Bullets and bollocks

Ahhh!

Graham Crowden’s mad science in O LUCKY MAN! and BRITANNIA HOSPITAL guarantees him a place in screen infamy. He’s also a lovely man and I count myself lucky to have met and worked with him. Seeing him in military uniform here, in THE LITTLE PRINCE, reminded me of an incident connected with the film we made together, THE ISLE OF VOICES. After we got a write-up in the local press we were contacted by a chap who had been in the army with Graham. “Do you remember him?” we asked. “Oh yes, I remember him. He shot me!” The man had been cleaning his gun and accidentally let Graham have it in the groin. Since the Great Man was later able to father a son we can assume a happy ending. I’m not sure how happy Graham was about reuniting with his old comrade/assailant, but he was a perfect gentleman about it.

Anyhow, today the Edinburgh International Film Festival had its first press screening and I was at work, so I missed the doubtless-enthralling cinematic recreation of Dylan Thomas’ life, THE EDGE OF LOVE. I’ll live. Tomorrow I’m lecturing on Kubrick in the morning but hope to grab a press show in the afternoon, so this place should start to come alive with EIFF posts at last.

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6 Responses to “Bullets and bollocks”

  1. I’m crazy about his performance in If… — especially his grand entrance on a bicycle, singing “To Be a Pilgrim.”

  2. That’s very Graham. A true eccentric. He still fondly remembers his lines from Britannia Hospital “…and cabbages on the moon.”

    I would set up a detail shot and say “We just need a spot of Hand Acting here<” and he would say, with huge enthusiasm, “Oh, I’m Very Good at that!”

  3. You missed a golden oppurtunity to link to the previous article there. In one of Britannia Hopsital’s best scene Crowden exptols the properties of the human brain and then drinks a glass of one liquidized -with relish. What a scene! What other actor could do that scene so brilliantly? A unique talent,
    That said I was slightly disappointed with his performance in “Little Prince”. It’s like they wanted John Cleese. I feel Crowden’s strength lies in a very different kind of British eccentric,:the “delighted to be mad” kind-with just a hint of ruthlessness in the eyes. But not as a totally imperious authority figure like in “Prince”
    Would love to hear more about working with Crowden
    Also did you ever write about when you met Britannia Hospital’s director?

  4. Actually, the kind of manic intensity Crowden does in Little Prince PREDATES most of Cleese’s mad roles. It’s not his best work, or his most natural register, but very few actors could do it at all, so I’m OK with it.

    I never really mey Lindsay Anderson, but I did see him speak, and a couple of friends met him. And I’ve been lucky enough to meet John Bett (the tranny from Buckingham Palace in Britannia Hospital) and Brian Pettifer (in all three of the Travis trilogy) so I garnered a few stories.

    I’ll post some sometime!

  5. I’ll lower the tone by saying that my first encounter with Graham Crowden was through Waiting For God! One of the few decent sitcoms the BBC produced!

    However I am in the process of rectifying my ignorance having now ordered O Lucky Man and Britannia Hospital!

  6. Get If… too, you need the whole set. The complete history of modern Britain’s slide into despair!

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