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Zorba the Greek: The cast


Electra: Money problems
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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Now, Electra... Electra cost something of the, in the region of $75,000, which is not a lot of money, even in 1961. It was sponsored by United Artists, so... Cacoyannis used to have a very simple way of dealing with the money people. He used to go and say, give me $100,000 and I'll give you a movie. That was basically it. And because it was so direct, he never asked for enough money, so we were always short of money. In the case of Electra, there wasn't enough money for the cast to be transported every day, so the cast... the chorus, had to stay in the village of Keratea and only Cacoyannis and I and the principles, Irene and Orestes and the others, they travelled every day to and fro, but the others had to stay in very primitive conditions throughout the whole shooting. But, the film was a success. It was shown worldwide, but because of the accounting system that companies like United Artists operated, it never went into profit. Even three years after release it wasn't in profit, officially, because the system that they operated was such that, if Electra was shown for a week in Venezuela, and if United Artists had eight movies showing that year in Venezuela, then one-eighth of the cost of operating the United Artists office in Venezuela, would be credited or debited, written off against Electra. So Electra bore all these costs which it couldn't support.

Born in Germany, cinematographer Walter Lassally (1926-2017) was best known for his Oscar-winning work on 'Zorba the Greek'. He was greatly respected in the film industry for his ability to take the best of his work in one area and apply it to another, from mainstream to international art films to documentary. He was associated with the Free Cinema movement in the 1950s, and the British New Wave in the early 1960s. In 1987 he published his autobiography called 'Itinerant Cameraman'.

Listeners: Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen is a Canadian who came to Europe to study and never got round to heading back home. He did his undergraduate work at Carleton University (in Biology) in Ottawa, and then did graduate work at the University of Western Ontario (in Zoology). After completing his doctorate at Oxford (in the Department of Zoology), followed with a year of postdoc at the University of London, he moved to the University's newly-established Audio-Visual Centre (under the direction of Michael Clarke) where he spent four years in production (of primarily science programs) and began to teach film. In 1974 Bowden became Director of the new Audio-Visual Centre at the University of Warwick, which was then in the process of introducing film studies into the curriculum and where his interest in the academic study of film was promoted and encouraged by scholars such as Victor Perkins, Robin Wood, and Richard Dyer. In 1983, his partner and he moved to Greece, and the following year he began to teach for the University of Maryland (European Division), for which he has taught (and continues to teach) biology and film courses in Crete, Bosnia, and the Middle East.

Tags: Electra

Duration: 1 minute, 34 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008