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Thread: Ronald Neame

  1. #1
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    This afternoon the Film Programme on BBC Radio 4 is featuring an interview with Ronald Neame.

    16:30 - 17:00 BST

    Francine Stock goes to Beverly Hills to interview 95 year old Ronald Neame, the last surviving founding member of BAFTA, who worked on the first British talking movie before making the classic films Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Poseidon Adventure.


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    (Nick Dando @ Jun 2 2006, 08:50 AM)

    This afternoon the Film Programme on BBC Radio 4 is featuring an interview with Ronald Neame.

    16:30 - 17:00 BST

    Francine Stock goes to Beverly Hills to interview 95 year old Ronald Neame, the last surviving founding member of BAFTA, who worked on the first British talking movie before making the classic films Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Poseidon Adventure.

    Hello, Nick,

    Thanks for letting us know. [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/thumbsup.gif[/img] My goodness, I'm glad to see the BBC interviewing directors like Neame who have wonderful information to share about the craft of making films, their own films, and the actors/crew who worked with them. I always regret the directors who were not interviewed for the sake of film history.


  3. #3
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    Ronald Neame, 16th June, 2010, dead at age 99. R.I.P.


    19 June, 2010

    Ronald Neame made a distinguished contribution to the British film industry over five decades, as a cameraman, as producer on the early films of David Lean and finally as a director of craftsmanlike pictures notable for the strong performances he drew from his actors, from Alec Guinness, Edith Evans and Judy Garland to Maggie Smith.

    Neame came from a tradition of film-making that saw the director’s role as being as unobtrusive as possible and he was in any case too self-effacing to impose his own personality on his work. He was scornful of young directors trying to make a name for themselves by putting their egos on the screen, and insisted that it was the actors who mattered.

    In an interview in 1970, he said: “So long as I am able to make films, actors and actresses who work with me will get good reviews in the press because I dedicate myself to them. I will never make a film that overlooks the actors and gets all the praise for me as the director.?

    Born in London in 1911, he was the son of Elwin Neame, a leading society photographer and later film director, and Ivy Close, a theatrical beauty and a star of the silent cinema. He was educated at University College School and Hurstpierpoint College but was forced to leave school at 14 after his father’s death in a road accident.

    After brief spells as a clerk and in his father’s profession of photography, he entered the film industry, starting as a teaboy at British International Studios at Elstree. In 1929, still in his teens, he was an assistant cameraman on Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail, the first British talkie. By 1934 he had risen to director of photography, one of the youngest in the industry.

    From the cheaply produced “quota quickies? he moved to Ealing, where he photographed a number of George Formby comedies, encountering the star’s legendary meanness and formidable wife. By the late 1930s he was one of the British film industry’s premier cameramen, working on the Shaw adaptations Pygmalion and Major Barbara and the Powell-Pressburger One of Our Aircraft Is Missing.

    In 1942 he photographed Noël Coward’s tribute to the Royal Navy at war, In Which We Serve. The co-director was David Lean, whom Neame had met while Lean was editing Major Barbara. Neame joined Lean and Anthony Havelock-Allan in forming the production company, Cineguild, which, working within the Rank Orgnaisation but enjoying a large measure of autonomy, became a significant force in the British cinema.

    With Neame as cameraman and then producer and screenwriter, and Lean directing, Cineguild was responsible for some of the most polished films of the 1940s. They included Coward’s This Happy Breed, Blithe Spirit and Brief Encounter, as well as the brilliant Dickens adaptations, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. Great Expectations won two Oscars and Neame was nominated, along with Lean and others, for the screenplay.

    His association with Cineguild ended unhappily over an adaptation of the H. G. Wells novel, The Passionate Friends. Neame, who had turned director in 1947 with a crisp little thriller, Take My Life, had set up the project with the writer Eric Ambler, intending to direct. He and Ambler completed the screenplay and did the main casting. But colleagues in Cineguild, including Lean, took strong objection to the script and Neame was effectively sidelined. The film eventually went ahead with Trevor Howard replacing Marius Goring in one of the lead roles and Lean directing a much changed scenario. Neame, who was deeply upset by the episode, was left with the nominal role of producer.

    His directing career took off in 1952 with The Card, sympathetically adapted from Arnold Bennett’s novel and with Alec Guinness as the social climber Denry Machin. It was the sort of project that suited Neame best, a solid, middlebrow literary pedigree and the opportunity for quality acting.

    A similiar enterprise was The Horse’s Mouth, with Guinness (who also wrote the script) playing Joyce Cary’s rascally painter, Gulley Jimson. Other films of the fifties included The Million Pound Note, an enjoyable adaptation of the Mark Twain story starring Gregory Peck, and a fact-based Second World War drama, The Man Who Never Was.

    Neame’s favourite film, and arguably his best, was Tunes of Glory (1960), in which Guinness donned a red wig to play a hard-drinking Scottish army officer in conflict with John Mills. In 1963 Neame directed Judy Garland in what turned out to be her last film, I Could Go On Singing. She was difficult and unreliable and likely to disappear from the set for days. It needed all of Neame’s tact and patience to hold the picture together and capture Garland’s unique style. [Dirk Bogarde was also instrumental in keeping Garland in one piece and on set. He rewrote some of the dialogue to suit Garland, and it suit her very well indeed, especially the memorable hospital scene. ]

    There was quality acting, from the three generations of Edith Evans, Deborah Kerr and Hayley Mills, in The Chalk Garden, Enid Bagnold’s story of a seaside governess. Neame directed Robert Mitchum in an African adventure, Mister Moses, and Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine in a sprightly comedy, Gambit. In 1968 he guided Maggie Smith to an Oscar-winning performance as the unorthodox Edinburgh schoolmistress in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

    He made the musical, Scrooge, with Albert Finney and in 1972 went to Hollywood for The Poseidon Adventure, in which an all-star cast has to escape from a capsized liner. One of the first of the cycle of 1970s disaster movies, it was a huge box-office success. Although it made Neame, who had a percentage, a rich man he tended to dismiss it as a routine chore. In 1974 he filmed Frederick Forsyth’s serpentine thriller The Odessa File.

    During the 1970s Neame settled in California and most of his later pictures were made in Hollywood. They included Meteor, another, much inferior disaster movie and two middling comedies, Hopscotch, a spy caper with Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, and First Monday in October, with Matthau and Jill Clayburgh as the Supreme Court’s first woman judge. In 1974 his Beverly Hills house was badly damaged in the Los Angeles earthquake and took more than two years to rebuild.

    Neame married Beryl Heanly in 1933 and they had a son, Christopher, who became a producer at Hammer films and for television. The marriage was dissolved after nearly 40 years when Neame fell in love with a younger woman. She died in her thirties and in 1993 he married an American, Donna Friedberg. He was appointed CBE in 1996 and in the same year was given a Lifetime Fellowship Award by Bafta.

    Ronald Neame, CBE, film cameraman, producer, writer and director, was born on April 23, 1911. He died on June 16, 2010, aged 99

  4. #4
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    BBC News

    Paying tribute to directing great Ronald Neame

    15:43 GMT, Friday, 18 June 2010 16:43 UK

    By Peter Bowes

    BBC News, Los Angeles The film-maker Ronald Neame, one of the longest survivors from the early days of British cinema, has died in Los Angeles on 16th June, 2010. He was 99.

    Neame, pictured with Michael York, began his film career with Hitchcock The director of the hugely successful 1972 action adventure The Poseidon Adventure enjoyed a career that spanned eight decades. He worked with many of the 20th Century's most distinguished film-makers and performers, including Alfred Hitchcock, Noel Coward, Alec Guinness, John Mills, Maggie Smith and David Lean.

    During the final decade of his life, Ronnie and I became friends. We chatted for hours as he reflected on his colourful career and longevity.

    He had a deep affection for his craft, a keen sense of humour and a unique perspective on the early days of film-making.

    Ronald Neame was born in London in 1911. The son of a celebrated photographer, Elwin Neame, and the actress Ivy Close, he was destined for a career in entertainment.

    He was a fine director. I got on with him particularly well. For some reason or other he took a liking to this pimply-faced young man

    Ronald Neame on working with Alfred Hitchcock He began as a clapper boy on Hitchcock's Blackmail, the first talking picture made in England, in 1929.

    "I was only 17 so I was in awe of him," said Ronnie, of Hitchcock.

    "He was a fine director. I got on with him particularly well. For some reason or other he took a liking to this pimply-faced young man."

    Ronald Neame went on to become a producer and eventually a director, and is best known for The Poseidon Adventure. The film, about an ocean liner overturned by a freak wave, starred Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters.

    Test of time It was slated by the critics but the picture was a major box office success and developed a cult following. When Poseidon, the big budget, special effects-laden remake was released in 1996, Ronnie accompanied me to a early screening of the film in Hollywood.

    He was keen to slip into the cinema unnoticed.

    He did not want to steal the limelight from the director, Wolfgang Peterson. When the credits finally finished rolling, Ronnie remarked: "I was absolutely convinced he would make ours look like a whole lot of codswallop."

    But he need not have worried. The original Poseidon Adventure stood the test of time, and dwarfed the remake with its superior character development and raw, suspenseful drama.

    Not that Ronnie was overly proud of his epic. Much to his chagrin, the movie, which was hugely profitable, defined a career that was otherwise dominated by art house productions.

    "I thought it was just an ordinary, run of the mill action picture," he said.

    "Poseidon was an astonishing success and I still don't really know why.

    "The sad thing is that I will be remembered for having directed The Poseidon Adventure and I think that's a great pity because there are four other films that I much preferred. But it is The Poseidon Adventure that will go down in film history as Ronald Neame's disaster," he laughed.

    Ronnie believed his best work as a director was on Tunes of Glory, The Horse's Mouth, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Scrooge, the musical with Albert Finney.

    Tunes of Glory, his favourite film, starred Alec Guinness and John Mills, in a story about two rival officers in a Scottish military regiment. The actors gave what are widely considered to be two of their finest performances.

    Maggie Smith won an Oscar for her performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

    Dame Maggie Smith won an Oscar for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie As a producer, he was proud of Great Expectations, Brief Encounter and Oliver Twist, all directed by his longtime collaborator and friend, David Lean.

    Neame, who was nominated three times for an Oscar, was a founding member of the British Film Academy and he was made a CBE in 1996. In the same year he was given a Bafta Lifetime Fellowship Award.

    "I find the whole aging process frustrating," he once told me.

    "It's a mixed pleasure having all your marbles."

    Golden years It annoyed Ronnie that with age he was becoming less mobile and that he had to give up his lifelong practice of enjoying a few drinks.

    "When people ask about the secret to longevity I say the honest answer is two large vodkas at lunchtime and three larges scotches in the evening.

    "All my doctors have said to me, 'Ronnie, if you would drink a little less, you'd live a lot longer.' And they are all dead, and I'm still here at 95."

    Ronnie was always extraordinarily good company and active until the final weeks of his life. He enjoyed nothing more than reminiscing about the old days but he said he did not miss being on set.

    "I was making films during the golden years, and they were the golden years. We made the films in the way we wanted to film them. We had a benevolent boss in Arthur Rank - Uncle Arthur we used to call him.

    "I've had a wonderful innings, a great innings."

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