Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Are you awake, Lemony?
I thought that last night's film-clip was going to be my last post for a while, but due to certain people having an unauthorised lie-in, I find myself with enough time to bore you further. It's all about me, you see.
When Cro mentioned the 'compartment not over the wheels' trick in the last post, I instantly responded with the line of the actor in that scene.
This made me realise - again - how many times I have watched 'I Know Where I'm Going', and how many times I have watched all the others as well. I can quote great chunks of all the scripts if I am given a cue. Is that sad?
I always laughed at the sort of people who go and see The Rocky Horror Show 50 times, and the now dead audience that saw The Sound of Music' 150 times, but am I any better?
Audiences as a group take great comfort and solace in the shared experience, but I am quite happy watching the same flick over and over again on my own, or with only one other (guess who) at most.
Say one or the other of us has had a hard day, or the news has been particularly depressing, or the weather is particularly foul, then we might decide to watch a DVD in the evening, and it will be suggested like this:
"Let's stay in and watch a film tonight - something cosy."
"I Know Where I'm Going?"
"Yes, either that or A Canterbury Tale."
No wonder I know the scripts virtually by heart.
I mentioned to a client yesterday, that I would be going to Oxford for a couple of days, and he admitted that he often went there just because he was madly obsessed with the Inspector Morse series. He is about the same age as me.
"I even went on an Inspector Morse tour once," he said, making sure nobody else was within earshot, "Is that sad?"
In order to make him understand that he had a sympathetic compatriot, and in order to ingratiate myself to the extent that my work-load would not be decreased, I told him that I was seriously contemplating spending a few days in the part of Kent where 'A Canterbury Tale' was shot, and visiting the locations for the film.
Most of the internal scenes were shot in real buildings, despite the fact that Powell had one of the best set designers ever on his staff - Alfred Jung - and these buildings are ancient and extraordinarily picturesque. The room in the 'Hand of Glory' hotel really exists ("They do say that two six-foot men could not shake hands over this bed, Sir." "And why would they want to do that?" "It's only what they say, Sir!"), although that is not the real name of the hotel.
The Courthouse with the ducking-chair is still there, as it was during the war and a few hundred years before that, and is completely unchanged. I know this because if you Google up the name in images, you will find groups of sad people like me, sitting around in it and having their picture taken. ('Oh, I know that I have to look out for a Cathedral when I'm in Canterbury.")
The farmyard with the wood-lap building is still there too. (You don't know what 'felling-joints' are? Well, 'felling-joints is... well, 'felling-joints, ain't they!")
There is only one outdoor scene shot indoors that I can recall, and that is the street where the 'Glue Man' makes his escape to the courthouse by running through a thick, knee-high mist of dry ice and out of sight, kicking a tin-can as he goes. The shouts of his pursuers and the noise of the rolling can echo unnaturally against the wooden walls and ceiling of the small set. ("Th-th-that's right!").
If you have ever seen the Powell and Pressburger film, 'Black Narcissus', you will have been impressed by the landscape of breath-taking beauty with Himalayan mountains as a deep and colourful back-drop to a bell-ringing scene, where a mad nun fights another on the giddy precipice of a 1000-foot drop.
This scene was created by Alfred Jung, and filmed in a car-park at Elstree Studios, London.
Alfred Jung set up a sheet of glass in front of the camera, and the glass had various mountains painted convincingly over it, with the main mountain looming in focus at the back. The actors played behind this glass and the camera shot through the blank spots in it.
The vast 'mountain' was a small pile of white salt, placed about 20 yards further into the car-park, behind the actors.
These were the days before CGI, and the days when we suspended our own disbelief, or got someone to suspend it for us.