sort of half directed at as well. And I did all the preparation with John in Munich with Arthur Worcester who control the whole of the camera unit was a very interesting exercise.
SPEAKER: M17
We had twenty two camera units on that and I ended up I ended up with a hundred thousand feet of exposed film for a 17 minute segment.
SPEAKER: M2
It was a lot and it was a fascinating film to do and it was like on like a military exercise really we we found all our camera placements weeks and weeks and weeks before the event we knew what the marathon route was.
SPEAKER: M1
So we planned it all that every camera could cover the marathon runners and then make a move to second position and catch them coming round another bend so to speak.
SPEAKER: M2
So we we had a lot of film for that but of course if you recall the the Israeli athletes were murdered on that occasion and that put a blight on the whole affair.
SPEAKER: M17
And John who was in London when when they were murdered phoned up and said he wasn't coming. So the the producer was somewhat miffed.
SPEAKER: M10
I was already there doing preparation.
SPEAKER: M20
Why why was John not coming because he was so stability. Yes. Yes.
SPEAKER: M24
He said no way was he going to get involved. And finally it was David Walpole who was the producer. And finally David said he would do it. John said he would do it provided he could make mention in his segment about this event. So that was agreed and we ended up shooting much more than the marathon on that film we shot the memorial service that was held for for the murdered athletes and we shot the finale the last night of the. Of the marathon. So we had our segment got enlarged. It was not an entirely successful film.
SPEAKER: M10
It was caused several directors making different event doing different events in their own. It is syncretic way and asked worked extremely well because of the music that we'd used but unfortunately it was all re scored finally by a man seen it who did a perfectly good job. But it was it didn't have the quality we'd use Prokofiev and we'd use WC and it had worked tremendously well.
SPEAKER: F1
So we lost an element really not house.
SPEAKER: M1
That was my final attempt to direct and the least impressive of those three dreadful films. So I have little to say about that except that I didn't cut it. I didn't have nothing to do with post-production. I simply shot it.
SPEAKER: M22
I hated the producer who is now dead militants about me I didn't get on with Milton at all.
SPEAKER: M25
The script was a piece of garbage and Vincent Price decided a week before we were supposed to start shooting that in no way what he would he use that script. So I said in no way would he use that script.
SPEAKER: M1
So I went to Milton and said we've got to rewrite the script. That was a week before we shot. So he said you wanna rewrite the script go ahead. So we went ahead and tentatively.

End of Side 3

Jim Clark Side 4
=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M1
Well I took madhouse on simply because Vincent Price was doing it and I'd always liked his films. It was the last film in his contract for IP and it was a rather good idea. They were rather bound script about an old movie actor who'd been accused of murder who finally comes to this country and is put into a TV series and a whole series of grisly murders in Syria which everyone thinks he's guilty. So it was Vincent Price and Peter Cushing and I thought this might be a bit of fun. Really I think I did it more for the fun aspect than anything else. And the script was was rewritten overnight so to speak by a friend of mine who lived around the corner.
SPEAKER: M4
He used to rewrite the scenes every day and slip them into my letterbox at six o'clock in the morning. I would get in the car and be driven to the location where I would subeditor the script. Hand the script over to the secretary when we got to location she would type it up and give it to the actors. So we worked like that for six weeks. We worked we bumped it for six weeks and that was great fun. I loved doing that and so did Vincent. Vincent had a ball. We had tremendous fun. We laughed our way through it but at the end of it John had asked me to go and do day of the Locusts. I thought wow I really have no interest in this film at all. I'll let Milton wreck it because it's his film. So I went off to Hollywood to do day of the Locust and allowed Milton to finish off madhouse which I barely saw. I had nothing to do with it. Nothing to do with the final cut. Nothing to do with the score. Nothing at all. You get the idea that the directors.
SPEAKER: M9
I'm afraid so to say he was one of the great shocks I know but.
SPEAKER: M8
But he wasn't. He was a pain in the arse to work for unfortunately. He meant well but he had to. He had he kept saying to me I'm the greatest film editor on Earth. I don't need you you can. You can leave it to me. So I did leave it to him. It would never have been very good. It has one very good sequence in it which I am quite proud of.
SPEAKER: M10
And it's the only scene I cut the only scene I cut myself which is a scene where there is a murder going on and I recut it with a sequence from the pit and the pendulum because the premise of that movie was the reason it got made at all. I forgot to mention is that IP insisted on using clips from their old Vincent Price movies. So we had to find ways of working them into the story silly idea really.
SPEAKER: M3
So day of the Locust down the locust I always think was one of the best things we ever did and I think it's it's a it's a film which at the time was not hailed as it should have been. I still think it's a classic picture and I think John did a magnificent job on it and I think it was wonderfully wonderfully made.
SPEAKER: M4
I think it's a it's a great film about the about Hollywood and the thing I think is a wonderful version of the Nathaniel w we may have miscast the lead which I was very critical of at the time and indeed going back to my previous point I was quite vociferous at the time about the fact that he got the wrongly wrong girl and I wasn't the only one. Were many of us disagreed with his casting but that's all we disagreed about and in hindsight looking at the movie now I think we were wrong.
SPEAKER: M2
I think she did actually a pretty good job and I'm trying to make Karen Black. I mean yeah right.
SPEAKER: M3
It was a film which I thought was wonderful I loved doing it particularly I think the finale of of day of the locust is one of the best things I ever managed to put together. It's a strong film it's a film which was highly disliked by the Hollywood people.
SPEAKER: M2
John was castigated for making it it cost too much I guess.
SPEAKER: M3
And I think it cost four million in those days probably would now be more like 40. I don't know ten times as much. Yes something like that. It was an expensive film and it took no money.
SPEAKER: M21
Why do you think it will fail.
SPEAKER: M9
I'm less fond of you it seems to me it doesn't work in terms of the selling was part of it. I could never understand why. They. Said.
SPEAKER: M3
Oh I never saw it like that I always It bathed in golden light. I've never questioned that I know. I thought that was the right approach and even the book I never thought was really gritty.
SPEAKER: M2
Now it's easy to fail to compare it to the book. The book is a very literary work. Yes yes yes. And I think one of the reasons why we were all we were all very against Karen Black is that in the book Faye greener is 17 and those you can see why why why the boy falls for her.
SPEAKER: M3
But Karen Black was way way beyond that age and she always seemed to me like Bill after twins aren't. And that was the reason why I felt she was miscast. Now when I look at it I I don't think it matters. I think she was miscast and she was too old. But it doesn't for me Reckitt let me at the time as a mayor. It didn't Vila. I think the film didn't work for the big public because it was a relentless downer. It was a very depressing piece. It was also quite long and in those it was two hours 20. Even then those that standard now. But then it was considered very long.
SPEAKER: M22
It seems to be three specific periods when you gone against the American good attitude that said it was it later. The. Other.
SPEAKER: M14
One the one we've already mentioned honky tonk freeway.
SPEAKER: M22
I mean yes that's true. Is that European sensibility observing the Americans see America as lead in our fashion. We don't choose to face up to reality in this country. That certainly is true of the United States Spain.
SPEAKER: M3
Well I think in the case of day of the Locust Nathaniel West of course being American has to be blamed for any sense of not feeling too good about that. John I think did an accurate reflection of the attitude of the book and certainly told the story that was in the book the fact that he elected to tell it in Rosey terms as opposed to realist terms which you might have preferred as that was the way he went with it. Rightly or wrongly.
SPEAKER: M22
Well if if that rosy view was that very fine except that it seemed to me a misjudgment in terms of the labor.
SPEAKER: M3
Well you might you might in the end be right. I must say something that hadn't occurred to me before. I always thought the film was hated because it was such a downer. And certainly nobody in Los Angeles. The film is highly the film and the book of course are highly prophetic because it is about the collapse the apocalypse. It is about the end of Los Angeles. It is about the death of America. It's about the natural end of an unnatural world.
SPEAKER: M22
Yes yes yes. And all of West stories. Yes. He was the great American business.
SPEAKER: M3
Absolutely. Now I know the film turned out to be longer than the book almost. And perhaps it was a little bit inflated and maybe it was perhaps a little bit overstated. I don't know. I don't think there's very much wrong with it.
SPEAKER: M11
When you look at it now I think it's a remarkably prophetic work.
SPEAKER: M3
I'm curious to see you again you know when you look at the riots the footage of the riots in Los Angeles it's all there that reminded me very strongly of the end of the Locust but told John was well he was demolished really but because it was so badly received we'd all had a I suppose one should never hope of films like that kind to work commercially on that subject.
SPEAKER: M9
I mean how do you feel when you know for example two reviews how do you feel.
SPEAKER: M3
Well I'm always disappointed when something that you've labored long and hard on get gets gets heavily berated. I'm wasn't terribly surprised. However in this case because I always knew the script was suspect and it was the script that they were they were gaining more than the way we'd made it. And we had very good reviews for the acting and the direction and so on. But we do. But I do think that it's always it's always a little salutary and it's a little sad that other people don't enjoy ones the company of one's children as much as you do. But you know how close you get to these things on a daily basis. You know I get very very close to these films. I live them. I become part of them. And I've always maintained that my job is to help manufacture somebody else's dream.
SPEAKER: M17
It's not my dream. It's somebody else's and I'm there to create their dream to weave it.
SPEAKER: M22
You take it less personally I take it.
SPEAKER: M3
Oh I'm sure I must do I must take it less personally than the director though. With honky tonk freeway I think John and I were both equally demolished because I suppose we we knew in a sense that the other people were right and we were wrong.
SPEAKER: M17
It was a hard one though because we we we knocked ourselves out on that film. You kind of forget all the forget the misery afterwards don't you.
SPEAKER: M3
Oh yes. The next one I got on the list of the timetable is Sherlock Holmes. That was great fun. Yes. As soon as we'd finished. No no. Let me see if I was right. As soon as we'd finished the day of the Locust.
SPEAKER: M5
I did another documentary actually forum for Gosling did. I did a number of those Gosling films though quite fun to do. I can't remember now who produced them. Oh it was. It was Mike Scott Mark Scott produced me lives up the road. I often see Mike and Marks and Spencers. So I went off I did a rather bad one called Winter Cruise. Ryan I went off on some dreadful winter cruise and tried to make a film that didn't work too well. But Gene Wilder contacted me to do Sherlock Holmes smarter brother and I loved that film. That's one of the nicer experiences of my life. It was great fun. We all had a great time and the film worked.
SPEAKER: M3
It wasn't a sensational film but it ticked over very well over the years. It was a charming film and I worked with Marty again on that which of course unfortunately led to doing Marty's unfortunate both jest but you've probably also got on your list anyway. I think I helped gene an awful lot on on Sherlock Holmes. It was his first film as a director. He relied on me and Jerry Fisher the camera man the two of us. He relied on us a lot. I was on the set a lot on that. But that was fun. That wasn't that wasn't traumatic. That wasn't torture. That was that was just really propping him up a bit and particularly when we came to the final opera scene which was much too long and needed a lot of condensing. I don't suppose either of you ever saw that film. I never did and it does occasionally turn up on television. It's a charming film. It's it's very delightful piece of work and wasn't given in my view wasn't given quite the acclaim it should have had we have a film sorry which I'm sure we h ave seen. Have a. Well Marathon Man was another. I had a very good run of the successful films at that point Marathon Man was a breeze. I came onto it late about six weeks late because I was finishing as Sherlock Holmes and John had already shot all the stuff in New York. I think he was back in Hollywood by then and I saw I was six weeks delayed but I had a wonderful assistant on that film who had already put together a lot of the film and he's turned into one of the great editors of Hollywood thank heaven. So he and I soldiered through that very well and when we had a condensed schedule on on Marathon Man we had to get it out quickly. So when we came to do the director's cut we shared sequences. My assistant would would alter one scene and I would alter the other. And then we would go we would swap and shows the scenes to John on the Steinbeck and then Artie would go off and cut one scene and I would go off and cut the other scene so we did it together was tremendously successful. Did you share credit. Yeah. Well he got he'd. We didn't share credit. He got an associate editor credit which was in fact the accurate credit really. But it launched his career and he's he just cut Forest Gump and many many many many other films. So he's he's a big hit.
SPEAKER: M7
Artie Schmidt good whose father cut Sunset Boulevard. Really. Yeah. Amongst others great pictures.
SPEAKER: M4
So that was an interesting experience and John was on very good form on Marathon Man. He loved the film. Everyone loved the film. At least we were back at Paramount. We'd done day of the Locust for Bob Evans. Bob Edmonds was now producing marathon man and we got on very well with him too. He was a great producer in his time.
SPEAKER: M22
Bob Harrison was to make up for it did it did.
SPEAKER: M4
Yes in fact you know John was offered John was offered Marathon Man by Bob Evans because Bob perceived John as a director who was going to make a good film after a bad film.
SPEAKER: M3
And he said no because day of the Locust hadn't worked. The next one was bound to work but you're dead.
SPEAKER: M8
It was what percentages right. No. He claimed he'd done that and then did work with Polanski because Polanski had made a flop before on Chinatown.
SPEAKER: M4
I don't remember what it was but he always said he was good at picking up directors who'd just fallen nosy.
SPEAKER: M9
Question.
SPEAKER: M3
Are you now sharing in the profits of these pictures only on a few marathon man being one of them generously contributed by John he's out of his points and I still get money from that and I still get money from Sherlock Holmes smarter brother which Gene again generously gave me a quarter point in every Christmas since then. And that was seventy six seventy six years. Every Christmas I've had a check from Sherlock Holmes. Not huge but enough to have a meal on.
SPEAKER: M8
Television. Yeah. They take over amazingly and you see if I'm getting and if I'm getting a reasonable check what are the others getting.
SPEAKER: M3
That's very nice money they can make but if they have a hit and and the bookkeeping is accurate. Exactly. No. I write this year.
SPEAKER: M7
This year my check from from smarter brother was three hundred and seventy one dollars which I know isn't a fortune but considering the amount of time that's gone through and mine was a quarter point for season well it does.
SPEAKER: M9
Yes there's one so if I may which I had in mind that we skipped. Okay.
SPEAKER: M4
Oh yes. Well that was a long time before. Of course he's 64 to get the dates right. Right. Well yes but pumpkin eater was not an easy film for many reasons. And unfortunately it was one of the very few times when I appeared to fall out with a director.
SPEAKER: M5
I didn't certainly try to and I always thought that Jack took whatever I'd said the wrong way. But the problem with the pumpkin eater was that it was too long.
SPEAKER: M4
I was perceived to be too long and we ran it at. We finished it with no acrimony at all. John Jack and I got on fine and in fact I contributed a lot of ideas to that film but we went to Cannes with it.
SPEAKER: M10
We were the English Cannes entry and the film was perceived by Columbia as being too long. So they demanded a cut of at least five minutes. And Jack tormented himself for weeks over this cut.
SPEAKER: F1
He couldn't find it alive. I was hold back on it of course to to work on it again. And it took it took him a long long time to come to any decision. And I think I got actually rather bored with this.
SPEAKER: M3
I think I did come up with various ideas which he'd rejected and find out we were running the film every day and I was getting more more bored with it. I think probably he decided I'd gone off the whole thing so I wasn't helping him. So we had a slight unfortunate altercation.
SPEAKER: M4
The film I was thought was very good. I couldn't do what we did cut in the end was one of the best things in it of course which I was urging him not to do.
SPEAKER: M3
There was a sequence in Harrods which now is ludicrous which was perfect in the original cut.
SPEAKER: M4
She knows she now breaks down in no time at all. We had the most wonderful sequence where she wandered through Harrods through all these departments seeing all these images of of goods of things of material objects and gradually began to lose her mind. Now she walks in there sees one thing and collapses and it ruined the tempo of the scene and I was I was really I was right about that. He did wreck his own film in that area.
SPEAKER: M9
How long was that sequence.
SPEAKER: M8
It was long. It was long because it needed time to establish what was going to happen it needed time for this woman to have these swimming images. She was passing out.
SPEAKER: M4
Now it's too quick. If you see that film if you ever see it again take a look at that scene you'll see what I mean is true of a lot of that shit the great view of it happens off screen.
SPEAKER: M11
Yes. Yes. I'd never realized before. Well you've taken out. We had to take out rather a lot but it still was good. It was beautifully acted by our lovely performers and painters to script was good. Very good. The Wolfe brothers as.
SPEAKER: M4
Well I never worked with with John personally. Jimmy I absolutely adore. But he was a very adorable man. Did you ever work with him. No. He was wonderful of course and witty very funny and very easy to work with charming man.
SPEAKER: M2
I worked with him on term of trial which he produced.
SPEAKER: M5
He was always in and out of the lavatory poor man. My my cutting room is right next to the lavatory. No not a good place to have a cutting room really. Oh and I knew there was something wrong with Jimmy wealth long before he knew it because it was in and out of that low all the time.
SPEAKER: M22
Was that chemical substances.
SPEAKER: M3
No no no. He had some problem. Poor man.
SPEAKER: F2
He was sick.
SPEAKER: M4
He had told Jimmy do we move on now to the dreaded though just can't remember any more about pumpkin eater. Otherwise I tell you about yes. Well that is not. That was bogus it was a nightmare 1977. Now again. Gosh we only got 77. I think I'm going to have to take a pee.
SPEAKER: M12
We're resuming on the six of the very. And we left off I think last time at the last remake of bougie jest. So what are your recollections of that.
SPEAKER: M4
Well I got involved with that film for all sorts of wrong reasons.
SPEAKER: M13
Marty and I had been friends for years ever since I directed him in every home should have one.
SPEAKER: M14
And we'd remained friendly after that and we'd worked together again when he was acting in Sherlock Holmes smarter brother. And at that time he was very keen to try directing. And it was shortly after that that Universal Pictures decided that they needed a house comic just as the fox had got Mel Brooks as their house comic.
SPEAKER: M1
So they elected to try out Marty.
SPEAKER: M14
Marty had written the script himself with another writer whose name I forget right now called The Last remake of HBO's guest which he asked me to read and to possibly edit the script was very good. It was extremely funny. It was very inventive. It was one of the better comedy scripts that I'd ever read.
SPEAKER: M15
And I could well understand why they wanted to make it even at some considerable cost in on location in Spain as it happened I wasn't free to cut it when it started because I was still doing marathon man with the messenger and the overlap was much too great to even contemplate taking it on.
SPEAKER: M14
But because at that time Verna Fields was still alive and still operating at Universal Pictures as their sort of editorial guru.
SPEAKER: M15
I suggested to Marty that he should discuss his situation with Verna who would suggest to him a good alternative to myself which happened and a guy called David Rawlings got the job and they all went off to Spain to start the film.
SPEAKER: M17
And I continued on Marathon Man and and finished on it and when I'd finished on it I came back to London and I'd only been here for a couple of days when I had a call one morning from Loretta Feldman Marty's wife.
SPEAKER: M15
They were all in Madrid still.
SPEAKER: M14
I think Marty had been shooting for about a month or maybe six weeks by then or perhaps less. I don't remember exactly. Anyway it seemed that Marty had decided that his editor was not really doing a very good job and wished to replace him.
SPEAKER: M2
Loretta then suggested that perhaps what I could do for them as just as a kindness was to go over to Madrid to look at the material that David Rawlings had actually put together to see whether I could give Marty any advice which I did. I was willing to do.
SPEAKER: M15
But I didn't particularly want to get involved in something which I suspected was a bit of a mess when I got there my suspicions were proved to be correct. The material which David Rawlings had put together he by and by now had gone. There was no editor on the film at that point except an assistant.
SPEAKER: M2
The material was lamentably unfunny and I recalled the script being hilarious and when I saw the material on the screen it wasn't funny at all. And I concluded really looking at this material that the problem wasn't so much in the editorial aspect of it. It was unfortunate in the directorial aspect of it. Martin never directed before or that I know of.
SPEAKER: F2
All right. There was a break right. Okay. As I was saying I don't think that Marty had directed before though he might have done some television but there was something which he was not being able to catch on film.
SPEAKER: M16
There was something about the the style of the comedy in the performances which was not coming across the footlights so to speak. And so the material was dying. You could do sort of see it dying in front of the camera. Peter Ustinov was in the film overplaying and not being funny.
SPEAKER: M2
Michael York was the sort of romantic lead and not required to be that funny. But even so the tone of everything seemed to me to be completely wrong. And Marty who was also in the film was trying hard to be Buster Keaton. It seemed to me and not it wasn't working out. So the only thing I could do was to take Marty to one side. I had breakfast with him I think on a Sunday morning and I said to him that there was there was nothing wrong with the editing but there was a great deal wrong with the way he was approaching the direction and he seemed to understand what I meant and took it all on board and I came back to London whether at that point I had agreed to take the film over I can't remember but I do recall that it was if I did say to them that if if I did take it over and complete it it was contingent on my being able to secure Arthur Schmidt again who I had just worked with on Marathon Man because I thought if Artie and I got together again I knew we were a good team. I thought per haps we could lick this material into something and make it work a bit better than it was right now. But also it was contingent on Martin changing his ways and improving his style and altering it. I came back to London and eventually did agree to take it to take the film over. Our team came to Madrid.
SPEAKER: M14
He was on holiday in Italy I believe at the time and he joined me in Madrid and looked at this material with me. In fact yes going back on my story when I first went to Madrid Artie came as well. The two of us were there.
SPEAKER: M15
We were both looking at this material and arty quite rightly was put off by it didn't want to touch it didn't want to know about it and said Please God we don't touch this stuff is deadly.
SPEAKER: M2
However he was loyal enough that when I out of loyalty to my friendship to Marty agreed to do this film and to do everything I could to help him Artie said all right if you're going to do it I'll do it. But it's it's. With strong misgivings that I do it so we both worked at Twickenham here. The rushes were sent to us from Madrid every day and we looked at them and then every day our hearts sank further because it got worse and worse rather than better and better.
SPEAKER: M16
Marty unfortunately had not got any idea of how to get performances nor how to how to create comic timing.
SPEAKER: M2
Anyway we put the whole thing together and it round with three hours and there was not a laugh in it at least. Hardly a laugh in it. There were some titters along the way but nothing what you might call a big laugh. We took it over to Universal in Los Angeles and ran it there for the two producers both of whom were American. One guy I remember was called Jerry Henshaw. I have no idea what has happened to him but he I thought was probably the biggest problem surrounding Marty because this man was a sycophant. Not only that it was very stupid and he would laugh at anything and everything that Marty did it didn't matter what Marty did. He could cough and Jerry Henshaw would laugh. So I think Marty was lulled into a sense of false security. Bye bye Jerry. Whilst we ran this rough cut the three are rough cut the only laughter you heard was from Jerry Henshaw who was roaring at things which were lamentably unfunny. So Marty I think bless his heart. I think he knew when he saw this three ho ur assembly that the film was not now never going to fly. And he and I had lunch together that day and he said to me can you make it good enough for me to get another picture to direct. That was the brief at that point. So naturally I said I do everything I could to try and make it work and arty and I be right away. We had a terrible time. We tried every every trick in the book to make this film work. We tried pushing it along. Of course it was much too long it had to be cut down. That was the easiest aspect of it the least easy was trying to make it funny. Marty and I were getting on fine. We didn't have any personal problems at that stage but he was a mess. That night the night that he'd seen his rough cut he didn't come home. I don't think he came home for a couple of days. He was eventually found in a bar somewhere near L.A. ex completely drunk totally unable to remember where he was or what it was it was a very sad case. He clearly knew I must have known what he'd done and he d idn't really have a way out of this. Anyway we carried on cutting.
SPEAKER: M17
I became very friendly with Verna Fields at this point whom I hadn't known up to then but Vernon knew what pickle we were in and she was extremely supportive of all of us doing everything she could to help us because she wanted the film to work as well as it could everything went according to plan until Marty left for London where he had to loop some actors while he was away and I never knew whether this was by design or simply by coincidence Verna decided to move in on the film. The company in other words decided to move in on the film because they could see it wasn't working. So they recut it I recut it. I should say I recut the film at their request in a in a certain way altering certain scenes playing around with it and doing things which Marty had not asked me to do and was not privy to when he came back he was confronted with a situation which he blamed me for.
SPEAKER: M2
Basically I was I was sort of the I was the man who was guilty of being disloyal to him by siding with the company that were paying me. In other words I got myself caught really between a rock and a hard place and rightly or wrongly decided to side with the company rather than with Marti.
SPEAKER: M17
At which point he and I fell out. Never. I have to say with any great Rao but with a definite parting that we had to complete the picture. He then was allowed by the company who were extraordinarily generous to him. He was allowed to make his own version of the film and present it to the company. We previewed and scored and mixed two versions of the film. So you ended his version as well. No. No. My version the version which I had created was the sort of foundation of both versions. But Marty didn't like the structure of my version and I didn't like the content of his version. So our two versions were radically different.
SPEAKER: M2
Artie Schmidt and I had soldiered on side by side attempting to make the best of a bad job. Poor John Morris the composer had to score two full versions of the movie which were quite different.
SPEAKER: M17
We then had to go into separate dubbing rooms at the same time and mix two separate versions with two separate dubbing crews. It was as if we were making two movies of course and we went to preview on on adjacent evenings. We attended one another's previews. That was the nearest we got to one another during this finishing period. Both versions played identically badly. The figures that we got from the screenings were both pretty much the same. So the company then had another dilemma Marty of course was fighting in his corner very hard for his version and Jerry Henshaw the producer with with the great sense of humor was on Marty's side though he'd been he was in a bad shape because of course he had to have some loyalty to universal if he wanted to work again. So he wasn't in a very good position it was politically a nasty little hot potato. That film and we all we all suffered a lot. There was certainly nothing funny about this comment comedy that we were making. And finally the head of the studio at that point the creative head of the studio was Ned tannin who'd been there a number of years and who relied enormously on Verna Fields who was the sort of den mother of all the executives at Universal. Verna had remained friendly with me and I with her a friendship which persisted until she died. But we were then in in a mess because the company had to release this picture. They had dates. The film had to get go out. So finally I said to Ned after we'd had these previews you have to be the decider. You have to be the person that decides which version we release because clearly both factions are at one another's throats and we'll never decide.
SPEAKER: M2
So we arranged a meeting on a Sunday morning and Ned tannins office where all parties were present all the editorial staff all the producers Ma to me the whole boiling everybody was there and Ned tannin was the arbitrator and the movie ended up as I recall though this could be possibly wrong that it was my structure and Marty's content that we ended up with.
SPEAKER: M17
So that was a Sunday on the Monday. We took both versions my version and his version and amalgamated them into one version by using my structure and his content. We then re scored the film remixed the film and released it and I never spoke to Marty again ever. It was very unfortunate. It was very sad and I really when I think back it was very stupid and very silly and unnecessary and it was one of those stories that one regrets it failed commercially.
SPEAKER: M14
Did you know the film failed commercially. The film isn't very good. You see. The fact is that even after we'd done all that work it still wasn't funny it was. It tried desperately hard to be funny.
SPEAKER: M17
Marty did a silent comedy sequence in which he escaped from jail. Our LA Buster Keaton He always wanted to be Buster Keaton really. The only good thing. Well I say only one of the better things that emerged out of it was a sequence which was an afterthought which was shot much much later in Hollywood. And it was a sequence where Marty injected himself into the original but just the one with Gary Cooper and played a scene opposite him and it was the first time that that idea which has been much used since especially I think in certain commercials was done and it was clever and he did it very well. And the technique was was good. That was that was the most innovative sequence in the picture which I don't believe I cut. Though I don't actually remember. I think the other editor did that. So that was that story.
SPEAKER: M18
It was way over the. When you started to work on it was that had you shot the script or had he shot the script. You know he did. Stuck to the script.
SPEAKER: M17
So nobody timed it well things went on as what happened there was there were improvisations which Marty was quite happy to allow. Was it enough that a lot of improvising. I don't I haven't seen the film in many years so I don't remember it all that clearly but I do remember that it was the the sad fact is that the staff on the page which made me laugh didn't even raise a smile on the screen.
SPEAKER: M18
Do you remember his television work. Yeah. I think the same applied to that that a lot of those and very good ideas and good writing that he was a very thudding director.
SPEAKER: M14
The truth was that Marty wasn't really a director. Marty was a writer. Yes. And ideas. And that was his strength. And he worked with Barry took on around the horn and all of those other things that they wrote together. That was his strength. He was the mad crazy ideas guy. Barry was the straight guy that put it all together and put it into a form. Marty went on Universal were extremely good to Marty. Even after the debacle of HBO's yes they gave him another picture called in God we trust which was just as big a flop by the way. No I don't think he did another film. I think that I think those were the only two. Didn't he die whilst he was shooting when he died but he wasn't directing it. It was a film being directed by. I think it was Peter Maddock. I'm not sure it was a former Graham Chapman that they made in Mexico. But as I say I very much regret that I lost my friendship with Marty because I liked him a lot and he was a very original character.
SPEAKER: M19
Were you involved in Universal's thinking were you aware of what they were deciding among themselves feels on Ed Turner. I mean what was their attitude towards him why were they so indulgent towards him.
SPEAKER: M20
They were indulgent up to a point because they always thought that he could be there Mel Brooks if properly led they never lost total faith in Marty. Gerry Henshaw came in for an awful lot of the flak and on that occasion as I say it was very political I was privy to too. I can't even call them arguments. They were just terrible Rouse that no Talon would have with Gerry Henshaw and the screams were unbelievable. It was one of those films that was just full of drama off screen. I was changing to.

End of Side 4 

 Jim Clark Side 5
=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M2
Okay to establish the date it was what in 77 it's listed as was was that the.
SPEAKER: M16
It obviously went on for quite a while. I think it was seventy seven strokes 78. Yeah. So as I recall I was in Hollywood until at least May of 78.
SPEAKER: M2
At some stage it would be interesting to talk about working for the American majors which no you've had quite some experience to want to do it here or later in estimation.
SPEAKER: M4
I would've thought maybe later on I was going to ask the same supplementary question. Right. Let me later on when we've heard other examples. Okay. This phenomenon was once more play when you went to the British stage to this and you didn't like what you saw. I think you said he didn't like it much either. Was all that material still used in any of the final versions or had he started out and started again.
SPEAKER: M3
No it wasn't Marty who. I mean Marty didn't like the way it was cut so it all had to be recut. If I mean yes you know everything but things were not reshot but things were certainly recut. Marty was really unaware that it was his own fault. He was unaware that it was the material that that was the trouble. He thought it was the guy that was putting it together.
SPEAKER: F1
That was the trouble as I say.
SPEAKER: M3
I only got involved. I only agreed to do it basically because I liked Marty and he was a friend and he had acted in the first film that I directed. So I felt I owed him something. I wanted to help him out to bail him out basically and interviewing so I I I failed to bail him out and b I lost a friend.
SPEAKER: M23
More to be said about that.
SPEAKER: M12
I suppose there's a lot that one can say about doing jobs for the wrong reasons. Yes true for old.
SPEAKER: M25
And maybe that maybe one has a certain personal weakness in that direction yes or no maybe maybe it really should get later on if you like the script very much. The end product was obviously quite different to get around whatever was going to ask it this is a common phenomenon in feature films because I think you often often go on to a project for one big reason that you like the strip.
SPEAKER: M30
That's true to that was my thing.
SPEAKER: M3
We rewrite it that way that that's the that's the the the job of the film editor very often is to rewrite the script. We do the final version. I remember Marty used to call me his dream repair man. He used to use to say Send for the dream repair man. When Marty's dream wasn't going too well I would be the one that would go in and repair his dream.
SPEAKER: M34
So I used to say that was my task in life was to repair other people's dreams. I also think on that film I woke up to to the fact that life goes by life eludes you as you spend your days staring at other people's material and trying to improve it your life disappears down the movie Ola and nothing you're doing really matters. That's and that was one of the reasons why between assignments on feature films I used to like to do documentaries because documentaries at least took you into real places with real people and it was thanks to Granada and people like yourself that I was able to do a little of that. Not that I ever thought I was very good at it but I enjoyed it.
SPEAKER: M30
I've been to a lot as there and I don't think I was. Said I think the film is related and I always but it was very very good indeed. Can you pause and mean it because on we are.
SPEAKER: M29
Recording.
SPEAKER: M15
Finally the next was another shade of Agatha.
SPEAKER: M12
Well you were talking about scripts and what two tracks one two films and I was talking about the fact that the film editor is the rewrite of the script. That was the case in Agatha.
SPEAKER: M8
I think I'm right in saying that not one single word of the original script ended up on the screen it was completely restructured rethought from the first day to the last. First of all that film went into production I think personally before the script was ready. And secondly the big problem with Agatha was that David Putnam who was producing it left the film two weeks after we started shooting it because he was unhappy with the situation with Dustin Hoffman. Dustin had agreed to make Agatha and play a supporting role. He was in fact working out his contract with first artists at the time and it suited him to come to London and make a film and play a small part.
SPEAKER: M14
He wasn't not particularly anxious to be the lead. Vanessa Redgrave was the lead but he changed his mind after a couple of weeks and decided that he didn't want to play a supporting role at all. But he wanted to have a very big part. And so he brought his scriptwriter in from America at which point Vanessa brought her script writer in Kathy Tynan who had written the original script was nowhere to be seen. And Michael Apted who was directing it was confronted with two actors who were not speaking with two separate scripts being written by two separate writers and only being able to shoot this material on a daily basis because the two versions were then amalgamated by the script girl.
SPEAKER: M8
So the Baron Zelda fortunately was very good at this was able to take the lines written for Dustin and the lines written for Nessa and put them together so that Michael could actually shoot a scene and he soldiered through that film like that which was a nightmare for everybody.
SPEAKER: M14
We ended up with six producers who flew in regularly from America looked at the material and flew away again. It was a nightmare for everybody concerned and it was a miracle that we were ever able to put it together at all. In truth we restructured it yet again when we cut it. We altered the storyline quite considerably in the editing.
SPEAKER: M12
How can we use the material.
SPEAKER: M14
Well we used a device of her writing letters or writing her diary or whatever she was writing. And you can always change stories that way. It was a diary. Agatha disappears in the story she goes off to Yorkshire and nobody she vanishes and so on and has some romance.
SPEAKER: M18
We think we don't know what really happened.
SPEAKER: M20
Anyway it was an interesting editorial conundrum which I think Michael and I solved quite adroitly actually. The film isn't that good.
SPEAKER: M11
It's a weird little film and I think notable largely for the photography of of rara over that time was not that well-known but certainly gave the film a wonderful look. People seem to remember mostly the fact that she was very tall and he was very short.
SPEAKER: M16
That's that's basically what they remember about Agatha who won in the script contest was that she was even an even match.
SPEAKER: M20
Basically one thing which did occur which I always regretted was that the score which had been written by Howard Blake was I thought one of the best scores that I'd ever encountered and I thought it was a it was a brilliant piece of work and it made the film for me.
SPEAKER: M10
But Vanessa didn't like it for some reason and she put the boot in with the score and then other for other reasons political reasons the Americans decided they wanted an American composer they wanted it more romantic they wanted to slash it up so Paul Howard Blake's score was dumped and replaced by a not very good score by Johnny Mandel but I have much regret that because of all the of all the films I think I've ever worked on. It was the best score and unfortunately do have a copy of it.
SPEAKER: M16
You'd worked with Hoffman before and Marathon Man and I guess. What's the what's his motivation what drives him is it ego or is it a misguided concern.
SPEAKER: M10
I think I don't think I should go into what was what was driving Dustin on Agatha.
SPEAKER: M27
We all had our theories as to that. I'm very fond of Dustin always have been. I worked with him also on Midnight Cowboy.
SPEAKER: M17
He is very charming. He's very funny. He's great to work with in my view. I never had any trouble with one with Dustin but he's a very very difficult man and he digs his heels in or he gets terribly insecure.
SPEAKER: M19
He's not easy for directors to work with.
SPEAKER: M27
So and Joe's worked with them twice they had problems but remained friendly.
SPEAKER: M9
I never had any difficulties with them and certainly as as a as an actor I think he's extremely good and extremely fine film actor and a personality. But it just isn't an easy man.
SPEAKER: M16
It isn't quite then an actor out of control.
SPEAKER: M13
No I don't think but he was out of control on agrifood totally. Although perhaps I'm wrong maybe he was. I know that there were certain problems which were being discreet about it.
SPEAKER: M4
No I'm sorry. I'll tell you a few days years ago the phrase it you will never make a good program by a committee. But you've given us lots of examples lately of not very good films made by committee. The last election seem to be committee works. Absolutely I don't quite understand how why this should happen this is a fundamental question goes through all this and anything you tell me to think of I suppose.
SPEAKER: M5
I think unless you have a complete autocrat in the director's chair which I have had experience of like for example Jack Clayton Stanley Donen neither of them would have any of this nonsense.
SPEAKER: M7
Not in my experience they would they would run run the show but there are other directors who don't have the strength necessarily or the personality to do that. And films because they so easily go wrong. And basically they go wrong in the areas of script and casting.
SPEAKER: M9
Once the show is running and people are there and you're making the film you have to keep going.
SPEAKER: M10
Because if you stop you'll most likely will never start again and no directors want that situation to occur. Now on Agatha Michael Apted I just had one such situation with David Putnam. They hadn't been making a film in Italy with Bianca Jagger which had stopped shooting after three or four weeks and when I met Michael Apted with a view to cutting Agatha he said to me this is my passport to Hollywood and it must work.
SPEAKER: M11
And it did. In fact it did get him to Hollywood where he then made Coal Miner's Daughter and did very well from that and stayed in America. So from that point of view Agatha did what Michael wanted it to do.
SPEAKER: M7
But I can't claim that this question of films being made by committee it's certainly true. Some members of the committee obviously have stronger voices than others but it is very very often even with a man like lesson Jr. who is a strong willed person.
SPEAKER: M13
Even John defers and requires input from other people.
SPEAKER: M5
So I wouldn't say John's films were made by committee exactly. I would say that he relies heavily on the opinions of others because of a lack of security. But you can often recognize his signature on a country you can recognize John's signature by by the small things that he inserts it into into his films.
SPEAKER: M7
But those ahead those are his side.
SPEAKER: M11
They're not put or put in by anybody else or request of anybody else. When when John and I did Marathon Man together Bob Evans who was at that time a strong producer was extremely useful and John listened to a great deal to him and would acknowledge that.
SPEAKER: M15
You touched on this something which is interesting which is so many people in this country making calling cards for Hollywood money Any thoughts comments on them.
SPEAKER: M5
Well I think around that time the the late seventies. It was fairly evident that the industry here was not necessarily going to give these people a living and a lot of them wanted not to get caught up in television as a profession.
SPEAKER: M27
They wanted to be in motion picture.
SPEAKER: M6
By that time the Mid Atlantic movies. That whole period in England seemed to be on the wane.
SPEAKER: M14
And that's my recollection that the British film industry was beginning to collapse more or less at that time and I think most directors wanted to have the experience of working for American companies in America after all certain certain of them had done very well.
SPEAKER: M13
Messenger had done well. Ken Russell had done though not in America. He'd made some films for American companies and there were other.
SPEAKER: M11
I'm sure if I could think of them quickly other examples of English directors who were doing well in the states had Ridley started by then had Alan Parker started by then I can't remember what dates. Probably not. Maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit on that but maybe Michael Apted was one of the earlier ones. I don't recall really. But I think they all realize that the opportunities for making pictures very often lie in the States.
SPEAKER: M16
Do you think in their quest for a green card they subverted their pictures in any way.
SPEAKER: M9
I don't think so. No I don't think they did. I know this person did didn't know him and he never had a search for a green card. I don't think I don't think it was then the need to central in America that drove them. I think it was the fact that they knew that's where the money lay. That's where the producers were. It was work and that was that would keep them going because of the industry here and the number of actual active film producers in England who has never been large and we have never bred which I think is one of the reasons our industry never flourished.
SPEAKER: M17
We've never bred entrepreneurial producers the Balkans the coders that breed. We've had very few of them. We've had a few good individual producers but not that many.
SPEAKER: M20
And I've always thought that that was the area of of of the English film industry which was.
SPEAKER: M12
We were very short of good producers we didn't have men of vision.
SPEAKER: M4
Putnam being one of the last I suppose you said they didn't like working in television. Sometimes I understand why sometimes not because obviously in British television rather American television the creative producer director writer has a bigger opportunity of doing what he creatively wants to do than in the cinema in many in many ways in many ways.
SPEAKER: M6
Yes and I'm sure that there were people such as Ken Loach who are happier in that media than others. I know Michael Apted did both for a long time but I think basically they always felt that they wanted to be out of television and into the cinema because there was more money and more time.
SPEAKER: M20
I know one of the reasons why a lot of them fought shy of making television films was the fact that schedules were so short and that the money was tight and that.
SPEAKER: M11
And don't forget that some of them had had by now been earning considerable sums of money which they could never earn from the BBC or from from Independent Television. Their lifestyles had changed they'd become I guess a little spoiled money meant something to them.
SPEAKER: M1
They needed to earn.
SPEAKER: M15
Was I go through your first encounter with David Putnam.
SPEAKER: M17
I must have met David before but I was certainly the first time we'd worked together. You have a book together hardly at all of course on Agatha. Very very briefly just for a little while. He came to me about ask after a couple of weeks and told me he was leaving the chateau. I didn't see David again for quite some time.
SPEAKER: M15
He knew he couldn't win. Was that was that the reason he left.
SPEAKER: M23
Given that turmoil.
SPEAKER: M17
I think it was evident that there were too many too many producers and that Dustin had the power and I think David David of course didn't exactly endear himself to Michael Apted who was his friend. By leaving like that and working it wasn't perhaps the act of a hero. But he must have had his reasons and I don't know more about it than that really.
SPEAKER: M7
I was sad to see him go because I felt we'd lost the stability that we needed to keep the ship afloat as it was. We had all these sundry American producers whipping in and whipping out.
SPEAKER: M16
They were always coming in every day every jumbo that landed was giving me another producer to show the film two to two questions First all those producers whom did they represent the money or they represented the money.
SPEAKER: M24
Sure they represented first artists which was a company at that time. It was one of those utopian companies formed by actors for actors. Streisand was one was right and that I think give them an opening.
SPEAKER: M17
Newman McQueen. HOFFMAN I forget that it may have been others but it was a company which it never really worked out because they got involved with a lot of infighting and political problems.
SPEAKER: M16
I was curious if Hoffman was one of the owners of the company or one of the partners why was was he answering also to those producers or were they to him.
SPEAKER: M19
I don't really know. I don't think that Dustin himself had that much to do with these people that were flying in and out.
SPEAKER: M20
I think they were there trying to hold the financial reins because I'm sure the film was a runaway by now. And I think the man the man who finally was the sort of the the real producer of the film was a man who will Phil Feldman who was the boss of first artists Phil Feldman is now dead but he was a lawyer who had been given the job of running that company and he was the one that I answered to find finally Michael Apted and I had answer to two out and and Hoffman ended up having a very acrimonious lawsuit with Phil Feldman and first artists. There was a bit dragged on for years years and years there were depositions running into hundreds of pages.
SPEAKER: M11
It was a very nasty and dirty fight. And I've really no idea who won it. I was only thankful that nobody ever asked me for my deposition.
SPEAKER: M16
Be interesting to look up variety and read the accounts and. I was curious about David Putnam's manner of leaving what he did was he just not there one day or did he make a grand exit.
SPEAKER: M19
Well as I said I saw very little of him myself and it was only I think on the day he was about to leave that he came down to Twickenham took me out to lunch and said I'm leaving the show and that that was all I can tell you about that.
SPEAKER: M10
It all happened in other areas. They were all on location at the time. They were up in Harrogate.
SPEAKER: M12
Is he a bolter. That's another leading question I think David has been known to bolt on occasions. Yes.
SPEAKER: M15
Well I there are others did it too. Was it a trauma for you. Did it affect you or did you not be intercepted as I enjoyed every minute.
SPEAKER: M17
I love a challenge like that. I love to take material which is not working and make it work. I made it work much better than the original script. So I was I was happy that we had achieved that much for that.
SPEAKER: M16
Now how do you approach a task like that is it an intellectual exercise or is it purely pragmatic.
SPEAKER: M26
I never think of myself as an intellectual I suppose I must be in a way I if I look upon it as a problem to be solved then a rather massive problem that's sitting in front of you is like a it's like a sort of immovable object that you've got to shift somehow and you can't anticipate it and you don't know what's going to happen when you begin.
SPEAKER: M5
No you don't though as it precedes you can get the general vibration but it's certainly in its setting rather rigidly.
SPEAKER: M21
It's a bit these films get constipated very often. I think that's that that's a reasonable analogy and they need a laxative.
SPEAKER: M27
And I think we come along with that laxative and find a way of pushing the material out. Is it like carving something out of marble or is it it is if you have certain actors that you're working with like De Niro which I will come to. Carving a performance.
SPEAKER: M8
Yes that's a very precise analogy.
SPEAKER: M27
Carving a whole movie is different thing it's it's really keeping the interest going without losing the sense and then finding ways and means of propelling a story without wrecking it. Very often of course you get to the point where you're simply making a film releasable.
SPEAKER: M28
One of the most interesting things I think that's come out of what you've said is the number of pictures that can be carved out of the material that ends up in the cutting room now. How do you approach that. Do you do yourself defying the momentum of the film. The the essence of it. Or do you cast around for it in hopes.
SPEAKER: M12
Well I always my my my method is simply to cut the film as the director shoots it so that the editor's version of the movie is a full version of everything that's been shot for the picture.
SPEAKER: M29
I never make editorial decisions before that stage is reached. I never I never show a movie to a director. Having already excised things I always put everything in the whole boiling goes in in the shape that the script dictates.
SPEAKER: M12
I never never never say right.
SPEAKER: M24
This isn't going to work like this. Let's have another go let's try and change this. All that comes later. That's after the director and I have looked at the thing and we said Okay what do we do.
SPEAKER: M29
Then we can decide where we're going to go with it which which way we're going to push what we're going to lose. And all of that the final shaping is a collaborative thing. I'm not a dictatorial editor. Never have been I don't believe that. And I'm sure I've already said that I don't approve of film editors who who lay down the law.
SPEAKER: M24
Two directors.
SPEAKER: M27
I don't think it's their role you could say that.
SPEAKER: M28
How do you retain your objectivity at what point are you in danger of losing it.
SPEAKER: M27
Meaning if I get very depressed about something I could probably begin to lose it and think Oh God I wish this would go away.
SPEAKER: M9
But I don't normally lose it. And I don't normally get depressed when I because I say I like a challenge.
SPEAKER: M29
And even if the film is beginning to look bad one still tries. I think as I grow older I get bolder in as much as I am now will speak to directors during the shooting rather more than I used to. When I can see things beginning to go a little wrong. If in fact there's anything one can do to improve the goods at that stage then I will try and be brave enough to pack up the courage to say and I might think you might regret this or do you think this performance is going in the right way.
SPEAKER: M11
I never did that. Because I was too timid and I don't think directors very often require you to do that.
SPEAKER: M28
Have you ever left to production because of the clash or a disagreement no I think the answer is no.
SPEAKER: M27
I can't in my can't think of anything I've actually left out. There was only one firm that's very curious. This comes much later so perhaps we should leave it until then. There is one film later on in my career which I didn't finish in which I shared a credit on but that much later. Right. Okay so.
SPEAKER: M15
Well I guess there seems to have been followed by something quite quite different.
SPEAKER: M9
Thanks. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M29
So we were in preproduction of the Yanks while we were finishing Agatha are off and the Yanks was a film I always wanted to do.
SPEAKER: M14
The genesis of the Yanks was that while we were doing Marathon Man Colin welland arrived on the set one day and Colin being a friend of Dustin Hoffman with whom he'd worked on straw dogs and Colin had written a script called Yanks which was about American soldiers in England during the war.
SPEAKER: M31
And while John Sasson Joe was waiting around on the set for something to be done Colin was telling him the story of the Yanks he'd come over to try and entice Dustin to play the lead or one of the leads and instead of which instead of grabbing Dustin he grabbed John because that night John said to me I think I've found my next picture that's really excites me going back to England because he always whenever John was working in America he always wanted to be in England and vice versa.
SPEAKER: M14
So I went to school when when we were having dinner that night and he told me about Yanks.
SPEAKER: M26
I said Well that sounds great let's do it. So John got Joe Yanni his old partner and they set the Yanks up at United Artists and everything went extremely smoothly and very fluidly and they got Richard Gill who was fairly hot new actor at that point. They decided in their wisdom to cast an American girl as the English Corner Shop Girl which I always thought was a mistake and said sir.
SPEAKER: M27
Was brave enough to say so. Though I think perhaps now looking at the film I perhaps was wrong but at the time I didn't think I was.
SPEAKER: M20
They shot the film up north. No grave problems it was a it was a fine film to work on it was a highly enjoyable picture.
SPEAKER: M33
I don't have any particular stories of yanks that I think are illuminating.
SPEAKER: M22
Could you name the actress. I again I was working with Vanessa Redgrave for the second time in a row because she was an actor as well. The actress I'm talking about was Liza icon.
SPEAKER: M31
These are icon did a test for John. John tested six girls including Liza. LIASSON I wish you pronounce and name and I had no idea she was American.
SPEAKER: M33
And I think he he he took to her immediately seeing her as the sort of English Rose I thought she gave. I thought she was a fake and she was in Texas or somewhere anyway.
SPEAKER: M12
She didn't do a bad job it's just that I never believed her as an English girl from the north.
SPEAKER: M16
It's an interesting point because English actors of British actors are often inclined to play Americans usually very badly with a terribly funny accent.
SPEAKER: M14
Well she managed to affect a sort of Lancashire accent it wasn't very broad and probably just as well for the American audiences.
SPEAKER: M12
The film was never a big success. I was rather sad about that because I thought we'd done a very good job with it. And I particularly like when people ask me what work I've done which I'm particularly proud of I usually mention Dover locals but actually I'm really rather proud of the last 30 minutes of Yanks which I think works tremendously well.
SPEAKER: M33
It's very touching. It moves well and it's very nicely put together again.
SPEAKER: M12
We've experimented a lot with the movement of the sea. We all altered scenes around a lot. John and I.
SPEAKER: M1
Towards the end of Yanks What did you say. Why. Where we ended it at Twickenham.
SPEAKER: M12
We shot a lot of at Twickenham as well the interiors were shot there and as I say it was a happy film except that John got terribly fed up with the set of The Corner Shop the the shop itself and the living quarters behind it he got so bored with that set he kept asking me to come up with new angles for him not just me but the cameraman and the script girl.
SPEAKER: M35
We were all always being asked over to see if we could possibly find another place to put the camera because he got so bored with it. I had a very nice time on that too because he asked me to rehearse the actors for him to sort of pre rehearse some scenes which I hadn't done I'd directed before of course but I haven't done any serious directing for years so I had Rachel Roberts and Liza I called them rich again and people are on an empty stage at Twickenham going.
SPEAKER: M12
Going through the scenes and trying yet again to find new and couple spots there's the shop on the corner store. But the the film itself worked very well.
SPEAKER: M33
As I say there were no grave problems on it. There is sadness of course was that Gerry and I had a stroke while we were in post-production and never worked again where did that do this commercially nude.
SPEAKER: M28
You remember. Was it here or was it in the States.
SPEAKER: M12
I imagine. I can't remember the figures. I imagine it probably did better here than it did in America. I don't know why it didn't take off in America. I have a feeling if it was made now it would do better than it did then. I don't know the reason they just didn't take. I think they didn't take to the Vanessa Redgrave build a vain side of the story. She played the lady of the manor and built a vein was the low it was the American Major. I thought they did it very well and I was very touched by John put a lot of his own family into that film.
SPEAKER: M26
His mother was Vanessa really. And John himself was the reluctant schoolboy.
SPEAKER: M12
And there was a dancehall sequence in that which I'm very proud of. I think that was one of the things that I really enjoyed.
SPEAKER: M26
I did the second unit of that as well as I was a director. But we had masses of film masses of it and it was a great scene to cut because I loved that period anyway.
SPEAKER: M1
I loved all that music. I really enjoyed cutting that live.
SPEAKER: M16
Maybe you're more fond of the film because it does relate so much to part of your growing up there is I think in the United States they're not generally interested anywhere in anyone else's war are they. Probably not.
SPEAKER: M20
But it was their boys after all who had gone off to war and I always thought that I.
SPEAKER: M12
I always thought one of the reasons why the film perhaps didn't work as well as it should have done emotionally is because we didn't we didn't follow the boys to D-Day which is what I personally think we should have done. We left we left the heroes as they left another station.
SPEAKER: M14
I have always said to Colin that I thought we should have killed one of them off. I think your own some sort of coda. Yeah. And because I thought if we'd ended the film with the death of one of the boys it would have really been a tear jerker that we were after. Which one would you have killed.
SPEAKER: M18
I privately think the little Italian guy for one. Well I can't remember his name now but he was a good little actor touching performance he'd go to anyway.
SPEAKER: M9
That was that. And I didn't think it was about Mother.
SPEAKER: F1
Alas I didn't do the business pretty well.
SPEAKER: M15
Then following that there's one we've already touched on honky tonk pre-war. Yes.
SPEAKER: M12
We went straight on to honky tonk Freeway which as you know was a big failure and was the last on that lesson and I worked together on feeling that we'd we tried everything together and lamentably failed on this occasion.
SPEAKER: M16
But you thought not at the time I was on the freeway was a bastard child.
SPEAKER: M12
It was a film which we liked and nobody else liked. And it's the kind of thing that you occasionally come across especially I think with comedy. Comedy is a very rare bird. There are areas of comedy which touched some people and don't touch others at all. I think the spectrum of comedy that we used in honky tonk freeway was very small. It was a very small part of the whole of the spectrum of comedy. I'd had that experience myself years before when I directed rented Dick which we've mentioned previously rented Dick I thought was very funny while we were doing it.
SPEAKER: M32
I now realize that it had in my new spectrum and would only appeal to about not point not not five of any audience.
SPEAKER: M12
Now with honky tonk freeway John was imposing his own sense of outrage which is colossal onto material which couldn't really take it. And it was an English sense of outrage imposed on American material so that whilst we were making it one has to say that everybody the big cast the crew everybody thought this material was hilarious. Which does point to another thing in comedy an old adage that if the rushes are funny the film will not be that that maxim does hold a certain amount of credibility but it doesn't always and you cannot always say that if you enjoy making a film it's going to be a flop.
SPEAKER: M22
And it's only the ones that are agony that end up being hits. It isn't always true.
SPEAKER: M21
But there is a certain truth in the fact that if the unit continue to laugh at something which is in front of them but that it doesn't necessarily work when it's projected just to interject doesn't that very frequently show up on the film itself.
SPEAKER: M16
You know that they were caught and corpses themselves on the set and you're sitting there in the audience thinking Oh my God what was going on happened also of course on the last remake of HBO's guest on the set.
SPEAKER: M22
Everyone thought it was hilariously funny. But when you sat in the theater it wasn't the same thing to a degree happened with honky tonk freeway or the script of it on the freeway. It was a first script by a young American called Clinton who was a friend of Don Boyd's Don Boyd was the English producer of honky tonk Freeway. This was his passport to Hollywood which in the end of course was a fiasco for him. We also had an American producer John's insistence because he said that Don Boyd in no way could handle this film. So Howard Koch Junior was brought on to to be co producer.
SPEAKER: M27
How did the work done.
SPEAKER: M22
Was there but he wasn't it wasn't our favorite with the ways of Hollywood he he didn't know. I'm sure colossal errors were made in the budgeting and the scheduling of the film which is the real reason the film was so castigated because it had a budget of in excess of 20 million and that was in nineteen seventy nine which today would be I don't know who it would be up in the last action hero area wouldn't it. And it was all in my money I think it was EMI money and EMI during the course of production went down and all their all. The.
SPEAKER: M12
Films were handled then by Universal.
SPEAKER: M16
I remember Don Boyd at the time when it turned out to be such a disaster saying that someone I don't know if he intended it to be John had gotten the film away from him that he'd lost control of it.
SPEAKER: M28
But what had intended to be a quite small scale low budget enterprise suddenly escalated into this giant grotesque extravaganza.
SPEAKER: M12
It certainly escalated by nature of its script and I think nobody had realized just how expensive it would be to shoot on freeways. It's an incredibly expensive. You cannot do a film like that on the fly. First of all you have to find a freeway which is not open because you have to.
SPEAKER: M21
You can't shoot on a public freeway.
SPEAKER: M22
There's no way you can do it unless you simply put a camera in a car and drive along. That's all you can do because otherwise you're going to cause major accident cutaway shot a real freeway.
SPEAKER: M4
You know what I mean.
SPEAKER: M12
I think if you were doing your own cheap film perhaps you could do it another way. But to get any scale out of it John insisted on shooting on a real Freeway which we had to populate because freeways have traffic on them every time we did a take we had to have 200 cars with 200 drivers and every time back to the start I would go to the start and you know how long it takes to rearrange each line.
SPEAKER: M22
That's one of the reasons the film was such a runaway financial mess. The other reason I think was to do with the fact that we had Midway we had to change the schedule in order to use this freeway in Florida which was under construction. I know there was some problem regarding the fact that. Sets were not ready and I know there was a lot of ramifications which at which escalated the cost of that film colossally but whether Don was privy to this or whether whether he had no control over it.
SPEAKER: M12
I can't say I don't believe he had any control. I think he was. I think he was the weaker producer. He was just being dragged along. Yes I think he was but he was very critical of states and of course regretted in many ways that he'd got himself involved in it. I always thought it was a well-written script and I thought that Clinton had a wonderful sense of dialogue and I was extremely disturbed when the thing died on him I was very upset for him.
SPEAKER: M16
But it didn't just die in the states were part of the thought was it was very acid about American and American attitudes. It also died here. But it hardly opened here. That's true it played a week I think. Did know the film road. Did I say enough to catch it all alone as a kid.
SPEAKER: M22
But I mean how do you account for that that a film like given up on it by now then given up on it new they opened it in New York at the Ziegfeld which is one of the largest theaters in New York and played to three people. It was a colossal flop. They got terrible reviews and nobody won but they didn't have any stars. As such it had a lot of very good ensemble actors. I'm going to change the tape.

End of Side 5

Jim Clark Side 6
=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M1
This is being tendentious but I thought it was just plain frantic and overly broad that everyone was carrying on like a mad thing.
SPEAKER: M2
A touch of humor Marty Feldman again. Well I know and I realize we made a lot of errors but.
SPEAKER: M7
One of the problems was the version that you saw the released version was not as good as the original version the original version of Honky Tonk freeway was better before we had to go in for previews and we we did for extremely complex weeks of re cutting in America. We had cut the film in London. We had mixed the film in London. We had taken it over to America to preview it and we had had this most dreadful reception. So Universal said you got a recut the film and you got to do it here. So we had everything shipped to America and we proceeded to start re cutting. And we especially tackled the first real which was perceived as being a slow opener and we hacked at it and wrecked it.
SPEAKER: M6
Basically we went out to preview.
SPEAKER: M7
We did this for four weeks. We previewed on a Saturday night wherever we were. I think our first preview was in Seattle. We flew back to Seattle on the Sunday directly to the cutting rooms where we started re editing again. We had to have it ready for remixing by the Wednesday and on the Saturday we would then go to another city like Dallas or Chicago where we would again die.
SPEAKER: M15
And then we would again get on the plane and come back and spend another weeks re editing and another week's re editing and finally the companies said you cannot go on any longer. This is getting absurd and not only that the film was getting worse rather than better. So in the end we throw I threw in the towel basically and said Okay well that's it. The film is finished and we we then proceeded to bury it or they did.
SPEAKER: M17
They buried it.
SPEAKER: M7
It was a very unfortunate ending to a very happy film.
SPEAKER: M1
When you say by this time it was universal reverse. Yes. Who had no financial.
SPEAKER: M15
Well the only interest they had in it is that it was part of a package of films that they'd purchased from EMI and it behoves them to release it. Financially I guess the onus was on EMI.
SPEAKER: M13
Well I think that was really what killed the British film industry at that point. Right.
SPEAKER: M15
Yet a guitarist by kings who was in charge of EMI at that time was always at our previous and saying how wonderful the film was how much he loved it. Don Boyd was constantly saying to me as the film disappeared and died in front of our very eyes is what will make a million this will make 80 million this will make to honor him. He was always full of these extraordinarily optimistic statements as this film was seen and perceived by everybody to be a catastrophe. I've never quite understood producers. I think some of them are a little mad.
SPEAKER: M6
Saving your presence Norman. I'm not a big producer. Not in Hollywood.
SPEAKER: M23
But you did some second unit on on on. Yes and I said I'd never do that again either because I was always being kicked by John or Captain. I don't know why you've done it like that. I don't like that at all.
SPEAKER: M24
Finally in the end you said I would do it yourself.
SPEAKER: M23
Can you identify in surviving print loads loads of stuff that I do loads of stuff I've spent actually I've spent weeks on freeways with Arthur Weston is our second unit cameraman doing special rigs on cars to try and get new angles of things going along freeways and highways and nobody knows what else. But never again. No. No.
SPEAKER: M3
No. Is this the time to talk about your work with John or shall we say that again for the peroration and summation of your last film.
SPEAKER: M4
That was the answer so far. That was it. Yes. So far we've remained friendly ever since.
SPEAKER: M29
He did ask me to cut one more film a little while ago but I wasn't for you to do it. We might work together one day. We've always wanted to.
SPEAKER: M3
I was curious what your summation would be of his talents his strengths and his weaknesses his defects as a director.
SPEAKER: M23
Well he's a great friend and I don't like to say things about John which would hurt it but I mean we need to get away.
SPEAKER: M3
We're back to that theme Clark objectivity.
SPEAKER: M29
I tell you one thing about John which is a slight curse for him is that he gets less and less secure as you get older which one finds out in a way. I think it gets harder and harder to make films and I think as you get older it gets even more hard.
SPEAKER: M6
He still has a great deal of energy and he still has the ability. He's a very good director of actors and he tends to over decorate tends to put in too many little little touches. That's due again to insecurity.
SPEAKER: M5
He always wants he always wants to give you more than you need.
SPEAKER: M12
Really it's it's a slightly Jewish trait.
SPEAKER: M6
I always suspect that he would hate hate to invite you to dinner and not make sure that you'd had everything you needed.
SPEAKER: M12
And so you get overstuffed and there is a there is a certain aspect of John's character which tends to over stuff.
SPEAKER: M15
But he is a very intelligent man a man with a great love of cinema great love of life and has a great sense of outrage.
SPEAKER: M3
Yes.
SPEAKER: M1
Is there a sort of German Jewish Schmitz in so much who whose choice of material is a very similar sort of surly view of the world of people and which is what you mean by outrage is it. Yes.
SPEAKER: M15
And the thing about John that I really love about him is that over all the many years I have known him he has never changed at all. He's exactly the same now as he was when I met him on darling. I need to tell you the same stories and they do the same imitation is a lovely man. Is that right. Yes. Yes. And I'm very privileged to have worked with him and to have known him all these years.
SPEAKER: M3
There's an awful I find a remoteness in his films a barrier. Is that something you've been conscious on. That's what it often strikes me that he withdraws from his relationship with the characters. Is his overly objective towards them.
SPEAKER: M5
Does John John is a man of great likes and dislikes which might be the reason you're feeling this. That applies to characters as well as to actors.
SPEAKER: M16
If he takes against an actor he's vicious with them and he treats them badly.
SPEAKER: M5
And that may mean that their performance becomes remote. I mean for example on day of the Locust he cast Bill Atherton in the lead.
SPEAKER: M4
And from the very day that we started he decided he'd miscast him. He didn't like him and he didn't like his performance didn't like anything about him. And because of that he took it out on him. Poor Bill had the most terrible time on that picture.
SPEAKER: M17
He was he was bullied you know about this.
SPEAKER: M4
Well that's the second instance of bullying you've spoken about because you were talking about the editor on Midnight Cowboy and go into the side of John which I would this is not as most pleasant characteristic that can be through insecurity. He can be a little bit of a bully. Does he see some weakness.
SPEAKER: M17
He can. Yes he can.
SPEAKER: M5
I I'm not really the right person to ask about this. You should. You should be asking somebody on the floor more than somebody in the cutting room because that's where it comes out more than in the cutting room the cutting room John lives to look around a lot. He's very lucky you know. And that's one of the reasons one enjoys working with him because he keeps the atmosphere light and he can be extremely rude and caustic and funny wicked sense of humor everywhere. Now I know I miss that by the way when I'm working with people who are straighter than John who don't have that ability because John's sense of humor keeps you going.
SPEAKER: M3
Well we've touched on these negative aspects.
SPEAKER: M4
What about his strengths. Well I thought I'd touched on those as well.
SPEAKER: F1
Really.
SPEAKER: M5
I mean I think his strengths are inasmuch as he his great love of cinema and of storytelling and his love of music for example come through love of painting. Yes he was very loyal also to many others. Richard MacDonald the production designer worked on many of John's films. I worked on many of them. Connie Hall lit two of John's films. He's he sticks with he sticks with with his friends his loyal. Yes.
SPEAKER: M13
And as you can see any reason he worked with Joe Yanni on how many films several are in.
SPEAKER: M5
That was a good team. They had many big fights. I've heard wonderful fights between them two of them.
SPEAKER: M17
I wish I'd recorded them great fights but always ending up friendly.
SPEAKER: M5
The fights were always about the films not about anything else. They were always about scenes in films and about behavior. A Joe Joe would go off in one direction and John would go off in the other direction and they would clash bitterly over behavioural scenes.
SPEAKER: M3
Well now we won't have another chance to talk about Joe Yanni who was quite a remarkable producer in his way. I'm sure a producer with whom you approve.
SPEAKER: M5
Absolutely. Joe again was a man of enormous wit and that was another reason why one enjoyed working for me. It was also outrageous in his way. He also had a wonderful story sense. And I think that was the great thing that held them all together. Joe was remarkable. Even though he wasn't English he was remarkable at knowing what was need and what was not needed. He was very good at that. And Joe and John respected that. Enormously. But Joe's ability to to be able to put the finger on what was wrong with the scene. This was after he'd been shot sometimes before very often before. But Joe being a sort of wily Milanese was also a very good person to have around when you were looking for money. He was pretty good at raising dough. And of course as he was a character as a character and he was a man of great intelligence and most of all of great wit and shared John's outrageous sense of humor and a great recognized talent too I think certainly certainly. He he.
SPEAKER: M4
He always claimed he discovered Julie Christie but it wasn't exactly true because Ken Anna Ken had used her previously. But I think it was Joe who realized her potential.
SPEAKER: M13
She replaced someone in she replayed.
SPEAKER: M4
And she barely lie. Yes. Which was a big break for everybody.
SPEAKER: M13
So this poor girl it was replaced which I think is the best example of John's wicked sense of humor. By the way that film I think is delicious.
SPEAKER: M5
It is. But again don't forget that it was also a very good script. Yes very good play. And and he cast it perfectly. I've always believed myself that if you don't have a good script and you're out of the right cast you can't end up with a good film. And so many of the pictures are not correctly cast. And I also believe that casting directors are not given the recognition they deserve they get very major credits these days and deserve them.
SPEAKER: M18
Yeah I get it wrong.
SPEAKER: F3
I really screwed up. Well now that seems to dispose of honky tonk freeway aside now.
SPEAKER: M4
I think Rick Perry did it. It and I will work for a while. After that I got very demoralized. John did too. We both got hugely demoralized and I thought at that time well I don't know whether I want to go on. Did it affect your careers. I did everything wrong. It affected John's career extremely badly.
SPEAKER: M13
He didn't work for ages. I couldn't give him away. Same is true of Boyd of course. Yes. Yes.
SPEAKER: M8
Well Don wanted to direct about the point but anyway John didn't make another film until the BBC gave him an Englishman abroad which was only two years later which was two years later and he didn't work for the longest time. He may have done some theatre in the meantime and opera possibly here.
SPEAKER: M4
But but he was very low and I was very low. We were exhausted apart many thing else because it had been a very tiring episode and it had failed so no. The sense of failure in Hollywood is it's so rotten place to be when you've failed. Anyway I decided then that I thought I might like to direct again and I had a little patch when I was trying to set myself up again as a director traveling around Hollywood getting interviews with people.
SPEAKER: M9
That was also very depressing because I realized what I was doing was quite wrong shouldn't have been doing that as all I should just pick myself up and dusted myself off and started all over again which is what I did.
SPEAKER: M4
But I think I think Am I right in saying that the next thing I did was privates on parade according to my list. Yes but there was quite a long pause between those two films. Yes. And I took privates on parade because I had nothing else to do. I wasn't being offered anything much around that time was a bad time.
SPEAKER: M10
Was a low period and I think it was Simon Ralph who offered me privates on parade.
SPEAKER: M4
Simon I'd worked on Yanks on which he was the assistant director. Then he was producing. So we did privates on parade together which was Michael Blake most US film.
SPEAKER: M11
Our first feature film and again that was a pleasant film to make a forum for handmade Denis O'Brien and I got on very well.
SPEAKER: M4
Very nice man Dennis. Sadly handmade went some point but the price operator was not very much to say about. Except that it wasn't as good as the play play or was that the play was one hilarious. Was one of the great events.
SPEAKER: M11
I thought one of the great plays and that of course was why I wanted to help him because I loved the play and I'd done Peter Nichols for a long time. I didn't know Blakemore. The problems with that were twofold.
SPEAKER: M4
I think first of all Denis O'Brien wanted to make it into a vehicle for John Cleese so that the part that part was beefed up and he wanted to modify the Dennis Quigley role so that it wasn't quite so camp as it had been on the stage so that in a way the humour and the the sense of calm of the original got somewhat dissipated also because they couldn't afford to go abroad on location we ended up shooting the jungle stuff in Shepparton or somewhere and it never good.
SPEAKER: M12
This tended to look a bit tacky.
SPEAKER: M4
It was a nicely cast film except perhaps with the Cleese role or jump. John was very good in the part but somehow or other it never worked as well as it did on the stage. And you could probably explain to me better than I can why that was so the none the musical numbers were the same. Dennis Kingdom very very good pastiche songs. Blakemore directed it rather squarely. I think perhaps was one of its problems partly due to the fact that he was a stage director and and had not had the experience of a narrative film. He'd made one extremely fine short film in Australia of film about his early life in Australia. Particular about his father which is one of the best autobiographical films you will ever see title of which I'd forgotten.
SPEAKER: M13
I think one of the problems is that the film is that it is the only theatrical poster in the material and in the execution.
SPEAKER: M14
Yeah I guess it's made for a live audience. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
SPEAKER: M13
In that way it worked wonderfully on the stage. I was simply out it leave myself and it didn't transfer and a great performance from clearly on wage. Wonderful. And was it Nigel Hawthorne. I think it was yes. You played that played the Glee's part. But there again it's a contrived plot. I don't think it works as a plot as in film whereas it does in a sort of three a..
SPEAKER: M4
It was. It was unfortunate Peter. Peter Nichols adapted it himself. So we can't blame another writer for that but it's still an enjoyable film because of its virtues.
SPEAKER: M13
It's a lightweight film but it doesn't have anything like the stature of the original show if indeed you could say that a comedy of that kind has stature.
SPEAKER: M11
I thought it had I thought also it said rather a lot.
SPEAKER: M13
Yes in the theatre about colonialism and yet the situation well there again it's there in a theatrical form in the film it hasn't become a film I suspect. Well that's that's true.
SPEAKER: M4
That's what happened with.
SPEAKER: M16
But it was while I think I was finishing that off that I had a call from the David Putnam people to do the killing fields yes which really was a turning point for me and I knew nothing about that material and I knew nothing about the director except I think I'd seen some of Roland Joffe his work on television. But I had a call one day to would I go into the office to um to meet with Roland and I went in and he told me about the film what it was going to be and he gave me a script and we had a very brief meeting the ten minute meeting and I came back here and read the script and I said to Laurence well my God is absolutely astonishing stuff and I'd do anything to cut this one like I and I recognised straightaway that we were on to a very remarkable film. I had no idea if Roland was capable of it.
SPEAKER: M4
Anyway I had a second meeting after I'd read the script I had a second meeting with Roland and again very brief just before he went off on location and I said I'd love to do it and so that was all set up. They went off to Holland to Thailand to shoot it and I remained here in London of course had meetings with Putnam who said to me now you've got to be entirely fearless. He said You are the you are the man who is going to say this material first because it's processed in London I want you to look at the rushes every day and to phone me in Thailand and tell me exactly what you think without fear of failure. So I did and got myself into deep water with Roland straightaway because quite rightly he was disturbed because I was sending in a number of negative reports about things which I was a little bit out of my province like for example the acting the coverage even I think I got down to criticising a certain amount of the lighting and I was I was I was doing what I'd been told to do.
SPEAKER: M18
I was looking at this material every day and making a very rapid assessment of it particularly David said the first two weeks is the most important because once a film if in the first two weeks it gets on the rails properly it will not come off them. That's always been David's theory and he's probably right.
SPEAKER: M4
So for the first two weeks I was very very picky about their material which basically I liked basically my my remarks were only to enhance the material my particular beef was that Roland wasn't directing Sam Waterston as strongly as he should have done to me. Waterston was not playing the role.
SPEAKER: M18
Of a hardened war reporter. He was playing the role as a rather Fey upstate New York reporter who might just possibly be reporting a gymkhana.
SPEAKER: M4
In other words he hadn't got that feeling of experience which I felt that character needed in order to make it work at all. And when it was getting angrier with with Dith Pran when he was upset with Dith Pran.
SPEAKER: M19
He was being petulant which I thought was wrong. So my criticisms were directorial.
SPEAKER: M4
This got up Roland's nose up to a point and I could never never speak to Roland because he was always on location and the time change was such that we could never connect and it was before the days of faxes.
SPEAKER: M20
So we were never able to fax one another. I simply spoke to Putnam every day and said David you've got to decide about this. That and the other go and tell Roland to try this try that whatever I was being very critical for which David bless his heart has always thanked me because he claims that I've really helped them put the show on the right rails regarding Sam's performance. Then they shot a very big sequence of the evacuation of non pan which was a day's work with thousands of extras and it was a very big deal. But because of the problems of shooting it and the fact they only had two cameras that under covered it grossly so I had these massive long takes of people leaving the city.
SPEAKER: M4
They I think they did six takes in the course of the day so they could manage. But they were never getting the details that I needed so I was putting up a lot of flak about that. David then said Well you've got to come here so he said I want you to go to Hollywood with an assembly of everything we've shot so far. I want you to show to Warner Brothers because they're anxious to see it. Then I want you to fly on to Thailand and talk to Roland and show him the material. So I had really put my neck on the line here. First of all I had to cut together everything that we'd shot without Roland seeing it because the only thing he could see were tapes which I did send but he never had time to look at them. But I was cutting whole scenes by now. They'd been shooting for about six weeks. I had a lot of films because he was shooting a hell of a lot of film. Anyway I put all this stuff together I did attempt dub of it took it over to Warner Brothers we ran it. They were knocked out by I thought i t was fabulous. I went on to. I met David in Singapore. We ran it there therefore all the far east and distributors as a special event. They were knocked out by it.
SPEAKER: M16
DAVID SOBEL It's great it all works it's fabulous it's terrific it's this it's that I went on with him to Thailand to the to Bangkok where Roland refused to speak with me he didn't want to know me wished I wasn't there I couldn't get a hold of him in his room. Finally I spoke to him and I said he said tomorrow was Sunday so I've got to shoot thanks to you because you asked for this additional cover of the evacuation.
SPEAKER: M4
I can only do it on a Sunday with with extras and that's who I can only get this on a Sunday so I've got to work tomorrow.
SPEAKER: M21
He was very he was very really very unpleasant with me and I was so I said Well let me come with you we can talk in the car. He said well he'd be in the foyer at 6:00 and I thought well Roland like really getting off very badly here. And I went down to the foyer at 6:00. He didn't look for me at all.
SPEAKER: M4
I saw him in the ditch in the far distance simply walked through the foyer and get in his car and leave.
SPEAKER: M16
In other words avoiding me.
SPEAKER: M20
So I had to get a taxi finally and find my way to the location where he barely spoke to me at all during the day he was doing everything I was asking for was doing all that all the close ups that I missed but he didn't want to know me at all.
SPEAKER: M16
It was the only time in my career that I'd had this problem with a director and it upset me dreadfully because I I realized I'd overstepped the boundaries that he was angry and offended and I figured that he probably thought I was simply the producer's man anyway at lunchtime they all get together at a long table in the street and managed to get close to him when he said look. One of the actors is leaving tonight and we're throwing a dinner for him. Maybe you'd like to come. That evening broke the ice. Thank God he invited me to this party where there were certainly 30 or 40 people and everybody relaxed.
SPEAKER: M4
And I said to Roland I'm terribly sorry about this situation. It's not one that I like and it's not one of my making and partner was there too. So the three of us got together and from that point on Roland and I had nothing but a good relationship. From that point on he trusted me implicitly. He didn't mind what I said and he he did what I said. And we got on terribly well through that film and the subsequent on but crucially the ending was very good.
SPEAKER: M14
He did it.
SPEAKER: M4
He did but it was an awkward situation for him which I fully understood it was his first feature film. He was he was struggling. He wasn't always right and I think he knew it.
SPEAKER: M14
He was arguing about something which reason you've given us hadn't actually seen.
SPEAKER: M4
Know I have to say that he had basically either not seen the need for details in a scene which in his head he'd conceived as something massive in terms of figures of thousands of people he had never figured that one needed of course to sew these things together in some way.
SPEAKER: M22
What had you been sending out to him an assembly or the role he'd had the assembly on tape.
SPEAKER: M4
You never said which which I can't say whether he actually saw. Sometimes I think perhaps he looked at things other times I know he never did and never had the time which is a big problem for directors when they are on location. That was a tight budget wasn't it. No. It was the height ish. I don't know exactly what it costs I think. I think it was around about 15 million. He they shot the film in two halves the first half was shot in Thailand that involved all the stuff in Phnom Penh and all the stuff of Dith Pran and in the killing fields they then came back to England and stopped shooting for about a month and reconvened in Canada where they did all the American end of it and then they went down to San Diego and did all the stuff with the big helicopters that month of hiatus was crucial to the film and it was a very good idea because during that month Roland and I were able to work together and see where our big problems were because the film was clearly going to be way way over le ngth. The first cut was four hours and even by the time he'd shot all that all the Thailand material it was already way too long and he'd got scenes which he'd improvised which weren't cutting together well and was much too long and there were lots and lots of editorial problems all of which had to be solved and many of which we solved at that point by saying when you're in Canada doing the next leg of the film do a scene where such and such a thing occurs so that we can lose this entire reel. In other words we we found ways of compressing the film by by creating another scene by using one scene where we'd formerly had four. We could only do that and have that luxury because he still had a third of the film to shoot. That was the saving grace of that film.
SPEAKER: M21
So he went off again. By now we were getting on like a house on fire and not not only that but we knew we got very good material and he went off to Canada did all the American stuff sent all that back and we then had the four hour cut which I remember clearly we ran one afternoon in Soho around the full four hour cut of the killing fields at the end of which Putnam said well we're opening the champagne now and he got loads of bottles of champagne into the theater and we had we toasted the movie and even though we knew it was very very long we also knew that we got a film which was a knockout.
SPEAKER: M4
So we didn't look back from there. All we did a lot of extra shooting on that film to patch it up because we kept having to cut great lumps out of it. And after preview here we had a very bad preview here which is interesting. The very first public screening of The Killing Fields was held at Wimbledon at the Odeon which is one of the few theaters then that was equipped with a double head system. We lost a lot of the audience many many many people walked past because they didn't understand it and partly because the construction was still wrong particularly in the opening reels and we were very depressed after that screening.
SPEAKER: M18
PAUL ROWLAND had never been through any of this before sat alone wondering what had happened really because we all thought we had a fine film and yet people were not digging it. They were leaving and they were unsure of what they were watching.
SPEAKER: M4
Of course it was attempt da we'd done very quickly.
SPEAKER: M21
We had lots of elements missing but I went to the restaurant where everybody was meeting I stayed behind in the theater to pack the film up because it was double head and there was an awful lot of it. We were running then about shooting about two and a half hours roughly. And I joined everybody in then a little Italian restaurant Wimbledon and everybody was saying you know we're to do something about the opening because everyone thinks they're in Vietnam.
SPEAKER: M4
They don't seem to understand that when in Cambodia. I don't know why this is happening so the following morning I went into the cutting room and on my little cassette recorder I recorded a short piece of narration that I had written which I then recorded with my own voice and stuck on the film at the beginning at the beginning using some film some visual material that we'd got from other areas of the picture.
SPEAKER: M18
In other words simply said I was a reporter for The New York Times working in Cambodia during the Vietnamese war where I was helped and aided by my friend a local man Dith Pran but I died as a very simple intro. So when Rowland came in that morning I said take a look at this. And I ran it for him on the steam back and he said fine we'll keep that.
SPEAKER: M4
He rewrote it. He rewrote the words but the actual idea remained. So we never changed that. We kept that in got Sam to record it so and and that remained and helped the film a lot. It was a very very simple device. The voice over device is a very useful tool used by every documentarian but not always used a great deal of features. So anyway once we had recut the film yet again we we took a lot of heed of the fact that we hadn't played well in Wimbledon and we we then scored the film properly and did the whole thing and took it to America where it played pretty well. It wasn't a runaway preview hit but it was well respected by especially by Warner Brothers who could see that they had a prestigious film. That was very important to us. These previews you know are not just for an assessment of a public appreciation. They are they're very very much for the companies to decide how much money they're going to spend on the publicity.
SPEAKER: M16
That to me is the most important aspect of a preview. I don't really terribly care to get the feedback from the public.
SPEAKER: M18
I think we all we always pretty much know what we've got. But it's important for the for the for the company to perceive what the audiences like anyway. That was the history of the killing fields.
SPEAKER: M13
Was it a troika too to what extent was Putnam involved enormously enormously. Putnam certainly was a troika and I was there with Rowland every single day in the cutting room role and worked extremely hard on that film.
SPEAKER: M5
He was not he was always with me. I wasn't doing things on my own all the time but we've worked very well together.
SPEAKER: M4
But as I say we did have to do reshooting and the final act of reshooting was to was to fly with Sam Waterston back here put a false beard on him because by now and shaved his beard off take him up tobacconist field to the film school with hang no played Dith Pran and shoot additional scenes at the film school. Not only that but we we did some scenes in the back of a Jeep on on a road near Beaconsfield which cut in to the Cambodian material with no trouble at all.
SPEAKER: M25
PETER MAY WE BREAK JUST FOR A MINUTE BECAUSE UM WE'RE ROLLING THE UM. There was indeed an outcome of the killing fields. How did it feel to win an Academy Award.
SPEAKER: M13
Oh it was terrifying.
SPEAKER: M26
I'll tell you the experience of the Oscar was something it was great to get nominated for the film and I was thrilled to get nominated and I flew over to Los Angeles.
SPEAKER: M8
Now there is a there is another organization in America called the ACS that's the American cinema editors association who had also nominated me and their dinner.
SPEAKER: M4
They nominate their awards dinner is is the night before the Oscars.
SPEAKER: M9
And I went along to this dinner and I was absolutely terrified that I might win.
SPEAKER: M8
I felt I felt terribly nervous at the prospect of winning and actually having to get up and make some sort of speech was terrifying to me. I didn't enjoy the evening at all because as the evening progressed and the moment got closer I began to feel as if I needed actually to go to the bathroom every five minutes. So it wasn't a very happy evening and I was thrilled to bits. When Amadeus won it so I didn't have to get asked and make an ass of myself. However various people said to me well it doesn't mean that you won't get the Oscar. I said oh yes it does. I said it the aces and the Oscars always go hand in glove. However one of the editors said to me not true is said I. I won the aces one one year but I didn't get the Oscar.
SPEAKER: M4
So the following evening was the big evening and one went I said to my daughter who went with me.
SPEAKER: M8
I said you cannot drink neither of us are to have a drink in the limousine which had a bath before we go to the ceremony because I cannot be in a position where I feel I need to go to the lavatory during it. I must not drink. So we didn't have a drop. You sit there for hours at these ceremonies they go on and on and on and on and on.
SPEAKER: M4
And I was extremely relaxed because I said to my daughter I'm not going to win this because Amadeus certainly going to win it. So just relax and enjoy the evening which is what I intended to do. So when the actual announcement was made you you could have knocked me down with a feather because I was totally and it was completely unexpected I had rehearsed the tiniest and shortest acceptance speech in the morning just in case this happened.
SPEAKER: M20
Well when it did happen and I stood up and I had to take that long walk up to the stage I of course completely forgot everything that I'd rehearsed and said whatever I said. Apparently the speech was quite nice but I finally came out with an I was thrilled to get it.
SPEAKER: M16
Well more thrilled for the film and very disappointed for Roland because I still maintain that it's completely mad to give an Oscar to an editor and not to give it to the director because the two things go together. But the contribution in the editing made by the director is of paramount importance. So I did acknowledge the fact that it was largely due to the material that I was given but that I was able to make a film. The film work.
SPEAKER: M4
What they never tell you at the Oscar ceremonies is that after you've received your statuette you don't just go and sit down again. You're then given to the world's press. Behind the scenes and that goes on and on and on and on. I was interviewed over and over again by all sorts of people from all countries of the world and it was at least an hour before I was able to sit down again. Stop.

End of Side 6

 Jim Clark Side 7

=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M1
I'm sorry for that interruption. Right now. The the evening was great and I must say that I was thrilled for everybody connected with the film. I wasn't the only person to win hang nor won an Oscar too.
SPEAKER: M2
And several other people had been nominated Chris mangas won the Oscar for the lighting. So the three of us won. I was very happy evening and of course it all ended very well. That I think is my Oscar story. We did drink a lot afterwards by the way to celebrate when we got into the limousine to leave.
SPEAKER: M13
I said to my daughter you may now open the bar. So it takes a little time to drive from downtown L.A. to the to the Beverly Wilshire and the Beverly Hilton where the where the dinner was.
SPEAKER: M3
So by the time we got there we'd had about three scotches each and what I had no idea was that when we entered the foyer of the hotel there was Barry Norman with his camera crew grabbed hold of me and put me in front of the cameras and I was I was half seas over by then which was not the happiest moment but fortunately I didn't make an ass of myself cause dinner dinner Warners or the Academy Academy and then the big two.
SPEAKER: M11
All right. What sort of effect does it have on one's professional standing.
SPEAKER: M13
Well people always say to you that if you win the Oscar then your fee goes up and this that and the other and so on. It does have an effect inasmuch as you're given a good deal more respect by officials like the like the Immigration Department. It's very important for that. Yeah. You know if if you apply for a work permit in America if you can say you've won an Oscar it means an awful lot. The doors are all open. It's a very prestigious award over the means a lot. My fee never went up on account continent it but then I didn't really try to push it either.
SPEAKER: M10
You've never established residence in the States or had I ever heard.
SPEAKER: M13
I never wanted to particularly I think if I'd not been married if I hadn't had a family I might have done so I easily could have settled there and I like it there unlike many people but my wife has never been happy there and I would have missed the children too much to settle. But of course I've done long periods in America and probably will again.
SPEAKER: M11
Well that brings us under the frog prince as a frog prince.
SPEAKER: M5
I did it only as a filler and as a as a courtesy to Putnam because the mission was already in the planning stage and he wanted me for that and I wanted to do the mission with Roland so it behoves me to do the frog prince for a Gilbert which was a small film and not a film with any particular pretension was part of a series really that David was making of love stories.
SPEAKER: M11
This is the era of Gold Crest was there any backwash or backlash.
SPEAKER: M22
Not at that point. No.
SPEAKER: M3
We we hit various snags with gold CREST on the mission which was the next one of course because by the time we did the mission Gold Crest were already in some problem.
SPEAKER: M5
I only became entangle a little bit with that because when Jakey Butz was being persuaded back into gold CREST he had to see the work in progress and there were the three films being made at the time Absolute Beginners revolution and the mission. So he had to see the three films in the various states and nobody really had much problem with the mission in as much as they thought it was a good film.
SPEAKER: M3
They didn't we didn't have creative problems on the mission particularly in fact all the problems we had on it were more or less a rerun of the killing fields and the methods we used to solve the problems were much the same. The film was never as good partly because the source material was not as arresting or as innovative or as original as the killing fields had been. And it being an historical film it was removed from our period.
SPEAKER: M5
So the plight of the Indians at the hands of the Jesuits was not a subject which generated that much interest. Also I think they managed to miscast Robert DeNiro in the lead role. Bob never seems to me to work too well in period particularly with his voice and there is the famous me you do not love line in the mission which many people quoted as being a highly anachronistic delivery of a line said in a Bronx accent.
SPEAKER: M10
Yes ungrammatical as well and romantic as when you were on the film right from the start arriving he starred here. And again we wish proceeded in precisely the same manner as we did on The Killing Fields.
SPEAKER: M5
I was here. They were there in Colombia and we stopped shooting two thirds the way through. They all came back.
SPEAKER: M1
Then they went back to Argentina to do all the material with the falls the big waterfall. So Roland and I had again the opportunity of rough cutting everything together before he returned to do the rest of the film. So it was the same process and you sent out to me sent out tape again which he very rarely saw. And Chris mangas was never very happy with all this because he never got to see his rushes properly. I did send film out to him occasionally in which he used to run in some local theater and Carter Haney always said that the lamp was sort of at 30 watts. They can never really see it properly. So Crystal very nicely of course he won a second Oscar for four for the mission. And I did very well too because I got nominated again. Yes I was nominated for that which was great. I never expected to win for the mission and didn't. But so it was no great disappointment but the mission never worked quite as well for all those reasons. Can you say why. Because it is very spectacular. Oh it 's wonderful production. It looks great. I think basically because it has one story leaps which are difficult to swallow. It was very very difficult for all of us to start with DeNiro as a mercenary and as a slave trader and then in a one rather unlikely scene to get him converted into being a Jesuit priest.
SPEAKER: M2
Well to eventually become a priest is a little speculative Robert Bolt who wrote it originally but then it went through a number of hands because Robert had his stroke meantime so the script was played with Roland wrote a lot of it. You see one of the great advantages of the Killing Fields was the script which Bruce Robinson wrote was very much a document rather than a script which Roland.
SPEAKER: M3
I think due to his television background was able to pick up and run with whereas the mission was much more schematic. And although it wasn't a dialogue film and had very little dialogue in it Roland's main interest was that was the Indians. We never were able to quiet generate the emotion necessary for the sympathy that one should have felt for this group of Indians. The other thing is that the the role of the OP Jeremy Irons the priest was originally conceived by Robert Bolt for Alec Guinness. In other words he originally wanted a much older man to play the priest which I always thought made sense because when you have De Niro and irons together the two of them tend to cancel one another out and they also have very disparate acting styles which I thought was another problem in America we didn't work because everybody felt it was a religious piece. They thought it was a religious film. They didn't particularly want to go to it. I think the publicity was a little against the one thin g that has lasted from the mission of course is the music the score that Marconi wrote has sold and sold and sold and as a classic score of four which I liked claims light influence in as much as when I cut the film I I have some interest in Mexican music and I used music of of a Mexican composer called Rev Walters to cut all the action too. And when when NATO saw the film for the first time this rover while music was all over it and he picked up on on on some of the aspects of that rhythmic stuff and and used sort of a variation of that in his score. He wrote a remarkable score that the score itself took two weeks to record. So you can imagine how much it cost because we had the London Philharmonic for a week and none of us ever heard any tunes for a week because all he was recording since it was a multilayered score all he was coding was the accompaniment with the full orchestra to the themes which he then put on top with either choirs or with some flutes and stuff like that. So l ittle by little the score sort of built like a layer cake until finally we heard the tunes and we were all thrilled because it was a great score. Had it always been with Putnam was it his initiative. No. No. Fernando gear actually owned that and Fernando had been working with Robert over the years and they tried to set it up. Fernando had been trying to set up a mission for ages. There was a row over it. You remember I was about a lot of bad dealings. Yes and you. Fernando was not wanted. Basically I got on very well with Fernando. I actually rather like him. You took it to Cannes. We took it to Cannes and what David always referred to as an unfinished film or a work in progress.
SPEAKER: M5
Well we we had virtually finished the film except we hadn't married it up. So we ran double head at Cannes which gave me the willies because no running at a running at the Cannes Festival double head is that scary. But they projected it extremely well so we never had any problems. We have very good screenings at Cannes and it sounded magnificent because we dubbed it in six track.
SPEAKER: M3
Was that in the new palace. Yes. Yes we rehearsed it at three o'clock in the morning but it was the only time we could get in. And that was one of the best screens we ever had was a wonderful sound of fabulous work in progress.
SPEAKER: M6
I suppose it's a bit of an alibi is slightly down because Coppola had also done that.
SPEAKER: M3
We've done it before David but in truth I have to say that when we finally brought it back and took it back into the dubbing theater we own. I think we made a few tiny changes very few and then simply married it up we'd won by then. So it didn't really have to do much more to it. It was very exciting for David to win.
SPEAKER: M7
He'd always wanted to win at Cannes and that was very good for the film.
SPEAKER: M3
The film never went into profit so far as I know it was it was too expensive and was never a hit because I in fact have slight profit participation in that film. Not that I've ever seen in my life. But I do get the statements and I don't think it's ever gone into profit or is likely to do it. No.
SPEAKER: M8
Not now because it it's the one honourable piece of the gold CREST de. Is it not.
SPEAKER: M3
Yes I suppose so but unfortunately not financially honourable.
SPEAKER: M8
No. Well the others were even worse.
SPEAKER: M1
That's true although they were really great. Really.
SPEAKER: M9
I came across them shooting bits of absolute beginners about a week before it opened on Albert Albert Bridge.
SPEAKER: M3
It was still it was a nightmare for everybody. So whilst I was cutting the mission up in Soho David Putnam came to me one day and he said Don't you like to go to Hollywood.
SPEAKER: M12
And I said in what respect. He said well I said I think I might be taking this job as head of Columbia Pictures. He said I'd like you to come along as part of the team.
SPEAKER: M18
So I was very flattered by this.
SPEAKER: M13
And I said yeah sounds like a lot of fun. My family were not too happy with this thought because initially it was a three year contract. So I went to Hollywood with David.
SPEAKER: M3
David preceded me by about three months and there were four of us for four of us English went that was David's that was his financial advisor Steve Norris there was his sort of assistant who was you better Pasadena and me and David's secretary as well.
SPEAKER: M15
So there were actually five of five English people there because the people always maintained that David took an awful lot of English people with him to Columbia Pictures but it really wasn't true.
SPEAKER: M3
Only five of us anyway when we got there we were all given sort of positions I felt as if I was perhaps making a slight error here by stepping out of line. They called me vice president production which I never knew the meaning of because basically what I was was an expert.
SPEAKER: M16
David asked me to be which was an extension of his eyes and ears because he said there was so much product going through and there would be so much product that he couldn't possibly keep up with at all. And because of the time on the killing fields when I'd been able to nip problems in the bud he clearly felt that I could do the same role there. So my task which was somewhat onerous was to sit and look at the rushes every day of all the films that were being made and to pass judgment on them.
SPEAKER: M17
Jim by the time you got there three months after he was in all his material in development or was there was there anything hung over from the previous regime and he.
SPEAKER: M13
Almost almost everything was being hung over from the previous really. And we didn't put our own films into production for quite some time.
SPEAKER: M3
We'd inherited an awful lot of material which was either half shot shot or green lit or whatever but that was of going through the process. Some stuff we were unable to stop. They'd gone too far. Other things we did write off we did cancel some film and we'd inherited a lot of pictures which were not very good and some which was so the possible was the previous regime had been through hard times too. They hadn't made very good film very rapidly I realize that this job that I'd undertaken was not really my forte. It wasn't really a job at all except as a troubleshooter. And yet nobody wished to know about trouble. Nobody wanted to know when something wasn't working. They only wanted the good news they didn't want the bad. And as you probably could understand sitting through other people's rushes is extraordinarily tiring and tiresome as well because one has no vested interest in this except to look at it and say Oh my God. Some poor sucker has got to put this together or that performa nce is terrible.
SPEAKER: M19
This scene is ghastly. This guy has no idea where to put the camera. Everything was negative. So was acutely depressing after a time. How much time you're spending on it each day. Well I would go into the theater at 2 and I come out at 4. So I had usually a two hour stint. Looking at all these endless takes we did have a high speed facility thank God so that after I'd seen one take of everything I could whizz through the others.
SPEAKER: F1
On average how many units would be shooting four to five.
SPEAKER: M3
I know when we reached our peak we had eight films in production but then the other string to my bow was that I was called upon to be a doctor to doctor these films that were in trouble because the producers and directors of these pictures would screen them for us.
SPEAKER: M2
And then David would say to me I think you better get in there. So I became the resident doctor.
SPEAKER: M7
In the end I referred to myself as the resident mortician because in truth the films were dead on the table before they ever reached me.
SPEAKER: M13
And there was very little that I could do to breathe new life into them. You're talking now of the previous regime. It only reached the public screen.
SPEAKER: M3
They all reached the public square and I think with the exception of one film which I struggled very hard over and failed to even get good enough even for video one film never made it to any media. But it was a very cheap film and nobody seemed to care. But basically that job for me was not a happy one and I was actually rather pleased when David left because it meant that we could all leave I went back home and do what we should be doing. I'm sorry. How you there. I was there just over a year. I was there about 14 months in all and although I must say they were very they were very interesting. It was a very interesting period. It's not one I'd wish to repeat. The people were very nice. I got on very well with all of the other staff. And David made a very happy ship which was one of the major contributions really. He didn't behave very well politically or very cleverly politically. And he's acknowledged that. Now I think. But of course we could all see it going on at the time when we could see that it was only a matter of time before he got shafted because he was making too many unwise public statements about the state of Hollywood and how he would change it and so on and although what he was saying was was not stupid in any way it was unwise for a foreigner to do it so publicly and you knew that in that area there were people out to get him as soon as he couldn't win that. And I think David knew that he wasn't one of us. No I mean he was he was fouling his his his name his his hosts doorstep. Did anyone take him aside. I have no idea. Did you know. No I didn't. Because it's not my role in life to tell the chairman of the board how he should behave.
SPEAKER: M8
I'm curious because as you say that the people he took on almost gratuitously had such power. Ray Stark and Michael they it seems to mean not just misguided but just plain bloody stupid.
SPEAKER: M10
Was David and Goliath.
SPEAKER: M3
And I've often wondered and I never asked him this but I often wondered whether it wasn't a deadly deliberate act to get himself fired or to be relieved of his post. I don't know what went through his head.
SPEAKER: M10
I do I do know that he was unhappy. I know he was unhappy from the start.
SPEAKER: M3
Yeah. And I think he knew very early on that he'd done something wrong that this was not the right role. Though I do also believe that he could have played his cards better and that we could have made better films.
SPEAKER: M9
We went through an awful lot of Coca Cola's money that year yes three hundred million dollars they say did do that. Did he ever say to you what his intentions were his his his plan his image for the studio.
SPEAKER: M3
Not really except that he certainly wanted to involve Europe more which he did and got caned for making Serb Croat films or something like that.
SPEAKER: M15
There were a number of things that went wrong.
SPEAKER: M3
He also made a number of bad judgments in as much as the big bar bill cosby film Leonard Part 6 which was another reason for our downfall was a film that was already in preproduction before we arrived. And all of us would have cancelled it given the chance because we all knew the script was no good but there was no way that David could cancel it because Cosby was very big with Coca-Cola and he wanted to make the film. He'd written the original story himself. He just wanted to make the show so they couldn't really stop him. David however was instrumental in casting the director and the producer both of which were wrong. He should not have had a young English first time director White and he should not have had an East End producer. Also White who was quite vocal and not the friendliest of people when it came to Bill Cosby. So there were many reasons why that film went wrong and why it became such a cause celeb within the studio because it was a political. Another political hot potato. 
SPEAKER: M9
I don't think anyone's ever seen it in this country and it's just as well. Well I'm very curious to see how that was some of the previous disasters like Ishtar. Were you involved in that.
SPEAKER: M13
No not David very deliberately and quite correctly. Going in told the management that he wanted nothing to do with that because he'd already had a run in with Dustin as we know and he'd had a run in with Warren over something. He was a mortal enemy and they all sort of they were all at daggers drawn and it was just as well that we didn't get involved because on thank God I didn't get involved because it would have meant very late hours trying to recut that one. What about Munchausen Munchausen was a project which had been around for quite some time in which David gave the green light to. I thought unwisely at the time and said so because I although I'm not a production man I did claim having read the script that it would double its budget and it did.
SPEAKER: M20
Another of my tasks which I loathed was that I had to read scripts every weekend every Friday night. One took home six scripts which you had to read by Monday morning. I am very bad at reading scripts and I find it a chore. So I had to discipline myself every single week and I couldn't get away with it. I tried to begin with to vamp it and to read about 20 pages of these scripts and then sort of talk knowledgeably about them but I was sussed out rather quickly. And everybody said you've got to read that you can't get away with this. So I had to flub my way through an awful lot of terrible scripts which were the tip of the iceberg. By the way these were the good ones. These were the ones that have been read by our readers who thought these would make good films. I think we made one of them in the whole year.
SPEAKER: M7
We were there out of whatever six times fifty two is that number of scripts I read. It was a chore it was very unpleasant. I hated that.
SPEAKER: M8
Was there a sense of doom almost from the beginning.
SPEAKER: M13
No not at all.
SPEAKER: M3
There was a gradual loss of Muslims now and the staff who had been demoralized thoroughly by previous managements were were buoyed up were given a whole new way of life by David who visited all the departments himself personally would go into the travel department go into the shipping office go into wherever and speak to the boys and girls and make them feel wanted. He instituted screenings weekly a sort of club for four employees where they would show films and talk about films. He did a tremendous amount of terrific PR.
SPEAKER: M18
They loved him. The night he resigned or the night he said he was resigning or the night he said he was leaving was one of those nights and everybody was in tears there is a hatchet job done on him called out of focus which I assume you've read any and you comments.
SPEAKER: M5
And then there's some truth in some of it but it is a hatchet job as you're right to say and particularly vicious I think yes.
SPEAKER: M15
Are you okay. An English guy.
SPEAKER: M6
No no. An American American keeps his name that was because I wrote a review saying good bye Mr. Kipps.
SPEAKER: M10
There were two books about David's period one is Andrew you that Sandra used was okay. Yes it was the other one. And indeed out of all out of focus is the American.
SPEAKER: M8
He was then a variety correspondent.
SPEAKER: M6
Yes there has been a lot of it was based on hearsay and well is his nose and his tongue was firmly up Ray Stark's arse.
SPEAKER: M10
It wasn't it was a very unpleasant yes and totally partisan.
SPEAKER: M20
Alan and David didn't deserve that because as you well know since he left many of the things that he was preaching have been publicly acknowledged by everybody else. And although things haven't changed so far as I can see people are still paying vast sums of money to actors which David was trying to stop. They still go on doing that.
SPEAKER: M8
Well my son lies was always that he wanted to create a European style studio.
SPEAKER: M10
That's true or he had to say look I did. The film itself was what was in you know. I think he could have done it.
SPEAKER: M21
I think if we'd gotten a little more lucky with the product if we'd had some hits the thing would have changed it would have been another story. But the fact is we didn't have any hits. We had an awful lot of flops. The only film that David points to as being successful was the last emperor. But of course we had hardly anything to do with that. That was a buy it. The other one he always claims he sort of made was Hope and Glory which he didn't make at all simply financed. So there were not our productions we didn't. We didn't start any of those. And if you look at the list of films we did actually instigate and make ourselves it's not a very good list.
SPEAKER: M7
A lot of second rate films.
SPEAKER: M3
So at the end of it all but me as the resident mortician.
SPEAKER: M8
I was very pleased when it ended. What were the circumstances of your departure.
SPEAKER: M3
Did he give you prior warning prior warning. Yes. He was kind enough to do that because I was on the point of buying a house and he knew that because I'd signed on for another year or two and he came to me I was the house was just about to come out of escrow and he came to me one afternoon and he said a lot. Germany said I think you might be very unwise to carry on with it. I said I think I should warn you don't tell anybody but I should warn you that maybe you shouldn't buy it.
SPEAKER: M7
So the following day I stopped in and I was very grateful to him for giving me that.
SPEAKER: M8
Did you resign concurrently with him.
SPEAKER: M3
No I was fine. Oh oh. We were all fired. But it was a joke of course because we all wanted to go anyway. We were delighted to be fired because we were given a pay off because we'd signed on for another year. They they were extraordinarily good to us. The people at Coca-Cola they paid us all off for 50 cents on the dollar.
SPEAKER: M18
So I received a half years salary when I left which wasn't bad really very nice.
SPEAKER: M17
What was the the mood of it was it clear out your desk and go or we're terribly sorry boy.
SPEAKER: M4
We were all well in stitches really because they sent a lady lawyer from New York to fire us all but took took the course of the David to go through the whole floor.
SPEAKER: M3
And by which time of course half of the new regime had moved in. They were lining up to get into our offices. There was a joke. It was but it was like political parties changing overnight.
SPEAKER: M8
Had that all been surreptitiously in preparation the uh the succeeding generation.
SPEAKER: M10
Well I don't know. Dawn Steel went in. She didn't do a much better job than David Dunaway. No. But I mean had this been in preparation before Putnam.
SPEAKER: M3
Not that I know that in his eyes. David left around about November of that year and I didn't leave until February. No really. Mm hmm. And you'll find there was a time there was a long time when it looked like they might keep me. You were ploughing on throughout. Yeah. I was ploughing on still working on these turkeys. I don't All right. Don't steal it arrived and there was a time when it looked like they might keep me on because I was one of the more useful people. Yes. In as much as I had a skill and an I was well liked there by the producers and directors who looked upon me as a bit of a saviour.
SPEAKER: M9
Not that I ever managed to save anything. How about madam.
SPEAKER: M3
She is a very tough lady I'm told Madam which Madam don't steal. Well I didn't meet her more than a couple of times so I have no real information to give you about Dawn Steel. But I think as our name implies she was a tough cookie and she's now an independent producer with Disney I believe.
SPEAKER: M10
But nobody ever loses in Hollywood do they. It's it's one incessant round of musical chairs. Of course. Yeah of course and everyone has more on ourselves. Well as you say everyone is one and there are prizes for everyone.
SPEAKER: M21
I think there's only one person left that Sony Columbia who was with us during that period and that's Gareth Wiggin has hung in. Yes he's still there and still respected and I think he'll be there until he retires.
SPEAKER: M10
Was he recruited by Putnam Moore in Ohio. No because he's been in Hollywood for what decades long as I am now a long time and he had a very good period with the Ladd Company ahead of that.
SPEAKER: M21
Then he was an independent producer and then he joined us and and sailed right through all these catastrophes. He's been on the Titanic without hitting an iceberg for many years.
SPEAKER: M10
A political maestro. Clearly he's very good at it.
SPEAKER: M21
Very good. He's a master and he's much respected by all the creative people because he's perceived as the only person there that knows anything about the process.
SPEAKER: M17
Is he still several Roe or Rodeo Drive.
SPEAKER: M13
Say so. Yes. He's rather monkfish. He's gone quite monkfish in his old age. Very nice man.
SPEAKER: M3
I'm very fond of gonna remember him as an agent. Yes. Years ago. So that really was. That was the peak of that period. And that's really more or less sums that up that period I think when I refer to madam you clearly thought of someone else. I think you might have met Patsy Putnam but gone. But she didn't really fit into that.
SPEAKER: M10
She wasn't that kind of woman. Did she design his office for him.
SPEAKER: M21
She designed not only the office but she'd redesigned the viewing theatres. She decorated my office beautifully. I had a lovely office. Best office I'll ever have. But I'll tell you one of the most important thing that happened to me while I was there it was right at the infancy of non-linear film editing. It was right at that period when companies in America were trying to impress on us that we should go non-linear. Which of course involves computers.
SPEAKER: M23
Let's stop for a second.
SPEAKER: M24
We're running as only a short amount of tape left on the side. Don't start.
SPEAKER: M8
Well as we all sort of recall this is the 6th of March now resuming.

SPEAKER: M24
And the last subject was Columbia in depth as we recall.
SPEAKER: M10
And you wanted to talk about new editing process is particularly well on linear.
SPEAKER: M25
Yes the non-linear thing goes back a few years and it seemed to me that when I heard about it in its primitive form that there was something here which would eventually change the way that we edited films.
SPEAKER: M28
Now while I was at Columbia I was in an enviable position because being one of the higher echelon characters I was able to put into into actual operation various ideas that I had.
SPEAKER: M25
And in order to prove to myself that the non-linear revolution was a practical thing I persuaded the company who was manufacturing the leading machine at the time was a company making a machine called the eddy flex. And I persuaded them to install an added flex in my office so that in my moments when I wasn't busy doing other things I could actually learn how to use it and teach myself and also see whether this system could ever be applied to feature films because it was at that point only really being used for serious television and for commercials.
SPEAKER: M28
Basically it was a very in my view a very cumbersome machine which operated off a bank of VCR machines. I think there were 14 VCR machines all of which contained a tape of the same material the same rushes.
SPEAKER: M27
There were 14 examples of the same raw material on the VCR machines and then through the computer one one used bits and pieces of these different tapes and built up your cutting copy in that form. I never really found it an agreeable machine to use it.
SPEAKER: M30
I found it terribly complicated and it it worked on a system which they referred to as the script mimic it was a system whereby the script itself was written up in the computer and then the slates and takes that covered certain parts of the script were marked on the computer so that you always knew which part of the script was covered by what. This works very well. When you've got a script which isn't altering and which is fixed as in most television series so that the thing doesn't change but with feature films things change all the time and you don't always necessarily cover the script as written. So of course it seemed to me that that particular the machine the added flex have having spent two weeks with it. It seemed to me to be cumbersome and not really yet ready for feature film work but it was the beginning of all that and that was in 87.
SPEAKER: M27
And of course by. By 1991 the things had moved on. They were no longer analog. They became digital and as soon as they became digital they became far more agreeable to use and far more useful. But it was due to my position at Columbia that I was able to get to my first taste of that and realized that once they'd got it more user friendly would be the future.
SPEAKER: F3
But when I left Columbia and came back to England I was really into a very much a loose end because I didn't actually have any work.
SPEAKER: M27
And David Putnam who wanted me to continue working with him had not got his company organized at that point. So there was nothing from that source. And so I was searching around here in London and one Sunday evening I had a call from Richard Martin who is another editor here an old friend who asked me if I was busy and I said no. And he said because he just had a call from Franco's for L.A. Franco had just made a film and had just seen the cutting copy of this film almost called the young Toscanini with Elizabeth Taylor. Franco was calling from his hospital bed in Los Angeles where he just had a hip replacement. And so he was lying in bed looking at a videotape of the cutting copy of young Toscanini and having some sort of fit and phoned Dicky Martin to see whether Dickie could drop everything and come to his rescue in Rome. Well he wasn't free but he called me and asked me if I'd be interested and I sort of kind of without thinking said Oh sure yeah. I could be interested. I'm not b usy. So eventually what happened in very short order was that I found myself with my assistant Brian Oates who worked with me a number of times.
SPEAKER: M31
I found myself on a plane going to Rome having agreed to take on the risk cutting of the picture. The original editor who was an old friend called Peter Taylor had lived in Rome for some years had decided that he couldn't continue anyway and so he'd left the film and only the assistance remained on it. It was of course a very rash thing to say.
SPEAKER: M27
Sight unseen that one would take on a job like that. It was stupid and I realized as soon as I got there and looked the film in the producer's office that what we had here was an extraordinarily bad film which had not in fact been completed the editing of the film was not complete the whole of the finale was missing from from the version that I saw because the editors had never got around to cutting it but it was an it was a very melodramatic very steamy very overheated biographical film purporting to be the story of what happened to the young Arturo Toscanini when he went to Brazil.
SPEAKER: M32
At some point in order to coach a diva. Elizabeth Taylor no less. Back into into form after a period of retirement.
SPEAKER: M29
But she'd been the mistress of the emperor on the boat going across to Brazil the young Toscanini falls in love with a nun who was played by model one of Franco's sort of beautiful young girls.
SPEAKER: M27
Anyway. This was a film which normally I would not have touched. But I found myself in the unenviable position of not being able to escape the true story.
SPEAKER: M31
I never never figured out whether there was a grain of truth in it. There probably was some seed that somebody grew. Maybe he did go.
SPEAKER: M27
He wasn't a conductor at that time. You see he was a rehearsal pianist. And the big denouement of the film is when he has to take over. Of course and conduct Aida in which this above is playing the slave girl blacked up like Al Jolson. Is this thing laughable. If if I. I've always felt afterwards that I did Franco a grave disservice by trying to sort this film out and improve it.
SPEAKER: M31
I think I would have I think he would have had a happier film and probably would.

End of Side 7

Jim Clark Side 8
=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M17
It was all in English Yes and it had been written by an American. That was his first day. Could we just don't overlap. No. Jim. Casting your mind back it was your question Norman wasn't it.
SPEAKER: M24
The question was if it wasn't based on a true story didn't really add to the real Toscanini.
SPEAKER: M11
Well I can't answer that because I don't know. But I think there was a grain of truth in the fact that he did the young Arturo did go to Brazil probably to be a rehearsal pianist. And of course the whole point of the movie is that once he'd ingratiated himself with the diva he got to conduct and that was his day. That was his debut. That's probably true. There was an absolutely ghastly subplot involving slavery which was rife in Brazil at the time and which of course the nun figure was dead against. And so Arturo got involved and in the antislavery movement which got up the nose of the Emperor of course.
SPEAKER: M3
Anyway it was a dotted dotted Dotted project. And anyway I tackled it. And of course Franco wasn't there because he was still recovering from his operation and eventually he appeared hobbling on a stick in the halls of gin a cheetah where we were cutting. I'd never worked with him before I'd met him socially maybe a couple of times. So I knew what he looked like but I never worked with Franco and I have to say that even though the film was so dreadful working with Franco was was a pure pleasure because he's such an incredibly ingratiating character and so funny and hospitable and generous and all the rest of it.
SPEAKER: M6
And even he finally once I really got to know him. He didn't really mind that I was so critical of his material. I think he knew that it was a failure but I don't think he would accept the fact that it was a total failure. And although he has a great sense of humor and a great sense of calm I don't think he realized quite what he'd got there and that's why I say if I hadn't sorted it out more and if I'd left in a lot of the awful dialogue that of course love was largely improvised. Would I think of become a midnight cult film as it was it opened in Italy and France and I don't think it ever opened anywhere else. It never played in America. It's Franco's lost movie now. I didn't actually finish it either because I gave them the only wise thing I did at the beginning of this was to give them a cut off time because I'd already agreed to cut a small film called spooks for Anthony Thomas Anthony Thomas having made only documentaries was making his first feature and asked me to do it for r easons that I still don't understand.
SPEAKER: M3
I must have been going through a very odd mental state after my Columbia episode because I kept making terrible decisions for no good reason. Anyway it did get me out of Franco's film because Franco would never have finished it. He was huffing and puffing and constantly re cutting the picture and hold me back for one weekend too to put back a scene that we'd taken out months before.
SPEAKER: M6
Then he wanted it all recut it all had to be done in no time at all and that was a dreadful scene absolutely awful and insisted on putting it back. Anyway. The film was a disaster but I suppose in in Franco's canon it's not perhaps as bad as one he made subsequently which I think was called the sparrow.
SPEAKER: M13
Was it called Sparrow.
SPEAKER: M17
There was a recent one which I think everyone avoided. I've forgotten what type of yes another Romeo and Juliet story was.
SPEAKER: M6
So at the end of this Franco was upset with me because I was actually leaving as planned and he kept saying But you said you were going to leave but I would never believe that you would walk out on the yacht right.
SPEAKER: M11
All right to the song and. But he did give us a very nice dinner. Brian and I had a very nice dinner at Franco's house to wish us bon voyage and he gave us all sorts of gifts which carted back.
SPEAKER: M33
He was a highly generous man and I was sorry for him that the film was so terrible really. Anyway coming back to earth here on spooks was really coming back to Earth because one went from working with a man who was a flamboyant creature very colorful to Antony Thomas who was anything but and turned out to be the most acute disappointment to me because I had enjoyed his documentary films very much and I thought I wanted to work with Anthony because I admired his work so much. Well I think death of a princess is probably his best known film. But I was also fascinated by a two part documentary he did about fundamentalism and right wing fundamentalism in America. Forget the name of the two films but they were very good. His documentaries always I thought were very well researched very well made spooks he'd written himself and had spent some time trying to get off the ground and it was a rather hokey spy story set in a mythical country and dealing with spooks who are spies I guess.
SPEAKER: M3
And and in the terminology of spying it was a low budget film and I was here and they were out in Malaysia shooting it and I started to get the rushes and I very quickly realised that the script which had never been great was now not going to be at all great. And the film was miserably directed unfortunately. Antony had no flair at all for directing actors even though he had been an actor at one point. So this little film was a was misery for me and I was unhappy on it because because I couldn't do anything with it and also because when I did put it all together and they saw it they all seemed to love it and they were all congratulating me on how wonderful I'd done it and how beautiful the cut was and everything and I kept saying well I can't see I don't see what this film is a silly little film and it will never amount to a Rabin's.
SPEAKER: M2
Antony also was quite a taxing man to work for. He wasn't easy. He was treating all of this as if it was citizen Kane was all sort of holy.
SPEAKER: M4
Terribly holy.
SPEAKER: M3
And in the end I got through to the end of the film we dubbed the film and I was warning and I did say to him Anthony you know you've never been through the process before don't be too surprised what might happen when you go to preview and we dubbed the movie at Twickenham and the following day he took it to America to preview it and he phoned me and said that he'd had a screening for the company which was a company called Strong that had put the money into this and that all the people at the restaurant thought the film was simply wonderful. And I said Well I'm thrilled to hear it has. And he said on tomorrow night we're going out someplace in the valley for a public preview. And he said a line I really phoning to thank you again. He was always thanking me for what you've done. And I said well good luck tomorrow. After that I was no longer working on the film by the way I was I was off the payroll. After that I heard nothing for weeks for weeks literally for six weeks I had nothing a t all from Anthony and nothing about the movie.
SPEAKER: M22
Everything had gone completely quiet and one day he phoned me and he said Jim I have to tell you that everything you said was right. I've never been more demoralized I've never been more upset. I didn't see it coming. They hated it. It was a disaster.
SPEAKER: M3
And so and all this was in very harsh tones if something and somebody died. Finally after about half an hour of telling me how awful the experience was.
SPEAKER: M22
He said I have to tell you and this is the hardest thing that all that I've got to replace you. I've got to bring on another edit. To recap the film to improve it and make it more commercial.
SPEAKER: M11
Saw heaved a sigh of relief. Fed up. Please don't let me stand in your way. Yes well we've taken on a young man who has cut other films to best strong and I think he's really very good in England in England and England so a guy called Dan Ray who I knew perfectly well went back on the film. My assistant went back on it kicking and screaming by the way but he went back on it because he was the only person that knew where everything was. And they spent about six weeks re cutting this picture and Did I mind sharing a credit.
SPEAKER: M3
That was the only thing I didn't print. I said all night I said I don't want a credit at all. But I didn't actually do that I should have done really anyway they did the work here. I spent more money on it and they recut it and I was quite interested to see what they'd done because I didn't see quite what you could do with what they had. And so my assistant one day a little later on this was very strong. We're in financial trouble and they had decided to retitle the movie but the spooks it was no longer called it was now called Spies Lies and Alibis memorable title and it hadn't been released.
SPEAKER: M6
And what happened then was that one day my assistant found out where the very strong people held their videos before they went on sale. There was a warehouse somewhere in London and he called them up and he said You don't happen to have a video of Spies Lies and Alibis. By any chance. And the chap said yeah we've got a load of them here. It hasn't been released yet but we've got a lot of them sitting about. So my assistant went there and bought a copy which he gave me as a Christmas present and so I have it here. It was never released ever. It wasn't released in any form although they'd made all the tapes because best one went bankrupt at that point. So that film has never been seen by anybody except me and I have the tape right here and it's I couldn't see what they'd done except they'd speeded up the beginning a bit and made it slightly less comprehensible and that was that. Anthony Thomas Anthony Thomas retired back into documentaries where he continues to work quite well.
SPEAKER: M10
And I'm sure would love to have another go at doing another feature now after spooks.
SPEAKER: M2
I went on to Memphis Belle that was the next picture which was a very interesting technical job and it was being directed by Michael Clayton Jones who was doing his second film as his first film scores scandal. I think Michael was about 28 when he directed Memphis Belle so he was very young and it was a very big film to give to a young man. David was very brave to do that.
SPEAKER: M3
I don't actually think Michael was the first choice of director and I forget who was. But we of course the whole project had started while we were at Columbia with Kathy Wyler who was one of our people and Kathy had suggested doing a fictionalized version of her father's wartime documentary which appealed to David Putnam because he wanted to do a film about the war. And this seemed to be a good peg to hang it on.
SPEAKER: M4
The script was written while we were at Columbia written by Monty Merrick who was American and we put the film into production at Pinewood with a large model unit and a large special effects unit.
SPEAKER: M2
This of course was an area which I had never touched before.
SPEAKER: M3
I didn't know really much about any of that. And so I was very interested in all of that preliminary work of creating the models of filming the flak for example because in the course of the film the Memphis Belle goes through a lot of raids and is attacked from the air by other other planes and by flak from the ground. And we had to create in preproduction all these elements that would eventually get married up into special effects. So that was complicated and in the end the model work turned out to be the least effective part of the whole enterprise. Partly I think because of our inexperience at it and also because the cameraman David Watkin was not interested in the model work which was lit by another camera man. And I always felt that the errors in lighting the models never helped us. They were too clean and too clear we had a hard time trying to dirty the models down and make them look less like models and more like the real thing. It was a big problem and we eventually when we p reviewed the film and we'd had some adverse comments about the models we had to scissor them drastically and reduce them and fact cut a lot of the model work out.
SPEAKER: M5
So the exercise from my point of view was a fascinating one because once the Memphis Belle took off it was a special effects film from then on.
SPEAKER: M9
I don't know that the film worked tremendously well from the script angle.
SPEAKER: M5
There was always a problem setting up the crew of the Memphis Belle in the first place because we always felt that we had to get to know them as individuals before we put them on the plane because in the plane it was necessary for them to wear masks and when they wear masks and you can't tell one from the other very easily which did prove to be a problem in that picture. Nevertheless they did quite well and certainly did no didn't do anybody any harm. Shall we say and it was a respectable film and it really worked at its best when it was projected on 70 millimeter with a six track sound which was tremendous. During the air raids one interesting aspect of this was that we had an air to air unit shooting for six weeks in a very good summer. Thank God but with clear skies and they had wonderful conditions. They had. I think we had six space 17 that we were able to use which had come from various sources from America from Spain from France and from England and I think we had six Messersc hmitt which had come from Spain because it was necessary to film the Messerschmitt attacking the Memphis bird and every day we ran the rushes of the air to our material. Michael Clayton Jones was always saying to me that he there was something wrong with it. He didn't like the material he was he couldn't quite put his finger on why he didn't like it and he kept saying we'll never use this.
SPEAKER: M13
This stuff is useless. It was very expensive to shoot it every day. Subsequently about three weeks into the war four weeks into this shooting period a roll of rushes turned up which had a technical fault.
SPEAKER: M5
It had a light leak it was an arrow Flex magazine which hadn't been properly closed so that the material was a was a Messerschmitt coming towards camera fast and firing the guns as it were the gun fire would be put in later but coming towards the the the camera plane and veering off.
SPEAKER: M8
So it was 400 foot magazine which was was fogged and as soon as Michael saw that he said that's what that's what I'm looking for because you see when you look at the real air to our shots taken by camera guns during the war they were done on 16 mil black and white and they were very rough and ready and when you see them now used as library material they usually very drastically scratched and impaired and duped to death and they look pretty rotten. That's what he that's what he felt was the realism of it what we were getting of course was perfect pure beautiful blue skies wonderful shots everything looking lovely which wasn't working. In the end in Memphis Belle I used every foot of that of that 400 foot magazine which was which was fogged and we then proceeded to fog and impair some of the good stuff so that when you see Memphis Belle it looks like library footage but it wasn't that was real. Yes. And I think it's interesting that the director was unable until he saw it impaired to r ealize why it was wrong.
SPEAKER: M15
Jim do you think that maybe a reflection of the present generation of young filmmakers who essentially their view of reality is through motion pictures. It isn't from reality itself isn't it.
SPEAKER: M16
That's precisely the thing. Michael Kate Jones is a movie brat and he sees his entire life is is in reference to movies. But that's true of Spielberg and Lucas and all of those boys.
SPEAKER: M8
They've been brought up in a world which is dominated by cinema and cinema. To them is the reality.
SPEAKER: M15
But real life isn't the medium has become the message.
SPEAKER: M3
Yes. Which is fascinating. And it does tell you a lot about their mental state quite frightening really.
SPEAKER: M15
There's a worm that feeds by eating its own tail and I always think this describes the very good area.
SPEAKER: M3
Anyway the the problems of Memphis Belle that we had in the editing were all technical. The matting was a big problem. The Flack never looked real. It was a nightmare and we had it. We had all these effects being done by about 10 different houses and there was a constant fight over money and trying to get these people to do it cheaper.
SPEAKER: M4
The big problem.
SPEAKER: M2
Nevertheless it was a very interesting film for me and I never regretted doing it partly because I got on very well with Kate Jones and partly because it gave me an insight into an awful lot of special effects which I never had before.
SPEAKER: M20
That was followed by another Putnam film which was less happy meeting Venus which we shot in Budapest and it was directed by Hungarian director Fishburne Zarb a very eminent and respected director making his first film in the English language with stars Glenn Close being the leading lady. This was a slightly in my view slightly misbegotten project inasmuch as the script was never that good.
SPEAKER: M2
And although Ashburn is an exemplary director and a fastidious director he never really speaks perfect English and is understands English perfectly. He never really was able to escape from the essential bathos of the script which started off being rather an interesting romantic comedy of life in the opera house in Anne.
SPEAKER: M13
How was it set.
SPEAKER: M20
It was set in because it wasn't set in in Hungary for the life of me I can't nor was it that was set in Paris was set in Paris and we shot in the opera house in Budapest for several weeks.
SPEAKER: M2
But the story declined into a very ordinary love story between the diva and the conductor with a subplot of mashing nations and union disputes and bureaucratic problems behind the scenes and it was in a way it was always that that was more interesting than the story and it was an interesting film to do but it never worked and my relationship with Chopin was always a little strained.
SPEAKER: M20
Little troubled because he had always cut his own films and he had never had a film edited while he was shooting. That was quite new to him and he resented anyone else putting their hands on his material because he'd never done it that way in the way they work in Hungary is that they shoot the movie they let it all pile up and then when they finish shooting it they start to cut it. So the director is there with the editor the whole time.
SPEAKER: M18
Thing I sense watching that film was a great conflict of styles acting well or primarily acting I think which which made one very uneasy.
SPEAKER: M2
It was a Euro pudding like all those things because the actors came from various countries and the story did reflect that and you can get away with that in a story of an opera house because they do come from all parts of the world. But they all spoke English but it wasn't a coherent film as I recall no it wasn't. And we did have a lot of problems and we did actually we had a film that was overlong and we had problems in the middle and we had to we had to change the story in some ways. It's difficult for me to precisely remember what we did I know. I know they went back they got Glenn and Neil Ira Stroup back and they went back to Budapest and shot new scenes in order to try and sort out a lot of our problems. But it was never a film that really worked. And it went on a long time it was it was in the cutting room floor. I guess the best part of nine months probably longer while we tried to sort it out. And of course we went to preview and then again Polish band had never been through any of this before.
SPEAKER: M3
And this was this was death to hip cultural death. He hated it. He was so miserable. He he he went to this preview which we had in Pasadena. They had no idea what they were watching and all the brass from Warner Brothers were there and Putnam was there and poor old ish band was a total fish out of water. Had no idea what to do or what to say. It was all very sad.
SPEAKER: M2
Where did you cut the film did you. We did it here. I was in Budapest through this the shooting period and I put the first come together. We worked at Marvel films. It was very agreeable it was a very pleasant film in that respect. Being in Budapest was fascinating. Three months is a little too long to be honest but nevertheless it was it was fascinating and I look back on that with some pleasure.
SPEAKER: M18
This was post democratization. So how did that influence the film industry there in your experience.
SPEAKER: M10
Well I wasn't really involved much with the crew so I can't say I'm in the cutting rooms. Apart from the fact that things were all a bit sort of run down the studio was run down.
SPEAKER: M2
It was like being anywhere else but it was all a little bit dilapidated as indeed the how the Budapest Ma films by the way was started by Korda. That was it was the studio he founded I think he was 21.
SPEAKER: M7
So the ghost of Korda still hovers over my films as it does all those pixies. And then after that I think I went back to America to do this boy's life for Michael Kate Jones again. Yes that's right. And that was a film which I really enjoyed because I'd read. I'd read the book by Tobias Wolff which is really his own story. It's an autobiographical novel about a boy growing up in town called concrete in America in the fifties and it's Tobias Wolfe's own story.
SPEAKER: M23
And I'd read the book and enjoyed it very much. And I was in France on holiday when they sent me the script of this. And I thought well you know that something is working here. And I enjoyed the script too. I thought it was very good and De Niro I thought would having worked with De Niro in the mission I thought he would be very good as the as the despotic father. And Michael told me that he discovered a boy to play the lead or he was really hot on. So this all went through very easily we shot the film in Vancouver which again was a great pleasure and one of the nicest places I've ever worked. The most agreeable place and the film was shot in I think 10 weeks and with no problems. And I was always very keen on it. I liked it a lot on the boy La La Land. Leonardo DiCaprio here was called him Leo so I never could remember his name. He turned out to be a real find. So we shot the film then we took it back to Los Angeles and completed it there.
SPEAKER: M10
We had very good previews of the film. Warner Brothers were very supportive and the film opened to some quite good reviews and did no business at all. It was a complete flop at the box office. The word got out that it dealt partly with child abuse child abuse was was a subject which was absolutely taboo at the box office and people didn't go but they they heard that De Niro hits the boy a lot. There was a lot of physical abuse. There was a certain amount on the course that crucial to the story. But it was not by any means gratuitous. But the film is a disaster. And that was that to me was one of the better films that I'd cut of recently.
SPEAKER: M24
I think the only possible way for the cinema the things I see nowadays on television everywhere else that don't like abuse to children well received as young people being beaten up by older people.
SPEAKER: M23
I guess you can have films where people get shot and mauled and raped and tortured which is essentially comic strip usually is yes.
SPEAKER: M7
So this was a realistic film and I suppose they found that very hard to take. We did have one scene which I loved because I thought Bob De Niro played it so well where he skins a beaver in front of the boy and he did this so brilliantly.
SPEAKER: M25
We had to take it out because the first preview everybody thought that DeNiro was going to kill the boy next. That was going to be his next move but he did this skinning scene brilliantly and it was it was quite horrifying.
SPEAKER: M23
But there was one sequence that gave me a great deal of trouble in that film. It took them one day to shoot and it took me weeks to cut.
SPEAKER: M7
It was a scene in a car which they shot in the studio Poor Man's Process a night scene in a car where the boy is being driven to concrete by DeNiro who is drunk and they shot this entire thing on the set with three cameras over and over and over again and they printed the whole thing and DeNiro was different on every take said different things did different things was at a different level of drunkenness a different level of intensity constantly that we we had we had a zillion feet of film for this one sequence which was a fiendishly hard thing to do to get right.
SPEAKER: M10
It took me ages to cut it.
SPEAKER: M3
First version was simple but it was all much too long and had to be condensed because he rambled on and but of course amongst this vast amount of improvising were wonderful moments which I was constantly trying to sew together and make work somehow.
SPEAKER: M26
When you see the film you wouldn't have no idea how difficult it was to do.
SPEAKER: M20
It looks very simple but it was it was a nasty little sequence anyway.
SPEAKER: M10
That was rather sad because it went down and I was upset about that. So after this boy's life I think I got involved at that point with Bruce Burroughs but on a good man in Africa have a coffee.
SPEAKER: F1
Right. Where was I.
SPEAKER: M17
That's a very good question.
SPEAKER: M21
We will want to embark on a good man in Africa was a good man in Africa was a project that came to me via a friend of mine Mark Tyler who is a producer. Bruce Beresford and will Boyd have been trying to get a good man financed for a long time and had failed and will Boyd who is the writer of the book.
SPEAKER: M27
Being a friend of Mark Tyler went to Mark and asked him if he had any way in which they could raise the finance. And Mark was able because he's good at this sort of thing was able to raise the necessary money. So the film got financed partly I think by tax money from South Africa where we shot the film. The book had been around for a number of years and was a very good comic novel and the sort of evil and war tradition but perhaps because it had been around for a long time was now somewhat dated dealing with a small African country that was about to get its independence book of course was set in the fifties and therefore there was some sense in this whereas if you make it contemporary there is very little sense in it anyway. They decided not to make it a period film but to make it contemporary and that was that was a strike against it.
SPEAKER: M21
And then Bruce Beresford cast as the leading man an Australian actor called Colin Friels who was not particularly funny. He was good actor but he's not necessarily a comic actor. When I'd read the book which I'd read many years before I'd also thought it would make a good film. But I always saw a John Cleese type or a Hugh Laurie or Stephen Fry or that sort of actor playing the lead. So I was all a little bit concerned when they told me who the leading man was Sean Connery was cast but he only did a two week guest appearance. And we started shooting the movie in Johannesburg and within a week it was evident to me that we were on the wrong wavelength entirely with with the leading man who wasn't funny. And I I was very concerned about this and mentioned that of course to the producer said I felt that we were in trouble here but there was nothing that anybody could do because by that time the DI as it where it was cast I did ask Will Boyd what he thought when he flew in and looked at a lot of material and I said do you find Colin funny and he said yes he sees that is exactly right is exactly what I how I see the characters that have come from the author. So I shut up after that but nevertheless I was always convinced in my mind that that was one of the biggest problems we had with the film. And I also think that they managed to miscast almost everybody else as well except perhaps for Sean who did his job perfectly well. But in the the nature of the story is that the character played by Sean Connery has to die in the last reel and nobody really likes especially America they don't like a comedy where death intrudes. So we put this film together and we previewed it in Berkeley California with disastrous results. And it was perceived to be a comedy that was by no means working. So we strove after that to do everything we could to make it funnier. We had a different score written a funnier score which didn't help at all.
SPEAKER: M3
We added voiceover comments. That was a sort of last ditch effort. The picture was dead in the water.
SPEAKER: M28
Bruce never seemed to understand any of this.
SPEAKER: M29
You sailed through the film without appearing to realize that it wasn't working which alarmed me because I got on very well with Bruce and I like him a lot but he never seemed to be aware that there was anything wrong even until the first public screening he did get very upset that point because clearly we weren't working. But there is an example of a film which had gone too far to repair that.
SPEAKER: M28
The faults were too deep though they stemmed from the script and from the casting and once you've got those two things wrong and the general comedic tone of the film wrong then your your absolutely buggered. And I think one of the problems was that Bruce never saw it as a farce. He always saw it as a kind of what he referred to as a serious comedy. This is a serious comedy we're making.
SPEAKER: M12
It never worked. So it didn't surprise me one bit when it didn't work with the critics or with the public unfortunate mess.
SPEAKER: M21
So that took a long time because we were forever re cutting it and they never seem to run out of money.
SPEAKER: M29
Whatever but whatever we did there always seem to find another load of money. It was it was the lodestone that film. Plenty of dough I suppose all coming from some sort of sort of tax thing in South Africa. I never never understood any of that.
SPEAKER: M30
And so while we were doing that film I think just before we did good man I had been to see the light works machine which was one of the two nonlinear editing machines which were now in common usage and the demonstration of the light works machine convince me that whatever I did I should make every effort to cut my next film on it. Well I had agreed after a good man I had agreed to go in to work on War of the buttons for Putnam but I'd only agreed to do a sort of supervisory job on that because he was worried that he had an editor on that who hadn't cut a feature before and he just was he just wanted the insurance of having somebody around who could go in and help. So I actually ended up doing about a month's work on War of the buttons which didn't need me. It was perfectly well edited by the other guy but while I was at Pinewood screwing around with a couple of scenes but which I recut but that was all I did on that thought I had a call from Fox from the head of post-production at Fo x asking me if I would be interested in cutting a film for them. I didn't know what the film was but he was in London. So we met and got on very well and I said whatever I did next I wanted to work on the light works and he said That's great.
SPEAKER: M31
We just bought one which you can use. He said it's being used right now on a film called speed and you can use it after and after that.
SPEAKER: M30
So I then had a call from Michael Apted saying that he was making this film for Fox called now and would I be interested in doing it. So I realized that there was some collusion there and said Well of course I'd be interested in doing it provided I can do it on the light works. No problem with Michael. Michael had had experience on the avid on his documentaries so he knew a bit about non-linear editing. So my next move was to go to Los Angeles for a week where I was taught the rudimentary moves on the light works. That was the first instruction. Then I came back to London and hadn't before I left England to start cutting now properly. I had another four days here so I had in all I had eight days of instruction but I don't really have that today.
SPEAKER: M24
We tend to tend not to take a day to do. Where are we not where we're at.
SPEAKER: M32
We're in ninety four. We're at the beginning of 94 was February ninety when I went to to be taught and when I got to the know location that was early April in North Carolina we were in a very remote place.
SPEAKER: M21
The machine had already been installed by the light works engineer who had had installed it and left.
SPEAKER: M28
So I was there entirely alone with out an assistant who was clued up on the machine because he wasn't free and the man I wanted to have wasn't free for the first two or three weeks.
SPEAKER: M31
So I was on my own and they sent me as test material just so I could keep my hand and they sent me the tapes of Mrs. Doubtfire the Robin Williams comedy. So for a week while while Nell started shooting I was using the Mrs. Doubtfire rushes as test pieces and getting more familiar with the machine.
SPEAKER: M28
From then on the dailies of Nell started coming in and I was cutting the picture in situ. There.

End of Side 8

Jim Clark Side 9

=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M11
Jim Clark take five. Yes.
SPEAKER: M2
So the experience of using a nonlinear machine for the first time coincided with being on the most remote location which was in my view a somewhat dodgy because I couldn't get help quickly. But on the other hand because we were so remote there was absolutely no distraction. So I spent my entire time working on the machine and learning it. And it was probably the best way to do to do this because there was nobody was coming into the room and distracting me. There was nowhere to go. We were 30 minutes drive nearest town. So all one's attention undivided with the machine which I very quickly learned and very quickly became really keen on. And I realized that all the feelings and that I'd had about nonlinear work back in 87 on the added flex one hour here and there was no doubt in my mind that this machine was going to change the way that we worked in the editing room.
SPEAKER: M12
It's a very creative tool inasmuch as one can do multiple versions of scenes. One can experiment at will and everything you do is accessible and everything you do can be stored and everything you do can be called up and inspected and combined if necessary.
SPEAKER: M2
I very often would do a scene I'd rough cut a scene quite quickly then I'd refine it and store it and call it version one. Then I'd go back to the rushes and have another go and call it version turn I'd probably on any given scene I'd probably cut three or four versions just for my own satisfaction and then I decide which one of those I felt I really liked the best. And that would be the version that I would put into the cutting copy as such that I would show to the director Apted is a very adaptable man and very easy to work with. And we adopted a method of work on that film whereby moment on Sunday morning which was his day off as a rule he would come into the room at 9:00 and look at everything that I'd cut and give me changes. Anything that he wanted to change he would give me a list and in the normal way would take the notes and he would also as the weeks went by he would be looking at stuff. Not only new stuff but he would look be looking at stuff which he had already passed co mment on. So as the shoot proceeded we worked together for two or three hours on a Sunday morning and he by the time he'd finished shooting we had something which wasn't terribly far off.
SPEAKER: M3
A director's cut the machine speeds up the process and makes it more creative.
SPEAKER: M14
So there's no question in my mind that there is no point in going back to film editing as such. When you've got this kind of equipment it later proved also to be extremely effective when it came to the soundtrack for screenings. We didn't conform the rush is on now until we had a director's cut on the light works. That's to say we had the rushes we had the film but we didn't cut it. We didn't assemble it and we couldn't view the cutting copy on the screen until such time as we had assembled it.
SPEAKER: M2
So the process which worked out very well here was that Apted and I worked I think for a week after he had seen my rough cut which I'd put on video. So he'd least I'd seen it at home. We worked for seven days refining the cut so that we got his version and also reduced the length of the film as we went so that what had started life as a rough cut of about two hours 30. We then refined on another pass to about two hours five getting it nearer to its final length and he then went away to Australia to look for locations for another film while he was away.
SPEAKER: M14
My assistants conformed the film to the light works version so that when he came back from his holiday or his work abroad we projected the film for the first time in the theatre which was great because it looked perfectly and scratched and uncut it looked like a like a release print. Furthermore because of the the sound quality from the light works I had not only given him the dialogue track but with mixed in music and effects which we had put on to adapt tape and then transferred to 35 mil mag stripe which miraculously and I know I have no idea how this works comes up in in sync with your picture. It's all unfathomable to me but it works. And so you sit in the theatre and you are watching and listening to a roughed up which you have not done in a theatre. You've done it on the machine. We use that as the foundation for our subsequent preview mixes so that when we went to do our preview mics or our temp dub it was almost all right all done. You only had to be sweetened so the point o f this is that it's an enormous saving on on money although the light works costs money to rent it nevertheless saves you money in the process. Also it was clear to me as we proceeded that I could have brought the film in and had it ready for mixing a month earlier than than scheduled because we'd already got the cut. We were there with it. We could have previewed earlier we could have done everything a month earlier as it was we didn't simply because our composer wasn't free and we were sticking to our original dates but it proved to me that on the next show we could shave the dates considerably and that would save a lot of money so that experience led me to invest in a in a machine with the producer of good man in Africa Mark Tull of the two of us decided to invest in this and the machine is currently in use on the film called copycat which I may end up doing some work on how upgrade the ball is in the machine as you approach him.
SPEAKER: M5
The software is constantly upgraded with refinements and any bugs which people find they eradicate. I found very little wrong with it but the version I was using last year is now obsolete and I think I put the machine I put the answering machine so that according to the manufacturers the hardware that one has should remain non obsolete for quite a long time. I mean certainly the machine will have paid its way long before it's obsolete. The other machine that that is its competitor is the avid which is fancied by people that do special effects films particularly and people who do commercials and videos.
SPEAKER: M12
I think there are indeed more examples of the avid around than there are lightweight light works as a British made machine but as American the AVID is based on Macintosh and the and the and the light works is based on DOS.
SPEAKER: M17
Where will you base your machine here or on.
SPEAKER: M4
Well California we have a machine which is compatible in both countries and we took the precaution of buying transit cases for it as well so that the machine can be shipped back was forth and it's that easily transportable. Yes it's not. It's really not very elaborate on that.
SPEAKER: M12
They're constantly upgrading the memory and the towers for storage which of course has always been the most expensive aspect of any of these machines is the amount of storage you need which is enormous.
SPEAKER: M6
It goes into gigabyte it doesn't have endless gigabytes.
SPEAKER: M19
It's mind boggling what it takes and gobbles up yeah.
SPEAKER: M8
If you began these interviews by talking about the little nine point five machine hand wound and here we are. What is it 40 years later 50 years later with them. Well like a lifetime later works you know we've gone as you say from manual.
SPEAKER: M5
Not even machine controlled but hand controlled and Eddie told us.
SPEAKER: M9
No Leo loves all of the lone flower.
SPEAKER: M10
I'll never know those great bits of hardware and gone from cutting by looking through a bull's eye and magnifying glass and I was leading towards the question.
SPEAKER: M8
Now what you do now is based on partly your natural talent and also quite extraordinary experience over the years with. Now what is obsolete machinery which has taught you an attitude toward the film itself. Do you perceive any dangers now in people coming in on light work so avid and having this technology and getting carried away purely by the technology and losing sight of all the other things.
SPEAKER: M2
Indeed that I think this is a very dangerous situation. And I wouldn't be the first to have mentioned that a lot of editors are extremely concerned about this fact that people no longer get really trained that assistants are not getting the exposure to the creative process perhaps that they used to have. It's hard to see how it will develop because there is no longer a question of people learning very much from the film editor during the process.
SPEAKER: M12
And I think already you can see when you look at MTV for example that almost anything goes but provided images go from one thing to another thing. This seems to me no logic particularly in any of that. It's very haphazard not very creative and it's not very creative and I also think if you look at a film like Natural Born Killers which was cut on light works it shows in a way although the people involved but were highly professional people it does show the dangers of being carried away by the ease at which you can experiment and perhaps when you're doing it you think you've done something rather extraordinary and original.
SPEAKER: M5
But when when you look at it all if you look at Natural Born Killers you've got a totally incomprehensible piece of work which after 30 minutes you can't really watch. It's very tedious is it not extraordinarily tedious and it's a form of collage which in the end you just you just sit and look at it and it does nothing to you at all except to irritate madly irritated me beyond measure technique to gain the advantage that it created for the storytelling.
SPEAKER: M14
The storytelling seems to have been totally disregarded and there's this belief I suppose that young people who are brought up on the MTV culture can accept a linear story done in the same way which clearly doesn't work. And I think light works perhaps didn't do themselves any favors by getting involved with that.
SPEAKER: M2
But I do I do think that perhaps the the the people who are going to be the future film editors who will be using these machines and and whatever succeeds them.
SPEAKER: M12
I suppose some people are born with the ability to take material and make a story out of it naturally without having to go through perhaps the endless process of being an assistant and going through the grind of rewinding and joining and numbering and doing all those things that we did.
SPEAKER: M7
Yes but I do think there's a grave danger that it's become facile.
SPEAKER: M11
Well that's true of Natural Born Killers is one millimeter deep isn't it. It's as you say linear. But is this not true of almost all the traditional motion picture crafts and skills camera work. People buy a camcorder and instantly they're an expert. Yes we have directors we've talked about the movie brands and how they bring a kind of tunnel vision to everything they do.
SPEAKER: M17
It's it's through.
SPEAKER: M7
Well I do think the craft of filmmaking has been somewhat degraded over the years. And I think also the biggest problem that we face and perhaps now is not so much that aspect but the biggest problem that I perceive is the actual scripts that we get that go into production are not in themselves very good.
SPEAKER: M5
It's very rare to find a script which you think is is going to work.
SPEAKER: M13
Why why should this be released. You know what I want to do with the technical thing we're talking about.
SPEAKER: M18
No it's nothing to do my dad write a script regardless of whatever technique is used to make it into a final movie.
SPEAKER: M5
I just get the impression that that all the good stories have been told and that people are unable to find new novel approaches to storytelling that the actual actual stories themselves are not very interesting now. I'm sure that's true. They're not as interesting as they used to be though of course in the old days there was also a lot of bad scripts made.
SPEAKER: M10
But I think it all starts at the script and if you if you haven't got a good one it doesn't matter what happens with the technique of the film you're still lumbered with so many scripts now shapeless those that is brought up on the the the three act structure is very perceptible now that either there is no structure at all.
SPEAKER: M11
It is just a mindless meandering or invariably the third act is missing or some such.
SPEAKER: M13
Why therefore all the incentive for production.
SPEAKER: M19
Because they have to have a continuity of production studios require product and very often things get greenlighted and put into production because they need product and because this thing happens to be there and it happens to be a go project.
SPEAKER: M2
So things get made for the wrong reasons constantly and it's I think a sad reflection especially in Hollywood. On the creative process though God knows how many thousands of scripts get written but they're not very good and rewritten. I mean this is a game one of the pros certainly rewritten but that was always the case.
SPEAKER: M6
Yes they were rewritten even in the golden age but they were constantly rewritten by other people that they were rewritten by Dorothy Parker or Amare Scott Fitzgerald.
SPEAKER: M4
Not always not always well usually they were the ones that started the things that were rewritten either did Scott Fitzgerald ever have a script actually shot.
SPEAKER: M11
No not but I think they were all tampered with. Yes. 3 What was 3 3 but it was not they were all into rewrites constantly.
SPEAKER: M4
So he may have been back a long time. He may have been but anyway I am worried. Your whole point about these machines are undermining the craft and the and the actual thought process and the X the question of experience it is true that I think there is a grave danger there that people will not be properly taught.
SPEAKER: M21
I don't quite see how to solve that one right. I know full well that when I'm working on the light works machine I don't want somebody sitting beside me whereas in the old days my assistant would be in the room with me. Yes. Now I'm closeted but I do call them in and I say Look. What do you think of this. Do you prefer this version of that version. And I do discuss it with them. I do. I do bring them in on the creative process always did that to try and not only teach them something which was never really my aim but to use them as a sounding board and as an opinion I've always done that and I know what some editors don't of course some editors never involved the assistance of creatively.
SPEAKER: M17
How about an apprentice. Are you required. Is there an arrangement now for an editorial apprentice.
SPEAKER: M4
No there isn't. But now we had an apprentice who was incredibly opinionated I remember couldn't shut him up when whenever I showed him anything he'd have a million opinion did he like it. Now he's very critical. I just have to boot him out. Tell him to shut up take his opinion somewhere else. He'll be at a production before.
SPEAKER: M18
What about going back to now. They discussed it as a film.
SPEAKER: M19
Well now I think there's an unfortunately again going back to the script. The script is not as good as it should have been or could have been. And the basic premise is perhaps a little wobbly. We made the film to the best of our ability and it's not badly made but it's a film which clearly the critics have dumped heavily on for being a rather Hollywood eyes story told in a rather rosy glow. Kerry did it did undergo a number of changes because I remember when I first spoke to Michael Apted about it I had reservations about the script myself in the early days and I said to him you know the script is very sentimental and a little bit unlikely and you can see exactly what's going to happen from the beginning to the end. And he said yes but I'm going to make it in a very very documentary way very gritty it's going to be very hard edged.
SPEAKER: M7
It's going to be hand-held and documentaries style and so on. And when it actually came down to it it was quite the reverse. He had it all shot perfectly static no hand-held camera everything traditional with all the lighting being beautiful and Jodi playing this mountain made was was perfect and looked like she'd just come out of makeup and hair isn't it old style Hollywood in that sense it was designed as a star vehicle and she was watching called producers and co-produced and that's obviously the way she wanted to do it.
SPEAKER: M22
I was always against that aspect of it and I said it was unreal. I made it I made the right noises to her and to Michael and I said I felt that she should dirty herself down but no they never took any notice of me.
SPEAKER: M19
But it's it's funny thing you know that they always say we want you on the show because of your experience and so on and whenever you give them a comment or two which are negative or which you think is important like the characters to clean they don't take any notice.
SPEAKER: M22
There's no I guess it's not well that one's one's out of line. But I wasn't the only person because the critics were coming down on the film like a ton of bricks for all these very things. So I was in sympathy with the critics.
SPEAKER: M11
I think it opens next week here. But how has it done in the States.
SPEAKER: M4
Is it fairly well. Did it did fairly well. It did. It didn't do as well as I'd hoped. I think the figures that I last read was about 30 million which isn't enough these days.
SPEAKER: M7
I'm sure the studio were looking to more like 50. So it's not necessarily a big box office film it wasn't hugely expensive and I don't think that Fox had more than a third in it because Polygram have it for the rest of the world.
SPEAKER: M21
It did at least accomplish an Oscar nomination for Jodie which is something which I think she wanted. I think that that was part of it from your own gathers. It was designed although I always thought that was a little transparent and a little obvious and the critics agreed with me to now.
SPEAKER: M7
So although I have to say that the actual making of the movie was one of the most pleasurable that I've ever encountered because of the way we made it and because of the light works it isn't of course always true that when you have a good time on a film that it's going to be a good one.
SPEAKER: M23
Our previews on the other hand were terrific preview figures could not have been better. We have three previews I think the average recommended figure was 85 percent.
SPEAKER: M24
Do you believe in previews. Yes to what extent.
SPEAKER: M4
Previews are essential. I don't think you have to take notice of everything that you learn at the preview. Very often they only confirm one's worst fears but I think with comedy it's important to try and help out the timing of the of the of the laughs if there are any. And with drama you can you can tell whether you're holding their interest you can tell because the American audience is very peripatetic and they're not they don't have long patience.
SPEAKER: M7
So if they leave the film and don't come back if they've only gone out for a pee or a hamburger and they come back again then you're all right. But if they actually walk and take a while they don't like the show. Then you know that you've got some problems which you should try and attack.
SPEAKER: M5
So I I believe in the process but I don't believe that you should do everything that the audience tells you to do because the the focus group that they usually keep behind which is normally about 20 members of the audience who are then quizzed about certain aspects of the picture they all become instant critics and all feel that they're there as important voices should be heard but they do very often put their finger on the problem when you know you've got a problem.
SPEAKER: M7
They very often underline it for you.
SPEAKER: M11
Would you look for a single comment there or consensus as it were.
SPEAKER: M4
I'm I'm more happy to think of it in terms of a consensus because I think a single remark doesn't necessarily mean much if you get a lot of people all saying the same thing. And I think you can more or less feel that you have you have a problem which they have put their finger on but have you ever had an occasion when a single comment suddenly seemed enormously perceptive and quite cogent to two to the problem of the picture.
SPEAKER: M26
Not really no.
SPEAKER: M21
Most films as you know by no means perfect and you can see what the problems are long before you go to preview so that they only reinforce what you've already were sussed out. For example I remember when we previewed Memphis Belle everybody at the focus group said this is an old fashioned film you know it's about a lot of people in the 40s and nobody's really interested in that anymore and they all said this.
SPEAKER: M23
They said it's like seeing a movie that was made in 1945. But of course that's what we set out to do. They were they were saying that they didn't like the film because of this. They were giving us a negative report because they said it was old fashioned really. We had deliberately set out to make a film that you might have seen in 1945 so that they see it on the Late Show every night.
SPEAKER: M4
That's the prime Niro I know. And they all said that they couldn't tell one actor from the other because of the masks are what was the world's attitude toward Memphis Belle going back toward that.
SPEAKER: M11
Was she happy with it as a monument to her father.
SPEAKER: M19
Yeah. She was very very happy with it very supportive.
SPEAKER: M4
So again in a sense it may have been a misguided enterprise for that reason that it was a monument it was passable but it was never going to be a better film than the documentary that was made by her dad.
SPEAKER: M11
Well with all respect I think the original is I wouldn't say that much more interesting but it's more gripping because it is real it's it's actuality I knew those poor buggers were going through it.
SPEAKER: M4
Oh yes. And it was all shot actually at the time. Yes. Well that's what I mean. Yes it was. It was quite unique. But you never it wasn't a fiction so you never got involved with any story. Oh I never knew if they were going to get back. Did you. Well they did get back. You. That was evident. But the whole thing was done as a PR piece in the first place wasn't it. Mm hmm. So. The fact that it was fictionalized and blown up in to a another story.
SPEAKER: M29
So you've got to know all the people and you've followed the journey rather more than they did in the documentary. It was a valid enterprise but it wasn't. When you boil it down it wasn't all that interesting because you knew they were going to come back.
SPEAKER: M23
We weren't going to kill those boys.
SPEAKER: M7
So I always in story conferences I used to say we've got to kill one of these people.
SPEAKER: M4
One of them should get killed so that we we get much more of an emotional tug now because nothing ever happened to any of them much and they went and they came out and then we had a very hard time trying to get everything going for this false landing that they did on one wheel or something but can't remember the exact story but there was a whole question but we getting stuck and it came down at the last second.
SPEAKER: M20
I was following the form of the original while a documentary or was that in the scripting it was in the scripting.
SPEAKER: M11
Right.
SPEAKER: M4
And the original film that was the Memphis Belle wasn't damaged particularly. There was no question of whether they would land on 12 feet. I can't remember the earth. And when the music we have the music working very hard to try and get things going.
SPEAKER: M11
I'm sorry I was gonna say going back to previews for a moment. You were saying that invariably you can tell you know what the public reaction is going to be in the first preview. Is that something available to the editor who is by the nature of his job. Perhaps my character a more disinterested objective on the fence person. Do you think. I mean does that apply to the rest of the Union or the director.
SPEAKER: M4
I think absolutely.
SPEAKER: M23
I don't know that it applies to the director because the director and the producer as a rule will always be hoping that the thing will work really well because the studio executives are always at these screenings so that another point a previous which I didn't mention is the most important aspect is that the reaction of the public is perceived by the marketing people and the marketing people at that point can gauge how much they're going to spend on their campaign because if they see a film perform poorly at a preview and clearly not working for the audience they are less inclined to put a lot of money into it to sell it. So it's very important for the producer and direct director of the film to have a successful preview for the marketing.
SPEAKER: M11
Films are literally abandoned that stage.
SPEAKER: M18
Yes and moreover an Army review audience is only selected at random. How did how come they get it.
SPEAKER: M5
It's usually they're usually recruited from shopping malls and universities colleges people recruiters will stand outside of cinemas and stop people coming out and saying Would you like to see a preview of a new film next week. They always try to find an audience which will would would go to see that film normally they recruit them. Inasmuch as if you've got a drama they will say Have you seen the following films giving a list of half a dozen recent dramas. Did you enjoy them.
SPEAKER: M22
Did you like this this this this and if the person says yes that's the kind of film I like then they are invited in if they're clearly not the kind of person that would ever go to a film of that kind. Then they don't they don't get invited.
SPEAKER: M11
Have you ever had experience of a totally mismatched audience.
SPEAKER: M16
Yes I've had an experience of a deliberately mismatched audience which was the first this is telling the tale out of school really.
SPEAKER: M25
But it's interesting inasmuch as it does show how a producer can be wily and this was on the mission.
SPEAKER: M16
Putnam could see that Joffrey would go on and on and on and on cutting the mission and he was convinced that he hadn't got it right that the film is too long too confusing and there were many things wrong with it. And he said to me one day the only way I can prove to anybody that this isn't working is to preview it in its present form. So they set up a preview a proper preview in Redding which was this at the Odeon at Redding was at that point used a lot for previews because it was equipped with double head equipment they did not recruit an audience that would naturally end up seeing the machine.
SPEAKER: M25
I don't know where they went but they got a whole load of jobs and heaven knows who in the end this film played extremely badly and they were walking out in droves. They hated this picture. About halfway through the screening I was in a terrible state of nerves. I was I knew that we were dying and I.
SPEAKER: M7
My stomach was turning upside down with nerves and I went into the projection booth most of the time just to keep away from the audience I came out of the booth about halfway through the screening when people were already walking out and I saw David Putnam walking in to the theater walking in from the street eating a hot dog and I said What are you doing David. He said How's it going.
SPEAKER: M4
I said it's not going very well at this point. People were coming out and the researchers was taking you know asking them why they were leaving. And one of them said well it ain't Rambo and not that rabbit. David instead of being upset by this disastrous preview I was absolutely thrilled and was smiling and saying it's going badly is it great. Now we'll get to cut the picture and say I don't know whether Roland ever realized how rigged that was.
SPEAKER: M7
But he was demolished. Paul Roland was thoroughly demolished. And because this film was dying the following day I don't know whether David ever told him but the following day he started to cut the film and he tackled the problems and he had seen what didn't work. And so this fake preview had done the trick. It was. David was very cunning on that because he knew that if he just constantly argued with Roland that it would get him nowhere but demonstrate with five or six hundred people was another thing. But it's a very dodgy thing to do because the word gets out.
SPEAKER: M17
It also would not work in Hollywood or Los Angeles or would it. Because the studio would immediately. I would think it would go berserk. Yes. You'd never do it.
SPEAKER: M7
You could do it. And I've seen it done in Hollywood at screenings within the studio where you've got a film that is not working. You don't go out of the studio and go to the valley or wherever you just invite a group of people in and that can give you a reading. That's a sort of work in progress type preview on that. That happens quite frequently when they're not sure.
SPEAKER: M17
Can we talk about Hollywood working there as a subject. Maybe they're kicking off. We haven't really talked about the studio executives that turn at any great length.
SPEAKER: M21
What's your experience. They're a very mixed bunch. A lot of people despise the studio executives and I think Robert Altman got it right or rather Michael Todd Akin got it right when he wrote the player the player is certainly the most accurate portrayal of a studio executive that I've ever seen.
SPEAKER: M7
But it's not savage enough and it's not gross enough. It touches on many things but it course as a story it couldn't go that deep. But it's all politics in the studio. One of the things that I was always very grateful for when I did that little job I never really felt that I was a studio executive and I never really felt I was cut out to be because I had a skill of my own. I never felt threatened by being fired or anything like that by losing my job. And therefore I was able to be honest in my opinions such as they were whereas people whose profession it is to be a studio executive have to play the game they have to play the political game otherwise they find themselves out of work. And there are a limited number of places where you can move to your in one studio you can presumably be headhunted to go to another studio. But if if you get fired it's not such good news. Now most of those people have no other ability at all except politics and talk and opinions. They're all opinions. Th ey never stop giving your opinions. It drives him mad because a lot of them know nothing but they're good talkers. They can they can listen to a pitch they can. They can take a take a meeting. They can take a hundred and fifty phone calls a day. They can play the right hand of cards. They can be seen in the right restaurants with the right people. And all of that. It's a pretty lousy and fairly unpleasant area of filmmaking but is essential to the process in America. It's not essential here.
SPEAKER: M13
I've got to say it's not at all.
SPEAKER: M28
We don't have such things here. Why is it essential. Can you expand on that. It's essential because the process is it's a factory. Everything has to be filtered through the management.
SPEAKER: M26
You can't you unless you're somebody extraordinarily extraordinary like for example Kubrick who could make any film he wished anything he wanted to make would be would be bankrolled by by Warner Brothers.
SPEAKER: M29
They wouldn't question it but everything else has to be filtered through. Now if you've got a script you go to somebody that maybe you know or have met who is an executive at a studio you if you were going to Warner Brothers you would not go straight into Terry Samuel's office because he's the boss unless you are Kubrick in which case you would be ushered in. But if you're you you have to go through the process of taking your story to an executive and pitching him the story and saying you know I've got this person I've got that person. Maybe they'll sort of think about it or maybe they'll maybe while you're pitching the story they're thinking of something else you might get lucky then your thing might get listened to. It's all of all a might. It's all a tenuous possible thing. But the big studios have to have a layer of people through which material is floated and poured and some of it sticks and some of it just goes through it doesn't mean that the people who are the studio executiv es are great creative minds.
SPEAKER: M1
Most of them are not.
SPEAKER: M11
Would you like to discuss the number of so-called producers co producers executive producers involved in any one single project.
SPEAKER: M21
It varies from film to film.
SPEAKER: M7
And again that their input can vary in in most cases one is happier when you've got one producer.
SPEAKER: M11
Is it a matter of points and credit is is that it.
SPEAKER: M4
Well things work in curious ways. When you're working in Hollywood your film is is financed by the studio. The producer may or may not be a member of this of that studio.
SPEAKER: M30
He could he might do. He might have a deal whereby he is developing for that studio or he may be freelance.
SPEAKER: M28
If he's freelance he's going to be supervised mightily by a studio executive. Studio executives are attached to all pictures. You always have someone like a limpet attached to your film who is supposed to be there to safeguard the budget and to safeguard the studio.
SPEAKER: M4
Now when we did this boy's life art Lindzen was the producer and he's a very tenacious produce very tough.
SPEAKER: M29
And he had a deal with Warner Brothers and he fought like a tiger for his film.
SPEAKER: M7
Even when Warner Brothers executives were questioning things he would stand by his picture like a like a mother protecting the child. He wouldn't let the studio have taken in if they were paying the bills.
SPEAKER: M29
But he was constantly fighting every inch of the way. So it's very helpful to all of us on the film when you have a producer who is tough believes in what he's doing and is protective because the studio executives are very wishy washy guys and we'll go with the flow. Where they see the shark going. They will follow that. They're not desperately trustworthy. You need them on your side. But you you and you have to make them feel a part of the project. And yet at the same time you don't really want them there. So you have to play a game but it's it's an elaborate game. It's a subtle minuet a go vote that you do around.

End of Side 9

Jim Clark Side 10
=======================================

 

SPEAKER: M9
We need to overlap that don't we we run on tape. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M1
I think one of the areas that we've now got onto is something we haven't talked about which is one of the most important aspects of film editing which is the diplomatic side of it.
SPEAKER: M21
Now many a film editor has been has been more or less ruined or his career has been ruined by an inability to play the diplomatic game.
SPEAKER: M1
Now some some people are perfectly good craftsman and can put a film together with no problem but they're hopeless at massaging the people who have to be dealt with and they rub them up the wrong way or say the wrong things or whatever it is they just don't have that particular skill because believe me in our profession the actual ability to get on with people is more than half the job. Now that probably applies to other aspects of filmmaking as well and other professions and I don't mean that you have to be what's the word I'm looking for you. You don't have to play a game for the sake of playing the game and you don't have to be political because because that's the way you are. And you don't have to be manipulative but you do have to manage people in order that the film gets somehow cut in the right way and in the right spirit and doesn't constantly get itself into political hitches. Now I don't quite know why but one of the reasons that I've survived fairly long time is because ov er a whole numb with a whole number of of enterprises and people I seem to have managed to make people happy and and feel that everything is working the right way without making an effort out of it. So I suppose it's a natural ability.
SPEAKER: M3
To somehow persuade people that everything is right that what we are doing is right. Without confrontation. Because I I never feel that one should fight a producer or fight a director one should always try to persuade them without them realizing it so I think a lot of a lot of film editors have fallen foul of an inability to get on with other people in that way.
SPEAKER: M2
You said a moment ago on the other side of the tape that the rules are changing constantly it would be interesting to hear in what way.
SPEAKER: M1
Well because every time you get into another film you're in in usually with another crowd. So it's personalities. So your personality has to adjust to them. And that's all part of what I was just talking about in your case.
SPEAKER: M2
You are a very emollient personality. It's true. But also you said that you were always immensely content rewarded. Being a film editor is it that you weren't perceived as a threat.
SPEAKER: M7
In those situations I don't think so.
SPEAKER: M1
My career as a as a film director was short lived and I was not unhappy when it ended because I have always felt happier in this role of of the film editor as a sort of middle man in a sense the midwife. Well I go back to that dream repair man as I mentioned long ago on another day.
SPEAKER: M8
That's I think what what I can do best is to take the material and somehow make it work to the best of its ability. And that's why in a way you get the reputation of being a good film doctor as well being a film doctor which I was at Columbia is not a very happy job and it's not something one would want to do out of choice but it's actually a much easier job than people would imagine simply because you're not has the doctor. You don't have to go through the whole of the birth you're simply looking at. Mostly I fear at the corpse still in Hollywood a brief question Does it help to be Jewish.
SPEAKER: M1
That should read the new statement that you should read the Spectator about that. I know really I've never ever had any reflection of that aspect of Hollywood.
SPEAKER: M11
Never could it be unspoken.
SPEAKER: M23
After all there are quite a few in help to be British. Yes and there are quite a few British gentile executives I think operating still are not.
SPEAKER: M10
Probably some anyway I maybe it's just because I'm the sort of person I am but I never think about by the people the Jewish or gentile it never occurs to me I suppose an awful lot of my friends are Jewish. Well it's a business dominated by Jewish laws of course.
SPEAKER: M1
But I never think about it. And it certainly never comes up in the cutting room.
SPEAKER: M2
The last thing I would think of the wider ranging question is that Columbia with David Putnam Did you ever discuss with him the what's the word ethos that he was trying to instill in the studio. Was he after a European sensibility more or less.
SPEAKER: M8
Oh I think so yes. And David was trying to improve things the way he saw it should be improved and I think we mentioned that earlier that it was most of his ideas and his ideals were perfectly right.
SPEAKER: M1
Did he and I ever discuss them. No not that I recall. We might have privately Maybe over dinner or something. I was always aghast at the way he was doing it because it seemed to me he was committing professional suicide and dumping on his on his house doorstep which I never thought was a very bright thing to do. But so far as the actual ideas that he had the things he wanted to change like lowering the amount of money that was paid to stars and stuff like that. Well I think many people agreed with that with him. And I think he did try perhaps to bend Hollywood into a more European way of working. But of course it's it's an impossibility. And I don't think will ever happen.
SPEAKER: M2
Well the question I suppose really was whether he was trying to do it consciously or subconsciously because of his previous experience. Because you know in a sense is key to his failure isn't it.
SPEAKER: M1
Well certainly it's a part of the key to his failure if failure it was because of many of the things that he suggested were very vocally taken up by other people afterwards the famous the famous memo from the Disney a man whose name escapes me for the moment the one who was fired recently. I didn't think of my cousin Kestenbaum Eisenberg Katzenberg memo and only reflected two or three years later what David was saying then.
SPEAKER: M2
But Katzenberg was meeting something like 50 million dollars a year.
SPEAKER: M10
Yes. Yes. It's horses for courses you know the bearings in there and there is a lot of a lot of money tied up in all of this.
SPEAKER: M1
And I'm sure David David knew that if he was if they broke the contract he was able to escape with some money. So there was a financial aspect to all that. I don't mean that he said all these things in order deliberately to be to be removed but it could be a parachute. It's possible. That's an interesting thought. I never knew any about anything about that because I have always kept away from politics of that kind.
SPEAKER: M2
He's only now beginning to discuss it I think isn't he.
SPEAKER: M1
Well David did. Actually on the radio the other day in an interview so far more about that period than he had said publicly before down in line. And in fact he was very honest. Yes. In that I listened to that and I remember most of that and he was he was right. That was the way it went. But the episode was an interesting one and I wish my memory was more retentive that I could recall more about what happened during that year. You don't keep a diary. No I was silly. I never had the time anyway. It would have been a good thing to do. And the other hand you know when you're when you're in the trenches go much time to write.
SPEAKER: M9
Have you conjured into your life works in future.
SPEAKER: M2
Anything that occurs to you about Hollywood since we're dwelling on them for the moment on that.
SPEAKER: M1
Well I can only say that I have always whenever I've worked there I've always enjoyed it. I think in another life I probably would have settled there. And the reason is that the infrastructure is so solid and that the people the technicians are all there in large numbers that the services are far and away more efficient. It's a much more agreeable place for for the actual process of editing because it's all there. And the attitude of people in the labs and people in the optical houses is is different and it's far more professional in my view than it is here where they're always inclined to be negative and they're always when you say to them Look I've got a little problem and can you do this by tomorrow is all the answer's usually no. Whereas in Los Angeles they will always do everything they possibly can to expedite it. There is far more efficient and that for that reason alone I prefer it to working here.
SPEAKER: M3
Here was still a small in fact we've shrunk to a smaller cottage industry. And we do a lot of things very well. But our attitude is different.
SPEAKER: M2
What further is to be said about the British film industry such as it is.
SPEAKER: M1
Well one always hopes that it will revive and that films will continue to be made and that people will continue to be able to make a living here. We have our ups and downs and production some last year it was quite a busy year in the studios. There were a lot of films made this year doesn't seem to be so big.
SPEAKER: M4
I don't personally see that the larger budget films will continue to be made here not with British subjects.
SPEAKER: M1
At any rate we will will continue to make I'm sure the American financed pictures like Mission Impossible is just about to start at Pinewood. That's a big one.
SPEAKER: M7
That's an American move here.
SPEAKER: M1
Last year they did two Scottish westerns.
SPEAKER: M7
Rob Roy and Braveheart. They did a very big historical film at Pinewood the.
SPEAKER: M1
The Lancelot and Granada. Well our story again with Richard Gere. So they're all American. I I don't see anybody at the moment paying a lot of money to make British films.
SPEAKER: M3
I think our industry is is very much now involved with television which produces great stuff and obviously occasionally we hit the jackpot with films like four weddings and a funeral which is a fluke.
SPEAKER: M8
And nobody I'm sure would ever have guessed that that film would have done the business it did.
SPEAKER: M2
It's a bit like well it isn't like Henry the eight in 33 34 is that because that created.
SPEAKER: M9
Oh what's the word eh. Yes.
SPEAKER: M10
The British film industry as it was exploded in in into magnificence very briefly and it exploded again a little bit later with erm with Gold Crest. Yeah it nearer our time Gold Crest wasn't dissimilar to the court of venture and as much as they. They got all this grandiose ideas and and poured vast sums of money into stuff when it all disappeared but that hasn't happened with Four Weddings And A Funeral. No because that was a one off. It was a one off almost a film made for television. Yes.
SPEAKER: M1
It's a sitcom idea extended sitcom and I think I think it only cost about two or three million for it. Oh yes yes yes. Yes it's half television and they got they all got terribly lucky with it. And it's wonderful when a low budget movie suddenly takes off like The Crying Game did the same thing. We can make those films here and thank God we still do.
SPEAKER: M11
Oh we largely do you think a talent nursery for Hollywood.
SPEAKER: M1
No I mean anybody who has got ambition wants to get there. Most directors I know of refer to their British films as the passport to Hollywood. I remember Kate Jones quite deliberately felt that way when we did Memphis Belle. This was gonna take him to Hollywood and I always said to him that's where he should be. That's where people will give him a chance. It's not very often he'll get a chance like that in England. And yet of course when they're there and they've been seduced as I fear Paul Roland has been in a way they lose what they've got their talent somehow diminishes very often disappears they become part of that machine yes. And some of them struggle and manage to maintain their integrity but a lot of them are seduced by the easy money or what appears to be easy money though of course as you well know you can't fail too often in Hollywood. You can you can have a reasonable tenure when you've had a hit but if you don't have a hit every now and again you're in dead trouble.
SPEAKER: F1
Yes.
SPEAKER: M1
And I think a lot of them get very distressed finally intellectually distressed by being the and Hollywood isn't a place as everybody's told you. It's a state of mind.
SPEAKER: M2
With its own fascinating extraordinary history all of which I think has bought it and and and indeed the country the same way has a bearing. I'm running out of topics as one I want to ask you Do you. You didn't exactly have a mentor.
SPEAKER: M9
Did you do you have someone whom you would mind. This is in your end of thing. Someone who is your master in effect.
SPEAKER: M1
I never really had a mentor and I never really had anybody that I as a film editor I used to say well my goodness you know I wish I could cut like him or her.
SPEAKER: M3
I worked a long time as an assistant with Jack Harris and I think of all the people who have influenced me at all in that respect Jack did. I think because I learned from him that the patience that is required to get to the end result he he was a man an enormous long suffering ability. He didn't as it were suffer outwardly but he was a man who would consider everything before he made the decision. So he was extremely patient with the with the material and extremely patient with the directors and extraordinarily passive but he very rarely made a bomb cut.
SPEAKER: M1
He might drive you mad by spending a day looking at the rushes of a sequence and going over those rushes. Time and again I'm not cutting anything and you go crazy listening to this stuff over and over again and then finally he would put the roll of rushes up on them on the synchronize. And he would have the scene cut in ten minutes and he would never change it. That I learned alone in a sense that that's the way you should do it. I don't think I was ever able to do it like that. I. I never had quite the patience that Jack had. But he taught me that it was necessary not to be a bullet a gate and rush on the material but to absorb it.
SPEAKER: M9
Does it require a formidable memory to be able to mentally long everything.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes. Your memory is an odd thing. My memory isn't very good but when I'm working on a movie I can remember every single frame of it. It goes once I've finished the film but at the time it's all in the head.
SPEAKER: M2
You grow your own light works. Yes.
SPEAKER: M12
It is all stored there. No no. I was going to change the subject a bit to an area which you're actually personally a television documentary maker. The number of television documentary people with whom I work only closely.
SPEAKER: M13
Ken Russell Cecil Django Charlton John Irvin Mike Neal Mike Apted yourself who made television documentaries and moved into feature films in the early days of the documentary cinema. This never happened. I mean Grierson Well he failed a little bit. Paul Rosso failed Edgar and stay as a right. Never tried it. Strange piece of history this but you know the number of people I've named who moved successfully into the cinema like you or I can perhaps mention all came originally from television documentaries. I don't know why this happened. It's interesting.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes it is interesting it's a very good point. I challenge you slightly and as much as there were documentary filmmakers a few of them who went into into feature films earlier than that generation like Harry Watt for example came out of documentary Basil right. Never directed a feature but he produced some children's films in a fiction sense wroth.
SPEAKER: M14
You're right attempted it and never made it. And there were certain other people who came out of documentary and went into features I think. I think I'm right in saying that David Lean was involved in in documentary as an editor originally Israel newsreels.
SPEAKER: M1
Anyway the point of the generation that you're talking about Apted and Jaffa and people like that they didn't all come direct from television documentary because a lot of them did. Coronation Street and and and plays Apted and a number of plays. So did Newell and so did Jaffa. Messenger was never in in that area. He was he was monitor wasn't he and and tonight or whatever the BBC programme was called tonight and more nationwide or whatever to o'clock tonight. So his experience as a director he handled actors for the first time I think when he made a film for British transport which was called Terminus. And that was the film that Joe Yanez saw along with his TV films at the gate to give him the break to do a feature. John had been acting. Had he been acting as an actor I would.
SPEAKER: M14
Anyway it is true that that generation did make the leap into features perhaps they'd always wanted to from the beginning because that was were talking before film schools and Granada at that time. That was the golden age of Granada was a sort of film school. Really just like Ealing Studios was a sort of film school for a lot of people. There was a kind of paternal. Aspect about that because there was an intellectual approach at a Granada because you had burns Diane up there who was in himself a left wing intellectual and then he employed producers like you and Dennis Mitchell and Donald Valle of course and Dennis Forman.
SPEAKER: M10
In effect the Head of Programmes.
SPEAKER: M14
Yeah but all those people were bright and intelligent people who nurtured that talent and allowed it to grow. And that was the seed bed.
SPEAKER: M1
And I think it's desperately sad in a way now that all that infrastructure seems to have gone and even the BBC that also nurtured talent is now split up into God knows what and is being allowed alas. I think to destroy itself Granada is nothing anymore compared to what it was. Sad their sound is so interesting piece of history. It is and it's it's also I guess ties up with them with the social history of the country. Yeah the documentary as well as social themes of course but the way it's gone that dispersed or the breakup the destruction the rot that set in is surely reflected in the way our society has gone.
SPEAKER: M16
I'm getting all your tummy noise if you've reached the microphone to make sure it's not mine I'm having a frightful I don't know if it's on the right foot but it is it isn't.
SPEAKER: M20
That's that's a subject worthy of somebody to explore the reaction to the sixties.
SPEAKER: M17
Actually there was a political pendulum swing and the paymasters of Thatcher and Reagan I suppose in effect stopped you or nudge nudge wink wink deregulation.
SPEAKER: M1
It all came out of deregulation came the destruction of everything that previously legalized did exactly Well it's really tragic and you can point the fingers at those people for the fact that it isn't true as you rightly say.
SPEAKER: M15
Happening now might ultimately affect the future of features. It's well lit area of recruitment doesn't exist anymore.
SPEAKER: M1
It will it will either bail all these young people now who are the next generation are coming out of film schools basically and some of them I suppose are doing very good work but that that's where the seed bed is now and I suppose it is in people that do the music videos and make natural born killers. That's the Oliver Stone's of the future that come out of this and there's another thing about modern film editing which I never touched on I don't think which some of it I really deplore because films are now over cut to a very large degree and and conversations are never allowed to finish and things are always there always off balance and there's always an effort to push the bloody film on to make it faster mustn't bore the audience. There's a terrible tendency in especially American movies to push the story on and make it incomprehensible and yet they they think it's modern and they think that's the way it it should be. I must say I very often deplore it fortunate they're not all of us cut that way but I suppose perhaps we're now considered to be old fogies because we don't. You mentioned speed and light works.
SPEAKER: M17
That seems to me the epitome of a current style of film. What's your reaction.
SPEAKER: M1
I reacted very well to that particular film because I thought it was extremely well put together and it didn't worry me in terms of its editing style. It seemed it seemed the right editing style for that particular film. I've been much more upset by other pictures of which are action films which seemed to me to be over cut. I didn't think speed was.
SPEAKER: M21
In fact I voted for it for them for the Oscar.
SPEAKER: M1
No I thought that was an exemplary example of a modern action picture whereas I thought others were not.
SPEAKER: M17
Would you let the coda to the seemingly redundant last scene.
SPEAKER: M21
No well I agree with you about that.
SPEAKER: M1
I think that was a pity that they went in for that but actually the curious thing is I've seen speed twice or thrice in fact the best sequence in it is the first sequence with the story with the lift the elevator that's brilliantly put together and the sound effects are stunningly well done the rest of it I think is very very good. But it's very storyboarded. It comes over to me as a as a as a storyboard filmed but very well done. I'd always actually harboured an ambition to cut a big action film and I've never had one.
SPEAKER: M20
I keep telling people I want to do one day. They sent me a script from Fox because I said I'd love to do an action film like speed and they sent me. That was so bad. The script was so awful I had to turn it down and continue to say no no.
SPEAKER: M10
But I was that it hadn't been shot it was only the script so well the script was just awful. But then almost everything I read now is awful and that's that's my dilemma. They must've thought it was all right. I was able to pass it on to you of course.
SPEAKER: M1
Of course it's going to happen. It was directed. No it hasn't happened I think. I think I never started it. It was supposed to be directed by John Woo the action director from Hong Kong. No it didn't stop.
SPEAKER: M15
One thing we haven't mentioned about it briefly just your point really. Commercials you used to make all of to go back a few years do you mean you.
SPEAKER: M1
I made a few commercials which I'm not particularly proud of and I never thought I was very good at it because I hated playing the game with all the agencies and all those people that you had to soft soap their miserable a lot of people. They had no integrity they were only interested in some frightful pack shot and they were all terribly neurotic or drunks or something and I must say my short life as a commercials director was not happy. I ended up doing chimpanzee commercials for P.G. tips and one of the animals was it was actually quite an interesting crew it was Nick rogue was lighting I was directing and we had all sorts of well-known people on this thing and the trainers of the apes who kept hitting them on the head when they didn't do the thing right.
SPEAKER: M20
And this was very disagreeable and I thought to myself What am I doing here in a drill hole and Ashby the lizard fish with a lot of apes and two ladies who were hitting them on the head and it seemed to me to be all wrong and naked just come off Doctor Zhivago where he'd been fired by David Lane for some good reason and Nick kept producing out of his top pocket a bit of 65 millimeter film that he'd just been shooting in Madrid with thousands of extras. And here he was on this drill hole and ash visualization with the apes and me and we thought there's something terribly wrong here and decided to give it up at that point.
SPEAKER: M19
They were pretty successful at it but they went on for years those things but I think they had to move them to Italy and use Italian chimps because of the way in which they were abused in this country. Oh dreadful you wouldn't believe what they did to them. I was horrible.
SPEAKER: M18
I did two weeks with Nick Jeremy in the ballroom wood would immediately after he got fired he couldn't care less.
SPEAKER: M17
He was totally out of things and yes yes Fellini. Yes it was done on the phone. That's right. That's right. But he had to make a living didn't he. Yeah indeed.
SPEAKER: M1
Don't we all. Yeah. Well I think I've sort of said everything I can to you your location. Oh no no no. Look whoever whoever summary whoever the poor person is that eventually if anybody ever listens to this I don't know what they'll make of it except I think you kind of summed it up before. In my case that I've gone in what seems to be a comparatively short time frame from winding film through a magnifying glass to working on some incredibly complicated computer. That's the way one's life has gone it hasn't made the pictures any better.
SPEAKER: F1
Really.
SPEAKER: M1
Not always but it's made them more fun. My Yeah my experience with the light works has rejuvenated me in a way it made me feel that I while I keep my sight and my sanity I've got possibly another ten good years ahead of me. And that's that's something which is a pleasant thought.
SPEAKER: M19
It keeps you on your toes is that famous quote Orson Welles when he first went to RKO early looked around and he said this is the biggest electric train of lawyer might work.
SPEAKER: M1
So it's absolutely like that it's a very seductive very sexy machine and you sit there and I now cut with one hand in my pocket on the other hand on the on the lever and I own. So I couldn't lose an arm and still work on what I should stand.
SPEAKER: M22
GROSS So what what would Eisenstein make of it.
SPEAKER: M1
Well I think he probably wouldn't have improved on me on the steps sequence. It would still be a good one and he cut that with a magnifying glass in no time at all.
SPEAKER: M16
Bradley it just saves a lot of scotch tape was delivered and he never recut it astonishing.
SPEAKER: M1
Well I wish we had material as exciting as that Odessa Steps sequence that frightened all those children in Boston links all those years ago and closed down the plaza cinema.
SPEAKER: M15
I remember once interviewing said nothing to do with what we're talking about really interviewing in a television documentary about Eisenstein the little boy who fell down the steps you know fell down. He was a professor of medicine when we interviewed him at base ran about 1970. He was quite interesting in what he said about it. I just don't shooting because he was a very good book footballer. Then he noticed he kept falling over and there was a goalkeeper League became the name of crashed onto the ground so effectively he said I was a scientist I might fall down the steps just as well as I did on the playing field.
SPEAKER: M16
Well gentlemen I learned I don't have a peroration for you.
SPEAKER: M10
But that said I think we have nothing but heartfelt thanks. Thank you very much both. Thank you. I'm sorry it took so long. No.
SPEAKER: M19
And I speak for those future generations listening to this either fuck them or be great.
SPEAKER: M16
Okay. Okay I'll second that.
SPEAKER: M22
You're welcome. I meant to ask you a final question Whom have you voted for. Forest Gump I can't answer that.
SPEAKER: M16
I do not know. I'm sworn to secrecy by the. What a shame. I'm sorry about that later. I was watching a documentary programme on.

End of Interview

Biographical

JIM CLARK  - ( May 24 1931 to February 25  2016)

 

British film editor, Jim Clark, who died on 25th February, aged 84,  is best-known for his Oscar-winning work on Roland Joffe’s Cambodian civil war drama, ’The Killing Fields’ (1984).  He worked with an impressive list of directors over 50 years including John Schlesinger and Mike Leigh. Clark formed many close relationships with directors in the editing suite. Over time he met actors including Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Dustin Hoffman and Leonardo DiCaprio.  Tellingly, he admitted that if he had been a less discreet man, he could have enlarged his memoir, ‘The Dream Repairman’, with gossip. A skilled and instinctive editor, he was also a candid one: ‘If you’re handed a boring load of old tosh, it’s rather difficult to weave into a masterpiece, but often a fine film can be carved out of confusing footage’.

As a young man working on ‘The Prince and the Showgirl ’(1957) at Pinewood studios, he witnessed the egos of Lawrence Olivier, (both its director and lead actor) and Marilyn Monroe. He recalled that when Monroe was persuaded to retake scenes, she arrived ‘quite pickled’ on champagne and kept bumping into furniture resulting in only 2 feet out of 2000 feet of reel being useable. His job was to overlay the sound of footsteps.

Born in 1931 in Boston, Lincolnshire, Clark was a boarder at Oundle school where he set up a weekly film society. His interest in cinema had been fired earlier  when aged ten, his father bought him a 9.5mm projector; he described it as ‘the great toy of my life, which changed it; one day it occurred to me that in some way the scenes changed from one angle to another and I became interested in the reason why.. Then I became interested in the manipulation of images to tell a story’.

Clark’s grandfather was a shareholder in several cinemas and gave him a special pass , but Clark was forced to admit that, in terms of the film industry, Lincolnshire was a ‘backwater’. He worked briefly in the family printing firm before moving to London and taking a job as cutting room assistant at Ealing Studios. He assisted on the sound for ‘The Cruel Sea’ (1953). After several projects for Stanley Donen, Clark made his name with Jack Clayton’s ‘The Innocents’ (`1961), which starred Deborah Kerr. His editing was instrumental in orchestrating the subtly ambiguous play of tension. Shortly afterwards, he worked with Donen again, this time on ‘Charade’ (1963) starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn It was on this picture that he met his second wife, the French editor, Laurence Mery – Clark. In 1955, Clark had married his first wife, Jessie Holling, a secretary at Ealing Studios. Tragically, he was widowed when she died suddenly while eight months pregnant and found himself left to raise two children, her son, David whom Clark adopted and Kate, the daughter they had together. He married Laurence in 1963 and had another daughter, Sybil. who is now a design studio manager.    

One of Clark’s most significant professional relationships was with the director, John Schlesinger for whom he cut ‘Darling’ (1965) and ‘Marathon Man’ (1976. Schlesinger admitted that Clark ‘saved my bacon many times’.  For ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ (1967), Clark was given thousands of feet of film for the scene in which sheep are driven over a cliff. ‘I cut it silent as I always do with action scenes with no dialogue’.

Later Clark worked closely with Mike Leigh on films including ‘Vera Drake’, (2004). Leigh said: ‘He really brought 100 years of experience to it’.

During the lengthy cutting of ‘The Killing Fields’, Clark took a ‘stress test’ which showed that his arteries were blocked and he underwent a heart bypass operation. Many directors called him ‘Doctor’ Clark for his ability to ‘cure’ sick films. He was credited with saving the ‘unreleasable film, ‘Midnight Cowboy, ((1969) when he stepped in as ‘creative consultant’ and recut the film. Outside the cutting room, he was an avid photographer and a keen walker. As a film editor, he described his job as being a dream repairman. "That’s what I do. I repair other men’s dreams".

 

Derek Threadgall