Archive for The Sailor From Gibraltar

Frozen time-slices

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on January 6, 2010 by dcairns

One of a series of stills taken to be used as props within THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR. This one is similar to the one actually used.

A while back I posted the credits of Tony Richardson and Marguerite Duras’ THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR on YouTube. To my surprise and delight, I was contacted by Alan Aldridge, who designed said credits but had never owned a copy of the film. I sorted him out.

And now I’ve been contacted by Roger Rizzi, son of the unit stills photographer, who had never even seen the film. I sorted him out also. Gathered with his family at Christmastime, Roger was able to say to his pa, “I’ll just put on this DVD a friend sent me…” and then watch his father’s expression as he realized he was about to see, for the first time, a movie he’d worked on more than forty years ago…

Roger then very kindly sent me some of his father’s stills from the shoot, which have never been seen before ~

Ian Bannen offers his best come-to-bed look.

La Moreau, key grip Jean Gimelo, assistant director Christian de Chalonge, Tony Richardson.

Jean Gimelo demonstrates exactly what a key grip’s duties involve.

Most excitingly of all, these images come from a deleted scene with Orson Welles, who appears only briefly in the final cut.

You know the sound made by icebergs breaking off from the main mass of the Arctic and falling into the sea? If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of time melting away.

Angelo Rizzi is permitted to hold a real witch doctor’s magic stick. Make a wish! And it will be granted, though it may take forty years or so…

The Mr “A” Messages

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by dcairns


So, back in December I stuck a clip on YouTube of the title sequence of Tony Richardson’s Marguerite Duras adaptation THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR. I’d had the film on tape for about eight years without ever watching the film (that’s me, I’m afraid), but had looked at the titles and found them awesome, and I wanted to share.

Well, one of the people out there in YouTubeLand whom I was sharing them with, it turned out, was seminal sixties illustrator Alan Aldridge, designer of said sequence, who left a comment for me at my YouTube account ~

AA: “hi I designed these titles way back in 1965……..ive spent the last 35 years trying to get a copy……….then today voila I at least get to see small version…….Id really be grateful if you would get in touch and maybe I can make copy of your rusting vhs……..I live in LA……….e-mail your phone number and I’ll give you a call all the best , alan”

I was very delighted. And, being a mercenary type, I immediately proposed an interview in exchange for a DVD-R of the mouldering tape. Success!

I already knew a bit about Mr. Aldridge’s career, and boned up on him by reading other interviews. At the time of SAILOR, he had revolitionised the design of Penguin paperbacks with his stylish and punchy collage art and illustrations.


Me: “How did you get the job on SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR? Who did you meet from the movie? I see Tony Richardson actually appears in the sequence, how was he to deal with? What kind of discussions did you have? Did you work with Raoul Coutard, the cinematographer?”

AA: “Tony Richardson rang me and asked me to meet him at the Woodfall Films office in Mayfair.I also met ~Neil Hartley with him – they talked about me doing the titles for Sailor and briefly explained what the film was about.I also got a tape of the music which i thought was very beautiful. Tony Richardson is not in the title sequence…….I went off and did a storyboard and got it approved by Tony- then went to Bob Brookes a film director and he shot the sequences…..which took a lot of time. for instance for the last shot of a mans profile as an island they had to biuld a pool in studio. get a model to lay down in the water then the model boat was pulled by on rails.”

The chap at the end, appearing under the director’s credit, does look a little like Tony Richardson, or am I deluded? Oh well, it’s not him…

Me: “Obvious standard question: what were your influences for this sequence? Or, what was the brief?”

AA: “I had no influence…..just did series of interesting visuals”


Reading stories about Alan’s beginnings as an artist, this really does seem to be the case: his talent blossomed, seemingly from nowhere, and without conscious influence, although he must have been soaking up something that was in the air, in order to so effectively capture the zeitgeist of the sixties.

Me: “The internet isn’t very informative about title sequences (according to the IMDb, Richard Williams has only done about four, which we KNOW isn’t right). So I’m wondering if there are any other Aldridge titles out there?”

AA: “Never did any other titles.”

A great shame!


Me: “The other big movie connection I have for you is the CHELSEA GIRLS poster. How did that come about?”

AA: “Chelsea Girls was done for the Arts Lab in London – they were premiering ChelseaGirls and Warhol had asked them if they could get me to do the design..he would later say- he wished the film was as good as the poster.”


Me: “It would be great to hear something about your current plans, the exhibition, movies, etc.”

AA: “I’m working on two film projects- one about Edgar Allan Poe the other John Lennon.”

Looking at Alan’s art, I think the prospect of either of those projects coming to fruition is mouthwatering. Hope they both do.

To finish, I asked about this Pink Floyd music video — my late friend Lawrie Knight, who was involved in its production, had told me that he invited Aldridge to design it.

AA: “Yeah I think I did some storyboards..not sure they were ever used – they were thought to be too expensive to do and too difficult.”

 I sent him the link so he could look at it and see whether the finished work had his influence.

AA: “well the ballet dancers are definately not mine…maybe some of the trippy backgrounds.alan”

So now we know, and by now Alan hopefully has his complimentary copy of THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR — at last!


Alan’s just had an exhibition at the Design Museum, and his new book The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes, is available.

Mister “A”

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by dcairns


The new FORGOTTEN is up! Leave comments over there at THE AUTEURS’ NOTEBOOK. Slight delay this week due to my editor having been midatlantic (in an aeroplane, not drowning).

This is a film I’ll have even more to say about soon, in a little Shadowplay Interview. Remember how I was able to supply a copy of Jules Dassin’s 10.30PM SUMMER to its former child star, who had never seen it?

I’ve kind of done that again. I feel like a song ~