Roll Credits

lester credits from David Cairns on Vimeo.

The last of the deleted scenes from PICTUREWISE 3, my Richard Lester piece. Ending with an unmade film seemed too similar to the first installment (available on the Blu-ray of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT).

Images are from Bob Willoughby’s The Platinum Years, which Lester recommended highly as about the best set of movie stills he’d seen. I picked the book up in Toronto and scanned the relevant pages on PETULIA.

I somehow got the impression from Lester’s impassioned description of Joseph Conrad’s VICTORY — which lays emphasis on aspects that are lightly brushed over in the screenplay he commissioned from Pinter — that the book has a real personal significance for him. Without speculating on what that is (the dollarbook Freud approach), I thought illustrating it with images of Lester would be a suitably oblique approach, having rejected the idea of using lots of stills of book jackets, illustrations etc…

Richard-Lester-behind-camera

UK: A Hard Day’s Night: 50th Anniversary Restoration [Blu-ray]

US: A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)

PICTUREWISE III

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9 Responses to “Roll Credits”

  1. I love Lester’s strange Anglo-American hybrid accent.

    Victory sounds like a companion piece to Petulia. Not surprised it wasn’t made then. Would NEVER be made now.

  2. Mark Peploe did his own version in 1996, which barely got a release. The cast, at least, is excellent.

    The Maurice Tourneur version has some very nice things: https://dcairns.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/the-sunday-intertitle-total-victory/

  3. I used to get so frustrated hearing about Lester’s Victory, because the script is terrific, Lester was great, and it would’ve marked a real shift for his reputation. It’s so close but so out of reach

    Then I found out that another of my favourite filmmakers Louis Malle also wanted to a film of Victory, even moreso in fact: he kept on trying to get it made for 20 years (1959 to 79 his golden period)

    And strangely takes the sting out of it. Because I can’t decide which one I want more. It’s like if it turned out John Ford had also planned on doing a version of Other Side of the Wind

    It’s also a bitter irony that-30 years of struggling, 3 geniuses later. Victory was finally made, using none of that talent, and was a real disappointment.
    IIRC it came in a series of disappointing Conrad adaptations in the late 90s.

  4. Lester had the funding at one point, and then a rival production was announced, and it fell through. And the rival film never happened either.

    BUT I am currently reading Garry Trudeau’s Zoo Plane script which turned up online! Other than that, the best shot for reading Lester’s unmade films is at the BFI, where his archive is stored. Really hope I can arrange a week in London sometime to read all those Charles Woods. And the Stoppard!

  5. Thanks so much for pointing this out. I was at a loose end tonight but now I’m actively looking forward to reading and imagining a new Richard Lester film

    If you haven’t seen them already Wellesnet. got some great unmade Welles script but also the full Lady from Shanghai. I had to stop reading the latter because it made me realise how much they cut. I mean the film works beautifully as it is, but when you realise what might have been…

    Also did you find Alan Rudolph “Far Side” script online? Just brilliant. When I first read it, I thought it would be too expensive, but according to members of the crew, they’d already shot a successful demo reel, using Jim Henson puppets and it was all doable. It was the change at Columbia that stopped it.

  6. Bloody David Puttnam! Goes in shouting about “quality” and produces Leonard Part IV and kills The Far Side. He did do one Bill Forsyth and as a parting shot committed them to Baron Munchausen, which maybe wasn’t good business sense but we can be glad of it, but really… pretty much a disaster. Now to find that Far Side script. I was always very intrigued by the idea of it.

  7. There’s something I’ve felt slightly unwilling to say but another look at that crisp black-and-white still photograph compels me to say it: Richard Lester was damn handsome. There, I said it.

  8. I’m glad you like his face. I always thought Lester looked slightly alien, a higher form of life, perhaps the next stage in human evolution, wryly disappointed in us lesser beings

    The Far Side script was at the same place I found that Trudeau one, the write to reel forum. Easy to search for. Enjoy

    I think it was the regime after Puttnam that dumped Far Side, we also missed out on a Richard Brooks film about the Mankiewicz-De Mille blacklist confrontation and a Stanley Kramer film about Chernobyl. Surely all hits

    Poor silly Lord David though. UK mainstream cinema is so dull now I almost miss him, though not as much as his departed enemies. He did try to stop Ghostbusters 2 from being the mega-budget, cynical, deal of a film it became, but it was a Canutian gesture.

    Like Lester and Gilliam he was another victim of Andrew Yule’s well researched but oddly written books.

  9. James, I certainly recognize Richard from that description.

    His wife Deirdre thought him very dishy when they first met. And when he smiles he’s very youthful. In Bologna, nobody could believe this was an octogenarian. “So what the hell’s he been doing the last twenty years?” asked Meredith Brody. A resentment that he hadn’t been making films.

    Yule does his research but seems to garble it — Lester felt the book was full of inaccuracies as well as being clunky.

    Ghostbusters cost not much less than Heaven’s Gate, so an economy drive was in order, but you’d have needed a different director. Which would have been no bad thing.

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