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Time Code 00:00:00:00 to 00:45:46:00
Ossie Morris Side 1
I worked I worked on was the Morris lighting camera and interview laws on this recording is the copyright of this recording is vested in the ACTT history project. Side one. Ozzy.
When were you born where I was born on November the. 2nd 1915 at a little place called Ruislip in Middlesex My mother and father had a lttle newsagents and tobacconists shop which is still there to this day. And. Ruislip then is a little village I mean there are a few shops by the station. There are a few shops that far end of the town of course now it's a continuous mass of. Suburbia in those days it was very much a little country place. What kind of schooling was good I think that's very interesting because there was no school all in. In Ruislip and the age of five I had to go on the train which was the Metropolitan line to west Harrow. To a school there. And. In those days of course there was no school lunches so I had to come home for lunch and go back in the afternoon and my mother was terrified of this and again I had. An older girl of about seven they used to escort me when I first started. And. My brother who's two years younger than me. He started when I was seven and I remember being terrified having to look after my brother who couldn't have cared less. The age of five I mean if you if he didn't go to West Harrow went on to Baker Street now I wouldn't have worried in the least but it worried me at the age of nine.
They opened a school in Ruislip. I was transferred back to that and my father was very worried because he thought that change of schooling without upset any chance that I might have of going in for the 11 plus exam at the time. Him and. He spoke to headmaster the news called and we happened to know him ask to get some extra homework to do which was very good and. I managed to apparently pass the 11 plus and from Ruislip I went to what was then known as Uxbridge county's school. Now that only survived in the present building it is a place called the Greenway in Uxbridge which is still there as a sshool but they say they've bought a big mansion up the hill by Hillingdon church called Bishops Holt and they opened a big school there and two terms after I went there this will be 1927. We moved up to Bishop's Holt. So again there was a disturbance so a sort of three times in my early career I had to change schools and I know my mother and father. We're very worried about that but Bishop's Holt was a magnificent closed lovely school and. I suppose I was pretty dull as long. As a small lad I mean I was in a in a in a range of 1 to 10 10 being the brilliant one worst I suppose you put myself at a shady four or four and a half no more than that I really wasn't very good at school I was I like athletics I go to the soccer team the cricket team and we had running you know races and I did all that sort of thing school sports cross country so I was very good at that but we were forced to go across country and usually came in about the last but two or three when the winners that packed up and gone home and I was still trying to get home during that time I somehow became interested in film.
And I want to handle film on. And I can remember in the art classes that we used to have Bishop's Holt if we ever have to do posters I would try and do a poster of the Cinema or film project I wanted to do with draw film with the variable density soundtrack I didn't understand that they are there and I've always done my drawings do variable density soundtrack and. I was absolutely fascinated. Well my father got to know about this and we had a cinema built in the village a little eight hundred seater Ruislip live. And my father got to know the manager in the projectionist and we also found out as Indeed I'm sure a. Lot of the older people remember they used to change the program every Monday and Thursday and there was no Sunday showing in those days.
Another Monday morning and Thursday morning the manager used to run the new film which is a supporting program to make sure everything was alright. My father asked the manager and indeed the projectionist both who knew whether I could maybe go out there for these rehearsals during my school holidays and they said yes. I thought this was quite marvellous to go out into the projection room of a local cinema and helped around this film now when I first started because I was allowed to touch anything in those days the arcs were hand fed and gradually I was allowed to hand feed the arcs wasn't there any change it was running all through the film. But it helped projectionist because he could be winding the reels from the cans and on to spools well that the machine was running it he was in the next room because as fire precaution and I could just watch it and if anything happened I could call in and I helped him with the changeover because used to mark the film with colour on the outside and I would watch the finishing projector and within the first few came out the same mode they'd start the other motor only connect the two dowsers with this string and then he flipped them over when I started over. And change machines and I thought this was all marvellous and gradually I was allowed to do a little bit more of that and occasionally they let me thread the film so I was there is very lucky. I think my interest was more in that and there ever was in school when I was 16 we all went in for our O levels and I think I got from one of the I got five I know which was less of a I didn't get the three compulsory one. I think I got a French much to my French mistresses amazement she said god if Maurice can pass in French it must have been an easy paper. I remember that very vividly and. I have to say I got five but I think one of them was art which didn't count how I missed one of the compulsories I think I got a maths alright I think it was in English. I wasn't very good English and you have English Lit training grammar so I missed out of that but I left school at 16 because I was absolutely dead keen on getting into a film studio.
Now I thought I was going to be easy. I got home and I used to come home and I'd write all these letters to the studio. I must have written. 10 or 20 all the various duties I got to know who to write Bertie's e was at Denham although I never met her he was one I wrote to and Bill Haggis at Elstree I wrote too.
I forget who was in charge of B and D the time I know Freddie Young was photographing which I talk about in the moment but I wrote all the studios and I got several replies back saying thank you for your letter. We haven't anything at the moment but will bear your name in mind and I thought how marvellous This is I mean they're all going to be online in mind. Well gradually the penny dropped because after I got about seven or eight of these replies back realizes that I'm just being fobbed off this will be July or August of 1932 and I began to feel depressed. Now my parents were could ill afford to have me on their hands at home because I say you know they don't have Much money but I carried on writing to the studios and at home and I morale began to drop of some. I thought something must come only in one day or the end of September. I know I heard about Wembley Studios which weren't very big studios. They were known as associated sound film industries and I wrote to a man called Wilson the chief engineer he was. And to my surprise and absolute delight I got a reply back saying what I'd like to come you might have something for me. Well I couldn't wait to get to Wembley. I got on the train as fast as possible I made a point and when it's off he really said well we probably got a vacancy for you want to go and the camera department. Yes. He said Well I think we could fit you out. But he said we can't afford to pay you any money. So I said is that a problem. So I said Well. I have to talk to my parents. I hope it won't be a problem but he said well if you have if you don't think will be a problem you can certainly start. But he said what we will do if we work late we'll give you one and threepence for your supper . And I said what you and I said no if I'm going to talk to my parents. When we start he says you can start this was safely on Wednesday so you could start next Monday if you like so I said well I'll go home and I'll ask them and I'll telephone your secretary. I went home spoke my mother. Father and I must say they were quite mild because they really couldn't afford not to have the money. They said I could start.So I started and I in those days you were you may recall if you travelled on the train before 7:30 you got a workman's ticket and a workman's ticket was a different colour of the eye it was a pink ticket and you were considered to be sort of socially inferior if you travelled on a. Ticket I mean the local fishmonger went to the market to buy fish under a workman's train and the bricklayers and the builders and of course I went and it was alright going because everybody had a pity but it was coming home and when you mix with the city I can remember trying to pass the ticket in my hand so the man coming out behind me didn't seed I've gone out on the working train. I can remember that very very vividly. Well I started and the picture was called Born lucky it was directed by Michael Powell produced by Jerry Jackson and photographed by a camera man who went out of my life very early on called Frank or Peter Goodliffe. I can't remember which one it was Frank or Peter GoodliffeI think you did. Goodliffe first week in that studio I thought it was quite marvellous. Jerry Jackson I was slightly out of my life because he always wore a cap. He was American and he had a loud voice and you know being a young schoolboy I wasn't used to this. And he used to shout at me because I was always in the way apparently I wasn't allowed to put the board in. I was only allowed to go get the tea for them. And invariably that was all wrong I mean I got the wrong things and. I never got the money I mean I lost money hand over fist under the teaspoonful Mandira. I made up for that afterwards on the whole no but I did lose a lot of money on that. But the first week in that studio I shall never ever forget. I saw that I must say I thought it was quite marvellous being in the studio just to be around the set. Even though I was being called out right left and centre I thought it was quite wonderful to be there and. We never finished shooting till the last train. For the whole week because in those days it was a quote a quickie and at Wembley they made a one film per week the cost of the film was a pound of foot and they tried to get an 8000 foot film out of that studio every week and it had to finish on the Saturday so the new crew could start on the Monday as a new crew the new film because the same crew carried on I mean it was quite crazy. And I caught the last train home. Monday Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday and on the Friday morning as usual word got around we were going to carry on working all night because we had to finish the film. Well the camera assistant I think was Jeff Talbott was then called yet although he was quite an old man. I think it was t a l b e r. Jeff Talbott he lived at Wembley. He was quite old and he was very kind to me and said to people Look we can't play this lad work all night. We must do something about it so they said fine they put me in a cafe. Asked if there was a cafe right opposite Wembley studios and I worked about ten o'clock and they arranged a room over there and I went over into the cafe and I can remember it very vividly because my bedroom was right over the siding of the good yard of Wembley station and they were shunting trucksall night long and I was in a strange room strange bed I tell you I wasn't coming home I had nothing to wash with no matter didn't care how I didn't really care I was just I was near a studio. And I got up next morning went and had breakfast at and then went to the studio and there they were they were still shooting and the only union of any consequence of having any muscle in those days was electricians and their only power was in the fact that they had to have a meal break every five hours sleep didn't matter that wasn't catered for so many hours off the clock there was nothing that they had to have a meal break every five hours so you started at 8 in them on the Friday we started eight in the morning break for lunch at 1:00 start again at two break at 6am start at 8:00 at night go until 1:00 in the morning break til two to go until 7:00 in the morning and it just went on and on like that. There was no ACT or anything in those days and so I went back on the Saturday and they were still shooting and we carried on and I think we finished the film about four o'clock in the afternoon and I caught a train and went home. Now that was my first week and I've had five one and threepenes of old money. And I thought that was quite remarkable and I'd. Been in the field you know for a week and a felt on cloud nine and started the next week with another film. And that went on not quite as hectic as that one and that was probably one of the worst but they were all. Pretty hectic. And occasionally there was a week when they had and they couldn't produce a movie every week they couldn't find enough stories for that went on from October 1932 till the spring of 1933 and the company was called associated sound film industries. And George Pollock who became a very famous assistant director was an accountant there and Norman Nests whom. I'm sure you all knew in the film industry who were in the army was in the top office he was a sort of fairly senior company secretary or something because it was a Dutch company that owned it and then called Van Dam lie thing and where there was anything to do with the man the Raymond review but I you remember the Windmill sorry.
It might have been something to do with him I don't know but it was said that a company that owned it and there was a man called Jones who was a studio manager who became quite a legendary figure and was there over.
Many many years after that until. Well I think. Or the studio packed up or he died.
So the studio closed in the spring of 1933. But now I'm back to square one. Now what can I do I thought well I'm not going to start writing all these letters because I know that my father had a little car and said well if I wanted to borrow it I could go over to Elstree the IP.
So I used to borrow it once a week on a Thursday and go over to Elstree and I managed to talk my way into the studio and get into Bill Haggis office who was in charge of the cameras there. Bill used to give me the most cold and icy reception could stand in his offfice for ages and he'd come in the door and go out and go over there and come back and ignore me totally. But I persevered.
And I didn't take no for an answer and I'd say you know have you got any work no phone nothing sweet home I go next week I go in one of them finally I went in one one day and he still treated me the same way and I thought well this is this is it you know nothing and I just kept going to old by the way I think that's something for you. I said really he said yes but he said it starts on on a Monday.
Can you start Monday he started new before he s He said it doing clappers in court yet said. You only pay two pounds a week. But alright I quite thought two pounds a week. Marvellous I said all yes it'll be fine I said Okay start monday two pounds a week. Clappers on Boston time now are. I would get 12 straight from my home in Ruislip I had to get the famous workmen's from Ruislip to Wembley Park. No two were to Willesden Willesden Green it was a trolley bus I think to Hendon Central and then it was a train from Henderson central to Elstree and then about a five minute walk from our Elstree down to the studios now that's going nobody the same thing coming home at night. Anyway you can imagine all my £2 went on fares no matter what I did and getting a bit of food. But I was working at Elstree and it was a really big picture it was directed by Paul Stein. Arthur Catterick? photographed Brian Langley was operating the Noel Rowlands was assistant and I was the clapper boy and. Frank Catham? first assistant director. And again Paul Stein I was terrified after the miserable and so he always wore a hat he was always griping nothing was ever right. He moaned all day Arthur Catterick quiet lacked. He was Czechoslovakia a cameraman but he was brought in to be IP and was considered to be a tough man there and I found myself on what was really the top unit there because the other units were doing Leslie Fuller pictures. Walter Summers was over a. Year. Or. A. Year old.
I think Jimmy Wilson was over there. And. The old Jack Parker was working over there as well.
Joe Grossman was the studio man with his famous twitch a man called Sergeant Seymour was on the front door I was terrified of. And there were these the sort of things work I mean and there was in the art department director was David Rawnsley.
I David Rawnsley had a most terrible time he built the most wonderful sets for this picture and he got nothing but stick from Paul Stein and. It really did do all wonderful wonderful chart and the sets were quite lovely but nothing was ever right you Paul Stein was a right old gripe and. I felt very sorry for David Rawnsley who threatened to leave the picture several times but this. We didn't work the long hours then we work at 7:00 or 8:00 at night so I was able to get home and it was in the summer and I didn't really care.
It. Bunny Frankie who became the established camera operator. In Demham during the war years when I was in the Air Force was held as an interpreter. And that's how Bunny Frankie got into the industry through interpreting for Talbot whose English wasn't very good and it was only later that I heard that he got into Denham and. His rise to fame was quite meteoric and while we were all in the. War I think. Bunny leapt up you know very highly in the technical field and I was always a bit. Peeved about that because I felt he'd taken an unfair advantage on us but something happened afterward and I think he died and. I can't remember but. Can you remember now.
But he went out of the industry I think it is. I think you die somewhere. Anyway back to BIP. Blossom Time I enjoyed Blossom Time very much in the.
There was in the other studios there was an up and coming director called Arthur Woods who everybody spoke very highly of and Claude Friese-Green was photographing his films and there was the young operator of private operator working for Claude called Ronnie Neame you need a ride he had a little Peugot car and he lived 20 Rose walk in Radlett. And I got to know Ronnie and became quite friendly with Ronnie although we weren't on the same unit and. I can remember Ron is claim to fame was that he insisted on getting the clapper boy made up and the clapper boy was the son of the chief plumbr a young boy called me young. And sadly he he was killed during the war.
But this boy Young was always seen going around studio in full makeup and he was a clapper and I could never run in the son who was a gag rather than just an Arthur Woods well I have this terrible gag on this clapper boy I thought God would have ever happened to me don't know waht I'll do.
While though. Also at that time we had a man and a right old misery called Bill Law who was in the chief loading room and we all had to take our magazines because I did the ball but no no magazines were reloaded except in the central loading room. We took the magazines into Bill Law and I mean you know there was a panic on the floor and they wanted another one very quickly we were using our shorties and you said this to Bill to make a gown but the difference Bill would just go a speedy one. And he keep you waiting in that loading room and you go back on the stage and get the most terrible bollocking because you're late you know where they're literally you know we were filming and you can't turn around so well Bill Law wouldn't do anything about it because either you know Bill Law down my neck so you were on a hiding to nothing. But in that loading room was another. I met another clapper boy who had a very immaculate suit partner and always wore a suit and his name was Jack Hilgarde and that's where Jack started here.
Apparently I found out only recently that Jack was served in a in a shirt makers or somewhere in Jermyn street in his younger days and got to know somebody in the industry who had their shirts made there and were expressed a desire to get in the industry and this person got him into Elstree and as far as I know Jack was getting two pounds a week because I don't think anybody got more than that. And Jack had these lovely suits and with all your dressing in virtual rags compare what Jack and I can remember meeting him there. Dave Harcourt I'm in there for the first time and we all work together because we were all in the same way. Good loading of taking magazines to and from the central loading room. Brian Langley was very good with me I have to tell you that until recently Brian doesn't even remember that I was on the film and I had to produce photographs of he and I in the same photograph of blossom time before I realized this but I this was Brian before married Phil. She was in the makeup department and Brian used to call me Osbert but and he said Osbert . Where's the tea. And I'd say Well you Osbert get the tea we want the teas so I leave the board go get them. Furthermore I come back on stage and I bring this to you thinking how they can browse ask but where have you been. He said the board look that we've done three takes you one around you job is to be on the floor. So I said well I'll go get the tea. You don't get the tea when we're shooting. So I couldn't win it didn't matter what I believe was always wrong. And. But Brian was very good because you obviously was a bit lethargic and a bit stupid and a bit thick and Bryan. I shall never forget I mean I didn't mind this and I think he did me a world of good. You did give me a rather I respect very much call you I think. Anyway that went right through Blossom Time and then in the next picture we worked together and was called the same crew after injury. Brian Noel Romans and myself called Mr Sinny? with the Western brothers and Clifford Mullis and directed by Fred Zelnick? they'll make and. That was totally different. Fred was a nice fat lovable man and all went well in until suddenly they wanted a second camera. And by then they knew me well enough and Brian's said Osbert. You're on a second camera tomorrow. Go and see Bill Hagget?and get a camera. Can I go now.
I knew by then I got to ask a Brian said Yes go on go off now or go over to Bill Hackett and said they want a second camera tomorrow. Bill and I'm to look after it can I can have a camera and he gave me a cinephon I've never seen a cinephon in my life before. Brian had a lovely vinten . Model 8 and I mean it was really a lovely camera to look through and everything.
Brian had gear head only one I knew worked with a gear head and I go out and I get a Cinephon and I get this old camera he must have got it out of the ditch or out of the yard he was awful terrible old camera and. There was a. Eddie Headman? an assistant Eddie Headman is Normal Headwell? was there. I got friendly with him and I said you know the Eddie Headwll it is a year before I said it one do we do with it he said well this is all you'll get out of Bill this is this is what I think he gives you. So I said but look there's no scale on the mount or anything he's nothing if there is one I cannot work with him you see about that. See if you can get another camera went to Bill us to beller about this camera but there's no scale on the lens for a mounting. He said With what do you think the eye piece used for. Look through the bloody eyepiece an focus because that's the way to do it if so I thought God go on the floor with the second camera and I've got to ask for Western brothers to keep still why I eye focussed on that. Anyway that's the way we work at it. No there was no scale on any of those old cameras only on the ones that. Were used on the first unit. And we went on the floor and there was a blimp for this thing. Oh it was just as big as the Technicolour and a three headed and I think I was given Ronnie Shears? I think it was run this year he would have been tough. That was an operator and we needed the second unit and the terrified the life out of me but I got no more money for that. Still two pounds a week that I was actually working the camera and I also remember that I during that time I used to take the films the labs the labs were in the studio grounds and they were run by two men call Parfree? and Gary Alderson Gary Alderson I know went eventually to Denham laboratories what happened to our old Parfree? I don't know but we take the film over there and I collect the report in the morning and I'll never forget the report the report was a printed form which at the top would have a production number and so on and the name of the film and then we had to printed the headings and then a long white space underneath and the two printed Headings said you're negative matches the previous day's work or your negative is different from the previous day's work and they'd crossed off whichever applied. And then there was a whole lot. Of blank space for all the complaints about scratches out of focus unsteadiness you name it that was all put down at the bottom and those of the counties have to remember there's very few of them. I used to go and coloured every day and take that to Arthur Cantry? . Also one other little story which I've forgotten. I was sent every Friday to collect Arthr Cantry?checks. Now you know the BIP when renowned for meanest and you know you couldn't get a group meaner than that lot were and I used to go out for a Arthur Cantry? check and they would truly mean to put in an envelope. They gave me his check and it was£60. He was getting £60 a week in 1933. That's a heck of a lot of money and I used to bring this cheque and give it to him on this on the floor. They wouldn't put in an envelop They simply let them know that was that was a waste of a envelope. I can remember that little story very vividly after Mr. Cinders We went on to a picture called As all Damned? of that and Brian got promoted and we have another operator. And that's where our first met Alf Black. Alf Black came on in Brian's place Brian was given the job of lighting a film and Noel Rolands who disappeared out of the industry I think after during the war came after that and then we during the war and again it was with. As all Damned? with Paul Stein
Neil's Asdra? in the LDS Church I think because his name was the star of it and there are several German. Actors in it and. Then this game was David Rawnsley and that was my first introduction to shuftem?. Now you remember the Shuftem process was you had a model. At the side of the camera and a mirror 45 degrees in front and you. Either model or a painting you projected that onto the mirror and into the lens and the mainset was used to take ages to do this and some of those stages at Elstree they used to put tarps on roofs and ceilings on sets under.
A That was my first introduction and they scraped the reflection of the mirror away they had a complete mirror then they scratched the silver and they got that should be impressive as was mentioned. Thats right well they did quite a lot of that.
As all Damned and that was my first introduction and that will be 1933. And. While this was going on. Wembley studios opened up again and. They offered me a job back there. They got in touch with me as to what I'd like to go back as a first assistant at Wembley studios for. And I said well how much is five pounds a week. I thought five pounds a week for Wembley studio. This is like winning the pools is only going to be marvellous if I can do that. Then I thought How the heck do I get out of Elstree you see. So I decided I was going to go back to Wembley in the middle of. As all Damned. And I went and I told Alfie Black. You know I was thinking of leaving enough of this job he told Arthur Cantry? and we had to give a week's notice in those days no more no less. And about that wednesday of the week that I was due to leave. I got a moment notes summoning me to see Stapleton Stapleton's after Stapleton was yet another person I was terrified of. I think I was always terrified of people wore hats Because stay put and always wore a trilby hat we had when you walk around the stages and in fact I found out he wears it is office he does never take it off and I gata his art is and I am summoned in and there is hat at least this writing so.
He didn't say you know who I was his secretary did push me in the door and shut the door and I was absolutely terrified he said. An idea leaving us so a simple word for out there A Well I've I've earned. Why are you leaving us so I started I've been off offered. Another job where even after the job. Quit or Wembley studios. While hell you want to go to Wembley when you can stay here or whether it's much nearer my home and I've got a lot of fares and it's costing me a lot to come over here. How much are they going to pay you. So I said £5 a week so. Five pounds a week he said. No camera assistant on this earth is worth five pounds a week. He said I give you three pounds. Take it or leave it. So I still. Have a. Look. I think I was getting two pounds ten then it's going to be injured as well so I think I must take the other job because if you did let me finish the sentence said get out of this office and I never want to see you again and I went out of office so fast and I was so scared.
I went back. Down on the floor and I told Alfie Black and I told them Arthur Cantry that I was leaving and I must read about it and I started back at Wembley then following Monday this would be 1934. £5 a week as an assistant now by that time as Fox as taking the studio and that the famous well-known Al Parker Parker's claim to fame was he was the director. They formed a agency and later on. His claim to fame was he directed Douglas Fairbanks senior in the black pirate. Al Parker was a typical tough rugged slick American director who used to ball the life out of the actors and actresses just like any caricature you might have the film rather like Gregory Ratoff used to but I managed to. Handle Al Parker and I got quite a large team and the like me and. We got quite a rapport at Wembley. They also had two units going there then because. Of. That. But they felt that it was a too much expecting one unit to do a film all week. We had so many people going sick so we had two units and we alternated in films.
Now what I did and Eric Cross was still there I met Eric also did me very cross in my first stay at Wembley in the to draw Frank Goodliffe? area but I didn't know Eric very well but. I Eric was still there but. They needed other cameramen and people like Stanley Grant Arthur Crabtree Alex Price and then Ronnie Neame came in there and they all used that as a sort of training ground and they did a couple of these little quoted films either of my crew or another crew around and during those two or three years that. Fox I was promoted from assistant to operating. But what we did was. We alternated one picture I was allowed to operate and the assistant would assist then the next picture. He would operate and I would assist we insisted we do this but it was it was quite a good training and we had De Brie cameras directly look through cameras and they were super Parvo De Bries . And I remember they were murder on the eye because we had no other.
Though we had clear based film when it started which was more us to look through but then they got they brought out grey back film. During that period and it was almost impossible to look through these cameras and we used to go around with a black velvet over our right eyes practically all day because suddenly working very fast as they right lets shoot and you have to look through the camera leave your I've been looking at the lights you couldn't just look through and I can remember that very very vividly and it didn't in my right eye good I must say. But they were they were very good cameras for. Quota quickies because you didn't have to set view finders. Only problem was you never knew whether the mark was right and your throwing line or not you have to watch carefully. You've got no warning that whether is coming in or not of course you don't. Now days anyway with direct look through cameras but with a side view finder you could always watch out the viewfinder and spotting if he's getting a bit close but you couldn't with De Bries The man in charge of it. De Bries there was a man called Shatzow it's a J said O W and his London representative was Mr fuzhowasky stuff was he asking and we'd have a lot of trouble with focus with those De Bries there was a ball went through a quadrant on the top of the lens and the slightest strain on that ball could throw the whole lens out of focus and we are going to have a lot of focus travel and they always say Howziosky? come down there he said the mechanic over from France and the Mr Gragy Well I remember all these names I can't remember the reason I'd like to remember those people. Another thing I remember about the super parvo was that whenever you tipped it down. Of oil poured out of the sump it had a sump underneath it and there was a little oil chamber on the top it was a form of lubrication which worked fine long as the camera was horizontal. The minute it down are used to drip out if you were very careful that used to get on the film was a great problem. But when I worked we De Bries then. From that time both operating and assisting until the Munich crisis when the studio closed down. Now other people whom I met there I metI knew Cecil Dixon was a very good first assistant director. George Pollock. By then. Decide if you want to be fed up with being in the office as an accountant and wanted to come on to the floor.
Georgie came onto the floor and started the second or third assistant director and of course from then on during the war years he worked his way around through and after the war even as he was doing a bit of directing. Alex Price was there a long time. . Tony Cummings came there. Bill Gillette was there as a producer. John Cox who was head of sound at Sheppertonwas a mixer there and so was George Burgess. In those days they mixed in a booth. They used. To come out to talk to on the set. Jemmy Dooley was sound camera Jack Dooley's brother who was a still man. Elstreeer at Ealing Jemmy Dooley dear old Jones was still studio manager. And the famous Elkins brothers. They are both. Taffy Elkins and electrician. His brother was a carpenter and father was in the boiler house George who was the greatest chess draughts player that I've ever met. Nobody could ever beat Giorgio drafts Ernie Ames was the chief electrician Jimmy Powell was chief floor man And. The man called Gordon Bishop was up on the gantry. And. People like that Ernie Elsworthy was chief prop man and and.
At those levels I think I can remember while all that was going on there was a mad gentleman who's now become quite a cult figure working around the back all Vernon Borhouse. Now Vernon Borhouse has recently come out a lot on television I see when out of the industry but now his films are becoming quite cult films. He was as mad as they make and he never went into a studio always made his films in bits and pieces on the lot and he had. Though the Ford brothers where they are known it wasn't Freddy Ford I think it was Morris Ford or maybe Bert Ford. There were three Ford brothers Bert Morris and Freddy and I think it was Bert and Maurice were all with him during these mad films I mean he's saying if you have somebody fall off the studio roof onto the car park he was doing some film somewhere and he got an idea of round the back of a cutting room if he do a controlled explosion of something all all on the cheap and all. Quiet. And. Not you know wasn't supposed to be there really. Also it does remind me that at that time in the cutting room was alone editor called David Lean. David was a much a loner as low as a matter loner there's years now and he was cutting film for some of the away from the studios but in point of fact I was working at Wembley studios in fact I think David was there in the first period but I'm not absolutely sure that he was certainly there when Owen Fox went there in 1934.
I can't think of anything else of that at the moment but if I do an.
Hour come back to it. Well the studio closed in nineteen thirty eight. The Munich crisis and just about the closing time we were all asked to do something for the war effort. Either joined the Territorial Army of some such thing. Well I was a teenager on the Territorial Army but in the list of things we could do for the war effort. It was. If you joined the special constabulary. So I thought well I joined the special constabulary as my bit Norman Ness I know and I think John Cox join the army. Of one. And one or two others did but I think I was a bit frightened of that so I didn't do that so I joined the the police we had to do four hours of training at night during the week and used for hours about the time. Weekends on point duty or patrol work or something as part of the national effort in 1938. Between 38 and 39 was a very bad time for me because there simply wasn't any film being made you might get the day's work. Again I wasn't married and my mother and father were very good and put up with me. And. They were they were unhappy. That was a unhappy time for me because I simply couldn't get any work. In fact my father said Look you can't it's carry on like this. Not that they want the money but they were so worried for my morale because I was getting so depressed and so fed up. They said look. There's a job going on and advertising after the local paper try as a rep trying to get advertisements while you try and do this. There are three and three pounds a week for that and I save money. Though that I thought I'd better do that while I did that for five or six months I was very unhappy and I really wasn't cut out as a salesman but I did only just to stop myself going mad and. That went on and then I got so fed up with a said look to my parents that I can't really carry on doing this. I'm going to come back and try and see if I can get some more work so I'm trying to get some more work and got the odd days right up to the outbreak of war or maybe I got one day a week doing them part bits in pieces somewhere out there there was an awful lot going on in by the way I have omitted to mention the important thing which is just remember the art of the year OSSIE CAN WE RELOAD END SIDE 1
Timecode 00:45:46:00 to 01:33:14:23
OSSIE MORRIS side two. Before we go to the war years on when you were at Elstree did you come in contact with Freddie Young.
SPEAKER: Ossie Morris
Freddy Young was at B & D because this was before the fore that bured B & D down . I never actually met Freddy and but I heard an awful lot of stories about him I mean he was directing film he was photographing and then he'd been photographing film long before I think of the. Late 1920s he was photographing. But I met some ofsome of his crew people like. Francis Carver. John Wilcox. Ted More was his clapperboy . People out there and they all almost stood to attention when they talked about Freddy and the word got around of course but you never call hom Freddy Young stage you always call you Mr. Young. How true that was I don't know but there was a very strong story going around that we had to be known.as Mr Young Because he was working with Herbert Wilcox That I don't. Know but he was God at B & D. Very powerful man. And there was nobody at BIP like that. I mean after Cantrack I mentioned was a very respected cameraman but he had not fot the muscle that Feddy had got Freddy. Could do what he liked at B & D almost as much as he did when he went to MGM many years later. He trained an awful lot of. People and. You know. He's been doing it ever since I.
Can remember like in films
QUESTION Now Never Comes the war years. Delimited Did you try to get into it as a service film unit?.
Well it's interesting there's a if it does make interesting reading. I said I was in the police for when the war broke out we were called up full time into the police guarding stations doing foot patrols but mainly the dirty jobs of the boring jobs like sitting outside a station in a field for eight hours a night and things like that.
But I haven't been doing that very long before I got my call up a papers and I was told to report a border at Ealing somewhere and I went to this board which consisted of an RAAF a naval army armed with a lot of stills. I couldn't obviously take film because I have shown it to them so I took a lot of stills and they said to me that the interview over what did I do I said I was a camera operator and they all or rather in film studio they looked rather blank at three and I said and if you like to see samples of some of my still.
So I bought them with you on one of them. Bellowed at me What the hell do you think this is this is are fighting unit. We're not interested in photographs. How would you like to learn morse code and I said. Appears to learn the Morse Code riot in the Air Force. Just like that and I was shown out of the door. I got out of the door on the way home and shortly after that I was married by then and I said to my wife I said look I'm going to be called out of going in the Air Force. I'm determined to get fit. And I spent about three or four weeks really trying to get fit. I really was pretty fit sort of running a lot of exercise. Finally the dreaded call up papers came in this would be about July 1940 and I was told to report to Blacpool. Well there was a railway warrant Lots of tears when I was in tears and so forth and off I go to Blackpool. We get a Blackpool and we're all assembled on the promenade and ten of us suggest marching on one side and we're told we're to go to Mrs. Brown. at 10 John Street I think it was in Blackpool month ago so we find Mrs. Brown it's a little boarding house a terraced boarding house and she's got twn of us she's going to look after our cross now. We get in there. And the minute we're through the door she puts the cards right on the table she says Welcome to my house now she said let me explain exactly what's happening. I'm getting twenty five shillings a week for each one of you and I have to give you breakfast lunch and high tea. Nothing else she says if you want anything else. You get hungry you have to go down to the Salvation Army or go to the NAAFI So if you put a card around the table. Right so we get in there and we parade in the streets and we get our uniform and we're starting to learn. marching We're of terrible Martley like we were and of course it's still holiday time a Blackpool a lot of people on holiday there and they see us walking up and down the prom we have to dodge the trams as they're going along. Then suddenly one morning after about a week they say right. Reports of the something the Methodists hall with our fellow Methodists Well that's the sick quarter as you see. So we get around the sick quarter and I say now you're going to be marking lated like that so there is no worry about all you do you just go in there they're not close to you when you come out the other end will parade and the secret of this inoculation life is to keep moving they say keep moving get get the serum around your body and you won't feel it feel any ill effects. Well we lined up well I've never had this before in my life and we all they left are and I couldn't bear to look. But it came along to my home and suddenly I felt the most heart rending thud there in my left arm and it seems though something had gone through my right into my lung. Anyway they pumped something into me and then he did a lot of twitching and he said right move on. And I realized I still got a needle in my arm made and done the syringe and they moved along to the next bloke and he connected up again and he pumped more stuff into my hour they did this to save I mean to put quickness to save her and to sterilize the syringe and if oh dear oh dear.
And we as I mean actual passing out right left and so it was hilarious really looking back. We go outside and there's the sergeant out there saying come on you like they used to use expression death they'll inmates say come on you lot get fairly put a show down and start moving those arms you see well it wasn't long before casting harm started the thousands and it got so hot I really couldn't cope and I own began to feel awful and chastised and the collapse all over the place in the 80s simply couldn't get us all assembled here are you worried you are a liar.
I said You'd better all go back to your billets in on train the nine o'clock hour eight o'clock the next morning so we all stagger back to our billets old felt awful and we went to live that any of us made it the next morning at ten o'clock. We're all in the hole. God it was awful I feel awful I thought I was dying of pneumonia I died and I'll be in kind of stuck in the car and I thought to myself the next day we were alright we we got up and we were on parade and I thought to myself I think I spent four weeks trying to get fit need 10 days the RAF that made me a physical wreck I felt absolutely awful he said. Well he carried a gun. That wore off you know as the new weekly magazine and we started then to learn the Morse code. Now. That was quiet horrendous.
We in the first week the first week of training we had to be able to do four words a minute. of code figures a plain language four words a minute you know we were all went in to the big Olympia. Hall I think it was Balram or the Empress Ballroom they are they have these long tables know what a key and headsets and there was a tutor at the other end and he and all we were trying to learn the Morse code and get proficient length after Friday's we have the famous test and it started four words a minute and then the next week it was five the next it was six next it was seven and I have to tell you on Friday's there were more screaming and going bananas are likelier to relate I mean it was the tension was awful trying to get through these wretched tests the plain language was all right because you if you got TH you knew the next word was either E or out of a and under the figures weren't bad it was the code where they mixed the two together because you're trying to think what is that letter or what sort of figure and they've done three more and you missed three more. So you were taught Oh if you couldn't get it is leave it so that you could have picked it up again otherwise you can't last and some of the chaps did get hopelessly lost and they'd scream I can remember them screaming at the end of this test you know going absolutely crazy and own it. I think we were allowed five mistakes and.
I mean the the threat was if you didn't get through this you were going to be posted to some god awful place either something like Borneo sun that was the strength we carried on during during this and then about two weeks later they said that. The Methodist hall tomorrow morning with oh god not again in service of all wants it for this time so there are all you're having a second jab. Second jab oh yeah that was only a that was only a start that one. I thought that we thought Oh God can't be worse and last for an hour I said no one device is a stronger dose but that wiring embodies immune to it. So in we go here and we have this same love all over again but I must say it wasn't quite as bad our arms were terrible but we none of us got the fever that we did the first time you know the body have got immune from that.
Anyway so each of five we carried on through all of drill leasrning the morse code and we got up to about eight words a minute and suddenly we're told we're going to have another medical So medical one we have a road we have in this mediscal and it was quite a stiff one it was quite different to any we've had before including the famous blowing up the mercury which I do well you know it was a you know rubber tube attached to a YouTube where there was mercury and there was a Mark the other side and you had to blow
Only the mercury up to that mark you have to hold it and they took your blood pressure and check your hearth. Well. I came to do it and I in you know you tried to cheat by holding your tongue over the end of the tube that doesn't work the mercury is too heavy and it dropped back again. So you just have to blow and hold it. So I blew and held it out and the little medical officer wasn't he who bothered me with looking out the window at something for about the first 30 seconds. Right hold it hold it he kept saying. They finally after about 30 or 40 seconds he slowly settles down in his chair and by that time I mean I'm thirsty and he starts to pump though a little blood pressure thing on my arm and starts to put the stethoscope somewhere and he said Hold it hold it come on come on I'm just starting there our home car starting up again about to explode. And they did this and they do it until you just can't hold it any longer.
There was that and then they made me lean up against the wall and I had to bend down and touch my toes. Now do we ever tried that but it's not easy if you go heels against the wall and your bottoms going toward tax you close your balance goes when you lean you drop forward and we have to try and do that and then we had us stand on one leg down the chair and go up and down with several strange things.
Anyway we did all this and cut a long story short at the end there. What's this for. They said a group of guys who train crew are still going to be wireless operator air gunners So I'm very sad. Well I've heard that we love to volunteer for this. Sorry so closely if you want to wonder the volunteer you can volunteer someone chap came along before it was in the hall or in the room and said. Look I don't think I want to be a crew. So this sergeant said Alright well why did you go and sit in that year. In that year and I just left him in that year. He must have been left here several hours sitting there in chps went in chaps went out and the chap was sitting there in the end because he got so fed up with it he said alright alright I'll be air crew so that's the way you volunteer to be air crew you know they said it was partly voluntary but I mean it really wasn't the you would bulldozed into fly while I drove home to my wife and I'm five knew by then I'm usually terribly upset I was going to be wireless operator and this was about the Battle of Britain time and we're losing you know a lot of aircraft and a lot of bombers and I thought can't fancy being in the back of an aircraft in the tail with somebody's front flying so extreme four weeks later we're still on our Morse code still going crazy out about nine or 10 words a minute.
They said well look erm if you characters here I think you've got the brains to do it. Do it there's a re mustering board involved coming to. Blackpool if you want to re muster as a pilot or navigator Now's your chance to volunteer so we thought well volunteer. There must be a catch in it somewhere but it can't be worse. Meanwhile some of us is going to a lot of us volunteered including me. So we lined up outside the door for this air crew board and the first bloke went in and he came out afterwards and said we get our own he said. Easily the one. not Passed as a pilot. He's got to be a navigator. What did they ask you where so they asked me if I was any good at maths and I said yes I'm very good at maths if you're good at maths you want to be a navigator because that's where they need all the good maths so the next bloke wise to there in he goes. We wait he comes out and how do you go down. And navigate a fourth one. You ask what do you say. Well they asked me if I was any good at maths and I said well no I'm no good at maths at all really simple if you're no good at maths you'll never make a pilot. So navigator you see so that you couldn't win.
So I went in and I don't know why I said I was so confused earlier but I do remember I had a whole lot of coins on the table and they said how much money they're. The most active down quickly that was one of the questions they asked me several question anywhere. How it happened I don't know but I was re mustered as a pilot and I came out and. I thought part of the fine and I could be in the back of the aircraft all the time. Now this would be about November. December. Of 1940 and.
There we carried on as wireless operators because it took a little while for all this reorganization to take place and I arranged for my wife to come that's a Mrs. Brown and very kindly as you know the wife could stay in the village with all the rest of us. My wife arrived I suppose on about December the 20th then it was a horrendous trip and she's gone in a lot of bombing raids out there and it was all blacked out and no Blackpool station and you only contacted friends by sound and there were people saying to Mrs. Morris AC to Morris Mrs. Morris you know you did it by sound and.I finally got her. And we went back to the village. Only the very lnice evening. Or.
The next day were on parade and I'm told I posted a whole year when you posted tonight and this will now be December 23rd I think it was. Where are we going. Or they don't tell you where you are going to go back and tell her. Cause lots of tears. She went home on December 23rd during the day and we were leaving on the night of December 23rd. All we got in this train and we started off we didn't know where we were going or anything and we got down somewhere out there and we got into an air raid and the sirens when the guns started going and we heard the train. Shunted into a siding and then the engine was disconnected and they left us and there was a whole trailer load of us. In a siding in an air raid with no engine and no heat in the car driving a car all it really was and we must have been there for three or four hours and then finally the all clear went and the engine came back and connected to us again and off we went. Well we carried on for the rest of their lives and we ended up at Stratford on Avon. we get to Stratford and I didn't know where it was until we got there and told Stratford on Avon and we got out we were told to report somewhere we reported somewhere they said well there's a village for you up the road. It's the big house on the right hand side go up there there was no food because the we got there at a sort of 10 o'clock in the morning and there was no food and everything would be anything until lunchtime we were ravenously hungry very thirsty had no food on the tray. We got to this village. Oh it was awful I mean you. Know. A. Cat of shat all over the floor is stank to high heaven and there were there were about five beds stuck in a room with those pally asses those relatives trod calluses damn blankets cold water one tap read no one's seen and we got to live then it was Christmas Eve. I mean I think my morale was at its lowest ever during the war years on their day. We go and we have to stay in this billet. All over Christmas and then we're told we're being posted again and we leave the again it's the same as sorry no air raid this time we get on the train and I don't know where or going I end up at Scarborough and we go to Scarborough and I put in the Crown Hotel at Scarborough which is being taken over which seems to be paradise compared with the places we've been taken all the furniture out and just put all beds in and. That was the beginning of our aircrew training. Now hold that consisted of a lot of P.T. running up to Oliver's mail and back again once a week. Maths and so on and so forth and that went on for eight weeks and then I was posted down to. Peterborough for the start of the flying on Tiger Moths and I had. My first flight ever in an aircraft on earlier field of Peterborough and my first one hour in my logbook was mast familiarization. That consisted of the instructor take you out and trying to virtually make you shit yourself. That's the process you are going to be sick. You're going to crap your pants.
Are you going to be alright. And if you if you're okay they carry on but if you don't survive that first hour you're thrown out. We know so little of the ground the loop the loop each barrel rolled he did everything in this Tiger Moth and then we we went along the canal. Kind of frightened the life out of me I'll never forget it. Ride along the water of this canal you know canals have those little bridges those little humpback Bridges came along towards bridge and I thought he's going to go over the top of the bridge like they see he got in here. And I thought he's not going to make it up to make it and he didn't he went under the bridge I mean air this aircraft under this bridge I never know it was just about wide enough to get the wings. If guys hype the life out of me. Anyway we landed and that was my first hour of flying which is in my memory for over a day. We start we did about four or five hours there and then they they moved us yet again to Booker airfield. Npw Bookers a very famous airfield because the last film works been down there and we actually opened Booker airfield at Marlow. In nineteen forty forty one and I stayed there and I did my first solo there and the thing about your first solo is you must remember to pick the instructor up at the end of the field. What they do they give you a 15 minutes to change your oil and they tax you pay your taxes with your instructor down the downwind end of the airfield. He turns you into we do and he gets out and says right off you go while you're all hyped up and he says don't forget to come and pick me up because if you don't he's got about a mile and a half walk back to the hangar and he's not exactly pleased with all these flying gear so I took off on this aircraft which the fire got off and suddenly about a hundred feet out of the house I thought God I'm on my own I'm on my own. I'm up here I'm going to get this thing down somehow. But luckily you know you're trained and you're told what to do a rate one turn the port and then win the win the air field yes Clearview wingtip another radio one turned aport you're on the downwind keeper 800 feet and win the whole air field disappears under your wing tip another great one start to lose high and then when they were just before the runways in lie in the oil fields in line turn in and slowly lose height and come in and land you know and if you have training comes into being and disciplined you and I landed it was more of an arrival on the landing I think about quite a bit anyway I did remember to go and pick him up with an awful lot of chaps didn't and they were very popular with the instructors. Well that carried on I stayed there and I did my 50 hours on Tiger Moths then I was posted to Brize Norton which was still an RAF field then it's now big American based and was twin engine aircraft Airspeed Oxford for this. I carried on doing that and I got my wings surprised Brize Norton wonderful ceremonies you know you all parade and you hold your chest out and the CO comes into your wings on and you know you know that once they're on they don't matter what you do if you put in prison. They can't take the wings away they can strip you of anything else but they can never take your wings away and in fact the wings are still in the cabinet there so that was a great day. My parents came where you were given you were given an. Eight days leave and. Told you be. receive a telegram as to where you have to go. Well from there I went to Abingdon for my OTU you now see you they said. No sorry at Brize Norton they say now it's a Democratic service and you can choose where you want to go. You've got your wings and you decide where you want to go. You've got Coastal Command recconniasance firghter command. Amongst them was Bomber Command. But nobody wants to go into Bomber Command because we were losing aircraft so so fast so we all put our first choice down I think our put Coastal co0mmand thought let's great if I can fly to Iceland every day right away from the war that would be great if I had I think a lot of people have coastline others other than the scientists in AGW you know just in case there are too many people of life you first just put a second choice selling put second choice of having up of photographic reconnaissance. Harry said I know it's ridiculous but you know he does say three chances to get this is really a formality. Just put a third down gesture in case but you never happens he said. So I put a third choice down it was certainly not a Bomber Command. We go off on leave we got our wings and we all get telegrams and weak argument telling I'm told go drive Abingdon. I go to Abingdon. and every one of us read Abingdon. and going into Bomber Command. So that was the that was the choice in the Airforce at Abingdon. They will be Whitley bombers and we trained on those and that was the one place where we did manage to wreck one of his Majesty's aircraft. Canadian pilot and myself and the station commander was not at all pleased because we put his airfield out of action but we were lucky to walk away from me. We were doing a night operation and to train as quickly they used to put two crews in the one aircraft. We used to have to take off an night and fly on a cross country route and each one do an hour say at the controls just to get it down quickly. There was a blackout on so no airfield was marked so once you're up there. All you had was a lot of flashing beacons red becomes which were these mobile phones they stuck in the field and you had a chart saying if a beacon flashes a J if you take a bearing of so many degrees from that B and your come to a runway because there were masses of dummy runways put out to fool the Germans. Anyway we get out there and one of the engines start to get red half I could see there and we didn't know how to handle it at all. Bloke and I and the end obviously was melting this engine was we couldn't feather the relatives saying it was getting harder and harder it's going slower and slower as the Pistons a look at the level of like what fusing together. Finally it starts oh there we are stuck up there one inch in black out black if you. Had all these wretched beacons comes flying terribly inexperienced because I get this aircraft down he's at the controls at the moment it was just his life you know just how.
Much. He has bad luck that he had the aircraft at the time. And. I've finally found a beacon I said I think this is this is why I know this I've got these and we go on a bearing there there's a runway they are say that must be the runway CEO said well we've got to come in and we were told taught if an aircraft engine packed up keep your high high because the important thing and always come in a bit higher you can always lose time when we start to come in on what we thought was an airfield and they would black you had. He was coming in hi god was coming out. I moved away recovery won't even go into the airfield we're going to land about four miles beyond the airfield and we were told to keep our good wing down so that the bad hold the bad wing at all of this we were doing.
But as you can over the Third we must have been a hundred feet over the field and I could see the runway there so I knew we were on an airfield and we were still miles too high and suddenly a socking great hangar Coming up a hill and I said I think there's a hangar coming up here he said yes he said right. Open up the throttle opened up the throttle one good engine and of course he couldn't handle it I mean I would have been out either and the things span into the ground and crashed onto the bad wing in the engine and caught fire. So I we was so extreme I wasn't even strapped in I really was mad. We never told the wireless operator at the back what was happening he was drilling is not thinking we were about 8000 feet over the country. So when we crashed he really gassed is hit in the in the wrist in the here in the rear of a radio set.
I ended up down in the bomb bay somewhere and the team that we managed to scramble out or I can remember that and we got there and I thought god marvellous to be on the ground there was a craft burning our cared less about that. Finally our car came out. And the station commander came out and gave us the most terrible bpllpcking in of all time I mean he didn't say Thank God you're safe he said. What fat help me I think you're going. Do you realize you put this airfield out of action look at this. Climbing I couldn't help it. It's prest a Whitley bomber across his favourite airfield on the runway and put him out of action but we were only too glad to be down on the ground. Anyway I did something to my knee I don't know what it was I and we were sent to hospital and Princess Mary's at Horton? and I went to an end of it and the thing was I think one of my wife to know that I have a crash so I arranged with the nurses to put accident on the part of the foot of the bed so when my wife carried one as happened in the last live down the stairs in the Officers Mess actually the Officers Mess was a temporary build if you've never seen it was all on the ground she didn't know why at least there's the aftermath and you believe that for a long time until long long towards the end of the war when I finally told her that I didn't really cry for the room. Of Whitley offered Brize Norton at Abingdon no Brize Norton That's right this is the galling thing you see we row the aircraft on the airfield where we got our wings. So he wasn't at all happy with us at all. Anyway I was finally I was in the hospital about five six weeks then went back to Abingdon and then went on to. My oh okay went back to Rome and did my operation of training units finished there with a new crew and was posted to Waddington 44 squadron in Waddington in Lincolnshire in bomber command command where we had Lancaster's And I think it's safe to say that allows us to save my life it was a marvellous aircraft and of it was the safest aircraft to fly. I was in bomber commandmy tour of ops in Bomber Command. I mean I could dream in real.Time masses of footage off about Bomber Command but I don't know where though I think I ought to go on in the area of growth won't go into too much detail and erm I did my tour of ops there and then I was posted We were we had to do a two hundred hours over enemy territory or 30 troops whichever came first. We have to start I mean if you did 29 troops. And it was 200 hours. You stopped if you did. 31 31 trips and it was. 200. As you stopped you have to do 200 hours. And I was posted then into the Transport Command because the empire training scheme had come on stream and we were getting pilots coming in from all over the world from Rhodesia from South Africa from America. And there were a load of pilots coming in and they felt that anybody that had done a tour it was working there its expertise and putting us into a training command.
Well I didnt go into training I went into Transport Command and we started to fly the mail from LynehamD and where I was posted to which is quite near here and up to the Middle East and then eventually into the Far East. And that went on for several. Years then I was never called back into for my second tour because I had so many pilots coming on. I got the DFC at the end of my tour I was a ward of the city and I was given a commission I was a flight sergeant. All the time I was on my tour. I. Was given a commission and. We started flying Albemarles terrible aircraft they were they were made by the time furnishing company and Mr Drage I remember Mr dray furniture though consisted of tubular steel and plywood. They were really shocking aircraft they were Lord Beaverbrook's answer to the aluminium shortage he said we haven't designed an aircraft in case we can't get any aluminium and they design is terrible. I gave five hundred of them to the Russians and the Lend-Lease and the Russians returned 500 of them saying thank you very much. We don't really think we need these aircraft. I don't blame them I mean nobody wanted the look we were stuck with them on our Transport Command they had to do something with them and the only two times I've ever sent out an S.O.S during all my flying was in flying an Albermarle.
They adapted them for the Bomb bays they never used them for bombing I mean they were just so awful for bombing raids they couldn't do anything like that although they do they fill the bomb bays up with overflow tanks somewhere and we used to fly down Gibraltar and we used to have to fly from Lyneham down to Portreath in Cornwall wait there till it was dark then fly out toward Point right out in The Atlantic called Point A then go down due south to another point point B and then turned you e and hope that you came to Gibraltar and if you did it the straits of Gibraltar you either ended up being turned in Portugal or being castrated by the Arabs in Morocco you know it was those were the choices. So it took a long time to get out there it took us about eight hours to fly out there. Well what used to happen was these wretched tanks in the Bomb bay you had to start using those and get rid of that fuel first. Because that was the additional fuel. Well sometimes there was something wrong with the flow system a newline when we got to the point of no return which in plain language means you really got to go on it's quicker to go on to come back to the regular changes will start to start and you'd have to a few hundred gallons of fuel in there in the bond of a tank still to use and you could use it so you switch to your wing tanks and that's alright you could carry on. Now that made you want 200 gallons of fuel short for your trip and they never gave you macho extra fuel anyway it was too precious. So twice coming through the Straits of Gibraltar. I've had to send out SOS is because I have my fuel gauges of ranges to zero. Literally on the wing tanks. I've got 200 in look in the bomber over the current using one feed through and with both to always go around the Rock of Gibraltar in anticlockwise direction. Well I tell you. Coming in the tail with that we just shuts used as you strayed across to Algeciras Bay and you crash down on the runway. At. Gibraltar even landing the runway I mean we didn't care you're going to go get the aircraft down because we have not only that we have a crew but I mean we had all the mail for the forces there and. It was a it was all micro mail those days you know you're on microfilm and if we'd done a whole lot of mail filters mailing the drink to say nothing of the fact we might lose our own lives I mean we were going to be very popular and I had to do that twice.
The only time I ever send out a story is ridiculous sending out an S.O.S because you got no fuel. You've got 200 gallons in the tank. So that was the story of the Albermarle From there we went down to taco as they were a lovely aircraft to fly and then I went to Yorks and started to fly passengers and I was starting to fly the I got a call we call VIP passengers. I was saying to the Yalta Conference I flew Sir Anthony Eden out to Yalta. We didn't know who was going to be or where we were going to we got to Malta and that's when rumours of a the whole after all. None of us knew it although they were all there grouped together we all took off in our various aircraft with all these people. I was at Yaltafor 10 days where the Russians got us so drunk it's unbelievable what they did to us. Guys it was awful they are so cool. Russian hospitality we were warned about this and they said look whatever you do don't treat the Russian vodka. We tried not to drink the Russians although they practically poured it down our necks while we were there. From there. I flew from. From your Yalta down through Cairo and that's an interesting little story because I was given Sir Anthony Eden decidedly fly with Churchill in his aircraft whereas I've flown Sir Anthony Eden into Yalta you said you go down to Cairo and wanted to talk about things Randolph Churchill Churchill's son was out there covering it as a war correspondent now I didn't know at the time but apparently the old man and his son didn't hit it off too well. He thought the son was a bit of a drunkard as he was and I was told Churchill wanted me to fly Randolph and I was also told whatever I do don't open the bar let him have any booze so fine well we started off we took off oh crowd a little bar on the aircraft and I have either a steward with me then. And sure we are to be taken off the skipper the bird Mr. Churchill once during. A time where you know we were not allowed to serve drinks. So we went back and told him that and came back and he said I'm afraid he doesn't take that he insists on having a drink I'll go down and talk to him so I let the other person.fly the air
Craft and I must say Randolph was very very irate and I said Look my instructions I don't care what your instructor over the goddamn bar I insist on having a drink.
He began a very belligerent so I thought well. You know of any fights in the aircraft so I have a drone. He he really was a terrible drunk in those days. Let's look at the story. Several times during my career I met my brother my brother and Reg was in the Army film and photographic unit and he was a Dennis Fox Flash Fox as you know I think. And Dave Macgonald it's direct jurisdiction. They went from El Alamein right the way through right along North Africa right across to Sicily to Italy up to Venice. I think they were together in nearly four years and occasionally I would have a trip. To Tripoli. Customi airfield? my brother will be there and I could see him in a Maison Blanche in Algiers and I occasionally storing there you know I get messages to him somewhere out there. What's interesting is the only time I saw him during the war.
And then though once or twice after he was commissioned. He was sent towards the end of the war to Athens and I flew Sir Walter Citrine head of ther TUC to see the Greek atrocities.
And my brother was covering it for the Army photographic unit and we have a photograph of my brother and I meeting which I kept and which I got on him there.
My final trip in the Air Force was a tour for the chief of the Imperial General Staff Lord Alan Brooke. I did the following trip I was I flew. Lyneham to Cairo non-stop and I was the first one ever to do that.
We did that about every team we were because we were going to pick him up at Cairo 12 and a half hours it took us landed there with just enough fuel I flew to CIGS from there to our dad in the Gulf down to Bahrain Sharjah.
The famous Sharjah Blues places we used to see in Karachi.
Delhi Calcutta Rangoon Rangoon. He got under another aircraft because he was going to Hong Kong and Hong Kong you have to live in a street couldn't take four engine aircraft in those days only twins. So he went on a Dakota while high.
We went on. To Okinawa and we waited a Okinawa for him.
And. He came up eventually from Hong Kong to Okinawa joined us there and I flew then down to Japan.
Now I was what he was going to meet MacArthur who I was warned about MacArthur and they said no Whatever you do don't be late because General MacArthur does not like to be kept waiting even 30 seconds. Right. Will make absolutely sure where they are found and we did my navigator. Worked out very carefully and said Now Willie that was his name Willie Wilson will be sure if anything. Allow a little extra time I'll always do a wide circuit has been a bit up but I see I can't make it up.
If we're too late he worked it out and he did it beautifully. We landed. I have to tell you right on the dot of the time we said we would land. I taxied out and there was the red carpet out for Allan Brook in our part of the aircraft through the door rather carpet and there was MacArthur waiting.
Alan Brook got out and went off and I thought thank goodness for that. And shortly after that. Steward there are still those of American Army officer wants to see a captain so he came out and I was still sitting in the cockpit.
And he said her flight lieutenant Morris I said Yes that's right he said. I have a message for you from General MacArthur or he's going to say congratulations. He said the General is not at all pleased with you. On what hell's wrong he says you will let us see what you mean I was late coming wasn't late I said I said we'd be here at say 15 0 6 and we touched down at 15 0 6.
He said he took you another minute and a half from touchdown until you pulled up by the carpet and that's the time the general was to mark the touchdown time though we never do that and we always give the touchdown time. We never know how far it's going to lead taxiing and so I got a bollocking from General MacArthur am I right. And I was bang on time. Anyway from there we went from from Japan.
We went down to New Guinea across to Melbourne Melbourne and to a place called Palmerston Laws? in New Zealand Palmerston North up Auckland Or Auckland back to Sydney Sydney to Perth. Perth to the Cocos Islands. Lovely little place to stay. We just refuel there. Cocos Islands to Singapore Singapore to Aden down to Nairobi Nairobi to Cairo Cairo to Naples. Now we are on schedule it took nearly two months this tour we were on schedule right out to Naples and I had a terribly bad weather forecast for the last trip over 20 and I thought Well now shall I risk it and go online and I decided it would be foolish to try it was a very bad weather forecast with him on board because of anything and really will be a disaster you still have the Chief Imperial General Staff. So I scrubbed for 24 hours and we went the next day and we took into Blackbush because he lived near there. And we landed there. And. I was 24 hours late. As a result I got the AFC for that and that was just after that I got demobbed.
Now that was a saga getting demobbed because I got a lot of flying hours I've flown about 2800 hours there and I was considered to be a pretty experienced pilot and the Air Force were not very keen on letting me go and my aid my group number came up with a group I think number 24 24.Were demobbed say October in 1945 when they are Christmas falling farther out a group of 27 or 28 and still no sign of me coming out and I kept in touch with Ronnie Neame and Ronnie had said that I'd be a Pinewood if I could get a house and were running I can't get out. You know they won't let me go so we don't worry we'll get Tom White who was in charge of the Cine Guild sort of administration here. He'll apply for your work. Still we can live and they applied and they they they got me out and I coward I was demobbed in January forty six almost exactly six years after I was called up. And they gave me a job at 20 and operate camera operator twenty five pounds a week. And when word got around in the Air Force that I was going to have the job like that they thought. Follow another one from John I suppose it was very good money 25 pounds a week in 1946. I was under contract to Pinewood them for. About three or four years as operator with Ernie Stewart he was the other one and Chris Chalice?.
We all Chris was in the Navy I think Ernie was in the Navy and I was in the RAF and we were all contract operators Reload End of side 2
Timecode 01:33:14:23 to 02:20:13:09
Ozzie Morris side three of them. Now Cine Guild is a name to be conjured with and try and tell us about your. Tell us about the first part of your Cine Guild experience.
Let me just explain Cine Guild was part of what we called independent producers there was the archer's which was the mickey powell Emeric Pressburger group there was Cine Guild which was the Noel Coward . David Lean Ronnie Neame Tony Havelock Ellis group and there was one other and I can't think of it which was Frank independent though Frank Launder in the individual individual pictures I think they were the other ones and then later Ian Dow or import joined but I mean at that time it was the three I was contracted Chris Challis and I believe I've been corrected Chris was in the Air Force not the Navy I thought it was there I thought he was the Navy.
And the three of us were contracted to operate for these companies. I work for Cine Guild and Chris work for the Archers and. Ernie was sort of a flow between both of us. We are the first picture open studios after the war. Pinewood Studios the actual studios store it should go in one of the stages I think and they stored also these deadly Albermarles on their noses. In one of the stage without the wings because of wooden round the outside if it wasn't kept a constant term through autumn and fell apart and I could understand why and I believe they were stored on their noses there in the main offices of wired or were away from the main studio and I think the Prudential of one of the insurance companies have the offices.
Anyway we opened up the studio with a picture called Green for Danger directed by a. Sydney Gilliat and photograph by Wilkie Cooper with Alistair Sim Starring in it and Leo Genn as well but that was my first film. After that. When I came Captain Boycott which was Frank Launders film in Ireland and during that time very.
A. During that time. You know let me think we know we did. We did. We finished Captain Boycott and You. Know David Lean had.
We simply know there was another film star to call Blanch Fury? and. The Guy Greene was photographing that Ernie Stewart was going to operate and in fact did start and they had a terrible accident. It was a street strick camera was on a crane and they had a breakaway set. The idea was that the camera was going to track through the window of us set into a room. Now they couldn't get the blimp through the window. So what happened was once the outside frame of the window was out of the frame of the camera they were going pull the front of the set. Aside so the camera crew go on the crane through the room. Well the timing had to be very accurate and. We haven't got very good equipment of those days the cranes were primitive and cut a long story short the timing went wrong and they didn't get the section of wall pulled away quickly enough and the Technicolour blimp hit the wall and snapped the whole blimp in-camera. Off the crane and that threw the crane hopelessly out of balance because we didn't have any safety systems in those days as they do now in modern cranes as an automatic safety lock if the balance goes the crane locks and thus they didn't have and the crane the man operating the crane had all the weight of the back he couldn't help it they drive down and it catapulted Ernie and he went right up to the studio did about three or four somersaults and came down and was badly injured I mean hurt his fingers broke his fingers and was pretty badly hurt. And. He went to hospital. And I was free I'd finished Captain Boycott and I was told to take the film over because they abandoned that set and went on with something else they had to keep shooting at artists under contract and that was my introduction to operating a three strip camera I've never even seen three strip camera before that and it was working with handles so I never worked with before and they are an. Eight o'clock in the morning plunged onto us set with. With a three strip camera. But luckily I did know a Guy Green and you Guy Green because I didn't mean to say that when I left the BIP way back in 1933 the assistant that was taken came on to replace me was in fact Guy Green and that was the first time and I didn't meet him again until.
This accident after the after the war when I was operating a Pinewood I carried on and I did the whole of Blanche Fury operating then David Lean started Oliver Twist. I think I got the order right. I'm not sure about that. It's Either way round or the other way round and I operated for David on Oliver Twist again with Guy Green and then on a film called Passionate Friends with Guy Green. That's when David met Ann Todd I don't know whether. I. Well it's history now. I suppose one can record. David was married to Kay Walsh. Kay Walsh had been played the part of Nancy in Oliver and David was now directing Passionate Friends and struck up a very. Strong relationship with Ann Todd. Kay got to know. Used to come onto the set and asked me a lot of questions about what was going on. All very embarrassing because I think I didn't want to be involved. Sadly after that. David & Kay a were divorced David married Ann Todd.
That happened during the 1948 during the making of Passionate Friends that all started out.
I did one more thing John Paddy Carstairs who was a bit of a joke as a director. Occasionally because we were we were under contract had to do that we were just assigned to and I have to do this Jeff Unson? was photographing and I did this film for John Paddy Carstairs and then after that Ronnie Neame would I like to photograph a film Saw This Is Us. Yes I love to photograph. Gonna do a film called Golden Salamander
And you can photograph it or charge was it QUESTION before you go on to your career as an lighting cameraman or you know talk about a lot of the art and craft of the operator.
Yes. The the there were two erm
Two types of camera which vitally affect the craft of operating. There was a direct look through camera which was that of a De Brie camera which is the camera I used during. before the war and there was the Mitchell camera with a side view finder which had a totally different concept which I was plunged into at the end. After the war. Now I have to tell you that when I came out of the war and went straight to Green for Danger I never operated with an Mitchell camera with an outside view finder in my life before and I had to quickly get the knack of it and it was terrifying trying to learn it because.
It was a Brady? blimped Mitchell make sure we had the blip that overlap and the viewfinder must have been a foot away from the lens so the parallax problem was was crucial and very critical and I can remember. Many shots on Green for Danger as Sydney Gilliat was not the world's most creative man when it came to set ups and the masses of shots of the four people together. Panning one person from a door making it five people and I had to pan from the door on to these groups and I had to line the camera car remember if I had all of five people in the camera correctly I only had three and a half of them in the viewfinder. And I have to work out where the crossed lines was and it was most peculiar looking through view finder with only three and a half people in it and knowing that in the camera you've got five. And every time a shot was finished we always used to shout hold it hold it. And we quickly opened the view for the blimp swing the camera over and checked and we got the fire going. So there was a. Vast difference in concept between those two cameras. The Mitch the De Brie ruined your eyes very good. Compositions. The Mitchell was good for your eye it was terribly difficult. Getting compositions in the viewfinder and you have to adopt a whole different approach you you have to forget that you were really looking at three and a half people in the viewfinder. You have to make your brain realise you've got five people in there. Although you've only got three and a half and it really was quiet tricky in quiet difficult. One.
we didn't have a crowd galas? in those days so you were a bit limited as to what you could do we can remove and all you could do was track forwards and backwards in a straight line. We had the old Velosolate ? dollies We didn't have geared heads So you had to hold this under your arm and the blimp was very top heavy if you tipped it forward it became very heavy and the directors in those days were so fond of dtarting in inserts desk on pulling back and it took you all of the time in the world to yank this thing up from the insert and there again the parralax were as you say if you've got the viewfinder set for the group in the back. Then on the insert you probably know the insert in the in the viewfinder at all big. It wouldn't work. Yes simply the Parallax was too great. So probably if we was saying using an insert of this ashtray I get it lined up in the camera. I looked through the viewfinder and that probably centred on that cut of this microphone but I didn't I knew that in the camera that was on I'm looking at the microphone in the view I knew that the camera was looking at the at the ashtray and then when I slowly pulled up. Then I had to get the group into the viewfinder all right and it was okay. I mean it really was all next.It was crazy way of doing it but that was the only way there was no moon and when the BNC came out they got the viewfinder much near the lens of the parallax. It's less acute. But.
I'm. In the old NC days the viewfinder was so far away from the lens that it really was quite a problem. But David. Lean was the fussiest director. And has always been the fussiest directorwhen it comes to camera movement. The look of the lighting and I have to be absolutely spot on with David every time. He would not allow any correction on any movement I mean the list if you didn't hit it first time I had to cut the shot and he would do it again if I let it go and he saw the rushes that I crept a little bit. He retake it and. I would have been on the film. I mean you know you wouldn't allow that thought you could make that to that mistake once but never again.
And working with David was a tremendous help to me because I lost so much weight.
Somen tense about this but I was so determined to get it right because he was so fussy it made me fussy and it did me the world of good really. Good good directors are always a tremendous help to any technician they bring out the best in you. The slap happy directors are. Just bad for a technician they. Should become sloppy. But David wouldn't everything have to be absolutely rack? and I've got a videotape of Oliver Twist. and of Passionate Friends and I have I often look at it and I'm very proud of my camera operating out there. I mean there isn't a bad shot in the film but that's not me but David making me do it. So those were the two concepts of operating which were up against the Technicolour camera had a side view finder but it was beautifully designed and it was so close to the lens there was hardly any parallax at all that you were in fact looking through a viewfinder
QUESTION to what extent did you contribute to the set up?
David you didn@t with Frank Launder or Sydney Gilliat you did them all. They laid a set up. With. Sure one way or the John Pady Carstairs You did the set up yourself Paddy used to sort of hold his hand very nervously and say. Let's do a shot over there and then he put his hand back quickly. I think he made a fool of himself. So do you or what you know what do you want to happen. Well no we're taking you to the door and then he put his hands away quickly. Now he let me do it all. David would get the viewfinder and mark it but having marked it was near because the movement has got to be perfect and David is very very creative and. Everything works like a ballet with David and it's got to be like a ballet. There's no one he won't accept anything other than the very best. So. You know those are the two type of directors you get and that applies all throughout my career you get you get some directors you don't know which end of a viewfinder to look through. I can tell you a very famous director Joe Mankiewicz who I worked with. If you gave I gave Joe viewfinder one Michell viewfinder to look through and I hope you're in the right way around and he took it and he was talking to an actor and then he said. He thought well I better do some of this and he looked through the round in you know the wrong way. I mean he didn't know he could do setups at all but occasionally I used to give him a viewfinder because you have to be very careful with the director. They must never think you're taking over the film. And that's very very important. You've always got to let them feel they're in charge. And yet they say they need desperately your help. So you have to do it in a in a very subtle way. You you you say to them Would you like us to do so-and-so. In other words you're saying we suggest you do it that way. And they say yes I think there will be a good idea you will never say to a director. Let's do it that way. Would you like us to do that. Would you like us to bring him in there. And would you like us to bring you down there and then take him over to there. And they usually say yes you never say Well what we do will bring him in they are over there they of they don't like that.
QUESTION Well as you well purely instinctive intuitive in this area or did you study composition in any fashion.
No I think I know I did study yes.
QUESTION In what way?
Well you know when you become very conscious of composition whenever you look at a painting you look at a picture any of the award winning subject you check composition. It becomes part of you. Same with the lighting. When it's moonlight and I it you look at the street you watch it and. You get ideas from and you see the moonlight does the colours.
It's if you if you really enjoy what you're doing. You're doing. 24 hours a day or 16. As they said when you're asleep so you do you do all them.
you do study you can't no
QUESTION youn think you can operate life as a moving camera
Oh I think so yes. A good operator Yes
QUESTION Which cameraman didn't did any particular camera gte good gomposition
Composition or a knot of magic composition lighting. There were two cameramen that very much influenced my way. One of course was Ronnie Neame because Ronnie did in fact light at Wembley Studios when I was operating there is a forgot to mention and I for I first met Ronnie. After his escapades with Elstree and I operated for Ronnie and I noticed the way he lit he was the first that first introduced what we call on one key light technique into lighting before most cameramen because of the inadequacies of the lights that we had used to use several lights to light one subject and we got multi shadows which are awful.Ronnie pioneered a single light source system and then Green took that up again and as I worked for both of those Then I took that up. I mean I I folowed that when I started to light
Now we come to the lighting of the Golden Salamander Well Ronnie said as I explained earlier Ronnie said if you can photograph Golden Salamander Now what he didn't say was that half the film was going to be made on location we weren't going to see the rushes. Anybody like myself started a photograph of a movie. The one thing I want to see from day to day is the is the result because I want to know whether I'm making mistakes or not. But I didn't know that and I said I wanted to do the film we went out to Tunisia on a location we chose the various locations. We came back to the studio and it quickly became obvious to me that I wasn't going to be able to see the rushes. Now I wasn't about to say well I can't do the film if I couldn't see the rushes I mean there was a chance I was going to grab it. So we went out and we started the film here in Tunisia and. Ronnie had a. Brilliant. Designer as is co-partner John Bryan whom. I. Actually adored as the designer most modern designers know John and he's really he's really in the art department. The Freddy Young designer really was the doyen of designers and John was going to be my eyes back at the studio and he was going to cable out every day how the rushes were going well be my first film we started the film in my first film I was determined to make an impact and I thought I'm not going to just photograph and it's got to be different. So I try to use different filters and I try particularly to use a strong red filter to make the skies overcorrected rather like Mexican cameramen do. And we've got some cables back from John Bryan saying the rushes looked great but he said we can't see any lips on Trevor Howard. Trevor was in the film and Ronnie Didn't know what I was doing. A said.
RS Do you see this as a chance John would say we can't see Trevor Howard's lips he said let's have a look at trade?. We had a look at him in his lips see the be fine and he said I can't understand this and he said it was so they using us to filter anything that's it yes he said what filter are you using. So I said red
I know what he is using a red filter and of course the red filter was taking the red out of Trevor's lips and I've never thought of this. Ronnie wasn't exactly very pleased with me over this. On others you want to do a thing like that for I've given you a chance you go and screw the thing up like that you should take it off. So as we were running I can't just take it off now I mean you know it's a lot different than it was filmed. He said well you've got to do something about it it's our world so I reduce the red to an orange filter and. That. Worked out alright but that was one of the things that happened. Another little incident happened Ronnie wanted a summarized effect on a jetty in North Africa now It's taken me all my time to get the ordinary stuff right. A sunrise. How on earth am I going to do that. So I said Ronnie What exactly do you want he said well I want Trevor Howard and a newt? to stand on their jetty. And he said I want to see the sun. Come up between them.
I felt god has said Well now Ron you know you know where the sun rises it look I'm directing the film to see if your photograph and if you. Go find out where the bloody sun comes up. Or Christ get up one morning go down there. Well we're an hour in the mountains a place called Hynfrahan? happy an awesome production movie manager lets his first film as if to Bob up we gotta get up early. You come down and find out where the sun rises so we get up about three o'clock in the morning wish you to normally and we go down to this jetty and we sit there and we watch and I mark exactly where the sun is going to come up. And I've marked it so we're going to shoot the scene two days later. So I know that part of what I don't know is how on earth to work the exposure out because for one minute we've got about a dicey f2.8 and the sun comes out and we've got about f45 you see and I simply didn't know what on earth to do about that. So we go down and you can imagine and you know I totally shat myself in a shooting this I had already blown out once with the red filter I thought if I blow out with this I'm on my way home you see. So you never asked me what I did while I have to tell you I don't honestly remember exactly but it out of sheer fear and panic. Something must have come into my mind something terrible compromise and.
We shot it and it did work it did work.
More by luck than judgment them Ronnie said Now I want to cross close ups I thought. god a week's time. Now the sun's up. They've had breakfast it's now broad daylight and I've got to make these two close ups into a sunrise. How the hell do this we are on a jetty. I can't put lamps o out in the sea because I've got to know the part of the wretched lamps on I don't know what I did but somehow or other
I fiddled something and did it but the mental trauma I went through on that I shall never ever forget. While it's all going on John Brian sends out.
A plan an enormous great set built on the studio lot and it's a coast road a bit of coast road he's building and it's got to be nice and it's got to be pouring with rain. All I knew was that the. Rain has to be back lit because otherwise it doesn't show. And they've been building this road eh big road Oh it's being built John Bryant John Bryant is best in these crazy is enormous great thing is building up on tubular and they want to know where the towers that go. Well I cabled back where the towers to go well I hadn't a clue where these towers a gallery thing so I thought up I'm sure Guy Green will help me on this so I said. So the message back to John Bryan and I sent a letter to Guy Guy I'm out here doing this. And John's building a coast road on the studio lot. Do you think you could be done just going to position the towers for me. In other words I was asking Guy to really show me where the towers were. So Guy I must say he did bless his heart and of course they're all in the right spot. And. Once the towers were there I was all right because I knew how I was going to do it roughly I told him of the letter. But this rain I had terrible trouble with this rain sometimes it showed up like mad and sometimes I couldn't see it.
I didn't know how to handle this. I really do and this was all of my first film but the interiors. I was determined to give it an offbeat thing and I used all sorts of strange filters and. Shidee? filters I used to give it a sort of french? qualities was a French type of film and in the end I mean I don't look back. At what I went through for that first film I should never forget. Right that's some foolishness by the way I got 40 pounds a week for that that was the minimum ACT rate. Forty pounds a week for that. And they said to me the studio now. We haven't got anything else for you. You have to go back to operating and I was going to go back to my 25 pounds a week so I said. I don't think I want to do that. Well you know we can't we can't offer you anything more likely. You know if you like if you don't do that you better leave. So I decided I really thought it would be wrong to operate it so I took a chance and left. I didn't get anything for a little while but I persevered and I had no agent I wasnit ruch enought to have an agent and I finally managed to get a job with Max Set? and Audrey Bearing? On a film which was going to Egypt called Cairo Road and it star Lawrence Harvey first. Larry Harvey and Eric Portman. and an Egyptian actress and. Once again. It was a location film. And I wasn't going to see the rushes I simply couldn't get through to the studio.
Now the from that works fine except that they wanted the film to be processed in Egypt well can you imagine me My second film is bad enough. You know they've been processed at home but they now want the film processed in Egypt that means we're going to see it somewhere in Egypt. Well I was I said I'd better go and see the laboratories so I went and saw all the laboratories and they were and here.
Is what you would you know authorities and they were near the who only know the Mena House
QUESTION They were on the road to Giza That's right yes I mean these reforms do that idealism Well that's that's where the laboratories were and I was introduced to the man in charge of the laboratories and he was an Arab and he only got one eye. I see. God thatdoesn't exactly full of enthusiasm. I didn't see visible.
Light one eye and I explained how we were shooting and we did a couple of days tests and they were all right. The negative got pretty badly treated.
But then we had some day for night to do and I know you know Dave I like that dicey are with Egypt as you know I thought I thought this is going to be a this is my swan song so we do this day for night and we go and see it in some pokey little cinema in in Cairo. And we can't literally can't see anything. I thought hard you know this is it. And everybody turned to me and I said I said our. Eyes are going to check with the studio to see what they've done with the labs and see what they've done upload and so full of confidence apparently both sweating like a pig. I comb I came out of the studio and I went back to the labs and I said. Look. I found this man with one eye and I said Look we've seen the the rushes and I said we can't see anything on it I mean there's nothing there of the day for night I can't see anything. I said is it is the negative alright. He said yes the negatice is very good he said I will show you and he went somewhere and he got a roll of our negative and I swear to God.he kicked negative across the floor with his feet I'm never ever forget that.
He even held up we said Look look it's marvellous. Look. Look. Say look there's plenty of any And the negative was all right I saw and I knew in the end when we saw it back at home they printed properly it was alright but I'll never forget this man kicking this negative all across the floor of the studios so that was my that was my experience in Italy and then we came back to WElwyn?? studios did the interiors in Welwyn and that was my second film they did the mother one of the next one was in South Africa. I could never get a film in a studio or and Kylee? there in the came.
We all wanted to break into colour. Now in those days they were about 3 cameramen who had a monopoly of colour one of course was Jack Cardiff The other was Bobby Crescer?. Guy Greene got a break on Blanch Fury but even found it difficult to get into colour. Jeff Allen's was having Started. Colour there he was to have a black and white although he come up through Technicolour school and it was just very difficult these released few of had gotten a momopoly but I wanted to try and get into colour so they were making a film called a Magic Box in 1951 the. Year anniversary means for free screenings on Jack Cardiff was photographing in one of the Boulting's was directing. Ronnie was producing it and I asked Ronnie if I could if there's any second unit if I could do it and. They let me do some thing you know I get absolutely no help from Jack Cardiff who was at his most. No gracious publicity seeking best hire He was then I am the great Jack Cardiff which he was I mean you know I don't know. Marvellous cameraman and he wasn't about to tell me how to do it so I used to watch and when they finished almost finished a set they'd go off and leave me to come in and do bits and pieces my. I learnt a little bit about colour.
That's all. Then I finally did get. A break on a colour film and.
That was a film called I think I got the order right Saturday Island and that was taking place in Jamaica and once again no rushes you see were out there 12 weeks and all I get is a report from the editor and I get a little coloured pilot that's come out now. There was a very well-known man in those days called Frank Bush and Frank Bush was a lovely man but he was a right Charlie he really was. And his cables were always the same. You are your material All okay.
Printing like so and so so so so. Nothing else you would say. Now I had a cable out there one day saying that material all OK a print a lie so they gave you three records. Let's say it was a. 24 24 24 21 minus 2. I thought.One of the records minus 2.
Now I thought o meant there was nothing on the negative you see so minus 2. Some must have a hole in the negative I didn't realize you went to minuses anyway.
A cable. Back only took ages to cable from Jamaica in those days you know what I would later find out what they meant by minus 2 And back came a message from Frank.
No problem we are taking the green record and making a new blue record or something it was the blue records that have gone wrong I think.
And apparently they got over one of the records was faulty and they had a trick they could do it with filters they could take one of the other records and reproduce off the one you see. And they did this but I I mean I never knew that there was such a thing in the printer light industry strip Technicolour as minuses. So that was that. I finished that film Out of the blue a little while later I get a message. John Walsh rings wants to see me and I was very friendly with Ronnie and I knew John Walsh going to do a film call Moulin Rouge which John Houston was going to direct and I rang Ronnie and said John Walsh wants to see me what I think is about a simple not obviously. A go or who might consider you photographing Moulin Rouge civilly so I go to see John Walsh and he said. I will go Johnny Houston wants to see you. can I make an appointment and I said Yes yesso he made an appointment to go and see John Houston and Houston. sitting at his dinner it was Claridges who was sitting in a settee. He was drawing sketching and I. Was Called It was my first introduction to the great man. As I said he asked me to sit out there. You know comes to the house. And he started to draw me. Looking at me he was drawn on me he said.
Or what have you done in the way of film. And I told him which wasn't very impressive
Do you know if you know anything about Toulose Lautrec So. No I don't really. Know. You said a great many still drawing many great French impressionist painter
Yes I did know that they did wonderful things he said. I'm going to make a film about him which I did know.Yes John I did know that And you question me a lot but not offering me the film or anything So I went away and I thought well I'd blown that Didn't know enough about. Toulose Lautrec
And also I was intrigued because Oscar Heller. Was going to photograph this film and I couldn't understand why I was being I thought maybe there was second unit something you know or something. I can understand why. What. Happened. about Oscar Well four days later John Walsh rang up to see me again and I spoke to Ronnie again he said you've got the film I'm sure. And he wants to. Arrange a deal with you so I said well. well whatwould I ask well you can't ask for 40 pounds a week he said that. Would be a joke he said. ask for 100.
A hundred pounds a week suggest he'll give you a hundred pounds. John Houston wants you. John Walsh will give you 100 pounds a week ask for 100 pounds a week or. So a city said nah you know what you're getting that. He'll tell you you're only getting £40 he's not. Ignore all that say well you know working for John Houston you're worth hundred quid a week. John Walsh that exactly what happens if he moves out we were getting nearly said A. Hundred Pounds a week your only getting £40. Sid Yes I know but I think you know of a hundred. Again he gave me a hundred quid a week and they offered me the film now I found out afterwards. Long afterwards that after Heller done some tests with John and the chemistry just didn't work and I can understand I mean I know Houston now as I know ima knowing so well and knowing Oscar the way work I mean there was no hope that would ever work the mixture just didn't gel at all. And so we did these tests and.
They decided they they'd pay more for a drop in Now WHY DID I GET IT well a Very simple reason that all the other established cameramen were working. I mean Jack Cardiff was working. Bobby Crescer? was working Guy. Greene was working. I.
That was nobody else and I got it by sort of forfeit because there was nobody else all the decent black & white cameramen were working and that was my one lucky break.
Well having got that film I thought well I'm really going oh you know I'm not going to blow this one I'm going to leave in Paris and in the studio and Houston said to me when I saw him again you know he said I want this film to look as though it is moved and photographed by directed by Toulose Lautrec Now he said. A. Asked me again are you familiar with the Lautrec paintings so I asked him one there is if I know you want you to go down Albi? and look at all the paintings in France or all of the Lautrec paintings are and he said study them only said I want you to come up with some ideas. Well I went down had a look at them. And one thing I knew we got to do is break this wretched technicolour system down which was which was. Totally wrong for. Lautrec & Moulin Rouge. It was great for Westerns we John Wayne with bright orange faces brilliantly blue skies blue seas green pasture yellow sand. But as soft colours of. Moulin Rouge it wasn't going to work you know. So we got to break this down and used so I suggest we've got a little set bits of the sets. We got a stand in the Vec has made calls for Marcel Veser? they have to design the costumes and we got some of the costumes we did tests. When we did this and. I I started to put. er fog filters on cameras. And I put mist in the set because that's the only way it's going to work out to kill all these strong garish colours and I did all this and the tests started to look pretty good. And suddenly we got a deputation Houston and I from. Technicolour saying they couldn't accept what we were doing we were ruining the name of Technicolour. And we got to change our ideas because it was a franchise Technicolour you didn't.
You borrowed the cameras from them you borrowed the system because their system and you have had to do it their way. I mean they have tremendous authority this awful Natalie Towers Natalie could come on the set and she say. On. It that colours no good that was being changed these curtains. No they totally wrong you have to change those carpets all right and then she'll eventually have them redo the set you know and. They certainly have a lot of weight a lot of muscle. And. Look.
At Natalie Towers was not exactly a good example. For Technicolour she wore the most ghastly hats I've ever seen I mean there are no other woman that Mrs. Schilling is the wears then at Ascot . While Natalie Cowers came in with hat well rather like Carmen Miranda did with fruit bowls on them I mean that were just awful an hour that showed a her taste she had absolutely no taste. We found out later that Doctor Cower? her husband owned Technicolour was fed up with her and shipped her over to England in charge of of colour consultancy in England just to get rid of her. We were lumbered but anyway we carried on doing this. Technicolour was still not pleased. We go to Paris to start the gilm and we done a final series of tests in England. And we bring them over to Paris to see them and we're going to start night shooting up at Montemartre in the summer of about 51 I think it was and. We go into the theatre and we're sitting up on the balcony Houston and I and we run these tests and we noticed in the front of the balcony must have been every known name from the house of Technicolour from George Cowan Frank Bush Bernard Happy. You name it they were all there in the front row watching these tests and I thought this is a bit strange all this like coming over from West Drayton and Paris for these tests. Anyway we ran the tests. And. Her. John said always said to me at the end as like one last thing a sieve Well John I think we're pretty good you know and I really did. I think we've got it right. So lighting a bit grainy so we were just getting up to go and then all the George Guns? stood up. And Leslie Oliver. I think was there as well and they vote and they turn around they said could we have one word with you please before you leave. So we sat down they said we would like to put it on record we accept no responsibility for what you are doing to our colour system in our view. You are you are destroying everything that technicolour strive for over the years. We do not want to have anything to do with it whatsoever and it is entirely your responsibility. On with this last minute we plead with you to take all this stuff out of the camera room remove the fog from the sets and shoot it straight. And we would do it in the laboratory and JOhn said to me if you think about. It. won't be the same if they do it in the. Laboratory. You know and also. We don't know what they do when we're not around as though we've got to go and do so well. So he got up and said gentleman. Fuck you we are going to do it this way. And we walk out and we started to shoot the film that way. And we shot the whole film this way and I think it looks pretty good. Now it looks as fresh today as it did when we shot it off at the end of the film. It's each show visually the film didn't get a good preview as a film but visually it got tremendous notices by the way they also had letters which they gave us.
They got these letters all written. Saying they did not accept responsibility they gave us now I've given you a summons you know again John one and me one of the got letters us right the films finished tremendously. Visually acclaimed. And we both got letters from Technicolour John and I saying. What a great honour it was to be associated with such a great true breakthrough in colour photography And they're very proud that the name of Technicolour was connected with such a marvellous film as Moulin Rouge
quite the opposite. Now if I had not had a director to back me up I could never have beaten the system and they they would have devoured me. But because I had a powerful director when he could do what he liked and me just finished African Queen he was right on top of the ladder at the moment because of that. He could I could go on doing it and I mean I knew it was right and he liked it and we beat the system and that was the great breakthrough in Technicolour.
Timecode 02:20:13:09 to 03:07:18:10
SPEAKER: Ossie Morris side 4
Ozzie Morris after Moulin Range I know you went on to another film not with John Houston butwaht was was your next film with John Houston
The next film with John Houston was Moby Dick. Let me tell you a little bit about Houston. He. Had made. African Queen. Just before we did. Moulin Rouge At the top of the tree as far as the book. And it was a very hot property a very powerful gentleman As I explained already he had total artistic freedom control of the. Film. But more than that he was he was a wonderful person as a person. He was a great. PRACTICAL JOKER. This is extraordinary mixture of talent and. And sort of a Boy Scout really key. On the artistic side he had no equal in ease his concept of movies is he writing this script writing is his colour concepts is his camera concepts quite superb and on the other side of the coin there was this Boy Scout he loved to play the most terrible jokes on people and I never quite understood this at first it through me because he forced you to give your very best. And then suddenly you find your at the back end in one of his terrible jokes. Luckily. Only once as you have caught me out on that but on Moulin Rouge he played a couple of jokes onan American AMERICAN LIFE cameramen which I mean quite unbelievable that. The man's name was Elliot Ellistoffen? and he was assigned to the picture before I joined the picture as a colour consultant. Now Arto Heller Who was going to do the film and agree to this and. When I took over I was told that. Elliot Ellisup? was on the film and he was going to be colour consultant but I wasn't to worry about this. Well I wasn't about to prepare to worry about this because I wanted to do the film. And. What happened was that Elliot to done a certain amount of research and filters colours of filters of the Lautrec style he checked. A lot of filter manufacturers and. Dark coloured gelatine of the names of them. That tally with the colours in the paintings. Well I mean this wasn't difficult to do. But I found out later it was really an excuse to get a LIFE magazine yie uo with the making of the film because they wanted to do in Life magazine an awful lot to the film to get this coverage and Elliot was the sort of means by and by they would do this so Elliott was assigned to the film. To take stills but also as a colour consultant well the colour consultancy did'nt worry me didn't know me at all he showed me a couple or few colour filters he'd found all with most of which I could have found myself in trouble and was really not much troubled at all. When he wasn't with us an awful lot he used to go back and forth to New York for one day we were in Paris and it was shortly after the film started and we were up in Montemartre doing a big night scene and we wetted the streets down and we had arcs all over the buildings across the buildings and it really looked quite impressive and jokingly I said to Houston one night demand I said John what a great Still this would make a friendly act. And he said sure assistant ditector Adrian Price Johns? Where's Elliot so he said Well I. I think he's in. A hotel in bed asleep John after all it's 3 o'clock in the morning. What's he doing in his hotel bed asleep he says. get him out. Adrian said. What do you want me to go on waking up eating. Yes he said great still here this was all tongue in cheek So Adrian goes so it's back to the hotel and gets Elliot of it. Elliot get dressed and comes down on the location with all his paraphernalia just as the moment Houston says Okay fellows that's it we've finished that let's go on and do something else.
Now this was all done deliberately to screw Elliot out and Elliot arrives they get everything set up and we're apparently broken everything out pretty well I thought this is an awful trick to play on this chap And Houston was quite serious about this he wanted to go on with something else. So I said to Elliot I said Look. If you put that one on it's more or less as it was and he came he did and he got something. But I mean Houston was quite prepared to get this man. And yesterday. You know played a terrible joke. That was Joke nr 1 the other one was much more wicked. H-m Adrian Pryce-Jones from the Pryce-Jones family which was quite a well-known family had on Trey to the mic is me and a gentleman and a cup of. Tea. Cup of tea. Lovely.
A BREAK FOR TEA HERE ......................
Adam Price Jones had the entrees to Buckingham Palace stationery.Through his brother at Buckingham Palace
So John thought there must be a great joke here somewhere so we asked Asian to get hold of some.
Stationery which he did. With Buckinham Palace on the top
But in a post on the top of it and he concoted a letter to Elliot Ellisup as though it was from the Queens of the Kings through King I think in those days private secretary a summoning Eliot to Buckingham Palace to photograph the royal family. He wrote this thing and it was damn time everything. And Elliot was so naive about this because he gave Elliot this note in front of everybody on the set. Now if Elliot had know anything about it he would have known. Anything was coming from the palace it wouldn't come from John Houston to be given the set but Elliot couldn't see through this and. This letter was given to Eliot. I've been asked to give this to you. I think you'll find it's a command from Buckingham Palace and handed the note and. It's there was you know a summons to go to Buckingham Palace. An Elliot was set about doing all this and got everything ready. I mean he was going to be phoning the palace to find out where he got to do this that and the other. And in the end had to be said he had to be told and he used a bit but he had to be told that it was a joke because otherwise I think he'd have been knocking on the door of Buckingham Palace. Ready to photograph the royal family and this was all a gag done by Houston I mean those are the sort of things he would do on another occasion and Elliot has apparently made a pass at a girl he had been friendly at all the time and made a pass at a girl. Only a small thing. Houston got to hear about this and started to talk to Elliot in front of everybody saying. Elliot I hear you. OK. Alright. Can we. Find him.
TAPE STOP FOR TEA
OK. It was on another occasion. Houston to hear that Elliot passed the girl somewhere in the studio he thought what a wonderful opportunity. dor another gag He worked on Elliot
Erm called Elliot over one day very seriously if front of everybody on the set. Elliot you made a pass at a girl on the set isn't really the thing to do. Life magazine photographer making a pass at a girl on Moulin Rouge Elliot I don't know what came over you but you know I took you seriously John. I didn't hear it. It is come to my notice that you did. This is very serious because I also hear that.the girl's Parents are getting involved.
You know John I simply didn't do this Elliot. Something must have gone on between you. Did anything go on between you know one and no John. No no really. Well do you have. They. Have and this is going on in full view of everybody on the set in early to work. Well. You know now that you know what do you do. Well I guess I smacked her bottom. Now here this is very serious for a Life photographer. Often referred to to do some you know what are we going to do the girls parents are beginning to get very unhappy about this and I know John I I think you know more than that to go Elliot are you absolutely sure. He yes yes no no no we're did you do this Elliot I mean was it you were you know I can't really remember a who you know who surely you must remember. Was a set or was it in a dark corner on or a corridor.
Well he said I think it was in my office are in your office was there anybody else is there really no no no no.
Well this is very serious and so it went on a hour and we're all in cahoots of laughter and Elliot takes this all very serious and even builds up so much in early as mine I mean in the in the chat about to make a public confession of that he raped this girl of course is nothing like that happened at all that there was a sort of trickthat Houston used to do a joke and he used to enjoy it.
My next film with Houston. That was a Beat the Devil? that was a black and white film you were never invited to photograph a Houston film we are going to something exciting a B & W film Beat The Devil? have you read the book. It's a very good story. We're going to make a real Shaggy Dog Shepperton Picture Show he sounds interesting as always follow these guys. So in Italy and. Studios right.
So we go off to Italy to look for the locations of while we are out there I find that he's assembled You know what in those days there is a good cast.
He's got art he's got Peter Laurie he's got Jennifer Jones Gina Lollobrigida. Robert Morley
Edward Underdown Not quite so well known I mean there are six which are bad cast and. We're with you we're going to make the film we find the locations in Italy. The rest of the studios now are. we go out ahead of tome and JACKIE Claimy?is the production supervisor This is before Jackie was directing Jackie was productions adviser and the first story I have to relate is that the Jackie. Gets a fever and he's quite ill. Word gets back to John that Jack's not well he's got he's got the flu or something.John said where is he Well he's in his hotel. In this hotel where we are. Let's go to him. He said I've got a very good cure for that we go to Jack who looks pretty awful. And he's a. John's secretary was a girl called Jeannie Simmons the famous Jeannie Simmons in those days and he said and I was with him. Into the room to Jeannie fill the bath. So plenty of hot water. So fill the bath with hot water and Jack's got Pretty bad fever to Jack. Come on we're going to put you in the bath.
Are there any more to do with any of them. No matter waht Jack says we get hold of this poor figure and dump him in this very hot bath U.S. and so. Jack feels a bit better. So.
Jeanne is there. As well I mean it's crazy. Right. Can't you need let's get Jack out of our silly drain the water Jeannie fill the bath but cold water so the Jeannie fills the bus with cold water. Come on you put Jack in the bath in cold water I mean how didn't get galloping pneumonia I don't we don't poor old Jack in the bath with cold water give me screams and he's in agony shivering and shaking he said. To Jack in an hour's time you'll feel great. So we get him out the bath and read this group you know dry him up I'm carry him back to bed and leave him when I have to tell you. Jack gets worse and worse and worse and a John to go back to John I say John I've been to see Jack he's you know he really is very bad now.
He's got a real fever right. Will give him another dose to say how it is are you sure this is right. Never fails this is in there with the help of wheat and Jack and Jack is looking so awful Jeannie fill the bath again and we do it again and we don't kill this bloke I don't know I don't know to this day whether that was a Joke or whether he was really serious but we actually did that was the first thing on earth. Now the next thing I'm the most hilarious is as far as Gina Lollabrigida? had never made a film outside of Italy. this was her one big chance to make the grade with the big American stars. I have to tell you Gina Lollabrigida is the world's worst actress she's she's got a very good looking very good face but she is a terrible actress you see.
So she's going to make a big ploy on this film and she's going to really hit the headlines so she thinks so. She asked John whether she can go and choose her own wardrobe but I'm one of these Italian.Haute Couture places Sure sure sure yes. Go didn't choose it we get a message that she wants to have her dress parade and would we all go. So John asked Jeannie we're going out to see Gina@s dresses we're going and says oh come on Jack come along so we go to this beach house and we all sit in these chairs. And. A Jeannie is a secretary of course. Remember Gina & Jeannie she I call her Lollabrigida to come on with the first outfit.
Let's say it's. a blouse & a skirt So she says Ha ha. Ha ha. Jennie taht's his secretary make a note of that blouse and skirt. Very Interesting that all this it's very interesting. Totally non-committal. She comes on with the next outfit. Let's say she had a hat on a dress. Different shoes. Jeanie make a note of that hat dress shoes. Jeannie writes that down
Gina comes in with a third. Thing. Well it's a it's a blouse and a pair of slacks. And a hat so she's got a hat on. Ha ha.
Jeannie. Mkae a note of that so she makes a note of it I don't think that hat is right to you. And I know I'm being fed with a lie. No in our well enough. No I think no I don't think it's right he said Jeannie and I think that the hat on the first outfit is the one she should wear make a note of that thank you. Thank you Gina so off she go. Jeannie says John she didn't have a hat on the first day out the command yet he did never write it down easy. Jeanne is now confused so she doesn't have the first outfit so she put a hat on the first outfit that's all she did We didn't have one.But John
So the fourth outfit comes on he says now a room. he says Oss what Do you think of this. skirt So I said world to be done yes
Jeannie I think the skirt should go with the skirt on the. The third outfit so Jeannie says that John she was wearing slacks Oh Jeannie. Come on. Put it down one on the third out of three. It goes with this with this blouse but she said John it was Oss now. Here's what you need to know what are you doing you must be asleep. Put it down. So Jeannie puts it this goes on. By which time she is totally and utterly confused and what happens in the end we take every dress she wore and we take it right to the location. We sort it all out. on location In other words that whole afternoon. Was total waste of time. It was jest of reason for him to have a joke at reciprocate and he does as always so confused and so I mean Jackie claimed it was going on. Jeannie Simms was about to have hysterics. This is the sort of thing he would do say the next thing. Third thing is we're ready to.
Let's say we're going to start shooting on the Monday. Bogart and he are in Rome on. The Thursday and thy're going to come out by road on the Friday. Well they start off by road and they've got an Italian driver and. they come to a fork in the road. And this is the way Houston relate a story. And the driver didn't know whether to go to the right or the left. So we split the difference went straight on into a wall Bogart tips forward breaks a front tooth on his tongue and he arrives up at Ravella? where we are going to start shooting on the Monday with a broken front tooth. Now most directors would think this is a disaster Houstons THOUGHT THIS WAS THE GREATEST joke THE EVER happened. There's Bogart he says.
look our leading man look at his tooth. Yes Bogie he got a problem what you going to do about it Bogie and Bogart says well John i says I'll cable California and get another one sent out out well you better do something about it because you sure look funny do you think it's a stick some gum in his tooth to you know things like I'm always drawn into these games.
Anyway to cut a long story short they get a substitute tooth put that apparently was a capped tooth. He had a broken tooth and it was capped and the cap had broken and he done another one and he got the stuck in alright.
So so that was alright so that's an that's the next thing. Now this is Friday we're told is going to be a big party on Saturday. Now the picture starts on the monday is going to give a party on Saturday. So we all assemble at the hotel. They'll. Have this lovely party and he's got a writer out their whom we didn't know much about them. Who. But you. Everyone knows them was Truman Capote Truman suddenly arrives out of resella?. We've got a script. And. Truman arrived before that's a bit odd So they had this big party and John'said . Truman. have you got a copy of the script there is used to this Truman is. Yes. And he gives it to John and John gets hold of the script and the proceeds to tear it in you know pieces and announces that that script is now not going to be used that Truman and he are going to rewrite the film. Now this is Saturday. Houston's going to get very drunk at this party saturday night so nothing will be down until late Sunday we start shooting on Monday. And we actually started on Monday with no script. You think one how does he handle this well crafty was shooting down in the foyer of the hotel where he is living.He does this so it's easy and he comes down on Monday morning. Bear in mind I've known him quite well by now and I said John what you like and all he does he says Oss. And he looks at me .
Okay so I say yes that means he wants to pan somebody in the door. Go over to the window. Come down here and sit in that chair you see and that's all I get from him but I know him well enough to know that you talk about getting set up.
QUESTION I'm not sure he's going to do it. Oh I see.
Well if you was gestures with his thump and his first finger this family's first feeling confusing it was yes. And.
And he goes upstairs you see how long will it be I said about that John. So we lined it all up and it's not easy in this hotel room because he's very fussy about sound.
So the sound is these walls so the sound man is putting blankets all around. And I've insisted that they have white sheets on them because I'm bouncing off the walls as well. And if you use Army blankets It kills the bounce so we have to put blankets and sheets as well out because we couldn't get white blankets or some other. So we get this all set up and I go up it's always me that had to go up where I go and we're ready.
He comes down and he looks at it and we've got everything in this quite big foyer. Haha. he wander onto the set. He wanders right on the set and he goes to the far end of the set and he says Oss. And he gestures to me over there.
And he does the same gesture with his thumb and forefinger on the door ont of the chair table and the other chair but right at the other end of the set and he said. I think its better this end don't you. That means to say he wants it that end So you have to agree with him you dare not. He says How long will it be kid Well another hour so we have to up everything up take all the blankets off the wall go right back to the other end and re do it all the other end Having said that it is better that end anyway. But I'm not the position to argue with him in the first place you don't argue with Houston you know otherwise he can make you look so small but so easy. I couldn't fault him by saying he was just being awkward it was better but I found out afterwards of course he was rewriting the script. upstairs with Capote and they just stalling things that I was being blamed for the delay because it was taking an hour to do this. Admittedley he changed his mind but that's a director's prerogative. There is another hour where we change it you see. So I mean that that's the sort of thing used to go on for the first few days. Once he was spent a lot of time and writing but he also spent a lot of time treating? with Truman. And once I always tried to get the setup out of him the night before if I could because it's daytime? because he's a bad riser he never he never came on the set nefor 9 30 and then you have to break him in gently otherwise he can really make life very difficult. So I get the set up from the night before and I did one night and we came in the next day and we got it all set up and there's no sign of him so I said. I. Could cancel I go upand see the men there. Okay so I go upstairs and so I get out in the big room. I could smell a wood fire burning you know a lovely smell of burning wood. And his door is ajar and these rooms in darkness in what is obviously the old buggers still in bed.
Well I own that I just I didn't move the door so I thought it might make a noise I don't want to wake him up or he might attack me. I just crept round the door and there the other side of the door was a three kilowatt fire burning full blast onto the bottom of the door. Now I did often like that all night and the bottom of the door was red just you know just like coke where you'd only got to touch the door and it would have fallen apart. It was just red hot and this fire had been there all night.
He's still spark out and I mean that you know downstairs and he's still fast asleep in bed so I go over to him.
And i gently. You know knock his arm and I say John. I need an AC John. said it Ozzy.Oh Hello Oss how are you
Are fine John. John your door is alight . Quiet I said. Your door is burning its on fire.And he went And oh how I love the smell of burning wood and then just collapsed on the bed and went to sleep again so then I had to wake him again.
John we're ready and we're ready. Hahaha or what or what are we doing kid. We've lined up the shot you know you gave me last night. Aha. Case o r b down and finally he came down how they put the door out out the door I don't know I didn't touch the door but I mean he'd obviously been on the binge the previous night he's got drunk Push the electric fire away and it was right by the door. How's that place wasn't burned down I'll never know It. I mean that was another little thing that happened.
I heard Gina Lollobrigida. who out the making the film took everything seriously and he just set her up and I mean but it's so it's a character in the film because if you see the film she plays this rather Kooky part and then it's really fused and so she thinks she's God's gift to the acting profession and he's setting up all the time but E.D. he's marvellous at manipulating people. Absolutely brilliant. And you said to me outside he's he's very laidback. That's his forte. He lays back and he let everybody else do it and he picks the bests everybody's contribution. And there's something about it makes you bust a gut to get it right and everybody does that including actors. And he chose lays back and picks the nice bits the best bits and he detaches itself from film quite deliberately because he believes if you get too close to a film on. You. You get to involve that section you gotta see the film as a completed whole. You can only do that by as you say laying back so on like the you know that's what happened on Beat the Devil I mean we had we had only three and an Italian an actor who played the part of the skipper of the boat who couldn't understand a word of English he was meant to be a drunk. And they used to load this bloke up with booze Those are the men the bloke was so dedicated He used to get as pissed as a newt Before we started to play the part he couldn't understand English anyway and even rant and rave in Italian and it was hilarious to hear this going on. But it's all in the film I mean there is no script for this. He just lets it go and you think he's crazy but when you see the film you see WHY DOES IT HURT. He Contrast that man with Edward Underdown?a staid steady Englishman. Poor old Fredy Underdown doesn't know there's no way he's going to come in. You don't know what the letters go you don't know whether the Italian actor can stand up I mean if he can't so if he's so drunk he can't stand up or I'll use him to sit down He doesn't care as long as he gets the characterisation right and that's where he is quite marvellous. He was. He had Bogart. In his hand. Bogart is no mean actor means star you know but then. Bogart would follow John around. Like a pet poodle and I mean all actors and actresses do that he's got these great great quality of being able to get them all eating out of his hand and throughout all the films I've done with him as I relate them as we go along or your you'll hear this coming up time and time again. Anyway that was Beat the Devil
I can't think of anything immediately else about the next one QUESTION it must have been a very confusing shooting film for everyone because it is used to make his intentions apparent or OSSIE MORRIS All said to me was the beginning was going to make a a shaggy dog movie that's enough to give me another he wanted to be. One is a very good description. Well how could you call it a shaggy if you wanted to be very much off the cuff very much a free sort of of approach to movie making. He wanted to throw the the book of rules away and let everybody go. Bananas and do almost like improvisation you know And. All the actors Well I mean it was it was mad. I mean. One night Jennifer Jones by the way whom I knew very well is is a dedicated nutcase. I mean she always was you see that film to play Tender is the Night which was on television recently. You imagine Jennifer was in that in the film that Fox made. And. It's about this girl who goes nuts. Well I mean Jennifer's perfect part because Jennifer is crazy and Jennifer.
Was very dedicated. And.had an entourage of her own around her. Her own makeup around her her own hair dressing and she was a girl on a bike every morning exercising she'd Yogo she did press ups. You know she did everything to make the whole thing crazy John had the bananas idea of putting her in a blonde wig
QUESTION Was Selznick around by the way
OSSIE MORRIS I have a story about Selznick I'll come on to that hed had her in in this blonde wig I mean I thought it looked ridiculous but he wanted her in the blonde wig liberated? it was dark and he wanted the difference. Well I thought it was crazy. One night they were all playing poker. There was the Bogart and Houston always playing poker there was a sound man called Kevin McClory always used to join the school and was always losing money and. A. Whole gang Peter Lorre used to play or one night they were playing poker. And one of Jennifer's aides I think the makeup. Lady came down and said.Mr. Bogart Will you come up to see Miss. Jones immediately. She's on top of the wardrobe and won't come down because Bogart was producing the film He said On top of the wardrobe. what the hell she's doing on the top of the wardrobe. No panic you see. I said well there's a man in a bed. Well he said Christ if there's a man in the bed shw shouldn'y be on the top of the wardrobe she should be in bed with him you know saying this jokingly Well who is the man in the bed well it's Mr. Lorre Peter Lorre. So Bogart goes upstairs and apparently has a gag Peter Lorre wore one of those red flannel nighties to those bright red ones that used to be the fashion and got into her room and got into it with his long cigarette holders a cigarette with his bald head and was reading the paper. When she came to bed and it was a low fade? you see and she's clearly been so scared she leapt up on the top of the wardrobe. And there she was stuck and Bogart had to fish Peter Lorre out of teh bed and calm Jennifer down there but it's all part of the shaggy dog making the picture. You ask me about Selznick Selznick they knew was going to be the problem because Selznick won't let Jennifer do anything without him being there. It was made absolutely clear that. They had David on the set because he had nothing to do with the picture. But they suggested he stayed Marrakech and they said how marvellous Marrakech was because Churchill stayed there That was enough for David Selznick David thought it's good enough for Churchill is good enough for me. So the park David Selznick in the Munis? hotel in Marrakesh and I think it was in the Churchill suite which is the name in the book and they fell back and they also communications between the Munis? and Italy weren't good. So they knew that would help.
Well when they did tests started to be made and messages started to get back to David Selznick the memos started to arrive and they got longer and longer and it was about Jennifer and the blonde wig and Jennifer's part and Jennifer was unhappy about this somebody had been rude to Jennifer. PETER Lorre was in her bed caring and so on and so forth and Houston and Bogart got a bit fed up with this so they decided that the only way to quieten David was to concoct a long long cable. Which didn't quite make sense anywhere. And they figured if they made it long enough they staged a Marrakesh case which by the. Time David a got a re correction of this cable tried to sort it out it would it would stall him for about four or five days and keep him quiet till they could get over the scene they were trying to do and they did this very thing they concocted this cable it was a brilliant piece of writing which Houston spend hours with Bogart doing and never quite made sense any of iy There were little mistakes in it and so didn't say anything really. And they sent this thing to Selznick to keep him quiet. I mean you know only Houston would think of this Bogart just as big a practical joke as any arms were. And. That's the way they kept David quiet in the meantime we got all these crazy actors doing their stuff. Gina Lolabrigidda acting her head of in all these crazy costumes. I mean Houston wouldn't have cared she could have appeared in onescene in a black blouse and a white skirt and then gone to the door and come out with a white blouse and the black skirt he would look a I mean if I thought it was a good idea put that in a film but. I mean you know several people say a lot is going a bit far you've got to keep a continuity going but he didn't he didn't really care at all. And the e just tried to make it look like a shaggy dog film it didn't get a very good notice when it came out but he's quite a cult movie now. Of who really is and. If it's extraordinary the way people all the film schools want it QUESTION some people recognize delivered which are generally not.
OSSIE MORRIS So. So that was that was Beat the Devil then the next film after that was Moby Dick. Again Moby Dick He wanted to. Make a film again with a totally different colour concept.
We all what ideas and we got a guy dark while I ideas scenes some 80 miles of some coloured datings which were very nice and I was wondering whether we you know with a sort of an ink outline outline of figures. With a colour wash over it and I was wondering whether we could do something with that and he was very keen on this and he said well why don't we do some tests so. He said well get a LIFE magazine man over here to do. We said they will do what he said we won't get Elliott ask who are thank goodness for that I can't face Elliott
we know he's probably in prison
QUESTION what is this thing ablut Life Magazine photographers but there is obviously a lot of Mona's in photographers was that the problem is that it's always the public he's the greatest publicist in the world.
He looks as though he doesn't care but he's always in the right spot at the right time looking the right way. He has no equal when it comes to that. And yet he did it to you quite refreshing he seems so laid back. You think it can't be but it is it's all very calculated you know. Don't be fooled by that. And. So the Life magazine you know a just fine and he was he went down to Newhaven and he did a lot of stills in the in the docks in New Haven which is the nearest we can find to New Bedford which is in the film and he did some tests on this with some outlines and he got some wonderful results by printing in this light in the circle and he did some wonderful results. And John said Well they seem quite promising so I went to Technicolour and said you know this is what we love. Any hope of trying to do this and I must say they tried a long long time to get it right to try and do it. They got very close but we because the negative was so much smaller than the still the grain who broke down on the negative and the slightest grain breakdown was distracting and we couldn't really get it right. In the meantime we're just about to start the picture you see and we've got no colour style and I mean you should Oss my boy what are you going to do about this colour. Oss you've got a problem. You've got a problem. I'm sure you all sort it out. In other words I gotta think of something that he would approve. Well you know we started so well. I have one other idea I thought. Maybe we could marry colour and black and white. And see if that would do it because he wanted what he called his steely effect a masculine effect of the colour. There are no women in the film except the women of the widow's walk to say goodbye to the people when they leave New Bedford he said apart from that there are no women and there aren't costs so I went back to Technicolour and we're literally starting to shoot just about astart to shoot with brinkmanship again it's like Moulin Rouge all over again. Used to have there and I went to Georgetown and I said Look. Could we take the new. The New Haven tests that we've done. And could you try marrying. Desaturated colour. with Black and white. Why. About. Half and half. I said I think you would have to desaturate the colour. Because otherwise if you don't the black. With the colour all clogged up to much and they used to do special desaturated prints for television in those days then all washee prints which look very nice sometimes but they are all the tones all washed out but I wanted to bring the tones back in keep the colour washed out and that's why the grey black and
QUESTION Let me ask while there's a little it means
OSSIE MORRIS No this was the first single strip. First in the street the Eastman colour had just come in a very good point the very first one.
QUESTION And where did the B & W negative come upon?
OSSIE MORRIS take a glass of wine or a Monet take a black and white off the colour they go negative if you have the colour and they do that and they produce some tests and they really were very good and very promising and I showed them to him. We actually started shooting. When we see. A test but luckily we were shooting a scene in the studio before we went to Ireland and I got total control anyway and we were able to control that and get that right. Anyway on the lines we wanted but it was the location work I was worrried about
QUESTION studio stuff was oh no you didn't see any great difference.
OSSIE MORRIS No what we did with the studio we added a grey as well there in the end and it just knocked it down just a little bit more off but it was all right without the grey because we put the grey the other we had to put the grey throughout everything we called it black white they call it grey in a very light grey. And. That was the style the. A About a week into it was a week into the film before we got a colour style going. If. You ask me about jokes on that well even played a terrible joke on the producers of the film on there we were we were our last and we were filming of Fishguard in the in the peak quad ? one word got around that term. The producer was coming out. And Harold Mirisch? was coming out to see us the Harold Mirisch? we've been told come all the way from California he's flown to London from London Leeds flown to Cork and from know of London he'd flown down to Cardiff I think Cardiff got a car and he was coming at the boat to see us out to sea SC so John said Harold Mirisch? is coming out to see us win as we mustn't let this go without doing something. He said we'll play good joke on him And he didn't say what it was so Harold Mirisch? mouth on time. As a fast launch arriving we were right out at sea. And he's said to the tug which was towing us asked him to go full ahead as much as he dare go because we were limited to speed and get out into the rough water. END END OF TAPE
Timecode 03:07:18:10 to 03:54:10:07
So we got out to rough water and of course we were going away from the land as well so we were going almost as fast as Harold Mirisch's boat was going to kick us out. Now what we didn't know at the time was that John knew that Harold Mirisch was a bad sailor. And we just kept steaming and Harold literally wasn't catching us up at all to see. So after it has been going on for about an hour he told the. tug to ease down a bit. Harold came up to us.
We all waved to him. He looked as green as they made them. Harold Hi how are you. Nice to meet fellows come and say hello to Harold Mirisch we say all say hello how orderly just turns around and goes back in and they never did get on the boat. I mean that took that probably took an hour and a half of shooting time you know to do this.
So would you so used to he was a serious man lot of laws at all. Was it all just a joke.
No no he was serious you are serious yes serious took. Away. He could be very serious. All is laid back.
But still serious you know. But there was this veneer of of gagging and joking over everything but underneath was very sincere and dedicated filmmaker. He knew exactly what was going on. You you can fall over his eyes. You work when actors were shamming or when they knew when they weren't very good.
I mean you have to get his own way. I mean Moby Dick Orson Welles played Father Matthal? and Orson Welles got £6000 for two days work. Now those days that was a lot of money. And Orson is a very very powerful and overpowering actor rather he's overpowering. I mean when Orson walked on the stage everybody hears him and knows if he walked onto the set and John was sitting there and he had this script and Orson had . Decided to rewrite his scene. Which Orson was often doing movies. John said OK let's hear what you have to say so. And.Orson Play a rehearses his new version. And John says .Orson. Pretty good pretty good. Why don't we shoot it. So we shoot it. Orson thinks that's it so John says Orson Let's let me just do one now. He said he's very good Orson excellent It's like he said but just do one from the script he said I'd like to see how much better your version is the script version is but it's better on the screen. So Orson did the script version of you know where you know which ones in the film you would see and this is the way he gets his own way I mean most other directors would argue with Orson certainly be a big punch up and probably Orson would get his own way but he didn't use the thought he was getting his own way. This is the measure of the man. I mean the script version is in the film.
Gregory Peck played a scene in Moby Dick and was not very happy with it. And. said to John. John. There's something going out so far.
John John I I don't think I'm very good in this scene I'd like to retake it John said oh Greg you're okay you're fine no nothing wrong. Alright so the next day Greg would come up to John and sayyou know I really am unhappy about that scene I really am not very good. John said no you're fine. And this went on Greg would never stop and never stopt and it went on for days. And finally in the in Houston had Greg up to here you know with this said. Greg came up to John you know couldn't. I don't think very good in this scene I think we should reshoot it he said Greg Do you really want to know the truth he said.
Not only you're not very good in that scene you're not very good in the entire sequence and he said so will retake it. But John I don't know I don't want you to retake the . No you're absolutely right. You aren't good in that scene and you're not good in the sequence so we'll a retake the whole lot and we re took the whole lot must have been seven days work. Now I swear to god he only did that because Greg kept on about that one scene one little scene and we took the whole thing again and Greg felt awful about it. I mean I wouldn't have had the nerve to have done it but you know you know what Houston did.
But that's the sort of thing he would do and then on Greg never said a word. He never said a word. That powers. That directorial power. Mesmorism almost you know over actors.
And that's what he did and I never ever attempt to cross him because he could screw you he could screw to the ground he can destroy people if you really want to. If you destroy youself actually by what you're doing he's making you drive yourself.
Were you ever the butt of...
OSSIE MORRIS Only once only once. Which will come to me in a moment I'll always try to dodge that in fact the next film of now after Moby Dick. If I was going to do it he got Herman Melville itis and he decided he wanted to do type E? I was summoned to go to California and we were going to go on from California down to the South Pacific islands to do a recce for Typee? Going to all those romantic South Pacific islands. We set off and Stephen Grimes who'd been a sketch artist on Moby Dick and me was very impressed. He gave a chance to design the film on Typee? There was an American production manager called Harry Templeton. There was American special effects whom we had on Moby Dick called. Audie Loman? myself. The script writer who was an English script writer who's name escapes me at the moment and a strange man appeared at the airport called Don Beech Don the Beachcomber and I said as one of the crew I said who's this character what we've got him on board for all he's Don Beach they said he owns all these beachcomber restaurants try what I'm going to be taking him for all he's going to do the catering out in the and the location of a strange part on a recce to take the caterer so we said off we go to Hawaii and we have a look at some of the islands there where the South Pacific and they weren't any good. Then we went down to Fiji. There was nothing there. Then we got on a clapped out old flying boat. I belong to Teal Airways that could only fly in daylight it was an old Sunderland and we took off from. Suva in the harbour it's Suva and we went to Western Samoa where we landed about two o'clock in the afternoon and we had to stay there until about 3:00 in the morning so we could land at the Cook islands in daylight in the lagoon. You couldn't land at night anywhere. And the place to stay and Western Samoa was that had the salubrious name of Eighty Greys? boardinghouse and eighty greys board claim to fame was she was the only person in the island the have any booze because it's a dry island of Western Samoa is a protectorate under the United Nations it's a dry island. But Eighty Grey had got the franchise for the booze so we have to go and stay so we go there and stay there. We wait till we can't go to sleep because we're going to take off at three in the morning so thee is a lot of of drinking and chatting which is always good fun with him. We got in the flying boat we take off we go to takin the Cook islands we land there about nine o'clock in the morning they have to refuel the Sunderland with barrels from a barge you know on the wings and in the lagoon and we stay in a tin hut where it's so hot. Have drinking terrible English tea and then we finally land Perpese? In. Tahiti about two o'clock in the afternoon we start looking for locations the next day. Now Don Beach or Don the beach is supposed to be organizing thins. We stayed in the most terrible hotel which was on piles by the sea and it was full of land crabs That's why everything was up on piles and Don Beach? was supposed to be organizing the food I mean that was a joke. There was no food. I really don't know to this day why Don Beach went anyway. We're looking through most locations and one of the things I always do is go and find out the weather. And I said to John I was going off to weather met office to try and get statistics about the weather.
And I wasn't very impressed. We'd only got one flying boat going in there once a week that was the only line of communication. You can't really make a movie with only that kind of communication you've got actors that actually is coming in and out the rushes going in and out any urgent supplies have to come in on once a week. Flying Boat I know it's a bit dicey but that's not up to me that's up to Harry Templeton but I went to look at the weather forecast and I got all of the breakdown of all weathers. And it was quite obvious we were going to land ourselves with making this movie in the rainy season and when it rains in Tahiti it really does rain. So I thought I had got to say something about this. So I say to John I go to see John and I say John. You know I think we're in trouble starting this film because of the rainy season is due to start. So and so you know we're starting then he said Oz you know don't take notice of these things which I knew you know you must you can't see what we can do we can't shoot in the rain all the time. I said it's all right for us but you know I think the actors think of the movie you know make the whole movie. So eventually the penny drops and you realize that maybe there was a point Then one morning I said Oz tell what I want you to do. I want to go back to California. So I'm going to stay on here. Go back to California. Take Harry Templeton with you that's the production manager who spent most of the time getting drunk he wanted to get out the way he said Go and see Paul Kohner my agent tell him what you think and ask him to speak to Harold Mirisch the producer. So I have to fly back from Tahiti and leave Houston there. & Stephen Grimes?And fly back and. I. Have to meet John Houston's agent in California. Tell him the whole story. He met me at the. airport and I said I think it will be disaster if we try and make The film.
And he said we better go and see Harold Mirisch and saw Harold Mirisch and I told him the whole story I mean it's not my job really I'm only the cameraman but I liked him but I didn't want to see him in trouble and also I was the man was going to be able to turn to me and say Where do you start to really you know. So I thought I'd better get this clear Anyway to cut a long story short the film was over my own Greg had been committed he had to be paid off and.
The film wasn't made. I stayed in California Houston came back and the Mirisch brothers then said. I was under contract to them. We've got a film for you to do in London. Little Hut. For MGM. So I said well you know go back to London in a couple of days and pick it up from there it's all arranged. I go back to my hotel the phone rings and it's Houston So what's this I hear. Oh no no Oz Come and see me immediately will you. I thought I like that sounds a bit ominous So I go over to his hotel he was in the Beverly Hills Hotel. I mean the Beverly Wilshire. I get a taxi go over and over. He's sitting in his room. He said. What's this I hear you're going to do the Little Hut. So I said well John. What Harold Mirisch said . Well you didn't ask me well John I mean I thought Harold would have told you this. You're not going to do the Little Hut . Well don't worry i'll tell Harold you not doing the Little Hut ridiculous don't ever do anything like that to me again. I hadn't done anything I mean the people employed me told me I was going to do a film he said I want to go over to Fox If you're going to do a film there. It's going to be Marlon Brando and Jennifer Jo Earle and Deborah Kerr. It's called Heaven knows Mr Allison go over and to tell em tell em how I work is they wanna know how I work he says you know you know work. And they want to go through it with you. So over to Fox I go and I meet here the production assistant who's terrified of Houston and he says a thank goodness you come over there we want to know about this and how you worked out. Look we've done a schedule for this job. Tell us if you think it's right it's me I'm only a cameramen to look you know we've allowed so-and-so for this that I see you. Well that's about right but you're a bit you're a bit tight on that one how much longer do you think you want. Well you better give them another four or five days for that. I think I can take or I would do that. So for them in the end we extended the schedule quite a bit and said Now I'm. How many takes does he take how much film do you want I said you want to reckon one quarter million feet of film you know maybe four hundred thousand feet of film All right. 4 hundred thousand will that be enough you know anything we I so when there was so scared of this man. So it's a fine they said now. Can you get on a recce because he won't HE meaning Houston he doesn't want to go going to do this film we are going rto do this film in Tobago and go but he doesn't want to go down there. So he said will you and Stephen Grimes go down that's the designer and sort the location. And he says that he'll accept whatever you you down. I said yes but he hasn't told me that as well I'll go back and check with him because I think I'm screwing up and this is the head of production of Fox talking to me. I mean I just the humble British cameramen over there to make a film. And I find myself in this position but the they were so frightened of him. I went back to John and said they want me to go you know to Tobago with Stephen you know sure go there and you get it you know what I want you know what I want to get whatever script and they gave me a script written I'm going to see Marlon. It's a bit of a problem. So I thought and I found out that Marlon was hedging doing the film. Now up the only rebut but if I've ever know. Houston to have. In the whole of his career was this one with Brando because Brando was down to do it. Brando would not do the film now normally Houston persuades them to do it but he didn't persuade this man to do this and I don't know why was I've gone by then
But the only time ever that I've known him not to get his own way and that was Brando. So the question was who will who was going to do when we got to Tobago. We're told Brando is now not going to do it. Bob Mitchum was going to do it. Now up I realized that just before that Bob Mitchum had been on that very island doing a film for Bob Parrish? and I can't think of the name of it. And he'd been very difficult. A tiny little island Tobago as they go Bob Mitchum if he was difficult and how in hell we going to get him back on the island to do another movie. And I stay. And work out the locations on the island of Tobago we telephones Houston telling him he says go bact to England and sort Deborah out will you sort Deborah out. I said John what do you mean he said well get her costumes sorted you know what I want get her costumes sorted out. So back I go and I hope to go see the head of Fox in England wants to know what's going on and I said well I'm supposed to be sorting Deborah's costume. What do you want. Well I said we want some costumes and I do some tests and they will fly the test out to Houston so we did all this and finally we get it all sorted out. And we go. Back to Tobago. The whole crew though Houston does not make his crew he's still in California enjoying himself. We get the English crew or we go through to go to Tobago Stephen Grimes had stayed there. We arrive finally Houston. Deborah comes out with us. Houston comes on his own and we're told is. Bob Mitchum due to arrive in the next day or so. Well. Bob Mitchum gets as far. As Trinidad which is the main island. But he doesn't appear on the island of Tobago So. John said one day before we started the Adrian really Adrian Price-Jenkins?. where's Bob. So he's in a Trinidad John which is half an hour's flight across the main island where I'm a little on the mainland of the big island he is over there what is ge doing there Adrain and. While I don't know John well Adrian and get him over here we want to start making this movie so Adrian knows very well Bob won't leave Trinidad he won't come on to island of Tobago But it's not about tell John this at this stage. He goes back and he grabs me to one side. Here we do own. Well come on. You better go over yourself to see if you can. So we go about John I think Adrians going over to see what's happened to Bob flying over it do you mind No no sure way Adrian you go you get him over and then we can to start shooting.
So over goes Adrian Bob Mitchum getting stoned silly on the island of Trinidad. No way am I going on to that goddammned I sland again and I just made a film Fire down below and that was it Fir down Below something I just made a film over there and I've had this island no way I didn't want to do this film anyway it was Brando's choice. I'm only doing this because I've got a two picture contract and it's a second picture and I they say I've gotta do it but I'm not going to do it you know it's one of these contractual things. So Adrian comes back to my list. Bob Mitchum still over there and has to do with John and in the end John which he hates doing speaks to Bob on the phone because he feels taht's a climb down spoke to Bob and said Look Bob we've got a start will you come over.
Bob finally came over. We started the film and Bob's great in the film absolutely perfectly cast I think he's better than Brando would have been actually. And he Houston are to getting on fine and then one day Bob starts drinking. And Bob Mitchum drinks quite heavily and it was one hot Saturday morning and Bob was in his hut on the beach and Adrian went to fetch him and he wouldn't come out. John said what's the Problem Adrian where's Bob lets get the boy out here and why by the way out here. well John and I'm sure you can get Bob out here more out there and you'll get out on this beach. So in goes Adrian and it's taken a few minutes a little bit tipsy you . See. Anyway comes out again and he says. John I'm afraid he won't come out. And apparently what happened Bob had got through a bottle of vodka. Between 8:00 and 10 30 mind you could drink like a fish out there in the morning there my you could drink because you sweated out but even then that's a lot of booze every time Adrian had gone in Bob would offer Adrian a drink and Adrian had taken a drink hoping Bob would respond. Coming up with so although there is no age if you own the more stone every time we live in. Anyway finally Houston went in and got Bob came out like a lamb.
And we put him in the raft on those rubber raft and Bob we are going to do this scene when you're landing on the island for the first time in that what you want to do just go out there and we'll tell you when we're ready. And he made Bob row this raft out this tiny little rubber raft in the blazing sun no hat or anything on out to sea there we even took so much time we took apparently so much time give everything set up and making him do it once twice three four times. Bob must have gone through absolute agony out there with the sun and all the booze inside Bob lets do it again. Kid out you go again Bob you're doing fine let's do it again. Then Bob do it again. Well that's great I'm going to change the angle. We're going to do it from this side out you go. We'll go. He come in and fine out we're going to a little close up Bob now you know we just want a couple of close ups out of the finally came in and from then on he toed the line See this is Houston and he just won't be beaten and. If he if he got on very well with Bob Mitchug have a wonderful performance in the part QUESTION was he also also the Irish News?.
Ugh this would be the Irish Years yes. Yes the two parts of Ireland once he was on these side then he bought the place in Galway. That is a story. It's I mean if you read his book that really graphically reflects the life of a liberal. Well you know really. Do you ver stay. Oh yes yes because edit a film over they would have to go with Moviola's I mean that was a joke. He worked for half an hour the rest of the time he was hunting and riding.
Russ? would do the work.quids? of editors Anyway. And so that was all done for his own pleasure and enjoyment. One other little wicked story I can tell about Tobago. He had a continuity girl Angie Allen? he love to persecute. She's doted on him but he persecuted right left and centre and she loved it. She loved to be almost. imagined whipping her . She appeared once with a bathing costume on the beach when we were working and she was the most loyal dedicated continuity girl you could ever wish and in this costume was a little bit brief and there were a few little pubic hairs were showing. And this was to good an opportunity to miss a John sitting in his chair in the middle of the set on the beach you know with everybody around he said. Angie. come over here. And you can script a little closer and she knows by then it's a gag. She does know what it's going to be and we're all watching and he says to her and she's standing there.
Right in front of it and Angie I really think you ought to do something about this don't you and he pulled the little pubic hairs I mean if she fell for it and ran away and never spoke for days after that and Angies. she's not very happy. Are you Angie you're not very happy. And she wouldn't talk. I mean I wish you'd think very embarrassing crude in a way oh yes
Typical one. Who would she lay down in the road and let steamroller go over he if he asked her to do it ask do you know. But he didn't even the worst one of her. go this on beat the devil.
This is the worst of all for Angie I've gone back now to Beat the devil. We were on a ship out at sea and we're doing a scene where Bob Morley Lee Peter Lorre and an Italian actor exercising on the boat and they were going up the port side climbing the steps on the bridge over the bridge down starboard side back to the stern around the stern and just doing this circular walk we're filming this is Bob Morley giving them some exercise and it's a very funny scene. And of course as you realize shooting on a boat you can do. You can keep your direction you acted right but there's depends which side you were. The sea goes the opposite way. I mean if you're shooting on you can keep going left and right. And if you're shooting on the port side the water's going right to left now and you come down on the starboard side the actors are still going left to right but the water's going left to right as well.
He picked this up. Angie are we doing this correctly why John everything's alright John she had rather silly accent and he said Angie. Which direction was that was the water going we were shooting that shot.Right to left John. Ha ha ha ha ha.
Which way was the water going when we shot this shot. So there's a pause she said. Urge her left to right John. Angie won't that s make it look as though the boat's going backwards. There's a long pause and he says. No job no John Ah was this when I called in halves. Don't you think it looks as though it's going to do with John Waters going that way and he's going to right that way. Yes I suppose it must be as though the going backwards you know. And she said. Just a moment she goes she does love to little drawings. she comes back and she said Oh. Well John I don't really think that Angie it must do you see. If you want to go around and asks Is a ask and ask them what do you think. I think going backwards he went on and on and on about this never stopped him in the end.
She let out the most heart railings scream which you ran right up the deck of the boat we were on the stern of the boat right up onto the bridge threw her script which is the Bible in the air
and passed out cold on the bridge. absolutely cold and I thought this is really scary you know script when all over the place. I mean with the script is the bible would want continuity. Anyway he sat in the chair he didn't do anything about this and they went and gave her some brandy. and brought her round And you think that was enough. But no he has stood the topic you see. When they finally picked her up and go back together she just had hysterics . She got a script she had come down past him. Going back. They were taking her beow deck And he said as she passed me he said well are Oz that one. That's a good way to get a cheap drink a free drink. That's one way of getting a free drink a wicked thing. I felt sorry for them. And I've been part of it. You know we all do. But I never go that way. But that sort of thing he wouldn't do. You know speak to Angela Allen now she still thinks the sun shines out of his bottom
QUESTION Was there always one person OSSIE MORRIS The one time he got me I'm back now to Heaven knows Mr. Allison.
This is the one time only got me when the film when I did the tests Deborah has freckles and I thought be marvellous to leave the freckles she plays the part of a nun And I thought be marvellous to leave the freckles. And we did the tests. Houston thought John you know you happy with the freckle oh he says always that you know I think it's great. He said we don't. Do it. We don't have to look like a Loretta Young Deborah was happy with the freckles and all the material had to go to California and the. Of be looked at by the Fox? every day. Now the first lot goes off and we get a cable back. Typical California cable Dear John have viewed material during the first two days and believe we have a picture of out standing artist ability and pretend your box office the like of which Twentieth Century-Fox have never seen in their existence. So keep on the good work. P.S. We did notice Deborah's freckles that's all. He showed me the cable. Yes John that's right they were there right. Two or three days later the next lot of rashes go down and back comes a similar case of dramatic potential His film has got to be seen could be valid but so but we are worried that we can still see Debra's freckles Now imagine this goes on six seven cables but Deborah's freckles thing gets bigger and bigger and more powerful. such as has Morris done anything about Debra's freckles we feel all Deborah's freckles calls are still showing material should be retaken What is Morris doing about anyway are not all the time his part was fine everything was marvellous.
Finally once and I began to be terrified of these wretched cables coming finally once one saturday we are shooting out on the beach and Lee Allen? the production manager brings me a cable.
QUESTION are these cables It was supposed to be from Zanuck and
OSSIE MORRIS they were from Zanuck or from Syd Rigell? I mean to say. They saw all the material because it was very controversial subject and I got this cable to me this time I thought and it was from Los Angeles for Christ. So I quietly went around the back of a palm tree and I undid and it said Dear Morris.
I have viewed recent material. With. Shamroy? I say that's these are top American Shamroy Mac Donald Crasner? All agree Deborah's freckles totally unacceptable insist You retake all material that was addressed to me signed Zanuck or Rigell? on a one of the go I think signabsolutely no point of my going on now because they've isolated me from Houston alright for him he's getting all the good cables I said to Adrian where's John he said he's said in his bed reading as usual I knocked on the door and said its Ossie John What's the problem. I showed hin the cable and said I want to resign So I think ask they are you get somebody else dying and. Are going home as soon as you've got somebody to replace me. And he looked me straight in the eye and started to roll with laughter and I thought he'd gone bananas I was totally thrown by this laughed at me and then that penny dropped. The last cable. I found out afterwards. I didn't know how he'd done but I guess And he had caught me out. He concocted a cable he got Lee Allen? to go to the post office in Tobago to get to Los Angeles. Prefixes put on it all put through their machine sealed and sent to me and it was totally bogus. And I've fallen for it hook line and sinker. The only time he's ever caught me out and he really did let me old bugger. Ah I should never forget I can remember the scene the location that day was a saturday the. Puritan and I mean you know if anybody could have a go at he would. Power the power of power. But you have to him for it No because this is a game with him . and you've got to treat it as a game and not be caught Well I was caught once but never again. Mind you he got out himself wit Selznick on Farewell to Arms? because he never started the film he got usR all out. And he left the film and left us all with. A group of film to carry on and work got called out on this. So that was that was Heaven knows. Mr. Allison. Next we come on to.Roots of heaven. Film. In France a Roamn Gary? novel of a lovely novel. He's in Japan doing a film with John Wayne Fox and. His film doesn't finish to within about. Under a week from when we're due to start this film. In Africa. French equatorial Africa he sends a message as tell Stephen Grimes go to Africa sort out the location and I'll accept them or we're lumbered now with the mighty Darryl Zanuck Who's living in Paris who still hit the spot? Steve and I will go and sort theses locations out And he will come out later on and check them and then tell John they're all right. Well that's a joke Johns would have accepted that but he felt he want wants to be in on the act We go an choose all the locations get it all set up. Zanuck Comes and approves of. And John arrives on the show all four days before we start I come straight from Japan where I know he's tyred because he's not physically or that he's very thin got emphysima very badly and I know he'd be very stale. But he's committed to me anyway. Are you going to keep going. Illegitimate children all over the place. He's got to earn the money he comes out. He says they're all fine you see and we start making the film. Now. In that film Errol Flynn played a part now Errol Flynn it must have been one of the last films he made before he died but he was a total drunk by then. I mean he was never sober and he couldn't remember. One line of dialogue. And Houston would make him go through. I mean we've done 24 25 26 takes of a one line piece of Errol Flynn trying to get it right. I mean a simple sentence like.
I wish I'd come here before but I couldn't because I was so and so that's all he's got to say. Couldn't even get the hell out and Houston would say well play that off screen.
Would massacre with Errol Flynn. By making him get it right on camera. I mean there's always a way that you can do it off camera and over somebody else's lines but he wouldn't. So and he had the flu. Although the famous fight at the Selznick house in California at the party once in the fall I think fighting each other. They were they were very friendly. But Houston had no time for Flynn in turn then played a joke on all of us because we'd had a very rough time living under canvass in. French equatorial Africa. And we moved down to a place called Barney? which is still known as Barney? in near the coast for the first time we were in a hotel so it was really a joke. It was a place a brick building with a roof on it and. Flynn said he cabled Fortnum Mason and we were going to have a hamper. Of the most wonderful Fortnum & Mason food which was going to distribute to everybody when we got there. Well we got to this hotel and there were two things. The hamper. Was there. An 18 year old popsi that he came with him from California. And we opened the hamper it was full of such things as chocolate ants eggs frogs legs in aspic. Fortnum and Mason to a special. Brand of gourmet food. And he'd ordered all these I mean nobody would eat anything up but this was FLynn's idea of a joke this must have cost a fortune to send this stuff out it we thought we were going to have. Biscuits and. Cake and. Do all this ridiculous I mean imagine trying to eat chocolate coated ants eggs our own even if I was in this country. And that was used to gag that was Flynn's gag. But supposedly playing it on all of us I mean ridiculous. Well it's now I mean I I'm only going to half past five years.
You used my voice is getting a bit lighter I think yes you're reaching would you would you mind or you might be very very good point of proof almost at the end of alert you can live in a lethal threw off the roof of a store for a couple of evidence will show you proof.
OSSIE MORRIS Well I've got just one other thing. A little bit of another anecdote about Roots of heaven. Houston. Had been influences always influenced by the places that not only been in Japan. So we brought a whole Japanese wardrobe world long white do we call them is there not some wrong sort of what we call a few Kimonos and you know mono. Or those out and we're. In an encampment in the bush in the French equatorial Africa Houstons being given like a slug pavilion of a sports field for his place it's a strange sort of. Hut place and he dresses up in these white Kimonos at night and parades around in those things mean we're all in khaki we only the only shower we got is one of those buckets with a hose you know hose down. Arose out of the you you press the thing and it lets the water drop on you. He parades around in these white Kimonos I mean it was ridiculous as the Japanese influence was very much in evidence.
QUESTION Was Zanuck on location?Zanuck follow Houston everywhere like the Laurel and Hardy Houston was very tall Zanuck that was very short. John would get out of the car Zanuck would get out of the car with John would walk strode over to his chair Zanuck would walk straight over to his chair sit down.beside John. John would say now I think we'll do the scene. ER where she comes through the bush and the little man would say yeah. Scene where she comes through the bush and then John would get up. So Zanuck would get up John would go over and look at the rock Zanuck would look at the rock than look at the rock. John would go and sit down. Zanuck would sit down and say gee that's great rock John it's a John says ya think will use back here I think we'll use thatsays Zanuck And this went on all the time. I mean it's unbelievable that this is the man Zanuck has so many years was hrad of the studio and ruling with a rod of iron was reduced to this is almost a joke of a man.
He had. We had Juliette Greco in the film. He had a big crush on her. He spent his entire time chasing her. Apparently. When we. got. Away from the cameras park go into this hotel. He spent half the night chasing around trying to get there and she would have nothing to do with him. And. One final thing when we were going to leave this place to fly back to Paris. Houston decided that he and I will go on the Congo to look at the second unit there was a thunderstorm occurred. John thought this is a wonderful. Time to play a joke on Zanuck he said Darryl. You're flying back to Paris and I said Yes John. John turned to me and no I said Os you flown a lot. What do you feel about flying in these thunderstorms do youthink its a good thing good old John. Flying the storm like this I's rather stay here. So what I have a Darryl do you hear waht Ossie said. No was a very experienced pilot a lot of flying during the war. He said he wouldn't fly in these thunderstorms tonight and I wouldn't either.
I'm sure glad aren't you're glad Oss you're not going back. Well yes John I am and I I think tomorrow morning when we go off. The Congo Oss the yes they're only open up hold down. You're you're you're quite sure about going and I mean do you have to go back tonight. Well yes John. Well why can't you go tomorrow. Well John there isn'yt a flight like well why did you come with us Darryl come with us I mean you know we have one we taking yhe mickey out of his own producer producer. And I'm dragging on that one as well. that's to finish to go on.
Are we going to lose all of us who do.
You think is going to be. END END END
Timecode 03:54:10:07 to 04:41:02:04
Ozzie Morris side 6 22nd of October. Now continuing talking about your experience with John Houston What's the next film with you you would like to talk about.
Well I think the next one is probably one of the best films he did that I was connected with and that is The Man Who Would Be King. It's interesting to relate how all that started. I'm not sure whether I mentioned this but some 20 years before we made man will be king. When I first worked with Houston he suddenly out of the blue said to me as he was going to do wonderful Kipling short story man er man would be king It's part of the Wee Willie Winkie book. And I had had I read it I said no I had already said Well you can read it it's a wonderful little short story and he said and it's going to be Bogie and Clark Gable. So I went and read this short story which a super little short story but the film was never made. 10 years later I'm doing another film with them and use I get the same dialogue Ossie wonderful news. We're going to make a man would be king. Wonderful story have you read it. Yes Jan remembered of course of course. Who's going to star in it. It's going to be Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. Great Again. The film was never made. Now we can get another 20 another 10 years so that's 20 years since he originally brought the subject up. I get a phone call out of the blue in my house at Northwood saying would I ring John Houston. So I said fine I'll ring John Houston but where the hell is he. They said Well is he sitting in the in his suite in the Beverly Hills hotel in California. Ring in there. So I duly got on the phone and rang in because we've Houston I mean you literally want you to do it immediately and I just come in we've been shopping somewhere and I got on the phone to Beverly Hills Hotel and I got through to his room and there he was he was properly reading in bed or something or other and said John its Ossie How's the boy how's the boy and fine JOhn How are you. I'm great. What's going on. What's going on. I said Well John you have had a message ask me to ring you have you have you. Oh yes he said That's right yes. He said I've got great news for you. We're going to do a Man Who Would Be King.
I said really no no asking me whether I was available assuming that I'm going to do it I mean with him he always thought everybody was available as I said when he wanted it. The fact you have to earn your living in other ways because you may only do a film every couple of years in this country didn't enter his head. Yes John jolly good now as he is going to be in it. I know it's going to be Sean Connery and Michael Caine. Great. OK fine. Now you know what I want you to do kid. Go down to Morocco and check out the locations. OK I said it when you're going to be there no you said I won't be there I'm going to Puerto Vallarta to do a little fishing. He said You go down there and give me a call when you're down there. So I said Well John he said in Puerto Vallarta I said John you haven't got a phone in Puerto Vallarta . Oh no no no he said. Well I called Paul Kohner my agent. He'll get he'll get a message to me as to how Paul ever got the message as I don't know. So I would like 48 hours after I got the phone call I'm on the way down to Morocco to look for the locations where now there was a wonderful production designer there who's And the name escapes me for the moment. Anyway it's on the credits I think of it in the moment. He was a. Hungarian I think its name is a very tough but very good designer. He was down there and Alex Trouner? that's his name Alex Trouner. And he looked at a lot of locations and we went round to the various places in general just a rough preliminary look around. And I've been given a draft treatment to read and it was obviously practical to make the film there whether the film would not have been made it bad said no it's no good I don't know because they were all they were setting it all up but Houston felt he wanted me to go down there so. I duly rang Paul Kohner in California told Paul who didn't seem to know that I was expected to ring in but I said John said would I ring you because he's in a Puerto Vallarta hasn't got a telephone. So I rang Paul and said I told you I thought it was fine right so I came back to England after that and waited for a while and then I got another message. Would I go down to Morocco again and really finalize the position. Because the film was definitely now going to go ahead so back I go down to Morocco and we're based at Marakesh? which is a wonderful place for various locations and it was in the winter when it wasn't too hot. And we cited these vacations don't let me give you an example of the responsibility Houston used to throw at his crew in the in the story there as any enormous great temple that has to be built it and it's got to be perched right on the top of one of the mountains in the so-called Hindu Kush because the Kipling story takes place in Afghanistan and we've got to build this thing. Trouner's design made a wonderful design of this thing and it's huge it's got to take about a big courtyard with ruins and it's got to take about three hundred monks in this scene I mean there's some big things to play and this thing's got to be sighted somewhere. And obviously the more remote and more spectacular a location we could find then the more difficult it's going to be to erect the set. So I went out one day with Trouner And remember we haven't got a Houston he's still fishing in New Mexico and reading books and leaving it all to us. I go out with Trouner? and we go up some almost like a bridle path and then the path runs out and we go across some fields and we end up with a most spectacular view right on the top of a mountain and it really was quite spectacular I mean everywhere you look there was magnificent scenery and it was as near Afghanistan scenery as well ever get because we weren't allowed to go to Afghanistan because the insurance people wouldn't cover us. So I Trouner had a model there and we sited this model and I worked out which way the sun went and so on and so forth and we positioned the model and Trouner? agreed and it was fine for me there was an open side to it. We put that on the south side so that we got all the sun coming in the open side of the set the columns were positioned so a nice cross light and it generally worked that we could shoot all day. I think it was on an east west position which fitted the location so we did all those then I said to Trouner? now. I said Alex this is marvellous but how the hell are you going to build this set up here. Oh he said it is it is not difficult. He said we will build it in sections so I said yes we're going to build it you still will build it down in Marrakesh? And I said What are you going to ship it up here in sections he said. Yes I believe what about these columns how tall these columns oh said these columns they are 40 feet high. But I said you can't get a 40 foot column on a lorry I said that you know you've only got some beaten up old Moroccan trucks. Oh we will build them in three sections he said and bring them up and then we will mark them we will assemble them and I said Now what about do you know all this this space that you can get that up oh we will bring it up in sections. So but you haven't got a road all we will build a road and cut a long story short they be built a road and he built this set which is quite magnificent You see it in the film on and all this stuff was bought up in sections and assembled out there and also we had to have a cover set up there is no good taking a unit of 120 people up onto the top of a mountain and the weather goes in a hundred many people are earning a lot of money not doing anything. So. The set was built up. Now normally it will be built up on tube but we haven't got tube in Morocco so it's got to be built up on wooden piles and then underneath we built two or three cover sets so that when the weather was bad we could go on working. Now that whole set was built without Houston ever so much as coming seeing it. And that's the sort of responsibility he gave is a typical example of a response that gave to members of his unit. He was a tremendous responsibility for Trouner? and indeed for me because if anything wrong I mean is going to turn to Trouner and myself say how are you going to make this work kid. And that's what he used to say I mean what have you got in mind and if you haven't got the answer and it doesn't make sense he makes you look you know the size of a matchbox So that was one up one example of you know the problems we had. We sorted all the locations out and the whole picture was set up. I came home I went out again then about two or three weeks later and this was two weeks before we're due to start shooting. And he arrived. Now the picture is all set up. He done the casting of course. He'd been working on the script we're glad he's here and I must say because this is a story it always wanted to do. But there was no question of changing anything. And you just take him round the locations as we did Trouner? and myself and I was I'm a very superstitious person I was used to cross my fingers and hope to God that it was going to be alright. One location we chose. Why was I an actual building which was going to be used as the local commissioner's office. Where in the film Drabert? and Peachy? the Connery and Kane are brought before the commissioner because they've been up to monkey business with stealing weapons and things like that and we've found this location and also again looking for two locations on the one site. We found a cellar.
Underneath which we thought we could use as an office in Delhi which was meant to be Kipling's office in the printing works of print the newspaper where he worked. Now while we were looking through that and the original location I wandered around the back. And I came across the most fantastic looking face an old Moroccan watchman he was. This was a derelict building and he was obviously there too as a sort of a watchman he had a couple of pigs and a goat in the back and he lived in some sort of outhouse there. Had a wonderful face all lined wrinkled with years of wear and tear it was like leather but of course he couldn't understand a word of English and he was very poor. And I said to the production people I said look when Houston arrives for goodness sake keep that old boy out of his sight because if not as sure as God made little apples he'll have him in the film and that's going to cause problems with the insurance people. Right they said we would do that well when we go round the locations when taking Houston I've now come back to Houston going round the locations we get to this location and you know this little man appears. I thought this is it. He's going to pick on him and immediately Houston's interests switched from the location to this man anywhere I returned looked at him and tried to talk to him of course the man couldn't understand What Houston was saying. And Houston looked at me and said I Oss come over here kid and I went over. He said What do you think of that face. Well I had to be honest I said well it's a marvellous face John said it really is marvellous. He said we must have him in the film.
I thought Oh god now I'm going to be blamed for this although it's nobody doing me and I said yes fine.He said you know what if you can play Kafusah? is that when our Kafusah? in the film is the high priest the chief of all the priests and it's a major part. I mean it's not as they were just gone for two or three feet and film and then he disappeared. He runs through the whole of the location of the monastery. He's never been never off the screen. I said. John it can't understand English. You know it's no problem kid problem. And I said Well I mean what do we do.
He said I will get by I will get by. I thought this is going to cause the most awful problem when we got back to the hotel and I thought I have a duty because Houston is a great one for keeping things to himself but I have a duty to tell somebody about this because. You know the shit's going to hit the fan. So I went and I saw all the producer John Foreman and I said I think you've got to know John that I think you're going to have a casting problem we've been out looking for locations they're fine. And so so John Foreman imitating Houston and said what's the what's the lad been up to now. I said well he's cast it's going to cast a suggest and an old aowered? a watchman who can't speak English as Kafusalem? In the film he said it's a joke. Asked. It isn't a joke. I mean this is what he's going to do. So that I can see him and I'm sure that's not right. I said OK well of course John Foreman went to see Houston and I was absolutely right and Houston said you know he's going to be fine kid's going to be fine. To John Foreman who was very nervous of Houston said Well you know I don't know whether we can get insurance no problem he said he doesn't want to be insured he said that old boy lived to 150 still alive. He'll outlast me. Said if you can't get insurance for me and you can't get Houston insured you couldn't because of emphsyma? he said well if they don't wanna insure me I won't bother about him. Cut a long story short this whole boy was cast in the film and he is marvellous in the part. No he never says a word. He just does it all by gesture and all that Houston did was to stand at the back of the camera and sort of sign language get the ole boy to do things and mutter something in Arabic which nobody ever knew and that the old boy almost pantomime what Houston was saying. And it really is marvellous in the film now. No director in the world except Houston would have taken that chance. He took the chance. It worked. I can't think of any other director that could do that and I think that's one of the classic examples of the greatness of a man like Houston because a he's got his bad points but he's also got his good points in every so often you get a bit of magic out of him and that was magic I mean I would never have I mean as I've just said I try to keep the old boy away from him but I knew once he saw me one time but I know I know when no other director that would have ever bothered to do a thing like that. Sean Connery and Caine got on with him very well and eventually this old boy was allowed to see himself on the screen though he'd never seen a cinema let alone see himself and he thought it was the gods some think the gods had done he didn't know what was going on we dressed him out as a monk we shaved his head. I mean he didn't care and and Irene Head No Elizabeth Edith Head the costume designer on the film Edith Head. She dressed him and he looked marvellous. And the thing was very successful so I thought that was a little story about Houston which probably is not you know been told before except the members of the unit knew about it. If he really tried on this film I mean I'd work with him a lot and I know when he's trying when he's not trying and he desperately had always wanted to make this film and he he really worked very hard with Gladys Hill who was his sort of secretary personal assistant and she worked on the script with him he was always working on the script. We never got him on the set before 9:30 in the morning. But he was very good he stayed there any took great interest but he did leave an awful lot to all of us certainly always left a lot to me Connery & Caine found it very hard to understand him at first but then I knew him so well this was the eighth film I've done with him. Is vagueness threw them completely it's apparent disinterest in the movie.
They couldn't understand at all come to me and say you know is he interested in the film I said yes he really is the this is the way you were wise in life so I said well it's a form of detachment he likes to step back from the film and watch it being made and try and see it as a completed whole you see when you make a section of a film. Everybody concentrates on that one section. And you don't know whether that's overplayed. It's very hard to know whether it's overplayed or underplayed until you see the film completed. It may seem right at the time but when you see it in the whole film it may be it's overplayed or underplayed it's not the balance isn't quite right and it's always difficult for directors to do this. And Houston I'm convinced overcame that by standing right back from the film as sort of the most laid back director. I mean that all the time he really was. And I think he did that so that he could try and visualize the scene in the completed picture.
But as Sean and Michael got used to that in the in the end and. They are chatting with me and me being the sort of go between. They they go on time with him in the end. Towards the end when he got very tyred he got a little bit vague because he was quite an old man and they used to set up a lot of the scenes themselves performance wise and I would try and be ready to see how we could photograph that and then when Houston came on. I get the usual story from you know what are we doing today kid and so I'd say we're doing so-and-so John and he would say How do you how do you see it. So I say where Sean and Michael they would give you a run through they worked something out and maybe you'd like to see that. And he'd say yes sure and they run it for him and then he'd say to me what do you think it's passable I thought we do so-and-so so and so. And occasionally say well you know I don't I don't think that's very good you know maybe I've got another idea and he'd think of it another way but very often he would do it my way but it never came on and actually directed us the most directors to work on the set and say now it's quiet everybody. This is what we're going to do we're going to do this that and the other. You never work that way. And up and up you know towards the latter part of his life. But I think it the film was very good it got a very good critical acclaim and one of his better movies and now sadly is no longer with us. The film is often mentioned as one of its success stories. In complete contrast to that he made a film over here with Paul Newman which right from the word go I knew we only made for the money. He just wanted the money because his private life was so. High key got through money is so fast he just had to act or he had to direct films and any film that Paul Kohner could get in me was only too grateful to take because of the money. And this was a film that Paul Newman wanted to go it wasn't a very good story it's called the Macintosh Man and that was in total contrast to the Man Who Would Be King because he really was totally disinterested in the film. A story goes I think James Mason mentioned that yes I heard an appreciation of John Houston. James Mason said to John while we were doing Macintosh man John which is the worst film you ever directed and I think Houston turned to Mason and said Well make it now kid. We're making it now which I thought was a very honest and very terrifying thing to say. I meant the words exactly right but I know it. We were making the film it was James Mason that asked the question and that was the reply I got. And the whole film was set up with John so disinterested that it was very hard to get him the studio let alone to direct anything. Let me recall a couple of incidents there. I mean that gain. Paul Newman used to work out the scene with the other actors he come on the set. Paul is a very you know a very professional actor. He'd be on the stage as all American top actors are at 8:30 in the morning. The assistant director would gather the actors together of course we'd have no John Houston you wouldn't get him to 9:30 at the very earliest and he ran through the scene and I'd look at it and I'd have some ideas. And then nine now and 15 we'd sit and wait. And then about 9:30 a.m. the Master would come on to the studios at Pinewood. And because he was disinterest in the film one was very careful about how we got him to work because he could turn very nasty if you pushed him he could make life very difficult for you he knew this I knew that I wasn't about to do that. And he had a newspaper under his arm and. Do a little stretch and say good morning everybody. Very charming. Good morning Paul. It's a good morning Oss. How much has my boy this morning. John Fine fine how can this chair would be there only to sit in his chair and they discuss what they did last night he either seen read a very good book or he had a very good meal somewhere and nobody ever mentioned the film and then he'd run out of conversation and Paul would crack a few jokes about something that's happened the previous night and then maybe the assistant director I would say John you you want to see a rehearsal and he'd say to me oh yes Kid Yes right.
What are we doing today. So I'd say well wait we're doing the scene with Paula. So and so in the detective's office and he'd say What scene what scene. I said Well Paul in the detective's office you know where they are. And I thought God I've blown it. I mean you know it doesn't seem random. I say you know John it's it's page something in the script and. Oh yes oh yes. OK. OK and I thought Thank God I have got over that one. So Paul would then do a rehearsal and we do watch the set and Paul would finish rehearsal and I turn around and he's not there and I'd look and he's right to the other end of the stage and he sort of got his back to the wall and he's looking at the wall and he's got his back to us. It's quite extraordinary. So I'd say John how was that. Is that all right. Oh you're fine kid Fine did say so I say sure. Where should we go ahead. Yeah why why don't why don't we why don't me. So I mean he's not half the scene he's not seen so we've lined it all up and he goes off. Do anything but direct this film and then when we're ready we bring it back on and it's a nice I'd go up to and say John we're going to start because I knew the style of camera movement he wanted by then and you know it very well. I knew we all started along and he always worked in closer and once you're in close you must never come out again. It's a sort of set pattern in all these movies and I've worked this out and I've said John we've done so-and-so so-and-so is that alright. Well sure kid Sure sure. And we do rehearsal and we start to shoot and maybe we do one or two takes and he might say to Paul Paul you know don't do that.
Do something else. He wouldn't tell him what to just do something else Paul and Paul would try something I say Okay fine let's do that. And we film it and that was it. And there be no cover because they didn't want anybody to screw the scene up if you did cover that meant to say that they could shorten it or lengthen it. No way was I going to have that need to stop them doing that. If you did a couple of close up we wouldn't do a cross close up so you couldn't cross cut it. You don't go back to the long shot You know any Editor worth its salt would do that if you started long you go in you wouldn't go out again. So he was very crafty at doing that and we did the whole picture like that you were totally disinterested sometimes on the exterior. Paul wasn't called. He wouldn't turn up.
I mean we'd we ring through because you never shot anything without asking him. We'd ring through to Gladys hill in that its hotel in and say look there and say Ossie says that the weather is just great now can we go and shoot the part of the escape and that would count all sure kid go ahead and shoot it and we'd shoot it but never with Paul. Because there's always this understanding you know the star and the director the director directs the star and the star doesn't like being directed by anybody but the director. But we did a whole lot of the film without him even being there and I mean it was quite extraordinary. Totally disinterest in and of course the film is pretty awful. I mean what more could you expect with a man who's had this disinterested we went to Malta to do the location and we had a night location. And we went out to get it ready. And we start. We did the first part of the location and then we got to move locations. And so we say we shot the first part between 8 and 11 o'clock and then we were going to move to another location and we moved over and we were already saved by about 1 o'clock in the morning and no sign of John. So rang back to the hotel and he gone to bed I mean he was in his pyjamas he gone to bed and was asleep. I said Look now am I going to get him up. Somebody else can do that if he's going to sleep. The message came out he's got he's retired for the night. The message was not to be disturbed. So in the end I don't know somebody went but we got the producer going and he had to get dressed and come out again. Well you can imagine what he was like when he came out he wasn't exactly in a good frame of mind and he starts being awkward but I mean what else can you do you've got to make the movie. You've got to keep you can't keep you there on night work extra overtime. You can't just let not work. But he does make life very difficult on those inside because somebody crossed him if he wanted to go to bed and he was just not interested. Quite extraordinary. Quite extraordinary. I think that's about all I can think of. Houston at the moment unless I can be prompted with questions later on you know maybe we could go on to something else.
QUESTION Well yes Let's go back actually if you know I suppose the man if you like who gave you your real break Ronnie Neame wasn't it?
OSSIE MORRIS Ronnie Neame smart anymore. I rather not mention that have a no no. Was that a difficult relationship because I mean after all he had been a leading cameraman.
OSSIE MORRIS Well no you see it's interesting No in fact that was my bit of good fortune because I had a buddy of my same seniority who got a break as well and he never made it and I'll explain why he didn't make it in a moment. I've known Ronnie oul since he was a camera operator and I was a clapper boy. And after the war when I came out I was a pinewood. I was operating for David Lean's pictures and I was operating for Guy Green a lot of the time and then eventually Ronnie Neame said to me you know would I like to photograph film for I'm around I was going to direct a film and I said. Well yes I'd love to and I didn't really know an awful lot about it but I mean no I'm not going to be a fool and say I can't do it obviously I'm going to have a go go for broke because Ronnie was an ex camera man. He saw the whole picture through the eyes of a camera man which was a great help to me because it meant that he didn't put himself into these impossible me into this impossible situation where it's impossible to lidgt. Ronnie Neame always saw windows light sources as part of a composition which helped me as the young cameraman. So in that context I was fortunate. Now I have a buddy Ernie Steward who was the same seniority as me there was Chris chalice Ernie Steward and myself all operate at Pinewood when you know Ernie was given a break with a company Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliatt. Now Frank and Sidney were writers They didn't see visuals they saw script a very good script writers and they directed films but they were directing their own scripts and all they wanted to do was to get. A composition where they could get everybody in the frame rather like Capra used to in these old films. Do you remember some of the old Capra films he just pile people into a static camera and they did their acting and then they exited. Well Frank and Sidney were a bit like that and they never saw windows or sex or anything. They only heard dialogue their own dialogue. So Ernie said he'd do the film and the first scene that he had it was a little composite It was a Christmas party scene. And over the set they had those paper decorations you know we had from the corner of the room to a lamp in the middle chandelier or something in the middle a lamp in the middle of the room. Now in those days the only way to light sets was from the top. And Ernie just found it totally impossible to light these sets without the paper chains getting burnt out and having paper chain shadows over a party and it was a total disaster and Ernie had to in the end say look I don't think I can do this. And he had to come off the film. Now that cost Ernie a year of promotion I mean you never get another break for a year after that because they had to get an experienced cameraman to come in and do it. And it really even then Wilkie Cooper came to take the film over and Wilkie was very experienced but even then Wilkie found it a little bit difficult to handle these paper chains. And there's a case in point where I was fortunate because I had Ronnie Neame as a director who was a camera man who would never put me into a situation like that. Ronnie Neame would have said look let's go but if we have paper change is going to be impossible for any camera man to light it. We must think of Christmas decoration of another sort but Frank & Sydney simply didn't understand that. So that's where it did help. And it really did.
QUESTION And did you do any more with what was the film you did with Ronnie.
OSSIE MORRIS It was called Golden Salamander that was my first film with Trevor Howard and Anouk Aimee? Anouk was in it and Herbert Lom and that was in nineteen forty nine at Pinewood
QUESTION why did you do any more with Ronnie Neame
OSSIE MORRIS Oh yes I did three or four with Ronnie NeameI did the man who never was that wonderful. True story by Ewen Montague of the body that was put out from the submarine of Spain to kid Hitler that we were going to invade in the south of France not north and which actually did work. And in that context we went to the actual cemetery at a place called Huelva? you we're well there in Spain where the body of this man is still in the world you know they buried him in the wars in Spain and in point of fact it's not the true man I mean it's a body that Ewen Montague got from the mortuary. But it's it's got all the particulars of this assumed name. So that was another one I did with Ronnie Neame then I did Scrooge with Ronnie Neame and then I think the last one was the Odessa File and I've done about four with Ronnie Neame It was that it was a good relationship.
Oh yes good relationship. Ronnie Neame has been very kind to me and very good to me. Throughout my entire career.
QUESTION You worked with DeSica? What about understanding
OSSIE MORRIS Yes Well let me let me give you the background of working with De Sica? because again I mean this is a bit of background story that always interesting De Sica? had made Bicycle Thieves an Open City and was a really hot European director and who has sort of latched onto a style o Neo realistic photography which was totally foreign to the American public. Dear David Selznick after every success with Gone with the Wind success I think a gone to his head a bit decided it would be a marvellous marriage for him to produce a film with De Sica? to direct it and they say they made some arrangement whereby. David got the finance from America for part of it and got these two stars because De Sica? was keen to break into the American market and the two stars were to be Jennifer Jones David's own wife and Rock Hudson. Sorry and Montgomery Clift and he was going to get the finance from America for the American distribution De Sica? was going to get money from Italy which was easy and all the small parts were going to be Italian. And it was hoped that that would make a marvellous movie and it was called Statue and Return? and it's a story about love. It's rather like an Italian version of a Brief Encounter of a love affair of a married woman to a single man on Rome station and the whole end of the picture is going to be made under Rome station at night. Now I'm not photographing this film De Sica? insists on having as Italian cameramen and David Selznick says fine. That's OK with him. Now the picture starts and I am nothing to do with it. And one day I went to Wembley Stadium on a Wednesday to see a football game say England and Wales and I got home about 5:30 6:00 o'clock at night and my wife said there's been a phone call.
Jenny RICER Now Jenny Ricer is was John Walsh casting lady and I'd done Moulin Rouge and beat the devil so I knew her and I guessed it was something to do with Houston so I rang Jenny a Ricer and she said Ossie John Houston want you to go to Italy. As soon as possible ask him for what he's not doing a film in Italy and we've only just finished. Is anything to do with Beat the Devil I know it's there. He wants you to take over for David Selznick and take on the De Sica?film a said. I don't know I don't know De Sica? coming they should know. But John's going to do with this is he. So she said no but. David Selznick rang John because you know they're great friends and asked if you let you do it to God you know when when they want me to go she said well there's a flight out at 8 o'clock and they can make it at 8 o'clock 5:30 you know she would get a car to you quickly say to cut a long story short I did it I was on the 8:00 evening plane and I landed at Rome say 10 o'clock it used to take about two and a half hours. And a lady came and met me called Jovanella Sonomi? and she said I'll take you out onto the set as it would have been on the stage where they're shooting they were shooting at night I didn't even know that I knew nothing about this. So I go out onto the set and I I I don't meet De Sica? but skulking round the back is David Selznick and I knew David Selznick by sight. And he said I'm so glad to see you. Let's go back to the hotel. By now I expect 11:30 at night we go back to the hotel and I sit in his office or his only suite in the hotel and I hear the whole tale of woe what's gone on. They're ruining Jennifer's looks they're massacring her can't go on. It's got to be stopped. Jennifer's never looked so awful. I have come to an arrangement with De Sica? whereby whenever the camera comes in tighter than a full length I mean this is crazy only David Selznick the tight along full length either Montgomery Clift or Jennifer Jones. You are to take over an Aldo a man called Aldo who's to stick his camera is to stand back and you are to take over. Well I mean you know anybody that's made movies knows this is the daftest sort of set up could ever be so as to. Well David he said Now you can do anything you want you can do anything you like but I'm holding you responsible. For Jennifer's looks in this film I thought God six hours ago I was at a football game. Now I right up to my neck and it's no fault of mine. So he said to me for a long time it's now about two o'clock in the morning said Now look at the range for you first thing in the morning to go to the laboratory and see all the material I want you to tell me what's gone wrong what are they doing wrong. Why is Jennifer looking so awful so I suppose I go to bed at about three or four hours sleep and I'm up next morning I go to a laboratory and I wade through hours and hours of punch drunk with a film I've seen of Jennifer and she looks horrible. She does I mean there's no shadow of doubt that she looks horrible. And I because I've already photographed her and beat the devil so I know she doesn't have to look horrible but she's got to be properly photographed and I have to have all the continuity sheets and I have to check and to see what lens they use and everything anyway was quickly became apparent what was wrong the Seacoat technique was to use one lens only and its what we call a wide angle lens a 30 millimetre and he shot everything on a 30 millimetre. So if you wanted to close with Jennifer you pushed in under 30 millimetre and of course that pulled her nose out distorted the cheekbones and cheekbones and also Aldo never used then diffusion so I mean every blemish Mark showed and everything. So it was quite quite easy to find out what had gone wrong so I went back to David later on that day said look how I found out what's wrong and this is it. He said Right now I want to go back and tell me everyone that you think should be retained to have to go and wade through all this film again make an enormous list of retakes and it really was quite embarrassingly long and he said I'm going to send these De Sica? Well what I didn't know was that he and De Sica? already at daggers drawn because I mean De Sica? got no time for all this American mishmash stuff. He wanted the neo realistic stuff. And no way was he going to change so I can't. This goes to De Sica? this whole list and he has a middle man called Marcelo Durosi? who's the sort of well I don't know his producer cum general factotum and you Durosi?. Makes himself known to me. And so any conversation between me and De Sica? is done through Durosi? and Durosi? was very good I mean he knew that I was my fault and he was then in the hot seat. So we. We had a quite a relationship but I quickly found out that Durosi? had as much say over De Sica? as I did I mean Durosi? was just De Sica? whipping boy I really well I was cast as a producer and so we had this. We started and we started our Rome station and the first two or three days were just really takes retakes retakes and I had to go in and try and do these re takes I had to tell a Italian crew what lenses to use and they were all our all Aldo's crew so they weren't exactly keen for me to go in but I mean that was the arrangement it had to be and I had to be quite tough. Because I knew my neck was on the block anyway so we started doing all these retakes and because I knew Jennifer and I got to know Montgomery Cliff very well. And we did all these re takes. Now I have to also tell you that in those days it was slave labour in Italy. I mean we worked 12 hours a night on Rome station 8:00 at night till 8:00 in the morning. No meal breaks no food. They paid off all the electricians and everybody so there was no meal break no food real sweated labour and it was November December it was bitterly cold and that was this situation and we worked 12 hours six days a week the only or six nights a week the only night we had off was Sunday night. Now so I used to get back to the hotel at eight o'clock in the morning and then I'd find as you must know now David Selznick is the great one for memoes. I have a welter of memoes under my bedroom door. And if they weren't there then when I went to bed I get up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon and there be a wodge waiting under the door and I had to read through all these and it's all about Jennifer. What's happening this is going wrong that's going wrong and Jennifer's un happy about this well I speak to Jennifer about it. She believes she trust you she believes you and you'll know how she feels and so on and so forth. I also found out that Jennifer could not stand David Selznick being on the set. Now David if you if you know David Selznick he's not about to keep off the set when he's producing the film so he didn't trust De Sica? De Sica? didn't trust David Selznick Jennifer didn't like a husband being on the set. New poor Montgomery Clift was right in the middle of it all with me you see. Well one night we were in Rome station shooting and I was just standing at the back watching what's going on.
And I suddenly hear this. I sort of see. And I looked round and behind a column of Rome station is David Selznick saying.come here come here So I go to the back to David Selznick and I say you know he said. RC I'm very worried about the way De Sica? is playing this scene Jennifer's not playing it right it wasn't written that way. I mean Jennifer should be responding more to what Monty is saying to De Sica? missing the whole point of the scene. He said Go over and tell him I said what David. I can't go in tell you to De Sica? how to do this scene he said we will go and tell Durosi? So I said All right well I try so I go over to Marcelo Duro see who now knows the problem. I said Look I've got this David Selznick round the back there doing his nut because he doesn't feel that Vittorio's is playing the scene correctly Jennifer should be doing this and I tell you exactly what he said. He said he wants me to go and tell Vittorio but I said No way am I going to do that. I said No I don't know whether you're prepared to do it he said well I will speak to him. Well whether he ever did or not I never knew. But I mean that was the sort of situation where one every night one night David came on the set and David's enthusiasm for participating got the better of. END END END
Timecode 04:41:02:04 to 05:28:11:02
You know this is all deadly serious you know. Yes people think there's no skulking mailbox. OK there is continuing so Dave instead of skulking round the back exposed himself a bit because his enthusiasm rather got the better him and Jennifer saw him and she didn't say anything to her she was on the set she didn't say anything at the time she went back to her dressing room and finally David went to go into a dressing room now that he often did and she didn't mind that as long as he came around the back she didn't see him but she'd already seen him on the set so she was charged up. Now David went into a dressing room and the next moment we heard screams and shouts going on the like of which you've never seen David Selznick came running out of the dressing room. Showered being showered by long playing and 78 records they were coming out of this dressing room like they were going out of fashion. They were being slung at him and it was most embarrassing I mean you know you can this is the producer the great guy he says his wife doing all this stuff at him and he went to go out one side of the station to get out of the way because it was very embarrassing and she shot out of the dressing room barefooted and ran out into the streets of Rome in the middle of the night and disappeared into the darkness. Jennifer just ran screaming hysterical where she had a coloured maid who was always with her. And there was a bit of an exchange between the production people and the coloured maid and the coloured maid was detailed to go run out and find and bring her back. Now the coloured maid disappeared I don't know what happened but I don't we shot again that night with Jennifer we carried on with Monty and other things and she disappeared.
That was typical of what went on the film. Amongst all these memos I got I got one once saying Dear Ossie you remember last night I said to you I did not think that Jennifer was looking so good.
She I noticed that bad line under-eye she had a bad line under I which I knew about everybody knew about and we makeup people and we were just under one eye and we tried to always watch this. And when she got a bit tyred it showed up a bit in there. I mean to all of us it was just a mere bagatelle but to David this was everything this bloody line under this eye he said. I noticed this line you know we noticed it meaning I did as well but it was David really noticing it. And he said I found out what it is. Dash she's taking sleeping tablets now. What's that one. I mean I did when I did this he said Now what I want you to do. I want you to go up to her and tell her that she and do it very diplomatically said you know you're a great diplomat you can do it right. Tell us. That you are worried about her looking tyred. And is she taking sleeping tablets because in your experience they're not good for an actress to take. In other words I'm going to go in leading with my chin to do work that he she that he her husband as husband and producer should be doing. And I used to have to handle this now one way I found handling Jennifer was to treat her rather like a child and I used to keep a little bag of boiled sweets around the place and she would think the world of me if I occasionally took a boiled sweet and gave it to her. It was like a little schoolboy prank. So I take a boiled sweet and then I talk to her and I try and talk to her about you know the I'm the sleeping tablets. I knew somebody taking sleeping tablets and it wasn't good in conversation never ever suggesting that she was taking and hoping that it would work. Whether it ever did work I never know. I also know that the two husband and wife had this big suite of offices in the first floor of the grand hotel in Rome which was costing a bomb and that. David would summon me to the to his office and say look I want us to go and talk to Jennifer. Come with me. We will go and see her. Now this is has been produced said talking to his wife. He get on the phone and say to the other end of the block. Four rooms down the corridor. Say is Jennifer available and the reply from her maid would say Well no she's not a moment she's having her hair done now. Well we did tell her that I'd like to see us some time and Ossie and I would like to see her and when she's free will she give me a call so I sit in David's office waiting till we got a call from his wife saying oh she's free now we can go and see her I mean it's daft isn't it. Totally and absolutely daft. And so then David and I would go along and I'm the screen you see. If he wants to tell her something but it's got to be I'm the one that thought of it and I mean I'm I'm not I'm on a tight rope you know every every minute of the day. Ossie come up to me Jennifer and says so and so since I haven't come out but I've been called up by David to go and see him because David wants to get something over to Jennifer and it's going to be as though it's coming from me and I mean this went on all the time. I mean all your efforts. I've always said that 60 percent of my effort as a cameraman went in handling people and I really do mean that only 40 percent went in actual technical part of the job. Now Nowadays it's different there's a much more. Realistic way of making movies than if. If an actress. Doesn't look good someone either she doesn't make it you know you don't have to bother about it. But in those days with this phony American build-up of stars the American star system where at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer if anybody was under contract they were God I mean they can literally do what they wanted because they were the product base sold movies for MGM not us. It was the stars that sold it so that was the way of thinking and I mean nowadays it doesn't happen.
And I got all my effort used to be un stats the only term money I don't you know remember very much about poor old De Sica? after all whose name was every bit as important as the others it was handling Jennifer. David I mean used to wear me out and you know the press and the lighting that was instant I had to quickly do that and get to looking up put a bit diffusion on the camera tell you where to look. Tell them what lens to put on and photograph it and then the rest will be humouring her because if she if you didn't humour if she wasn't a good mood she didn't look good. It's as simple as that reflected in her face.
QUESTION Did you ever get a kind of relationship at all with De Sica?
OSSIE MORRIS Not really no not really I mean I worked with him after which extraordinary thing you see here and here and he and David were at loggerheads on Stazione Termini? But when David made a Farewell to Arms he cast De Sica? of the biggest parts. They were they were back together and the De Sica? was an actor and so it was a bit different to De Sica? had do what he was told. But you know you'd thought they'd never speak to each other again but you see when it comes to business they're making movies. All that gets forgotten. Paul and I struck up a great friendship with Monty.
And in fact when I went to California once or twice I used to go and see Monty. He was a lovely man I mean he was a very lonely man and you know he really I think is homosexual never married. He had a bit of an affair with Elizabeth Taylor when she was married to Mike Wilding and in fact if you remember the Monty had a terrible accident and broke all his jaw when he was in the middle of filming Raintree County Raintree Country for MGM a big film and I had to stop production for about three months and the reason for that was that he went up to Elizabeth house which was above of the where Monty lived up the canyon somewhere with Mark Wild? and got a bit stoned and drove down back to his place and came to a hairpin bend and forgot they can demonstrate the wall went through the windscreen and messed up his jaw. But Monty was very nice and Monty tried to detach himself from it and much as possible and I got I became very friendly Monty he was the one rational person I could deal with.
QUESTION I know now that you've got some other memorable names amongst the directors that you work with Carol Reed
OSSIE MORRIS Carol Reed I think and I have only just given you is the statement of fact and no other reason because I retired and it doesn't really matter. I think I'm the only camera man that ever did more than two pictures with Carole I did three one camera man did too but most camera and I only did one. Carol had an absolute hate against cameramen. He thought cameramen were a pain if films could be made without cameramen they'd be much better Carol was an actor's director purely and simply. He was like Hitchcock he manipulated actors like puppets. And he kept them in total confusion all the time. Now the problem was that they also got the cameramen confused because if he did this deliberately so he always had control of the crew. Everything was happening. Nobody could do anything without Carol saying what he wanted because everybody was confused. Most cameramen got totally confused and wouldn't work with them again but I was determined that I was going to find out what worked in his brain and I reckon I did do that and I did three picture of them and they were I enjoyed all three. I found out that Carol said yes yes yes to everything but half of the time he meant no. And the thing was to know when he meant no and when he meant yes yes yes. Actors would ask him questions and they'd all say yes yes yes that's a yes yes. And then the actor might say or do you want me to do it this way. And he'd say yes yes yes. So the actor is confused because he's asking two questions. And Carol said yes to both On one occasion. The first film I did with Carol was Bill Holden and Sophia Loren and it's called The Key story of the of the tugs in the western approaches that picked up the lame ducks in the convoys after they'd been attacked by the Germans. And Bill Holden was totally confused by now with Carol and was getting very worried about this and he said to me one day because Carol would NEVER rehearse because if you rehearsed the actors knew what he was going to do and Carol didn't want that. So Bill said to me one day Ossie wouldn't it be lovely if we could get Carole to rehearse a scene I said Bill it would be marvellous because I said I never know where they are all to light the bits of set. So I never know where you're going to end up where you're going to end up in that corner or this corner or sit here or there. He said Well why don't we ask him if we can have really hurt us. I said fine. What we were asking we said he has a right when he comes on I'll ask him. So Carol cames on the set one morning and Bill was there and the fear was there and it was a scene where Bill comes in the door and Sophia sitting at a table. They're going to play a long scene. So I say Carol do you think we could have a rehearsal would be lovely if I could know. I didn't say Bill wanted one. I said lovely if I could know you know where they're going to play this. Yes yes he said yes yes yes lovely yes. So right Bill goes out of the door. And Sophia sitting somewhere over here and Carol says right Bill action action. And Bill walks in the door walks into the set comes up to the table and says the first line. And Carol said yes yes yes fine yes yes. So Bill said well is that it Carol. Carol said Yes yes lovely That's it. So he said but Carol where Sophia Oh she's there she's there she's at it time Bill fire. She's over there. And Bill gave up you see. So we do that bit and then we go and Sophia was very good she just do whatever she was told so she would do a bit with Sophia and then they would come to the next scene and he'd say Well Carol where do you want me to go from here. Well. Whatever you whatever you feel Bill if you do it well. So Bill would do it something and Carol would say yes yes that's it. And we do that but you see when I got used to that in the end and I got to know the way he worked and. But that's the way he works all the time to keep the actors. Totally under his control and he could have them eating out of his hand that way. And that's why he was marvellous with children you did a thing called the Fallen Idol with children Bobby Henry I think was the boy and they were marvellous these kids in this film I remember this. And it's all Carol manipulating them was wonderful without you.
QUESTION if you hadn,t got to see?
OSSIE MORRIS Well you just had to be flexible and juggle it you get used to it in the end you know that you're not going to know and you've got to think to yourself when I look it says in the script she's going to sit down at the table.
Now there's only one table in the set. I can't believe that Carol would have her sitting on the windowsill. I mean if that is too bad you've blown it. So you think well there must be light on the table. Now it says that she's going to go to a cupboard to get something rather. Now she's going to go to a cupboard there's only maybe the two cupboards It's either be that one about one well where I have to guess which one that's going to be in you have to juggle the lighting a bit you seem to be ready I mean it's a very good exercise for trying to anticipate what's going to happen. But again you see the effort you're dealing with people I'm not lighting I'm trying to visualize what the director and the actors are going to do. And all your effort goes that way thinking well if he goes there I've got to light that bit and if he doesn't I'll do that but you see and you say to Carol Carol we've got four scenes in this room. It would be lovely if we have different lights there all night scenes be lovely if we had different light sources on for each scene because it looks so boring if it's the same scene. Yes. Yes you say yes yes that's right yes. So I'd say now. The first one Carol I read the script and I've got a pretty good idea no more what I want to the first one. Could I have all the lights on and you would like that because you want to see everything. Was it to look good but he wants to see everything. Yes yes that's right. And so we come to second one I said Carol I'm going to switch these wall lights off. Maybe I just have this lamp on is that a yes. Yes that's right and we do the scene and we somebody walk over there and say us why aren't these lights on. So I'd say Well Carol we agreed they wouldn't be on it he'd wince you see. So what I have to do is just for that one bit I'd slip the light on you see but as soon as I went away from there I'd switch that one off again and hope the people would say because I don't want to screw everything up you say and you just have to do things like now cameramen a lot of them couldn't handle that. I got quite used to doing that and I found in the end you could you could get round and I must say towards the end when I got to know him well and he didn't query what I did it was very good he respected me. I didn't interfere with his part. I didn't say Carol we can't do that. He could pay the actors could climb up the wall as far as I was concerned. Somewhere or other we do it.
So I did the first film with him and then the second film was Our Man in Havana and we went to Cuba. Now. Cuba Oh well let me go back to some of the Key one of the story about the Key. A lot of this story takes place on a tug at sea. Carol announces to me he's a bad sailor and we're down to Portland and we're there for two to six weeks. And part of the exercise is to go out and what they call the race. Now the race is where the tides of Chesil Beach and Weymouth Bay meet. And there's always choppy water and it's more exciting and the choppy water. And Carol always wants to go in the choppy water but as soon as he gets out there he reckons he feels sick. So I'm glad we're going to have a sick director and he's an awkward director and it's going to be YES YES YES YES YES YES. And we're going to have problems. One day we go out there and it's pretty choppy and I get a set up and I think Well Carol can't be feeling very well so I say Carol do you want to go sit below deck while I. We line up now we got the set up. Yes you would. He goes down below decks and we're eventually ready and I think I go down the deck below deck to tell him we're ready. He's tucking into the biggest breakfast of greasy bacon eggs you've ever seen in your life. So I thought Right that's it right monkey. You are you are not a bad so this is a a ruse is I understand there's some reason for this but he's obviously a good sailor and he was perfectly alright. I mean this story about him being a bad sailor was an absolute joke. We have then in the scene we have a tug. We have a submarine and he always called it sumbarine you can never get it right it's always sumbarine we had a 10000 tonne tanker and we had a camera boat. Now we're in a tidal way and we've got to position these and Carol is going to tell me where he wants them because either I'm not going to do it are bound to get it wrong. So I said Now Carol where would you like the submarine he said Oz the sumbarine should be there. There I said no one can hang on well. Well radio the submarine and get it to move right. So we go and it takes ages you know to go on the radio get the submarine and he'd say. Right. There. There. I say ok tell him to stop you see so the size and the weight of the tanker. So you say. You see that white wave over there. Let's have it there so what this 10000 ton tanker. Where we're going to have to get into that position. Right and he says now stop you see. So he said now there's sumb Oz where's the sumbarine. Look it should be there it's over there.
I said Carol there's a 20 knot tide going in there it can't be Oz you know. Winces started again and this used to go and so in the end I said Look Carol can we just go on a bit of paper where you want things and will get it sorted out so used to drawing a bit of paper. Where he wanted these things to I mean that was only two we've got a tug you've got a camera boat to get in position. And he go down below decks where we try to get it sorted out and I mean that went on all the time. You see in the film it all looks so beautifully set. But you've got a director who's got no idea ships supposedly couldn't was a bad sailor but that was the joke he was all right. And you've got all these you've got this tug and the tanker has to look as though it's burning. So they've got big outriggers on the tanker with about 100 smoke bombs already electronically worked out. You've got a camera crew on there lashed to the mast trying to film this. Like you've got Carol griping because the sumbarine's move two inches and the tanker has now disappeared somewhere. So in the end we used to I used to have to explain where I said Carol they cannot keep still what we would do with everything as nearly as we can we'll call you up and we'll have to go fairly quickly if you can. And finally we've got it over to him you know that was the that was what had to happen. And so that was The Key. Now we go to that Cuba Our Man in Havana and I have to go everywhere with him now I mean sort of pet poodle now he's got to like me and he wants to look for the location and Cuba are going to go with him. So we fly to New York and he's a bad flyer and he knows that I've been in the RAF and I was a good fly in those days it was a Stratocruiser and it used to take about 12 hours to New York. You couldn't fly direct to Cuba fly to New York and so we had sleepers and. Carol Carol and I I think I can't remember anybody else that we met the production people in Havana. They'd open the bunks and set the sleepers up. Carol would insist on being I don't know on the lower bunk he couldn't climb into the top bunk and I'd be in the top bunk. And throughout the entire trip I'd suddenly get somebody's poking up the middle of the mattress.
Oz Was is that engine on those engines All right. Yes Carol they're fine What's that hum is that all right. I said Yes Carol that's the that's the rhythm of the engines you get that and they get it as steady now as they can but they can't always get it right and a little while later. Oz Have you looked out the window. Yes what those sparks coming out the back. That's right Carol X and the carbon dust. And this would go on all night you see and then we go to New York and the Columbia people I think gave us a breakfast we had to get a flight from New York to Havana and this was just after Castro had taken over and it's a 4 engined aircraft And Carroll insists on sitting near the window he was a bit nervous I don't know why and he said why. We're flying back and he said. Oh what happens if one of the engines and he looks and the engine stops they feather it. He said to us Look look let's stop the engine stop and that's what he was going to ask me what was I said Carol. Yes it's all about they felt that the end but I was what's the matter. What's matter. I said well it's alright you've got three others he said something wrong I said no that's not necessary something's wrong Carol but there may be a slight little problem rather than damage the engine they just feathered it. So why are you sure we're going to make it OK. Yes. Where are we going to land I say well I expect we probably won't go on to Cuba but they're probably land in Miami. What's going to happen there. I said well we might change engines I don't know much change aircraft or they might just look at the engine anyway would land in Miami and I forget whether we changed or not but we were out there very long we carry on so I mean that was Carol as a supposedly was a bad flier but he was certainly. Not a bad sailor. But I mean that gives you an idea of the relationship. All this government you know with photographing movies it's me trying to. Accommodate a director to keep on good terms with him but it does pay dividends because when you do make the film they need to trust you implicitly and it's much easier for direct to trust you I mean I've quoted the Houston business Well it was same with Carol Reed towards the end. He trusted me implicitly. I mean we made Our Man in Havana a lot of shooting in Cuba. And he began to tell me a bit more about what he had in mind. Of course with the night locations we needed it. I needed to know because you know these big areas of Havana all got to be lit at night and you can't just set it up quickly. So it was much better. And then when we third one I did was Oliver. Only now he had no idea of music. I mean he didn't know a quaver from a semi quaver from a minimum of crotchet or whatever it didn't know anything about music and we're going to do a musical. I thought I don't know. We must be a bit daft doing this but it was children you see and he wanted to direct all these children. So we got Johnny Green the great Johnny Green who were from California who was sort of a God in MGM because this was being made in conjunction with MGM and John Green came over and within four weeks John Green was totally at sea couldn't understand Carol at all so John Green and I became very friendly because John used to say to me why do you understand how what goes what do I do that's wrong and John and I used to have lunch together and to this day. Now this is 19 20 years since we made Oliver John still sends me birthday letter every year and I go and see him in California because I tried to help John handle Carol he was going through the teething troubles on Oliver that I'd gone through on the Key you see we had a kind of a lady choreographer Honour White? and there were big scenes to be down on the studio lot at Shepperton a big musical numbers. And Carol used to go out there to see them rehearsing these numbers and we'd start to shoot these numbers and he really was bloody difficult out there. He got very awkward and very almost impossible at times very obstinate and I think this was because Honour White was taking over part of the direction she was the choreographer she was directing the music which he was happy for her to do. She rehearsed it all and the idea was that he would come out and approve it and then they would shoot it. Well no way was old Carol going to approve anything of Honour down I mean on principle if she had done it was all wrong and it was obviously going to be problems here and I thought God this is all we need you know Carol is going to screw all this lot out in big numbers. The sun would be out and Carol was scratching his bottom and scratching is used you often used to do and scratching his head and wincing and whining. And I thought well we can't at this time about this so I said to Carol Carol look you've seen this and you're reasonably happy with that aren't you. And he'd say Well yes. I said why don't you and I go back on the stage and we'll carry on shooting a stage and let Honour and the second unit go on doing this. All right good idea. And that's what we did we got him out of it. You see now it's not my job to do that but it's the only way we're going to get anywhere because if Carole'd had out there and we'd have been there to day. Try altering everything. But again it's handling people you see.
Is there anything I was thinking. Oh yes oh yes as well. And also you know yes we're working in Cuba just after the revolution
OSSIE MORRIS everybody was very apprehensive. I mean this has got nothing to do this is sort of little incidental incidental piece of information but the Castro people had just taken over and all these enormous hotels with their big casinos were virtually empty because nobody was going there. But Castro insisted that the cabarets took place every night as though you know everything was normal and what they insisted on doing was always staff of the hotel the waiters had to go down to the casino when the Cabaret was on watch the cabaret and applaud to make it look as though there were people there. But there was hardly anybody there except just a few of us there. So that was one little thing that happened with all the hotels that was the sort of an edict put out by Castro that they were to carry on as normal. But no once the Americans left they didn't go back there. As far as their shooting was concerned we had to be a bit careful what we were doing but of course you must bear in mind it was a Graham Greene story exposing the Batista regime which was the very regime that Castro had overthrown. So in a way he approved of it because it was a bit of propaganda. On his side in point of fact he did come and see us one night while we were shooting. I stayed for about 15 or 20 minutes that's all. Ernie Kovacs took the part of the Batiata who was the dreaded man out there I mean the Batista was an awful man and he took all the all the money took all the money out of the parking meters all went into his own private banking account and was pretty well hated. So we got pretty well carte blanche permission to shoot there and there weren't any problems really. So really it's all I can think of. How did a Noel Coward who was then it of course. Carroll really couldn't control Noel knew the part was very good in the part. Carol accepted that he was second best when it came to a battle with Noel and Noel got his own way and Noel was very good in it. Ernie Kovacs is the Ernie Kovacs that you see in the film is really Ernie Kovacs the great practical joker. He really was. And he had the strength and the power to keep Carol down and it was quite extraordinary. Alec Guinness is the very dedicated actor. Carol could do more with this manipulation with Alec than he could with Ernie Kovacs or Noel Coward Rafe Richardson had a part in it. He could manipulate Rafe. I mean you know we had a situation where we had three nights on the set one time. So Carol Reed Sir Alec Guinness Sir Rafe Richardson and yes all in one set on the stage. But then it's the only time that all been together I think so. The personality of the two of the two I mentioned Coward & Kovacs. Were dominant and Carol did accept second fiddle to them but I mean there wasn't a problem wasn't a problem. Enjoyable one yes I mean I just ran it recently. There's a lot of good things in it but I suppose it could have been a bit better maybe the script could have been a bit better. One interesting little story the famous chess game which is the highlight where they use the little miniature bottles and Alec Guinness is getting Ernie Kovacs trying to get the gun. Alec is a very dedicated actor before he starts a scene he has to be very quiet and you wait and Carol say Alec are you ready to say no. Just give me a minute a minute and you know and he get very tense and everything be very quiet then Id say OK and we'd shoot now imagine doing this with Ernie Kovacs who's a volatile sort of actor. Ernie could ass about right up to the the number board went in he used to rib me something horrible about what I was wearing and this viewing glass I had to have a viewing glass and just as the number was going to get hold the viewing glass and say yeah. And soon as the board was then drop it and play the scene. Well one day we were shooting and we're just ready to go. And they're all getting quiet and the board just about to go in and Ernie Kovacs said to Alec Alec tell me how do you get these ships. I mean do you do you apply for them. Alec said just a moment he had to walk away I couldn't do it you see. But I mean it's a wicked thing for Ernie Kovacs to say but that was Ernie Kovacs look at this. Read that. Thanks to my wife when she made a film with him.
QUESTION don't worry and the Dr won't talk? OSSIE MORRIS Yes I mean it was just a gag she made a film with him and he gave her that at the end she was continuity So I mean that was the Ernie Kovacs.
QUESTION But the next person perhaps I suppose in a similar type of person is Tony Richardson.
OSSIE MORRIS Yes Tony Richardson.
I was I was asked to work with Tony Richardson and because I'd done a film with Rene Clement? now it was interesting Rene Clement? came over to do a film at Elstree and he really started the fashion of shooting in actual locations. He did that he was the French version of De Sica? and De Sica? I've been doing in Italy but Rene Clement? was doing it in France and he came over to Elstree to do a film and he bought Gerard Filippo? the great Gerard Filippo? and he was prepared to shoot in studios a lot. But he insisted on having the 4 walls of a room left in even if it they were floated. He wouldn't allow the wall to come out. He might allow bits of ceiling to come off but he believed that it helped actors if they were back in the actual claustrophobic surroundings of a particular room he felt that if you took a wall out it released a certain something or other which affected actor's performance so we had to struggle in big stages with tiny sets with four walls. Now that was new. I mean the poor old sound man used to have to poke his boom over the top and get in as best he could. We didn't have the sort of mikes in those days. And also Rene Clement? would go into London and shoot where angels fear to tread. I mean he he. Nothing was impossible when it came to shooting in London as one called Knave of Hearts. The only film I did were Rene Clement?. For example he insisted on shooting outside Charing Cross station now. I mean you know in those days we haven't got really mobile equipment no mobile labs or anything. And to think of shooting outside Charing Cross station I thought was daft. But no only did he want to shoot outside Charing Cross stn the he insisted on shooting during the rush hour. He did got to be unbelievably busy and we were going to shoot Gerard Filippo?. I thought this is I mean how on earth are we going to do this this is we don't want walkie talkies in those days you know this is going back a quite a while. But Rene Clement? was used to doing this and we learned to a lot from him. I had Freddy Frances? operating from me and one of the gags he taught us was that I would stand in a corner with a newspaper. And Freddie Francis would be over my shoulder with a hand camera which might be I don't know whether we had a Arriflex and if we did I think it was an Eymo? an I'm a or a Neumann Sinclair? or something he would Gerard Felipe was used to shooting so this way so Gerard Phillipe would be told by Rene Clement? long they'd rehearse their bit. And Gerard Filippo? would be told where the camera was going to be behind my newspaper and we'd wait till the crowds were just at their maximum and by sort of He'd have six extras who were crowded but they were also couriers and they pass messages on and if somebody got in the way the extras were trained to go and ask them a question which took them out of our view. For example if you thought that somebody had twigged we were filming like you're looking at me an extra gut say excuse me can you tell me the way to the strand and the bloke said Oh yes you go down there you see. We learnt that from Rene Clement? that had never been tried before have six trained extras that would that would. act as couriers and stop people looking through the camera they were given cue I would drop the newspaper. Freddy would turn over. We'd filmed a scene then I'd hold the newspaper up again. So I learnt a lot from that now. It was that's the background to my joining Tony Richardson because Tony Richardson saw the Rene Clement? film I think and rather liked the way it was done and said Would I like to photograph Look back in Anger. And I said yes now Tony had not photographed a film before he'd been to the English stage company at in Sloane Square and. And he you know we want to make this film Look Back in Anger and this was with Richard Burton a very young Richard Burton long before he met Elizabeth Taylor and he went to the river neo realistic look about the film and I was able to pass on to Tony a lot of things I've learnt from Rene Clement? So that's how I came to work with Tony. Then after that we did the Entertainer which we did a lot of that at Morecambe And in those old theatres at Morecambe and. Past sort of drifted after that he went. He wanted to do Tom Jones and he wanted to do it in a totally realistic way and I really didn't think it would work with with colour and so we agreed I wouldn't do it I thought it was wrong and Walter Lassally did it and then Tony he went died you know he did some strange for we got mixed up with and what's the French actress who eventually married I don't know and in paths never crossed again after that
QUESTIONit was easy to work with the Richardson
OSSIE MORRIS oh yes his background was an illusion and tell him you know you know he was very good do you have a completely fresh approach I mean it was lovely working with Tony because he was completely fresh approach and it was lovely to get fresh people into this studio and he didn't know an awful lot about it you see but he knew a lot about actors and theatre and that was nice too and of course Harry Saltzman produced those sort of or Harry got any money at all Harry was quite broke when you produce so
QUESTION you know you know not what about Lee Thompson.
OSSIE MORRIS Well Lee Thompson I did a couple of films with him while I forget a small one at Elstree He took over and directed Guns of Navarone now thereby hangs a tale with him Guns of Navarone was originally going to be photographed by Sanfy McKendrick and my wife to worked with Sandy McKendrick as a PA at Ealing I mean as directed and directed by Sandy yes going to be directed by Sandy very sorry and my wife was his PA and so she came out on the recce's is as his assistant and I went out and that's how I came to meet my present wife and we went round the whole of the island of Rhodes on the mainland of Greece pinpointing locations and Sandy was a great man photographing using Polaroid and he used to take masses of polaroids of all these locations and my wife's job at night was to pin all these up on paper and get them all sorted out. So Sandy had got an idea of the best locations that this went on for a couple of weeks. We came back home. We go out there again and start shooting second unit not the main unit the idea was we do four weeks of second unit before all the principals arrive because they had a big cast and it was very expensive and we got out there. We started to go through all this business with Polaroids again I mean Sandy didn't seem to want to photograph anything and I used to say to Sandy Don't don't you want to get the camera and photograph it now he said I don't think we're quite ready let's do a bit more preparatory work we've got a unit a small unit out there with all the cameras ready and Carl Foreman who was producing the film was obviously getting a bit worried about this and indeed I found out later they were Columbia because there we were out there and we weren't making doing any filming. Finally I said it was blown down my ear but they were getting very worried and could I put some pressure and Sandy and I said to Sandy Sandy Look I think we might shoot something I think I begin to get very worried. So he took us right down to the southern part of the island of Rhodes a place called Lindos which is a very famous place of ruin there and we go on donkeys and we went even another two miles God knows where I went on this way and climbed up a big mountain seemed a big mountain and we set a little camera track of about eight feet up on the edge of a precipice looking down on the sea. No actors or anything. And we set this up and he said look we'll photograph this. And I said what's the track for wel would just track along this bit. I said Sandy we're 200 feet up and that won't mean a goddamn thing down there. You won't get a track about eight feet. Oh yes he said it's Vertigo means don't you know about vertigo I said yeah I know but he said Well that will give you vertigo. So I would photograph this I thought we were quite daft in doing this. Then we did a couple of other strange things no actors or anything much to do with the making of the film. And finally we got back one night and it was obvious that there were problems. Very sadly I was tipped off just beforehand that Sandy's wife had been called out to be with us and that he was going to have to come off the film. They couldn't. Columbia wouldn't wear this not shooting any longer and waste a lot of time and a lot of money and would we. And he was going to be removed and we felt very sad because Sandy was a very nice friendly very talented director but someone other Sandy didn't seem to want to start filming anyway Sandy was duly told he was off the film and then I was told Carl foreman was going to take over who was producing the film and I worked with Carl on the key. So I knew him very well.
Has Carl produced the key which Carol directed and Carl started he didn't know much about it we started to do a few bits and pieces and I quite thought Carl was going to carry on directing the film but word got around through little hour later that Carl wasn't going to direct the film and a director was on the plane in the next two or three days and we subsequently found out the reason that Carl wasn't allowed to direct the film we were very near the Iron Curtain and they apparently were terrified that Carl would defect to do something like this cockeyed story got around because Carl was one of the victims of the McCarthy which came over here and they couldn't bear to. They couldn't allow either that or they couldn't allow director to been involved with the McCarthy witch hunt. That's probably more the reason I don't think Carl was about to defect. I think it's probably the other reason. Anyway Lee Thompson arrived on the same flight as Greg Peck Tony Quinn. Jimmy Darren and Stanley Baker they all arrive together like the first thing which is to start shooting on the Monday I mean that's daf to get in we've been out there six weeks trying to get the film going we've shot a couple of the truck's being blown up by a bomb a German being hit in the shoulder with a bullet or something out there that's all de'd done. All the principals was out there a new director he doesn't know me well if I knew him from earlier on but I mean doesn't know the actors or anything and we have to start making the film and we started on the Monday. I mean it's quite barmy what you do in films really is.
QUESTION Did you make any war with Lee Thompson.
OSSIE MORRIS No that was the only one I know by the way I should add that he'd also just recently come out of a He'd been dried out because he became an alcoholic. And he dried out and his wife Joan Henry I think was his wife she was either an actress or something or other a writer I remember the name of Joan and they were both alcoholics and they'd been in for this treatment and they dried out and he was told that he mustn't drink. And I was told to you know keep off the drink but apparently he could drink champagne that's non-addictive I didn't go this way they can drink champagne. And the other thing was he was very nervous. And he he was told we were told You got to give him bits of paper to twiddle. And the continuity girl whenever whenever Lee Thompson got nervous she tear bit of paper up and give it to him and he twiddled this and that will calm him down. END END END
Timecode 05:28:11:02 to 06:14:18:10
How much. Side 8 was a Morris side 8.
QUESTION Now do you want to say any more about the Thompsons
OSSIE MORRIS well known only that I mean you know the film was very good. You made a tremendous amount of money. It's quadrupled its production costs. Lee made a good job of it.
You know he handled actors very well indeed. I mean can we tell a story about actors problems with actors I mean all my stories see problems with actors you have you have Greg Peck David Niven Tony Tony Quinn the three big names and you've got as I said Stanley Baker Jimmy Darin? and Tony Quayle now. They're all in the scenes together. You couldn't get them on the set. You see this with another problem if you we found out that if you go on call say Greg Peck say the assistant director will go and call say Mr. Peck we're ready. He'd say is David Niven on the set. No not you. Well call me when he comes on. So right so the OK go to David David we're ready Mr. Niven we're ready is Greg is Greg on No not yet. It's Tony on Tony Quinn No give me a call when he is on so you get a Tony Quinn and you go right down the line if you get one of them and then you'll get them all out. Now this used to happen all the time. I mean it's so time consuming so petty. It's one thing and another thing we used to find that we lined the six of them out there online. Stanley Baker was short and we'd line the thing up and we find that when we came to shoot Stanley Baker was much taller he growed and what he used to do we'd be on Earth grass out on the island of Rhodes. He'd stand up and he'd squeeze with his heels. The soft soil together and he built himself a little mound then he'd stand it press it up a bit while standing there he could do this without notice and it slowly increases height so he got up as tall as I because the other three were quite tall he was quite short I mean you would think that any actor could bother to do a thing like that but he did in the be a little mark and he'd have his heels with he gained two inches that way.
Right. Believable primarily. But I think that's about all I can.
QUESTION Well Jackie Clayton.
OSSIE MORRIS Jackie Clayton I never yes I did. Yes that's right that's right. Jackie Clayton I first knew when he was a production manager on Moulin Rouge. We both were initiated with the great Houston together. We went through the mail together with him then on beat the devil the same thing and then the next time I'm working with Jackie is when he's going to direct Pumpkin Eater. And Jackie is very talented director to this day. Why he doesn't do more films I don't know I think he's a great talent and somewhere out there it's never been recognised but that's only my opinion. Jackie said we were going to do a pumpkin eater and an actress called Annie Bancroft wanted very much to play the part. And he said she's prepared to come over pay her own fareover and be tested. And he said Now I think that must be pretty good and he said you know for her to do this and I've seen some of the work and I think she might be fine she said. Problem is she looks a little bit south american she's got a little bit of Spanish blood in our side she's quite dark and the part really is English it's meant to be John Mortimer's wife Penelope. And the book's autobiographical really. And we've got to somehow make a look an English girl. Anyway she came over and we both took to her straight away went and saw at the Savoy she was at the Savoy and we both liked her and Jack said he thought she would be fine. And we did a few tests and. You know we managed to get her looking more European than South American and she she got the part and then of course there was the great Peter Finch. He played the other part he was quite a handful at times he could go out on the batter night and how he ever made it. Next day I don't know but he did sometimes we didn't see him in the mornings and when he did come in he was ready for work but he just had the most god awful a party the previous night so there were a few problems there. But Jackie is very talented and I I got on with him very well indeed and he had lots of ideas and I love working with him. Use is quite wonderful.
QUESTION That was the only film you made with him
OSSIE MORRIS the only film Yes and he made several other felt I didn't do our paths just never crossed.
QUESTION Sidney Lumet
OSSIE MORRIS Well Sydney Lumet is I'm glad you come under Sydney because Sydney is the real epitome of a ball of fire but director. I first met Sidney when we did a film called The Hill and I was. Absolutely amazed with this speed the speed that it works and as a result of that I did I did four films with Sydney the hill and I did Equus than I did the Wis? in New York and I did Just tell me what you Want in New York. Sydney is by far the fastest director I've ever worked with. I mean your feet do not touch the ground and I mean do not touch the ground. From the minute you start the minute you finish in the day having said that he never works more than eight hours a day. Eight hours more importantly eight hours at night. He will not work more than eight hours at night but in eight hours he gets what every other director gets a night and a half to work in that time and you've got to be right on the ball with him because if you don't he'll overtake you on once he overtakes you you fall apart you just can't keep up so you've always got to keep ahead of Sydney. He does his homework. He knows it. ne knows exactly what he wants to do. He loves you. Me to travel in the car with him every morning come home at night so we can in the morning we can talk about what we're going to do. And at night we can talk about the rushes that we've seen and what he thinks about them and what he wants to alter in the next day's work. He'd do it he would do that in the car going to and from between the hotel and the location or between his home in New York and the studio. I would travel with him. But once you're in there he walks straight out of the car straight onto the stage straight up to his chair puts his script on the chair and says Give me the viewfinder and we're off. And we start he gets all the set up Sidney does he likes to do all that. Which I was fine when he gives me a certain amount of time and he knows roughly when I'm ready and you always come in about two or three minutes before I'm ready. Deliberately to keep the tempo going and I got used to doing that and I would figure my last two or three minutes while he's rehearsing his actors and he taught me to wear plimsolls or sneakers as they call them he always wears that. So you can creep around on the soundstage while they're rehearsing and you know you can adjust a little bit. But you mustn't make any noise while he's doing it. He takes very few takes. He's got tremendous energy and if you look at all his films his successful films that energy comes over in these films likes Serpico Network a more successful film Sadly I don't think the ones he's done with me have been successful whether it's me or not I don't know who I think was successful has got tremendous energy and this is Sidney's a little bit a little. Brooklyn.He calls himself a Brooklyn Jew. But tremendous driving energy and I always joke with him because all the set ups are always four foot six because he can't get any higher than 4 fot six He says Put it there. I said four foot six Sydney I'll now go and you can go up if you want to go up there I said you know an hour and I could get my own way that way.
But it's just a tremendous directories he cannot bear. Actors reading papers. And one of the reasons that he goes so fast is that the actor got time to read the newspaper because those sooner they finish the scene almost Then they go to sit down he gets them out of a chair and gets them on the set again rehearsing and if he sees one of them with a newspaper he will immediately. Grab hold of them and put them on the set to do some and even when I'm in the middle of rehearsing and I knew this was part of his ritual I knew I wasn't doing it to interrupt maybe sew up a little rehearsal and I'm only halfway there but I know he's seen an actor reading or talking about something or disappearing and he'll just grab a them on. He believes that if he gives total dedication I have to because I can never keep up otherwise And he believes actors should do. But he also is very good he's the total opposite to Carol. He always rehearses for three weeks before we start filming. He gets a big rehearsal hall and he has a taped outline of all the sets because all the sets are drawn out ready and they're being built. So he has the tapes down all round the floor door's mark there. He might just put a table and two chairs in any old table and chairs if you want a new blocks in and rehearses the whole picture right from beginning to end so that the actors know the whole feel of the scene. I mean let me give you a classic example of that. I did the film Equus with him in Canada in Toronto and as you know in Equus there's a big nude scene in total frontal nudity which is a integral or part of the play and we do the same thing in the film now. How is he going to get these two actors to do this you know. He rehearses them in this hall and they rehearse the scene first of all where their clothes on and then he just says from there come on the way I would do it and do it. We'd go up there we do the un dressing and everything and he makes them undress and when they come to do it on the set with the electricians around and everything. I don't mind. And in fact Peter Firth who has the greatest amount of nudity in the film has to be nude where the horses The began to spill blood all over him and because of continuity of blood and you know marks on the body he can't afford to put on a dressing gown. He sits absolutely stark naked on the set all day. I mean he doesn't mind you see. And Sidney goes very fast anyway so he's not sitting around for long. But it certainly doesn't want all the continuity of the blood to be messed around and that it's a totally different quality but it's the director. You know making the actors do what he wants it's another form of Carol but it's not the crafty way. It's just a dynamic sort of lead that he gives. Peter Firth used to sit naked on the set for days towards the end because the last part of filming in the stables where he's blinding the horses and the horses going mad I mean it took several days to do. And Peter would just sit with stark naked and the scene with the girl the famous scene in the straw and then well I mean one take. We did it in one take and that's it and it's a big light change in that. Let me tell you about that in the script. It's called for a moonlight scene where the boy and the girl come back to the stable at night and they've met in the cinema and they are on their way back to the stable have been found by the boy's father. And obviously the girl wants to have an affair with the boy and the boy is obsessed with these horses and can't make it but you don't know that at the time. And they go up into the hay loft of the stable and in this scene it takes place in moonlight.
Well I talked to Tony Walton a production designer and I said look if I see any. Sex your sex scene in moonlight in firmware my name's on it I'll scream. I said we've got to think of another idea. I said no I remember when I saw the scene on the stage I remember when they played there because it all takes place in the stage pro-style eyes in the boxing ring and when I saw it on the stage when the nude part came they brought the lights up and I said to Tony wouldn't it be a marvellous idea if we brought the lights brighter they all came up because the boy is telling this story it's actually happened and he's telling the psychiatrist that it's a flashback so we could we could do anything it's in the Boy's imagination see. So Tony siad I think some wonderful ideas in how do we get this over to Sydney. So we said well look what I think we do. We travel with him to see the rushes in the evening. You mentioned it to him in the car Sydney always sat in the front seat. Tony Wharton? the designer and I in the back were driving down into Toronto to see the rushes after shooting and we said I said Sidney can I give you an idea for the nude scene. Yes what's that. So well Sidney I really am bored with seeing nude bodies in the moonlight. Can we Can I suggest another idea. You know what's that. I said can we alter the lights to a light change and bring it up much brighter. Well he said I don't know I said Would you like to think it over. I would talk to you again tomorrow and I said I would. And turning I thought I don't know whether he's going to go for this or not. Anyway next we're going down in the car neither of us say a word and he says to me he said I expect you guys are wondering what expect me to reply to this. night scene that you've been talking about has said yes we were wondering what about it what do you feel he said. I think it's a good idea I thought I said well it's marvellous Sydney I said What colour do you think the light should turn to Sidney said what I think Green I said Sidney green I said Have you ever seen a body a girl's body with green light has said it looked like a skeleton it takes all the warmth out of the party. Well does it he said What colour do you think it should be I said I think it should be a golden red warm Golden colour. All right he said OK and we did it. And they never queried it. And from that we developed it and we carried on with that colour right through to the end of the film to finish telling his story in these heaven and sort of his hysterical turn in the in the psychiatrist's office and you come back to the real thing and then we go back to normal lighting. But I mean there's a question of handling people again. It took two or three days to get this out of the director. Nothing to do with lighting it's just trying to handle how you get around a director. Anyway that's good an interesting story about Sidney. Certainly yes. The fastest director I've worked with wonderful man wonderful director
QUESTION Well let's talk about Zefferilli
OSSIE MORRIS Zefferilli again very talented very talented a bit. Can I can I say a bit seems to be a bit bewildered. When he makes a film you're not quite sure whether he knows what he wants.
But eventually you do find out what he wants and it's usually something pretty terrific if you've seen any of Zefferilli films I mean they're. Artistically they're they're absolutely beautiful. He We're going to do Taming Of The Shrew and. I said Franco you know how we're going to do this film he said. I said because we know we've got to do something is a wonderful chance to do something. He said Well I think we should make it look like some of the Venetian paintings of the period. So we went to you know in Italy they do these most wonderful art books mostly books in England of print in Italy these days. We went and we got a whole lot of the paintings of the period and I've got it upstairs now we made three loose leaf copies of the various paintings of the pair we thought should be the style of the film Zeffirelli had one Monjofino?the designer had one and I had one and that was virtually a bible for the film so each of us knew what the out was expected the other one. And we use that and we try I tried to photograph the film on the lines of these paintings he's left Zefferilli casts in the same way. The costume designers designed the costumes in the same style of the painting so everybody knew what everybody was doing. And it's the one film where that's ever been done and it's it really was necessary with that film because it was such a visual film as well apart from being Shakespeare it was visual and we we had these three books now. That's fine you think but you see there is always a snag We have two very powerful people in it.
Richard and Elizabeth Elizabeth insists on having her own costume designer because Elizabeth by then is beginning to put a lot of weight and Irene Sharif? who was designed in you had to do this corset type of bodice that Elizabeth needed to keep her stomach in a bit because Elizabeth was beginning to eat rather heavily. And like a lot of good food and Irene Sharif? obviously a got preconceived ideas of the colours that suited Elizabeth and they didn't always fit in with their pattern of Venetian paintings. So there was a problem. So. Franco said to me said Ossie what are we going to do it Elizabeth does not look good. The colours are wrong. And Richard does not look good. The colours are wrong.
And Zefferilli was a bit scared of Richard and Elizabeth so Muggin's once again becomes the middle man. He said Ossie you know Richard and you know Elizabeth. Will you go and talk to them and see if we can alter their costumes. I said Well Franco our Try a but I don't guarantee up be successful. Well I knew their American production or production manager very well Dick McWerther? I said to Dick look there's we've got a problem here. Zefferilli doesn't like the costume she said Well I think we're going to get the change said Well look can you fix it that I go and see Richard on my own because I said I'd talk to Richard first. So that would do that so arrange for me to go and see Richard and I explain to Richard what had happened and I said he's not happy with your costume to Richard and he's a bit nervous about coming out speaking to you about it. I said but more important he's not very happy with Elizabeth. He said Well I don't you're going to get anywhere with that he said because she's had Irene Sharif? all this time and she's not about to change has said well maybe we could get together and maybe have a meeting with Irene Shariff and so on. How to cut a long story short in the end we got everybody together I mean Irene Sharif? Elizabeth Richard and myself Dick McWerther? Zefferilliand the wonderful Italian custom designer whose name escapes me for the moment and we finally agreed that they would be allowed to make a set of costumes for Richard and if we all thought their costumes were better than Irene sheriffs Richard would wear the Italian costumes. Well there's no question they were they were marvellous and they were hilarious and they were brilliantly hilarious costumes. Richard had no hesitation in saying that he would wear these but they did some designs for Elizabeth. But she would never she gave them to Irene Shariff But you know it's a question of personal pride comes into this. Irene Shariff is a quite a well-known American designer she's not about to be told how to design a costume by Franco Zeffirelli so sadly we didn't get anywhere with that Elizabeth had her costume. I think it shows slightly in the film maybe not as much as it might have done but right at the very end when the picture was looking so stunning. When what we call the epilogue the big costume which is the pair the costume she's wearing in that picture over there that was in fact designed by the Italian she did allow that one to be designed. It's a big cloak which went over and Irene Shariff costume so I Irene Sharif? thought she designed it but you really didn't. The cloak was designed by by I can't think of a man's name in a moment. And so there was a compromise but again it's dealing with people again.
QUESTION was Zefferilli easier to work.
OSSIE MORRIS Oh yes. So bit cunning all Italians are cunning. Insisted that I had an Italian. Well I agreed to have an Italian crew because to help the finances there are a lot of lira put into the picture and they were a bit short of dollars and I had to be paid I didn't want to be paid in a lira to be paid in sterling which was dollars really. So they were keen to have an Italian crew. I used to find there was a lot of dialogue between him and the Italian operastor And I couldn't always understand what was going on. I had to put a stop to that. But I did and I got on very well with them. Franco is a lovely man to work with a very gentle man very talented full of ideas and they will come out at the last minute. You know like we're sitting here and he comes out with a wonderful idea. And you've got to quickly implement it. But no it was a wonderful film to be on. I was very thrilled to be on that one.
QUESTION Now let's talk about Kubrick.
OSSIE MORRIS Well Stanley Kubrick of all the directors I work with he there are two that I would never work with again and he is one of them. Let me make it absolutely clear Stanley is very talented director. No question of that.
But Stanley wants to do everything he wants to direct. He wants to design. He wants to photograph. He wants to edit it. He wants to do sound. And. He wants to literally do everything now. I on his films I have to say now he does have a lot of it. He produces He directs. He really photographs the films now no matter what you hear Stanley photographing the films. He edits his own films.He can't do the sound as well although he's got ways and means of controlling it so there isn't much Stanley does'ent do but I mean Stanley doesn't need a person like me then because I can't I can't go in and let somebody else photographic film to me it's a waste of my time. It's not a question of personal pride. I'll get bored if I've got to sit there and let somebody else do it now. I don't want to do that anyway. So but Stanley on Lolita was a watered down version of what he is now I gather he got much much worse on Dr Strangelove he got worse and 2001. We got pretty awful and now I think he he just runs everything himself I mean and this the Metal Jacket thing I think he ran everything on The Shining He ran everything. I mean Johnnie Alcot? the late Johnny Alcot? gets the credit for photographing these films but it's basically all Stanley'd ideas I mean Stanley tells what he wants and why doesn't he do this why doesn't he try this John is benefited by that and got a very good name for himself for doing that. But I mean it's not you doing it yourself and I mean. Let me give you an example under LoLita Stanley said to me I want this to look as though it's lit this little room with a 60 watt bulb in the middle of the room. So I said OK so you go off so well as you know you can't just put a 60 watt bulb in the middle of a room. And so that's lit room it doesn't the the the inverse square.law of light works in other words the intensity of the light is the inverse square of the distance.
If you have a light of.X at say one foot away it's half the power. Two feet away it's a quarter of the power it goes doubles up. So if you put a 60 watt bulb in the middle of the room A the bulb will flare and no light will get to the actors. So you've got to start with a 60 watt bulb which I did and then you've got to put little lights on light the actors and simulate a thing. Well Stanley would come back on the set need all this famous line which to me were always which is a bit degrading was well is this it. And I say yes yes Stan that's it. Well what if you got that why got these lights as they were Stanley you you you. Why can't you have a 60 watt light in the middle I said Stanley won't see any of their faces. Why not well light doesn't travel like that at all you see is a flare there and you have to go through and explain the inverse square law again Stanley. So we've got these I said well let's assimilating this same thing. He said well kill that one so I kill that one. He said I think it looks better that way. So I'd say well I don't really agree with you Stanley put it back on again and I was very firm and then he'd say well kill that one. So that one is say that's better isn't it isn't it. So I thought well I'm getting somewhere. As I was Stamley I think it's a bit too dark. What do I put that I'll make it softer. You see so you give a little bit. Now imagine going through the whole set like that and you affect a certain compromise and I was able to hold my ground with Stanley there now then towards you later and he didn't query anything right and but it was a trial at the beginning if I'd given in then he would have just run roughshod over me and taken over the film. Now I think since then he's got more powerful more successful and he's just taken over the films. He never communicates to us anybody what he's got in mind. He once said to me as he walked through the door the stage on 8:30 one morning he said. I make it a point to have a blank mind when I come through that stage door at 8:30 in the morning so that any ideas anybody's got the actors have got I can work on I've got no preconceived idea of how to shoot down the scene. Now you've got to be almost a bloody genius to be like that because you've got a back up idea somehow because it may not work the actors may not have any ideas and you're stuck with egg on your face. Now it's the same with me. I mean I see a set. I have a preconceived idea of how I'm going to light it but I don't lock myself into that. The director may say look I think be an idea if we did so-and-so and he may have got a better idea so I'll be ready to change. But I've got an idea in case he doesn't come up with an idea I'm going to have a basic idea. But Stanley reckoned he never had an idea. And I must say he and Peter Sellers would spend hours. Adlibbing on the set. Waste awful lot of time it's a very slow director Stanley Kubrick. Oh and he'd take take after take after take and print ten of them you know and maybe three or four minute takes. And there's no there's no cut away so he can't he choose a piece of one taken they choose another piece of another take I said Stanley a matter of interest are you going to use those two pieces as if you've got no cutaway. Just a continuous he always said you'll see you'll see. But you never did you never could. So I can never get to the bottom of his thinking and I found you know in the end I thought well what the hell. It's been an experience but he tried to stop me grading the film in the laboratories. He said you know you have no right to run this film without me being there I said Stanley I'm it's a it's a public running I said that's rubbish it's not I'm grading the film it's part of my job. No it's not he said I gradw the film and said Well Stanley I don't agree with that. He said Well look I'm coming there while you while you've graded us to the right you can come and grade it and by which time we'd finish the grading and it was all right but I mean he just became very difficult and very awkward and I just don't work that way.
Now you worked you worked in the American world but never in Hollywood. No. Why just a bit because of being you know you think it's interesting. You may recall right in the early days American cameramen in the days of were allowed to come over here Harry Stradling come over here and several other Ray Renehen? They went ahead and came over on the wings of the morning. Yeah Jemmy Ron Howard came and they all came to me. But we were never allowed to go there. Well you remember the ACYY wasn't very strong in those days. And then after the war became much stronger and the ACT said look it's not fair. We will make an arrangement one for one but the ATSY? would never do this. Now to this day ATSY? in California will not allow British cameramen to work there. Now you may say but they do work in California but they do not work under the ATSY?. They work under the NABET? which is the other Union which is not recognized by the big distributors they only have an agreement with ATSY? You can work in San Francisco and you can work in you know San Diego but not in Los Angeles itself. But in. Now back to New York. New York is quite different. I was going to do a film called Force 10 from Navarone? which I wasn't very keen to do and suddenly out of the blue this is where Sidney Lumet came in Sidney said I got a phone call Ossie I want to come NY yo photograph the Wyss? for me. I said Where's Sidney. I'm not allowed to work in New York. You know he said Don't worry I'll fix it. As it was Sidney I've got another problem I've got another film to do. Well who's going to what is it for. What is it I said. It's going to be produced by Kurt Unger?said Kurt Unger. You never get off the ground he said. Don't worry I'll fix I said no Sidney I don't want you to fix it. I'll sort it out. He said You've got to come over and do there's going to be marvellous. I said well I guarantee you he said I'll get you into New York he said because I've done an awful lot for the unions in New York and now they owe me a favour. And in point of fact he kept his word I was the first one to go out in the under the ATSY banner and work in New York now. That opened the gates a bit. And it went the other way then because there were a lot of British cameramen going there and there were no New York Camaramen coming here the reason why I was there really weren't any decent cameramen in New York any one of any consequence in New York moved to California. There was just nobody much. And quite honestly there was nobody in New York could have handled with Sydney was absolutely right. You needed a very experienced person I was quite experienced then because it was an enormous picture. And he goes so fast and you know most scurrilous night locations equipment. I mean your mind boggles when you think the equipment we had but we had to do it to keep up with him. And I mean you know one night and one big location away we go another one. And now the night their big location way we go somewhere else. And no no there was no New York cameraman could do it. So having done that then Bob Posse? wanted to do All that Jazz asked me if I'd do it and I've been in New York a long time and I was rather keen to come back here. So I said I reluctantly wouldn't do it he got an Italian cameramen over him Billy Williams went over and then Johnny Alcot? went over and we started a whole pattern of going into New York but it was Sidney that really started.
QUESTION What was your impression of us you know working in the studios in New York.
Did you really just the it's just the same as working here. The only difference was there were a lot of ladies in the crew. They had Lady electricians which I've never seen before. They had Lady props. They had Lady painters and plasterers. Now at that time now I'm down to about 19 76 77. I wish there were a couple of lady assistant directors and a lady a location manager that's all I knew in this county there were no lady electricians to my knowledge I mean the only thing was I mean they if it came to lifting up a heavy lamp. You know they the men would do it for them. But then the ladies could bring their small lamps in they bring them in and set them up. So that was that's a lasting impression and it's extraordinary thing to say isn't it but it was there they were there a lot of ladies and you see Lady props are often better. Than men because every day they were dusting. If there were rooms like this they treated it like their own home. And they always ask that you won't get a prop man coming around dusting stand in the corner rabbiting away you know. But the ladies would always but they had feather dusters and were also cleaning the place up but they would prop lady props.
They really were very good and it was your crowd of American crew Yes I was the only one allowed over there an American crew.
QUESTION What was your impression working with an American crew.
OSSIE MORRIS Very very similar. Almost exactly the same as working with the British crew. When I first went there I thought they were a touch faster. Than ours. But having then come back and worked in England then for the last two years of my career our crews were every bit as fast when the studio sadly became four walls and everybody went freelance. It's amazing the tempo did increase quite considerably. So I would say virtually no different.
QUESTION Which you know which crews to a most helpful english crewyou know floor crew is in English or that
OSSIE MORRIS I'd say they're both the same now.
I would say there's absolutely no difference. You could transpose one unit into I mean you talk about New York New York and New York here and here to New York. Exactly the same. I've never noticed any difference.
QUESTION Have you done any commercials at all.
OSSIE MORRIS Never done a commercial in my life. Well I've never done anything for television. I've never done anything for any commercial. Well I suppose cross my fingers that I've been fortunate. I've always done feature films and I've never I'd be terrified to do a commercial. Well you know look at a tin of baked beans and try and make it look like the Hoh i Noor diamond and I mean that's what everybody tells me that about 10 chiefs and no indians. You know everybody they're looking at this thing interfering and they seem to take for ever and they don't start till 5 o'clock in the afternoon I don't know where this is true or not and then work through to two and three in the morning. That's not for me I can't do that I've got to if I come in the set I've got to work you know. I couldn't stand it. Sub never done a commercial. No I don't I don't know what paych up was until I retire. No well maybe a couple of times I've been asked but only towards the end I've turned them down but really now I've never been asked because you get into a pattern you know. If you've never done one they're not liable to ask you. Probably the person that asked me has never done that produced a commercial before and they are going to do one for the first time and stupid enough to ask me. But you know I've never done.
QUESTION Let's let's shift on to kind of a ACT Team things. When did you first get involved in ACT. Yes when it first started.
OSSIE MORRIS Not as early as Arthur Graham but when it started with Captain Coke. It was Matthew Coke. I said you know my first number was a hundred and something which I kept until the war. And then the war it all lapse during the war because I was called up into the forces. And then when I came out again I really joined in my number then was 7 3 7 and so I was still one of the early ones and I was early as you I shouldn't think but relatively speaking on one of the early ones.
QUESTION Can you remember you recruited into ACT . Well I think it was. Captain Coke came down to Wembley studios I think he did but it was before George Elvin. Oh yes long ago yes you know it was Capt Coke I can remember even coming down with two or three other people asked us if we'd join and they gave us a card and I don't know what the subscription was then something like six pence something like that. So I think it was Captain Coke
QUESTION Can you got you know the recollections of those early days ACT and you'd be at Wembley. OSSIE MORRIS I was at Wembley you were dealing them when. Yes yes I remember you being a T Ling because I remember your name. No I can't. It wasn't it wasn't very strong. Alan I know because I mean all we could work any hours of the day or night as long as we have a break every five hours and that was the ETU insistence as long as that sleep didn't come into it. It was eating you know it was five hours and an hour's break five hours and hours break that's what we used to do.
QUESTION Did you do any recruiting for ACT at all.
QUESTION No not to my knowledge I don't remember who was so I was I was very young and a bit naive in those days there were more senior people I was it would have been a more senior person that because it was recruiting if there was but I can't remember Jemmy Dooley was in this film and you know that's Jack Dooley his brother who was at Ealing no Jimmy who was in charge of sound that with Jack Cox. John Cox John Cox John Cox in Shepparton Jimmy Dooley were something to do with it but I can't really remember much about it. He wasn't very strong at Wembley. He really didn't become strong during the war I don't think.
QUESTION Did you hold any positions at all.
OSSIE MORRIS NO IT'S NO NO NO NO NO NO.
QUESTION What do you think the union's turning has been.since the war
OSSIE MORRIS Since the wall since the war I think it's been a bit misguided. I really do. I think it's concentrated on the political rather than on the conditions of work. There was a big change during the war because when I came out I thought Ronnie Neame got me out of that and sent sent to Pinewood I said I will go back to those old as Ronnie said when oh things are a bit different now as we we work till 6:20 on Mondays Tuesdays and Thursdays and ten to six on Wednesdays and Fridays and we finish at 4 o'clock on Saturdays which was a big advance. So there's been a lot of work done during the war and then gradually they come up at 6:20 down to 10 to 6 there was a six o'clock finish wasn't it or half past That was an improvement and then it came five days a week that I must say they got those days conditioners going but I I was sad that. I think they could have done more. From for us you know they they do get mixed up in the I thought in the politic's a bit too much.
QUESTION Now coming back to you. You really retired at the height of your career. Oh yes I was there.
OSSIE MORRIS Well because I I felt I photographed every type of film that I was capable of photographing and now you say well what are you capable of doing. Well I was offered a film called The Deep once which they wanted me to do. And they pressed me to do when I read the script say 70 percent of it was underwater. And I said well look it's no good me photograph the film I can't. I'm no good underwater. I can't photograph underwater He said I would and I would get somebody else to do that simple. That's 70 percent of the film you don't want me for 30 percent of the film. So there's an example that's a film I couldn't do that apart I think I've done every sort of film that I can think of black and white and colour. I have to have it. Some challenge in a film I I've got to be pushed to do something new and fresh. If it's the same old boring thing I get bored and I just am not interested. If I'm not interested I I just don't do very good work. So I decided that I thought I'd done everything and I what do you want to be like Jack Cardiff now don't you remember the legendary Jack Cardiff Jack Cardiff at the end of the war. I mean one of the most brilliant colour camera man. He then went over to direct. He didn't make any success of direction he had a very bad time. He came back many years later to photographing his works but a shadow of what it was. And Jack's just begun down and down and down and I didn't know where Jack is now he's filming in India I think. Something Guy Green was another one brilliant camera man and he took over direction did one of two interesting films. He still directs television and stuff in California but nothing like as good a film as he photographed in his day. So I decided that was it. I look after my money. I had my own pension scheme you know the unions in those states that have a pension scheme and I think now the A C T A. Starting my money is you know I read in the U.S. Well I mean that's marvellous because that's wonderful but I had to you know save my own money 11 percent of my earnings I used to put into a pension of my own. And there comes the time came the time and I said Right that's it I'm going to stop and I've stuck it out you know. Q. No regrets No none whatsoever.
QUESTION Now knowing your children all grown up you just a point that none of them followed you in.
OSSIE MORRIS No no I'm very thrilled they didn't. I have two daughters which of course I wouldn't expect them to do but one son and when he didn't show any inclination to come into the movies I was I was rather thrilled. I've got a bit of a thing about sons following fathers I don't think it works out. And I'm not going to offend anybody by mentioning names but I can think of several. Son the fathers and sons wear the son as only got a little way because he took his father's name and and he's not been very good. I was not going to mention any names I can think of them so I didn't want to. My son tocome in. I had a brother who Reg who was at Denham as the camera's assistant. We were I was a Pinewood but he was at Denham and we agreed that we would never work together. But we did have to work together one day when there was illness and he was called over to become my assistant and we photographed it from my mother and there's a photograph of somewhere around where we work together one day but apart from that we agreed to wouldn't because he thought it was wrong to be in my follow in my footsteps so he went to Canada and he now photographed films in Canada in his own right
QUESTION Looking back you know over your. Yeah. It is a distinguished career. Which film gave you the most satisfaction.
OSSIE MORRIS I would say I've photographed fifty eight movies the last say 10 or 15 gave me the most satisfaction let me give you a breakdown. When I first started this.END EMD END
Timecode 06:14:18:10 to 06:41:16:08 THE END
OSSIE MORRIS OK well when I photograph my first film that was a struggle to survive you just try and illuminate the film you try and give it some little bit of style that you think you would like it like it to have but you don't you haven't got the experience to really do it properly. So that's a terrible sweat and in my case because I'm a bit of a slow developer I suppose the first four or five black and white films were an absolute sweat because everyone had a different set of problems different locations I mean the first one I was in Tunisia. You don't get your rushes back you have to go by what they say on the telephone that's awful. The next one was in Cairo. They say go to an Egyptian laboratory. I go to England. GYPTIAN laboratory and the man in charge only got one eye and that fills me full of apprehension. And it's all day for night material and that's very dicey to do with a strange laboratory because you're under exposing and then you go to laboratory and you ask look at your negativity gets hold of it and he kicks it around the floor with his foot. You know so that that's a bit of a sweat. Film number two film number three was in South Africa. Again you don't see a rushes they come all the way back to England. So it's a sweat all the time and they're all different sorts of problems. So the first four or five I was really struggling. And you know I'm trying to go out go a bit faster because you're not very fast when you start. Then there's this desire to break into Colour. Now that was very difficult to do because there were about four cameramen I had the monopoly of colour and they'd been working during the war. One was Jack Cardiff one was Bobby Cresco. One was Guy Green and one was you know Geoff was only an operator in those days there was one other I had coming in the name but they got the pretty well monopoly and any colour films they did. So I tried to break into colour. The only way I could do is try and do our day daily rates second unit were you know 10 pounds a day. Trying to learn colour so we're now up to about five six or seven and maybe I don't get a colour film say to about number seven and that happens to be. A little picture called Mask of Moloch made again in Tunisia. I do that and shortly after that I get this famous call to go and see Houston. And so number eight or nine is now Moulin Rouge and I've only done one colour film before that and I'm stuck with the mighty Houston. So that's a bit of a sweat you know. So I'm now up to about nine or 10 and then two or three more. Now I'm beginning to. Then I go back to black and white. And you know it's quite was quite hard to go back to black and white the key levels were so different. So that was a bit of a problem so up to 12 13 14 then we get to the middle group and you pretty well right there and you're you're getting into the run of the mill thing at least. And then after about 24 or 25 films you begin to feel well I must really try something different and you start to idly blossom out and try and be bold and venturesome and try things. So we're now up to the last 15 or 20 and I was I suppose the most interesting. I don't have a favourite not a real favourite. I mean I could I can have some of that I don't think I've done very well because I've got videos of them. But I mean you know in context when I did them I suppose. They're not bad but I'm not particularly proud of them now but the last 20 I'm pretty proud of and which
QUESTION which film gave you the most headaches
OSSIE MORRIS well. Ships at sea. You're a monumental headaches Animal films give you tremendous headaches. What else temperamental actors give you headaches for instance difficult actors give you headaches. Well I mean you know Gallons? which is quite a problem with all that lot although I go out with them all very well. I mean A Farewell to Arms was a monumental problem with a difficult producer David Selznick is a leading lady in the film the memos piling up on the doormat. I mean their headaches they they they not you for six you know they go on pages on was all written on yellow paper. And so they're a problem. They're just temperamental actors can be difficult if you if you've got a film with good actors it runs quite smoothly and that's a fairly sane director you know a very rational director because they are a bit dull you've got to be a bit daft and a bit eccentric because that gives the film its sparkle and its magic.
QUESTION A technical question which I perhaps I should have asked earlier. How much reliance Did you have on a meter
OSSIE MORRIS as little as possible towards the end. I go I teach at the film school every year I give them two weeks in March and I try and teach them and part of the exercises I take their meters away from them. I try and teach them not to use the meter after they've got the initial key. When he felt when I first started I was a slave to a meter and in fact all the students at the Film School are now they there measure everything with a meter they go around and it's totally wrong because the amount of light that hits that that needs more light to give it the same response than that does it. So they put a meter there and then the meter only reads the same light doesn't tell you whether that's bright enough or that's too bright. So I try and teach them to use their eye more. But towards the end I just use the meter to set one light in the set and then the rest. I do by eye and it's marvellous that way you really are creating yourself you're doing it all yourself and the you haven't got to bother about the technicalities of the system. And I I don't bother about the camera side of it I am. Extraordinary. Dear old Harry the late Henry Waxman was a great technical Boffin. He knew everything about every camera every filter every lens that came out and he was a absolute hive of information and he used to ask me and made me look like an idiot because I didn't know it. Now I genuinely believe that the way I work. There's a camera there's going to photograph it. As long as I've got a spool of stock in that camera one I've got the lenses I want and the assistant puts on the diffusion and I don't have to look at that camera worry about it. I can concentrate on this and that's the way I work. Now Harry didn't Harry work quite differently and Harry did some marvellous work. So I mean it's all every body has their own style.
QUESTION Well on exteriors if you want about a meter on exteriors
OSSIE MORRIS on exteriors if it's overcast I use an incident light meter. If it's sunny I would use a reflective light meter. And even then towards the end I would use the reflected light less and less because if I get to know with the with the incident try to read into the shadows and and deal with that. And in snow scenes of course you can't use a reflected light meter you have to use an incident light meter cross. You did you hopelessly underexposed on snow.
QUESTION did you have a fovourite stopOh yes yes. Up a great stop
OSSIE MORRIS Oh yes favoiurite stop in the studios key four five because we had to have a certain amount of depth of field for actors. Nowadays the fashion seems to be to shoot wide open and again at the film school I have this problem with these young lads. I mean they're given all the equipment in the world and I try and beg them to like to a T four 4 5 position and I give them half an hour to get the exercise ready and I can see they cut the lights down low and lower and lower and in the end I say no what's to stop and they say T 2 two three and it's become kind of a standing joke at home so I simply can't get up to 4 on 4 5. I don't seem to be able to do it. But that's that's a favourite stop most of the old ex school cameramen yhe Duggie Slocums? the Freddy France's the Freddy Youngs.That of that era all work at four five.
It's only the young ones the Chris Mengies? maybe David Watkin who work at wide open I don't know how they do it.I mean you can't photograph a musical at 2.2 know you've got to have a bit of depth exteriors whatever it can but I don't know if there is an appearance yesterday T four or five definitions you know which which which you know
QUESTION which of all the directors you work with perhaps is your favourite.
OSSIE MORRIS Well again the same thing applies I mean I like working with all of them but they're all most of them have got tremendous talent but it's I've tried to explain some of the talents I mean I love working with Houston I love working with Carol Reed. I only operated for David Lean but I love working for David Lean although I believe believe is pretty tough to work on now. I love working with Sidney Lumet Tony Richardson. I love working with Rene Clement? on the only one I didn't like was Stanley Kubrick. And there is another one as well. A man called Richard Sorafeni? when I got conned into doing a film with him and I that was I thought he was just had no talent at all. And I would never work with him again I don't know what's happened to him I think he's just disappeared out of an area. So really I like them all. Ronnie Neame I like I like working around the Ronnie Neame is a bit square as a director but he's very nice to work with.
QUESTION If you could if you could start again would you change course do you think
OSSIE MORRIS now.It depends if I started again with the industry as it is now I don't think somehow I would do what I did before I think it would be to some totally different because the industry has changed so mucYes dear. Hello hello. You're already lovely how many drinks. OK yes dear we do commish out when it's really OK. No no no. What you got if you had to do it over again.
No but if I had to do it over again the conditions were as they were. Yes I would work again for two years for nothing as I did when I started I think we mentioned all this earlier if I would. I would work for two pounds a week have to spend it all on my fares because I absolutely love working in a film studio. I really do and I would do it all again but it's not. It isn't the same now you see I I mean I hate I hate the idea of the video and the immediate response now let me explain why I hate that it makes people lazy. You see when you when you're working on film you've got 24 hours of absolute torment. Has to know whether it's come out let alone whether it's come out the way you want it. You simply don't know. So you've got to bust a gut when you do it to make sure that it is going to come out 24 hours later because it did not come out as something happened which you probably won't be there the next you will get somebody else in. So it made you pull all the extra stops out as far as I was concerned I had to concentrate. I couldn't afford to relax for a moment I mean people come on the set. My own wife would come on so I wouldn't know she's there. It's total involvement in shooting all the time just keeping going. Watching everything keeping everybody going but you have to keep the tempo going because you're really running the floor with the director and watching what he's going to do much of what actors are doing and so on and so forth. Now if you've got video and I've worked with video at Beaconsfield a bit to show them how to do things and video. It's not the same you you know that if you put a light on and it looks as though it's come out that's about all right that'll do. And it wouldn't be any good for me. I wouldn't do such good work. I've got to have that nervous tension there and that nervous tension is 24 hours between filming and seeing. And I always cross my fingers when I go to see rushes. I always did. Nobody would ever stop me doing this. And I felt much better if I was doing that. Oh yes I do. And also can I say this. This is going to jar with the union people a bit. I believe that I was better as a freelance and I believe that all cinematographers a better freelance than under contract to a studio now you say well that's a pretty broad statement but let me explain why. It's this fear of not being asked to do another film on you only when you're freelance you're only as good as your last movie. And there's this fear that if you don't make a good job of that nobody's going to ask you to do another one. Now there's a you say well how do you know that the other way doesn't work all right the other way. I give you a classic example. The late Jeffrey Unsworth Jeffrey Unsworth was a freelance. For a long time and then he got into I had no financial problems domestic problems or something or other married sort of start to break up and he took a job under contract to Pinewood. Now he they worked him. I mean he had four weeks holiday a year day or two weeks holiday a year . They worked him on the floor for virtually the other 50 weeks. He would almost finish a film on a Friday a big film and then be two more days left to do Mobday & Tuesday. They wouldn't let him do those two days they'd say oh well you start on the other one on Monday and he'd have to start another one on the Monday need somebody else to finish those two days off. Now that drained him absolutely dry and his work deteriorated like mad finally. He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He broke away from it and he did the most wonderful work and he was within two or three years gained himself two Oscars because he was a freelance again if he was able to take a little bit of a break. So I do believe I do believe very strongly that creatively the it's better to be a freelance now. I hear that's beginning to go through in television. The feeling is that they're going to slowly. Put everything out a lot of it to out to independent production I know it's partly due to finances but I believe Thames are going more and more to freelance work and they seem to feel the quality gets a bit better that way. I mean that's all I can say. I'm sorry I have to say that the ACT but I genuinely believe it.
Is there anything else
QUESTION now you teach you teach at the Film School. Yes yes. What do you really teach them.
OSSIE MORRIS Well you know I feel I've got a responsibility to the industry to foster young talent and I'm very happy to do this. I must add that I do it for nothing I don't get anything for it I'm very happy to do it all they do is pay my hotel accommodation. But I I care about the industry. It's you know I loved it and it's done me very proudly and I would like to help these young people. Now there are certain things that a film school can't teach which outsiders like us can teach them and that is there are relationships in films.
Yes dear. OK can I just stop you know I better come.
QUESTION as you were saying relationship about relationships.
OSSIE MORRIS Oh yes that's right. And the film school one thing they can't teach at the Film School is relationships and you must both understand that half of my talk is about relationships particularly with directors and actors and this is a very big failing on the part of all film schools throughout the world they're great at teaching them the techniques. But you know as I've explained technique is only barely 50 percent of it it's relationships and drive and understanding actors understanding directors that's very important. So when I go to the film's school apart from trying to teach them the basics of lighting and how to set a key light and fill light and so on and try to teach them to go fast because again the schools are very bad at doing that. I also try and emphasize to them the fact that the director. Is the captain of the ship. He runs the whole thing is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the movie and that the cinematographer is only on the floor the number two. I mean they are the people like designers and production people but they're not actually on the floor on the floor. It's really the cinematographer and it's quite difficult to get this over to these young people. They seem to think that when they go out into the hard world of moviemaking their top they can take as long as they want. If they want to have an actor in with all sorts of lighting equipment and paraphernalia. And the actor can't move that's just too bad. I have to try and explain to them in the in the. World of realism that's not the case though. The actors have no climb up the wall no crash all through these bits and pieces they hem them in with and it's very hard for them to understand this but I very important that film schools understand this and I spend a lot of time trying to put this over to and I think it is a weakness on the part of the film schools and the only way I think they can overcome it is to ask people who actually have experience to go in from the day and talk to the students and make them realize that
QUESTION do you think. Do you think the National Film School year is turning out good people.
OSSIE MORRIS Well it's extraordinary when you when I go there and see them working I can't believe That you know that the end product is as good as it should be. But I have to say that the films school internationally has a tremendous reputation. I mean I you get students coming from Japan and get them from. I've had them from Japan to Poland Hungary Australia Framce Germany they all want to come to the National Film and Television School and they've got a waiting list there as long as your arm. So and they do seem to win a lot of awards. How I do I don't know because at times I find it so chaotic down there and that they don't seem to get their priorities right. But it must be something about me that's wrong because of the way the school has a tremendous reputation I mean I'm very thrilled that it has but I'm amazed that it has really quite extraordin
QUESTION It is this Ossie of news that the people now are looking for and very often it is a method of self-expression whereas previously it was an entertainment industry was much more s scene? the people working together to create the film rather than one single. I've noticed this myself in television where in documentaries it's useful or important for the producer to interpose himself between the audience and the subject here to present the subject.
OSSIE MORRIS Yeah well I know I think you're right I mean I think it is as far as the student films are concerned they are purely and simply self-expression and which is fine for a student film but it's no good when it comes to commercial movies there are a lot of other elements that come into it and maybe that's where the problem is that you know it's not necessarily. So. Right. But first if a student is brilliant at producing his effort at the film's school it's not necessarily right that he's going to be tremendously successful out in the commercial world because he has to amalgamate with other people.He's not his own boss any more and I mean I think that's partly what I've been trying to say and I think you're probably right. Some of them have done very well. I know they've written to me. One wrote to me doing tremendously well in Hong Kong. He's got his own commercial business and making a lot of money when that boy was at the film school he had to sweep offices out in the mornings before coming there to earn enough money to pay for his first year because they have to pay their own first year. And I used to tear him off like mad if he was late because I have one thing I I know they have a. You know come to terms with the fact they've got to be on time and one thing the film school couldn't care less about is time and this boy was always late. I used to tear into him and say you know you never make it out in the world I said pardon but I think it's an insult to me because I'm here for two weeks and if you don't think it's worth coming at 10 o'clock I don't see why I should bother to come in and he said Me well I'm terribly sorry but I have to clean up offices to earn some money to pay for my stay here and I felt you know about four inches tall and that boy is now got a very successful commercial company in Hong Kong. I was another one came onto the set to me in New York when I was working there. So out of the blue he's out there now and he's doing very well making commercials so some of them do get on but I don't know whether they all do or do but IME if you ask me about the film school I'm very proud of the film school. I'm. Equally successful is it is I don't know whether Colin Young would like you know to hear me say that but I've told Colin many a time that there there are awful timekeepers and Colin replies Well so am I. So I mean where do you go from there.
QUESTION To to perhaps to finish finish off here. You know you gave us a lot of information about John Houston would you like to round it off at all. Really now Now he's no longer with us at all.
OSSIE MORRIS Well I don't think I've got I think I've covered him pretty exhaustively. I suppose I would sum him up by being the most laid back almost to the point of laziness. Talented director. I work with I think that just about sums it up. I mean it's an extraordinary it's almost a mixture of talent and laziness but it really I'm being a little bit unkind I suppose when I say lazy it's really what I would call a laid back is so detached from his work that he makes you feel he is lazy but has no shadow of doubt has tremendous talent. I mean all the top directors don't get me wrong. All the top directors I've worked with and I've mentioned above are all very talented. There is no substitute for getting to the top as far as I am so there's that as a for a director. They've got to have talent. And they've got to be able to communicate. If they can't communicate now Houston can't communicate but somehow they re so likeable and lovable. You find out what he wants to tell you or want to do. But most of the others have got to communicate and if they don't communicate a they really won't be any good as director I think.
QUESTION Do you think you know what made Houston tick they are because you just think it was very fragmented individuals so many facets.
OSSIE MORRIS Well yes yes fragmented I mean unbelievably so. Now I know what made him tick. You know I think. Through all those fragmentations there is this the near an incredible talent and I think that goes through everything his conversation his choice of art his works about his choice of reading. I suppose choice of. Sport doesn't I'm forced to go through his choice of wives. That's the exception that proves the rule. But but that apart Q it's just a talent and I think that it's not veneer really it's a strato isn't it. Well as trite as probably you are in your opinion the wrong notes the strata. You know you're right veneer is too thin though it's a strong matter. It's like all this is an on the top of it is this stratum of tremendous talent and I mean if it was in this room now we'd hold you spellbound with conversation. just extraordinary and yet his marriages were disastrous which he admits in his book extraordinary
Thank you I think but is there anything else much. Thank you. END OF INTERVIEW END OF INTERVIEW