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The end of Woodfall


Tom Jones: The editing and Tony Richardson's generosity
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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When we finished shooting which, as I say, was after... we had 16 weeks of shooting, the last week being supervised, so to speak, by the people sent in by the completion guarantors, but they didn't have very much to do. Then we had a giant party, end-of-picture party. Tony always had a start-of-picture party and an end-of-picture party. And we all went to out... our various ways, and Tony started editing. The editing, of course, took quite some time. Towards the end of the editing, towards the end of the editing, Tony had got very depressed. God knows why, but he started to jumble things up, to cut two scenes together, to stop them in the middle and inter-cut them with another scene. And, in that process a lot Diane Cilento's scenes got cut, which is a pity because she's a very good actress and she had some nice scenes which all ended up on the cutting room floor. Because Tony started thinking: oh, it doesn't work, it isn't funny, it doesn't hold, and it's in those kind of circumstances that a strong producer comes in handy. But Tony was his own producer. So you don't have anybody to come to the cutting room. There's always a point in the cutting, towards the end of the cutting process, there often comes a point when a producer should get hold of the director and gently remove him from the Moviola and send him to the Bahamas for a couple of weeks, you know, so he can, he can recover and he can get a little distance from the work. Otherwise you're up in it... or up against it all the time, and you don't see it anymore. You think nothing works. That happened to Tony, I think, each time, and each of those two, three films, I think, certainly in Taste of Honey and in Tom Jones, the first rough cut was better, in my opinion, than the final cut, because it didn't have all this buggering about in it. It was more straightforward. And... and in Tom Jones it got so... he got really very depressed just before the premiere, having done all these things. Having put in the pixillation, for instance, which is very funny and works very well, but it wasn't really necessary to have this pixillation in the inn scene, where young Lynn Redgrave runs through the inn shouting rape, rape, rape, and then there's all this rushing about. So that pixillation was added because Tony thought, it's not fast enough, it's not funny enough. So all sorts of little bits were added, but the biggest damage, I think, was done in inter-cutting scenes that should've been allowed to run straight. That happened mostly... the first... I would say the first 20 to 25 minutes of the film are severely cut down and inter-cut, and just generally messed about with. But, of course, it is a film running two hours 20 something like that, and it probably was a bit over-long in the initial version. Anyway, Tony was almost suicidal and he was convinced that it was going to be a terrible flop, and then it was this tremendous success. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief, and Tony then... Tony made a very generous gesture, which is probably unique in the annals of motion picture history, he gave six of us, six of the principal technicians, a half of one percent share in the profits. Which, in my case, turned out to be £20,000. So that's... it's not bad. But Albert Finney had 10%. So he became a millionaire overnight. But he reacted quite well to that. It threw him off balance for a short while, but he's a very basic person and he recovered quite quickly. Which was not the case with... in the case of the... was it the editor? One of the people who received, it really upset his life. It killed his marriage and, you know, there was all sorts of trouble, because not everybody is good at handling a sudden, unexpected sum of money that comes in like that. In fact, when Tony announced this, we were taken aback, of course, and Tony said to Kate, you better come in the office, you know, I'll explain this to you about what it means in cash terms. So half a percent... doesn't seem like very much, but it turned out to be £20,000, and I went straight out and bought a 16mm... a complete 16mm movie outfit. I bought an NPR, an Éclair NPR, I bought a Moviola, I bought a Nagra, and some lights and we had a very compact travelling film outfit that I used on the two documentaries that I made Dan and The Greeks, and it all fitted in the boot of the Citroen. It was very compact and very effective. Anyway, that was very generous on Tony's part.

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: Tony Richardson

Duration: 5 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008