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Gerry O'Hara

Interview with Gerry O'Hara by Andrew Spicer and Anthony McKenna
21st February, 2011

Interview conducted in person
duration : 1:32:28


GO But they got some sort of recognition from the BMA for it. Yes, now all I know about That Kind of Girl, obviously I hadn’t met Michael or Tony at all. Robert Hartford-Davis, as I told you, was a spark on the rail at British National where we made all sorts of films like Waltz Time, The Laughing Lady, Dual Alibi, all sorts of, you know, mainly double features. And Bob used to be on the rail and he used to come down sometimes and chat to me, you know, when I was the assistant director on the shot. My - I mean, I was probably at that point the second assistant. Bob Asher was the guy who taught me the business. I was his assistant and he later directed the Morecambe and Wise - the Norman Wisdoms. He was a lovely guy who had a sad end to his career because the business kind of walked away from him. But I always felt he was - he would have made a terrific thriller director, but he had a comic bent and he went for comedy. And he was a star assistant, he did big pictures, Lew Grade’s thing Sinking of the Titanic, all those kinds of movies. But I just felt - I was sure he would have been in the Robert Siodmak, kind of dark, you know, German film noir kind of stuff. And he and I used to go to the movies together all the time you know when we were kids.

So, anyway, to get back to Hartford-Davis, I was a first at British National latterly, but I was also a second there, so I didn’t see him probably for years and then he rang me one time and I met up with him to do this - That Kind of Girl and I was a crack assistant in those days. I did all the big pictures, And I was about to go on to Tom Jones, in fact, I think I was already under contract then. I was on Tom Jones with Tony Richardson for - about - oh, quite a while - 20 weeks, something like that. I’d certainly done about three-quarters of the movie, but That Kind of Girl, the date - the starting date came up and Tony very sweetly let me go and I said, ‘Look, this is my first crack at directing’. He was all for it. He was a lovely guy, Richardson, and on the first day of shooting he sent me a - his chauffeur turned up. We were shooting in Mill Hill, at a little house, at a bungalow there. And he sent me a - what was it called? - a game pie. An enormous game pie, you know, stuffed with pheasant. And Albert Finney sent me a director’s chair with ‘Gerry O’Hara’ on the back of it. So, of course, the unit took the piss out of me because they were - we’d gone from the top of the tree to the pits. And so, and that was my first day’s shooting.

I had directed a bit of second unit for Ken Annakin on The Man - The Third Man on the Mountain, a Walt Disney picture, you know, in Switzerland. And I put - I’d possibly shot a few bits, car chases - not chases because they required skill, but, you know, police cars with bells on going from left to right, right to left. So I knew very little about directing, but, of course, I’d learnt a lot at the side of all these directors, from top of the tree like Tony Richardson and Olivier and all those people, to the sort of run of the mill guys, you know, the, you know, B picture directors and also TV guys on the Fairbanks show and things like that.

So, anyway, I started directing and, much to my surprise, people did what I suggested. I had a good cameraman, I had Peter Newbrook, who was a great pal of Bob and later did several films with Bob Hartford-Davis. He was a crack operator. He was the operator for a lot of the early David Lean films. And he was on - I’d worked with him briefly on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Paris, I was Minnelli’s assistant on that. So I knew Peter, and Bob said, ‘Look, what about Peter Newbrook?’. Why not, you know. And I think a day or two into the thing Bob kind of said, ‘Look,’ you know, ‘I didn’t mean you to direct, I meant you to sort of be there and I would direct’. And I told him to piss off straightaway. And he was a bit hurt by that, but I mean there was nothing he could do. I’d sussed out by then that Klinger and Tenser went along with him, but they didn’t know much either at that stage. And I knew that if I was - said, ‘Look, this guy’s - this is all bullshit. He wants to direct it. And quite frankly, if he does I’d like to leave now.’ So, anyway, that was the end of Bob. But when I saw the film a few months ago when the BFI ran it, I must say I was very surprised by it. It’s quite a well-made film, you know. I didn’t have anything to do with the editing. In fact, I can’t even tell you who edited it. And I had very little to do with the casting, nothing to do with the scripts. The script was written by Jan Read, who - he wrote a bit of BBC, they had a series with a detective. I’ve forgotten what it was called now, but one of the very early black and white cop shows. I met him socially and he was a very nice guy. But I took no part whatever in writing it, I didn’t suggest any alterations or anything, I just shot it, you know. And one of the quickie directors that taught me an awful lot was a guy called Bud Springsteen, R. G. Springsteen of Republic Pictures. [Interruption.]

... And he shot a series called Stryker of the Yard in a bicycle shed at Walton-on-Thames. You know, you had to stop shooting when the planes flew over. It was a sort of corrugated iron roof. But he - he sort of taught me how to shoot economically. I discovered because I used to travel with him to Walton. We used to meet at Waterloo Station and go down together. He was staying at the Savoy. But, again, Republic was a very cheap outfit and they didn’t give him a car or anything. He was quite happy. We used to get the workman’s return from Waterloo before 7.30 every morning. But he always had a one sheet of foolscap and he’d write down about 19 set ups, 20, 23 or whatever. And, of course, he would never show them to anybody. But you’d see him pull it out of his pocket and cross it off and put it back in. And when I got to know him really well, we used to go in the Walton Studio canteen and have their awful, vile tea and a bacon roll and - so I said, ‘Could I have a look?’, you know, ‘Because, being the assistant, if I saw the list I’d know that wall’s got to come out the next shot, you know, and that’s got to be done, you know’. So he said, ‘Yes, sure.’ And then he let me have it, let me see it every day. And he showed me how to get speed into action, you know, police cars swerve in, bells ringing, tyres screaming and low angles, door opens, high angle, man runs out. All that quick cutting stuff. So from him I learnt t lot of that. From Carol Reed was also, he was the only director who thought it was his duty to teach his assistant.

A lot of assistants wouldn’t even dream of being directors, they wanted to be production managers, producers, you know, wear the black tie and go to the premiere. But Carol actually pretty well said, ‘Look, pay attention. Why did I do this close up shot here? Why did I do the close up? Why did I change lenses’ And we used to have a drink each night on the way home from Elstree and he’d take me through the day’s work. ‘And I did an extra close up of Trevor, why? It wasn’t in the script, it was a long shot, it was so and so whatever. And I thought that for speed I needed to cut in. And so I went from high down to low.’ And he’d cut in. So it was those kind of people, it was the accumulated knowledge of those kind of people, that must have stuck to me. And also Preminger, I did two big pictures with him. And he had a very, what I always felt was rather a lazy style of direction. He loved the big shot, you know, always the big, long shot and he would do tracking shots that you couldn’t cut into which I always thought was... Again, you could learn from him. I learnt from him, Carol and Tony Richardson particularly, that you didn’t need studios. You need them now because it’s all blue screen and trickery and so forth. But I don’t think I ever shot a film in a studio. Possibly an Avengers. Yes, I did, one of my Avengers was studio bound. [Interruption.]

AM This speech from the doctor. That was already in the script already?

GO Oh, yes, yes, yes.

AM And this was - was this a marketing thing? It’s very much like the old exploitation films. The film almost stops and the doctor gives a speech about STDs and then the film

GO Yes, that was obviously all down to Jan Read and Bob. I imagine that would be stipulated to get the British BMA approval. I suppose Michael and Tony, their motive in the beginning was exploitation movies and that was an exploitation movie in a gentle way and, of course, Pleasure Girls, that was quite a toughie, because they wanted an exploitation movie. And they got quite tough with me about it, quite threatening. They had a line producer, Harry ...?

AS & AM Harry Fine?

GO Harry Fine, yes, whom I’d known as an actor. I knew him as a bit player, he wasn’t even a real actor, you know. [Interruption.]

Harry, one day, came on the set, very bossily and produced a dressing gown that he’d bought from C & A Modes which was kind of fluffy - what’s the word - sort of a see-through, that’s right, a kind of see-through thing. And it was absolute crap. And I threw it at him and he said, ‘Look, you’ve got to do it. The girl’s got to wear this dressing gown.’ I’d actually used my own towel dressing gown from my flat around the corner, which was the sort of thing I often did. I used to use - put my own pictures on the wall, anything to make things more interesting and so I said, ‘Look, I’m not going to use it, if you want to, you know, if you’re going to take issue about it, we’ll strike this shot and I’ll do something else. And that meant pulling the lights down and we were in a house just off Gloucester Road. This sort of, sort of four floor, empty house that we’d luckily got hold of. And, of course, that frightened the shit out of him, because he said, ‘No, no, no, don’t stop anything.’ And I said, ‘Well, fuck off! Just go.’ And that was the end of him. So Michael after that - obviously he went back and told them - Michael after that was very careful with me. You know, he would put his arm round me and say, ‘Gerry, look, nobody wants to ...’

But I knew that they wanted a naughty movie. So we did a scene with Suzanna Leigh and Klaus Kinski. And I’ve got to give Harry Fine full marks. He got Klaus Kinski for nine hundred quid for ten days work. That was before he did Zhivago. He happened to be in England and his agent was somebody we all knew, including Harry, so Harry got Klaus and that was a great stroke. But I did a scene with a sun lamp with Susan with her top off and I made sure that Michael and Tony Tenser came down on the set that day. And they saw that and thought, ‘Oh fine,’ you know, ‘Carry on!’ and, of course, that’s the only bit in the film like that.

AS So, I think I read in the BFI notes that you'd written a script before, before shooting for The Pleasure Girls?

Oh, yes, that was my script entirely.

I don't think we've got that in the archive. Do you have a copy of that script at all?

GO Doubt it, doubt it. I don’t think I’ve got a copy of anything. No, the story behind that script, we’re jumping about a bit, was that we did
That Kind of Girl and then the day it was finished, the night it finished, it was quite ridiculous really, I went back home, a little basement flat in Chelsea, I lived in Chelsea for years. And, you know, I was in the disco scene, the gambling clubs and all that sort of... Never had any money, but I was involved. And I think I told you this on the phone, the phone rang and it was Preminger [adopts German accent], ‘Gerry, what are you doing?’ ‘I’ve just directed a film, Otto.’ ‘Are you going to go on doing this?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I don’t even have to edit it, I just shot it.’ And he was marvellous. He said, ‘Go to Graef’s house,’ you know, a man called Bill Graef at Columbia. ‘Go to Graef tomorrow. get a first class ticket to New York and we’ll do the deal in New York. I’ll take care of it’, which I knew would happen. [Interruption.] So I flew off to New York and did The Cardinal, about a year’s work, all over, Italy, Germany. [Interruption.]

So that was the end of my directing for a while. And I was living - I went to live with a girl in Paris and I worked there, I think, on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and then, then I made the biggest mistake of my life. I was in Paris for
The Four Horsemen, the film stopped shooting because we were so far behind. Minnelli went bananas. It would take him five hours to do a shot. But they were wonderful shots when you got them. With Glenn Ford and Ingrid Thulin and some very good actors. That folded and he tried to take me back to LA with him but the Union said, ‘No, no’, wouldn’t have that. So he thought he was doing me a favour. He ran into Sam Spiegel that night and they obviously talked about the fact that the show had been shut down. And Sam had offered me Lawrence of Arabia before that and I turned it down, which must have annoyed the hell out of him and I just didn’t want to go to Jordan for umpteen months and I had a Jewish girlfriend so it was kind of difficult. But anyway, Vince came to me the next day and said, ‘Look, I talked to Sam last night and he wants to see you tonight’. So I went, I had to go, obviously you can’t not go. He was a - it was like Preminger. He and Preminger hated each other. They were friends but they were pretty tricky with each other. And he said, ‘What is this nonsense you won’t do my picture?’ And I said, ‘Well, Bill Graef wouldn’t pay the money’. And this is the same Bill Graef that I had to go to eventually for the editing. And he hated me as well for having turned down Lawrence. So he said, ‘Call Graef tomorrow, tell him what you want. I’ll see you in Jordan.’ I said, ‘Ok,’ upped my price a couple of hundred and went out to Jordan. But that’s where I made my big mistake. When I got to Jordan, David told me it was going to be shot three months in Jordan and the rest at Cinecitta Studios in Rome. And when we got there I met up with David in Jordan he said [whispers], ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘We’re going to do it all here in the desert’. He was full of it. I thought, ‘Fuck me, we’re going to be here forever’. And I had a very good excuse. I only had one kidney, I had to have one cut out when I was a kid and so I thought, ‘This is ridiculous’, because my doctor had warned me. I went to India some time ago on Bhowani Junction and when I came back and I happened to see him and I was very tanned and he said, ‘Where’ve you been?’ and I said I’d been to Pakistan. And he said, ‘You wouldn’t have gone if I’d have known’. So, anyway, I pulled the kidney and said, ‘I’ve got to go’. So I left Lawrence of Arabia and that was disaster.

Graef put the word out to everybody, to Fox, Warner Bros., he’s no longer... he’s not reliable and I couldn’t get a job. And so - I’m getting a little confused - because obviously I did
Tom Jones. But, oh - after coming back from Lawrence and I couldn’t get any work, I did get a job. I did a little picture with Bob Asher directing called - what was it called, with Bob Monkhouse and Alfred Marks and Jean-Luc Goddard’s wife Karina, Anna Karina? It was called She’ll Have to Go, it was sort of a silly little murder story. And I was doing that for Bob for like 50 quid a week whereas I was used to 500 dollars a week plus extras. So I was in deep trouble. And out of my £50 a week I used to fly to Paris every Friday night to be with my girlfriend, that took half the wages. But, so I decided that I would try to direct if I couldn’t get arrested as an assistant any more, I might as well go for cheapo movies and see if I could, you know. I started writing scripts and I wrote a couple of scripts which didn’t go anywhere. I used to write a script, I used to give it to a typing agency, print 25 copies and send them all over the place. And of course splash funds everywhere.

I sent one to Raymond Stross Productions. I didn’t know Raymond Stross at all. And he happened to be in hospital at St Mary Abbotts round the corner from where I lived having a nasal operation, a very painful operation. And he evidently couldn’t sleep and he said to his secretary, ‘Send me some scripts, something to take my mind off’. So one script was mine. And he rang me at about half past seven one morning, shook the life out of me and said, ‘Look, I’m Raymond Stross, I’m in hospital, der, der, der, der, der, der, der der. I read your script’. It was called The Last Favourite. He said, ‘Don’t want to buy it, but I liked the dialogue. What else have you got?’ So I told him and he said, ‘Look, bring it round to the hospital. Leave it with the porters.’ So I whipped round there an hour later with another script., Couple of days later, same thing. ‘Read the script, don’t want to buy it, liked the dialogue. Come and have tea with me when I get out.’ And I’ll tell you he lived in somewhere in Kensington with Anne Heywood his wife. And Anne served tea and he said, ‘Look, you live in Chelsea, you obviously know the Chelsea scene’. I knew Rachman and all those people. And he said, ‘Why don’t you write about that?’ And I thought, ‘Oh, shit, that’s crap, don’t want to do that’. Well, we ended the conversation, I said I’d think about it, went home. And in those days I was sharing my flat with a guy in the rag trade. Lovely guy who became a great friend of mine and he was a gambler. He used to be out all night at the casinos and we actually shared a bed. People thought we were queer, you know. We lured a lot of young ladies under false pretences. And I went back and he said, ‘How did you get on?’ And I said, ‘Load of crap’. And he gave me a terrible bollocking. He said, ‘You - a producer tells you to do something and you’re so fucking clever’. And I was so shaken by it, I got the typewriter out. And we lived in a room about this size plus a bedroom. And I started to write this thing. And I called it
A Time and A Place and what I did was, I populated a rooming house with characters. I had a gay couple on the ground floor, who one of them was the brother of one of the girls, and I had the girls on the next floor.

You - then I did something. Again, stuff that I’d learnt somewhere. You put a clock on it. You start on Friday afternoon and you finish on Monday morning. And it’s what happens to all these characters, six, eight characters, during the period. And so, I put it to Stross, in work, and he gave me some ideas and so forth. And one day he said, ‘Look, I’m terribly sorry, I’m going to LA. I’ve got a big picture. I’m off to LA with Anne to do a film with Sandy Dennis, The Fox, quite a successful film. And he never looked back, that was the end of him as far as London was concerned. And he said, ‘You can have the story. I claim nothing,’ you know, ‘the rights are entirely yours’. So, there I was with a story with fuck all and half a script, you know. And I finished it. Same thing, 25 copies, sent it everywhere. And I sent it to Michael and Tony. I sent it to Compton Films. Silence. And one day somebody told me about another poxy little group who were looking for a possible, you know, fourpence halfpenny movie. So, I rang Michael’s secretary, who was a very nice woman. She was quite a posh woman, who - God knows why she was working in a thieves’ kitchen like that, public school girl from Girton. And she was very nice, I think her name was Dorothie.

AS Dorothie, yes, her name was Dorothie.

GO Oh, really?

AS Yes, she’s all over the archive.

GO Is she still about?

AS I don’t think so. But her hand is. She was the great organiser.

GO Oh yes, she was. I rang her up and, of course, this was all bluff. I said, ‘Listen, Dorothie, it’s Gerry here. I sent a script to Michael. Obviously, he’s not interested’. I said, ‘I’ve got to have it back. I’ve run out of copies and I think I can place it.’ So I said, ‘Would you put it in an envelope and leave it at the box office downstairs?’ you know, Compton Cinema, Old Compton Street. ‘And I’m going to grab a cab and pick it up within an hour.’ So, of course, I didn’t grab a cab at all. I got the number 19 bus, Piccadilly. And then I got a cab round the corner to Old Compton Street, leapt out of the taxi, ‘Have you got the thing? Thank you, Dorothie,’ back in the taxi. And I’d got the address of these people, it was somewhere in Shaftesbury Avenue. So I got back in. And I opened the envelope and there was a letter from Michael saying, ‘Dear Gerry, don’t do anything with this until you’ve talked to me’. So, of course, I had him by the balls then. So I said, ‘Fuck Shaftesbury Avenue, drop me at Gerry’s club,’ which actually was in Shaftesbury Avenue. It’s long gone. It’s where all the actors used to be, John Le Mesurier, a whole crowd of them, I forget now - Julian Holloway was a great friend of mine and so on. And behind the bar was a guy called Sean Reeves who was an actor. Oh, Gerry - Billy Bunter - ran the club, it was called Gerry’s and Gerry Campion ran the club. It was great fun but long since gone. It’s now a big office building. [Interruption.]

So, I think the next thing pop up and see Michael, we did this deal, 650 quid for the script, 650 to direct and 6½ % and, of course, he didn’t pay the percentage. Through my agent we eventually screwed another £650 out of him. But it paid off in the most extraordinary way, I think. I dug this out this morning, I think I’ve got it here. I told you I put an ad in the trades. In two of the trades,
Kine Weekly and Daily Cinema. I’ll just see if I’ve got it here. I know it’s here but I’ve got to find it. That’s a review of Fanny Hill. [Laughs].

GO All the Right Noises there.

AM Do the BFI have a manuscript of that?

GO Of that? No, I’ve got one somewhere. It’s twenty years old. I mean.

AM It’s a brilliant title.

GO It’s fun, isn’t it? When you consider that she and I had quite an affair at one time in the beginning of her career. We were on Island In the Sun together in Barbados, in Grenada, and I was the fortunate one who was chosen to be the fuck of the week. And it was great fun. She was a smashing girl. I see her very rarely now. I don’t go out very much now, but whenever I’ve seen her she’s always been good for a laugh. Last time I met her was at a premiere, at a premiere and she said - I was with Anne Coates, the editor of Lawrence of Arabia. I got her a job on Lawrence and she’s been my friend every since. And Joan [Collins] came up to us and said, ‘Oh, all my favourite people are here’. I got terrific reviews for All the Right Noises and I got very good reviews for this one, but I’m buggered if I can find the ad now. It’s got to be here somewhere. That was a film I made called The Brute. The only thing - one of the things I’ve got against Michael is that he knocked off the word ‘syndrome’.

AM Ah, yes, you said on the telephone.

GO I wish to God he hadn’t, but, anyway, he did and there wasn’t much I could do about it. Oh, that was the cover of the book. And then I modified it, but, anyway, I didn’t sell it, so there you are. I still think I could do something with it. But I don’t know. Isn’t it funny, this thing ... That was a thing I did for Harry Allan Towers. That was again a script.

AS So did you always intend that the character that Klaus Kinski plays was a kind of Rachman figure?

GO Oh, yes, yes. I actually knew Rachman and I knew his girlfriend, you know, the one who said, ‘He would say that, wouldn’t he?’

AM Mandy Rice-Davies.

GO Mandy Rice-Davies. I met Mandy several years later and I nearly did a film with her. No, I actually got one star in Sight and Sound. [Laughs]

AS Oh, wow!

GO I used to get very good reviews in the British Film - the BFI - what was it called?

AS Monthly Film Bulletin?

GO Yes, the Bulletin. I don’t know, somebody there liked me.

AS They’re quite fussy. That’s very good.

GO Yes, that was - that was- that’s Denis Lewis stood in the photograph on the beach, a great friend of mine. That was on the beach. I’m trying to find this play here.

AS Yes. So why did Michael change the title?

GO Well, it’s so annoying that sort of thing. I’m blaming him for it. I’m pretty sure it was him. It was either him or a guy called Fred Turner, who was Head of Distribution at Rank. Michael pulled it off for us. Michael actually got Fred Turner and a whole crowd of people.

AM Yes, you met him at Cannes, right?

GO Eh?

AM You met Michael at Cannes when you had The Brute Syndrome?

GO Yes, at Cannes, yes. But they said, you know, ‘What the fuck’s a syndrome?’, you know. And, of course, some years later they made The China Syndrome, nobody argued about that. No. Of course, I made Love In Amsterdam for another outfit, for Sydney Box. And some cunt in Wardour Street said, ‘You can’t have “love” in the title, it’s box office poison’. Because Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper had made a film, was it called Love In the Afternoon? Yes, it was. And it flopped. It was the only flop Gary Cooper ever had. So this jerk said, ‘You can’t have “love” in the title,’ so of course then a fortnight later out came Love Story. Love Story opened a week before, before All the Right Noises and I got the notices and they got the business, Anyway, while I’m looking for it you keep ...

AM Well, I was wondering if there was any resistance to the homosexual story line in The Pleasure Girls, or was it something they wanted more of ?

GO No, funnily enough, there was no resistance to it from anybody. It had the most curious result. I mean, Michael and Tony never even referred to it. I mean, they bought that script lock, stock and barrel. Nobody asked me to change anything. It was extraordinary. And after it came out and we got these fabulous notices. And Monitor did a piece on it for BBC 1. Because it was the first screen kiss between two males. Tony - what was his name - Tony - he did Stop The World I Want to Get Off?

AS Tony Newley.

GO Tony - no, No, not Tony Newley. The fellow who followed Tony. Funny that his name was also Tony. I’ll tell you what it was in a minute. But then we had a big thing about it on Monitor. I was on TV talking about it and all the rest of it.

AM And there was an orgy scene in the film - or that was cut from the film. Was there - were you involved in filming an orgy scene?

GO Oh, that rings a bell.

AM Because it’s not in the completed film, the long version of the film.

GO No, I tell you what, that does ring a bell. Perhaps, it sounds to me like Bob Hartford-Davis. I think, I think, yes, I heard about it, someone told me, a camera boy or a focus puller said to me one day, he said, ‘Hey, I was on your film the other day’. And I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘The Pleasure Girls,’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ It was Bob. They shot this fucking orgy scene and I went to a lawyer and I got it stopped. Because it was written and directed by Gerry O’Hara and there was nothing you could do about that. You couldn’t insert stuff into it. And, no, wait a minute, it wasn’t him, it was Harry Fine. I mean, I can’t speak specifically about it because I never saw the footage. But I remember it happening and I put a stop to it. So that’s the orgy.

AM You also didn’t like the song by The Three Quarters. Was this sort of a theme song?

GO Oh, terrible. That upset me more than anything. It was like, ‘We are the Ovalteenies, little boys and girls’. It was the same tune. [Sings] ‘We are, we are the pleasure girls’. And the fellow who wrote it, I could have spat in his eye. He was a moderately well-known - you can see his name on the credits. He was a sort of second or third rate TV composer. But how the fuck you can write something like that, it’s beyond me?

AM Why was it there? Was this one of Klinger’s things? There’s a couple of films around this time where he’s using pop acts: Saturday Night Out as well where there’s a pop tune.

GO Well, that, you know, that was a hangover from America. Remember they used to put terrible songs on westerns. There was a very well-known pop singer in America who did that sort of thing. I’ve forgotten their name. It was a thing, you know, a title song and the spin off - the groups who did it. But, of course, no group would have touched that with a barge pole. But, you know, those guys, it was all hit and miss. They all thought that something like that would happen.

AS But you didn’t get any interference in the script from Michael Klinger at all?

GO No, no.

AS Because we’ve got lots of scripts in the archive which are - where he writes quite a lot on them.

GO Oh, really? Yes, yes, well, you see, it was very early days. I think they were just putting their feet in the water. You know, That Kind of Girl was just a - I doubt whether they’d done anything before that. There was a little guy called Nat Miller involved with That Kind of Girl. He was a sort of very much third-rate, petty distributor. He was renowned in the business for having turned down - he wouldn’t pay £100 for a session with the Beatles. Again, he was perfectly nice guy but he knew absolutely fuck all about films. But most of those guys in - at that level in Wardour Street didn’t anyway. I think it’s only the present generation who really approach films from the film-making point of view. Prior to that, up until that period in the Fifties and Sixties, they just didn’t think that way. That’s why our industry was crap, you know. It was only sort of the Nic Roegs and so, when they came along, the Lindsey Andersons and Tony Richardson, Woodfall probably turned everything. And, to give them credit, Bryan Forbes and Dickie Attenborough were quite, you know. I worked for them on The L-Shaped Room, I was assistant on that. And I knew Dickie very well and I knew Bryan from - Bryan was a bit player in The Key, the Carol Reed film with William Holden and Trevor Howard.

AM How did you get on with Harry Fine? Was he an interferer or was he supportive?

GO No, he was a treacherous sod. There was a lot of treachery in the business. I don’t know whether there is now, I suspect there is. Maybe not, because the class of film-maker now is probably higher, you know, because of the technical requirements and the - look at how many of them have come from the film schools, you know, generations have come from the film schools. I was lucky because of the war - I was grade three. I was 17 when I was called up for the Army and of course I was grade three. Then I went into propaganda work, quite inadvertently, because of working for Sydney Box. My first two or three years in the business, couple of years, were on documentaries for the War Office, you know, the Admiralty and, you know, the Ministry of Information. All I was then was carrying cans of film, getting in taxis or on buses to get up to the MOI to deliver films for viewing and then hawk it back to the office and that sort of thing.

AM Andrew’s written a book about Sydney Box.

GO Sorry?

AM Andrew’s written a book about Sydney Box.

GO Have you really? Oh, I’d love to read it.

AS I could send you a copy of that.

GO Oh, that would be great. I knew him terribly well. He was the loveliest guy. It was my bad fortune that Sydney retired. If Sydney had not retired my career would have gone a different way. I never had a producer behind me of any quality, except Sydney. And my involvement with Sydney was fairly, you know, it was intermittent. It was Verity Films during the war and I got - the reason I’d got a job there was that I’d been a reporter on a little local paper. Do you know all this stuff about my beginning?

AM I think bits.

GO Well, I was on - when I was 14, I left school at 14 and I got a job on a broken-down newspaper as a cub reporter on about five bob a week. And then that paper folded. It was a broken down Liberal paper in a Conservative country town called Boston, in Lincolnshire, and so when that folded I scraped on to the Lincolnshire Standard which was an Conservative OK paper. And my salary was increased to 22 and sixpence a week. And so I did deaths and weddings, I saw my first dead body when I was about 14 and a half, you know. I went to knock on the door, ‘Sorry to hear of your sad loss’. ‘Oh, come in,’ and the body was in - it was walk-in from the front door to the sitting room. And there was the body. And she actually said, ‘He makes a lovely corpse’. Poor man, he was a railway worker. I only glimpsed him and it frightened the life out of me. And I was so worried in those days about how to cope with all these things, you know, at 14. So I went, I used to go twice a week to all the local undertakers to get the names and addresses of the dead bodies. Then you went back to the paper and you entered the names in the diary, you know, ‘Joe Smith, 74, Liverpool Street,’ and then the chief reporter would write on it AF, for Alf Faulkner, or G.O, for Gerry, and if your name was on it those were your jobs and off you went on your bike and did the ... I went to the undertakers and I said, ‘Have you got anybody in?’ and they’d gone to lunch but there was said, ‘Go to ...’ and there was a carpenter there, knee-deep in shavings. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘Yes, there’s a fellow in there - in the chapel, he’s from Sheffield, came in this morning.’ And I said, ‘Do you think I could have a look?’ And he said, ‘Why?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’ve never seen a dead, you know.’ And he said, ‘Well, all right,’ took me in and this guy was in this coffin with chocolate box fringing, you know, white lace fringing, paper stuff and he had a pad on his face, like a lace pad. And this fellow was lying there, ruddy faced guy, he was about 50. And I sort of walked round. And I said, ‘Thank you very much,’ and he said, ‘All right, now piss off!’ And I got back on my bike and I said, ‘Well, I;ve cracked that one!’

But Michael Powell came to Boston to do shots for
One of Our Aircraft Is Missing with Eric Portman, Googie Withers and so on. Ronald Neame was the cameraman, whom I later assisted on The Man Who Never Was. He was a bit of a stuck-up bastard, you know. He was all right, but frightfully old school. Anyway, I interviewed Michael Powell. I went to the local pub. He was all right. He was nice, of course he had to be, publicity, no matter what it was, even some cock-eyed country paper. And then I wrote to him and said, ‘Could I come and see you?’ and he said, ‘Yes, come and I’ll see you’. And I bought a return to London, day return and went to the address on the letter. And, of course, it was his accountant’s office in Trafalgar Square. And they said, ‘Oh,’ you know, ‘what are you talking about? Michael Powell, we’re his accountants, he’s at Pinewood.’ And I said, ‘Oh, no!’ So that really fucked things up, because I only had a day return and I’d never stayed in a hotel in my life.

But the fellow must have taken pity on me because he said, ‘Are you looking for a job?’ And, of course, it was during the war and there was a bit of room for people. And I said, ‘Yes,’ and he said, ‘Well, we represent a company just around the corner in West Street in St Martin’s Lane, corner of West Street. If you like I’ll give them a ring.’ So we rang them and the production manager there, nice little Scotsman called Jimmy Carr said, ‘Yes, send him round’. So I went round there and I came away with a job, assistant in the script department, £3.10 a week. Actually, I did stay the night, because I went to the YMCA and got addresses of digs and I found digs in Highbury, went on the 19 bus to Highbury. Actually I stayed in a hotel in Shaftesbury Avenue which I didn’t realise was actually a knocking-shop. There was a lot of mattress bouncing and screaming during the night. Of course, I went back the next day, resigned from the paper and came to London.

AS So you worked for Verity Films, for Box’s company.

GO Yes, I got to know Sydney who was a lovely man. You know he was very badly crippled? You know, he couldn’t walk, in a kind of crab way? He had a big head. He was a lovely chap, beautifully spoken, very merry guy. And his sister Betty started the same week as me. She was a hairdresser in Bournemouth. So she and I remained, you know, friends. I actually worked for her many years later. I was on, what was it called So Long at the Fair?

AS So Long at the Fair.

GO So Long at the Fair with Dirk Bogarde and Jean Simmons and I did The Boys in Brown for them at Pinewood. The gave me a contract at Pinewood for about a year. Boys in Brown. I did a thing with Noel Coward.

AS Oh, The Astonished Heart.

GO The Astonished Heart, I was only on the second unit. And I worked on Miranda, actually I did do a little bit of directing - no, I didn’t, Roy Rich directed location shots for Miranda and I was the sort of location guy. I actually went around Cornwall buying palm trees, sawing them off and putting them on the beach for a scene with Miranda on a sunlit Caribbean beach - Caerleon Bay. When I got to be an assistant, when I was doing well, Sydney called me one day and asked me to go and meet him at the Dorchester. He used to do a lot of his business in the Dorchester lounge. He used to sit there all afternoon with a cup of tea and a cake. And, you know, one minute it was Laurence Olivier and the next minute it was me. And it was great, he said, ‘Look, Gerry,’ he said, It was very direct. he said, ‘Look, now, what are the Americans paying you?’ Which was a great question. And by then I’d done Anastasia, Island in the Sun and two or three others - The Journey. I did two pictures with Litvak, who was a lovely bloke. So, I told him, I don’t know what it was, £150 a week, something like that, which of course in those days was good money. I never kept any of it, of course. But he said, ‘Well, I’ll pay you that’. And he was - said, ‘Because I want ...’ Ah, this was the thing, he said, ‘I’ll get you a little picture to direct’. He was making some pictures at Beaconsfield. One of them was Tommy The Toreador, remember that first picture with Tommy Steele. And Sydney’s plan, and he was quite honest about it, was he was going to get me one of these quickies, they were about like three minute quickies to shoot. And he said, ‘I’ll negotiate all your deals’. The kicker was that I’d have to assist his wife Muriel. And by this time I think he and Muriel had sort of almost split and ...

AS So you did Rattle of a Simple Man, didn’t you?

GO Yes, with her, and I did The Truth About Women with her. I did a hell of a lot in those days. I used to do three or four features a year. Plus, when television came along I used to do a lot of Douglas Fairbanks and all that stuff. And I also worked on a film, I don’t know where this all comes in the thing, The Clouded Yellow, which we shot a lot of it at Sydney’s House, Moat Mount, at Mill Hill. Lovely house. Bill MacQuitty, William MacQuitty was his sidekick, very nice guy, big tall guy. Good-looking man. That was with Maxwell Reed, Trevor Howard and Jean Simmons. And Kenny More, I think it was Kenny More’s first film. Kenny More had just starred in the Terence Rattigan, The Deep Blue Sea. And when we were up in Cumberland shooting, he used to come up on a Saturday night on the overnight train and shoot with us on a Sunday, possibly a bit on Monday morning, but he had to be back at the theatre on Monday night. That was Ralph Thomas directing, Betty producing. And it was a hell of a scramble because we were up in the Lake District and the weather was lousy and when the sun was covered in cloud we used to kick a ball about in the field, you know. Geoff Unsworth was the cameraman and he was a great mate of mine and a few of us, we were a bit of a football team. If we couldn’t find, didn’t have a ball we used to make one with tape, sticky tape, and stuff it with paper. Anyway, we nearly missed the shot one day as the fucking sun came out and we were at the wrong end of the field. Betty was furious.

AS So, would you, would you make a distinction between Michael Klinger and Tony Tenser in terms of their attitude or approach to films?

GO Yes, it was quite different. Tony was, he wasn’t unpleasant, but he was ever so slightly sinister. You know, you never felt that you were talking to the guy, who was looking at you as if to say, ‘What’s your fucking game?’ Michael was much more upfront.

AS Was Michael more interested in the mechanics of producing film than Tony. I get the impression that Tony just was more interested in publicity and marketing.

GO That’s right, he was. He was in promotion. He was the one who wanted to do the porn and the, you know, exploitation movies, as they call them. Gene Gutowski obviously turned up on the scene more or less about the same time as me and I met him several times and he was a very nice guy. And he obviously brought Polanski into the thing. I met Polanski, what was the first film they made, Repulsion? When they - they shot Repulsion before Pleasure Girls and obviously in the editing room they found they needed a couple of extra shots and Michael said to me one day, ‘Do you mind if Polanski takes over your set for a few hours and you just stand down and use the same crew?’ And whenever it was I just went for a smoke or something. But Polanski was very nice and he came and thanked me and all that.

AM Can you talk a bit more about Harry Fine and probably Robert Hart-Davis. Were they sort of Klinger and Tenser’s men on the spot? They knew what Klinger and Tenser wanted?

Yes. I wasn’t privy to any of that. I wasn’t in the inner circle. I had a very nice relationship with Michael from day one. Whenever I met him he was always very pleasant. And, of course, latterly, many years later when he’d done his stuff in South Africa and all the rest of it, I re-met him. I met him in Los Angeles. I was staying at a hotel, the Beverley Comstock, which was kind of sort of the number two hotel a bit off the Wilshire Boulevard. And I had a room over the pool. And I came out one morning and I looked along the thing and there was this familiar figure with a big hat and sunglasses with a script in his hand, And it was a distance away and I thought, ‘This must be Michael Klinger’. And I went over and chatted to him. And I became sort of welcome in their family for a bit. They had a very nice flat. I’ve got a feeling it was in Grosvenor Square and his wife Lily, was it Lily?, she was very nice indeed and she’d cook beautiful meals. And every now and then I’d get a phone call, ‘Come and have supper with us’. That was probably the last I saw of him, probably.AS Because there’s something in the archive that intrigued me. He tried to produce this war film, Green Beach.

GO Yes, Green Beach, I wrote the script.

AS He asked you to look at James Leasor’s scripts. GO I wrote the script. I read Leasor’s book. We went somewhere to have dinner one night with James Leasor and Michael. I think it was, it wasn’t a dinner for the three or four of us, it was some sort of do. And he introduced me to James Leasor which was very pleasant. What happened there, I think, was that Michael, after Cannes, I think it was as a result of me meeting him in Cannes that I got that job to do - to adapt Green Beach the book. And I went away, funnily enough, I went back to Lincolnshire and I stayed in a flat for five or six weeks and wrote this script. But God knows what happened after that. I obviously delivered it and I don’t recall much about it after that, whether it was a good script. Is it in the files, the script?

AS No, it’s not. That’s a shame

GO It was quite - it seemed to me it was a good script at the time. But, you know, writers always think what they do is good. But whether they gave it back to Leasor or maybe Leasor did the script? Is there a script?

AS There is a script by Leasor, yes, then there’s - I’m trying to think now - there’s one by a Canadian writer, I can’t remember his name.

GO Well, that would make sense.

AM David Shaber?

AS No, that’s The Limey. I can’t remember who it was now. But it also stuttered on for quite a long time, really.

Yes, it probably did.

AS Because I think there’s something, a letter in the archive, where you express your reservations about James Leasor’s script.GO Oh?

AS Saying you thought it had departed from his book too far.

GO That can’t be right, I may have had reservations about the book - I don’t know. It’s a ... you know, my memory’s pretty good. But there are obviously periods where you think - I mean, I saw an Avengers the other day that I directed and I couldn’t remember any of it. I remembered it for things that happened when it, when we were shooting it. It was a ridiculous story. It was about the Malayan jungle and this Malayan jungle was off the A1. And there’s a lovely actor in it, Bill Fraser. Remember Bill Fraser?

AS Yes.

GO Big tall guy who played Army characters. He was in The Army Game. And he was playing this mad colonel.

AS Snudge, Snudge wasn’t he?

GO Yes, Bootsie and Snudge, yes. He was playing this mad colonel living under canvas in this jungle, you know. And there was another actor who, there was some sort of villainy going on, murders and God knows what. And I remember, I’d just done Pleasure Girls and as a result of The Pleasure Girls I was hired to do an Avengers called The Hour That Never Was, which was a tremendous success. It is voted number two in the all time Avengers. It was written by a great friend of mine Roger Marshall. He was voted - one of his scripts was number one, and so was this one that I did. But I, anyway, I was full of myself, I thought I was a hell of a director. And I was directing Bill Fraser one day on the set. And he listened and I finally stopped rabbiting and he said, ‘Now I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.’ I said, ‘Forget it, forget all of it. Do what the fuck you like!’ He said, ‘Ok.’ That was, that was the last time I gave any actor any heavy direction. After that I thought, ‘Wait a minute. Keep your mouth shut, edge a bit, but don’t ever tell them how to play it.’

AM In the 60s, did you ever have any dealings with John Trevelyan?

GO Yes, I did, yes.

AM Did he ever visit sets you were on?

GO Yes, I got to know him. Ah, that’s the clue. I went to John Trevelyan about the extra shots. You know I said there was this orgy scene? I did something outrageous. I’d done it two or three times and I got away with it. I went to John Trevelyan and I said, ‘Look, Mr. Trevelyan. I understand that there’s an orgy scene in the film and I didn’t shoot it.’ And I said, ‘If you give it a certificate, I’m going to sue you.’ He said, ‘What, Gerry, what are you talking about?’ I said, ‘I’m serious. I didn’t shoot it, it’s my movie, I wrote it, I directed it and the whole fucking thing is mine. And if you let it go, I’m going to sue you.’ He said, ‘Well, leave it with me.’ That was it, I’d forgotten all about it, when you mentioned John Trevelyan because he was a rather nice guy. I met him a few times. I also knew another fellow called Lawrie at the censors, no, at the British Film, at the Head of the British Film Producers’ Association, James Lawrie. Does that ring a bell?

AS Yes.

GO He got a pay off from the BFA or whatever they were called and the payoff was that they gave him a movie. Somehow they finagled it that the movie mysteriously was financed. And it was called, the book was called A Pattern of Islands, it was quite a famous book set in - in Samoa. So, because of this ridiculous reputation I had as an assistant, they - he got hold of me and said, ‘Look, would you assist Wolf Rilla?’ who directed this thing, A Pattern of Islands. And Wolf was a weird little guy, not a bad director, but, anyway, we went out to Samoa and shot it. And Nic Roeg in those days was a focus puller. And when they were crewing up this film, I forget what the title of it was - Denholm Elliot was in it and Michael Hordern. [Pacific Destiny.] And when they were crewing up for it, I got Nic Roeg on it as a focus puller because his girlfriend was in New York and it was a way of getting him out to New York to reunite with his girlfriend which had disastrous results. But - so I got, I got another very nice guy, Jock Moffat, to get Nic on it. Nic and I were very great friends. In fact, Nic got me the money to direct All the Right Noises. He was going to do that famous film in Australia with Jenny Agutter.

AS Oh, Walkabout.

GO Walkabout. And I’d written this script, All the Right Noises, which was about a guy having an affair with a young girl and he was married. Tom Bell played the part. And, really, I got the idea from Nic’s adventures and because we were, you know, great friends and by then he was quite successful, I asked him to read my script All the Right Noises. Nobody had shown any interest in it whatsoever. And I just said, you know, ‘Read it, Nic.’ Get some input. And he read it and he said, ‘Yes, it’s good. I like it.’ But I think he probably knew that - that he was in it, that the Tom Bell part was based on Nic and his lovely wife, Sue, Susan Stevens, who died some years ago. Anyway, again, half past seven in the morning, Nic Roeg phoned me. And he said, ‘Listen, Gerry,’ he said, ‘I talked to someone last night about your script. I told him the story and he liked it.’ Well, I mean, with Nic Roeg telling him the story your chances are pretty good. So he said, ‘This guy is going to call you at any time. His name is Si Litvinoff. He’s leaving today for the States and he’s going to ask you to go and have breakfast with him at the Hilton.’ And he said, ‘Now, don’t fuck about, just say, ‘Yes, I’ll be there. Yes, Mr. Litvinoff.’ And so, of course, I immediately jumped in the shower, kept my ear open for the phone and the phone rang and this guy said, ‘You don’t know me, but my name is Si Litvinoff.’ And I said, ‘Oh, yes?’ He said, ‘I had dinner last night with a friend of yours, Nic Roeg, and he told me this story. And I kind of like the sound of it. Would you come and have breakfast with me?’ And I said, ‘Yes, sure. You know, I’ll have to put a few things aside.’ [Laughs] And, of course. I was up there like a rabbit, you know. And, within a week, I was in LA. And they bought it. And he was backed by Michael Max Raube who, both did Walkabout. They also did the famous Kubrick film, I think it was Clockwork Orange, or the - no, the science-fiction one...

AS 2001

GO Sorry?

AS 2001

GO Yes. They, I think if you look deeply into the credits they were the people who initiated it, anyway, you know, producer and producer.

AM So what would you say was Klinger’s specific contribution to your films?

GO Well, he certainly put The Brute on the map. The Pleasure Girls, you know, I have to say, I kind of did it in spite of him. But he never, he was never annoyed about it. Tony was. Tony made it very clear what he thought about it. But Michael was a philosophic sort of man. He wasn’t a small man, you know. there was no - You wouldn’t get any knocking from him. An awful lot of people in the business, the first thing they do is knock somebody. You wouldn’t get that from him.

[Audio File ends here]

AM But - it sounds like there was a lot of tension in that relationship between Klinger and Tenser. Did they work well together or did they ...?

GO They had separate offices. I never saw any sort of intimacy there at all. I mean, I had lunch with Michael and we used to go to Isow’s, the Jewish restaurant, which is long-gone now, but everybody used to go there. The Hammer group used to be there, Carreras and all that lot. [Interruption.]

AS Was Carreras Jewish? I didn’t know that.

GO I don’t think he was. James, Sir James Carreras was his father. His - Michael died very young. He was probably in his late 50s when he died. Smashing chap. Tall, good-looking man. Had a very pretty wife, very attractive wife. they came to the screening of The Brute in Cannes, we had a sort of midnight screening, 11 o’clock or whatever it was. And, you know, you’re on tenterhooks, you’re waiting outside and they all came out. And she came straight up to me. She said, ‘You frightened the fucking life out of me!’ [Laughs.]

AM How would you sum up Michael’s strengths and weaknesses as a film maker?

GO Well, I think he was pretty - I think he was quite - I think he was quality. I mean, if you, if you ranked him with other British producers of that era, people might have regarded him as a bit of an upstart, as a rough diamond, but he was every bit as on the ball as some of the other. Some of them couldn’t produce pox. You know, they - their attitude was wrong. Michael had the attitude. It was make movies, talk to the movie makers, never mind about all the other bullshit that was going on, talk to the people who were doing it.

AM He was prepared to learn.

GO Yes, but it must have been instructive in him, because he learnt it bloody quick. I mean, right away he’s got Deneuve, then he’s got her sister Dorléac, Donald Pleasance, you know, Roger ...?

AS Roger Moore.

GO Roger Moore, Did you know anything about Peter Hunt who directed for Michael?

AS Only a few things that I’ve read.

GO He was a very special guy, very good-looking. Very chipper sort of guy. He was the editor on the Bonds. He was the editor on the first four or five and then, of course, he had the misfortune to direct the one with George - what’s his name?

AS Lazenby.

GO Lazenby. Which was a well-made movie. If you’d looked at that movie and discounted Lazenby, you would consider it as good as any other Bond. He had this reputation, he was an editor. And he was the guy - Terence Young, who directed the first three or four, I did a picture with Terence towards the end of his career when I had to go back to being an assistant as I was in trouble. I did a film called The Jigsaw Man as Terence’s assistant. At the time I lived in a house of three or four flats. Terence had the ground floor, an actor friend of mine had the next floor and I had the floor above it. And I’d had a nervous breakdown, I got into some awful domestic trouble and I was really fucked. And Terence Young phoned me one night because the actor friend of mine had said, you know, ‘Gerry’s upstairs and he’s, you know, in trouble’. And Terence called me and said, ‘Gerald, Terence here. Come down and have a drink.’ So, obviously I went down there and he said, ‘Now, look here,’ he said, ‘I’m doing this film, my wife wrote it, called The Jigsaw Man.’ And everybody was in it, Laurence Olivier, John Clements, Michael Caine, Michael Medwin, John Le Mes., all of them.

He said, ‘Freddie Francis, director, going to photograph it for me, Peter Hunt, director, going to edit it for me. And he said, ‘You’re going to be my assistant director.’ And he didn’t know I was absolutely fucked up. I was on pills. So I went back to Shepperton. And the production manager was an old mate of mine, he used to be Stewart Granger’s stand-in - oh, a chap called Bob Porter. Bob said, ‘Look, this is what we’ve got for the budget, Gerry. It’s £750 a week for you.’ And he said, ‘All right?’ and I said, ‘Yes, definitely,’ because, I was, as often was the case, I was broke. So I struggled through this film. But, I mean, the reason I told you that story because Peter Hunt was credited in the trade as being the secret of the
Bonds. Terence was a great guy, he was a Military Cross, you know, in the - not the paratroopers, one of those outfits, tank commander. He did Cockleshell Heroes, movies like that. And he was a fantasist. He created Bond, the whole idea of the cocktails, you know, the scene with a twist, that was all Terence. Terence lived like a prince. Even when he was broke, you know, Savile Row suits, ‘Put it on the bill, send it to Cubby Broccoli’. He was totally unreal. I mean - he wasn’t a director but he was a promoter, an entrepreneur. But it was Hunt who was credited with putting the speed into Bond. So I think Michael was very clever in getting him.

AM Is there anything more you want to ask?

AS No, I think we’re about done, really.

GO Ah, well I feel that I’ve told you a lot of nothing.

AS No, not at all, my goodness.

GO I didn’t know him well enough. I thought about it since you called me, and I thought I didn’t really know him intimately.

AM Few people did, I think. I think he was quite a private, family ...

GO He was definitely a family man.

AM Yes, he was.

GO What happened to his son, Tony Klinger?

AS Well, Tony was the one who gave the papers to the university. So he is still around, you know.

GO Oh, really? He made a film.

AS The Kids Are Alright, the Who film and he did Butterfly Ball.

GO Well, I was invited to the opening of Butterfly Ball and I went with Julian Glover who was in The Brute. Julian is frightened to death that anyone would later find out that he was in The Brute. He later became a Bond villain and, of course, a very big actor in the National Theatre. The girl who played in The Brute, I met her at a party some years ago. And she, as it happened, lives in Stratford on Avon. She went to Hollywood as a result of Brute and something else that followed it, then her career crashed. But, I met her at this party and we went into the kitchen and had a good old gossip and she said, ‘It’s very nice living in Stratford-on-Avon. I went backstage to see Julian.’ And she said, ‘He was great fun, but he said, “For Christ’s sake, don’t mention that film!”’ [Laughs.]

The Brute, this is nothing to do with Michael Klinger, in The Brute, for some reason - I wrote the script and directed it - it was a four week shoot - we did it literally in two locations. We rented a house in the country, paid the people a lot of money and they went off to Barbados for a month and we shot the hell out of the house. And we also shot on Cheney Walk somewhere, but - I’ve forgotten what I was going to say.

AS About Julian, or?

GO That’s it, it was, yes. In the middle of shooting, I think Julian came up with this idea of - it was this - it was a true story. I met a girl, a little Irish girl, who had an affair with a rich boy who was a gambler. And they lived in Eton Square, big money, or his parents had big money and he would gamble away into the early hours and he’d come home having lost his money and knock the shit out of her. And for some extraordinary reason I met this girl and she told me this story. And one - and by then my career was really in trouble, I was making crap movies under assumed names and I made two or three movies that even the BFI don’t know about. We had to shoot in ten days and screwing scenes - all nonsense. Anyway, I went with a few friends to a Chelsea game and went for a curry afterwards and I’d just made one of these films. One of them was with Koo Stark’s father producing, Wilbur Stark, and it was real pits, a piece of unspeakable, utter junk.

I had a hell of a job getting 90 minutes out of it, it was a 75 minute script and I had to make the actors walk slowly. But, I was having supper with these two guys and I’d met this girl and this story was in my - back of my head. You know, so one of them who is now a very big property man, the other one now runs Goldcrest, he’s my closest friend. We were having this supper and one of them said, ‘What was it about this thing you just did?’ I said, ‘I thought it was a piece of shit’. They were both money men and the said, ‘What does it cost?’ And I said, ‘I think it costs £40,000 - £42,000’. And one of them said, ‘Oh, yes, that’s coffee money. We can put that together in a morning, it’s nothing.’ Then the other one said, ‘If you do these things for other people, why don’t you do them for yourself?’ I said, ‘I’d like to’. So, and - the other one said, ‘Have you got a story?’ And I said, ‘Well, I haven’t got a script, but I’ve a story about this girl. But the money man, I’d known him for years, was a bit strange. Obviously a bit strange, sexually curious. And he was fascinated by this. ‘Do you mean this guy’s...?’ This fellow did terrible things, he would come back to this flat and she would be in bed and he’d pour a jug of water over her and say, ‘And now stay in it.’ He wouldn’t let her get out of bed and she’d be sitting there soaking. And he had a couple of really evil tricks like that. I remember one night she ran out, ran to the Irish embassy which was in Eton Square and they took her in. Anyway, I just told them roughly what this story was and I think, you know, one of them said, ‘ You know, are you going to write it?’ And I said, ‘I could do’. And they said, ‘Well, how long would it take?’ ‘Two weeks’. ‘How long would it take to shoot it?’ ‘Four weeks’. Next day John Quested, the
Goldcrest guy, phoned me up and, of course, at that time he didn’t own Goldcrest or any of those things. He was a co-assistant when I was an assistant, he was my number two. And he said, ‘Gerry, that story you were talking about last night, were you serious about it?’ And he said, ‘Well, you’d better be. Bob’s got the money’. [Laughs.]

So I wrote it and we shot it. And Michael came to the rescue and sold it to Rank.

AM And Michael did the distribution for the rest of the world? Because Rank did Britain and Michael sold it to the rest of the world.

GO I’m not sure that he did. I think Brent Walker did.