Film Directors with their Shirts Off: A Lean Torso
David Lean on holiday. A suitably scenic backdrop, and Mrs Lean.
I love the story of Lean swimming with crew in the river on a day off during the shooting of BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. “Bloody millionaire stuff!” says a props man. Lean is intrigued. Define your terms! The props man, who went on to work on every Lean movie, explains that there can’t be anybody in the world, however wealthy, who are luxuriating as splendidly as this British film crew in their tropical river. Lean embraces the term and makes it his motto, selecting projects for their opulence and exoticism from then on.
Since Lean had been raised in a somewhat joyless, Calvinist tradition, this moment can be seen as a kind of awakening for him. He would tend to forget to have fun in life — Richard Lester recalls him living in the Roman hotel overlooking the zoo that features in Argento’s THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, being awoken by animal roars at 5am, and living on sausage rolls which had to be specially sourced, since Italians rightly shun such savory trash. But at least in his choice of subject he would henceforth ensure stimulating locations.
It’s all in here: David Lean: A Biography
Meanwhile, at Limerwrecks, new work by yours truly, mostly on that lyric work, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, here, here (Lionel Atwill’s arm), here (is Dwight Frye a face in the crowd?), and here (Ygor!). You’ll find plenty more by other (gnarled, palsied) hands if you hunt about.