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A Perfect Murder


Merchant Ivory productions and no longer working with James Ivory
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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For Merchant Ivory productions, you can say that every cent of the budget is on the screen. He doesn't go off buying any limousines and yachts. It's all on the screen. But it's always very tight. It's always very tight. And then I quite regretted... The Bostonians was the last film that I made with James, although I made some more films with Merchant, with Ismail, but not with James, because the next film was Room with a View. For some reason, which I never got to the bottom of, he decided to use another cameraman, and I did a sort of little bit of probing, but I never really got to the bottom of why that was. Because we got on extremely well. We had had our little tiffs, mainly with Ismail, when I was on James' side, I had terrible trouble to persuade Ismail to go to New York in the middle of the Boston shoot in order to get the one or two Central Park scenes in New York before the leaves changed colour. And Ismail said, 'No, we can't, we can't possibly...' I said, 'Ismail, we must do that now, because once the leaves change colour, we can't do it'. And in those kind of circumstances, I was always on James' side. So I don't really understand why that happened. And to this day I don't know why that happened. But that was the last film that I made with James.

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, The Bostonians, Room with a View, Ismail Merchant, James Ivory

Duration: 1 minute, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008