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Le Mans: Problems with the production


Le Mans: Stress on the set
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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Steve had given a job to several of his friends, including the man who'd long been his assistant director, who was sort of kicked upstairs to be the production manager. Although they had a very efficient German production manager who built the whole village, that they didn't use, and a canteen. It's a big, big, long, long story. I won't go into it all. But the sad thing was that this... some of these people that were sort of kicked upstairs by Steve, were not adequate to their jobs. And this particular guy, who used to be his very efficient assistant director, wasn't happy, to say the least, in the job that he was given by Steve, as production manager, or associate producer, whatever they called him. And his fingernails started falling out, one by one. He went to see specialists in Rome and in Berlin and God knows where, and they could do nothing for him, because it was a stress-related thing. He should've just been told to go and have a holiday somewhere, which he couldn't do, of course. And I remember one incident where his son was on the set and they had their wives with them, their sons and a lot of people, there was quite a menagerie. There was one incident where we were watching the proceedings from the grandstand, and next to us was... when I say us, it's me and Kate, next to us were this guy's wife and his son. And he said to us, 'Do you know we're going to be rich when this film's finished?' And I said... and I said, 'Don't be too sure'.

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: Le Mans, Steve McQueen

Duration: 1 minute, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008