Interviewee biographies and summaries Interviewee biographies and summaries

Interviews available (or about to be available) online are detailed below. To access the interviews select the link at the bottom of the page.

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Peggy Gick
(art director/production designer)
b.1911

Biography

Peggy Gick trained at the Architectural Association. She began working in British films as an assistant to Art Director Edward Carrick on Lorna Doone (1935). She worked on various features during the 1930s including The Amateur Gentleman (1936) and Midshipman Easy (1935) often as assistant to Carrick. During WW2, Gick did graphic work for the Ministry of Aircraft Production, and on The First of the Few (1942) before joining the Crown Film Unit, where she worked on designs for films such as Close Quarters and Western Approaches (1944). She was Art Director on many films made for the Children's Film Foundation during the 1960s, including The Magnificent 6 (1968) and then later Here Come the Double Deckers (1970) for television. Gick also worked on a number of post-war films, sometimes alongside her husband, the Art Director Scott MacGregor.

Summary

In this interview Peggy Gick talks to John Legard about her career as an Art Director. She talks in detail about the planning and design skills required for the job, and recalls the working practices of various colleagues including Peter Proud and Edward Carrick. She discusses the importance of advance planning, particularly for television work, and she recalls her husband's experience, particularly working for Hammer. Gick talks in detail about the production of films such as The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1959), Khartoum (1966), The Vengence of Fu Manchu (1967) and The Secret of My Success (1965), reflecting on the crucial relationships between the Art Director, the Director and the Producer.

 

Johnny Goodman
(Production manager/Producer)
15/10/1927

Biography

Johnny Goodman was born in 1927 in Walthamstow. He entered the film industry as a page boy at the Gaumont-British Studios at Lime Grove (Shepherd's Bush) at the age of 14. Working his way through various departments at Gaumont and Gainsborough, he ended at in the camera department at G-B Instructional working with Lewis Gilbert on documentary shorts such as Sailors Do Care (1944). When he was de-mobbed in 1951 he went briefly to America, but returned to work for Tempean Films with Monty Berman and Robert Baker. Goodman was production manager on several ‘B' movies of the 1950s, as well as The Armchair Detective (1952), The Treasure of Monte Cristo (1961) and What A Carve Up! (1962). During the 1960s he worked briefly for Film Contracts (a producer of advertising films) and then for Sydney Samuelson's film logistics firm ‘Sam Freight'. Goodman moved into television as an executive producer in the late 1960s and 1970s, working with Ward Thomas at Trident Films on programmes such as Robin Hood and The Four Feathers and later with Jeremy Isaacs and Verity Lambert at Euston Films, making (for Thames Television) such well known series as Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983), The Sweeney (1975-78), Charlie Muffin (1979) and Minder (1979-94). Later he worked for HTV. He came out of retirement to produce the Maureen Lipman series About Face (1989) and was also involved in the documentary series The Best of British (1987), as well as doing research work for Samuelson at the British Film Commission. Goodman has been closely involved with BAFTA throughout much of his career, and he held the post of Chairman for a period during the 1980s.

Summary

In this interview Johnny Goodman talks extensively to Alan Sapper about his career in film and television, remembering many colleagues and productions. He gives good impressions of the atmosphere at Shepherds Bush, at Tempean and of the difficulties and uncertainty of television work, particularly at an executive level.

 

Lord Lew Grade
(film/television producer)
25/12/1905 - 14/12/1998

Biography

To follow

Summary

In this interview, Lord Lew Grade talks to Alan Sapper about his career as a producer in the British film and television industry. After an early career as a dancer, Grade set up a theatrical agency in 1934. He talks about the growth of this business, and his move into commercial television during the 1950s. He briefly discusses the films and television productions he has been involved in making, including films such as The Eagle Has Landed (1976) and Raise the Titanic (1980). The main focus of this interview, however, is Grade's personal business style, his good relationship with the Trade Unions (including ACTT) and his thoughts on what kinds of qualities he looks for in good drama.

 

Leonard Harris
(camera operator)
19/5/1916 - 1995

Biography

Len Harris trained as a Cameraman in the British Kinematograph Society's course at the London Polytechnic, Regent Street, and then began at the Gaumont British Shepherd's Bush studios as a clapper-loader. He worked at Gaumont British on comedies starring Jack Hulbert and Will Hay, as well as serious dramas such as King of the Damned (1935). During the War, Harris served with the Army Kinematograph Service (AKS). He filmed material of the Normandy invasion later used in The True Glory (1945), and made some AKS documentary shorts. During the post-war period, he worked consistently as a camera operator, and occasionally as a cinematographer, primarily for Hammer Film Productions at Bray.

Summary

In this interview, Harris talks to Alan Lawson about his career, discussing working practises at Gaumont and Hammer (particularly with regard to budgeting), and technical issues - comparing cameras and back-projection techniques. He recalls the production of many films, including King of the Damned, The Astonished Heart (1949) and X the Unknown (1956). Among the many colleagues he recalls are cinematographers such as Jack Cox, Arthur Crabtree, Jack Asher, Bernard Knowles, Charles Van Enger, Philip Tannura, and directors such as William Beaudine, Tom Walls and Leslie Norman.

 

Mickey Hickey
(projectionist and sound recordist)
29/6/1914 -

1920-30s - West End Projectionist (discussion of early sound systems)
Late 1930s-40s - Paramount News
1940s - Army Kinematograph Service (AKS), Pinewood.
1940s-60s - Feature sound recordist, particularly at MGM British (Elstree). Also with David Lean, Kubrick and Hammer.

 

John Hogarth
(distributor)
2/1931 -

Biography

John Hogarth began his career as a film distributor at British Lion in 1946. Until his retirement in 1994 he worked for and founded a variety of distribution companies, including Crispin Film Distributors, London Independent Film Distributors, Hemdale, Hobo and Mayfair Distributors.

Summary

In this interview he talks to Rodney Giesler in detail about his early career as an office junior and later as a travelling film salesman for British Lion (in the Eastern Counties region). He discusses the culture of the company and the sorts of contracts and negotiations distributors' representatives had with cinemas, and the status of the independent British distributor compared to larger British and American rivals. He tells several anecdotes of his life as a travelling rep, selling British Lion films such as Private's Progress (1956) and They Who Dare (1953). Later he became the independent circuits manager at British Lion, and then after it became British Lion Columbia, he worked as a producers rep for Bryanston, ensuring correct treatment of films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). More briefly he discusses his career as an independent distributor in the 1970s and 80s, distributing films for producers such as Merchant Ivory. He recounts the changes he has witnessed in the industry, and provides interesting material about the financial side of the British film industry.

 

Pat Jackson
(film director)
25/3/1916 -
(copyright retained by the interviewee)

Biography

Pat Jackson entered the film industry as a documentary film maker, working at the GPO Film Unit (later the Crown Film Unit) from 1934. His most well known film is Western Approaches (1944). After an unhappy stint at MGM in California, he returned to Britain to direct documentary influenced features such as White Corridors (1951) as well as comedies such as What A Carve Up! (1961).

Summary

In this lengthy interview he talks to John Legard about his memories of the British documentary movement, the atmosphere and personalities of the GPO Film Unit and particularly the influence of Harry Watt and the idea of the story documentary on Jackson's own work. He recalls working on specific productions such as Night Mail (1936), The Saving of Bill Blewitt (1936), London Can Take It (1940) and Patent Ductus Arteriosus (1947). He gives a detailed account of the production difficulties on Western Approaches, and of his unhappy sojourn in California. There is a brief outline of his later career. This interview contains many fascinating and beautifully told anecdotes. Jackson recalls the many figures he has worked with, and discusses his ideas about documentary and the use of non-professional actors with great clarity and élan.

 

Joan Kemp Welch
(actress, stage director, television director)
23/9/1906-07/1999
1920s-40s - Stage Actress and Director
1950s-60s - Commercial Television Director (Associated Rediffusion)

 

John Krish
(documentary, feature and television director)
4/12/1923 -

Biography

John Krish was born in London in 1923. His father, a Russian émigré, was the founder of the New Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Krish was inspired to enter documentary film-making after having seen Night Mail (1936). He was accepted as a trainee by Ian Dalrymple at the Crown Film Unit. He worked as assistant on Target for Tonight (1941) and as a runner on The Pilot is Safe (1941). As an editor he worked on Ferry Pilot (1942) and Coastal Command (1942), and with Humphrey Jennings on films such as Listen to Britain (1942) and Fires Were Started (1943). Towards the end of the war, Krish worked as an editor at Merton Park with Cecil Musk and later with Richard Massingham on various documentary shorts and Ministry of Information trailers, including the ‘Food Flashes'. Titles discussed include Flying with Prudence (1946), This is China (1946), Health in Our Time (1948). After the war, Krish joined British Transport Films as a director, making films such as A Works Outing, Away for the Day, and most famously, The Elephant Will Never Forget (1953) about the end of the tram service in South London. Over this film, he fell out with Edgar Anstey and left British Transport Films. His first feature-length documentary Captured (1959), was made at World Wide for the British Army as a training film on how to withstand interrogation under torture. The film was subject to security classification and as a result was only seen within the Army. Krish went on to work for Leon Clore on films such as I Want to Go To School (1959) for the National Union of Teachers, and Return to Life (1960) about refugees for the World Refugee Year. Other documentary films discussed in detail in this interview include I Think They Call Him John (1964), about old age, Let My People Go (1961) about apartheid, Drive Carefully, Darling (1975), about road safety, and The Finishing Line (1977) a controversial film made for British Transport to discourage children from trespassing on railway lines.

Summary

In this interview, John Krish talks to Rodney Giesler about his career in the film industry. He is an extremely engaging interviewee and he gives very detailed recollections of the film units and personalities he worked with, including Humphrey Jennings, Cecil Musk, Edgar Anstey, Harry Watt, Leon Clore, Julian Wintle. He is particularly interesting on his philosophy of documentary film-making and the often difficult ethical implications of making good documentaries. Krish began making feature films with Unearthly Stranger (1963), and throughout the 1960s and 70s his documentaries were made alongside a string of feature films, as well as celebrated television series such as The Avengers (1961) and The Saint (1962). The feature films discussed at length here include The Wild Affair (1963) and Decline and Fall (1968). Krish found feature film-making more stressful than documentary film-making, and particularly did not relish the working relationship with various producers. However, the interview concentrates mainly on his documentary work.

NB The interview stops half way through, but arrangements have been made with Geisler and Krish to complete it.

 

Philip Leacock
(film and television director)
8/10/1917-14/7/90

Biography

Philip Leacock was born in London in 1917. He spent the early years of his life on the Canary Islands, before being sent to various boarding schools in England, including Bedales. At school he developed an interest in film, and soon after began to work for Harold Lowenstein on short documentaries such as Out To Play (1936) and Kew Gardens (1937). In 1938 he went to Spain working with Thorold Dickinson on two documentaries about the Spanish Civil War. During the war, Leacock joined the Army Kinematograph Service, making a range of documentaries, drama-documentaries and training films, including The New Lot - the inspiration for The Way Ahead (1944). After the war, Leacock worked at the Crown Film Unit, increasingly on drama documentaries such as Out of True (1951). He moved into feature film production, making The Brave Don't Cry (1952) for Group 3, and Appointment in London for Rank. Riders of the New Forest (1946) - a series of shorts for Gaumont-British Instructional initiated a habit of working with children, and many of Leacock's Rank films of the 50s feature children in central roles including The Kidnappers (1953), Escapade (1955), The Spanish Gardner (1956) and Innocent Sinners (1958). From the late 1950s he worked increasingly in Hollywood, working for Hecht and Lancaster and later for Columbia on films such as Take a Giant Step (1959) and Reach For Glory (1962). Leacock also turned to television at this time, and his television output as director and producer remained steady through the 60s and 70s on shows such as Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-O, The Waltons and Dynasty.

Summary

In this interview, conducted in 1987, Philip Leacock talks to Stephen Peet about his career in film. His discussion focuses mainly on his film work, with detailed material on his period in the Army Kinematograph Service and the Crown Film Unit, and his work for Rank. He talks very interestingly about the influence of his documentary experience on his feature work, particularly his conviction that films must contain a moral point as well as a story. He particularly recalls details of the production debates around The Kidnappers and The Brave Don't Cry, and gives a fascinating account of the fate of Take a Giant Step - a film about race relations which he suggests was not fully supported by United Artists. Not given to personal gossip, Leacock's account of his career is nevertheless full of fascinating material.


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