Archive for Robert Newton

Hot Rod

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2015 by dcairns

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My friend Randy spoke in awe of the moment in the not-too-distinguished LONG JOHN SILVER where a young Rod Taylor gets a big scene in front of Robert Newton, playing the titular peg-leg, and blasts away at his dialogue with such fervor that you can kind of see Newton take a step back, eyes rolling more swiftly than usual, as if thinking, “Hang on, I may have a competitor here…”

Israel Hands from David Cairns on Vimeo.

It’s a performance big as all outdoors, and his director isn’t helping him focus or control it (Newton has been left to run riot also) but the sheer muscle is impressive. Control would come later.

Randy encouraged me to think of Mr. Taylor as not just a stalwart leading man in THE BIRDS and THE TIME MACHINE, but as an explosively inventive performer comparable in some ways to a Barrymore or a Brando — and Taylor is NEVER mentioned in such company. I try to give him a small measure of the appreciation he deserves in this fortnight’s edition of The Forgotten, which will be published shortly. Watch this space for the link.

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Romneyscient

Posted in FILM, Painting, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2014 by dcairns

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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.

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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.

Mister Twitch

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2009 by dcairns

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Keeping me awake at night: apart from (thoughts of) the tambourine-and-keyboards player from the Dandy Warhols, the screaming maniacs in the tower block next door, and the cat clawing at my throat in order to get me to let her under the covers, there’s always THE FACE OF ROBERT NEWTON, looming from the gloom like a tumorous balloon, inflated with methane, mustard gas and whisky breath, eyes like twin singularities a-glint with maleficent know-how.

Over at The Auteurs’ Notebook we peruse HATTER’S CASTLE, starring both Emlyn Williams (who may have originated the phrase “Blackmail is such an ugly word”) and Robert Newton  (who may have originated the phrase “Ah-harr!”)

Mr. Newton always brings out my romantic, poetical side.

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