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, 16 July 2012

'Hollywood UK'

I am indebted to my new friend Colin, who discovered my blog, for sending me that 1993 BBC series HOLLYWOOD UK, which I had recorded at the time on vhs cassettes which had since deteriorated (thats what comes from storing them in the garage) - so it has been marvellous seeing all 5 episodes again now, almost 20 years later. It was only ever shown the once by BBC2 and is a fascinating treasure trove for anyone with an interest in British '60s cinema.
Lester at the L-SHAPED ROOM house

The episodes are presented by Richard Lester - a '60s/'70s luminary himself who directed several favourites of mine (I recently caught up with his 1974 thriller JUGGERNAUT, as per recent review) and it has the novel idea of taking the creators of those '60s classics back to the original locations, as the series starts with Stanley Donen explaining how 1958 London had to look for INDISCREET, but then Laurence Harvey arrives at ROOM AT THE TOP in '59 and we finish with James Fox and Mick Jagger in that Notting Hill house in PERFORMANCE, filmed in 1968 but not released until 1970 as it so horrified Warner Bros, ... so we get Keith Waterhouse at the house used for BILLY LIAR and the other locations for the film with Tom Courtenay, Alan Sillitoe at a car park which replaced all those terraced houses in SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING, John Schlesinger on A KIND OF LOVING
We visit the house used for THE L-SHAPED ROOM, Bryan Forbes goes back to the farm used for WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND etc. Sidney J Furie on his LEATHER BOYS and THE IPCRESS FILE. We follow the rise of the Bonds and Carry Ons ... and we see Rita Tushingham and Lynn Redgrave on their '60s hits (Lester's THE KNACK which makes me feel 19 again,  GEORGY GIRL etc) and Murray Melvin back at A TASTE OF HONEY ...

We return to the BLOW-UP studio in W11 and that park in Woolwich as it is now, as the set decorator tells how they painted the trees and grass and streets;  James Fox returns to the PERFORMANCE house, Terence Stamp [who really must have a portrait in his attic...] insists that BLOW-UP was all about him and he was promised the part; Julie Christie comments on her BILLY LIAR and DARLING roles, Jane Asher on DEEP END, Vanessa Redgrave shows how Antonioni directed her movements to get exactly what he wanted, as does David Hemmings. Sir Dirk sits in regal splendour probably at the Connaught Hotel and expounds on the Losey years: THE SERVANT, ACCIDENT, MODESTY BLAISE. Monica Vitti has a lot to say too, in Italian, and we see her in London in the '60s in Regent Street and Park Lane. Leslie Caron discusses her time in the L-SHAPED ROOM; SEBASTIAN director David Greene discusses the copious drugs around at the time of that hippie era late '60s .... Desmond Davis assisted on TOM JONES and went on to direct THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES, I WAS HAPPY HERE, SMASHING TIME, CLASH OF THE TITANS etc. No mention of Clive Donner though ...

The early episodes cover that early '60s kitchen sink era; then we get The Beatles and A HARD DAY'S NIGHT at Marylebone Station, THE SERVANT house in Chelsea, DARLING, GEORGY GIRL, MORGAN, THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES, THE PLEASURE GIRLS, IF etc. and the fascinating story of the rise and rise and then fall of Woodfall Films - 
The Oscar-winning runaway success of TOM JONES in '63 (it was still playing when I arrived in April 1964) allowed Tony Richardson a free hand to make those loss-making films with Jeanne Moreau (MADEMOISELLE, THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR - cult classics in some quarters now, like those Losey/Burtons also failures at the time) and then the commercially disasterous, expensive THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE - a movie I liked, we loved those Hussar uniforms in 1968, and its a perfectly '60s take on the hypocrisy of that Victorian era, with that great cast - but the mass audience stayed away as they did from other United Artists films made in England then, like CHARLEY BUBBLES, ISADORA, THE BOFORS GUN, movies I remember seeing, after Time magazine discovered the swinging city, American money was financing this British new wave.  Critic Alexander Walker covered this territory too in his many books.

We also get a few clips from one I didn't see, and nobody else did either: THE BREAKING OF BUMBO by Andrew Sinclair in 1970 from his novel, with Richard Warwick and Joanna Lumley. also JOANNA, another flop at the time as the Americans realised that the British movie scene was fading out as the '70s dawned ... and withdrew their funding accordingly. ('70s British movies apart from those early successes like THE GO BETWEEN, SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY, DON'T LOOK NOW, TRIPLE ECHO and those Ken Russells were mainly exploitation and Hammers and the increasingly tatty Carry Ons).

Roman Polanski discusses his British films REPULSION (as we go back to those Kensington streets) and CUL-DE-SAC at Lindisfarne; we see Truffaut filming FARNHEIT 451; Skolimowski making DEEP END and Roger Corman cheaply making THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH using leftover sets from BECKET!  There are copious clips from the movies and fascinating interviews with those concerned - a lot of whom (Schlesinger, Waterhouse, Reisz, Anderson, Bogarde, Hemmings, John Osborne, Donald Cammell, Terence Young etc) are no longer here - we also see the likes of Losey, Richardson, Truffaut at work. A fascinating document then, I am so pleased to have these programmes on disk now. Thanks indeed Colin.  Click on photos to enlarge.

Hemmings's reflection watching BLOW-UP
James Fox back at the PERFORMANCE house

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