Thursday 22 September 2016

Journey to Pordenone 2016 - Barrie Pattison reports from his first stopover in London

The idiot who said if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger, must have been thinking of this trip.

Maurice Elvey
Highlight of the London leg was the BFI mediatheque, one of the few services they offer for free, an eccentric to say the least collection probably composed on the basis of knowing how to get the rights for nothing. They have a couple of Maurice Elveys more interesting silents - the Matheson Lang version of The Wandering Jew with the then Mrs. Elvey, Isabel Elsom (the aunt from the Mexican Spitfire series) complete with Mantilla and castanets doing the part Peggy Ashcroft handles in the sound version, and his Bleak House with Constance Collier -  both in decent copies.

Hitchcock is every where of course. (They are doing a season of his silents in a rue des Ecoles commercial picture house. Match that locally Herald guy!) The mediatheque has a reel of what appears to be his first known job as director, a two reeler with Seymour Hicks and Ellaline Terriss called Always Tell your Wife of which the second reel is lost. The theory is that all the Hitch touches are in that lost reel because there is nothing in the material on show to suggest his presence, just unfunny kick in the pants comedy of marital infidelity played in drab studio interiors.

Ten Bob in Winter, Lloyd Reckord,right
However the most intriguing aspect of the BFI operation is that they have a better collection of my English work than I do. Both the Lloyd Reckord films I worked on, Ten Bob in Winter and  Dream A 40 are on offer and there I am talking to Bram Stoker's nephew for his Dracula documentary. However my finest performance must be the NFT session where, with a full head of hair, I can be seen (forty five years ago!) asking the great man Alfred himself a question.

Watching that after this time is a curious experience.

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