This tape opens with the end of Panorama. Then some news about the budget, including ceefax coverage of the budget.
Then, an episode of Talking Pictures. No, not Moving Pictures, this is Barry Norman’s documentary about the history of film. This episode is Torn From Today’s Headlines?.
They went to some expense dressing a set for his links, so it’s curious that a link only minutes after this one is clearly shot on CSO. Later rewrites?
The episode looks mostly about Hollywood’s changing attitude to politics, taking in the McCarthy hearings, the Spanish Civil War, and the political thrillers of the 70s, right up to Stallone in Rocky IV.
John Huston talks about the Spanish Civil War.
Martin Ritt talks about the fil The Front about the McCarthy hearings and the blacklist, when many writers were blacklisted from working at the studios, but then used other people as fronts to submit their work.
It spends a lot of time on the HUAC hearings, and has some good interviews with some of the participants. Sterling Hayden, someone who ‘named names’, honestly admits it was the most shameful thing he had ever done.
Sidney Lumet talks about how his film, Fail Safe, was released after Kubrick’s very similarly themed satire Dr Strangelove, and therefore did no business at all. He lobbied to get his film released first, thinking (probably rightly) that the drama should go out first, then the satire can go out, satirising the drama, and they both have a chance to earn money.
Director Alan J Pakula talks about his paranoid thrillers, The Parallax View and All The President’s Men.
John Milius talks about Red Dawn. “I like it when men, mankind in general, is willing to try and become something bigger than himself.”
BBC Genome: BBC One – 14th March 1988 – 22:10
Recording switches to the end of Panorama, looking at whether electrical signals cause cancer. Even from this brief segment, it’s clear it’s the usual scaremongers, balanced by people saying there’s just no convincing evidence of any harm.
There’s a trailer for Crossfire.
Then, the next episode of Talking Pictures, From B Movies To Blockbusters. Let’s enjoy the classic 1980s CGI for the titles.
This film starts by looking at the Hollywood studios and the poliferation of the ‘B Picture’, cheaply made movies to be shown as the support film in a double bill or ‘Full Supporting Programme’. Although by the time I started going to the cinema in the 70s, the studio system had changed dramatically, and they no longer had the monopoly on cinema persentation, the habit of the full supporting programme was still well ingrained, and I’d often go and see a movie, and have to site through a 20 minute short film about, say, the Sheffield steel industry, or Telly Savalas extolling the many virtues of Birmingham. I’m not even joking.
Sometimes, like you used to in the 40s and 50s, you’d get a full length movie. That’s how I got to see classics like The New Barbarians in a cinema.
Glenn Ford talks about the long working hours on the B movies.
When the studios lost their stranglehold on the distribution of movies, and with television growing in popularity, B-movies gave way to Exploitation movies, aimed at the newly emerging teenage market. One of the leaders in exploitation movies was American International Pictures, led by Samuel Z Arkoff (who even has a B-movie name).
the most famous producer of exploitation movies was Roger Corman.
Corman leads to the new generation of filmmakers, many of whom got their first break under Corman, like Martin Scorsese.
And Francis Coppola, who talks about his first movie, Dementia 13.
Another director who worked for Corman was Peter Bogdanovich.
One of his films, The Terror, featured both Jack Nicholson and Dick Miller.
the programme moves inexorably towards the 70s and the ‘movie brats’ including George Lucas, who appears in an archive interview – obviously he wasn’t available for the programme.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st March 1988 – 22:10
There’s more Panorama, with Robert Runcie talking about the Church, before the next episode. There’s also a trailer for Everyman.
Then, the last in the series of Talking Pictures, Hollywood Now. It starts off with a pessimistic edge. “There’s nothing wrong with this industry that a good picture cannot solve.” “All the good pictures have been made” (Peter Bogdanovich).
And the source of the pessimism starts with the 1980 opening of Heaven’s Gate, a flop so huge it destroyed a movie studio. Steven Bach, the head of production at United artists, and author of the excellent Final Cut about the whole Heaven’s Gate saga, talks about the opening.
Of course, the success of Lucas and Spielberg in the 80s helped Hollywood forget the loss of a major studio, “But there were some who, unswayed by box office grosses, regarded this as a time of regression, rather than progress.” Cue Peter Bogdanovich, a man whose career has rarely been swayed by box office grosses.
Witness for the defence? Uber-producer Don Simpson.
Screenwriter William Goldman is there to tell us that nobody knows anything.
Jamie Lee Curtis talks about the state of modern cinema.
David Puttnam is interviewed on his appointment as head of Columbia Pictures. His interview was recorded while he was still in place. “In my case I don’t expect to be there that long but what I do hope to do is put in place management which will be there a long time.”
Clint Eastwood talks about star power.
Also featured are Cannon Films, with Yoram Globus.
Uber-producer Sherry Lansing talks about the rising costs of star salaries.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 28th March 1988 – 22:10
After this episode, there’s a trailer for The Listener.
Then, there’s the start of a programme of music for Holy Week, Praise to the Holiest. You can’t beat a bit of Bach and Handel.
The recording stops after 20 minutes of this.