Jean Luc Godard, the French director, who pretty well originated the Nouvelle Vague, was once asked if he agreed that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. “yes”, he agreed. “But not necessarily in that order.”
I meat Jean Luc a couple of times, once when he was shooting Le Meprise in the south of France and again when his lovely wife, Anna Karina, was playing the femme fatale in a Bob Monkhouse and Alfred Marks comedy at Elstree. It was directed by my dear friend and early tutor Bob Asher. It was in one of my fallow periods. I had left Lawrence of Arabia carrying a huge black mark for not falling in love with a very, very long stint in the desert and had scrambled into a job as Bob’s AD.
Bob would have made a wonderful noire director in the Hollywood tradition of Robert Siodomak or Fritz Lang but somehow he got into comedies with several Norman Wisdom films and one or two, I think, with Eric Morcambe and Ernie Wise.
Anyway, a beginning, a middle and an end.It works!. Some modern producers are addicted to the Jean Luc principle but dont always know how to handle it. A wonderful noir movie was recently stretched into umpteen episodes. It was so convoluted that I reached for the channel hopper after a couple of tries. I noticed that an excellent critic in one of the Sundays seemed to agree with me that it was pretty exasperating.
How did Anna Karina after starring in The Magus and several of Jean Luc’s own movies, find herself in a British B movie?. I think it was the work of Dennis Selinger, Michael Caine’s long time agent. A friend to many of us over the years he was adept at placing European stars like Brigitte Bardot for the odd stint across the Channel.
Well who’d have thought it – I’ve just turned 87 years young and blow me down, I’ve become a published author – watch this video to find out how !!
My book has been on my own slush pile for more years than I can remember and then I met my literary agent Tom Evans at a wedding only last June and look what’s just happened – it’s only available on Amazon and for these new Kindley gadgets I can’t be doing with – give me a book any day !!!
Get it on Amazon
Get it for the Kindle
Penny’s Artwork !!
. . . and just as it that wasn’t enough for an octogenarian, my clever agent has arranged for all the artwork from the book, skillfully crafted by my beautiful wife, Penny, to be available online too !!
I’ve just spent a wonderful day with my literary agent, Tom Evans, who also turns out to be an amazing whizz at all things technical.
I was also accompanied by my wonderful illustrator and artist, PM Rose, and the three of us constructed my new book right in front of my eyes on Tom’s super duper big screen. Tom tells me this is called the Preflight phase but boy do I feel I am taking off already.
Just the Acknowledgements to write now, one last proof read and three more pictures just commissioned and it’s off to the printers and published in time for Christmas !!
I need to pinch myself and reflect on the journey :
- met Tom in June
- submitted proposal to publisher in July
- signed contracts in August
- proof read back from the meticulous Gerry Hyde in extra quick time in August
- book off for cover design in September
- publishing October/November
- who says it’s hard to write a book and get published nowadays?
The best script that ever came my way was one I was to direct for THE AVENGERS.
It was called THE HOUR THAT NEVER WAS written by Roger Marshall. THE HOUR and another of his scripts DIAL A DEADLY NUMBER, directed by Don Leaver, have been top of the Fan Club lists ever since.
Both shows were featured recently at a Fan Club reunion at Chichester University. I hear that THE HOUR is playing at the Barbican on November 30th, and I hope to be there!.
Roger told me he got the idea from the strange true story of The Marie Celeste, the deserted yacht found drifting in the Pacific with very recent signs of life but no one aboard….
In the show, Patrick McNee, and Diana Rigg go to an airfield for a cocktail party because the place is due to be mothballed. They find it deserted. The jukebox and the pinball machine are still playing, cigarettes are burning in the ashtrays and the froth is still on the beer, but no people.
The plot was about a devious double agent doubling (!) as a dentist who had put the entire unit to sleep, in order to brainwash them by broadcasting the high pitch of his dentist drill over the camp loud speaker system.
We shot most of it at Bovingdon Aerodrome, the place was littered with visuals for me to pick off. The day after it aired I got an offer from a New York producer who had watched it in his suite at the Savoy and I got a retaining contract from my old angel Sidney Box. I turned down the New York script, but happily signed up again with Sidney.
Here’s first part of the show in … see the rest on YouTube here
Plus it was blessed some very good directors and some good writers and the producer, But most of all I think it was down rimy old bete noir Raymond Menmuir, the toughest task-master I ever encountered – with the possible exception of Otto Preminger – who I assisted on a couple of big movies in my AD days!.
Ray had the most amazing ability to rev the show into high-speed mayhem in the finishing stages. He was brilliant in the cutting room, and a shrewd picker of directors.
We hit a problem with one episode. Ray had revved up the action so much that we were ten to twelve minutes short. He brooded for a while before consigning me to the cutting room with orders not to come out until I had dreamt up a sub-plot … and one that would cost buttons to shoot!.
I think I made the husband of one of the characters a lorry driver smuggling cigarettes or something along those lines. The second unit director was pleased to have some drama to get at instead of endless shots of squad cars hurtling around corners.
THE PROFESSIONALS was a tough show. I remember a few sleepless nights, tossing around in bed mumbling “Bodie, Dodie, Cowley, Bowley, Doyley, Boyley.”
Yesterday was one of the most memorable and momentus days in my career – and as you can see from my Making Stories blogs, there have been a few.
My literary agent, Tom Evans aka the Bookwright, introduced me to to Steve Emecz, my new publisher.
Apart from a splendid lunch at ‘the Club’, we signed contracts and we are now one big step closer to my book being published this side of Christmas.
I found out even better news about Tom’s uncanny ability to find the most perfect publisher in MX Publishing – whose speciality is books on Sherlock Holmes. Steve’s been telling me how connected they are with all the Sherlock Holmes communities around the planet.
Am I doubly glad, I am getting the old grey matter around all this blogging and Twittering malarky …