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Something for Everyone: Angela Lansbury's close-ups


Something for Everyone: Safety first
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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In the middle of the film there is a car accident where some of his schemes, where he's manipulating the people one against the other, are threatening to go severely off the rails. So he stages a car accident in which he's driving this car as the chauffeur, and he turns the wheel and it goes down a ravine, and he just opens the door and jumps out, just before it goes down the plunge... it takes the plunge. And for this stunt, we engaged a famous French stunt artist who specialised in that kind of thing, called Remy Julienne I believe. He prepared all that, and we had two cameras... maybe even three. We certainly had a camera at the top and a camera at the bottom, to show this car cascading down the mountainside.

Unfortunately, Remy damaged his Achilles tendon. He cut his Achilles tendon as he jumped out the car, because the car, being an old car, it was an old... I'm not sure if it was a Mercedes or some... it was an old car which had a... the door opened the other way, not the normal way, but the other way, and that made it very awkward for him to jump out. And his foot was just caught in the angle between the door and the carosserie, so it shows you that... it goes to prove even the most experienced persons, you couldn't have had a more experienced person than him, can have accidents. That wasn't... probably wasn't the first time, but ever since then I've been very conscious of safety on movies which can be quite an issue, because people tend to get carried away. And like I said, on that Greek movie, waving to Kate in the distance, 'Remember it's only a movie'. That's not only a joke, it's something... sometimes one needs to remember that it's safety first. One wants to get the best possible effect, but not at... take any risks of killing or injuring anybody, which both on The Ballad of the Sad café and on Brenda Starr and on... what's the third one? There's a third one.

There were near accidents which were a bit too close for comfort, all with so-called experienced crews. In that case, from Hollywood. The, sort of, rain towers collapsed, not once but twice, and the dwarf, in The Ballad of the Sad café, who is attached to a piece of piano wire. On one of those rehearsals it broke and he dropped to the ground. Fortunately, he was only two-foot above the ground, but it could've broken when he was at the top of the thing. So, I'm very wary about any kind of stunts which involves risk, that one should be very conscious of the fact that, after all, it's only a movie, and let's not take any unnecessary risks.

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 Ballad of the Sad café, Brenda Starr, Something for Everyone, Remy Julienne

Duration: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008