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Le Mans: Steve McQueen


Something for Everyone: Distribution
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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The distribution of Something for Everyone was a bit patchy, and it did have a reasonable run in England and on the Continent, and in America, but it disappeared very quickly. Only a few years later, I found that the two copies that were in England were cannibalised into one copy and then that disappeared, and then there weren't any copies. When you get into that situation, very often, no new copies are made, because there's no demand. I'll give you an example, going back to Taste of Honey. For years and years and years I used to hire... when I used to hire Taste of Honey to show to students at the film school, I always got the copy and I began to recognise the joins and scratches, because it was always that copy. The only chance of making new prints would have been if somebody had decided to have a... retrospective, for instance, after Tony died, you could say, well we're going to have a Richardson retrospective, and it's going to be on television, and then suddenly there's money to make prints. But otherwise, these prints have a relative shelf life, and when it is a relatively short shelf life, and when the powers that be consider that the film has had its run, then nobody bothers to make any more copies. So who cares if the... if they consider that they've gathered in whatever money is to be made out of that movie, and they forget it and they go onto the next movie and then there aren't any prints. So that film disappeared.

Fortunately, not before it was shown on BBC television, and that's why I have a... that's why a VHS cassette of it. But, you become conscious, in incidents like that- through incidents like that, you become conscious of the fact that film is a very ephemeral medium. In another context I also discovered that theatrical release prints are considered to have a shelf life of about 10 years. So the actual material deteriorates. I made the big mistake of shooting my slides, my still slides, on negative film and having them printed in the laboratory and cutting them up and framing them. And I discovered that after 18 to 20 years, which isn't that long, all the green goes out of it and they turn bright mauve. And when I looked into this, I said, well, you know, this is not said, officially anywhere, but positive film just wasn't considered to have a shelf life longer than about 10 years. Of course, there were rows, Visconti and Scorsese and various people, there was a row about The Leopard, because those prints just disintegrated, which is something that didn't happen to the old Technicolor. The old Technicolor, which was printed in a three-strip process, that didn't deteriorate. But the last Technicolor plant in Europe and America was closed down somewhere at the end of the '70s, or early '80s, I believe. Now, if you have a three-strip... a film that's been shot on three-strip, and you have the original three strips of black and white negative, the only place it can be printed is Peking.

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: Something for Everyone, Taste of Honey, The Leopard

Duration: 3 minutes, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008