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Watching Saturday Night 50 years on


Saturday Night: The last scene and the Unity Theatre
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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And then the last scene is in the café, where, there's some rowdy... youngsters, young hooligans, not exactly, but they're just being a bit rowdy. And one of them makes a rude remark about the girl, a sort of a sexy remark or something. And, and... Bryan, kind of, saves her from their attentions. He intervenes... there's not a fight or anything, but he intervenes and says, my pleasure, or something. You know, he just stops them getting nasty. That scene which has quite a bit of dialogue was... all the other... virtually all the other people in that scene were actors from Unity Theatre which... Unity Theatre at that time was a left-wing, well you could say communist, it was a communist theatre in North London, just north of King's Cross, where I later did quite a bit of work, I lit some plays there, I got some experience with theatrical lighting there. I used to go there in the evenings and operate the lights box, like a sort of assistant electrician... I got very friendly with the electrician there, the Chief Electrician, a man called Bill Besant. And on certain shows I did the... I operated the light box, which things like blackouts... there were musicals with blackouts and resets and pre-sets and blackouts, and spent many a happy night having sausages and chips at three... sausages... no, sausages, beans and mash at 3.00 am, which was the interval in the... in the preparatory work in the lighting in that theatre.

Anyway, the actors were, in this last scene in Saturday Night, were all from there and some became quite well known. Later one of the girls featured in a... in a scandal, there was some kind of scandal, she was fired by the government for being a communist. Which... because she was working on censored... in some department where there was sensitive... security material. They didn't have... at those times there wasn't things like security clearance and all that. That came later. But anyway, she was considered a security risk so they fired her. And that all went in the newspapers and, that was about that same time.

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: Unity Theatre

Duration: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008