Jimmy Sangster

Jimmy Sangster
Forename/s: 
Jimmy
Family name: 
Sangster
Company: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
577
Interviewer/s: 
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Interview
Transcript

Jimmy Sangster Log 1

Interviewed by Jonathan Rigby.

TAPE ONE

Notes :

Picture break up at: 27.45, 35.00, 41.05, 46.40-50, 47.25-48.12

 

 

 

 

00.00-02.24

Norman’s Film Services - First job at 16 as projectionist. ‘Salute to the British Worker’. Problems with projecting film. Given the sack.

02.25

Fan of films as boy.

02.50

Carlton Hill Studios. Clapper Boy and Focus Puller. Sacked after six months for wrongly reloading Debrie camera.

04.00

John Paddy Carstairs gets him job as Third Assistant at Ealing. ‘Pink String and Sealing Wax’, ‘The Captive Heart’.

05.00

National Service. Stationed in India

05.50

‘Adventure of Jane’ in Brighton. ACTT insisted Assistant Director should be employed.  Edward G.Whiting.

07.30

Mario Zampi. ‘Third Time Lucky’ at Twickenham and Southall. Third Assistant. Ken Adam draughtsman.

08.30

‘Adventures of Jane’. Brighton Studios. Sebastian Cabot.

09.35

Twickenham. Gordon Parry. Leslie Norman. Ken Adam.

10.50

Exclusive Films engaged Mario Zampi as producer. Tony Hinds took over when Zampi disappeared. ‘Dick Barton’ sequel. Viking Studios. Godfrey Grayson and Frank Searle. Sebastian Cabot in car when Don Stannard killed. Identifying body after death. Dial Close studio.

14.30

Old houses used by Hammer. Living in studio buildings. Oakley Court’s French owner. Filming at Oakley Court. 30,000 duffel coats brought down ceiling at Down Place. Development at Bray.

16.40

Early Hammer films. Progress to First Assistant by 22 years old. Tony Hinds promotes to Production Manager. Hated it. Vernon Sewell.

19.20

Early films at Down place. Robert Preston. George Brent. Paulette Goddard. Elizabeth Scott. ‘The Stolen Face’. Women’s problems. Diana Dors. Tom Yeardye - founded hairdresser Vidal Sassoon.

23.11

Tests at Ealing on Petula Clark.

23.40

‘Stolen Face’.

24.30

Emigration to Canada. Returned after six months. ‘The Flanagan Boy’.

26.00

Dane Clark. Alex Nicol. Paulette Goddard. Rented apartment for stars. Chauffeured West End hookers.

28-50

Production Manager. Colour productions. Val Guest. ‘Men of Sherwood Forest’. ‘Break in the Circle’. Finding accommodation in Polperro. Eva Bartok.

31.10

Val Guest. Story interrupted.

31.50

Scriptwriting. ‘Man on the Beach’. Joe Losey.

32.50

‘’X’ The Unknown’. Developing story. Dean Jagger and Joe Losey. Leslie Norman brought in. Unhappy production. Barry Norman. Gerrard’s Cross gravel pit location. Working with censor.

 

38.00

‘Curse of Frankenstein’. ‘Day of the Triffids’. Cubby Broccoli and Warwick Films. Hiding work from Michael Carreras. Offered guarantee of work as writer.

40.40

‘Curse of Frankenstein’ and Universal. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  Production Manager’s experience affecting writing. Cost of peasants.

44.57

‘Motive for Murder’. ‘The Trollenberg Terror’. Robert S Baker and Monty Berman. Jimmy ‘Frankenstein’ Sangster.

46.30

‘Blood of the Vampire’. ‘Snorkel’. Recce to South of France and Italy. Rewrite ending for Americans.

49.25

‘Dracula’. Adapting novel. Cutting scenes with ship. Viewing film at festivals.

51.40

‘Revenge of Frankenstein’. Sold to Americans on strength of poster. Script written after deal done.

52.57

‘Intent to Kill’. Unmade film based in Africa. Armchair Theatre ‘I Can Destroy the Sun’. Baker and Berman historical crimes. Criticisms from BBFC. ‘Siege of Sidney Street’. Cameo as Churchill.

59.20

‘Terror of the Tongs’. Script written around set.

Jimmy Sangster Log 2

TAPE TWO

Notes :

Sound problem at: 06.30 (phone), 41.52, 42,41, 43.30

.

 

00.00–00.50

‘Siege of Sidney Street’. Appeared but no other memories.

02.30

‘Taste of Fear’. Original story sold to Sydney Box. Sydney retired following heart attack. Handed to Peter Rogers who agreed to sell it back. Allowed to produce by Michael Carerras. Bernard Robinson. Casting of Christopher Lee. Susan Strasberg and her mother Paula. Seth Holt insisted Paula be taken off set.

06.40

‘Maniac’, ‘Paranoiac’, ‘Nightmare’. Julie Christie cast but replaced by Jennie Linden. ‘Hysteria’ with Robert Webber.

09.13

‘Savage Guns’. First western shot in Spain.

10.11

‘What a Crazy World’. ‘Pirates of Blood River’. ‘Devil Ship Pirates’. One catch – ‘We can’t afford a ship’.

11.43

First episode of ‘The Saint’. Rewritten by story consultant.

12.40

Edgar Wallace. Merton Park. ‘Face of a Stranger’. Writing under a pseudonym. ‘Bulldog Drummond’. Richard Johnson.

14.20

‘Dracula prince of Darkness’. No memories.

15.40

‘The Nanny’. Originally cast Greer Garson. Tea in Santa Fe. Not good for image and Bette Davis suggested.

 

18.40

‘The Anniversary’. Alvin Rakoff replaced after a week by Roy Baker. Bette Davis’ approach to filming.

22.00

Career as a novelist. TV movies funded by Americans. Trevor Howard and Laurence Olivier vetoed by backers.

24.20

Frankenstein revival. Rewrote script as black comedy.

26.36

‘Lust for a Vampire’. Ralph Bates. Harry Fine. First shot with coach questioned by producer.

29.00

‘Fear in the Night’. Last Hammer project. Reset in a boy’s school. Peter Cushing. Joan Collins.

30.50

Optioned as a director in America. Story consultant on ghost stories for William Castle. Established as story editor. Writing one hour shows. ‘Do you want it good or Tuesady ?’.

33.40

Writers’ strike. Writing spec scripts. Moving on. Movies of the week.

38.30

‘The Legacy’. ‘Phobia’ for John Huston. ‘The Devil and Max Devlin’. Intended for Vincent Price and Hammer. Bought by Disney and rewritten.

40.40

‘Who Slew Auntie Roo ?’ Never seen.

41.30

TV movies with Christopher Lee, Rosalind Russell, William Shatner. Irwin Allen man eating Coelacanth  project. Return to London.

43.50

German producers rewrite ‘Not in Front of the Children’ thriller as slasher movie.

45.30

Changes in horror market. Concerns about horror films. Not horror films but fairy stories. Continued interest. Longevity of films.

48.19

Additional questions. Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy. Film influences. ‘Gone With the Wind’ at twelve. Roger Corman.

Biographical

 A major force behind the success of Hammer Films, the company best known for its horror movies, Jimmy Sangster wrote the screenplays of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and the even more successful Dracula the following year. Both pictures starred two masters of the horror movie genre, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Date of Birth : 2 December 1927

Date of Death : 19 August 2011

James Henry Kinmel Sangster was born in Kinmel Bay, Rhyl and entered the film industry as a projectionist for Norman’s Film Services in 1943. He subsequently worked as a clapper loader and focus puller at Carlton Hill Studios and as a Third Assistant at Ealing Studios before graduating to Assistant Director for Hammer Films following National Service in India.

Throughout the early 1950s he worked as Assistant Director and then Production Manager for Hammer, until he was encouraged to script the company’s original science fiction feature ‘X – The Unknown’. The success of this film led him to become a full time screenwriter, and over the next twenty years he would write numerous screenplays for Hammer and other production companies such as Tempean Films. These would include ground-breaking scripts for Hammer’s landmark gothic horrors based on Dracula and Frankenstein in addition to many original thrillers. He would also direct two Hammer films, Lust for a Vampire and The Horror of Frankenstain.    

Relocating to America in the mid-70s, Sangster then worked extensively on various television series both as a writer and director including The Six Million Dollar Man, Ironside and Wonder Woman and scripted several TV Movies until the mid-80s before his return to the UK.  After writing two thriller novels in the late 1980s, his autobiography ‘Do You Want it Good or Tuesday ?’ was published in 1997 and this was followed by books on his work at Hammer and a guide to screenwriting.