John Shirley

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29 Sep 1993
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Alan Lawson  0:06  
The copyright of this recording is vested in the back to history project. JOHN Shirley, Feature Film Editor, interviewer, Alan Lawson, with sid Wilson, recorded on the 29th of September 1993. side one? Well, first, john, when and where were you born,

John Shirley  0:37  
I was born 23 722. right opposite Lime Grove Studios in Shepherds Bush. In those days, it was Brooklyn road, or the rather the goldhawk end of, of it was called Brooklyn road. And I very well remember the old glass shed, as we used to call it. It was also known as go months in those days. And there was a little house at the end of the glass shed with green wooden steps leading up to the first floor, that I remember very well. I like to claim that I'm third generation in the film industry. The reason for this is that my grandmother was left with six children around about 1910 1911. My grandfather had a business in Hampton. And he died why and asked the family went to shepherds, Bush, I will never never know, because there was no connection with the industry. Before that. I could only imagine that my mother who was the third child, and the second daughter must have gone to school almost immediately, and I and her eldest sister before her, and as I know, they were both in military, that sort of thing. You know, I suppose they had to be near the West End, I could only think, you know, they were wage earners to help. The eldest son had already gone into the merchant navy. And there were three young lads left. These three young lads all ended up in the studios across the road in three different completely three different departments. The eldest son was uncle Liz, who went into the laboratories. Were at the back of the studios,

Alan Lawson  2:42  
but in the Smithsonian space yard.

John Shirley  2:45  
What do you mean, I never use a dime of it. There was a sort of

Alan Lawson  2:49  
big yard, the back Yes,

John Shirley  2:51  
almost like a muse. And in fact, his wife, her family had it was rose shirt factory. I was told But anyway, the next one was Harry, who was a chippy originally but he was ended up as a construction manager. And the youngest was Vic. incident is I haven't said that. That name. It was tapper. And that was I suppose it was through Vic, really, that I came into the industry or wanted to come into the industry. Stop. Okay. David Murray.

Alan Lawson  3:44  
You were talking about?

John Shirley  3:46  
Victor? Yes. Have you have Yes. I beg your pardon. Yes, he was the youngest. He's schoolfriend was somebody who all know Freddie young. And I'm not sure whether I think Vic was the first one and he got Freddie into the industry or the other way around. I've never been very sure about that. But they labour buddies in those days. And I know that Freddy and his brother, splosh. I think he's his nickname. We're always at my grandmother's house. This house opposite the studios would became quite a focal point. There was a lot of very well known people that drifted in and out of there. Not that I remember when I was too young and I in any case, obviously we didn't live there that long. But the thing I wanted to say about Vic was that he took me on location. One Nights, the old GB company had a location at North halt in those days where they used to build

Alan Lawson  5:14  
a lot. Yes.

John Shirley  5:16  
And I went with him one night on a film called, oh, HMS, which I think was either 35 or 36. And the director was Raul Waltz, whom I was introduced to, little did I know that 22 years, 23 years later, I'll be cutting a picture for him. Neither did he, for that matter. And it's Star dedmon, lo and Esther Ralston, both Americans, which was unusual in those days to have American artists over, but it was a big picture for those days. And somehow, rather, I suppose, having been so closely associated, and what's all these things and people coming in and out of the studio over the years, and I'd got the bargain I, I wanted to go into the industry. So I was, Vic was always accused of being the one sowed the seed. And I was almost on a point of leaving school at 14 as you could in those days and going into the camera department. I think I could have had a job. But the family got onto my parents. When I mean that I mean, the other brothers and dissuaded them not to let me do such a thing. I'm very glad I did stay at school. Well, I'll come to that. But I that's my that's why I'm the third generation. Well, I went originally to a little school in that space road at the top of Lime Grove, Sint Stephen's church School, which is still there, I believe. And I was always very happy at school and I went through the infant's there and into the boys school. And then I had a scholarship to West Kensington Central School. And I'd like to say at this point, I think it's one of the great we're always on about education in this country. And I think the loss of the Central School is one of the great losses to education. Because it was a poor man's grammar school if you like. I mean, it was far too many of us to go to APA, Latimer and Godolphin which was two grammar schools in a district. But by came close, I mean, we we did French into Latin that was about the only difference I suppose. And also we, we split. After two years, you either went commercial technical. Anyway, I stayed there and I took the equivalent as a matric, I took the Cambridge School Certificate. And I left school in Easter 39. And I then went into my second love which I went into an architect's office. And that was great to start with some thoughts of going into the film industry has left me come September's award just broke it out. And I'd started at Regent's poly. Know during the job I'm doing it part time. After a few few months at the beginning of the war in regions probably I was not quite so enamoured by the architect's office. In any case, we almost immediately found ourselves doing nothing but air raid shelters. So that became a reinforced concrete engineer rather than an architect or an apprentice to such and around about that time, for some reason, rather, my mother and probably moved back to Shepherds Bush. And because I was always a member of the penguin swimming club, and so I was always in Lime Grove and I noticed that there was activity at the studios which had been closed for some years before the war. I found out that Gainsborough who were part of the game on British setup that were based on his LinkedIn. There'd been a bomb at the old his his LinkedIn studios and they had all come to Shepherds Bush. And I remembered the name of the man that my uncle's have mentioned. I didn't even know if he was there. Or what he did. His name was Templeman. And I wrote him a letter.

I, much to my surprise, I had a reply. And within within about two weeks, I found myself at a job was in the cutting rooms of games or pictures at Shepherds Bush.

Alan Lawson  10:51  
Were going

John Shirley  10:52  
right. The supervising editor was a man by the name of Ari Deering. The editor was Alfie room. And very shortly Oh, I think it was Michael Gordon. But he left and very shortly it was Charlie Saunders replaced him. I never knew a thing about the editing department. But within I should think days I was absolutely wrapped up in it because it was fascinating. And all one own is sort of cameras. And as soon as I realised that there was a lot more to it than that, and I was very happy. in most respects, I first did rashes under the tutelage of alpha room on film called kipps. Which was Robert donor for this calvet Diana when yarn was directed by Carol Reed, and as that will have it very shortly, the studio became a two line. Studio, which was very big news in those days. And I found myself working with Michael Gordon, on the ghost train or a remake of the ghost train with Arthur ASCII and stinker Murdoch. Michael left, after a week or two, I think he went to the crown Film Unit. And Along came a man called Charlie Saunders and I worked with Charlie for a long, long while and he was marvellous to me. He was a very disciplinary and man but which was good for me because I wasn't. And I picked up everything very quickly from him.

Alan Lawson  13:02  
Can I ask you about the the actual equipment that was in the cutting room in those days? Yes, it

John Shirley  13:07  
was the old Spyglass style movie. He always had a silent head alongside it for matching. No sight, just a silent head just a slice. Sorry. And the synchronizers were crummy. Lord is where they didn't know what they were called. But they weren't they weren't anything like those that were around denim even at the time. Most of the horses were wooden, wooden things. Anyway, Join us. Join us real Belen. How about the foot? Yeah. I mean, it was all acetate join us, which it was good. The only problem was, which I tell people today. I don't think they know that born I mean, acetate joins had a habit of breaking. And no matter how good they were. If they were very old, they dried out and they broke anyway. You didn't have any magic tape to put it together with and it also meant black frames, of course, which nobody knows about these days. And after a while, if you had too many black frames in a shot, you had to get a reprint. I think I did six pictures with Charlie and I volunteered for the Air Force. And much to my surprise, I don't know whether it was deliberate. I found myself as six months on deferred service. This was May 1942. We've got to I didn't go in the RAF till December 42. And Charlie at that time was working was living rather at denim. And his wife, who had been in the industry years before had gone back into it and she was working in the cutting room and then between them on that purely on their side because I didn't go and meet anybody or anything. I, I had a job with our co British at some denim on a film called Squadron Leader x with Danny Chilton was the editor. But the great thing was I immediately trebled my salary.

Unknown Speaker  15:47  
What did you been getting at the

John Shirley  15:48  
bush? I think after two and a bit years, I got it up to the magnificent sum of two pounds or it might have been 250 I don't know I can't remember. But I know I went to denim on 850 which was an enormous wage in those days and did so much overtime, I was frequently walking around with 30 or 40 pounds in my pocket. hadn't even got time to go and bank. But denim was the Mecca in those days, it was better equipped. Oh, yeah, well, slightly, the the horses were the lumerical steel and the, the synchronises premieres far better, but the movie was exactly the same. The and the joy was you know, the big the big switch really was that denim was on Western Electric, which you could join diagonally and didn't have to bloop. And this this was a great boon. If you learn how to do diagonal joins. This was part of my forte in later years, because when I went to prime but I always used to cut optical sound diagonally, which usually used to infuriate all the dubbing edges as ever work was because I never seem to be able to catch on. But but it's in the Air Force from from denim. I didn't fire a shot in angles or did for years. And in the airforce. I went to the states for my training. I ended up on the first jets in 1946. I came out. When I came out. I've got a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I went to dalaman found all sorts of people that I knew doing all sorts of things, and they were all all been reserved. Well, they were all telling me. Oh no, there's no there's no no jobs here, you know that I was about the last person they wanted to say I was I say I went home with a big chip on my shoulder. I went to the union. And I was told they couldn't I thought I could have six months with the arco British who weren't making a picture of the town. So I went to their offices in town and they didn't want to know about it. I thought well, so much for the returning servicemen that was guaranteed. So I went to the union. And I saw a lady there. Bessie bonds I think it was. And she said we already we can't do anything until you're out of work. She says how many days leave? Have you got the size at 60? She said, Oh, that's too much. She said until you're out of work. We can't do anything about it. So I thought well, I'm not hanging around for this and as luck would have it. I started back in the industry I Harry Miller, but I knew at pilot denim sent me a telegram to get in touch with a man by the name of Sarah Randall. And I didn't didn't really fancy it too much because it wasn't what had been used to. As far as features were concerned, because this was I think, either the first or the second of the Children's Foundation pictures. And we discovered that we both had been at West Ken, he was a bit older than I was He said, Oh, you must come and work with me sauce. I will. Right. And I did. And it was rather fortunate because we went down to the old Walton studios. And the director Believe it or not, again, it was his first issue in into anything like a feature film was louis gilbert. And meeting him and knowing him serve me. It's amazing how things link up later in life. But anyway, that's that was the start band. When that's finished, I was packing up denim, the barrages, we were in the cutting room, they're having finished the film, little ballerina, it was incidentally with Margo Fontaine. And a man walked in that I recognise that I couldn't place his name, and he recognised me. And it was Freddy Wilson, whom I met during the war, when I'd been on leave to see Charlie and Marjorie at denim. And I'd met him on Friday said, What are you doing? I said, what I'm just packing up, I'm finishing, he said, Do you want a job? I said, naturally, and I became Fred as assistant on another Children's Foundation picture, but it was the very first of the independent frame pictures. And it was only really a tryout for independent praying because they were going into production at Pinewood with a very big programme for those days. And that was wonderful. So independent prime is was really just back projection. A little bit more so that was about they had the stereo optical which was stills plates, which I thought were very good. And a lot of marvellous equipment designed for all sorts of things by people built by Vickers. Most of it extremely expensive, and most of it unnecessary. But to this day at Pinewood they use the restrooms, the Vickers restrooms that were built originally for independent prime the the pictures that we made at Pinewood after that, features were not that successful, they weren't. The thing I think, was that got this wonderful idea, and it was a good idea. But instead of utilising it as a tool as I thought it should be, I tried to make complete pictures with it. inflexible, and yes, to a degree and not only that, it it. It limited even coverage. So that the images have been used to do parts of pictures, it would have saved the Rank Organisation a lot of money on various productions instead of trying to bolt stories to the system. Anyway, it didn't last that long. Anyway,

Alan Lawson  23:47  
it was the script writers dream. This is the shops and that

John Shirley  23:51  
was the shot. Well, they tried that laser was I mean, Disney. Kind of the storyboarding, which that was all done with independent Brian eventually stuck it on there at piles still in our system. And I started on a picture with an editor I vaguely knew he didn't have very much experience. I can't remember his name now. Anyway. He unfortunately, told the director what he was doing wrong, and the director didn't like it very. And very quickly, he got the heave ho. And up until then, I'd cut most of the Father been going on anyway, because he is he wanted to spend all this time on the floor. Cut long story short, that's how I got my first break. I got the picture. was a picture called black males, which was directed by Mark Ella grey. And the producer was Howard Hughes an old time actor from the bush front Yes, exactly. One of one of the things I wanted to say earlier that I remember so much as a youngster as a child was that I think attracted me to the industry so much was that around Lime Grove in those days or even down in the goldhawk road or maybe at speed road, you could see quite well known artists walking about and still with their makeup on very often. And I vividly remember people like Boris Karloff because he he was met The Frighteners on for Houston Tom walls an old English actor, comedian but he was a very wealthy man he had a Rolls Royce on race horses and he his horse April the fifth one the Darby back in the 30s and you always knew his car because it had this wonderful mascot of the racehorse on it I just that's just in passing. I wanted to get so that's how I got that's me. I

Alan Lawson  26:28  
what date roughly

John Shirley  26:29  
where are we at 50 nose blackmailed was 1950 1950 I was very young really. I was 28 cut my first picture. I had to work very hard on that picture though because

it wasn't wasn't too well shot or scripted. In fact, there was a bit of a mess. And I was always rather pleased with it as I think Lee Jones said preceded by a series of galvanic jerks. Well, that was because Mr. Jernigan didn't know anything more than dissolves and I was all for getting rid of dissolves and making straight cuts and it consisted of three or four stories that had to carry on in parallel and my way of getting some pace into it was to do away with dissolves but I always remember a friend coming to me and saying galvanic But anyway, it was very it was very difficult to to get another picture. Believe it or not in those days it was it because it didn't hit any great. rang no bells and fake Compton in it. And Robert some justice I remember. I found myself doing a little picture. I went to Merton parks or car hit, but it had been shot in a house somewhere other less dramatic. Anyway that the director was Dickey Vernon, an ex script writer from the lady yield days at British National. And that didn't bring any real big bells. But it was strange the people that were in it, and where they got to because one of the lesser juvenile parts and it was Laurence Harvey, who Dickie was so taken by him that he got him apart at Ealing. I think it was in the blue lamp which set him off on his career. And it was another black friend at Lawrence Naismith, who became quite well known, and Susan Shaw. Anyway, I then found another picture quite by chance. Because it was directed by Ken Hume had been an assistant that I knew some he's made a small picture called hot ice and hyped up this vaguely through Marjorie Saunders I think and they have shot it at been partially edited. And they decided to start all over again. And it was all being joined up into rashes. And I went on it. I spent the first day no half I think running rashes. I mean, there was masses of it. And I was supposed to show it in a week's time. And Marjorie said to me, you'll never do it. And that was that was the one thing that made me determined that I was I don't think I've ever worked so hard on my life. I know I've worked the last night before the running on the Thursday morning. I, I worked right through the the night. But I ended up with a rough cut well over 100 minutes, but 110 minutes, 120 minutes. And I've done it in four, half days, five days, on one night. As I say, I haven't done that since

Unknown Speaker  31:02  
that was

John Shirley  31:05  
the producer was a man by the name of Charlie Reynolds, who used to be a sound man years ago, but he anyway, he had started a very nice little company which was producing and distributing films, he'd got the right idea in those days. They weren't none of them were very big. But he got he immediately gave me a job on he's he's big epic Scarlet spear which was he listening said my very first technicolour picture, it was 53 was it? Yeah. Yep. Yeah, I forgot to say that in, in in 50 out when I got this first picture, I got married. That is important. But it was unique even then for technicolour because it was shot on the mono on a pack. And it was all processed in the states in those days, and it came back to technicolour because the whole thing was shot in Kenya, it was location pectin. And it was my first American director, George greyston. Who

Unknown Speaker  32:33  
It must have been stopped before 53. That was mana. Patrick was easemon gala came out in a

John Shirley  32:40  
while or whatnot, and they weren't around the pictures weren't around in colour then said it was something. Yeah. Of course. Yeah. And it was a race car, George Bateson. I don't think he'd shot anything other than animal pictures, which is why they went to Kenya. And love. I've got to tell you this. I've never forgotten that. I suppose I was a little disappointed with what you came back from Kenya, certainly. And he said, to move on. They said you want to ask us could I got Oscars lazily and he gave me an Oscar as a child actor in 1937. He said, I didn't eat for years. He said Nana went, I went to Republic pictures. And they gave me a job. Click Go down to South America. And the producer said to me, I don't care what you get. But all I want is tickets, tickets tickets. He said I went down to sir. And I shot tickets. from every angle. You can see he says, ever since then, I've been eating. It was hilarious sort of experience.

Unknown Speaker  34:08  
But I

John Shirley  34:12  
didn't do too bad finding another picture. I found myself tabbing and Darryl, Freddie Wilson gave me a job to dub one of his pictures anyway. I did two or three pictures at Pinewood dubbing. One of them was for Alfie room and it had been directed by john Paddy Carstairs and john Paddy was about to make normally wisdom picture which big money spinners in those days and Alfred wasn't available to do it. And so I got after it. And as luck would have it hughster was a producer who was an ex editor. And I got the job and I was head over heels because I was back editing. I couldn't tell you the date. But it's early 50s 55 minute moments, was it we must have been very early. Because coming up is some of the highlights. But I was very lucky with that. Darryl Paddy petty? Yes, wonderful characters. No majors very rarely? Yes. Well, I'm one way or another I've worked with all for all the faculty

Unknown Speaker  35:52  
is the best one.

John Shirley  35:55  
For it was. Well, the very next picture, and don't ask me how it happened. But it was a slice of last. But I think that that started giving people contracts at Pinewood round about this time. But because of my experience in the Air Force, still mad on aeroplanes. The big picture coming out was reached for the sky. And I saw Lewis one day on the carpet. And I said, Oh, it was earlier than that. It was before I did, man in the moment. I said to him, whatever happens, I said, I must I must stop it. You know, give me the chance to debate pleading with him. I think I'd read the book, I'm not sure. And yes, I had. And somehow or other. And to this day, I can't remember quite how it happened. Of all things. Joseph, Joe Doakes is six picture was reached for a sky. Well, that did make a noise. Let's say that was 56, which came out in 56. When it says 56 reach where you get from. Anyway, I do remember that it was premiere was in 56. So that was where I met kennis more. Again, to turn up in my life as it were. We had a lot of trouble as you can imagine, in those days with models. They weren't anything like what people have been able to achieve since. And they didn't spend the money on them in those days either. But I got into trouble from Tony keys because he laid the expense of of the models that were being shot. Going over over budget at my door. At the same time. Danny angels, producer sets me the easiest thing in this world is to say yes, he said, You keep saying no if you're not satisfied. So I didn't get enhanced my reputation to match with some of the model makers and suiting on that but eventually, it It turned out pretty well for those days anyway, we utilise an awful lot of library material. In fact, we combed everything imaginable to get something into it. But it was again it was because of my sort of love of flying as determined that it was going to be successful. Which it was but mostly, I think from the emotional point of view because of Kenny's performance as as bad especially when he was in hospital. Remarkable. I then went on to back back to petty casteth. And yes, again, up in the world another normal wisdom about this time I must have been under contract at Parliament that I'm sure

Alan Lawson  39:42  
can you remember what you're getting roughly?

John Shirley  39:44  
Not very much. Not very much. I say about 35 or 40 either no some something like that. But It was regular. Yeah, that's the main thing I suppose it wasn't bad money for those days. And then came along picture, which definitely was under contract called seven thunders. This was very interesting because it was a man called Hugo freakin easy, who was actually an Argentinian, but came from Hollywood. And he got a lot more on the ball and most directors in those days, and he had been an editor picked up quite a bit from him in cutting because it's the first experience I've ever had of anybody looking over my shoulder was with Lewis on reach for the sky. I mean, Paddy never came anywhere near the cutting room, nor did any of the others prior that Hugo did, but not very much. But he he got me cutting things that we wouldn't do in those days, like, on a moving camera and that sort of thing, which became, when nobody ever thinks about it, they don't even notice it now, but in those days, it was you know, you didn't count until the cameras stopped sort of business. But he, he didn't speak English all that well. I can remember sitting in a car with him up on the lot at Pinewood near the end of the picture and we had run you know, what we've had so far in the theatre. And I said was there any any areas where you know, we're off is I think the aggravation issues equalizations not right. sighs said I'm sorry. I thought he found a word that I didn't know equalisation. I don't know what that means. He says you know when the people will leave the houses and run into the street. I said all the evacuation. So you know, there's there's the sort of difficulties you have to overcome. But he was a nice guy that I'd never heard or saw him after all, I think he might have no, that was beforehand. He made a picture about the Pash. Then came Carver name his pride back was louis gilbert. And Darryl Danny Angel was the producer again. That was

that was a good picture that was weepy, loved it. And then came Sheriff a fractured jaw back with Kenny Moore and Danny angel in colour. Yet again, but now we're on Eastman colour, of course.

And the director was Raul Wolf, whom I'd met 20 to 23 years earlier on the north holds a lot right?

Alan Lawson  0:26  
JOHN Shirley side too much he was saying back to 

John Shirley  0:31  
Well, it was Raul Walsh. I he didn't remember it, obviously. And I did because you know, it was a big moment in my life. I did remind him of it. And he laughed, because he remembered Eddie Lowe basically the bottle a day man. And it was a fantastic experience with Raul because it was the first scope picture in Pinewood. And everybody was, I think they've been one maybe two made over shepardson up until then in the country, and everybody was aghast with I thought it must be a new cutting technique to CinemaScope. And I was quite intrepid. So I said, well, Monday is already thing he said. Now he says I still come in right and go out there. And you know, he was a great character. He went to Ascot, I think it was in a Stetson and cowboy boots. He took the day off from shooting the dirt. The he never came anywhere near he saw the picture once I think. And he made one comment. And that was I had Kenny Moore on a blackboard and he was having a rough ride. He said bounce him a couple of more times, he says it was well I loved the picture, of course, but he shot a sequence in it where a dog was supposed to be tipping off. Kenny Moore, in a poker game was the house. And well, he just shot some stuff. And somehow rather we got it over. But it wasn't easy. Other than that, he was such a wonderful, wonderful director rising because he never came to rushes, he wouldn't come to rushes. He says, I don't know what I've shot now. I never will. He never looked through the camera. And he used to very often on the floor, he would turn his back to the artists and just listen to them. And he used to roll cigarette single handed from a pouch. I used to take one pattern straight away. And where he'd been standing, there'd be maybe 20 or 30 of these pink paper cigarettes at all one hand. Of course, he'd only got one eye. But he just used to listen to them and and they also confounded the crew. The continuity girl put on a sheet one day says I've no idea what this shot is for. He wouldn't tell me. And he wouldn't tell me which sequence it belonged to or anything. And it was just nothing really. But he knew what he was doing. Because Sure enough, there was a point later on in the picture where I found that the Cowboys got to the head of the past and they'd got to see nothing. And that's why I suppose I got on with him so well because, you know, I didn't talk about these things. I just did them and he saw them. They all turned up in the pictures he intended and that was it. He was on stage one day and then he was arguing about how mad is shot in a bar, cowboy film. And they asked me if I'd ever seen anybody shot which I hadn't. Ralph said to his audience, he said, Well, I've seen a guy stop. Really. He said, that's just the way I did it in the picture. He said, his standard at the bar cut guy comes in levels of

excuse me, a gun at him and shoots him in the head. Another just a little spot of blood on his forehead. And he stood there for maybe a minute, just teetering backwards and forwards then suddenly just went flop on the floor.

And there was a

Unknown Speaker  5:41  
big sigh.

John Shirley  5:44  
Agreed. He knew how to shape the falling, and it was

Unknown Speaker  5:47  

John Shirley  5:53  
The girl the girl element in that picture was Jayne Mansfield was of the enormous bust on the tiny waist. She'd only got two registrations as far as I was concerned. That was mouth open or mouth shut. Great days. What have we got after that? Oh, I was gonna say this is it all started because I was still under contract. And the Peter Rogers made one carry on it bekins field. And he and Gerald Thomas came to Pinewood. And I got them all they got me I don't know. And that I thought the first one carry on this was so funny. I mean, I can remember writing rooms in the papers about it being laboratory humour, and all sorts of things like that. But really, I mean, it's innocent these days. But it wasn't, it was very, very funny. I remember going to golden square to ibp See, who were distributing it in those days. And neither Rogers or Thomas would go to this running, I had to go with the copy. And I sat there and I was sick. Because you know, there was a mile a minute gags. But and it was complete and utter silence. And I couldn't I for the life of me, I couldn't understand it. And it was a very subdued running. And I my instructions were to phone them as soon as it was over. So I followed my instructions. And Rogers attorney himself as he said, Well, we knew we knew you'd leave me a piece of string. Oh, we just wanted to see how it went. And I can't remember the name of the man that was at IBC in those days, but he apparently didn't laugh at anything. And all the rest of them took their cue from him they wouldn't dare laugh. It was the most insufferable running of any pitch of mine I think I've ever had. So it proved as you probably know, it was a top box office in 1959. I thought I couldn't miss reach for the sky was the top box office a 56 and carry on the same 59 and this was topping American pictures, you know, in those days. And I can't remember quite how it happened. But anyway, I I went on to do the next one. I was supposed to go back to Danny had signed a contract with 20th century the share of fractured jaw was 20th century. And he'd got a five picture deal. And it went through the floor on an eye that was I said if I do this carry on, I'll be available for your next big mighty epic. And he said well you do what you want to do. I don't know if he knew then that it was it was awful or not but

so I did the second one and then I did another eight. We went from black and white to colour but they had I mean, I was knocking out three pictures a year with them.

Unknown Speaker  10:05  
Not to talk about working with that team at all.

Unknown Speaker  10:10  
But working with Rogers and told

John Shirley  10:13  
some of it was hilarious. I've been. I was remember one prize remark or Peter Rogers when we're talking about music on a picture. And I think the the composer used musical saw. I don't think he was very enamoured by this, anybody said, I think we could have got the same effect by six all men suck in soup. He used to come out with cracks like that. But

Jerry, I mean, he never came up to the taxman. When he was an ex editor.

We just used to run the pictures in this house. You know, it was no steam back ever been steam backs in those days? I don't doubt that we'd have used them, but just use the fundamentals yesterday, make the changes. And that was that. As I say, I used to knock out three 330. Yeah. And still have a lot of time off. They used to be about 13 or 14 weeks. What turned around completely who started?

We used to work pretty hard that I could one of the big things about that was I started doing release scripts

with my dear wife through high school. So it wasn't getting much money in those days. It was all very good experience. Because you had to be fast. And fairly certain. Oh, yeah.

I mean, it wasn't a case of, you know, do a little trim here. sort of thing, or very little of it anyway. the only the only thing, the main thing, especially with a cat, as I call them carry ons, but there were pictures that that didn't have the carry on banner on it, you know, but was virtually the same sort of thing. And the carry ons especially were in people's eyes in those days were extremely wasteful. They used to reckon to shoot a two hour picture of, you know, a rough cut of two hours was the sole intention of making it 90 minutes. That was the idea of pace. In those days. We used to cut everything to the band. Which was very, I mean, the old fashioned idea that if you look at pictures around long, lingering close ups of the comedian at the end of some scene or other and then a fade out on his face, I mean, that all went down. I was only too happy to do that anyway, because that was as I say, way back galvanic jerks. Practice the what was the last carry on you were I was it. Carry on cruise, and I think oh, yeah, I see. Then after that you got I could go on 16. That's right. So I left their old Pinewood after being there man and boys that were obviously in the same cutting room for about seven years. And I worked in that Cabinet Room as an assistant as a dubbing editor and also an editor. I wouldn't leave it because I considered it was lucky.

If the stink might help because it was next to the loop. It used to be embarrassed me sometimes when people came to see me

now that I went then came to Shepperton to do I could go on scene, which originally was at a much better title, the lonely stage. And I was desperate to do this pizza because it was Judy Garland, who was mine or one of my better not pinups that somebody that I liked, you know as as an artist and I, I saw Ronnie name and was interviewed by him and he is a very doubtful saw the man where, especially when it comes to editing or editors because he lived to work to handle the shadow David leaned so much. Anyway, I we had the most unfortunate picture because she was taken very ill. We're not quite sure we don't talk about why she was ill. And Ronnie had a terrible thing, whereas the beginning of the picture of everything was shot beautifully, because having been a camera, man, his angles and pickups and that sort of thing were terrific. And I think he was given an ultimatum. He'd got to shoot, he got 12 days with a, something like that, to shoot the picture. And we sat down in the office, and he said, Now if I get this from her, we've got that sort of picture. If I get a little bit more, then we got that picture. And if I managed to get her for the 12 days, I get this and that. And we didn't get the full thing. But we did get some fantastic scenes with her. There was one that she did with the guard, literally, ad lib, and it ran nearly seven minutes, it was well over 600 feet, there's almost a real and there wasn't another take or a cut on it. And during that scene, she was laughing, crying. I mean, it was incredible. What's you what she went through on that. And I was rather pleased that money who was so doubtful about editors, whom he should have. He wanted me to go and work for him again. But the picture wasn't absolutely certain on Monday. Whilst he was there, the phone rang and I was offered a picture with Lewis Gilbert. And I'd always wanted to work with Lewis again. I always remember his most embarrassing sunrays rather than Ronnie got very red in the face. I said, What shall I say? Can you tell me? If it's if you're if yours is on or not? You know, it's I can't tell I can't, not at this stage. So I went ahead with the Lewis Gilbert offer. One of the reasons that I'm keen to do it was it was my first location picture. We went to Malaya, which was an education. This is some stone with some stone that's right now. Bill Holden and capitaine, Susanna yo. And we pitched up in a lie on camera supposed to work at the Malayan Film Unit. So we hadn't started shooting and Lewis said to me, we're going out to have a look at the Milan Film Unit. You better come along so off we went to the Milan Film Unit mountain. We're talking about 30 years ago now you know, it was my god it was primitive. And as a witness is in great love that we're just outside the the labour huts and they were all at leave huts. The toilet facilities well, very primitive to say the least. Places buzzer with flies. Oh, God. I was almost quivering. You know, unfortunately, Lewis suddenly turned around. He said, Well, you said, I'm not coming out there to see you. He says I'm not coming out late at night, too. He said, we'll have to set you up in the hotel. And this this all happened without me saying a word. We are so relieved and so grateful. And we set up a very nice cutting room in a hotel, which was great.

That was and then I had an assistant from the Milan Film Unit with me and After I got to know him a bit, he said, Oh, terrible, terrible, terrible. He says, One afternoon I go in cutting room and look on the bench has Cobra to Cobra. Well, I have a pet hate and that snakes Oh, my god, it happened to me Allah passed out on the spot. I said, Well, what do you do? He says, Oh, shut the door and go and get snake man. Put them in a bag and take them away. But there was something about the place, it really was that there were no windows. But the space where you would have a window, I bought it up at night. When we were there, there was like, a mass of children following us about everywhere. When we went into the cat rooms, look at it, there was about 10 or 12 of these faces at this open window. I thought oh my god, if you start running film, you know, you'd never get rid of them. But that was very fun. We came back here to shepardson. And to finish up thank God that we had about 12 weeks out there, I think. Very sad moment. I had never, never will I ever forget leaving. I was living at Hillingdon at the time. And when it was the there was still snow on the ground. And I left a wife and two children all crying in the hall about six o'clock in the morning when the car came to collect data at the airport. And they felt so sick. It was the most horrible moment when you go gotta make a crust got to send the kids to school. That's right. Then there's one that's probably better forgotten jelly Boy, was that.

Unknown Speaker  22:06  
It wasn't a really good film.

John Shirley  22:07  
Well, it was. It was like going back. I was amazed Frank launder had been a script writer at Shepherds Bush when I was there. But I was amazed You know, it was so

Unknown Speaker  22:24  

John Shirley  22:26  
No. So ordinary the way they always thought it was. And then we get on to a couple that promise or anything which was Warren Beatty, Leslie Caron, Robert Cummings, Kenan, when all Americans it was big. I thought it was onto something really big here. And that was directed by Arthur Hiller who subsequently made a very big name for himself. But that was only his he'd been in television. But that was only his second picture. Again, it was almost unbelievable. Some of it was was brilliant in some of it. I mean, it was the story was about a man that was making not porno movies, but risk a move is in his apartment in New York. And I'll, as I've said to you, I'd love straight cuts but for no reason. whatsoever in the script. You went straight to these sudden things these cameos of and you didn't see where I'm at filming them or anything. You went straight into the cameo. So the middle of or the end of some scene rather you suddenly went to and you were supposed to know you were in the apartment. I well. I don't know how long it took the audience to think they knew the first which

was there was another thing in the script which was supposed to be a stop frame camera in kids. More were not in the water. He was in a room, you know.

And the dalai birds are supposed to get in there and perform and the kid is shaking the bars at the cut. And he's shot this all normal. And that will if it's ergonomic, it's got to be split. DARPA, on and on jumped about a bit, which was to make it funny. Otherwise it was I did this without saying a word because to me, that's what it demanded, you know, he and the producer sat there when I saw the pizza for the first time out now. I don't think they really knew. It was a wonderful script, originally the man by the name of Betty. I don't think they realise what what it was supposed to be. They thought the idea was good when I saw it, but I was quite taken back with that. Then we got onto the site. That was for seven hours. Race start. And the next one dropped a darling was also for seven hours. I didn't know Ken Hughes. I just got the picture, I suppose. Because I'd done the other one for seven hours. And can use was one of those guys. He didn't bother about who did what really, you know, we didn't seem to never came to hear the cat in room. But it was it was a terrific to me. It was a terrific picture because it was way ahead of its time and its humour and its approach to things. And some of it I thought was brilliantly we have seen in to see now. Which was very started with people stopping. I thought which is very, very effective. I'm not sure whether I'd seen it done before. But anyway, I was I thought it was very effective. And Ken's big thing was putting music over everything. And he used to constantly come in and say, Get get this section of this record or that and put it over this let me he got an enormous music library. And I think he had at one time been in the

Unknown Speaker  27:33  
music publishing

John Shirley  27:34  
know, for the BBC, not a DJ, but the guy that puts his stuff on that sort of thing. I think so I'm not sure anyway, programmer system, whatever. And the remarkable thing was that it was an unerring aim. Almost every time the body came up with for the sequence. It was terrific. And we had a running up in town. The picture wasn't quite finished. I don't think I'm not sure. And it was for re start basically. And I was remember Ken, bring me some music. We had shot a load of stuff in the south of France from a title sequence, which at that time, I hadn't cuts you know, hadn't even thought and he said, slap that on the title sequence. And I spent a lot of time doing this. And we had this writers one Sunday night. And they went mad. It really woke them all up. And from then on rod, I've got it made in another direction because on that picture was a producer for Ray stop. The name of pigment worse. I don't know if you've ever heard of him. Well, can I dig this up a tough old bird. But he and I got on very well. In fact, he was over this summer and time here and we had we I took him to lunch at Shepperton studios for which was great anyway because he was instrumental in my next sort of job but drop dead darling was as I say was way I thought way ahead of its time as a comedy and it didn't make it was unfortunate. Both Some work for paramount. And just at that moment, Paramount was taken over by Gulf was I forget the name of the guy that took it over. And they literally swept everything off the shelf and said we don't want to know about that. This is paramount starts now you know, or Paramount Gulf. So neither of them to my mind got the treatment they should have had. I've seen promise or anything on the on the box hacks down to about an hour and 20 or something and I've still got my name on it and I feel sick when I say it, but still, you can't do anything about those. But didn't work. went to Italy to do timing of those through with the burdens. And I nearly went on it strange enough. If it had been up to him I would have done. But we had a problem with the museum drop there darling. And we had to rescore a lot of my right. But copyright clearance. No, no, no, no, no, no. No, it was completely restored. No. I beg your pardon. It was promise or anything. That's right. They decided to rescore it completely. No, there wasn't on it, you know? it. I couldn't make the dates for Italy. And then as luck would have it, they decided to stay in Italy and make Dr. Faustus which was not meant to be a box office success or anything like that. It was something that Richard Burton wants you to do. And I think it was probably written into his contract for was their contract for Taming of the Shrew. Anyway, I went to Italy on Dr. Foster's, which was a wonderful experience. It was very well. I slept pretty well to the hat to to those scripts. I cut out some of the dialogue beforehand. And it was very ordinarily shocked in a lot of instances.

Because it was supposedly directed by Neville Coghill, who had been his professor at Oxford. And a mass of Oxford students. Were playing all the rest of the parts. I always remember the last real was that they were descending into hell, and I had three shots for it. And this turned into 600 or 600 foot optical, using practically everything in the picture. You know, as he's descending into hell, but anyway, what was working in Italy, like in those days? Oh, well, one. One thing, some bit of advice to anybody listening. If you're going on location in a foreign country, you should always drink little scotch. Because then you won't pick up the bugs. And haven't been to Malaysia and I was literally the only one on the unit that was never real. And a lot of them had terrible dysentery. And I always put it down to I used to have a glass of scotch every night. I mean, not not a soap but as I used to make sure I added a double. And when I went to Italy, which I think was probably my next location. I thought I was fireproof and I forgot all the the big ideas and boy did I suffer Roman Tommy which is one of the difficulties of working in Italy you find that the studio there are not sufficient heads to cope with people that have got Rome. That's one of the difficulties apart from it was the Lorenz's news studio which was beautiful. But the cutting rooms were all underground were in basements. Because Italian editing was done in pitch dark rooms with a can't remember the name of the machine they use flatbeds whether Yeah, there were flatbeds but it was an Italian one. It wasn't the wasn't the same thing. No, no, it was no in fact, it was my first introduction to fat that it's, I didn't cut on it. I mean, I didn't use it at all. And I remember dilaurentis carries my cutter in one day and I've got a, you know, one of the big screen movie owners by them. The green man's and he was showing somebody around the studio. I don't know.

I think they were European, mid European, you know, behind the curtain people in those days. And he came in and he went up to the movie theatre and patented SSR

medica, Amal medicom. I thought, he obviously thinks that, because this does the work he does it. And I saw I showed him I said, there was a horse that had enclosed a synchronizer in place I saw not even his way. But I'm sure it's like people now think that because of electronic editing, yeah, with avid and that sort of thing. I think the machine does it still got to be appraiser? wisdom. Ah, very good question. So we used technical, Italian technical, Italian technicolour, which gave us a problem when we got back

by which you probably are aware of? Well, apparently, there's something different in their processing, all this. All the rushes had a beautiful sort of what I call I can only describe as mahogany look about them? Well,

yeah, and when we came back here, whenever we had a preprint, I mean, the negative came back to West writing. Week, and when we have the copies made, we could never achieve this. And I was told that it was either something to do with a wolf or something. Because West Drayton, you know was always the past or sides.

And we couldn't we couldn't achieve the what I call the mahogany ones of a better term.

Unknown Speaker  37:52  
magenta, was it?

John Shirley  37:56  
I suppose so. But it all they had a richness about

Unknown Speaker  38:04  
this, this was actually die trainers for your dog. Yeah, it was. Yeah. It was a difference in the heating of the of the pin belts on the diet transparent.

John Shirley  38:16  
Yeah, I know. It was explained to me in those days, but I can't remember the exact thing. Right. So with things in this industry, one thing leads to another. I was fortunate enough to be asked to do Chitty Chitty, bang, bang. We'll have all things I always wanted to do a big musical. And they were few and far between, even in those days, especially in this country. And it was because of my association with Ken us earlier that I that I got it. And that's how I met Darryl cubby broccoli. And what I experienced that was that whole picture. First of all, it was as far as I know, the only picture ever made in this country on the 65 neg and Saudi Arabia. What was it? I didn't know that. Anyway, I was I was very thrilled at the prospect. And we had some wonderful, wonderful material. I didn't have much thought for guidance from Ken, his most strange manager, he he left him very much to myself and also, Cubby, bro, is not the guy to say very much about editing. So I suppose, by and large as an odd comments from people from United Artists that came over to the theatre, I don't think you know, there's much there that isn't mine, good or bad, whatever you like to say about it. But the big, big thing was of course, in those days, it was going out as a 70 mil print with a six track magnetic. And the dub was everything for these covers, well, they could, they could cope with it at Pinewood. But Kabir decided to go to tradeo in Los Angeles to do it. And I fought tooth and nail to keep it in the country. And their own God brand column that was the chief mixer at Pinewood accused me of letting it go out of the country. And nothing was further from the truth. But capital turnaround to me, and he said, I'd love to do it here. But what if I told you it's four to dos? So I said, I can't argue with that. I said, Today I have got such a reputation. He said, Well, that's it. We're going. And he was so right as it because when you walked into the foyer of toto in those days, they had a cabinet. And in that cabinet, there was at least eight or 10 Oscars. So for sound mixing style. You You were quite right, john, you can't argue with that. Anyway, we had a wonderful, wonderful experience in Los Angeles. I think I was there nine weeks with Liz Wiggins, who was the dubbing editor and Robin Clark, who was the music editor. Rehan fabulous. Hotel, cars are disposable. I drove a huge mercury all the while I was there. And that was automatic. And my first taste of it. I've never driven anything but an automatic since me, came back and changed my car. But meeting all those people over there and getting into the American industry, it was a wonderful, wonderful experience which culminated by coming back to Pinewood and we had a problem and our problem was travelling Matt and travelling Matt at the best of times is a bit was a bit of a lottery but

we've been pitched forked into it in in a way because they had decided to get the picture threw in for shooting I mean we were shooting for over six months I think they they put a lot more onto travelling Matt them and then they do did originally and it was one of the great mistakes I think because although it did wonders for their schedule, you can go and shoot stuff against a blue screen very quickly. There wasn't all that much thought into it when they did it iE sallyann helles had a hat with a veil on it which really meant she's flying in this car this turns out there's a black blob and we never got got much more than that from it which was most unfortunate especially when it goes again. I don't remember seeing champion Matt ons 70 mil before

Unknown Speaker  44:26  
a big problem there john. And they are atrocious these whether travelling whenever you're doing the travelling that is about temperature is extremely important. Because you know you're making all your supplementary maps etc. So when you make them the template is gonna be given as crucial. And then when you're combining them with the foreground and with the background again, that's got to be precisely the same temperature with 35 mil. Newcomb more or less get away with it, but with 70 mil it's 10 times more critical. Yeah, I'm sure you just couldn't do it stop you that

Alan Lawson  0:05  
JOHN Shirley side three,

John Shirley  0:09  
good grief. Now, one of the things said about the travelling mat that you explained was that cabbie offered to send us all to Las Vegas for a holiday after we'd finished dabbing in the States, and I insisted on coming back, I get that straight away because of the travelling man, but I obviously I wanted to get back anyway, but it was always a little rueful about that. He was most generous man cubby. And he kept me on with my assistant Brian file. We had nearly three months running 70 mil copies, checking them in the newsletter at some time, but Sierra seven, which, which was great. And we had a wonderful obviously we had a wonderful premiere for the picture. In fact, we had a we had a an end of shooting party that was better than most premiere I've ever been to. He took the cafe royal and the whole crew, we had a fantastic party there will with as non an enormous cake. Which he paraded around the dance floor in front of us all with his wife on the cake on a trolley and it was all the the orchestra picked up for the march from att Bang, bang, great evening. But the premiere was even more as far as I'm concerned. Because some witness gentlemen, witness exhibit number one,

Alan Lawson  2:26  
the queen is the queen.

John Shirley  2:30  
And I was I was introduced to or presented they call it that no presented to the rest of the family and that night, the young Charles and the young and in and the Duke of Edinburgh. So the thing that is the story I like to tell about kaboo was on that evening, my wife and I we arrived early. We had a driver but something I don't know. I remember us driving around Hyde Park to spin out the town why we were so early. I don't know. If you have this special ticket that you're going to be presented. They insist on you going upstairs to this area that is roped off. And lo and behold, I am my wife and I we are the first there. It was stuck in this roped off square in front of all the millions throng all staring away at what the bloody hell are they doing? And who sprang to our rescue but cubby broccoli, aka hidden never met my wife. I made her very welcome called over photographers and and chatted away to us until somebody else turned up and then he went off to welcome them. And he we were both terribly embarrassed, but he he made us both at ease immediately. And I think it's a true mark of a true gentleman.

Which I always feel he is common and I stood the other side of those ropes watching it so close. I can't forget the legs.

Alan Lawson  4:17  
You were talking about the the printer you're looking at?

John Shirley  4:21  
Yes. Well, we had quite a problem with those. I was eventually I had to select the copies from the premieres in los angeles and New York and all sorts of things like that. And it was when you were trying to get them to the Atmos. It was it was quite a worrying task. Because you didn't feel that any of them were as good as they might be. Then some years later, I saw A copy of the 35 mil product scaled down. And I often wonder why the hell we ever shot it on 70 It must have put an enormous costs onto the picture, not just in in stock and things like that. But in the in the movement of the cameras around but surely logistics companies, which is the same argument that people put out about 35 and 16. Which are, I wouldn't listen to I think I got a shoot. Well, I

Alan Lawson  5:42  
think that's true. I mean, the the grain size is still the same on 16 inches on 35. So you know, if you blow it up, yeah, well, no, even even though it's got the same size, too. Great. So as soon as you've got it up to the same side as there is greeny blue in the green.

John Shirley  6:01  
I always remember about the same time. There was. Oh, Carol Reed musical. Oh, yes. And they did blow up and everybody was very satisfied with that.

Alan Lawson  6:20  

John Shirley  6:21  
No. One from 35 to 70. Was it

Unknown Speaker  6:31  
all ever? Oh, yeah.

John Shirley  6:39  
Wait. Subsequently, I was I was working in Italy, and the charity was going to be released. I have to tell you this because it's a bit bomb headed. But they came to me, UI in Italy and said, Oh, whoever got hold of it in Italy. And they said, We have permission for some cuts that we have to make for Italy? Would you do them for us? I said now I'd be delighted. I said because we have to get the time down for Italy said that's fine. And the guy that I was dealing with, he said, if you can think of anything else that you can cut it down a bit more, we would be delighted as well. I don't know about you know, Mr. Broccoli? And I said, Don't worry, we've been told that you can do what you like. So I made one big cat that I had always wanted. Which I had been stopped from doing. Because on the picture we had all these the Andre Costa I think it will cost all the music man there was I went to his house. He got four Oscars, you know, and all this sort of thing. And cubby listened to them. And I was very much the new boy on the block. was with everybody on that. So Ken, who then left me to it, as it were. And we had a an Italian premiere. And of all things cabbie came out for this premiere. And there was a couple of secretaries as well. And my wife and we went to this, this premiere when we went out to dinner. Gigi fatso was in Rome, which is well worth mentioning, to anybody who's ever in row. And covey turned around to me, and he made my day because he said, I wish I had listened to you. Because it was a reprise of a song, a duet and it was too much. And zero cost and risk Andre cost. Oh, you can't sacrifice my work. The other thing that amused me was some of the Italian dubbing for the picture. The dialogue that they use was so different really, from what the English was. I can't remember quite it was something to do with ice creams and lollipops. But another strange thing was that in Sweden, they found the

Which the child catcher Robert Helpmann they found it too terrifying. And they they they had part of it out what? It was such a childish picture it always astounded me

initially it didn't do that well worldwide but over the years it Masson made its price over and over again. I thought it was in the classrooms, you tend to get bound up with what pictures how they what they made, you know, that sort of thing. Because I can always remember saying to Peter Rogers, I'm, I'm drifting now going back a bit, but I always remember saying to him one day about a picture we were doing No kidding. I said, Do you think you'll get out on it? If he said, Oh, yes, love? Oh, yes. Yes. He said, Do you know that a carry on has been running in the in the Birmingham district for over two years now? I mean, what that picture must have made for them. I don't know because I do know that it was made for under 100,000 pounds in those days. So we progress Oh, this is a skate over this. The red rasa. The red tent was Kara touch soft was a very big Russian director. In fact, it was a Russian Italian co production and had been shooting it for about 18 months when I went on. On an off site. I mean, as far as I could make out if you Russian productions have you know, more or less a lifetime's existence once you've got on and he couldn't speak a word of English and yet he was directing Peter Finch and Sean Connery German guide I can't remember his name now but he spoke next in English so it was speaking in English he couldn't speak a word I don't think he ever intended to but it was that what has happened was they decided to spend money on five weeks of reshooting all shooting extra and instead of just the ordinary material that they had which was over I suppose an adventure so I decided to turn it into a man's dream have been put in dock in a court by various characters in the film for his actions and for what happened which was written by Robert bolts and it was an extremely good idea. And they shot this not all that well but they shot it and and then gradually we got most of it out of the picture. It was terrible ready and we were left thirsty with the original bones with one of just one or two references to to this dream of this general nebulae. I think they sold it to Paramount who then set about re editing it yes again. Anyway, but that time I was long gone. I don't want to forget. Well, no, it's I could go on about that picture for ages I said strange thing. I mean, I even wake up now in the nice and think about various pictures. I've worked on various possible arguments or ideas of how they should have been done or why I don't know. But I like to forget that one. Eight bells toll was a bit of a French director Etienne Perrier. He was a very nice guy. Eight bells toes. Alistair MacLean story. And again, it was a book that I had read and I was very keen on because I thought what a marvellous thing for first time director which I used to dream about in those days. And Etienne wasn't much more than the first time he had done a bit but some I hadn't. Excuse me. This is very strange story. I came home from Italy one weekend with

a cup of the red tent, which we ran for Robert bolts up in Mayfair, the old societa in our can't remember, listen the Mayflower now. And there was a pub around the corner that man used to go through, and of all things. My wife and family arrived in Italy. And I had to go back I tried to work it so that it was the weekend before so I could bring them back with me. But no, they had to arrive. And then we went to London, so I had to go back on my own. And as I will I'll get up late and I'll wander up. We weren't going to start until Saturday afternoon. So I'll go in the pub and have lunch. And I did so and I've bumped into a production man that I know. Ted Lloyd and with him was sem Perrier. And we couldn't help but to have a chat together. And when he said that he was doing eight bales total fell about you know, and we got on like a house on fire kept on talking. In the end, before I went to my running, I'd been offered eight bills. So I was most happy to leave in fact, I had to get off read tend to do it. I was still late, going on eight bells. Well, the next one, the 14 or forget it. Then was zetlin, which again was at imperio. We had this was an interesting picture because you know, when I say interesting that the I suppose a lot of truth in it, about Zeppelin's and their mark we made on 14 war. The story was quite impossible. But they had, again, the producer was a man by the name of Martin Crump, an American and with a very big reputation. He had an American art director steam escapes me that between them somehow rather they'd shot a lot of plates for this Zeppelin. And I was pretty sure that they were suspect. And when Charlie's staffel looked at them. He said, ludicrous. We can't we can't use any of it. So we're very distraught over this. And I got them to turn it since a lot of it was at night. I got them to shoot, shoot it as models on a stage at Pinewood. And we use dry ice as a cloud base so that everything was because and this came from my flying experience and from reach the sky, because we were in trouble with models on that, as I told you earlier. And I always wanted to shoot down to show the plan of formations and that sort of thing. And I said, Well, we can't do it, how can we do it? And I said he was used dry ice and you're above cloud and and that's your answer. And I got to do it again. And we had a very big model zeplin Beautiful. And we were able to do all sorts of things. And that to me was the interesting part of that picture. Apart from the fact that we we had some rather interesting titles which GSC had come up with and let's see Crump said to me, one day, what are we going to do about titles? I said, Well, I would go for TSA. So I knew he was a very sort of suspicious sort of man about everything that was done in in the country, you know, because he thought that the wall was being pulled or people.

Maybe they were I don't know, but I don't act like that. So I said, I'll get them on the phone. So as soon as I got hold of Fred Chandler I didn't say any more. I put the introduced him to Martin Crump spoke anyway, Fred COVID quoted a price on on the phone for the titles. And that was it. And they came up with this thing, all based on the German ion cross, you know, the less room to look like that. Which you don't get out of the usual books, you know, they have to make an alphabet and photographic all sorts of when they got the bill, from Jesse, of course, it was a lot more than I've been closing over the phone. I was called over the office, and this guy's jumping up and down. He's got a little American accountant with him. Who's also German American, I should add, who is also jumping up and down about the price of it. So look at that, because that well, what about it? But it's so much more than where, you know, where's all the acid? Well, to start with? I said, you were quoted for just domains. I said, You've got the roll up at the end as well. Yes, yes, yes. But I mean, what about all the rest of it? I said, Well, we made a specific lettering which you agreed. And he turned around he says, hey, why you see that they're in cahoots? Or to that effect? So I just got up and walked out the room. He said, Where are you going? I said, Well, I'm not listening. I'm not staying here to listen to that sort of use lots of four letter words with it. And it's another Sit down Sit down I said no, that's it you get onto him if you think you've been thinking that Jesse would stand by what the invoice them for. And I thought they were a bunch of silly thoughts because I like they immediately cut the price. Which made me look like for low margin. I was very friendly tools. were great mates now. Let me go now this is this is one that said remembers the internecine affair. Again, this is Ken Hughes drag me onto this is a great idea for this picture. But it wasn't sufficiently scripted. To make you think that the guy was ever going to be caught. There was no to me there was no tension he was he was always getting away with it. I mean, the basic plan of it is that you set various people off to kill other people. And you keep out a bit and you you get off scot free. It was a spy sort of thing, but it was it was a good experience. But that was the last one I ever did with Ken because he I think he had to leave the country rather horridly after that for tax reasons.

Alan Lawson  23:57  
I'm going to get back even if you've missed a couple out from my list.

John Shirley  24:00  
Oh really?

Alan Lawson  24:01  
Yeah, go away then the green light

John Shirley  24:03  
Oh yeah. Well, I always miss living that don't know that's coming.

Unknown Speaker  24:10  
Oh, is it Oh, sorry. Anyways

John Shirley  24:14  
Magic Johnson. Yeah, well, this is off my head. Yeah.

The green night Forget it. I was uncanny experience that was somehow or other I don't know how it happened. I Live and Let Die I'd been. I'd been shot was almost almost finished. Now I believe there was there was still a little bit to shoot. Anyway, what happened was Dr. Albert Bates There is no mean ability who was not with us anymore. Unfortunately, he was taken ill on it. And although there was another race run, it re pulled in with him because of time and because around that era, there was always a great hurry up on them to get them out in time, you know. And so I went on it as it were, too. Replace Burt, which I always remember some news hound putting in his blurb, I must have had problems with this picture, because I had three editors on it. And that was because you know, we all got a credit. You know what birds actually died as after lesson? Oh, no, some while after that. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

But he was a character. Terrific. It was social. So that that finishes that was like before.

Yeah, it's a bit like there was a carry on with the bonds. And anyway, that was when I met guy, Hamilton, who, to me is another Hallmark in mind. For a guy was he had a, we both spoke the same language, we both believed that

the only person you took care of was the the audience. And we both dwell from making that, you know, it was very much the red herrings and that sort of thing. But it was

a we believed in the same thing of shocking them, making them laugh, and we always talked them worth was the audience in view, he didn't have any hang ups about, you know, oh, I, I shot that beautiful bowl of flowers. And I want to see that in the shop all the while he had no hang ups like that. He was very much downs worse, which led me to the next one, which was guy again, with man with Golden Gun. Where I was sort of, really in the driving seat on that one. Ray Porter was with me again. And we did that one in is quite an epic bet. And we cut the negative two weeks after we came off the floor. That's a two hour picture. And we had to do it because we'd got into the error of of, you know, 1000 prints releases simultaneously worldwide. And in those days, sit a bear me out on this. You had to have an in nginx internet to do it. See our eyes, I should say, Sierra, to doings Yeah, but they were only produced about one a week, the time you made it and corrected and got it right in about one a week. And to hit the, the targets, we had to have at least five of these for the various copies. So that came off our finishing shedule. At the same time. I can't remember why. But the starting date was put back, which made it worse. And so we we literally had a fortnight in which to and it wasn't a start neg cut, it had to be done. And guys used to spend literally every lunch hour with us. And we're no flatbeds in those days, we used to have a spool takeout movie would run various sequences and correct to them. And because as I say cabbage is never interfered with the finishing of a picture at all, really. And we did it and it was it was it wasn't that it wasn't one of the best James Bonds ever, but it was the most enjoyable. So I always like working with guy. I'm very sorry that I've worked with him since I have from time to time we keep in touch. But can I pause? again. We're going there, right. So after the man with Golden Gun, I think we have the screws with Michael Apted, this was quite a quite a good saying because I liked Michael very much he was fairly new to features at that point he he's gone on and made some very well known pictures and very good ones but he was pretty well fresh out of television then I think he probably done one or two pictures. And he certainly hasn't done very much action before. flicks, we had quite an amount of Warner Brothers saying I mean, it didn't make it didn't make any big noise or anything, but it was very nice experience as far as I was concerned. And then we go on to winners too, which was in South Africa. And that, again, is an experience. This man, Dennis beavers that I've got down as he was the producer, I can't remember the name of the

director that Dennis was a wonderful guy, really. He met me at the airport very early in the morning when I arrived in South Africa. And

he suddenly popped out from behind a large pillar. And he said john sharees, I said yes, only too glad somebody was there. And he introduced himself. And he then proceeded to take me on a tour of Joburg. And explaining all sorts of things, because I don't know if you've ever been there, but but you know, the hills of the excavations that have left there that are still full of God. And we eventually pitched up at the hotel that he'd put me into, which apparently was weird. He'd had his wedding reception some years before, but it was a little more than a Roadhouse now. You know, it was very comfortable, very good. And it was very handy for where I was working. And he had a brother was on a picture as a sort of, they weren't really film people. I mean they were lovely pair of Jewish brothers. Some I think that spent a lot of time in the furniture business and Bobby the other way since the days do you know he said, we had this furniture factory. This is absolutely true. Is it we had this furniture trap factory and all the while he said we kept on trying to have a fire there for the insurance, and we had this black man night was when he kept on finding it and putting it out. They said we couldn't make it. We got so fed up with it was sold the business and he said would you believe he says the next guy that he said he had a fire.

It makes some sounds I've ever robes over and over so good to me these people. I went to their mother's birthday party one night. And I was the only man that wasn't a millionaire. I mean, the picture was nothing really.

Alan Lawson  33:42  
It was where did you have your cutting room? in the hotel?

John Shirley  33:45  
No, no, no. No, just down? Well, I say about three miles from where I was staying. There was a

place where they did radio shows. It was a commercial radio station if you like when I say station. I don't know if they actually broadcast from there. But they certainly did the tapes.

Yeah, they certainly did the shows there. And they installed me there which was quite fun. Le equipment was bought in Ohio. And it was some of it was pretty disastrous. But we managed to get through that. It was again I was it must have come after the squeeze because it was at the instigation of Warner's that I went there. They will remember that they were very good over payment which was difficult for them because I insisted on being paid in dollars. I've been told by Warner's back here to be paid in dollars, which I was and when it came to expenses. Two or three cables backwards and forwards. And before I went out, and I could never get a son from I never get a figure out of them for expenses, and yet when I was I was in this hotel, whatever I wanted there the bill. I mean, I just signed for it. I never saw the bill or anything. And I had a car. And if I wanted any more money, I just asked Bobby and he gave me some money, which it was, yeah, it was wonderful, really, because you're on trust. And that was fine. But it also it certainly you don't feel like brass, you know, going out and spend a load of money and say I want some more money, but you you keep it within the realms of reality, I suppose. Anyway, work very well. And we got back from that. Oh, I know, there was a little story here. I when I went out there, I was hoping to go on to the original Superman, not as editor I might add, what to do with the flying. And I got a call out in South Africa. When you come and get to get back quickly from Paul Hitchcock's office. They want to fix somebody for this job, and I got back and Dan me, our friend straight away. And that fix somebody the day before then. I was very upset about that. But never mind I've ever known to. It looks like tomorrow never comes with Peter Collins. And this was in Canada. I've met Peter Collinson. Earlier I went on to do a sequence on a picture of his I can't remember what the sequence was called. But it was an action sequence that he shot a load of stuff in a desert and sort that out kid type of thing. And I must have done it to his liking because he offered me this picture to do. So it was a nice experience. Unfortunately, he's dead now as it as it please. We've got a lot of you got a lot of talent, a lot of energy. Some wasn't always he was the sort of guy that if he'd been given a good opportunity with a lot of money, it probably made a very good picture. I mean, the one that he made that was so good, was The Italian Job, you know.

Alan Lawson  37:54  
Perhaps he needed a strong producer of what I use, but

John Shirley  38:01  
he certainly needed bandwidth some money so he could spend a bit more because he was always having to do things on the cheap. Whereas it's been a wonderful knack to have it doesn't always work for me, we got to our This is the city on fire, which was also in Canada In Canada the next year with Alvin Rakoff. What's that for television or film now that these are all films, we haven't gotten to television yet at all.

That the original concept was that we were coming back to time word and building a huge model of this city to blow up put on fire and that sort of thing. And I think they either they ran out of money or they got cold feet because we never came back to Pinewood. or any of the wonderful things that we were going to do but we had with they did build a set out. This was in Montreal, but the way as was Peter Collins and his picture, they built a whole street. And I've got some people up from Los Angeles who really knew their job. Well they had jellen and fire bars, and they could put set this straight alight and the blow it all out without very much

tatting out but it was all ready to go again. I was quite impressed with that. We had a wonderful shot of that. We have an Australian stunt man on it. Who's I can't think of his first name. It was Grant

was it grant Walker? I'm not sure. Anyway, he he literally did everything on the picture himself, you know, disguise, but he did a fantastic shot. Suppose you have a patient out of this hospital running that or staggering the length of this whole street that we had. And he was all alight. It was fantastic shots. And it was ruined at the very end of it by Leslie Nielsen. You know, as a comedian. He was so impressed with this guy being on fire, that he stepped out of the shadows into the shot to see if he was all right. And when he finally collapsed at the end they had to they had to cover that but he completely ruin

Unknown Speaker  40:59  

John Shirley  41:02  
the other terrifies thing about the shot that it was so terrifying that eventually in America, they almost cut it out. Because I thought it was too horrifying, too horrific. But it was a strange picture that the star as a man he played potty celie a lawyer on the television. I can't remember what his name is now. But in the picture we had avid gardener and Henry Fonda to the old time, which really did little cameos really, but they were one especially Henry is I thought he was he had that sort of magic qualities.

of it was playing a TV broadcaster who was too fond of the throttle so she didn't have to act too much.

How did you get on with Rieckhoff? Oh, very well with his background is theatre and television. Really? Yes, yes. Just around this time he was coming into films a guy he had had a taste of films. Now I like Alvin a great deal. It's very sad. His wife died last year. And I was always in contact with him in for a job. We became sort of friends. I had a terrible coward. I hadn't packed up enough courage to speak to him since I was going to an up to the funeral but to Loreal service. Yeah, there was a memorial service in talent. And something happened at the last minute that I couldn't go. I think I wrote and apologised to him, but I felt terrible. Strangely, I finally this week, I've said to my wife, I must pick up the phone and break the ice. Now we got on very well. He He's got a very good touch with artists. The only thing about Alvin I don't understand is that he doesn't like music in film. Why did you know that? Yeah. I was gonna talk about music. Because I I'm a great believer in. The next best thing you can get into films is the music. Alvin's thesis is that if you have to have music, or if you rely on music, you haven't done your job properly. I think now there is a thing from the CSOs that I think I just certainly agree with him choosing a name any big picture off the top of your head, and I'll bet you there is a fantastic story. Oh, sure. Yeah, sure. Sure. I mean, I

Alan Lawson  44:21  
don't disagree with you on that point. But I mean, when I go to the cinema, I get to see a film not to listen to a symphony, but you don't listen to it. That's the I don't know. Sometimes I think the very negative

John Shirley  44:35  
on here now I do. Yeah. If they did, they don't know how to dub pictures. Not anymore. It's Yes, I use music. It's over the top. You can't hear the dialogue.

Unknown Speaker  44:46  
I'm glad you agree.

John Shirley  44:50  
agree with you on practically anything. But I mean, I always like to point out g Vargo and Lawrence of Arabia which Return of David Lean's great successes right don't think either of them would have made the Mark I did if it hadn't been for the school.

Alan Lawson  45:08  
Anyway, let's move on.

John Shirley  45:12  
Now we're on the subject. I can remember when I started on independent frame as an I was an assistant. And I've got this big thing about music for pictures what a difference that made. I had a period of about I think about six months when I was paid to did a bit of work because we were shooting location for four or five pictures and then the great pauses in between you know

Alan Lawson  0:14  
JOHN Sony side four

John Shirley  0:17  
we run music again back as an assistant in the early days of independent independent prime. And Donald Wilson, who was the producer. I said if anybody wants to get a film down that we you know, you're saying it would be of interest to us all, please do so. And it was usually frowned upon it was my job to get the film's anyway. I have been impressed at this point by two films. One was the treasure of Sierra Madre. One of john Houston's earliest, and

a film called The Killers which was directed by Robert seals and Matt. And it had in it I'll Edmond O'Brien, of a gardener, there was all sorts of people

that were unknown at the time. But both of them had tremendous scores and an ally sought by him. And I remember, we had passports or Pimlico one week and things like that. But pissed off was. So I got the treasurer of CRM. And they all sat down the hierarchy, all the PO faced to watch this. I don't think any of them

went to the pictures in those days. Probably several executives of the company, they're at the end of it. Donald got up and he said, Yes, very interested. And what was that for john? What What did we What did you want us to say that for? I suppose the way the music was

used? Oh, yes. Very interesting. So of course, on all all of the independent prime pictures, we just had BP, BP BP BP no idea from from from dual slavery, well, could probably have done better. Often. Looking back, you wonder how people ever achieve what they did and got to the positions they did. They didn't seem to have any imagination.

I'm not saying that a lot of imagination. But next one, magnificent. Got to say that land of the desert. Die. Again, it was Latin that I've got that but I won't go into it.

I wrote a lesson. And most of acca was most impressed by this letter. Because I forget who told me is one of his some of these. But he wrote it himself. So I suppose people sent get letters written for him. I don't know. Anyway. We have nearly six months in a desert, I think. Certainly five. We all had a week's holiday. During the shooting of the picture. I came home for a week, during which time my time depth for my daughter's wedding, which was very good. But we lived in Kevin's rare condition. I had an air conditioned cabin as a cutting room. And it was just dry and Pharaoh was my assistant. And we were very lucky because the unit and I think that time has went through hell with the heat. But we avoided it. And we were on two camps, both of which had excellent swimming pools

built into them, which is one of the loves of my life. I was happy as assembler. So bad, but it wasn't an intended conflict. So it's

a very healthy atmosphere though in the desert. You know, especially if you're like me, I get another guitar you don't. There's nothing like that

and We had a portable projector in a large heart that we use this for Rochus and echo Just let me get on with it. I mean,

we never looked at cut sequences or anything like that. And I had my weeks leave and we said and and we moved up to the coast near the coast for the second part was in the firt. The first part we were about 600 miles down in the desert and the depth of it, miles from anywhere, which but we were a little near of Benghazi, in the north, not that we ever went into bangles, it was nothing to go there for anyway. But it was very beautiful around them and multitude trips, like going to clear patches by using temporal over the remains of incredible and everywhere you went with these coins. You could literally dig up anywhere. And the coastline, there was a town that I cannot remember recall the name of it, but it must have been 1500 2000 up from the sea almost shear. And there was this town that had been built originally by the Greeks and left to go to wrack and ruin and then the Romans are taken over and

literally rebuilt his and it was these Greek and Roman ruins of this complete town. It was I wish I could remember that there's a museum now. I can't remember the name of it. But how they

got the stones up from the master bought them by see how they got them up in the face of this. It wasn't a cliff, but it was a hill, if you like. It must have taken 1000s of labourers to do it. Because I imagine that's how it was done. But the picture was, unfortunately, it was about somebody that nobody ever knew about a man called Omar Mukhtar, who had been the great song in the side of the Italians when they were trying to conquer northern parts of Africa.

And eventually, they hung him and he was played by Anthony Quinn. I was fabulous. We also had in it Rod Steiger as mas aleni. And that was all shot in Rome. None of that was I did I went to Rome, but not to work I went back to Twickenham. But

God we're on right after the interruption of the erstwhile painter. We We also had Oliver Reed in the land of the desert, he was great siani Congrats, the army, who at that time was the general facing omaka it was very sad tale and the tenants don't come out of it very well have a quite best deal towards these people. And it's about what is now today what we call Libya the battle scenes and it was phenomenal. I mean we we had hundreds of horses on the screen which I don't think you'll see the likes of again and the British Board of sensors when they they were so taken with it that they couldn't believe that the horses weren't ill treated. And I went to great I've never known that censorship go to such lengths but they they had a letter saying how the horses were not ill traces and how they will look for after etc. And I had a call and I don't suppose either of you have ever heard of anything like this before. They wanted the trims of Hutton shots. They were interested in that. I thought you were saying sent the trims and they even check the key numbers you know that went straight across and they couldn't believe that I In the end, they just dropped it but they couldn't believe it. It was so tremendous feat of looking after the horses I remember we we went from our location deep down in the desert, there was another location where we had to fly to it each day, that's how far away it was. But somehow or others, I had got some 100 200 horses down there. And labour in giant marquees, you know, to keep them sheltered from the sun. And it was very, very strange this location because you could see the various on the sort of mountains that surrounded it, you could see the markings of the various levels of the sea as it had dropped over the millions of years. They all went down in in terrorists stages on these mountains. And fossils were lying around everywhere.

Not of animals, but little bits of crustaceans, but I was gonna say that they were like sea horses, most of them.

And bits have been down there. And there's and tree bits of tree, you know, or what looked as if it had been a tree, it might have been an underwater plant for all I know. But it was

we came back to Twickenham. And I think we we had a four and a half hour rough cut

must have a very strange guy, I don't think he wanted to cut any of it. But eventually got it down to around about three and a half, I think. And it was still far too long, in my estimation, but he I don't know, I didn't know where to get other stake in the States or what but anyway, after he thought about it, just as I was about to leave, we had a reprieve and we came back to take some more out of it. And burn. But one way or another we got it down to about I think it was around about 240s finished up something like that. I can't remember the exact time I do remember the four and a half hour rough cut. And either the script had been by a man Harry Craig, who had scripted most of her records previous picture Mohammed. And that had been very, very long. And I thank my lucky stars at some he wasn't around because he seemed to have the power over most of us and he whatever he scripted that you know you weren't supposed to mess about with it. It should have been around about two hours, I think the picture would have been terrific. But the it didn't end there. I then went on to make five one hour turn into five one hour TVs, not for the British market and for the Arabic world. And it was all posts into Arabic. by one way or another I think I have to here's one picture, which was an amazing experience because I now know what it's like to have 52 weeks in a year. It was a great financial betterment for me.

Unknown Speaker  14:16  
Did you get returned?

John Shirley  14:20  
They did. They did rather a nice thing on it. I also remember which obviously Libya was dry. You couldn't how any British crew runs without Nicola and somehow arrives as I provided it was kept within the camp. We had one bottle of booze allowed a week. And you got this on. We always had the Friday off

because that was the seventh Hamilton Sabbath. And Thursday nights you could see vast queues of people going to one of these Porter cabins to get their ration and you weren't allowed to carry it, you had to have a bag to put it in. So everybody was trippin about with carrier bags. And I think some of the contingent decided to drink it there. And then that night, because nearly every Thursday night, there was trouble. And we had 19 nationalities on the camp, all whom was good as gold, it said, you know, the Brits, the amount of squabbles and fights among some incredible, they always happens on a Thursday nights. I used to make mind last drop by drop all through the week in the best way. It was very difficult to get any mixes for it. But we did manage somehow. And the cooks, when we went up north to this other camp,

our Porter cabin, caffeine room, and the theatre. We're almost at the back door of the

restaurant establishment. And by this time, the cooks have started brewing their own beer. And we used to get our ration of beer, every ice cold, which was I will I can't tell you what it was to have that out there was fantastic. Nobody else got it. It was only Graham and I have it in a theatre that was behind the screen. That was a box that the screen had been rolled up in, you know. And puttering around that one day Graham found that on one or two occasions, we'd had special runnings of rushes when we've got three or four days, you know, stacked up so that was like probably three hours of rushes and this used to be on our off day off that we used to run this it was only jack Hilliard and monitor of his boys used to turn up and myself and part of the bribe was that was always a little extra booze. Or grand discovered this and He then said about I don't know if I should say these things. Anyway, he had said about watering the vodka in the gin. And he and I had

vodka and gin. We didn't tamper with whiskey. But we have extra vodka and gin for our consumption in the desert is a shame really about the Patriot I don't think I don't think

they recommend cost $42 million I don't think it but you never know. I mean, I know our cat was thrilled to bits with it as far as the Arabic world

was concerned. I'm sure they were for the battle scenes that we had in it were incredible. Possibly too much suffering good experience I I liked most of it. We used to argue a lot.

Unknown Speaker  18:53  
Where do you get this training?

John Shirley  18:55  
Tonight know it's funny you should say that I was almost about to tell you is rather strange. He went to the states he I think he's Syrian by birth but he went to the States. I have a feeling he went through what's the big film school in Southern Cal

Unknown Speaker  19:16  
UCLA? That's right.

John Shirley  19:18  
I think so. But he works with Oh, man director. All I can think of is Straw Dogs, packing, packing pallets. He had a great candle for packing power. And as far as I know, the the Mohammed or the What was it? Yeah. Mohammed was his first picture as far as I

Unknown Speaker  19:50  
know. We

John Shirley  19:59  
then progress To very strange period went to work for David Puttnam. But this

Unknown Speaker  20:09  
is all before go press.

John Shirley  20:11  
I certainly wasn't gold, Chris. I would have thought it was before gold craft. Anyway, it was for television. So this was my first experience of television It was a thing called patane yang Kipper bang, which was a gang that's how it always comes back. Michael Apted.

This was a picture. scripted by Rosen total jack Rosen's home. I was a very, it was a very witty and very clever little

story. And it was mostly kids in it. I see is supposed to be in 1948 when the houses were over here playing cricket and a kid and it daydreams about the cricket all the while on is violently in love with a girl in his class, you know, who doesn't even know he exists. And it's the meanderings of this kid. But it's very, very funny. And it was a great pictures to work on. There was one other, it was called the first labs series. I went on to another one, experienced preferred but not essential. I didn't, didn't like that experience quite so much. And I could have gone on with him. I was only too pleased to get away. And away I went. So I went on to savage islands, which took me to New Zealand. And that was with 30 Fairfax, his first piece of television, but I think it was his first picture.

But that was great as a lot of action in that nice backdrop. Then I did another television thing, Kim with patriot tool. This was for one of the American companies NBC or CBS something I can't remember.

But that's where I met David Conroy and Mark Sharma Dean. And we look for all great things there. But then mark shamba Dean, who had bought London films, opted for the states, and so we didn't hear any more of that. most unfortunate. Then I got a call from Aida young to do a thing, another television say, these are all television spectaculars, you know these two, two hours

Hitler's SS and that that was that was good experience. And I was very pleased to meet Aida because she crops up a great deal later. IV King Solomon's Mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe we went to originally, that was with Jay Lee Thompson. And that was another great experience. It's amazing how these directors have said they leave an imprint on you, whereas others don't. Because he got a fantastic experience behind. I have a lovely man to work with. He was I think he was 72 then that must be

Unknown Speaker  24:21  
in the 80s.

John Shirley  24:23  
Yeah, must be about just about 10 years ago, I should think. As far as I know, he's still alive and kicking. We always hopeful of other things there. You always wanted to

remake woman in a dressing gown, which was one of his big successes over here before we went to America.

That was for Canon. Not the word racist people to work for. And then I went back to elven Rakoff. I did 31 hour episodes of Paradise postponed. It was British television. That was that went on for some while. In fact, I didn't go on it until I'd finished shooting.

bit unfortunate isn't wasn't to go on it when it's finished shooting. Really? I suppose so. You see, it was one of those terrible things. Alvin wanted me to do it. Oh, yes, I was I we couldn't agree a price. And this other thing came out and King Solomon. So I said, Well, you know, they're willing to pay the money. I'm sorry. And he said, Well, let me know when you're free sort of business. As I say, I went on it after I finished shooting him and he always turn around, because it was about another nine months then before we finished. And there were two of us on here quoted the guy that certainly wouldn't pay the money originally. He said, If you'd paid the money originally, you'd have only had one man on it all the way through and we'd have been finished three or four months before. Because we he insisted on starting from scratch with everything, every episode. And he also he wanted, it was very episodic. In a sense, it was a lot of flashbacks. And it was very difficult to make the transition and didn't always work as well as we would have liked it to have done. And we you know, we had some pretty fancy obstacles to do it. But it did even then it didn't always come off. In my book, it would have come off if we'd had a musical thing to help it. But that wasn't allowed. That we managed, eventually to eliminate crying a lot of this flashback so that it stayed in much bigger chunks. It was much more successful like that. That was a 16 year old job. It's a funny side people's talk about 16 add on. It slows me down. I can work much faster with 35. And I can was 16 he got something to get hold of. Yeah, throw about really

Unknown Speaker  27:58  
the other one not

John Shirley  28:02  
fiddly. And then we went back to cannon on the ill starred ill fated Superman for Why that? Why so? I don't know. Well, I think mourners made the biggest hole in that they decided that some one artists should come out of the picture completely, which meant a cut of something like 25 minutes. There was there was there was a two adversaries for the desert sea level or two adversaries for Superman are both souls that buys the Mad brain. Gene Hackman at the first one turned out to be an idiot. Very dangerous, but an idiot. The Americans for some reason didn't like this. I thought that some I said it was an insult people's intelligence. In actual fact, it was the funniest part of the picture. So naturally, we had to get rid of that. I think that ruined it that the critics over here got a great deal for the special effects which were all made in America. And that was the that was the thing, whereas they'd all been done over here before. On the other three. As I was saying so upset all the people previously involved with the Superman they thought it was their rights as it were. And I think they got assets. I mean, if If you want to even even pull special effects apart I don't say that they were all the crisis that we had in it. They weren't but some some of the objections to them I thought were pathetic, really, and quite untrue. A thing appeared in the evening standard one night about the scene in the subway, where it was still got cockfosters up on the train. Well, to anybody down the other crowd that was seeing it. This is where the story came from. And it's quite true. You could see in shots where it was, you know, it wasn't changed. It was never used in the picture. You know what I mean? I mean, yes. When I read this, I nearly went and ran the sequence because I couldn't believe so i'd slipped up. But it never appears, you know, but those stories when Selena like the Evening Standard, or something like that? They did sounds like oh, not a very nice experience. I don't think I've put the hex on anybody so far. But I wouldn't say that the director was one of my favourite players, Sydney fury. And yet he had his good points, but that sort of roll off that ship. Now we come to much more recent things, I think, yes. We went some, we got a call from I either young to do voice of the heart, which is one of the books of Taylor Bradford. And I was introduced to a director, the name of Tony Warby. And, much to my surprise, I went for a sort of interview with him. And I was taken on, you know, just like that it was amazing. To this day, I don't know why I've asked him since he said, I don't know why. But anyway, we, we must have hit it off, because I've done two more with him since then. And this was another two to our job. And I thought he was one of the cleverest flows I've come across as a director, because there's no mean feat to shoot to two hours. I mean, you've got to have more than that to get it

in nine weeks, or under and I think it was eight and a bit included in that time was shifting to France and to New York. From here, you know, I took my hat off to him I thought was quite a discovery. Why has never done a feature? I'll never know he's telling me. Yeah, we have we're on television. Yeah. Then Somehow, I got a call from a man by the name of Mr. K. Waldron. Do you know have been introduced two years before and somehow Rather, he remembered my name he came after me

to do he'd got a picture to do, which was in Greece and Egypt. And he hadn't got he hadn't got anybody in it, you know, some. He had the best long winded scripts that you could possibly imagine. And it's funny because I can remember going to most of the beginning of our sojourn in the desert and saying, you know, you don't need this at NASA. And most of her just sat and listened and looked at me all while and at the end of it, he just gave a little smile at that. I said, but I have a feeling though you're hell bent. You're gonna shoot it all anyway. And that's all I got out of him. And it was a bit the same thing. They shot it on course we'd spent most of our time so most of it away. I have to pause there for a moment. Now we go. We go. On the next round was quite an experience. Also was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for American TV. Michael Caine version And the producer and director was David works. And David is possibly the only guy that I've ever had arguments with in all those people that I've gone. So about cutting. And he has similar ideas about cutting, most most most of them are contrary to whatever the normal approach would be

Unknown Speaker  35:35  

John Shirley  35:39  
he likes to join up dialogue and then just cut some pictures to fit here and there is some some of the things that he wanted to do quite unbelievable.

to my rescue came when we sent a tape to the States. And they remarked on one particular sequence which had been bitten raw, and even then he wouldn't admit it, but we got it back into some sort of, he wouldn't admit that he was not it was wrong. But we got it back. That's what they were getting at was the joining up of everything. And we've got it back for a little more sameness. I wouldn't say it was right. But we also there was a thing on that picture was that the transition, I mean, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the first thing you think, obviously, transition of the person. And I had the longest interview I've ever had for a picture when I went to see David, and we touched on all sorts of things. Naturally, the transition came up, he says, You have nothing to do. I said, no cuts, he said it, I have that this man and is going to be done all in one shot, you will see it all happened gradually. And it was marvellous. Unfortunately, David believed all this. And he timed it out and showed me how he would react. He didn't take the normal precaution of having at least an experiment with it or seeing anything done. But the next classic mistake, left it right to the end and expected it to happen. Naturally didn't. And we have most of the editing time was then spent on the the two transitions one forward and one back. It all had to be extra shooting with there I set a multiple of cuts. I can't believe that anybody could, you know, go with an artist and have him made up as Mr. Hyde expects somebody with

prosthetics matched up at the end. It was quite unbelievable. He he scripted the story, and I think he he did very well was that

he'd worked on it for a long while. But he did very well. There's that but unfortunately, there's just as one Some may. Somebody has sold him this bill of goods. They could do it on a while and it was if you'd seen the some of the attempts it was horrific. Not only was it horrific, but some of them were laughable. You had a face with all the little balloons coming out all over the place. It was unbelievable. Anyway, we because away from that as it were, I left to go into hospital to have an operation. And I was quite pleased to do so. So we then then we'll back with Tony Ruby to be the best which again was the producer was either young, or Robert Taylor.

roughly where are we in time? We're getting fairly recent now. Wow, justice was last year. This must have been the year before three the best must have been 91 I

guess This was even better than the first experience with Tony because they went they went off to Hong Kong for two weeks for location.

Unfortunately, I didn't go but all these two two hour jobs that I do especially those with it is a lot in 20 weeks, which was nice about eight weeks shoot. Trying to think Oh, of course it was dear old Lindsay Wagner again. She was in voice of the hearts. And we also had Tony Hopkins

Yes, he just before he hit the the big time with his son Dr. Lecter he he just drifted through it. I mean, it was unbelievable. It was always enjoyed working with that with Tony the same as I enjoyed working with Guy hamazon people like that. He doesn't say a lot to you. But I feel that there's always more communication than with other people that talk a lot because I suppose it's his the way he shoots you know exactly what he's after. And so to see. And then the last job I did was last year, while justice which again was with Tony one bit.

But with a another producer. And this was great staff, it was it was Wilbur Smith story. And it was tied up with the Italian money. In fact, they were the money. And if you remember September of last year was the big bang. And from that moment on was it hadn't started screaming for it to all go back to Italy's and that's what happened to it eventually I didn't finish the thing. not properly anyway. Pardon me. But I had a call from Tony. They finished it in Italy, and it took them six months, which is exactly what I said would happen. Whereas we would have finished within about four or five weeks of I think I finished about the beginning of October. And we finished it in the middle of November last year. And they didn't finish it until March. I had a call from him. When it went to the states eventually Tribune over the American side of it. We're staggered a gas. And they've read dubbed it over there and reinstated the music because it had all been thrown. And Tony as Shelby said, and he said we corrected some of their mistakes. Because we read literally finished with it as you know, as I went. He said I don't think you'll be too unhappy with with it as it is now. And that's that's the end of the story so far. I don't know if there's any more to come. But if there is might be. Well, you're very welcome sir. But if there is any more to come might be a really good one because I feel as I spent a long, long time on all sorts of no no's, Ted, Ted crap. No Ted.

Alan Lawson  44:00  
I'm going to change the slide.

Alan Lawson  0:05  
JOHN Shirley side five,

John Shirley  0:08  
near culture upset.

Alan Lawson  0:14  
Now let's talk about the changes you've seen in the cutting room since you first started.

John Shirley  0:20  
Ah, I'm glad you mentioned that. There's a lot of different Well, yes. Well, my pet subjects, I was I was, I think the most important change of all has been from optical sound to magnetic. But in a lot of respects, I wish we're back on optical sound because optical sound was a lot more difficult to work with and magnetic. It used to sort out the men from the boys and I think we wouldn't have quite so many people around COVID calling themselves in particular sound at it as if they'd had to work on optical some, because there's

Alan Lawson  1:01  
Brian Langley used to say he said the Trump will

John Shirley  1:03  
the camera man. Yes. Remember?

Alan Lawson  1:06  
He used to say because the trouble with optical sound. You didn't see it until tomorrow.

John Shirley  1:13  
Night sounds ludicrous. But at the same thing, you could read it.

Unknown Speaker  1:16  

John Shirley  1:17  
You got snow, what certain sounds look like.

Alan Lawson  1:23  
The magnetic I mean, obviously is enormous,

John Shirley  1:26  
especially sibilance. on the end of a word, you could tell just by looking at it, you knew you couldn't cut it at a certain point.

Alan Lawson  1:34  
But surely you can do that still on magnetic by rocking?

John Shirley  1:38  
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. But I mean, it's not so easy. Not is perfectly easy. I mean, you fall into it, but it's just that you could you could see it. I can remember when we first had magnetic sound in at Pinewood. They started Harry Miller of all parents, so he must have. He wanted to see the transfer. And we used to have this whole recordings we they bought out a thing called tow recordings, which showed you the mods, as I saw is a rather shadowy thing down the middle of the magnetic that lasted about one or two pictures. And that was when people got used to it, you know,

Alan Lawson  2:27  
that they loved it. What do you think about the spatialization? Really? No, you're dubbing it is and music added?

John Shirley  2:38  
on to it. That's inevitable. You mean having so many? Yes. Well, it's inevitable. I mean, the, the thing has grown so much, that if you're going to have the turnaround as you thought to, from a financial point of view, you you've got to go along with it. In fact, I think we started that at Pinewood because we had meetings, they wanted to improve the turnaround of pictures because of the amount of time money was invested, you know, and they were paying on it. How could they improve this? And more or less already, every picture they had got two web editors on it. And we said this was the way to do it.

Alan Lawson  3:39  
Do you think that judging by the results do you think that's legitimate? They have to dummy?

John Shirley  3:45  
Oh, yes, yes. As far as I'm concerned, I mean, if you've got the right guy as the number one yeah. They will split it up in such a way each one may not do it the same way but they will split it up in such a way with the people that they know to do a specific job that then you won't you won't see the joiners it all comes out as well. the only the only thing is I think that is created one or two people that they think months have arrived on the picture and they've split it up they they don't do very much else after that. Do you know what I mean that they they think sit back and wait. Oh yes. Yes. No names no petrol. But

Alan Lawson  4:37  
now the The other thing too on web techniques. It comes again, one used to have to go to the go back to the top.

John Shirley  4:47  
Oh, you mean every real? Yeah. Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll. Yeah, that's that speeded things up in those yesterday, right. I mean, what would what would happen today if you've got all the tracks that you have a Even though you're on magnetic so that you can pre mix and have your premix immediately available. What would happen if you you couldn't rock and roll? No idea because I mean, in those days, it used to be a real nail biter, too, you know, and you might only have six or eight tracks in those days, but it would be a real nail biter to get to the end of the reel without somebody making a mistake, and having to go back and study. Well, yeah, we all we used to pick up. But even then you had to run down to do it. Whereas today, they can press a button on run down to a specific point in next to no time. Well, that's a theatrical improvement rather than an editing thing.

Alan Lawson  5:46  
Yes, I did. Yes. It's

John Shirley  5:47  
a good technical. Yeah. Mechanical.

Alan Lawson  5:50  
Do you think

the the technique of editing has changed very much?

John Shirley  6:03  
I said, I don't I don't think so. Really, because to me, I adapt to whatever picture I'm doing. You haven't got a set style. I mean, my my favourite quote is, there's only one rule. Right? No rules. That's all finished. Because the likes of David Ritz at once. I always do. For the birds, in my estimation, you're going to use your imagination, your brain, your, your feeling about whatever might or might not be a problem. And how you tackle it. I mean, I think editing generally is more Pacey now than it used to be. I mean, you can go to sleep watch an old film sometimes. But some. It was a it wasn't noticeable in those days. I mean, it is only now.

Alan Lawson  7:13  
Well, the tempo is slow one day. Really?

John Shirley  7:16  
Yes, that's true. Absolutely.

Alan Lawson  7:19  
And I suppose in a way, this is probably why, you know, mixes have gone well, not completely

John Shirley  7:27  
lazy. I mean, cowboy pictures were always very slow, and get real used to nothing. Now, I think that these rather than the editing technique, I think it's the advance of the special effects. which in itself has caused a difference in the editing, if you like, because it's, it's nearly all very visual excitement. He used to have visual excitement years ago, but not to the same extent, nor did nor were the special effects of such. I mean, some of them are absolutely wonderful today.

Alan Lawson  8:17  
earlier on, you were talking about the strength of music coming out and swapping.

John Shirley  8:25  
That's on TV today.

Alan Lawson  8:27  
to certain extent, one finds this occasionally, I find on films, but maybe because they've been made for television.

John Shirley  8:35  
Because unless you're really up with the industry it's very difficult to discern, to draw the line. But I I had loads the and I think the BBC are the worst perpetrators of this. Someone discovered the audience track and to my mind, they lay on so badly and the people doing it they haven't very much idea at all. It's it's as soon as they think that the scene is dying or something like that. So some they have to have a ridiculous giggled in it or something like that. They do far better to leave it alone. in my estimation, anyway. I hate whereas if you listen to an American sitcom situation, they will have the the audience there, but in most cases, it's for real. It's not laid on. In most cases, it's for real because they shoot a lot of it with an audience and it's natural. The and they certainly don't some of this shows I As soon as the line, you know, you can almost see it on a synchronizer. If you laid tracks for it, you could see see another line, and I go straight to our like that, right at the top of the model doesn't build anything, and then it's off again ready for the next line analysis. Let's talk

Alan Lawson  10:25  
about producers.

John Shirley  10:27  
When I think music has this, we're talking about dramas now, feature films. It has such an important part to play and will do wonders for your pictures. They made a couple of comments earlier, I can give you dozens were various films have been made literally by the music track because it has become so popular. And, again, I think the Americans are far better at it than we are. Although we've got some good composers, but I'm not so sure that they know how to put it on. As the Americans do, they seem to have a knack of finding the right

Alan Lawson  11:22  
spots. Because we did have that neck work just kind of really during the war and just towards the just after the war. We did have you know,

John Shirley  11:33  
well, I would have said that was probably the heyday of our pictures. Yeah. Below when the picture was brought Biddle went and there was a 400 foot section. And in the middle of it, there was one line on this orchestra was was Bo Matheson. It was out right up to this line, you've got the one line the space for the one line and falls out again straight, so fabulous. That was that was carcinomas pride. Sorry.

Alan Lawson  12:15  
That one thing. Yeah, one thing I forgot to ask you getting back into the kind of on the technical things was the introduction of the tape, joiner.

John Shirley  12:26  
Tape joiner great.

Alan Lawson  12:29  
greatest thing since sliced bread?

John Shirley  12:31  
Well, if you I think you asked me earlier about some of the equipment and I said, Yes, it was the old black Spyglass movie room, he always had a silent head alongside for matching. Well, nobody has a solid head anymore because they've got a type join as I always do is have a go. And if it doesn't work, they try something else. There's no blank frames.

Alan Lawson  13:00  
Yes. And that was a wonderful invention. Absolutely.

John Shirley  13:03  
I tend to favour the Italian one, too, is a lot of lightly Americans say some, the American puts a lot more tape over the joy and over the frame has

Unknown Speaker  13:19  
earlier than the Italian

John Shirley  13:22  
that I'm not sure I'm not sure says

Alan Lawson  13:26  
no. Let's talk about the producers in a general sense. from your experience where they you know, where their friends or foes? Oh,

John Shirley  13:39  
friends. Oh, yes, yeah.

Alan Lawson  13:44  
And pressure from the front office? Did you get much of that? No.

John Shirley  13:51  
No, I don't think so. I've always found that they nearly always say, you know, apart from the bonds, well, yeah, that was literally laid out before you turned a foot you knew exactly when it was due, it was December the 16th. And it was 1000 copies worldwide. You've got to have five black and whites for foreign versions. And so then you work back on that and that's and that's how you end up with a fortnight in which you can't the picture. Finished in sheduled. First, I

Unknown Speaker  14:30  
used to sit down on these things. That was the type of print releases

John Shirley  14:39  
and new say about you know, dabbing arrows. I say nothing, it's impossible. Because if you have a mind to do it, because you if whenever it's needed to do it, you put the man on to do it. To enable them to do that you've got to have it cut by a certain date. And then it becomes, in most cases, persuading the director that he's got as much as he's going to get out of it. Because that's where all the Hangouts when when they start to think about things

Unknown Speaker  15:21  
on the earlier ones, the earlier ones and

John Shirley  15:27  
cut it in Paris because I kept changing their minds. But he was the worst perpetrators. Robert.

Alan Lawson  15:41  
Now, let's let's talk a little bit about directors. I mean, obviously, you must have the odd favourite here and Oh, yes.

John Shirley  15:49  
Several I thought I was rather indicative of that as we went through

Alan Lawson  15:56  
the spread it out as

John Shirley  15:58  
well. As one of my favourites I did the band picture with him was Raul was sharing a fractured jaw because without being in the cotton room at all, but just working with him on the picture. I know it's I've learned so much from him, and, and he was so relaxed, you know? And if every man knew what he was doing, he did I mean, as I said to you, I think when we're going through he never went to rushes. He said, If I don't know what I'm shot now, I never will. He when he never looked through the camera, but it was points in where he wanted it to go. And he knew what they were going I've seen him say to the operator and that's about it.

And I he was he was going to do a picture

I was very lucky I got on with him well, and he said Australia added a picture kit is it will do a picture in that sense. It's very strange. He said salon, which is where David lean went to make track. This was before that. And now it's about the same time coming to think of it. He said we'll do a war picture in in the jungle. He said but we'll do it in black and white. And it will be a newsreel cameraman will shoot it all for real newsreel on and he said it in six weeks. But he did share for fracture jaw. I think the original shedule for that was about 16 or 18 weeks in those days. I think he did it in 10 or 11. You know, sometimes it would be top print was a guy came on to have a small part with Kenny Moore. And his he was very nervous because to him he was working with Kenny Morell, a great American director, you know, he's very nervous and he said can we are we going to rehearse Raul said Oh, shortcut warehouse that Mary and he says you know your lines? Just say yes. And is that Okay boys? All right. He says you can put on your mark there. Is that okay boys, turnover should it cut print? and other bands said Is that it? Because you got nothing else to do? And he said Yeah, sure. It's fine. He said, aren't you gonna go away? No, no, no, no, that's fine. And he looked up to the I was there with his hat. We looked up to the spots on the round. He said Give them a big hand boys. Great kid, as

Alan Lawson  19:24  
you say you say about me? No director not looking over his shoulder in the editing room. Have you had a lot of those who don't

John Shirley  19:31  
know it's a stranger now. I think the worst one I've had for that was Louis. Really?

Alan Lawson  19:36  
Yeah. I thought maybe the television boys by the bloody body

John Shirley  19:42  
on television, but I was really I suppose. I can't think of any of them that lead leads it to a template that to an extent but that was in that was when flatbeds had come in, you know, and we didn't go into this yet.

Alan Lawson  20:00  
As easy as that is

John Shirley  20:03  
but I mean with Lee It was very rarely stopped to do anything I just make a note do it because I don't I don't like unless it's deletions. I don't like making alterations on a flatbed I'd much prefer to do it through a synchronised movie. Guy Rob walls guy Hamilton lewis i enjoyed it. I mean, it's not hard but when he comes in he on reach the sky, he he said to me, he said, I cannot stand looking at my own pictures. Until I know what I'm gonna eat. Until I know what I'm going to see. Otherwise, it all came as a violent shock This is incredible.

Alan Lawson  21:10  
Which, which in the wishing that all the films you've done the one you'd like to be

Unknown Speaker  21:14  
really remembered for? It's got to be charity hasn't really yet. I suppose.

John Shirley  21:21  
It's the only this the only picture that I've worked is I think that I can literally say to the milkman. Oh, yeah. Did Chitty Chitty Bang Did you? Oh, yeah. Everybody knows it. You know? It's like saying you've worked on the wind? Well, yeah. Yeah. Everybody's I mean, it's been on the books, if at least a dozen times. I've said to people say oh, I remember that. When I was a kid I used to, I forget it was somebody that was here recently. Because sooner or later People always ask you what you do or what you did. And then the next the next question is What have you done? You know, you mentioned that and they will they will not? But you know, there's not many pictures you can do that with Really? You can say I worked on James Bond. Or worked on Superman. Incidentally, I'm the only editor that's done both but if you say some memes ago and gum oh yes

there's too far back don't remember if it was the last one or didn't like that

nice that's very few you most people know carry on strange at night Well yes, yes. But again I think it's because it's been on the box so many times

Alan Lawson  22:52  
what I think is really also the title mean nothing just carry on. I mean, I've seen

Unknown Speaker  22:56  
carry on nurses let you see the

Alan Lawson  22:58  
carry on. They accepted all

John Shirley  23:00  
there was some lovely gags and it was one guy coming around he says anyone for water and Kenny Williams just real plants.

And the guy was having his his parts his three piece suite shaved for an operation

regard it was doing it was a piece that we had to cut out said that was

man got his leg up with load weights which were huge ball bearings. All these there's a bit of a riot on the ward and all this comes down a lot. They're all over the floor. And matron walks in says nurse nurse pick up Mr. Dixon's balls

she couldn't say it laughing as we could and we couldn't use it in the picture anyway.

Only about three or gave up after that it was impossible everybody was another strange thing about that picture was that the the artists they didn't use to go back to their dressing rooms. They weren't wander This is still used to lay in bed. If Jerry changed his mind about a shutter and there was everybody was there. At any time I just lay in bed on the bed. Joy. I think I think he's shot that picture on the five weeks. I remember I saw the four and a half of five and a half weeks. And that was part of the reason because there was never any excuse me waiting for

Alan Lawson  25:01  
If you could start with again, would you change?

John Shirley  25:08  
What you mean going for something else? Like architecture? No, I don't think I would. I said, you know, about three or four months at the poly at the beginning of the wall. That was enough for me. I found that there were people, there, most of them a lot older than me. But they had obviously had experience, but they had so much more artistic ability than I had that that that rather put me off.

Alan Lawson  25:48  
But your artistic ability is a different kind of ability.

John Shirley  25:53  
Well, possibly, possibly, but it's not as hard to explain if you could do a sort of elevation of a building site. And the thing in those days was, you do this and you'd put a couple of trees to one side or something like that. And they used to be I can do it to an extent now because I learned it from them, but they had a knack of doing a tree in architectural trees. Like you might do a caricature, you know, artists that do it. And it always looked right mine never did.

Alan Lawson  26:37  
But he wouldn't, he wouldn't want to change,

John Shirley  26:40  
I certainly wouldn't want that thing I would want the changes to I would like to move advanced a little more in the industry,

Alan Lawson  26:48  
which means to be a direct about me.

John Shirley  26:52  
I was very keen about it at one time. And at the time, I was with London management and my mother confessor there sort of business was Pat shard. And she said to me, john, I've got dozens and dozens of directors, they're all out of work. says you never stopped working. Take my advice, don't do it. So if

Alan Lawson  27:22  
that's an interesting point you raised about about an agent. Did you find the agent useful?

John Shirley  27:29  
Not in finding work if the people the number on all the kids in the academy have always asked the same question. I've never, I don't think I've ever had a job put on the plate by an agent

Alan Lawson  27:42  
that gets them to negotiating.

John Shirley  27:45  
Yes, basically, what I think Jerry boy came very largely through London management. I didn't know anything about it and, and they sent me down to see Frank. And that was right at the beginning of my career with London management of I've had about three or four other agents and none of them have ever bought me any work. The other great thing was, I think I told you that I wanted to get off red tent and go and do eight bells tall. That was done beautifully by Pat shard at London management was absolutely no problem to it. And it would have been far more difficult if I had had to do the negotiating myself. But she did the whole thing. I mean, I didn't bat an eyelid. I just packed up in Rome, got your ticket and came back on Monday I started on on the other picture. That's what sort of thing and there was a time on red tent. The money didn't come through every week as it were. But they took they took care of that. But it was it was some fiddle that went on because it used to be a cache thing that went to Hatton Garden, and they had to redo the other series. And they had to, I think send a little girl up to Hatton Garden every now and again when they got a phone call. And they might be three weeks or two weeks old is one of those things where the bagger diamonds. I don't think I was earning that much money. It was it was happening.

Unknown Speaker  29:47  
That's great.

John Shirley  29:49  
Thanks very much. Okay,

Unknown Speaker  29:51  
lovely. Thank you.



John Shirley has more than fifty feature editing credits, many listed below, covering every type of production.

He has worked with – among others – Directors and Producers such as Cubby Broccoli, David Puttnam [BEHP Interview 600], Arthur Hiller, Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert [Interview 386], Alvin Rakoff, Raoul Walsh and J. Lee Thompson.

He has many nominations, including two Emmys and one BAFTA . His credits range over two ‘Bonds’ one ‘Superman’ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Reach for the Sky, Lion of the Desert together with the earliest of the ‘Carry On’ series. He has worked all over the World: USA, Canada, Malaya, North and South Africa, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

behp0301-john-shirley cv/filmography

[NB May be incomplete. DS]

Superman IV

Paradise Postponed (13x 1hr episodes).

King Solomon’s Mines

Hitler’s S.S.


Savage Islands

Experience Preferred but not Essential

P’Tang Yang Kipperbang

Lion of the Desert

City on Fire

Tomorrow Never Comes

Winners II

The Squeeze

The Man with the Golden Gun

Live and Let Die

The Internacine Affair


The Fourteen

When Eight Bells Toll

Red Tent (Italian version)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Dr. Faustus

Drop Dead Darling

Promise her Anything

Joey Boy

Seventh Dawn

I Could Go on Singing

Carry on Nurse (and 9 more pictures for Peter Rodgers/Gerald Thomas)

Sherriff of Fractured Jaw

Carve Her Name with Pride

Seven Thunders

Up in the World

Reach for the Sky

Man of the Moment

Scarlet Spear

Hot Ice

Gathering Storm


Wild Justice (2x2hrs)

To be the Best (2 x 2hrs)

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Michael Caine version)

Out of Time

Voice of the Heart (2x2hrs)