“Howard Keel’s baritone voice was the powering force behind many well-remembered MGM musicals. ‘Seven Brides For Seven Brothers’, with its zest and energy, was one of his favourites; so was the 1951 remake of ‘Show Boat’ in which his marvellous voice made the most of some of the greatest songs ever written. He was so tall and athletic that many of his petite leading ladies had to stand on boxes to even appear in the same frame. For such a well-built man, it was something of a surprise in those days to discover that his favourite sport was golf.
At the time of this photograph, the public’s appetite for musicals was waning and he was seeking to break away from the mould and switch to straight parts. For this sitting we departed from his usual clean-cut look to something a little different.”
Jack Buchanan, 1955
“My first encounter with Jack Buchanan was in 1938, when I was working as a junior technician in a laboratory and he was making ‘Brewster’s Millions’. I was responsible for the finishing end of a negative processing machine, and taking each reel of film off at exactly the right moment was critical.
It could get very warm and humid in the lab and this made one feel very drowsy. No single event is more vivid in my mind than falling asleep on the film bin by the negative machine. I awoke suddenly to find myself covered in film – it had overrun and come off the spool. I panicked and pressed the red stop button, which immediately ruined many scenes of ‘Brewster’s Millions’.
18 years later I had the opportunity to photograph Jack. I had to ask him about the time he made ‘Brewster’s Millions’. “Do you remember having to retake some scenes?” I said. “Yes”, he replied, “I remember it clearly. They told me that the film had been destroyed in a fire, and so I didn’t ask for any extra money". After I had told him the truth of what happened, he joked "if I had known, I would never have lost my salary for you!”
Sir Ben Kingsley, 1996
“I shall make no bones about it, Sir Ben Kingsley is a difficult character.
However, in front of a movie camera something very special indeed happens. Whether it's in Dickie Attenborough's Ghandi, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, or more recently with Jennifer Connolly in the immensely moving House Of Sand And Fog, Kingsley's portrayals transcend the obvious and surpass the expected. He isn't just believable as a character, he becomes the character more than almost any other actor working today.
When the occasion came for me to photograph him, he came to my studio looking so healthy and athletic that I felt obliged to tell him so. “You must keep yourself fit”, I said. “Yes, I do” he replied. And to my surprise he took his shirt off and started flexing his muscles for me — that was the picture.”
Bob Hope, 1953
“I first met him in Berlin in 1953. This was the first Berlin Film Festival since the war, and Bob was performing in a huge theatre (with Norman Wisdom of all people).
Hope’s style of comedy was very slick with fast delivery, while Wisdom’s was a particularly visual kind of comedy with a great deal of slapstick. Hope went on, fired off his first gag, and was met with a stony silence from the Berliners. He was a little taken aback but continued nevertheless with the next joke. Again, no response. It was not a particularly long routine – only about five or ten minutes – but at the end of it he left the stage to what amounted to little more than a slow handclap.
When Norman Wisdom went on stage immediately afterwards, the reaction was somewhat different. His first gag was to trip over the drummer, which received a huge response from the audience present. Bob was at a loss to know why no one had responded to his routine. Of course, what he didn’t realise was that they simply could not understand a word he was saying.
The series of photographs I took of Bob are not just a series of random facial expressions, I shot these images as he was recounting his stage experience to me.”
Daniel Massey, 1988
“Dan’s first film performance was at the age of nine when he played the son of Noel Coward in ‘In Which We Serve’. Being Coward’s real-life godson gave Massey the intimate knowledge and observational detail he needed to play Coward himself in ‘Star!’, where his understated and intelligent performance earnt him a Golden Globe award and an Oscar nomination.
He also starred in numerous musicals on Broadway and classical theatre in the West End. I miss him and his wonderful sense of humour.”
David Niven, 1955
“On one occasion David arrived at my Chelsea studios just as I was finishing a modeling assignment. The circumstances put him in mind of his early days modeling in New York, and being a great raconteur he proceeded to tell those present all about it.
He, Erroll Flynn and two other out-of-work actors decided to form a modeling syndicate with a difference. They had noticed that on the few occasions that they had actually managed to find work, the photographers would exploit the session. A rapid change of scenery and few new props meant that a model could be used for several different jobs while receiving just a single fee.
The syndicate decided that each member would be restricted to modeling one body part only, a quarter each — legs, torso, hands, head. The first assignment came to Niven. What began as a straightforward trouser shot soon required him to be holding a drink. “Not my forte old chap”, he said, “I’m left-handed and feel rather awkward — but I do know just the man for the job.” Up popped Errol to hold the glass and hey presto, twice the fee.
It wasn’t long before their ploy was discovered, but it was fun while it lasted.
I was very proud indeed, in 1986, when this portrait of David Niven was selected to be featured on British Royal Mail stamp (alongside other photographer's portraits of Peter Sellers, Vivien Leigh, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock).”
Jack Hawkins, 1953
“I have met a number of very special individuals during my career and Jack Hawkins is certainly one who fits into that category.
During WW2, Jack had been a Colonel in India taking charge of ENSA, the entertainment wing of the British armed forces. Upon his return to England after the war, he very rapidly earned a reputation within the industry and by the fifties, was a top box office star.
He brought dignity and intelligence to all of his roles and was ideally cast as an heroic officer in a number of naval and military films, particularly as Captain Ericson in ‘The Cruel Sea’.
He enjoyed a successful career on both sides of the Atlantic and it was a credit to his character that he continued to act after undergoing an operation for cancer of the larynx. His voice was destroyed, but he mimed dialogue that was overdubbed in post-production.”
Sir John Mills, 1953
“Sir John Mills — quite simply, one of the UK's greatest ever actors — died in April 2005.
He really was one of the most significant of all British film stars, with a sixty-year career which encompassed well over 100 films, as well as a great number of appearances on television and in the theatre.
He was engaging and chirpy in the many films he completed before the outbreak of the Second World War but - just as it did for so many in the film industry - war changed everything for him. Mills moved on to playing a number of military parts; his heroes were honest, decent, brave and tough under pressure.
His ‘Pip’ in ‘Great Expectations’ was definitive, but it was for playing a mute in ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ that he finally received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
His passing is a sad loss; this wonderful actor will be missed by all.”
Kenneth More, 1952
“This most likeable leading man of the stage and screen in the fifties, will be forever remembered as a gentle Englishman whose very appearance lent integrity to a film - whether in the pure comedy of ‘Genevieve’, or a nautical role in ‘A Night To Remember’.
All attempts to internationalise him failed, as More was simply too British. This is one of the many portraits I did of him during the making of ‘Reach For The Sky’, the biographical story of Douglas Bader.”
Patrick McGoohan & Melina Mecouri, 1957
“Patrick McGoohan is a strange mixture of charm and aloofness, rebel actor and cult hero. His allegorical TV series ‘The Prisoner’ gave sixties audiences teasing games and endless puzzles, and still commands a devoted following today. As a matter of fact, McGoohan was not only the star of 'The Prisoner', he also directed, produced, and wrote many of the episodes — sometimes taking a pseudonym to reduce the sheer number of credits to his name.
In films his intensity has been used to advantage in a number of roles, and he remains a very versatile actor, making a notable appearance as King Edward 1 in Mel Gibson's ‘Braveheart’.
McGoohan’s one stipulation on both the big and small screen was that he would never allow himself to photographed kissing his co-stars, out of respect for his wife. The portrait of him with Melina Mercouri is therefore appropriately chaste.
Melina Mercouri is an equally interesting individual. She, went on to become a member of the Greek Parliament even achieving senior cabinet positions. Her greatest political dream remains the return the Elgin Marbles to Greece.”
Paul Scofield, 1959
“I found this most distinguished man to be unassuming, introspective and a very private person for whom I had the greatest respect. I’m sure these characteristics contribute to the matchless depth he has achieved in all his roles. He is, perhaps, most famous for his stage and screen portrayal of Sir Thomas More in ‘A Man For All Seasons’.
He was recently honoured by his peers at the Royal Shakespeare Company. They voted that he had given the greatest ever performance in a Shakespeare play for his legendary portrayal of King Lear at Stratford in 1962. And I believe he has gracefully turned down a knighthood three times on account of not wanting to be called ‘Sir Paul’, which is testament to his humility.
Upon reflection, I am pleased that I have captured an essence of his dignity in this particular portrait.”
Peter Finch, 1955
“Finch, a hard drinking hell-raiser, was one of the most attractive actors in British cinema, not to mention one of the finest actors of his generation. He gave a number of superb performances, and accumulated the awards and nominations to match. He was the first actor to win a posthumous Oscar for his role in Network.
He is captured here with a matinee-idol moustache, looking quite reflective. I cannot remember what the typewriter and spectacles are doing in the picture – the cigarette and glass are far more appropriate!”
Rod Steiger, 1951
“With many of the great actors in this book, one is naturally inclined to first recall the films they starred in and the basis for their enduring reputations.
With Rod Steiger, my recollection is rather more left field. He took me aback on the day he came to my studio, bursting in wearing a bright red shirt exclaiming, “My psychiatrist has instructed me to behave just as I feel!” Once this news had been delivered he proceeded to stand on his head.
Fascinated by this actor’s complex personality, I waited patiently until it seemed appropriate to intervene, and said, “Rod, I don’t suppose we could get on with the shoot. I’ll join you upside down later.” He agreed immediately and was actually a most responsive sitter.”
Robert Newton, 1953
“For many, Robert Newton has one of those faces that are instantly recognisable. However, it's also a face that most can never put a name to.
Personally I like to think that this because Robert is always so perfect in every role he plays, that one simply remembers the character and not the actor playing him.
I remember that when Robert Newton was told he was going to have his portrait taken, he refused point blank and I was asked to go and talk to him.
I found him in the bar at Pinewood, large Scotch in one hand and script in the other. I didn’t drink a lot, but this was one occasion where I thought it would be for the best if I did. ‘I know you don’t like to be in front of a still camera, but I’ll make this as pleasant as I can’, I told him. ‘No Cornel’, he said. ‘I will only consent to be photographed if you read this script with me, as Trilby to my Svengali’.
‘But I’m not an actor, I’m a photographer’, I replied. ‘There’s always a
first time’, he said in turn.
What could I do? Into the studio we went. I was desperately trying to
concentrate on taking the photograph and having to read at the same time was just too much for me. Eventually I told him that it was impossible to continue. And he replied, ‘Well, I agree with you. I’ll stick to acting, Corn, and you take the photo’.
That’s all I got – one photograph.”
“Stewart Granger was originally named James Stewart, but had to change his name to avoid confusion with the other well known Hollywood actor of the time.
I had worked with Jimmy, as we called him at that time, on a number of films and whilst there had been moments of excitement or tension, these were nothing compared to what we were about to witness.
On the set of his latest film, it was all too obvious that feelings between Jimmy and his male co-star were running high. Neither of them liked each other and a show-down was inevitable. The crunch came during a sword fight sequence. Rehearsals were finished and practice foils were replaced with the real thing. Almost immediately, it was obvious that all of the rehearsed marks were being ignored. The sequence was timed for two minutes but when the director called “Cut!”, he was completely ignored. The two actors were totally oblivious to everything and everyone and were fighting from end of the set to the other, knocking over sets and smashing props in their wake. The fight had been going on for five minutes and the director was by now a worried man. If either actor was seriously injured, it would effect the entire film.
The finish was contrary to most movies, in which the star always wins. Jimmy received a nasty cut on his arm and only then did they stop. Afterwards, they simply shook hands and thereafter became good friends.”
Trevor Howard, 1950
“Trevor Howard was a genuinely fascinating character and included me in his peculiar indulgences on more than one occasion.
Whilst I was working with him in North Africa, he asked me to join him on an excursion to a Foreign Legionnaire’s fort in the little frequented outpost of Hammamet. He explained that this was where he wanted to build a villa for his eventual retirement, and that I was to assist him with the purchase of the plot. When we arrived, I soon realised that the villa was to be sited on an even less-frequented patch of desert! Nevertheless Trevor paid the required deposit: the princely sum of £25, and my role as a witness to the signing of the contract was soon fulfilled.
Years later, in the early sixties, I saw him again in Rome and enquired as to whether he had yet built his villa. “I’ve lost the damned contract and have no intention of retiring!” was his not altogether untypical reply.
Trevor starred in many films and his legacy — which includes such timeless classic as 'The Way Ahead', 'Brief Encounter', 'The Third Man', 'Sons & Lovers', 'Mutiny On The Bounty', 'Von Ryan's Express', 'Battle Of Britain' and 'Ryan's Daughter' — is the epitome of a great British acting career.”
Sir Albert Finney, 1996
“Sir Albert Finney was never very encouraging towards photographers and was regarded as a virtual recluse. When I got in touch with him and asked if I could photograph him, I was amazed when he agreed.
When I asked him why, his response was touching. “The only reason I will be allowing you to photograph me is that fifty years ago, you nominated me as one of five ‘future stars’ in an industry poll.”
I could not remember the occasion very well, and it was a huge complement that he had recalled it himself fifty years on.”
Sir Alec Guinness, 1954
“Sir Alec was well known for his almost chameleon-like ability to play an amazingly huge range of characters. No where was this adaptability more evident than in the Ealing comedy “Kind Hearts And Coronets”, where he played eight different character parts.
His other roles are too numerous to mention, but his Herbert Pocket opposite John Mills’ Pip in ‘Great Expectations’ was particularly memorable, and of course his Colonel Bogey in ‘The Bridge On The River Kwai’ is ranked as one of the finest performances of all time. Of course, his best known - and most lucrative - role probably came in ‘Star Wars’. Although Sir Alec is reputed to have hated working on it and would throw all related fan mail out without it being opened.
Many ‘Star Wars’ fans would not recognise him as a debonnair leading man, but my portrait of him shot for the 1954 romantic comedy “To Paris With Love” shows him in just that guise.”
Filmmakers & Technical
Newsreel Cameramen, 1952
“The British producer Castleton Knight could be regarded as the Cecil B. DeMille of newsreel. One day in 1952 he asked if I would photograph the team of cameramen assembled to cover the Derby. The group (including such companies as Gaumont-British News, Paramount and British Movietone) all met at dawn on the day of the big race. I took this now-historic picture — a document of a splendid breed of news coverage men who were soon to be replaced by television.
It is a picture that I view with great fondness.”
Anthony Asquith, 1951
“Anthony Asquith was, in my opinion, one of the greatest talents of early British cinema. It's fair to say, that my first sighting of him had a profound effect on me and on my future career.
In the early 30s, my brother, who was working in the film industry, took me on a brief visit to the studios. It was here that I caught sight of the young Asquith accompanied by the movie star Gloria Swanson, who was then working on the only film she ever made in this country.
The next opportunity I had to meet Anthony Asquith was some 20 years later when he was directing ‘The Browning Version’ and he kindly agreed to come to my studio for this study.”
David Lean, 1985
“Despite being brought up as a Quaker who was not allowed to visit the cinema, David Lean went on to become one of the great directors of the 20th Century.
His mastery of terror and tension, and his ability to draw the very best out of his entire cast, were both brilliantly realised in ‘Great Expectations’, a film that influences directors as much today as it did on its release. His interest in the epic and heroic also gave us two of the finest celebrations of English manhood ever filmed: ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’ and ‘Bridge On The River Kwai’.
“This formal portrait was taken during the period when David was busy leading the vanguard of the British invasion of Hollywood with films such as ‘Chariots Of Fire’ and ‘The Killing Fields’.
The son of a respected Fleet Street photographer, David always showed a keen interest in photography and even once acted as David Bailey’s agent.
His company, Enigma Films, played a key role in encouraging young directors to make their mark in the industry, as well as backing some of the most critically acclaimed films of the eighties and nineties.
After spending a turbulent year as head of Columbia Pictures in 1986, he returned to the UK where he remains a force to be reckoned with — although nowadays, he is more likely to focus his wisdom in the House Of Lords, or on behalf of UNICEF, rather than towards the cinema screen where his reputation was so deservedly won.
I have great affection for David and think him the father of a fine body of work. He was good enough to write the Foreword for my first book almost twenty years ago and has been equally generous when asked to perform the same favour this time around.”
Federico Fellini, 1958
“During the filming of ‘81⁄2’ at Cinnecitta studios in Rome, I was amazed to see Fellini cracking a huge 15ft whip whilst directing his cast.
Fellini had run away from boarding school in his youth, joined the circus and worked as a clown. With his whip I felt that he looked for all the world like a circus trainer. His experiences in the ring clearly had a marked
affect on him; many of his films had an aura of the circus about them.
He had a bombastic, short-tempered personality when shooting - and he made no attempt to hide this side of himself when cameras were on him.
Here the ringmaster glares away from my untamed lens.”
Jack Cardiff, 1996
“Jack is one of the few figures in the British film industry to whom the term 'legendary' genuinely does apply.
He is admired by the likes of Martin Scorsese. He worked with all of the great icons of the movies; Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and made films which will endure as long as the medium itself.
He was the first in the UK to work with Technicolour and was a great innovator. While on the set of The Red Shoes, I recall him strapping film cameras to boom arms with huge elastic bands and allowing the camera to swoop and sway across the set as the actors and dancers performed their roles.
There is a common bond of respect between cine-photographer and photographer, and Jack Cardiff has always been at the top of my list. And not just for all for his inspirational work on ‘The Red Shoes’, which I was fortunate enough to have the privilege to record.
His brilliant career has encompassed many classic films including 'A Matter Of Life And death', ‘Black Narcissus’ and ‘The African Queen’. He has achieved success as a director too, with both classic movies (‘Sons and Lovers’ in particular) and cult movies such as Girl On A Motorcycle’ with Marianne Faithfull.
Above all, he is a friend whom I greatly respect and admire.”
John Boorman, 1986
“Having begun his apprenticeship at the BBC and rising through the ranks to become head of the Bristol-based Documentary Unit, John Boorman’s early work showed touches of the distinct personality that was to be a characteristic of his later films.
He went to Hollywood to direct Lee Marvin in the taut thriller ‘Point Blank’, following that up with the well-received ‘Hell In The Pacific’.
After a brief sojourn in the UK, Boorman again returned to America to make ‘Deliverence’. As with his previous US work, this was a film in which his outsider’s view was to find a strange and alienating perspective on issues or places that more often remain within the realm of the ordinary.”
John Huston, 1986
“In many ways, it is unfortunate that I am forced to recall John Huston in his final years. He was so ill that he couldn’t get about without a wheelchair and oxygen apparatus. It was in this most difficult period that I
was given the time to take some of the last photographs of him. Looking at his warm eyes, I am reminded of his reputation as a great practical joker.
A case in point occurred during the shooting of Moulin Rouge, when a visiting American photographer subjected actress Jill Bennett to an unwelcome advance. Huston, on hearing of the incident, devised a plot to cut the man down to size. Procuring a piece of Royal Household stationery, he carefully wrote a request for the American to photograph the Royal Family. The man eagerly made the journey to Buckingham Palace — only to find no record of any appointment. Baffled, he returned to the studio, where he was informed that John was ill and wanted him to direct. Such was the man’s ego that he sat in John’s chair and took on all of his characteristics. Behind the backdrop, Huston could not sustain further silence and broke cover with a burst of laughter. The humiliation was too much for the man who stormed off shouting “you will be hearing from my lawyer!” Needless to say, no writ arrived.”
John Schlesinger, 1985
“Beginning his directorial career at the BBC, Schlesinger made a documentary about Waterloo Station for British Transport Films, and on the strength of it was chosen to direct his first feature; ‘A Kind Of Loving’, a kitchen-sink drama starring Alan Bates. Julie Christie was given her first starring role in Schlesinger’s follow-up, Billy Liar, and she was to appear in two further Schlesinger films, including ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’, which at the time of its release, was not regarded as the classic it is accepted to be today.
A move to America enabled Schlesinger to realise his potential on the global stage. He was at the height og his powers directing ‘Midnight Cowboy’, for which he won the Best Director Oscar, the film itself winning Best Picture.”
Lewis Gilbert, 1963
“Film director Lewis Gilbert commenced his career making documentaries for the RAF whilst serving with the US Air Corps Film Unit during World War Two.
By the age of 36, he was one of the youngest of Britain’s top-flight directors. His early training had clearly influenced his later work and he had already established an impressive reputation with a series of popular war films including ‘The Sea Shall Not Have Them’,
Lewis went on to direct Virginia McKenna in ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ and later, one of the seminal films of the sixties, ‘Alfie’ (a scandalous film
at the time!), which helped to establish the career of Michael Caine.
His aim: ‘To present life as it is, not as romantics imagine it to be.’
Lewis Gilbert also directed three Bond movies.”
Lord Grade, 1996
“Lord Grade had a huge influence in shaping the British television and film industries, and as the founder of ATV it was he who gave the green light for some of the most fondly remembered television shows of all time. Programmes such as ‘The Saint’, ‘Danger Man’, ‘The Champions’, ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’ and ‘The Prisoner’. Many of which are still in constant rotation today today.
Lord Grade believed that it was necessary to invest in quality, and would spend £40,000 producing just one hour of television - an astronomic sum in its day.
His business acumen was essential for guaranteeing the fate of his Productions. He was amongst the first to sign overseas sales deals for his productions before they even went in front of the cameras. “No one but a fool makes television for the British market alone,” he said. “Without the guarantee of an American outlet he will lose our shirt.”
Nic Roeg, 1987
“At his best, Nic Roeg has been one of Britain’s most adventurous and inspirational directors, creating canvases of light and shade that take audiences through shattered fragments of time and space into the darker places within themselves.
It was as a great cinematographer that he came to the public’s attention, photographing films like ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘Petulia’. After being fired from David Lean’s ‘Dr Zhivago’ for telling Lean where he could stick his camera, Roeg turned his own hand to directing, making sensational and hallucinatory movies like ‘Performance’, in conjunction with Donald Cammell and starring Mick Jagger; ‘Walkabout’ with Jenny Agutter; and his masterpiece, the fantastical ‘Don’t Look Now’ with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.
“My first meeting with Michael Powell was very casual, and over drinks at his house suggested that I do some photographs on the set of The Red Shoes. Michael had been a stills photographer and he believed that using a plate camera had taught him to observe detail and composition, which served him well on his transition to film directing.
Micky, Emeric and I soon became close. It was Emeric who was the storyteller, though to listen to him translating his thoughts from Hungarian to English required absolute concentration. The pleasure of one of his stories has remained with me over the years.
As a protégé of Alexander Korda, he was asked to amend the script of an espionage thriller, which Korda felt contained the perfect role for Conrad Veidt. Despite having the most persuasive personality, Korda could not entice Veidt on board. Upon reading the script, Emeric soon spotted Veidt’s uneasiness: the lead part of ‘The Spy In Black’ was to be played by a woman. The script, duly altered, was passed back to Veidt, who immediately agreed to star in the film.
In recent years, both Powell's and Emeric Pressburger's reputations have been restored to their rightful place and their films increasingly appreciated for their excellence, their influence and their often highly personal vision. Powell and Pressburger were actually very different individuals. However, the films they made together indicate that a common voice certainly did exist and it was most vocal within their wonderful films.”
Richard Attenborough, 1982
“Richard Attenborough made a huge impression on audiences with his portrayal of a naïve and violent thug in the film version of Graham Greene’s ‘Brighton Rock’. But he wanted to put his talents to work on the other side of the camera.
I have known Dickie as an actor, a producer and a director for a very long time. He has the patience and durability of a hardened professional, and has survived to establish himself as the ‘Head Boy’ of British films.
His contribution to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has seen that organisation's profile increase to the point where it is now able to boast one of the world's major film awards events.
When I photographed him he was in excellent spirits as he had just secured the necessary finance to make the film ‘Gandhi’, which had been his dream project for over twenty years. The film required all his strength and integrity to bring to the screen, and its success with audiences, critics and the various awards ceremonies, all testify to the clarity of his vision.
Lord Attenborough remains an inspiration, and the perfect example, for any who aspire to excellence in this industry.”
Ridley Scott, 1985
“Ridley Scott (and his brother Tony) are today pre-eminent forces within the movie industry — Ridley especially. His huge productions — including the multi-Oscar winning Gladiator — would test any director working in the movies today. His ability to create on screen excitement is second to none and can be seen even in his earliest work.
Ridley Scott emerged from a career directing commercials – something he still returns to from time to time today – to make such visually stunning, critically acclaimed and crowd-pleasing movies as 'The Duellists', ‘Alien’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Thelma and Louise’ and ‘Black Hawk Down’.
...all films joined by the single thread of outsiders journeying through worlds that are not their own.”
Roland JoffÉ, 1985
“Roland Joffé was a veteran of British theatre and television who made a remarkable journey from directing episodes of ‘Coronation Street’ to making multi-million pound films - all within the space of a few months.
His feature debut, ‘The Killing Fields’, chronicled the lives of a reporter and his translator caught up in the terror imposed upon Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge. It garnered him a Best Director Oscar nomination. For Joffé it was the human drama which was the focus of the tale rather than the politics of war, and this perspective was something that would be echoed throughout his career.
Another visually stunning film followed a couple of years later in the shape
of ‘The Mission’ - as before, made with David Puttnam - and it is this tale of a Jesuit mission in the South American rainforest that it was my pleasure to record.”
Steven Spielberg, 1998
“Steven Spielberg is subject that I had been trying to get in front of my lens for years. Suddenly I had the ‘OK’ from DreamWorks and was now waiting for a date to be arranged.
I was going to visit my son in California for a holiday at about the same time, when I heard over the airport tannoy, “Would Cornel Lucas please report to Information.” Imagine my surprise to be transferred to Spielberg’s Press Secretary. “Are you able to photograph Mr. Spielberg at 9am on Monday morning?” she said. Not wanting to miss this chance, I agreed, despite privately being concerned because I had none of my equipment with me.
On arrival, it was agreed that my son would lend me his little 35mm and act as assistant for the shoot. We were met at the studio by the Press Secretary, who asked, “Where’s all your equipment?” “Here, on my shoulder”, I said, confidently. “Surely not – when Annie Leibowitz came she brought a van full!” We entered Spielberg’s office to be met by three of his assistants, to whom we gave reflectors to hold. When Spielberg himself arrived, he said “I’m glad you’ve kept them busy!” He was pleased with the pictures and still uses them I believe, to reply to his fan mail.”
Alan Parker, 1989
“Alan Parker had been a successful advertising copywriter before moving into directing.
Initially finding it hard to gain financial backing or interest in his scripts, which – the majority being based in working class London – were deemed ‘too parochial’, he wrote the movie ‘Bugsy Malone’ purely as an exercise in genre and pastiche. It was this film that was funded, green-lighted and which went on to become a huge success.
The call soon came from America and Parker left to direct dramas like ‘Midnight Express’ and ‘Angela’s Ashes’; the musicals ‘Fame’ and ‘Evita’; and even a comedy, ‘The Road To Wellville’. Indeed, Parker stated that his aim in movies was to make one film in each available genre.
Despite continuing to live in the UK, Parker has been an outspoken critic of
the independent and state-sponsored business of movie making this side of the pond, and the vast majority of his films have been backed by American money. Despite this, he accepted the post of Chairman of the UK Film Council in 1999.”
Scenic Artist, 1957
“The skill of the scenic artist is to make the backdrop appear real — so that the audience will not pay a great deal of attention to it, but simply accept it as fact. That is when he knows his job has been done well, and that is why it is so rarely appreciated that scenic artists have created the look of a film: the castle walls, the apartment, the street scene, were almost always created on set.
Moreover, many scene paintings also had to be rendered in perfect — and often false, collapsed — perspective. The paintings were calculated to exactly map to camera’s angle of view, as well as with real objects in the foreground, in order that all could blend together with absolute harmony.
Even today, I still don't know how they achieved such seemless results.
Sadly, with all of the technical advances offered by computer-generated special effects, this is becoming a dying art. This is my record of a scenic artist at work.”
South American Indians, 1985
“Even in Chelsea, it must have been an odd sight on a cold winter’s evening to witness these three South American Indians descending from a car to be photographed in my studio, carrying their weapons and painted as they are here. They had been flown to London to create publicity images for the film ‘The Mission’, which was shooting in Colombia at the time.
They had never before left their homeland and each had an unmistakable look of bewilderment on his face. The sun was replaced by the intense glare of the studio lights, and they were entranced as I showed them Polaroids that had been captured just a few seconds before. With the help of an interpreter from the Colombian embassy, I managed to complete this unusual study and was pleased to release them back to their comrades, the Waunana tribe, once more back in the rainforest.”
Stunt Artist, 1950
“Stunt artists risk life and limb performing action sequences that the stars are unable to expose themselves to — and which insurance companies would forbid them attempting even if they were so inclined.
They belong to a very special breed in that they almost always direct themselves and have contributed greatly to the excitement of cinema since its earliest days.
This was amongst my first pictures capturing the less seen side of film making — the other side of the movie lens.”
Artists & Writers
Jean Cocteau, 1959
“I was introduced to Jean Cocteau while staying at Somerset Maugham’s villa at St. Jean, Cap Ferrat.
I was lucky enough to photograph him at the villa. Afterwards, my wife and I spent the most wonderful day with him. He took us to his ceramics workshop at Villefranche sur Mer where we saw some of his pottery, and then to see his new open-air theatre project in Nice.”
Dame Barbara Hepworth, 1968
Dame Barbara Hepworth was one of the 20th Century’s greatest artists, and this image is one of the many I was privileged to take of her. I had a studio in Cornwall for nineteen years and was lucky enough to become a close friend during the time I spent there.
One of my many fond memories was of Dame Barbara’s dispute with Sir Henry Moore regarding who discovered ‘the hole’ in sculpture – fitting perhaps, that this particular portrait shows her smiling through one.”
Bill Brandt, 1982
“My association with Bill Brandt began partly because we lived in the same district of London. He had admired the portrayal of beauty, femininity and glamour within my images, while I admired his for their caustic, stark qualities.
He would never retouch his images, while I would almost always do so.
After he and his wife had sat for me, I showed him unretouched prints. I was pretty sure that these would appeal to his principles of photography — and as it happened, the images were better in this original state. To my astinishment, he asked me to retouch them. He was such a strong advocate of showing life as it was, undoctored, that I couldn’t believe he wanted me to manipulate an image of himself in this way.
“We were visiting Somerset Maugham’s villa, ‘Mauresque’, in St Jean Cap Ferrat on the French Riviera when this photograph was taken.
I was keen to question him about his writing process. His approach was to spend a great deal of time on the concentrated observation of others and he then would create composites of his subjects various character traits and build his stories around them. The morning was his writing time, when he would not tolerate any interruption and would remain incommunicado until late afternoon.
While we were there Maugham kindly introduced my wife Susan and I to Jean Cocteau.”
Dame Margot Fonteyn, 1954
“It was a great honour for me to photograph the ballerina against whom all others are measured.
I had explored some of the complexities of photographing movement, and ballet in particular, during my work on The Red Shoes. So when I was invited to photograph three ballets which were being filmed by the highly innovative director Paul Czinner and which were being choreographed by Frederick Ashton, I was tremendously excited.
The resulting images are very pleasing and remain favourite photographs within my own portfolio. Whilst I shot a number of images 'live', on 35mm Kodachrome, it surprises many to discover that I did indeed shoot all of the portraits of Dame Margot Fonteyn on my 10"x8" plate camera.”
The Red Shoes, 1947
“When this image was taken, it was accepted practise for a stills photographer to use a large plate camera. Someone would shout, “Pause for stills!” and the actors would recreate their poses from the previous scene. It was impossible to take photographs while actors were filming because, apart from anything else, the microphones would catch the sound of the shutter.
But for The Red Shoes I wanted to capture the dance itself, and I knew that a plate camera would be a wholly impractical tool for the job. Moreover, it was obvious that should I request that Moira Shearer and Robert Helpmann strike a static pose and then hold it for me, it simply would not convey the athleticism and movement that I wanted to capture. So I persuaded Micky Powell to let me use a 35mm camera to photograph these scenes. It is to his credit that he agreed, because at the time it was a very unusual format to use.
In reality, the soundtrack of the film was playing so loudly that no one could hear me clicking away on my little camera.
Michael Powell's and Jack Cardiff's work on The Red Shoes was considered by many in the industry to be truly groundbreaking, but the film was poorly served by the Rank Organisation in the UK. It's pleasing indeed that the film has, across the years, gained the reputation that many of us felt that it deserved at the time - and nowadays regularly features at the head of many critic's and movie fan's 'best of all time' lists.”