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Assignment Skybolt
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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The plot of that film was: the Chinese are plotting to steal an atom bomb which is in this warship moored in Pireas, and there were casting difficulties because there weren't any Chinese in Athens at all. And we finally came up with a Chinaman who was a cook on a ship in the American Navy, and he played the... the one or two scenes where you actually see a Chinaman, because most of the time you don't see them at all, they're just a force behind the scenes. And, Kourkoulos who's quite a well-known... Nicos Kourkoulos played the lead. He's quite a well known Greek actor, and he played a sort of Greek James Bond and he left bodies all over the place. He had license to kill, you know, and he left bodies all over the place, nobody cared, nobody asked any questions. And there was a scene where they capture him... the villains capture him, and they take him onto a yacht and they tie him onto a bed, onto a bunk in the cabin. Then the script says, but he asked for a glass of water and he manages to smash the glass and he cuts the rope with the smashed glass. So he was tied to the bed and we did the other stuff, the other scenes where he's tied to the bed, and then came the scene where he's supposed to free himself. So the director says, 'The glass, the glass'. And the prop man, poor prop man, said, 'What glass?' And he said, 'The glass, haven't you read the script, man!' And, so a glass was brought which turned out to be unbreakable. And, I wish I could get hold of that film, because it's a real... it's a good laugh. It's very funny, unintentionally.

[Q] American financed?

Yes, it was financed by a group of theatre... Greek theatre owners from Boston, I seem to remember. But it's one of those lost films that's just disappeared.

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: Chinese, James Bond, Assigment Skybolt

Duration: 1 minute, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008