Frears, Stephen (5 of 11). The legacy of the English Stage Company.
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2008-08-27, 2008-09-02, 2008-09-30, 2008-10-14, 2008-11-10, 2009-02-20, 2009-04-07
Frears, Stephen, 1941- (speaker, male)
Devine, Harriet (speaker, female)
Part 5: Comments on [Gavin Lambert]. Sam’s mental condition: wise but uneducated; his attendance on acting classes; his mobility; his attempt to write a book, now stopped; his organisations of his life; SF’s breakfast with him twice a week; their conversations; Sam’s uncanny wisdom; his tenderness. MKW’s life: editor and owner of ‘London Review of Books’; her empire; her life and SF’s overwhelmed by Sam. SF’s relationship with MKW: not speaking at present but generally good; MKW’s upset when AF had both children. Deterioration of SF’s first marriage, initially happy; SF’s inability to deal with periods of unemployment; during marriage, still in chrysalis. Leaving MKW during second pregnancy; her reaction. SF’s meeting with AF: casting her in a film [actually TV play], ‘Match of the Day’. AF a dropout, refusing to be a painter; her family, the Rothensteins, distinguished in the art world; AF in rebellion. ‘Match of the Day’ written by Neville Smith [NS], writer of ‘Gumshoe’. SF’s artistic education in theatre, separate from developments in film world. Importance of meeting with NS in bringing SF into world of his own generation, his peers. AF much more part of new generation of 1960s, unlike RCT, which was of 1950s; SF’s need to reject world of 1950s. 1972, SF’s first film for BBC: Alan Bennett [AB]’s first film, ‘A Day Out’ about a cycling club. AB sent to Huw Weldon, head of BBC, eventually passed to SF after Bennett’s row with Patrick Garland on another project. BBC hired SF after rave reviews of ‘Gumshoe’. 1975, SF did AB’s ‘Sunset Across the Bay’ for BBC, and several other projects; SF still free-lance, but well paid by BBC [15.59]. Directing children’s films for Yorkshire TV; studio in old mackintosh factory; police series, Parkins Patch; meeting with NS, an actor and writer. NS became a friend of SF; wrote ‘Gumshoe’; taking screenplay to Albert Finney, who agreed to be in it and produce it with his own film company. Three modern people on crew: SF, NS and Chris Menges, everyone else from old school of film-making; result, a schizophrenic film. SF completely out of his depth, but had some intuitive sense; was looked after by others on crew; SF not fully developed until his 40s. Working with Chris Menges: a question to come back to. ‘Gumshoe’ got into mess at editing stage; Karel Reicz comments; old editor brought in to sort it out. Wild critical acclaim for film; a wonderful script, a brilliant idea; influenced by French cinema; NS’s account of himself as a modern man; AF’s inability to do rock and roll jokes.
Life story interview with Stephen Frears, film and television director.