Mike Hodges

Photo provided by Mike Hodges. Copyright ©️nobby clark
Forename/s: 
Mike
Family name: 
Hodges
Work area/craft/role: 
Company: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
429
Interview Date(s): 
3 Mar 1998
6 Apr 1998
2 Jun 1998
Interviewer/s: 
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
461

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Interview
Interview notes

Mike Hodges Interview Notes 

 

Born I932 in Bristol. Father worked for Wills Tobacco. Lived in Yeovil then Salisbury. Mother a Catholic. Sent to Irish Christian Brothers in Bath at age of 7. Escaped at 15. Obsessed by the cinema. Parents disapproved of it. Became articled to an accountant for 5 years. National Service in the navy which alerted him politically. Social education from two years on the lower deck. Iceland fish wars. On release joined Commercial TV. Became a teleprompter. Worked with all television companies. Observed the business and met many people. Artists loved you. Hilarious moments when prompter speeds up. Working from a Welsh script. Started writing during days off. Met Sydney Newman who was looking for a play on euthanasia. Not used but led to other commissions. Scripts for advertising magazines. "Jim's Inn". Through Lloyd Shirley became editor of "Sunday Break" for two years. Description of their nature. Presenters included Polly Toynbee, Gus MacDonald, Joan Bakewell, Richard Lindley etc. Let room in flat to Robert Stigwood. Stigwood commissions him for programme on Stephen Ward with director Jimmy Hill. Programme cancelled. He and Hill make programme on funeral directors. Took the idea to Tim Hewitt at "World in Action". Joined the team. Derek Granger takes over. Working methods. (45'36")

 

End of Side 1.

 

More on working for "World in Action". Radio pirate ships. Pop groups. Freemason programme banned by the Board. Experiences of doing a programme in Vietnam in 1965. Crewing anomalies. Could see the hopelessness of the war. Americans remote from the population. The insanity of the war. Programme on the Chinese outside China.  To the U.S. in 1963 for programme on Skinner and the baby box. Then moved on to a programme on Barry Goldwater. Teamed up with the Maysles brothers. A joyous way of working. American idiosyncracies. Nightmares in Dallas. Times of great paranoia. Interviewed the UAW leaders (Reuther Brothers) in Detroit. Six teams working on "World in Action". Impressions of America. Extremes of poverty. Massive underclass. John Bloom. Vetted by Lord Goodman. After two years moved to "Tempo", arts programme at ABC. Production methods. Used Allan King's Canadian technicians. Accountancy experience useful. Programmes went out on Sunday afternoons. (45'30")

End of Side 2.

 

  • Final remarks on "Tempo". Moved as a team on to another series on crime. Approached Westinghouse for backing, but abandoned project. Devised and produced "Sound and Picture City" for the BBC aimed at young audiences. Clash with Tony Palmer. BBC stole the show from him. Appalling ethics. (Further clash with them in later years on "The  Healer".) Returns to Thames and Lloyd Shirley to make children's series "The Tyrant King". First experience of actors. First filmed drama "Suspect" for ABC. Story behind the production. Followed it up with "Rumour". A flashier film set among rat pack journalists. Backlash when it was reviewed. (45'40")

End of Side 3.

"Get Carter": how it was set up and produced. Meeting Michael Klinger. Barry Cross his agent. Klinger gave him the book "Jack's Return Home." North east milieu familiar from his navy days. From novel to completion of film took 32 weeks. Budget £750000. Michael Caine came on board at script stage. Writer/director fee £8000. Recceeing  locations  with Klinger in his Cadillac. Strong part played by N.E. locations in the film. Influenced by experiences from "World in Action". How he chose Wolf Suschitsky to shoot it. A gentle man for a violent film. A very smooth and satisfying film. Michael Caine a true professional. His directing style. Learning all the time. "Get Carter" very successful commercially and critically. Next film "Pulp". Original script this time. Based  on the Montesi scandal.  How the story evolved. Its relationship to "Get Carter". Different shooting style. A happy experience. Mafia prevented it being shot in Italy. Chose Malta instead. Great cast. (45 mins)

 

End of Side 4.

 

Audience and critic reactions to "Pulp". Financial differences. Left Klinger. Importance of relationship  with producer,  nursing projects.  Goes to Los Angeles in 1973 and  makes "The

u Terminal Man" from Michael Crichton novel. Studio gave him full creative control. The American way of death. Choice of shooting style without colour and only a piano score.

Influence of Edward Hopper. A very successful film for him. Differences between working with actors and stars. Contrasts in working methods between British and American crews. Joy of working in studio conditions. Uninfluenced by but not constrained by locations. Worked with storyboards for the first time. The story of "Holiday Magic" weekends. Embraced extreme capitalism. The cutting edge of materialism. Contrasts between American and British attitudes to living. Became a script called "Mid-Atlantic". A black comedy. Too subversive for Warner Brothers. Still trying to get it made. (45 mins)

 

End of Side 5.

 

Next assignment: "Omen II". Producer Harvey Bernhard neurotic about money. Fascination with Chicago. Problems with people on the production. Leaves the film after two weeks. Returns to UK and meets Dino de Laurentis. Persuaded to direct "Flash Gordon". Art director Danilo Donati. Terrified of the extravagance of it all. Tries to escape. Decided to relax his approach to survive. Organised lunacy. Had to improvise all through. Great enjoyment directing it. How he handled Dino, who took his films totally seriously. (41 mins)

 

End of Side 6.

 

More on Dino de Laurentis.  "Blood & Thunder",  a script for Vanessa  Redgrave.  Script on a secret comedienne. ("Say Goodnight Lilian, Goodnight"). Never shot. Echoed by film "Punchline". Missed the protection of a good producer. Divorce. Made "Missing Pieces" in for CBS in U.S. Strict censorship in American TV in those days. Illness interrupted shooting of "Buried Alive". Never paid. Hit rock bottom. Revived by shooting "Squaring the Circle" by Tom Stoppard. Voytek Romain designed. How is was made for Southern Television. Synthetic sea. Holding American contribution at bay. Success in U.K. Fulminates at dreadful music for U.S. version. (45'20")

End of Side 7

 

Final comments on American version of "Squaring the Circle". US version never shown. Never told of awards it won. Working with Federico Fellini. The Italian way of making films. A family affair. Directing  styles. Making "WGOD" for Home Box Office in the US. A delightful experience. "Morons From Outer Space" with Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones. Difficulties of working with television orientated people. Stuck with it to completion. "Florida Straits" for HBO, shot in Shelby, North Carolina. Brought over British crew. (45'50")

End of Side 8.

 

Creating Cuba in North Carolina. Pantomime performance on production. Eccentric studio owner: Earl Owensby. Starred in his own films, only shown in the Carolinas. A mad but enjoyable experience. "A Prayer for the Dying", on retired IRA man, shooting in London. Accent problems on production. Editing problems. Libel actions all round. How he developed "Black Rainbow". (46 mins)

End of Side 9.

 

More on "Black Rainbow". Shot in North Carolina. A joyful experience. Goldcrest very good. The changing face of Charlotte NC. Appalling press release. "Messages in bottles". Launched on film festival circuit. Latest film "Croupier", written by Paul Mayersberg. Overtones of Pirandello. Loss or presence when films shown on TV. Reviews his career. How film making has changed. Lacked a real producer. The changing generations. (39'10")

 

End of Side 10.

Transcript
Biographical

Mike Hodges  is an English screenwriter, film and tv  director, playwright and novelist. His films as writer/director include Get Carter(1971), Pulp(1972),  The Terminal Man(1974),  and Black Rainbow(1989); as director, his films include Flash Gordon 1980), A Prayer for the Dying (1987), Croupier (1998) and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003).

He  worked in television in the 1960s, producing and directing hard-hitting tv documentaries for World in Action  Grenada TV,  then making profiles of European directors for the arts series Tempo  on ITV.

Mike  wrote and directed two television thrillers, Suspect (ITV, tx. 17/11/1969) and Rumour (ITV, 2/3/1970)

His theatre plays include Soft Shoe Shuffle (1985) and Shooting Stars and Other Heavenly Pursuits (2000), which was adapted for BBC radio. Other radio plays include King Trash (2004). His first novel, Watching The Wheels Come Off, was published first in French by Rivagse/Noir (Quand Tout Se Fait La Malle) in 2009 then in English in 2010. In 2018 his trio of novellas ('Bait', 'Grist' & 'Security') was published by Unbound. A pdf copy of  Mike Hodges filmography/cv complied by Rodney Giesler is below.

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