Romneyscient

edana

I realized just now that I’m so close to being the ultimate web resource for all things Edana Romney (the talent behind CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS, a film I first addressed here)  that I might as well go the whole hog and make sure of it.

Top Shadowplayer La Faustin informed me via Facebook of this curiosity, in which “actress, journalist and advisor on personal problems” Edana Romney oversees the conversion of her Kentish cottage. I don’t know how to interpret that third job description — a sort of agony aunt, a paid confidante to the stars, a therapist? La Faustin has fun imagining an “Ask Myfanwy Conway” column. We also learn that ER is pals with Zachary Scott. La Faustin observes, ” In the movies, at least, ‘pals with Zachary Scott’ means tears before bedtime.” At any rate, the former Mrs Woolf here appears to be single, with a poodle called Kewpie (?) for company.

Eastofpicpos

See here.

Then I discover that the Romney Archive is held by the University of Southern California (Romney died in that fair state.) We learn that the archive contains extensive research and screenplay drafts for a film on the life of Sir Richard Burton, explorer. (Later, part of the Great Man’s life did make it to the screen in THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, directed by Bob Rafelson.)

The next oddity is a cutting from the Singaporean Free Press, in which we learn that Robert Newton sued Romney in 1950 over a movie offer that never materialised. Newton had been offered the role of Dr Veron, but the article doesn’t say what the film was, what Romney’s involvement in it might be (I’m assuming writer but also producer) or what the whole story is really about. Romney’s sparse screen credits make it clear that the film never materialised.

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Then, luckily, we find this, a portfolio of costume designs for some kind of project about Rachel Eliza Felix, 19th century French tragedienne. The holder of the portfolio, John George Campbell, has worked out that much, and researched the drawings sufficiently to determine that the artist responsible is Owen Hyde Clarke, who also designed dresses for CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS. And among the drawings we find a sketch of Dr. Veron, looking like a camper version of Robert Newton, and so we are able to connect the Singaporean news story with the costume sketch portfolio.

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Thus, Romney’s sparse CV gains two more films, unmade alas.

John Campbell informs me that the RACHEL project was actually planned *before* CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS. The 1951 news story still makes sense considering the grindingly slow nature of the legal system.

Meanwhile, her married name got me thinking, and sure enough a deeper probe into the IMDb revealed that her husband was producer John Woolf, who in 1948 resigned as joint managing director of Rank to set up Romulus Films with his brother James. This allows us to see why Romney, a bit-part actress, was suddenly given a leading role in her own delirious vanity project. It also suggests why there was no successor to CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS — possibly Woolf no longer had the clout to get such peculiar projects off the ground. By 1955 the couple were divorced.

(When Woolf left Rank his place was taken by John Davis, “the man who destroyed the British film industry.” He’s parodied as “Don Jarvis” in PEEPING TOM, made by Michael Powell, one of his many enemies. Interestingly, Woolf’s brother James was equally prone to amour fou, boosting actor Laurence Harvey’s career because he was desperately in love with him.)

One more acting credit, for a 1957 episode of Masterpiece Theatre entitled The Last Flight, intrigues me. Further down the cast lurks Stratford Johns who, like Romney, was born in South Africa. In the early nineties I produced a student film starring Mr Johns, or Alan to his friends. So all this time I was one handshake away from her, but back then I didn’t know who she was and was thus unable to ask her co-star for info. As a fellow countryman, I’m sure he would have made her acquaintance and would have had an opinion of her, probably strong and acidic.

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9 Responses to “Romneyscient”

  1. david wingrove Says:

    That’s Jane Birkin’s mother – Judy Campbell – as the star of EAST OF PICCADILLY! As they say, what a cast!

  2. David Boxwell Says:

    Next time I go antiquing in Portobello Road, I intend to wear a hybrid coat-cloak (cloat?)–just like Zachary Scott!

    Whether pottering about the garden or stripping wallpaper by beautifully manicured hand, the lovely and gracious Miss Romney–Britain’s first celebrity “life coach”–wears a puffy shirt-dress!

    And why don’t narrators sound like this any more–nasal and Cuinties-posh (“accumplished”)

  3. Jane Birkin’s mother? WOW!

  4. It’s time we handed broadcasting back to the posh people… oh, wait. They’re still in charge, they just get geordies to do the voice-overs.

    It would be REALLY good if Edana Romney were Jane Birkin’s mum, but the lead actress in East of Piccadilly is an acceptable substitute.

  5. Stratford Johns! I remember when his very presence as Inspector Barlow in early episodes of Z CARS struck terror in the hearts of coppers, JDs, and villains without having to raise his fists in those pre-SWEENEY days of innocence. So, like Joyce Howard, Edana ended up in California.

  6. We used my parents’ house as a base while filming one scene in that film, and my mum was thrilled that Inspector Barlow used her loo.

  7. David Boxwell Says:

    I am alarmed, on a second visit to the thread, at how the lovely and gracious Miss Romney has been attacked by one of those exotic chickens burrowing its way into her hair!

  8. I bought a videotape of “Corridor of Mirrors” about 15 years ago. The cover blurb intrigued me, and it had Eric Portman! What a disappointment. Maybe because it not only imitated Cocteau, specifically Beauty and the Beast, but also had music by Auric. It was what now is called a homage, but in reality is just ripperd off ideas.
    And Portman phoned in his part. As your review says, it just didn’t gel.
    Reading and chuckling over your review, I think I should give the movie another chance. Just take it “as is” and enjoy the visuals.
    After all, compared to most modern dreck, it is quite good.

  9. I think in a way we both underrated that film — it may not entirely work, but how many other British films of the peropd — or any period — showed an awareness of Cocteau?

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