Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Robert Powell hosts The Lord's Taverners comedy night at the Savoy Theatre

OK, I'm so sorry I haven't posted a message for ages! the blog is still alive! I was just enjoying some extended holidays, then I was busy coming back to work.

Today I'm giving you this bit of information for those who live in London, The Lord's Taverners (Robert's charity) is organizing this Saturday 18th a comedy show at the Savoy Theatre. The event is to be hosted by Robert Powell and the special guests are Jo Brand, Jon Culshaw, Barry Cryer, Josh Daniels, Jenny Eclair, Angelos Epithemiou, Simon Evans, Miles Jupp and Rod Woodward.

If you atted this evening, please share your thoughts with us! Thanks!!! And I promise, next article will worth the waiting.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"I invent reasons to coming back" - 24:7 Theatre Festival Manchester

Robert was the patron of the 24:7 Theatre Festival in Manchester which aims to present new and innovative plays.
I found a very interesting interview on youtube in which Robert talks about the Festival and finally a very touching comment about how he enjoys coming back to Manchester.

Here is the transcription of the interview. Thanks to Robert for his marvelous voice and his neat speaking...however, I got lost in some bits, sorry :

The interviewer : Can you tell me why the Festival is so important?
Robert : "From an actor's point of view anything that promotes new writing is worth supporting and worth supporting whole heartedly.
"Actors only exist if they have good things to say. You can't act without a good script... well, you can, but you end up with a lousy play. So, here we are encouraging new writing, year on year, and the material is better and better. And it gives young writers a chance to practice their art and gives the actors a chance to practice theirs with good material.

The interviewer : Have you been involved in a lot of new ages [not sure] yourself in theatre?
Robert : "I used to be when I was a young actor. I was involved in new theatre all the time because I worked in theatre on the round in Stoke on Trent, and the Oxygen, Bolton, Scarabough and [didn't get it]. So we were always dealing with new material and that was a whole raison d'être of this particular theatre. We used to have in-house writers writing for us because it was a company.
"So, yes, these days less and less. It's more difficult to find new plays and I have tended to get more involved with it and I always say there is a risk involved in a new play. And as you get older you are less inclined to step out without a nest. At least if it's a play that has been already performed you know that it works. If you are doing a play that hasn't never been performed then you got an "edit" [didn't get it] thing to take on board that it must not work... and you reach a point where... well, I like the odds on my favor.

The interviewer : You say there's a risk but the other thing that appeals for an actor for new works is that you are putting your print in a character
Robert : "Absolutely! That is a massive advantage for an actor, to create something that nobody else has never done. It's been years since I did anything on stage that is brand new theatre. I've been doing things like Single Spies by Alan Bennet, Dorian Gray... So I've been doing stuff that has been done before. So, yes, I hadn't thought about it.. I should do...

The interviewer : In the next year festival maybe you could do...
Robert : "No. Well, the thing is that wanting to create something for 24:7 is that it allows actors who may not otherwise get a chance to showcase. They have the talent to do so and therefore I think it would be selfish of me to nick a part of somebody [not sure]. I don't think it would be very fair.

The interviewer : You are back home in Manchester, you are a Mancester-born. Do you enjoy coming back to the city?
Robert: Yes, I love it. I love it. Salford-born! But even me I have to confess that when I'm more than 200 miles away I tell people that I come from Manchester and then I say Salford. [didn't get it] Yes, I love coming back. I have no family here, so I invent reasons for coming back."

I loved how he ended the interview! 

For more information about the 24:7 Festival check this link

Friday, July 22, 2011

Holby City : Seeing other people

Sorry, it’s been a while since I haven’t post an article. You know it’s summer time!
Well, today I would like to talk about Holby City… again. About a special episode from season 11: “Seeing other people”.
As I don’t live in the UK I follow the show with a 2-year gap. I try to follow the show, I recorded most of the episodes where Robert appeared, but until season 11 I didn’t have the time to watch them entirely. So, since season 11 I watch every episode even if Robert is not there.
Of course, it’s been a bit frustrating (and boring sometimes) as he doesn’t appears enough to my taste and he is misused as an actor as he deserves more challenging scenes than just appearing some seconds here and some seconds there.
Yesterday, finally, I saw an episode with the kind of performance I expect from him : intense, sensitive, what an actor!

For those who don’t follow or don’t know the show, Robert plays Mark Williams, consultant nurse, he is the father of Chrissie, another nurse and recently has been involved with nurse Daisha. This relationship in fact is not real love, not sexual attraction but a very unique kind of love : Mark cares for Daisha and wants to protect her, which he had been doing for about 30 episodes…
Anyway, this episode marks the end of their “relationship” as Chrissie disagrees with Mark’s behavior towards Daisha. Is it jealousy, as he cares for Daisha as a father cares for a daughter? Or does she really think the obsession he has for Daisha is unhealthy? The scenes with Chrissie and Mark are so intense, mainly thanks to Robert’s performance. You can really feel what’s in the character’s heart.
Before I make a special edition with Robert’s scenes, I invite you to watch the episode on youtube.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A tour on interesting DVD releases : Harlequin / Dark Forces

There is a French edition released on 2002-2003 which didn’t contain any special feature, but it came with a magazine (Mad Movies, the title means everything) with a one page article about the film and some details. For instance how did Robert Powell came to star the film? David Hemmings (Senator Nick Rast) was in Australia to make Thirst and when he was approached for the film, the producers asked him if he had an idea on who could play Gregory Wolfe and he replied without hesitation Robert Powell!

The Synapse USA edition 2008 is up to now the best as it contains the Audio commentary with director Simon Wincer and producer Antony I. Ginane in which they mention that Mel Gibson was very interested in playing Gregory Wolfe. There is also a behind the scenes photo gallery, it would be fine if it had been commented as you see many people you suppose are the director and his assistants, but there is no mention. Here are some pics :

The "souvenir" picture, check Robert on the left, dressed in the Harlequin outfit.
You can also notice David Hemmings and Broderick Crawford

The corpse manikin (from the scene that was cut in almost every edition)

Do you feel confortable?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A tour on interesting DVD releases : The Thirty Nine Steps

Another interesting DVD release concerns The Thirty Nince Steps, extremely enjoyable film. I found this edition though I ignore the release date as I haven't found it on Amazon nor other site. I found it on Ebay, and as it was mentioned the "On location with Robert Powell" I felt obliged to buy it. (In addition, Robert's picture on the cover is just adoooorable)
So this DVD contains a featurette “On location with Robert Powell” in which Robert presents some of the filming locations of all the 3 versions of the film. I don’t know when was this made, presumably it was around 1998-2001 as Robert wears a beard and I’ve seen that beard in pictures from that period, specially at the times of the BT Challenge (another subject for a future post). The featurette doesn’t give any interesting information, but Robert looks great and it’s lovely to see him call Hitchcock only “Hitch”.

I leave you with some pics taken from the video :
Robert in the Royal Albert Hall

I loved his face in this one!

At the Palladium Theatre (used in the Hitchock version)

Mhh, and this location was used in which version??? Just kidding

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A tour on interesting DVD releases : Jesus of Nazareth

As a fan I own the same film with Robert Powell in as many editions as there are! The main reason? For some reason there are always alternate versions of his films (I mean watching him 5 minutes more is always welcome!). And also the main reason, sometimes you can find a lot of good and excellent surprises:

USA Artisan edition 2000 : There are no interesting special features, but this is the longest edition ever released in original audio (382 minutes) if you compare it to the UK edition of the same year which lasts 270 minutes!

The 2002 French edition lasts also 382 minutes, but it contains a featurette about the filming locations in which you can see Robert reading the newspaper (his wife Babs can be seen not far from him) and he also appears while Zeffirelli himself is putting some fake blood on his face. There is also an interview with Franco Zeffirelli made for French tv at the time the series were shown. In this interview Zeffirelli said something very interesting for all of us who want to see the complete tv series :
“I made 3 versions of this film : one of 6 hours that was released at the same time in Italy, UK and USA, then a 4:30 version in a 2-part film that was released on cinemas; and finally next year I’ll release in all the other countries a 7:30 hour version with all the scenes I had to cut.”

The series I've recorded from Mexican tv last 6 hours, however I'm sure there are missing scenes on the dvd releases. This will always be a mystery! Did he release the other 7 hour version?
Jesus reading the newspaper!

Zeffirelli's hand putting some fake blood on Robert's beautiful face

Filming the scene with Pilato, check Zeffirelli is placed behind them

Zeffirelli's interview and the promotion of the book of the film

I'll add the video (in French) very soon, I promise it!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The other films he never made

In a previous post I presented Man of the match, which was a project that never came to exist, sadly. Unfortunately for us, many other projects were never made and that’s a big waste as for many of them the plot was interesting and it would have been marvelous to see him in more films (I’ll never get tired of watching him!).
  • The Incidental Rape / The Punctual rape
I found the information of this film in two interviews:
Télérama (French magazine - May 1979):
In this delicious interview, Robert complained that British film industry was slavishly trying to make films exactly as the Americans, and that it was a pity that the Sensibility (with a big S) was disappearing from films. This make me think that he would have loved to make more Romantic films.
I’m going to be a producer, I’ll start to make this fall a film for which I wrote the screenplay: it’s a very Kafka-style story, very dark and very funny, I think. And next year I’ll make an episode about the life of Lord Byron.
In another interview taken from Photoplay (Photoplay, May 1980) he mentioned:
“I set up a development company two years ago in association with two others,”[...] “One of the things they came up with was ‘The Punctual Rape’ by Cambell Black. I’d run out of funds and nobody was jumping over themselves to give us a lot of money, so I said ‘I’ll do it’. I took it away for a couple of months and did the screenplay.
“It’s very inexpensive. It’s either the story of a man who is the victim of a monstrous bureaucratic system, or a normal society that’s harbouring a lunatic. It’s sub-Kafka, very black and very funny. I hope to persuade certain actors to do it for a piece of the action. David Warner read it and liked it. It’s actors of those qualities that I want to go for.”
I don't know why if it was that "inexpensive" the film was never made, at least the screenplay exist, Robert should go for it! I would have loved to see him act again with David Warner, who is an excellent actor too.
  • Gothic / A single summer with LB
His next project to be aborted concerned a very romantic character: Lord Byron and the true story of why the project aborted is exasperating. The plot was about a lakeside holiday shared by Lord Byron, Polidor and Mary Shelley. Robert was going to play Lord Byron and Robert, who is a nice chap, wanted Ken Russell to direct it. BUT at the end, Russell “stole” the screenplay (that was the word Robert used when I asked about this project) and made a terrible and disturbing film : Gothic. OK I’m being harsh, maybe Russell amateurs will like, and personally I don’t like his films, except Mahler which is really one of the best films I’ve ever seen.
In an article from The New York Times (5th April 1987) about Horror films, Diane Ackerman described the film as follows :
This latest Frankenstein movie, opening Friday at Cinema 1, doesn't focus on the monster but on the kinkiness of Mary Godwin (the future Mrs. Shelley) and her friends, Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Dr. Polidori and Claire Clairmont, who vacationed together in 1816 at the spooky castle Villa Diodati, in Switzerland, where they engaged in polyvalent sex and funhouse theatrics involving rats, snakes, leeches, breathless runs through mazes, pools of thick slime, creaking gates, clinging spiderwebs, bottles of biological monstrosities, doors that open and close by themselves, and bouts of lovelorn sadomasochism. ''It is an age of nightmares,'' Byron says. ''Chill my blood!'' In scenes lit like De la Tour paintings, with one main light source - a candle, a fire or light wedging in through an open door - the quintet find opium-induced ways to amuse themselves. The weather is poor, so they pass a little time reading ghost stories, and for sport they all decide to write some themselves. At a later date, Dr. Polidori created an early version of Dracula, but on this lightning-flecked night, amid violence and laudanum, Mary Shelley's ''Frankenstein'' was born.
Ken Russell's Gothic poster
As if this wasn’t enough, the article also mentions: 
The British director has been intrigued by Shelley and Byron's ''haunted summer'' for a decade: ''About 10 years ago, Robert Powell, the actor, approached me with a script covering the same time span and events. But we couldn't raise the money. I think it was a little too poetic and not as scary as it might have been.''
So this corroborates what Robert wanted to make: more romanticism and no stupid and disturbing sex scenes. Eventually, Ken Russell made this film in 1986, and even if Robert was perfect but maybe a bit too old to play Byron, I don’t know if Russell offered him the part, I don’t believe he did it. Instead he chose Gabriel Byrne, excellent actor too with beautiful eyes matching perfectly with his dark hair, but in the film he looked too old to play Byron too. Anyway, I’m sure Robert would have played a gorgeous Byron.
Lord Byron and a young Robert Powell : he would have been perfect
  • Arab
Another lost project was Arab, and it’s such a pity as Robert would have looked sensational dressed like Lawrence of Arabia or Rodolpho Valentino. I found the information in the same interview he did to Woman magazine in which he mentioned Man of the match. His words were:
An enormous project called Arab is almost on the cards. It’s written and directed by an Algerian, Mohammed Lakhdar-Amina, who won the Best director award at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival and whom Robert feels is “touched with genius”.
I would have loved to know what this was about. Sadly I don’t know why this project wasn’t filmed, I forgot to ask him! Maybe I did but the answer would be the same : no money. Why the heck he had so bad luck at this point? Was it because producers wanted him to play eternally Jesus of Nazareth?? Arghh!!
  • Hard Rock
Finally, there was another project which he mentioned in the magazine Films Illustrated from 1979 in  which he talked about a project called “Hard Rock” and described it like: “it’s a film that will flash backwards and forwards in the life of a Frampton-like rock superstar, from the America of today back to the Hamburg of the ‘60s.” But stop salivating, ladies! Robert was only to produce it and don’t star it as he mentioned that he was looking for a singer who could act.
Hum! What a waste of talent and good ideas!
Now that I’m a true fan of cinema, I know this problem of financing still exist, and is even worse! There are a lot of projects, some of them come to exist, but several years later. The problem is that producers are people who make films to make money, they don’t see a film as an artistic work. For some reason, this is not true in France, as many films are made, most of them “artistic” (even if only 5% worth watching). Robert should have come to France and make all the films he wanted to do
Let alone financing, it’s also frustrating to see that many projects come to exist after several years and thus with a different cast.  For instance when you read that Scorsese wanted De Niro to play Amsterdam in Gangs of New York, I’m sure he would have been great, but none could have played Bill the Butcher as good as Daniel Day Lewis. It would be great to make film crossovers: mixing actors from another time to make them act together, I’m sure the technology will let us do this one day. For instance think about Jude the obscure, the series were excellent and Robert was perfect in it. In the remake with Kate Winslet she was a perfect Sue Bridehead. If you reunite both of them as they looked in their respective films but making one single film it would be interesting, but not a good idea as it kills the artistic work. But still think that the crossovers idea is cool!
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Enzo Plazzotta’s Powellian Art

Enzo Plazzotta (1921-1981) was an Italian sculptor who spent most of his life in England. This artist had the excellent idea of using Robert as a model for some of his sculptures. Why? I don’t know, but I suppose that Robert modeled for the Jesus sculptures and then Plazzotta decided to make a bronze of Robert’s marvelous face. However the dates are not correcto for this theory... I'll find out someday, but that will be the subject of another post!

Jesus Christ mask III Resurrection (1980)
Plazzotta's portrait of Robert Powell (1979)

In the photos above you can see his works inspired in Robert’s face. About the Robert Powell sculpture, 6 pieces were made, one of them is owned by Robert, and 2 are being sold for “only” 6,200£ on this site. I need to win the lottery urgently!!
Beautiful sculpture, but I prefer the real
Some of Plazzotta’s work can be admired in London. I highly recommend you this site ( if you want to know more about this artist.

A cup of tea? Robert and the artist Enzo Plazzotta
 Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"After 35 years, it's nice to be remembered for anything"

I came accross this wonderful interview Robert did to STV's The Hour (thanks to Sylvie, a fellow fan for the tip).

This interview looks great and speaks about his career and the play Jeffrey Bernard is unwell, which was on tour in Scotland that week.

The remarkable bits concern as usual the eternal question about his performance in Jesus of Nazareth to which Robert said :
"I’m flattered by it. It was kind of annoying, three or four years after I’d done it, the fact that it still was there was a little bit irritating because I’d moved on to other things. But now, hey, after 35 years, it’s nice to be remembered for anything really, isn’t it?”
I found it just delicious!!

Then he also mentioned a visit he made to Cyprus about 5 years ago during Easter and he was surprised people were coming to him. There are also delicious details about filming The Detectives, such as that the camera men had to be covered by blankets so Robert and Jasper wouldn't be disturbed by their laughs. It would be marvelous to have those details on a DVD The Detectives Special Edition commented by Jasper and Robert, what are they waiting for??????

So you can check the interview and a related article on STV's official site, or check it on the link below:

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy birthday Robert!!!!!

Happy birthday Robert!!!!!! It must be midnight in England so now I can wish you a very happy birthday!
Lots of love and best wishes!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mahler, the making of

Ken Russell’s Mahler is a film that could be perfect: excellent performances, excellent music (Mahler!), excellent costumes, the story is well told and it has the original touch of Ken Russell. However, most Russell fans think that this is the most “conventional” film of the “enfant terrible” of the British cinema. They are used to the bizarre and sometimes grotesque fantasies he adds to his films.
Mahler has the same story line of a common biopic: hero is at an important moment of his life (closer to the end), recalls some scenes from his pasts that are presented as a flashbacks. Flashbacks start with the hero’s childhood where a crucial event occurred. That could be the “conventional” part, but what Ken Russell added (and which made this film a master piece) was the “fantasies”. There are “normal” flashbacks while other moments are presented as a sort of allegory : The Funeral and The conversion scene are one of them.
The only thing I didn’t like of the film was this Funeral scene, the beginning is OK but by the end is too much, too grotesque, too Ken Russell-style! But the Conversion scene deserves the Oscar of the best scene ever made! We all would love to know how did he come with that idea. That’s why it could be great if the distributors release a new DVD with Ken Russell and Robert Powell commentaries.
While we wait for that wonderful day, I can say that at least I feel like I have already seen a bit of this   bonus : I’ve seen the story board of THE scene! And I’ll share it with you. Enjoy!

Click on the image to enlarge

Click on the image to enlarge
I found this jewel on Ebay, where I found this press book which accompanied the film release. Other exclusive pictures this press book contains are the designs for the costumes commented by Shirley Russell, Ken Russell’s wife and costume designer for the film. People must not forget that the film was appraised the Cannes film festival for its costumes in 1974. Robert was a contestant for the best actor prize that year, and he should have won! Instead a certain Jack Nicholson won the prize for the film “The Last Detail” that most of us have never seen.
Click on the image to enlarge
Click on the image to enlarge
Robert’s performance was one of my favorites and to me one of the best: with little make up or other tricks, he was convincing as a sick embittered aged man and through all the flashbacks scenes where the character was younger and passionate.
Before I leave you, I’ll bring another Monty Python curiosity: have you noticed that the rocky scenery used for the Conversion scene looks exactly like the one used in the killer rabbit scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grial?

I always find that scene even funnier when I think Robert will appear at any moment and will jump a ring of fire and eath a pigs nose.

Well, I could talk (write!) for hours about this film. It’s just perfect, wonderful, beautiful! I LOVE IT!!!

"I compose to live, I live to compose.”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell at the West End on September???

That would be excellent news! But it’s not been confirmed, it’s only been rumored as Robert himself says in an interview given on 12th May to the Oxford Mail.

I found the interview very interesting because I've learnt that Robert avoids making eye-contact with people on the street. It seems he doesn’t like people coming and say “Hello”? Maybe now with Holby City he’s much more in people's minds. It's impossible for the people to "forget" him! Robert’s career brings a tv hit in each decade! The 70’s with Doomwatch and Jesus of Nazareth, the 80’s with Hannay, the 90’s with The Detectives, the 00's with Holby City.

Anyway, that’s not the point, in this article Robert talks about his career and how despite all his acting experience (40 years!) he still feels “unwell” – allow me to use that word for this time! LOL –, that he feels scared until the curtain raises. This time the fear was that Jeffrey Bernard was too much to learn.

In the article, the journalist at one point mentions that Robert is in his 70's. This made me bounce! Nope! He is not in his 70's!!! At least not yet!

And that made me realise that maybe one day he will decide to stop acting and that will make me very sad. But that’s life! So that’s why it’s important to enjoy him now! English people are so lucky! So please, let’s go everybody to see him in "Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell"!
Sadly, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see the play in this tour. BUT! If Robert is correct (and let’s hope he is!) it seems that he will be back at the West End!!! Please Robert!! Make it real!!

Finally, about the never-ending questions about acting and his career, he said that he enjoyed doing comedies and that he’s :
“essentially a comic actor rather than a serious one and I’m most at home when people are laughing.”
It’s funny, but it is true! With The Detectives Robert proved that he was an excellent comic actor. When I saw it, I’ve almost forgot that before that, to me his face fitted perfectly with those tormented roles such as Jude in Jude the Obscure, Mahler, Paul Rée in Beyond Good and Evil and (yes, again)  Edward Foster in Il Segno del Comando. Nevertheless, while I was searching in my mind the tormented roles he did I didn’t find that much! And yet, that’s the first kind of role I tended to fit him in. But in fact, he has played more roles of the cool chap, a bit rogue and with a huge heart like in Hannay, The Thirty Nine Steps, Pride of Africa, Shaka Zulu and Holby City.

He is right when he says that “People can never quite pin me down because I don’t fit into any normal categories”. Yes, Robert, that’s why you are so unique!

It's incredible what a wig makes! but I just can't see Robert's face! I see Peter O'Toole!

I’m leaving you with an exclusive review of the play made by a fellow fan Julie with a description of the famous shoe trick. Thanks!!
Brilliant, is one of many words I could use to describe this play. I'm more of a musical person, so a play has to be really good for me to want to see it twice (which I did!). The play is basically a 2-hour monologue by Robert, broken up by the other actors (who are all extremely talented and funny) : Rebecca Lacey, Amy Hall, Peter Bramhill and Mark Hadfield, coming in as people from Jeffery Bernard's past. These include ex-wives, random people in pubs and old friends who enjoy a spot of cat racing on a rainy day (when there can be no dog racing).

Robert is very funny and watchable, and it's nice that this play has broken down the “fourth wall” in theatre, so Robert is actually talking to the audience as Jeffery. It makes you feel much more involved in the play and story. His performance was also quite moving when towards the end of the play, Jeffery is debating his own mortality and there is an element of sadness to what has overall been a comedy.

Memorable moments include: A pub trick involving an egg (in which he fills a pint glass with water, then he puts a biscuit tin on top of the glass, he takes off his right shoe and hits the biscuit tin lid with it and the egg should fall in the glass), make funnel out of matchbox and the Cat racing with invisible cats.

Hopefully Robert will do the play again or film a version because it’s a great comedy that everyone should see if they can.

I'm sure that's the cat's racing scene!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Random thoughts : Brian of Nazareth

I'm so sorry for leaving the blog without messages for so long! But I was on holidays and then I had a little problem in my hand. Now things are getting better!

The other day I was watching Monty Python's Life of Brian and I felt a déjà vu feeling, specially in the hillarious scene where Brian tags a roman temple "Romans go home". In that scene I was absolutely sure the temple was the same used in Jesus of Nazareth. Even in other scenes I was sure it was the Jesus of Nazareth set (and even the wardrobe).

From Life of Brian

To my recollection, the only places that could "be" the one used in Life of Brian.

I didn't have the time to watch again Jesus of Nazareth to find the same temple, I tried to get some scenes from the videos of Youtube but I was disappointed to see that the temples I had in my mind are not the same as the one shown in Life of Brian.

However, I was thrilled to find in the Internet Movie Database trivia that my feelings were correct!

According to the diaries of Michael Palin a possible title was "Brian of Nazareth", which was strongly favored by Palin, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle. In the end this was never used, perhaps to avoid title comparisons with "Jesus of Nazareth" (1977), whose leftover sets were used for filming parts of this film. However, when the film was released in Italy in the early 1990s, it was titled "Brian di Nazareth." For some reason, there was no mention that it was made in 1979. The success was such that And Now for Something Completely Different (1971) was also released theatrically.

Now I leave you with the hilarious scene from the Life of Brian :

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easter is coming!

And with it some well deserved holidays! And the most important thing: in many places of the world Jesus of Nazareth will be shown again on TV! Alas, not as widespread as it were in previous years, but I still hope that many people will discover again Robert’s talent thanks to the mini-series.
I found the other day on Amazon an umpteenth new version of Jesus of Nazareth on DVD. The box reads “This full un-edited version” ... but for a running time of 374 minutes I really doubt it’s the complete version. For less than 5£ I guess there’s nothing that deserves buying it if you already have it (personally I have 4 versions! The UK, the American, the Mexican and French DVDs, up to now the US DVD is the longest version and the French version contains a bonus interview with Zeffirelli from the late 70s, but still it’s shorter than the TV version.
Why? Why on Earth it’s impossible to release the full version on DVD with real bonus ????? I'd love to see the scenes that were cut!
I hoped that an honorable version was going to be released for the 30th anniversary, but nothing happened! Why?? Why there isn't a special edition commented by Zeffirelli and Robert and the other living stars. It’s a shame none have asked them to comment the film and release a REAL Special edition. It would be interesting to know all the details as Zeffirelli put them into words in his biography (excellent book, highly recommended) and in the book Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus : A spiritual diary, I still haven’t found that jewel!
In another subject, I found this lovely picture of how Robert looks during the play Jeffrey Bernard is unwell. He looks so much like Peter O’Toole with that wig!

And a little bonus relief because I’ll be offline for some days J : a recent interview with Robert Powell (march 2011) where he talks about his decision to stop Holby and get back to the stage. Thanks to Irina for the link!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The films he never made : Man of the Match

After Jesus of Nazareth, Robert Powell was the “king of the world”, he had made himself a name, he was rich, and he could have done whatever he wanted. Instead of going to Hollywood, he preferred to develop more personal projects.

For what I’ve found in my researches is that by the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s he had a lot of plans and then nothing. In many interviews he said he had his own production company (Tinsell Town) to make the films he wanted, that he had plans for writing and directing.

What happened? I don’t know, and I don’t intend to give an answer, apparently at the beginning of the 80s the British film industry was in agony. Maybe that explains why he made his most important films of that period in Australia, but it’s only a guess. Maybe he invested a lot of money for his production company and decided to stop before losing more money, I don’t know.

I feel really bitter about those projects because I really feel he never made the “perfect” film I wish him to be, and the films he never made seemed to be interesting and could have been that “perfect never made film”. Today I start with the most accomplished of all his projects : MacKinnon, Man of the Match.

Again, I have to quote the excellent interview made by Gordon Gow for Films and Filming on March 1978:

“[on his next film] the next one will be a first, and it’s very dear to my heart because it’s also my first film as executive producer. It’s about a football player, McKinnon, Man of the Match. I’m going to play him. At the beginning of the film he’s about thirty-two, not over the hill, yet not the man he used to be. We work forwards and backwards, progressing through a new period of his life, at the same time always counterpointing it with his youth, indicating why he is who he is now.”

‘At the start, he has gone to the United States to play for an American club, but has patently lost his nerve. He can still play but all the magic has gone: he doesn’t really believe he can do it any more. And we see the reason why: this destruction of individuality that occurs in all commercialised sports. It not only destroys him, it brings out the worst in his own personality and makes him destructive as well.’

Powell used to play a good deal of soccer himself. ‘I’ve got to go back into training now fairly rigorously to get into shape for it. I played at the university, and through the years I’ve played for a shwobiz eleven. As soon as I got into this I couldn’t believe my luck. It’s everything coming together at the same time. My desire to be involved totally in the making of a film from the beginning to the end of it, and I’m going to place McKinnon in my own background. I was born in Salford, and he’ll be a northener too. So it gives me a chance also to explore certain other aspects of my own personality: the sort of person I might have been rather than the one I am.’

Training with Dennis Law (picture from Woman magazine March 1978)

Like many interviews of this period, 1978 was “his year” (Indeed it was HIS year as it was the year his best fan was born!). In another interview for Woman magazine (March 4 1978) with the evocative title “Don’t go Robert, don’t go” he even said he was ready to go away from UK for tax reasons. About Man of the Match (in the interview it was named “The Soccer player” :

"But the project closest to his heart at the moment is The Soccer Player. For Robert, born two miles from Manchester United’s ground and a fanatical supporter ever since (“I’m celebrating my Silver Jubilee as a United fan”) it’s a dream come true.

“It’s impossible to describe what he film’s about without mentioning the Georges Best story. It’s not his story but it’s about a character who’s had very similar experiences. I’m being coached by Denis Law and I will be playing with Franz Beckenbauer because we’re doing it with the Cosmos football team in New York. I can’t believe that I’m a partner in the film, I am paid to be executive producer and I’m playing football with Denis Law. That’s one terrific thing about success,” he grinned, “you get a chance to live out your fantasies!”

Georges Best and Robert Powell at the time of the project.
Finally, on May’s 1978 Photoplay, Robert gave more details about the plot :

“You might call it the George Best story, but it isn’t. And yet it is. Mackinnon is not George Best. He’s not Irish, but he’s a man who’s been through a similar pattern of life as Best.

“It’s very much a present day story. The guy is 32. English clubs think he’s over the hill. But he believes he’s still got a few more years left in him. His career is in ruins, partly because of his own life-style, partly because the ‘method style’ of English football over the last ten years has ruined his individuality as a player. Then comes a chance to go to America and regain the position he once held.

[On playing the part] Yes, I will be doing the football stuff myself. I’m McKinnon. I was born but two miles from Old Trafford so football’s in my blood, I suppose. But I’ve also made sure that I’m getting expert training and tuition. I’ve got .

The article even mentions that the film was going to be directed by Chris King and the screenplay was written by Barry Hines (and he even mentions that “a major pot star will be doing the music”).

I looked for Chris King in the IMDB and I found a Christopher King, whom I believe to be THE man. He appears to have directed some episodes of Holby City! What a coincidence! He directed the episode “Bad reputation” in which Robert’s character takes drugs.

So, after reading all this I can’t help but feeling bitter, really bitter! Not that I’m a football fan, but Robert had a pearl there, a niche, I mean the story sounded good and there are not much football films, so it was pure gold! The film seemed to be at such an advanced state that I cannot understand why it wasn’t made.

When I met Robert Powell about 6 years ago, the thing I was eager to question was about this film, what happened?

“They all stayed in the project state because there were hard times for the British film industry, the two major production companies, the Rank and IMI – I’m not sure of the name of this last one - went in bankrupt because their last films were all flops.”

Film industry is really strange... I like to watch films and sometimes I just can’t believe how a lot of stupid films (mainly French boring films) found financing. Waste of money and film! And why, why, OH WHY? Robert didn’t make this film? If I ever win lottery ( a LOT of money) I wish to produce this film, with Robert Powell! Oh yes! I’m sure special effects can do that!