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, 14 January 2013

Dirk & house-guests ...

Its Artic Monday here and the snow has turned to sleet. Nice to be back in, with HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON on television once again, with Stanwyck & Sam Fuller's 40 GUNS coming up next, and SHIRLEY VALENTINE on later tonight, when one can say the lines along with the great cast while enjoying a vodka or two ....

We also dug out Dirk Bogarde's book "Cleared for Take-off" which has been an amusing/fascinating read once again, as Dirk discusses his various friends and house-guests. Kay Kendall of course became a more or less permanent house-guest of his in the '50s (as detailed in his "Snakes & Ladders" tome). This book finds him putting up Ingrid Bergman in 1964 when she was returning to the stage in Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY in Sussex.
The play of course was such a hit, everybody wanted to see Ingrid (and that great cast including Michael Redgrave, Emlyn Williams, Fay Compton and Jeremy Brett) that it transferred to London where it played for 8 months and where I saw it in 1965, one of my first theatre outings in London, and (being a bit of an autograph hound then) got all the cast signatures on the programme. In fact I got Ingrid's twice, from a later play she did with Kenneth Williams. I also saw her at the National Film Theatre several times, once at a screening of CASABLANCA where she was telling us about its making and how it was just another potboiler to them at the time. 

Ingrid was always a pleasure to meet and Dirk captures her perfectly here. He is in country squire lord-of-the-manor mode here (from that era of his big country houses), picking mint from the garden for cook, and putting a guest bedroom and bathroom plus his parlourmaid Hilda at Ingrid's disposal for her stay (plus a new telephone line), Hilda had to look after Ingrid's clothes and washing, and clean her rooms, so she got a salary increase for that. Eve Arnold (in her book "Film Journal") captures them nicely in this great shot (above). Dirk also tells us about the night JFK was killed when Fred, his valet, burst in to the room half dressed with the news. Dirk tells him to "tell the kitchen" (staff, presumably) while he turns on the tv. 
Dirk was also marvellous at his NFT lecture in 1970 (left) where I met him afterwards and got that signature (Bogarde label), and also at a 1992 reading from his books at the National Theatre. Actor John Fraser's book (he was Bosie to Peter Finch's Oscar in the 1960 film, and was in Dirk's THE WIND CANNOT READ in 1959) from 2004 has a great chapter on Bogarde and offers a completely different view on the Bogarde's home life, as well as a terrific chapter on a night out with Bette Davis at her most in 1965 - Davis was making THE NANNY at the time with Fraser's pal Jill Bennett, they ended up in a nightclub meeting The Beatles. Ringo Starr was impressed to meet Bette as his mother loved her films! The then openly gay Fraser was also in EL CID among others.

Soon: Ingrid's last role as Golda Meir in GOLDA.

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