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Hullabaloo over Georgie and Bonnie's pictures


The Wild Party: Problematic black and white
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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There's a lovely minute in the film where the performance of his new movie, of James Coco's new movie, or rather Jolly Grim's new movie, doesn't go down terribly well and he's terribly worried and he's sitting outside by the little fountain in the courtyard, and Raquel comes out and tries to, sort of, comfort him, and says, 'Do you know, I think it'll be all right'. And he turns on her and he says, 'I don't care a flying fart what you think!' And we all went... That movie has some black and white sections in it because we had to film, of course... his film, the film that he was making and showing and premiering, in black and white, and black and white became more and more difficult... Right through the '70s and into the early '80s it became more and more difficult to find the film stock, to get it processed, to find cameras that would run it properly.

And in that particular case, we had a contract with Panavision and they supplied the main camera, and we asked them to supply a couple of wild Arri's, which existed in their care. And the moment we put black and white film in there they jammed immediately. I discovered why that was... was because they had been adapted to run at high speed and that meant certain adjustments to the gate, and they wouldn't... black and white film stock is a different thickness to the colour film stock, so they wouldn't run black and white film stock. We had to... we ended up with some very old Arri, which somebody had, fairly clapped out old thing, which was just perfect for filming those so-called... supposedly silent movie epics... sections, which, I think we filmed them at 16 frames as well. I'm not sure, but I think we did. But it was getting more and more difficult. The lab... I remember the lab in Hollywood would only process that particular... we found a lab that would process black and white, but only once a week, so that it was beginning to become a problem. Black and white was beginning to become a problem.

And in anyway, Hollywood was a disappointment to me, because I thought if I went to Hollywood that would be the mecca of all filmmakers and all the rental suppliers and all the equipment stuff would be perfect, and it wasn't like that at all. To me, Hollywood, first of all, was incredibly shabby. The town of Hollywood is incredibly shabby and the rental suppliers were not a patch on what was going on in London at the same time. The London companies... rental companies were much more efficient than the American ones. So that was a bit of a surprise to me.

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: The Wild Party, James Coco, Jolly Grim, Raquel Welch

Duration: 2 minutes, 38 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008