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Heat and Dust: The London section


Heat and Dust: The cast and Ismail Merchant's production technique
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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We had a very nice cast. Apart from Julie Christie and Greta Scacchi, we had Shashi Kapoor whose an old friend of the Merchant Ivory's, and... Of the Merchant Ivory's, yes, the Merchant and Ivory. And Madhur Jaffrey, of course, plays his mother and... Sue Fleetwood. And Susan Fleetwood plays one of the... she plays the... what do they call it? The memsahib, the town memsahib. Yes, a very nice cast collection. Of course... Nickolas Grace, of course, very good indeed. But there were problems.

There were times when the actors were not getting paid and the agents were sending telegrams, which sometimes arrived and sometimes didn't arrive, telexes. And when they did arrive, Ismail, with Kate's help, used to intercept them and tear them up in the basement, while he phoned frantically to see what he could do to get some more money flowing. Because Ismail usually operated by starting the shooting at the point when sufficient people had promised him the money. Not when it was in his hands. So, almost always, in the end of the first week of shooting, there was a tremendous crisis because all the money had run out. Same thing happened on The Bostonians. Anyway, we got through it and nobody left. Barry Foster and Nickolas Grace, there were a hairy moments when they realised they weren't getting paid.

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: Merchant Ivory, Heat and Dust, The Bostonians, Julie Christie, Greta Scacchi, Shashi Kapoor, Madhur Jaffrey, Sue Fleetwood, Nickolas Grace, Ismail Merchant

Duration: 1 minute, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008