Meet Lawrie

This is a little documentary a couple of my students, Susan Lamb and Stephen Tebbutt, made about my friend Lawrie Knight, some years ago. It’s only  a second year project, so it’s no masterpiece, but it’s the only film I have of him, and he tells some of his favourite Michael Powell stories. Lawrie worked as an AD, stand-in, editor, and various other jobs on A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, BLACK NARCISSUS and THE RED SHOES, as well as END OF THE RIVER. Other productions included KING SOLOMON’S MINES, BLANCHE FURY, CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA, BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE. He had stories from all of them, not all of which I have yet shared here…

I might need to add some notes later to clarify a few of his stories — he’d told them so often he sometimes left out vital details. When he set up in Scotland he quickly became famous as somebody who’d always mention his P&P experience within seconds of meeting you. And this, later on, is how we met him. Fiona was working in a furniture store and Lawrie trundled in by electric wheelchair to buy a couch, and announced that he was a film director. When she asked what he’d worked on, he said something like, “Oh, nothing you’d have heard of, probably. Classics!” But Fiona had heard of them, more than that, they were among both our all-time favourites, and within hours Lawrie was lending us his precious production stills from BLACK NARCISSUS (how I wish I’d scanned them!)

So began a friendship that lasted the final five years of Lawrie’s life, and enriched ours.

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13 Responses to “Meet Lawrie”

  1. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this special document.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dcairns and Cristina Prasso, The Daily Notebook. The Daily Notebook said: Viewing (8'59"). RT @dcairns Lawrie Knight remembering Michael Powell: http://bit.ly/fPIOwl [...]

  3. Thank you, I enjoyed that very much, what a wonderful man he was. One of those people whose stories I could quite happily listen to over and over again and never tire of.

  4. I still miss Lawrie! He was a true gentleman of the old school and a living time capsule of a great era in British cinema. Knowing him was one of the great and rare privileges of my life.

  5. Walbrook was right, of course. He WAS wonderful.

  6. ditto ditto David W

  7. It is with utter exasperation that I admit that I’m unable to view this YouTube clip. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. Hopefully it’ll be available for me to see before the day’s over (I’ll keep trying).

  8. Well, I just watched it, although in miniature in the context of your blog. I was afraid that if I tried to watch it full screen via YouTube it would lock up (it was one of the things that kept happening in my initial tries). Makes me want to pull out and watch A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH as soon as possible. You might want to add something to the title of the clip so as to expand its potential viewing audience, mention Powell, the Archers, Niven, etc. That said, the clip is lovely, thanks for sharing. I recently learned that Niven had quite a sense of humor, kept Brando in stitches during the filming of BEDTIME STORY. I don’t know, maybe I read that here.

  9. Glad the clip played in the end. The resolution is low (from VHS) so it’s probably best watched small.

    Niven was quite a comedian: his books are full of perhaps wildly exaggerated comic stories of Hollywood. Lawrie organized his costume test on Bonnie Prince Charlie, and asked why he was making this dreadful film. “Well, I’ve so little talent, any time they offer me something I say ‘yes,’ thinking I’ll probably never get another job.” Niven donned his kilt and promptly did a handstand. “Can you see anything?”

  10. Christopher Says:

    thats a nice video..would make a nice little extra on a P&P dvd.
    ….and oh..seeing David Niven..makes me want to put on my smoking jacket and pour me a glass of brandy.

  11. I like Niven’s Lubitsch quote: “Nobody can play comedy who does not have a circus going on in his head.”

  12. [...] TagsEmeric Pressburger, Michael Powell This is a little documentary a couple of my students, Susan Lamb and Stephen Tebbutt, made about my friend Lawrie Knight, some years ago. It’s only  a second year project, so it’s no masterpiece, but it’s the only film I have of him, and he tells some of his favourite Michael Powell stories. Lawrie worked as an AD, stand-in, editor, and various other jobs on A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, BLACK NA … Read More [...]

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