(L to R) Cinema Retro contributing writer Todd Garbarini, editor-in-chief Lee Pfeiffer and Anthony Harvey at the Loews Jersey City.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Last Friday, I attended the special screening of The Lion in Winter at the Loews Theatre, the classic movie palace in Jersey City, New Jersey. Not only did I want to see the highly acclaimed film on the big screen for the first time, but the event also allowed me to meet with my old friend, Anthony Harvey who directed the 1968 classic. It had been a few years since I had seen Tony, who I first met when I was writing the Sony DVD documentary on the making of Dr. Strangelove. Tony had been Stanley Kubrick's editor on that film as well as Lolita and it was Kubrick himself who persuaded Tony to try his hand at directing. I was pleased to see Tony looking as fit as ever - though his modesty, in an industry dominated by towering egos, continues to amaze me. As the doors were opened, he said he suspected only a handful of people would turn up. He was shocked to find hundreds in attendance, and prior to the screening, Tony was accorded rock star treatment by classic movie buffs who asked him to autograph their programs. It should be noted that there are no longer any 35mm prints of this classic movie in good enough condition to make it through a projector. This one remaining archival print was made available to the Loews by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Prior to the film, Tony was interviewed at length by author and film historian Foster Hirsch, who is among the best when it comes to asking intelligent questions of his subject. Tony said that he had only one minor independent film to his credit (the little-seen Dutchman) when he was tapped to direct The Lion in Winter. He confessed that initially, it was a bit nerve-wracking to consider he would suddenly be in charge of such a big-budget movie, as well as directing acting royalty like Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn.However, he quickly realized that if he was to enjoy the respect of the cast and crew, he would have to be a decisive and strong figure on the set. His first challenge was to find suitable locations, a feat that would see the production filming in England, Ireland and France. Tony was resolved to accurately recreate the conditions of King Henry II's reign in the 12 century - and found the coldest, least hospitable castle imagineable. He improvised certain aspects of the filming by putting an abundance of animals in the midst of the set without forewarning the actors. Thus, cast members had to negotiate around running chickens and dogs. There was method to the madness as research showed this to be an accurate representation of the king's court of that era.
Cinema Retro columnist Gareth Owen (left) with Jimmy Perry.
By Dave Worrall
Last Friday (April 24th) saw scriptwriter Jimmy
Perry as the guest speaker at The Lunch Club, a monthly networking club for
people who work in the media industry. Perry, now a spritely 87, is the 'other
half' of writing team Jimmy Perry and David Croft, who have written some of the
most successful BBC comedy shows in the history of British television, including
Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mom and
Perry started his career as a bit-part actor before
turning to writing, and was awarded an OBE in 1978 for his services to the TV
industry. Many of the sitcoms Perry co-wrote with Croft drew heavily on his
personal experience: at 17 he joined the Watford Home Guard (Dad's
Army); two years later he was called up into the regular forces, and was
sent to Burma with the Royal Artillery, where he joined the Royal Artillery
Concert Party (It Ain't Half Hot, Mum). Demobbed and back in the UK, he
trained as an actor at RADA, spending his holidays working as a Redcoat in
Butlin's Holiday Camps (Hi-de-Hi). His grandfather had worked as a
butler, and Jimmy heard many anecdotes about life "below stairs", which served
as a basis for You Rang, M'Lord?
The club gathers at Hush, a restaurant in the
centre of London, for a networking lunch once a month,and members enjoy a drink
and chat during a 3-hour period, which always includes a speaker. Past guests
have included Sir Roger Moore, Ray Harryhausen, Ronald Neame, Ken Annakin,
Richard Keil, Guy Hamilton and Jack Cardiff, to name but a few. The
lunch club was established in 1994, by producer Martin Cahill, as a non-profit
making, and politically neutral, networking society and has grown to become the
film, tv and media industry's premiere café du commerce. The lunch club also hosts three or four
networking evenings each year, such as Question Time, The Film World Meets The
Book World, Quiz Night and An Evening With ... many of which are free or
subsidised to members. Membership is inexpensive and open to all in the media
business. The club can be contacted via their web site www.lunch-club.org.uk