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.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Hemmings on Blow-Up

Vanessa Redgrave, Hemmings, Antonioni and Natalie Wood at an early BLOW-UP screening
I got David Hemmings' biography a few years ago, and it was interesting picking it up again yesterday.... particularly as I had seen him and Richard Harris in the 1974 actioner JUGGERNAUT recently (review below, Hemmings label). He and Harris had indeed discussed their working days with Michelangelo Antonioni - according to David, Harris when making THE RED DESERT in 1964 got into a brawl and punched Antonioni in the mouth, so he was thrown off the picture and Antonioni finished it with a stand-in and back-shots of Harris's head!  The book is a great read on that '60s era when Hemmings, after being that boy soprano for Benjamin Britten in THE TURN OF THE SCREW, had some bit parts and then was chosen by the maestro for BLOW-UP. What a fascinating career. I never met David, but did have a pleasant meeting with his then girlfriend Jane Merrow in '66.
David though loved the whole BLOW-UP experience, it began filming in April 1966 and according to him the first showings were in December 1966 in America; it did not open in Europe until Feburary 1967 and then of course it was a Cannes Festival prize-winner, so it is really a 1967 film for us Europeans. I remember its London opening then and how we all had to have a view on it - the boundaries between art and commerce were much more blurred then.... I loved his Hussar costume too in Tony Richardson's 1968 THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, and had a poster of it on my wall.

David with Oliver Reed in my 1964 favourite THE SYSTEM - (two years before he defined the '60s) and both in 1999 for Ridley Scott's GLADIATOR - time has a habit of catching up with hell-raisers. (They were also in that last version of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER in 1977). Oliver died during GLADIATOR and David in 2003, also on set - but he had a good career resurgence with parts in Scorsese's GANGS OF NEW YORK, and others like LAST ORDERS in 2000 with that great British line-up: Hemmings, Tom Courtenay, Bob Hoskins, Caine and Ray Winstone, not to mention Helen Mirren. (Ray mentioned him that time I saw him promoting 44 INCH CHEST in 2010, David is certainly not forgotten). I must re-visit his 1978 JUST A GIGOLO which he directed and appeared in with that fascinating combination of Bowie and Dietrich - his book is very informative on that too. More at Hemmings label.

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