Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Richard Lester, a BFI Tribute

Richard Lester is awarded a BFI (British Film Institute) Fellowship at a ceremony next month with an interview and special screening of maybe his best film ROBIN AND MARIAN - (see still at Nicol Williamson post below), not only has it Connery and Audrey Hepburn but also the likes of Robert Shaw, Nicol Williamson, Richard Harris etc. One of my essential 1976 films (along with TAXI DRIVER, OBSESSION, NETWORK, L'INNOCENTE etc).

Lester is that Canadian who moved to England, became an essential director of English movies, up there with Tony Richardson, John Schlesinger, Joe Losey, Ken Russell, Clive Donner and Michael Winner then. His HARD DAY'S NIGHT with the Beatles was very influential, as was HELP! - it was marvellous walking into the cinema half-way through (continuous performances in those days, you could stay as long as you liked, I saw it twice through) the sequence on Salisbury Plain as George Harrison did his solo number "I Need You" - it was a big thing then, at 19, to see The Beatles on screen in colour, rather than on a tiny black and white television. His Beatles films were hugely influential as the first pop promo videos really with those musical numbers cut and edited to the music.

Lester also hit it with THE KNACK [which won the Cannes Grand Prix] and offbeat films like THE BED-SITTING ROOM, HOW I WON THE WAR, he certainly worked with the best and his movies were full of delicious quirky funny moments. PETULIA with Julie Christie in San Francisco is one I really must re-view and his 70s all star spectaculars were, well, spectacular and funny: THE THREE and FOUR MUSKETEERS, ROYAL FLASH (review at Malcolm McDowell label), and I am shortly going to catch up with JUGGERNAUT a better than average bomb-on-ship thriller, with Hemmings & co.. ROBIN AND MARIAN was perfect too.

He also presented a marvellous 6-part BBC television series back in the '90s HOLLYWOOD UK, (thankfully I kept some episodes on vhs cassettes) revisiting the locations and interviewing surviving members of iconic British 60s films like BILLY LIAR, BLOW-UP, THE L-SHAPED ROOM, SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING, THE SERVANT etc with waspish comments from Bogarde, Terence Stamp (insisting that BLOWUP was all about him and Antonioni had been following him around and offerred him the role first), with Monica Vitti speaking in Italian and it was fascinating going back to BILLY LIAR's house as it is now, and the BLOW-UP park and studio.

Good to see more praise for this boldly original director with a great sense of humour!

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