Archive for February 14, 2023

A thing:

Posted in FILM, Politics, Television, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2023 by dcairns

The British Library’s Theatre Archive Project, a partially-oral history of mid-twentieth-century British theatre, is a thing I never knew about. I forget what internet rabbit hole brought me to its portals, but the first thing I saw there was the interview with the late Dudley Sutton, who was good enough to appear in the first film I ever directed. He was lovely, if a touch intimidating. He didn’t mean to be, it’s just that one was aware of his being in a different league.

I didn’t know ANYTHING in those pre-internet days (1989/90?) so I didn’t know he’d worked for Joan Littlewood. We got snatches of anecdote out of him during the four days he was with us, on one of which we failed to shoot a single foot of usable material. “The BEST films for drugs were the DISNEY films, because you got all these cool California guys coming over…” Now I can see that this refers to his henchman role in TV movie Diamonds on Wheels and/or movie-movie THE LONDON CONNECTION. That one’s worth seeing because of the way Roy Kinnear’s reaction shots have been cut in, seemingly at random. “Pull some faces, Roy,” and then some stoned editor has laid them in by the yard.

All I knew about Dud was THE DEVILS, which meant nothing to my young collaborators, who did finally recognise him, when he rocked up, from the TV show Lovejoy, which I’d never watched. I was kind of an alien in the film department at Edinburgh College of Art because my cultural references were films. But I hadn’t seen Fellini’s CASANOVA. “He cut out all my lines, but I’m still in there,” said Dud. I didn’t know he was the original Mr. Sloane in Entertaining Mr. Sloane.

Anyway, it was a joy to commune with the Dudster again. He talks about writing poetry but not publishing it, which reminded me of a recital he once had posted on YouTube. I can’t find it now. But here’s a his funeral (funeral = anagram of REAL FUN) a joyous valediction by the looks of it:

Here is the man himself, full of fire and passion and cancer. “People of Loudon, look to your walls! I’ve posted this before but it’s acquired even more urgency and relevance now. Dud died in 2018 so he missed the pandemic, which may have been a mercy. But do take a look, he’ll lend you his courage:

There are lots of other nice things in the archive including an astounding talk with Victor Spinetti — Welsh, Italian, Jewish, gay, a man you might expect to cancel himself out, and who was very nearly eradicated by some Welsh yobs who planted a brick behind his ear, but went on to survive and flourish and entertain hugely in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and HELP! but had a whole distinguished stage career also and sounds like a very considerable person.