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What a Life


Richard Massingham
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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But I did meet Richard Massingham, who was a lovely man. He is also a medical doctor. But he ran this documentary film company... he didn't practice as a doctor. And they made... this documentary company, his company, made a very interesting film, which, to my best of my knowledge, is the only government-sponsored comedy, intentional that is... intentional comedy, that was ever made. It was a film called What a Life. And it starred himself, because he's a very well known figure. Anybody of that... who remembers him, of that... of that age, will remember him because he had a sort of hang-dog spaniel kind of face. And he used to appear in his films quite often. Anyway, they made this film called What a Life which had a very simple story that round about 1948, I think it must have been made. There was a very... quite a bad atmosphere in the... in England where people who thought now the war's over we're all going to be rich, you know, and everything's going to be fine, and it wasn't fine and they didn't get any richer. And so they were a bit disappointed and a bit depressed, so the government sponsored this film.

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: What a Life, Richard Massingham

Duration: 1 minute, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008