Richard Marden

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Interview Date(s): 
17 Jan 1996
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A Summary of the RICHARD MARDEN Interview. File 361.
Side 1. His parents came from the West Country and his father worked for G.E.C at Wembley. His first school was Wembley Grammar School for Girls in the kindergarten. He then went to a private school at Harrow called King's School which turned out to be his Prep. At the age of 13 he was moved to Highgate School where he remained until aged 18. (According to the date mentioned, he was born in 1928.) His interest in films dates back to the age of 5 when he was given a magic lantern with slides of Disney characters, but he was more interested in his elder brother's toy 35mm. film projector because the picture had movement. At about this time, his father bought him a Pathescope 9.5mm, hand cranked projec^r. He goes on to describe in great detail the use to which it was put. In 1935, aged 7, he met up with Godfrey Jennings whg^^was to become a great friend. They both had Pathescope kits and toy theatres and soon, movies became an obsession. He talks about early visits to the cinema tending to be supervised by his parents, viewing such films as OLIVE of INDIA which had some relevance to his education. He reminisces about early films and their effect upon him and mentions the Wembley Hall, an early cinema with rear projection which he describes in detail. An early film which made an impression was SKIPPY, 1931. He continues with a description of his 9.5mm. equipment including a movie camera, and the other popular gauges of the post war period. Eventually, he graduated to 8mm. having sold the Pathescope kit, and together with Godfrey he describes the making of a stop-motion animated movie. He suggests that Godfrey seemed more interested in the technical process of film making rather than cinematic art. He talks about Highgate School in 1943 and mentions the fact Teddy Darvas and other film makers were educated there at some period. He left school at the age of 18 in 1946. His first job was at Carlton Hill Studios as a trainee in the Sound Department. He talks of the difficulties in finding a job because of the ACT closed shop requirement. However, his father knew the Manager, Bill Norris, at Nettlefold Studios and approached him for advice. Dick describes the excitement of visiting a real film studio. Norris spoke to ACT and Dick managed to enter Carlton Hill as a trainee. He describes the job. The film being made at the time was THE TURNERS of PROSPECT ROAD and he recalls the details. He talks about the culture shock to a college boy in his first job, yet how kind and amiable everyone was. He was "sent up", and expected to be, and took it all in his stride. He recalls an amusing story about Wilfrid Lawson. He describes his next job which was as a sound camera operator where he remained for 2 years - details.
Page 2 of 4 Some second feature films made there are discussed. He realised he was not cut out technically to progress further in that line, although he was a competent operator, and wanted, instead, to become an editor. He describes how he started in the cutting room on THE MONKEY'S PAW, 1948; production details. The next picture was JACK of DIAMONDS, 1949.d.V.Sewell - details. Dick received his first credit on this picture.
Side 2. MURDER at the WINDMILL, 1949, d, Val Guest was his next picture as 2nd. assistant editor after leaving Carlton Hill: Details. Before MURDER at the WINDMILL, he remembers working for a new Company called Parthian Productions who were making musicals for American TV: Details. He tells how the company was wound up. After MURDER at the WINDMILL he worked for Butchers. He has also worked for Data. His next picture as 1st. assistant was THE LATE EDWINA BLACK, 1951, d. Maurice Elvey: Details. He also talks about the presentation and technical problems associated with the transmission of several old films on TV and outlines some cases where he intervened. He also worked on INTO THE BLUE, 1950, d. Herbert Wilcox. After that he worked for Data for a while as an assistant. He then went to Denham to work on Disney's ROBIN HOOD, 1952, d. Ken Annakin, as 1st. assistant.
Side 3.
Continues with ROBIN HOOD: Details. He then went on to THE PICKWICK PAPERS, 1952, d. Noel Langley, as 1st. assistant: Details. After that he became a founder member of a new Company, Film Partnership, which arose phoenix-like from the ashes of Crown in 1952: Details of early films. Dick was involved with one of their films - VINTAGE 28, and describes the shoot. They also worked for Film Centre on an Oil film. QUEEN MARY'S FUNERAL in 3-D - it was nicknamed "a coffin in your lap" - was another film made by the Group. He talks about the camera set-up, 2 Newman Sinclairs facing each other with a mirror and the lens in front of the mirror, all mounted together as a unit. After a year or so, he left the Group to do more work on features, and outlines the subsequent history of the company. The next features were THE SEA SHALL NOT HAVE THEM, 1954, d. Lewis Gilbert and ESCAPADE, 1955, d. Philip Leacock. He then went to work for Rank Screen Audiences to do a documentary about canal boat people. While he was at Rank, he was asked by John Trumper to dub PATTERN of ISLANDS/PACIFIC DESTINY, 1956, d. Wolf Rilla, when he was, in fact, otherwise engaged. But by a supernatural fluke, the job was offered again and he was able to accept. Weird and interesting story! He then went on to do a TV series called THE BUCCANEERS, as sound editor. Cannon explosions were produced by throwing gelignite overboard encased in condoms. An expense voucher was submitted for something like 150 condoms for two days! After that he got involved with dubbing on THE GIANT BEHEMOTH, 1959, d. Eugene Lourie, followed by THE DOCTOR'S DILEMMA, 1958, d. Anthony Asquith.
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He was also dubbing an Arthur Askey picture about this time. He also did some drama editing on a TV series called THE THIRD MAN before going out to Singapore for 18 months to edit THE GOLDEN SANDS.
Side 4. Mention is made of Jack Holmes in Singapore. Dick enjoyed his work there between September 1959 and March 1961. In Spring of 1961 he went back to Film Centre to work on THE HISTORY of MOTOR RACING/ Part 2, followed by NETWORK. He then became involved as one of the many sound editors on LAWRENCE of ARABIA: Details. The intelligibility of sound is discussed in some detail.
He then became involved with a Unit called British Home Entertainment who were making films about Ballet at Covent Garden. They were shot using multiple camera techniques on Sundays. He regresses to talk about his work as one of the sound editors on HARRY BLACK and the TIGER, 1958, d. Hugo Fregonese, including an amusing anecdote about a demonstration for Mountbatten. Returning to the British Home Entertainment theme he describes his work there together with some more amusing anecdotes. He next became involved with Ann Todd and Ian Dalrymple on a travelogue made in Nepal in Techniscope for BHE.
Side 5. Continues with Ann Todd: Details. This was followed by a film about the Stock Exchange for Ian Dalrymple, Wessex. At this time, BHE decided to make a version of Olivier's OTHELLO for the big screen which Dick was to edit. It was blown up to 70mm. This was his first complete feature piece of editing, the year, 1965. After that, in 1966 he then went on to do commercials. The next major commitment was TWO for the ROAD, 1966, d. Stanley Donen: Details. He then edited the following features:BEDAZZLED, 1967, d. Stanley Dolan. HOT MILLIONS, 1968, d. Eric Till. STAIRCASE, 1969, d. Stanley Dolan. ANNE of the THOUSAND DAYS, 1969, d. Charles Jarrott. SUNDAY, BLOODY SUNDAY, 1971, d. John Schlesinger. This turned out to be a fun movie to do: Details. Another feature for Hal Wallis was MARY, QUEEN of SCOTS, 1971, d. Charles Jarrott. He then became involved in a Franco/Belgian co-production in English, directed by a Belgian, Harry Kummel. The title was MELPERTUIS, 1972: Details. After that co-production he came back to SLEUTH, 1972, d. Joseph Mankiewicz. By an amazing coincidence it was he who wrote SKIPPY, the film of 1931, which has had such an influence on Dick, as chronicled on Side 1! Dick gives a wonderful appraisal of J.M. who imparted a great deal of advice about film making.
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Side 6. Continues with SLEUTH: Details. The next epic was FRANKENSTEIN, the TRUE STORY, d. Jack Smight, in two parts for TV; Details. After a couple of false starts due to production company insolvencies, he worked on RUSSIAN ROULETTE, 1975, d. Lou Lombardo; Dick recalls some hairy moments on the film (beware of the language, its pretty hot stuff!) After that he edited ESCAPE from the DARK for Disney, 1976, d. Charles Jarrott: Details. This was followed by CARRY ON ENGLAND, 1976, d, Gerald Thomas: It was the last but one of the series and great fun to do: Details. In 1977 he worked on THE HOUND of the BASKERVILLES, d. Paul Morrissey: It should have worked, but it did'nt! Details. Next was CARAVANS, 1978, d, James Fargo. Made in Iran: Details. THE CORN is GREEN for TV was next. Directed by George Cukor, 1979. There follows some interesting details about Cukor at work and some wonderful anecdotes, together with a personal appraisal of Katherine Hepburn. After that came SATURN THREE, 1980, d. Stanley Donen, followed by THE MIRROR CRACK'd, 1980, d. Guy Hamilton. Then came SWORD of the VALIANT, 1984, d. Stephen Weeks. It never received a theatre release, but came out on video: Details. After that came BLAME it on RIO, 1983, d. Stanley Donen, followed by a little work, helping out on THE LAST DAYS of POMPEII, for TV before going to Mexico to do THE FALCON and the SNOWMAN, 1984, d. John Schlesinger. This was followed by HALF MOON STREET, 1986, d. Bob Swain: Details. Another was HELLRAISER, 1987, wd. Clive Barker: Details. Cutting room crewing is discussed and some of the descriptions given to sound specialists and their work is explained. In 1988 he did HELLBOUND:HELLRAISER 2, d. Tony Randel: Details. In 1991 he did HAMLET, d. Franco Zeffirelli: Details.
Side 7. Continues with HAMLET. He was then involved with a video for a friend, on the subject of B17's at an Air Show. In 1992 he worked on THE INNOCENTS, d. John Schlesinger, in Berlin. Fun to do: Details. In 1993 he did SPARROW, d. Franco Zeffirelli: Details. And up to the present, 1994/95, JANE EYRE, d. Franco Zeffirelli: Details.
RICHARD MARDEN was interviewed by JOHN LEGARD. DAVID MATHER ROBSON recorded it and wrote the Summary. I make the usual disclaimer about the correct spelling of some names and places which need to be verified.