Please send a copy up here as soon as possible."
This telegram was awaiting Mr. G. Grafton-Green, executive producer of Ranks' News-Reels and Special Features Division, when he got back from Rome last week after three strenuous days preparing for and "shooting" the Pope's coronation in St. Peter's. "Here" is Ampleforth where Mr. Grafton-Green's 15-year-old son is at school.
This glowing 20 minute film is a triumph for a British studio. No other European studio attempted to make it, and we Catholics really owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Grafton-Green himself not a Catholic but whose wife and children are-for thinking of it in the first place and to Lord Rank-a Methodist for giving the goahead and sending out with his executive producer his top team of camera men. Chief of these is Ted Candy who filmed the Queen's coronation in Westminster Abbey.
Mr. Grafton-Green told me something about the making of this fine film. " My friend Mgr. Worlock. when I told him I was going to Rome to see if it would be possible to film the ceremony. gave me an introduction to the ViceRector of the English College in Rome-Mgr. Alan Clark. He put me in touch with the head of the Secretariat of State.
" But, of course, the Cardinals, and Cardinal Canali in particular. who alone could give us authority to set up cameras in St. Peter's. were locked in conclave, and we had to wait until the Pope was elected before we could even get our request through.
" Permission finally came on Monday, the day before the coronation-at 11 a.m. You can guess the state we were in, trying to get our cameras installed and everything in position. We were up at 4 a.m. on the Tuesday morning and inside St. Peter's at 6 where we remained till 1 p.m."
WHEN you see this history making film--and you'll have every chance to because it has gone straight into the leading cinemas all over the country you will notice that the camera seldom leaves the Pope's throne.
Looks at the Films
Two of the cameras were in the sanctuary directly facing the Pope from 10 yards away; two were perched high on the great colonnade in St. Peter's Square, moving about over the crowd, showing in close-up now the face of a young nun, now a smart young woman, now a brown habited friar-all faces raised to the balcony where they knew the Pope would be crowned and would come out to bless them when the ceremony inside the basilica was over.
Quite apart from the beautiful composition of the film-the jewellike colours of the rich vestments, Bernini's golden pillars, the white papal throne, and the whole framed in the black clad state representatives (how like the courtiers in an 'El Greco picture they looked)-quite apart from all this, the camera was quick to record little unrehearsed moments, like the Pope attempting to stand up and being told not to by the master of ceremonies, and the pall falling off the chalice and being hastily replaced as it was being brought to the papal throne.
Getting the film back to London and getting it cut, edited, and commentated (excellently spoken by Fr. Agnellus Andrew) was another rush job but it was all ready by Friday. Now, besides English, commentaries are to he made in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, and the film is being flown out immediately to all those countries, including Latin America.
An unusual departure is that, instead of a waiting period between the release of the bigger film and the 16 mm., the 16 mm. has already been made so that applications can be made by schools, colleges, and halls at once.
Address: Gaumont British Film Library, Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex.
THE DEVIL AGAIN
THE devil is on the rampage in the West End just now, and I must say he is bit weary and looks overworked. But how he made me laugh-and it's so nice to he able to laugh in the cinema these days.
He is played by a small, neat man called Ray Walston and he is in " What Lola Wants " (Certificate U) at Warners. The stage version was called " Damn Yankees " and the theme is the way Americans get worked up about baseball, or the ball game as they call it.
When the devil hears a middleaged man, after seeing his favourite team, being slaughtered (on TV, of course), saying: " I'd give my soul to beat the Yankees " up he pops and turns the man into a handsome young baseball player (Tab Hunter) who slays the Yankees. All in return for his soul.
How the devil is cheated in the end, and how even one of his principal assistants, Lola (Gwen Vardon), rats on him, make up a lively, diverting story garnished with rapid, virtuoso musical numbers.
AT the Gaumont is a spectacular British film " Floods of Fear " (Certificate A) all about some terrible floods in an American town, made more frightful by a bunch of escaped convicts. Shot mostly in the studio, this is a revelation or what can be done in a tank.
Some surprising casting. too: Howard Keel. heretofore known only as a handsome, golden voiced hero, appears as a gorilla-like convict, and Cyril Cusack is one of the meanest, wickedest killers ever. Great acting by both and the rest of the cast. including Anne Heywood as a frightened victim of the storm.
Remarkable, too, for the understatement of the week. When Keel and John Crawford (a murderer) have reduced each other to a pulp in a horrible fight and Keel is being led away he asks: " Is he going to be alright?"
" Yes," answers someone. " He's going to be O.K." You've got to be tough, mighty tough on the screen. Anyone else would have been stone, cold dead in the market.