Our latest update ~ JANUARY 2018

Hugh Lloyd was Chester born & bred, the son of a commercial traveller, and a piano-teaching mother. Hugh went to the city’s Queen’s school kindergarten, and at the age of eight wrote, directed and starred in his own pantomime. He attended the King’s school, after which he attained a position of a reporter for the Chester Chronicle from 1939 to 1942, during which time he founded the the Hugh Lloyd Repertory Revue Company. For his production of his own War Follies of 1940, he played the piano and impersonated Winston Churchill. At only seventeen, he appeared at Chester’s Royalty theatre, in George Bernard Shaw’s “You Never Can Tell”.

After the war, whilst doing seaside shows, husband and wife team Ronnie Brandon and Dickie Pounds discovered him. Well known for his role as Tony Hancock’s  side-kick in “Hancock’s Half Hour”.

Terry Scott with Hugh Lloyd in HUGH & I

He joined up with fellow comedian, Terry Scott, doing four consecutive seasons together, including one in which they played two lodgers, the foundations of this formed the hugely successful television series “Hugh and I”, which ran for five years.  On TV he was seen in many popular sitcoms, including “Till Death Us Do Part” series, starring Warren Mitchell and Dandy Nicolls. During this time Hugh Lloyd was so popular with the British public that in a poll conducted  by the Observer, readers were asked  who they would like to see as president if the Queen were ever replaced. Topping the list were Peter Ustinov and Hugh Lloyd.

Hugh Lloyd in pantomime

In cinema films, including “Quadrophenia”, he played many supporting roles.  His numerous television roles in popular series are too many to list. Pantomime was a passion for Hugh, often as the Dame, such as the Ugly Sister in “Cinderella” at the London Palladium which starred Cliff Richard. Remaining a pantomime favourite virtually to the end of his career, Lloyd always tackled his roles with an energy that would have done credit to a much younger person.

Hugh was immensely proud of his connection to Chester. He supported Chester FC all his life, keeping in touch with the club, both at the original ground, and at the Deva Stadium. He was always pleased when returning  home to perform at the Gateway Theatre and at Theatr Clwyd, in the stage production of “August” alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins.

HUGH LLOYD

Born: April 22, 1923 in Chester, Cheshire, UK

Died: July 14, 2008 (age 85) in Worthing, Sussex, UK

 

Peter Davies © chestercinemas.co.uk

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There is much planned for the coming year!

Not only is the website going to expand even further with lots more participation from our Facebook group members. The diary for Chester Cinema’s events is already being filled up for the first quarter.

In February we will be holding the first of many “Night At The Flicks”. Tickets will be on sale from 11th January on this site.  If you would like to volunteer help on Sunday 25th February, then we would be more than pleased to hear from you via our contact page.

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DAVID A ELLIS reveals their story and chats with both DANIEL RAIM & LILLIAN MICHELSON

 

Director Daniel Raim is the talent behind the movie Harold and Lillian – A Hollywood Love Story. The film is about Harold Michelson and his wife Lillian, who between them made a significant contribution to many well-known Hollywood movies. They were married for sixty years.

Harold was a storyboard artist, illustrator and production designer. Lillian was a researcher. Her role was making sure everything was up-to-date and historically accurate. There are many people on screen, paying tribute to the couple’s outstanding achievements, including executive producer of the film, actor and director, Danny DeVito, who was a friend of Harold’s; film critic and author Bill Krohn, director Francis Ford Coppola and director, producer, writer and actor Mel Brooks. Krohn describes the pair as being “The Heart of Hollywood”.

Click on the above frame to watch the trailer for Harold & Lillian

The ninety-four minute documentary, mainly features Lillian, who takes us down movie memory lane. She talks about her life with Harold and the many movies they worked on, including: The Graduate, Reds, The Birds, Catch 22, The Ten Commandments, Terms of Endearment, History of the World Part One and Star Trek. Harold, who sadly passed away in 2007 while living on the Wasserman Campus’s long term care unit, also talks about his life, and how he got to work in an industry he loved. As a production designer, Harold was nominated for an Academy Award for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Sometimes the storybord artist puts the director’s vision on paper, having collaborated with him or her. Other times it is the storybord artist’s vision that gets photographed.

The Graduate

On The Graduate, it was Harold’s idea to have a scene showing the Dustin Hoffman character looking at the camera through Anne Bancroft’s raised leg. This famous shot was used on the film’s poster.

This endearing story from Zeitgeist Films opened in New York on April 28 2017 and in Los Angeles on May 12. Daniel Raim is an Oscar nominated film director. He was born in Israel and raised in the USA. His other films are: The Man on Lincoln’s Nose, Something’s Gonna Live and this one. The film premiered as an official selection of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for The Golden Eye Award.

Lillian bought Lelia Alexander’s library at the Goldwyn Studios but had to move out. The library was moved a number of times. Lillian now lives on the campus and manages her collection of books.

Daniel Raim pictured with Lillian Michelson

David A Ellis: Daniel when did you get the idea to make the film and why did you want to do it?

Daniel Raim: In early 2013 I was visiting my dear friend Lillian and she showed me this amazing archival material that someone had filmed in the 1980s at Paramount Studios, at her research library. The material gave me confidence and I could visualise a wonderful story. Beyond that I had known Harold and Lillian since I was a film student at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles in the late 1990s. Harold was one of the subjects of The Man on Lincoln’s Nose. Robert Boyle, who was an art director and production designer was also a subject, discussing his film work. Harold, Lillian, Robert Boyle and I went to where The Birds was shot in Bodega Bay – thirty-seven years earlier. During that time I had become close to Harold and Lillian. I thought there was a really great story to be told about two unsung heroes.

 

Daniel Raim

David A Ellis: What was the budget and how long did it take to shoot?

Daniel Raim: It was a modest budget and the film took two years to make.

David A Ellis:  Did you shoot more than was used in the film?

Daniel Raim: I would say there was a thirty to one ratio and I will be using the unused footage in the future.

David A Ellis:  How long did it take you to write the script?

Daniel Raim: The script was written during the editing process. I had archival material to begin with, but I was able to have on going camera interviews with Lillian during the entire editing process. So, as the story developed I was writing the screenplay and editing the rough cuts. I was interviewing others up to the end. The Mel Brooks interview took place a week before the Cannes Film Festival.

 

Lillian Michelson

David A Ellis: Lillian, why did you go into research work?

Lillian Michelson: That’s a very good question. Well, I think the first really big strong feeling towards it was when my children were attending school for most of the day. Harold was working at Goldwyn Studios in 1961, and the research library was right across the hall. The lady that owned it was Lelia Alexanda. My husband chatted with her at different times. He asked if I could volunteer to work for Lilia as I had free time during the school day. Lelia said yes, and I volunteered for around eight years. I never finished college. I only did one year, then I eloped. So my education was interrupted, and I felt with this research I was getting an education. It was weird because so many movies were crimes and westerns. It was lop-sided; it wasn’t a standard college curriculum.

David A Ellis: Did you go on the set?

Lillian Michelson: Not on the set. My work was usually done before the set was built. Sometimes my work would take place six months before anything was built.

David A Ellis: What hours did Harold work as a storyboard artist and you as a researcher?

Lillian Michelson: When there was the studio system they were pretty regular hours. When it was freelance they were irregular hours and very long.

David A Ellis:  Did you and Harold have a favourite film?

Lillian Michelson: Harold loved working on The Graduate, Winter Kills, Fiddler on the Roof, Star Trek and The Birds. The Birds was the first time that a director (Hitchcock) actually asked for him to be flown out to the location and work with him. Harold had a lot of fun on Star Trek and my favourite is Fiddler on the Roof. It took a year, and I learned a lot about the Jewish religion, which I knew nothing about, even though I was born Jewish. Harold, who also worked on Fiddler on the Roof, went to London, where they were shooting in Pinewood Studios. Harold was away a lot. On Catch 22, he was gone for two years. It is a tough industry for people with families. It can be really hard.

David A Ellis: I take it Harold came up with his own ideas after reading the script and put his own input into it. Some of the directors probably wouldn’t have thought of doing it how Harold saw it. For example, on The Ten Commandments I see his drawings were used a lot. He was more or less, in a sense, on the level of the director, because he was putting in great input, which often ended up on the screen.

Lillian Michelson: That is a great statement. You are so right. Cecil B. DeMille and other directors would never admit that they got ideas from their storyboard artists.

David A Ellis: How many drawings would be required, say, for example on West Side Story?

Lillian Michelson: I don’t know, but I know he worked at night when we were in bed. I was reading, and fell asleep while he was still drawing.

David A Ellis:  Lillian, what was it like working at DreamWorks?

Lillian Michelson: I really enjoyed my time at DreamWorks. They were wonderful to me. I was there for nineteen years and it changed my life all for the better, in every way possible.

 

 

David A Ellis:  Daniel, was Battiste Fenwick in charge of cinematography?

Daniel Raim: Battiste is a cinematographer I often work with and he helped me out on about three of the interviews. Most of the cinematography with Lillian was done strategically myself, so, there was just me, Lillian, and a camera in the room, keeping it as intimate as possible. That is part of my shooting style and I thought it was important to do that with Lillian.

Lillian Michelson: Dan is such an exceptional listener and I knew that I was talking to a dear treasured friend. He got me to open up in a way that I would never have done with anyone else. He has a great gift besides being a wonderful filmmaker.

David A Ellis: Lillian, when did you retire?

Lillian Michelson: I retired involuntarily in 2011 at the age of eighty-three after suffering ill health. Thanks to this miraculous movie that Dan made about Harold and my life and his work, I have made new friends all over. When it is shown at festivals there are people who come up and shake my hand and say such wonderful things about the movie. I have friends all over the world. I can’t tell you how my life has changed. It’s beyond belief. Dan can fill you in.

Daniel Raim: The audience response is beyond comprehension. It is the Hollywood story that touches people on its level, because Lillian was brave enough to share a very intimate and profoundly beautiful and challenging love story. Harold has left behind this beautiful legacy of poems to Lillian. There was an opportunity to tell two stories in one.

Lillian Michelson: Every mother’s day, Valentines day and my birthday he would write a poem. They were beautiful poems and he illustrated them. I had them published into a fantastic coffee table sized book. They are my treasure.

 

David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk

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David Ellis 5

A few years ago Gladys Barnes from Blacon related to me her fond memories of working at the Gaumont restaurant, which was part of the Gaumont cinema, now bingo in Brook Street. The restaurant was called the ‘Oak’, and was open to everyone.

Gladys started working there in 1941 at the age of seventeen. Her weekly wage came to seventeen shillings and sixpence. (eighty-seven and a half pence). When Gladys first went there, the restaurant was open from 10am – 9pm, later closing at 8pm. A three-course meal could be had for one shilling and sixpence (seven and a half pence). When the price was put up to two shillings, people complained, so a small coffee was added.

On 4 April 1960 there was a charity film performance for the NSPCC, organised by the Duchess of Westminster. The film chosen was ‘Conspiracy of Hearts’. The star Sylvia Syms made a personal stage appearance. Before the film commenced, there was a short stage show. Reginald Dixon, the famous Blackpool Tower organist played to the full house. The Duchess wrote Gladys a thank you note on a card, which she has kept.

Gladys was in the restaurant cash desk for thirteen years, and eventually became assistant manageress.

oak staff

In the kitchen, a Mrs Sumpter and a Mrs Pinchers carried out the cooking. After the war a Mr Cotgreave, known as chef Cotgreave returned to the Gaumont. Unlike today, tea, which was silver service, would be served to the cinema patrons. ‘Sugar was in cubes, not the packet type you get today,’said Gladys.

When Gladys first went to the cinema, the manageress was a Mrs Pointon and her assistant a Mrs Morton. A good word put in by Gladys’s sister Eileen Coventry, got Gladys the job. She says, many people worked there over the years, and remembers a Nancy Lloyd and Betty Malee as waitresses.

As for food, Gladys recalls the delicious cream cakes that were on offer. Gladys tells me that she served tea to several stars that performed at the cinema, including: Adam Faith, Billy Fury and Cliff Richard, who sang to her. ‘I have often thought about writing to him to see if he remembers,’ she said.

The restaurant closed at the time of the cinema’s closure in December 1961, with Bill Clarke as the last chef. Gladys continued until early 1962. She says she loved every minute of it and feels that the restaurant should never have closed.

David A Elliscopyright whitechestercinemas.co.uk

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Ken Westbury was born in 1927 and worked in the feature film industry, working at Ealing Studios on a great number of their films, including the famous comedies. He later took up a career with the BBC in their film department, which was based at Ealing Studios. The BBC took over the little studio after features finished being made there in 1956. So, Ken just transferred from features to television. The BBC sold the studio and it has now gone back to producing feature films and for training purposes. Westbury has worked on many notable TV productions including, Dr Who (1967-68), The Onedin Line (1971) and When the Boat Comes In (1976).

Where were you born and what was the date?

I was born in London in January 1927.

Were you interested in films as a child and did you go to the cinema much?

I would be taken to the cinema two or three times a week. At that time it was just entertainment value.

How did you get to work with film?

I left school at fifteen in 1942 and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had an uncle that worked at Ealing Studios. He told me they were looking for a boy to work in the camera workshop. I went for the interview and got a job in the workshop. At first I was sweeping up and running errands.

How did you come to work with cameras?

In those days progression was pretty quick as young men of eighteen were being called up to the armed services. I started off working with a rear projection guy. I used to help him in the projection booth, cleaning the arc and rewinding the film. Occasionally a clapper boy was sick and I would do the odd day. One day someone was called up to go in the army and I was called to the front office and told to go on the floor as a clapper boy and not work in the workshop anymore.

Did you go through the ranks?

Promotion in those days was pretty quick. I went on to do some focus pulling on retakes of Champagne Charlie (1944) Cinematographer Wilkie Cooper [1911-2001] came on the set and told me I had done a good job. On some films I was a clapper loader and on others a focus puller. I didn’t become a camera operator or DP during the feature film days at Ealing apart from operating on the second unit of West of Zanzibar (1954).

You loaded on many memorable Ealing features what was it like working on those?

After returning from the army my first feature was Whiskey Galore (1949). For me it was a great thing. I’d done focus pulling and been a clapper loader so I knew my job inside out. It was Chic Waterson’s [1924-1997] first film as a camera operator. He went on to shoot several Ealing films with Douglas Slocombe [1913-] and continued working with him after Ealing. Alexander MacKendrick [1912-1993] was the director and he was great at composition. So I was able to stand back over the fence and learn what was going on beyond my capabilities. I was picking things up I hadn’t thought about in the past. I worked on Train of Events (1949) where we had locations around London and Northampton.

We shot The Blue Lamp (1950) around the Paddington area. That was nice to work on and I learned a lot about lighting and night shooting. On The Man in the White Suit (1951) I worked on some tests to make the suit glow. I only worked on the second unit on that.

After feature work ceased at Ealing you stayed on with the BBC when they took it over – were you then on 16mm?

We started off with 35mm, later shooting on 16mm.

 

 

What was it like working on the Classic TV series Z cars?

That was spectacular. The film sequences, which covered exterior shots, could only be up to twenty minutes.  Back then you couldn’t have a drama that contained more than twenty minutes of film.

Why did they only allow twenty minutes?

I think it was an agreement with the actors’ union equity. If it were all on film it would have been more expensive.

You worked with director Ken Russell [1927-2011]. What was he like to work with?

I learned an awful lot from Ken. I worked with him on Diary of a Nobody (1964), which was done as a silent film. He wanted to build a set outside but we didn’t have a lot at Ealing. He wanted to shoot behind the model stage but they didn’t allow us to. One of the scenery guys lived next door to the studio so he gave permission for his fence to be taken down and the scenes were shot in his garden.

John Nettles as BERGERAC

How long did it take to shoot an episode of Bergerac?

Each episode usually took around ten days to shoot. It was really good to work on. There were several directors that worked on it, good and bad. I got on very well with  John Nettles.

Awards

Dr. Fischer of Geneva (1985) 1985- Nominated for Best Film Cameraman. BAFTA

The Singing Detective (1986) 1987- Nominated for Best Film Cameraman. BAFTA

 

David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk

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