Tuesday, 19 January 2010

TALKING PICTURES

It's not often one of my old programmes gets hauled out for repeat let alone gets an overhaul in the process, but a six-part series - David Puttnam's Century of Cinema, which Lord David and I co-presented in the closing days of 1999 - is about to begin a repeat airing on BBC Radio 2, starting tonight at 10:30 pm...

Click to enlarge

Produced by my good friend (and brilliant producer) Malcolm Prince, the programmes have been immodestly described as a landmark series and I think (also immodestly!) that that is what it was, with interviews and contributions from many of the most powerful and influential people in the movie industry, some of the most astute critics and commentators in the business as well as a pantheon of film gods and goddesses, among them silent movie star Anita Paige, Richard Attenborough, Margaret O'Brien, Angela Lansbury, Michael Caine, Julie Andrews, Robert Redford and, in the last interview before his death, Dirk Bogarde.

The sixth episode in the series will be a new programme in which David Puttnam and I will consider the changes and developments that have happened in cinema over the last decade.

The first part focuses on stars and star-power and, if you miss the transmission this evening, it can be heard again for seven days via the BBC iPlayer.

27 comments:

scb said...

This sounds wonderful! Thank you for alerting us to the series! (I also alerted a film-buff friend of mine, hope that's all right.)

SharonM said...

Looking forward to hearing it.

Phil said...

It's hard to believe that the movies are now one hundred and TEN years old, but it feels like a lot has changed these last ten years. I'm looking forward to hearing both the old and new material in this series.

(Already plugged on my own blog, by the way!)

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, folks. Hope people enjoy it. I always get nervy whenever I'm rash enough to blow my own trumpet!

The funniest thing was Andrew Collins previewing the series on Radio 2's Micheal Ball show yesterday, where he said that it was fascinating radio but ought to have been called SIBLEY'S Century of Cinema which I probably relished rather more than (if he heard it) Lord P!

Couldn't find the mention on your blog, PHIL, but what a blog!! I will be revisiting that many times to catch up with all those past posts and fascinating stories!

Phil said...

Brian, I wonder if you were going to a bookmarked version of my blog or something, because it's definitely there as the first item! Anyone else curious can get to it at www.bradburymedia.co.uk


reffir: to recommend a web page, in a Tommy Cooper voice.

Brian Sibley said...

PHIL - So I found by visiting your blog (where I left a 'Thank you'); but what is odd is when I click on 'Phil'; it sends me here.

Phil said...

Ooh, that's spooky. When I click on "Phil" it takes me to my Blogger profile.

The page you are being taken to is Ralph Senensky's blog (a wonderful blog by an old TV director, which I read regularly) - but how or why you are getting there by clicking on my name is deeply mysterious. Methinks there's a ghost in the machine!

Phil said...

Belay that - I think I have it figured out! On my Blogger profile, there is nothing showing up under "My Blogs", but I have Ralph Senensky's blog listed as "Blogs I follow". You must have clicked on that.

The mystery now is why it thinks I have no blogs of my own...I hope it's not an omen!

Brian Sibley said...

This is getting odder and odder... When I go to your blog via the link on my side-bar on the right it takes me, as it should, straight to Bradbury Media.

But, like you, when I then go onto your profile page no blogs are shown only the blog you follow which is Ralph Senensky's - the one I get by clicking on your name on comments; yet your blog is still there even though it's not listed...

SharonM said...

Just managed to listen to a little of the programme last night as it was coming to the end of the recording. It sounds fascinating.

And talking of fascinating, your voice sounded different - I wasn't sure it was you speaking at first.

Sheila said...

I heard to the programme in the car on the way back from Oxford last night - excellent listening. The beginning barrage of voices from films was fascinating - did you get to chose the clips? I was surprised how many I could identify (not being a film buff!).

I loved the interview with Anita Page. She must have been a fascinating person to meet. Obviously elderly, but still very full of her "star quality".

Great programme!

Phil said...

I THINK it's fixed now.

Brian Sibley said...

SHARON M - No, that was my radio voice! What is really fascinating is that the opening introductions and the closing credits (recorded a few weeks ago) sound pretty much the same as the voice that (ten years ago) recorded the rest of the programme. Maybe it's a bit like Dorian Gray: the voice stays young while the body degenerates into a wreck!


SHEILA - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! The brilliant opening montage is the work of my genius producer, Malcolm Prince, I merely provided some of the source material.

Anita Paige was fascinating but - as the interview didn't betray - she was pretty near to being ga-ga. I spent a lot of time having to remind her of the name of someone she kept calling "that tall actress" (Greta Garbo) and much of the rest of it repeating the fact that I wasn't in the US Navy with her late husband - Paige's that is, not Garbo's!


PHIL - It is!!

Sheila said...

Brian, What a shame you weren't in the US navy with Greta Garbo's husband - that would have made the interview even more fascinating!!

Brian Sibley said...

TRUE!!

SharonM said...

Ah, I see - your radio voice. Just like I try to have a telephone voice to avoid the distress of people who don't know me always calling me 'sir'.

I think the programme recorded ok on the DVD player, so I'm looking forward to a proper listen as soon as I find a window of opportunity (preferarbly before the next part goes out).

SharonM said...

Ah, I see - your radio voice. Just like I try to have a telephone voice to avoid the distress of people who don't know me always calling me 'sir'.

I think the programme recorded ok on the DVD player, so I'm looking forward to a proper listen as soon as I find a window of opportunity (preferarbly before the next part goes out).

Good Dog said...

That was brilliant! Good of the BBC to repeat it a decade on (especially since I missed the original broadcast), although I was disappointed that it wasn’t in 3D this time around.

That was a really fine selection of interviews and the comment, recounted by Lord Puttnam, from Ridley Scott when he was making The Duellists was priceless.

Anyway, I’m certainly looking forward to the remaining episodes.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, GD! From a man who knows about movies, I take that as a huge compliment.

By the way it was actually in 3D! Did you not pick up your free Radio Times 3D earplugs?

Good Dog said...

I know it’s heresy but I stopped with Radio Times ages back. I knew I was missing something.

I just listened to it again while I was cooking and then eating dinner. Shame on me but I’d never heard of Florence Lawrence. What a career she had! What a time it must have been there from the pre-war to post-war era.

It was great to hear about the studio commissary hierarchy and to be reminded that the Valley used to be filled with orange groves and actors’ ranches. I know we need progress because it makes a better life for us all, but....

Was it last year or the year before when none of the contestants on University Challenge could recognise a photograph of James Stewart? What a shame that there’s a generation that thinks blue aliens are just the bee’s knees but have probably never seen James Mason or Cary Grant or Spencer Tracy or any of the other Hollywood greats work their magic.

Lord Puttnam’s tribute to Robert Donat was perfect. If I was ever invited on Desert Island Discs my luxury would be being handcuffed to Madeleine Carroll.

Brian Sibley said...

D.I.D. never allow you to take anything HUMAN as a luxury and Madeleine Carroll would certainly fall into that category with or without the handcuffs.

I stopped taking Radio Times when radio billings got reduced to a brief, small-print footnote!

You'll find quite a bit about Florence Lawrence on Wikipedia, including the press ad that Carl Laemmle ran to deny the rumour that Miss L had been killed in a street-car accident - a rumour he had started! The film in which she starred (and was the first movie to feature the name of a performer) was The Broken Oath. Unfortunately, Laemmle's ad misspelled the title as The Broken BATH!

Andy J. Latham said...

Oooo I missed the first one. God bless the iPlayer!

Is this my first comment of 2010? If so, happy New Year to you Brian! If not, may it just continue to be happy :P

Good Dog said...

Damn, no Madeleine Carroll allowed. I suspect asking for just the handcuffs would send the wrong message.

What an astonishing career Florence Lawrence had, although such a tragic end. The Hollywood film industry was in its infancy and already it’s chewing people up and spitting them out.

Bless Roddy McDowall for putting a memorial marker on her unmarked grave.

Eudora said...

Good program Brian. I have finished listening to it and I enjoyed it very much.

About the silent movies...did you know that many actors of mute cinema stopped doing movies when the sonorous cinema came?, the producers thought that their voices were not good enough.

Brian Sibley said...

Thank you, EUDORA, glad you could hear it in Spain!

Yes, the fate of those silent stars who totally lost their appeal the moment they opened their mouths is one of the tragedies of cinema. It is made fun of in the 1952 musical Singin' in the Rain, but it must have been devastating for those who failed to make the transition to sound.

scb said...

I am so very glad I finally found an hour of uninterrupted time in which to listen to this first episode. It was absolutely brilliant! (Listened to it just in the nick of time, before this episode had to run down the flight of stairs to its coach and four, dropping its glass slipper along the way!)

In response to Good Dog, I want to make note of the fact that some of my young (mid twenties) online friends are absolutely enamoured of classic films, and practically every day they report on Twitter that they are watching another Cary Grant film, or Bette Davis, etc.

Thanks, Brian! Looking forward to the next part!

Brian Sibley said...

Thank you, SCB, glad you were able to hear it on-line and enjoyed it!

As I was saying to some friends the other night, contrary to what folk might expect, I earn nothing from such programme repeats (although the BBC are paying me to update the final programme in the series), however, I am thrilled that a piece of work from a decade ago can be, briefly, heard again and is being so appreciated!

I take heart, by the way, (and I'm sure GOOD DOG will, too,) to hear that there are youngsters who not only know who some of the great Hollywood legends were, but watch their movies. You've brightened my day!