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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Flicking through Screenonline it would seem that the honorary Britisher, Ralph Smart deserves to be remembered better than he is. I'm finding 'credits' for him as early as 1929 and as late as 1973, nearly fifty years!



    Is it unusual for someone generally credited as a Producer/Director to be so prolific as a writer too?



    Was there ever a (out-of-print) biography about him?



    Does anyone have a picture of him?



    Did anyone ever meet him or know anyone who did?



    I've e-mailed one or two Aussie web-sites but nobody seems to know much about the guy or be interested.







    He's connected to a few 'classic' movies and certainly seems to have been the creative bank-roll for Lew Grades early TV empire - or am I over-egging a 'journeyman' ?




  2. #2
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    He was the producer on 7 of Michael Powell's Quota Quickies made from 1932-35. But he doesn't get a mention in Powell's autobiography



    Steve

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Country: Fiji
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    I spoke to Sid Cole about him, years ago, when we taked about DANGER MAN. He was, latterly, a tax exile I think and Sid used to have to shoot across to wherever it was he lived to discuss/edit DM scripts.



    RS is (allegedly) the reason McGoohan didn't want No6 associated as Danger Man - otherwise he would have had to pay a royalty to Smart as Drake's creator. As far as I am aware there has never been a biography of RS. I MAY have a picture buried deep in the archive somewheres - if I find it (and the Sid Cole notes) I'll post some more on the man.



    Journeyman ? I'll have to mull that idea over...



    SMUDGE

  4. #4
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    I watched an episode of "THE ADVENTURES OF SIR LANCELOT" he directed in 1956. He managed to get Edwin Richfield to play three different speaking parts in the one 26min show.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    I spoke to Sid Cole about him, years ago, when we taked about DANGER MAN. He was, latterly, a tax exile I think and Sid used to have to shoot across to wherever it was he lived to discuss/edit DM scripts................. I MAY have a picture buried deep in the archive somewheres
    I have read Mr. Smart 'retired' to speculate in Spanish Property after the 1959/1960 Danger Man, but came back to work when the later series was commissioned. I've remembered I have an old picture from a TV book. It's on imageshack on the link below. Is one of these guys Sid Cole?..... I recall wondering if the older guy with white hair might have been Ralph Smart, when I first saw the photo.....





    RS is (allegedly) the reason McGoohan didn't want No6 associated as Danger Man - otherwise he would have had to pay a royalty to Smart as Drake's creator.
    This tale has always raised a couple of thoughts in my mind. One is how the relationship between McGoohan and Smart worked.



    The legend says that Ralph Smart dreamed up the idea of Danger Man and then Patrick McGoohan changed the projected character of John Drake quite significantly. It seems to me that Ralph Smart must have been a very open-minded and amenable chap to have allowed his vision to be altered so markedly and then to have continued to happily write for the series, and wanted to come back from 'retirement' to write some more in 1965.



    Similarly, McGoohan seems to have been happy to work with Ralph Smart again, suggesting that he felt equally comfortable with the old fellow.



    The 'journeyman' idea would simply be based on the revisionist idea that all parties simply tolerated one another in order to make a buck..... :

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Country: Fiji
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    Can't open the pic on this computer, so will look again later from elsewhere...



    The changes to JD may not be as significant as they seem and may have been 'bolstered' as time has gone on. It was quite often the case back then (particularly with ITC/Lew Grade) that series were commissioned on a format ; this might be as little asa single sheet of A4. Therefore there might not have been so much detail within the character of Drake from the start.



    At the point of starting Drake McGoohan may have had a formidable personality, but I shouldn't have thought he had a great deal of 'clout' ; it took DANGER MAN to make him.



    Also on the point of the RS/PMG relationship Sid C said (when asked about the producer's role back then) that it was really a pretty 'light touch' approach, which might again explains McGoohan's leeway...



    SMUDGE

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    At the point of starting Drake McGoohan may have had a formidable personality, but I shouldn't have thought he had a great deal of 'clout' ; it took DANGER MAN to make him.

    Also on the point of the RS/PMG relationship Sid C said (when asked about the producer's role back then) that it was really a pretty 'light touch' approach, which might again explains McGoohan's leeway... SMUDGE
    Fascinating that Mr. C made that comment. It also feeds into my vision of Ralph Smart as more of a creative persona than a technician.

    On the idea of McGoohan's 'clout', it should be borne in mind that he had been a "British movie-star" not so long before and was, by 1959, critically acclaimed both in the contemporary theatre for Brand, and for several TV plays. A magazine article in 1959, before the Danger Man series was made, comments that maybe McGoohan would be the man to put the 'TV adventure' genre on an 'adult level'.......

    I have thought that the tag-line "Introducing Patrick McGoohan" was intended more for the American market than the British one.



    Patrick McGoohan did get a mention in Lew Grade's autobiography which is more than Ralph Smart did!!.. . There does seem a consistent story that it was Lord Lew personally who 'chose' Mr. McGoohan, so maybe any 'clout' came from that relationship.




  8. #8
    Super Moderator Country: Fiji
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    Don't recognise any of the chaps in the photo, but it seems to be McG and the camera crew. Which year was it taken ?



    I appreciate your comments about 'clout' but I have to say that personally I wouldn't have put him in the 'star' category for his film pieces up to that point. It is widely known that McGoohan himself was very unhappy with his Rank years and I think this is reflected in his film performances ; hardly shining out with star quality - even HELL DRIVERS (arguably the best film of the Rank output) was just a 'barking voice' McGoohan caricature piece.



    What I meant was he was hardly a marquee name ; known for his play works - not a man who was guaranteed to bring the masses in to view the commercial channel at that point.



    Back to Ralph Smart - the poor chap doesn't even get a mention in Charles Barr's EALING STUDIOS either ! It was the South of France Sid Cole had to fly to when he was doing the producer's stint on DANGER MAN, to catch up with RS. Hardly glamourous - he'd fly out after a week of work, quickly discuss the script and then fly it back to England shortly thereafter...



    SMUDGE

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Don't recognise any of the chaps in the photo, but it seems to be McG and the camera crew. Which year was it taken ?
    It was in a "TV Star" book from 1964, so I would guess that the picture came from the original series back in 1959/60, that's why I wondered if the elusive Ralph was one of the fellows.



    Just returning to the 'Clout or no clout' question..... McGoohan may not have had commercial 'clout' but reading the interviews around him there does seem to have been an aura of respect in the media for him. He is interviewed and quoted at length by one or two magazines as if he is something of an oracle, notwithstanding his dubious 'star' status. It's could also be significant that he was allowed to direct at least one of the first series - that may say more about the democratic nature of early TV than about him of course.....



    When he broke into America in 1966, where he was fresh and new to the media, an interview/profile referred to the fact that although McGoohan was known as a tough interview, the British press universally admired him.....

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    As English-born Australian filmmaker Ralph Smart flew over the Whitsundays while making war documentaries in Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait, and he yearned to see the countryside close up.



    This did not happen for two more decades. Having scripted documentaries, comedies and several of Michael Powell's `quota quickies' in England in the 1930s, his film career took off in Australia after directing exciting war documentaries like Island Target (1945). He once had a small acting role in a scene with Peter Finch in Ken Hall's patriotic documentary South West Pacific (1943).



    Smart was the Australian producer for Ealing's international hit The Overlanders (1946). Following that success he wrote, produced and directed another timeless Australian classic, Bush Christmas (1947), remade in 1983 starring a 14-year-old Nicole Kidman in only her second film.



    Smart returned to England as a director of some stature, coming back to Australia in 1949 to do some script-doctoring on Eureka Stockade and to produce and direct another labour of love, Bitter Springs, a story of racial conflict during the settlement of the Australian frontier.



    With the advent of television in England in the mid-1950s, Smart became one of its busiest pioneers. His long list of TV credits included The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, The Buccaneers, William Tell, The Invisible Man and his proudest achievement, Danger Man, starring Patrick McGoohan as the spy John Drake.



    When Danger Man was cancelled in 1966, Ralph turned to freelance scriptwriting. An opportunity to work in Australia again brought him back as the troubleshooting producer of the odd American-style action series, Riptide, starring Ty `Bronco' Hardin as charter boat operator Moss Andrews. Shooting, mostly at sea, took Smart from Bondi to Bowen via the Whitsundays where he had long wanted to visit.



    in the late 1970s Smart made Bowen his home. In 1995, the Bowen Writers' Group staged a retrospective of Smart's work at the Summergarden Theatre with his Bitter Springs and occasional Riptide star Michael Pate as a special guest.



    An important revelation was made at the first screening of Bitter Springs at the film festival. Ralph agreed to the event as long the Writers' Groups would not screen Bitter Springs. Ralph literally had bitter feelings about the film which he believed had been sabotaged by Ealing producer Michael Balcon. Balcon insisted that Ralph rewrite the script to accommodate comedian Tommy Trinder and to replace the climactic violent battle between the Aborigines, led by Henry Murdoch, and the settlers with a corny happy ending.



    Bill Jardine, president of the Bowen Writers' Group, convinced Ralph to include the film on the program by offering him to personally deliver a disclaimer before the screening. This he did, but after the film, amid the applause, Ralph leapt from his chair and completely denounced his own opening remarks.



    "I don't know what I was talking about," he said. "That's a great a film and Tommy Trinder was pretty good in it, wasn't he?"



    He then admitted he had been so angry with Balcon he had refused to see Bitter Springs upon its release �€“ not until that cold August night in Bowen's Summergarden Theatre 45 years later.



    On Australia Day 2000, Ralph received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) `for service to the development of the Australian film industry'.



    Ralph Smart's son Robert, had worked as a double for one of the children in Bush Christmas and as a teenager he co-scripted a 1959 episode of The Invisible Man for his father.



    Bowen boasts movie heritage






  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    A Face to the Name (1948)







    Delving into the archives for an exclusive and particularly rare interview with Danger Man creator / Executive Producer Ralph Smart, The Ralph Smart Tapes are culled from a series of interviews conducted by David Anthony in Australia in 1993. Excerpts from this series are played out over the Photographic Evidence suite, with behind-the-scenes and publicity stills from the episodes on this disc as follows: Two Birds With One Bullet (70 pictures), I’m Afraid You Have The Wrong Number (55 pictures), The Man With The Foot (62 pictures) and The Paper Chase (71 pictures). Running to 15 minutes and 33 seconds, the interview opens with Smart recounting his start in British television on Robin Hood before moving on to The Buccaneers and William Tell. Discussion on The Invisible Man (and making programmes for children and Americans) brings about some neat anecdotes before Danger Man arrives on the scene (otherwise entitled “Secret Agent” at the time); Smart provides a background to the transition from half-hour to fifty-minute episodes (getting by with action at half an hour, and character at fifty minutes) and cites his reasoning behind creating the series and moving away from the gun-toting American series of a similar ilk. The discussion turns to using a number of regular writers, Lew Grade’s theatrical background, the complex nature of Danger Man scripts and the extensive guest cast employed on the series. Smart makes a fascinating revelation concerning five colour episodes of Danger Man having been recorded (not just Koroshi and Shinda Shima) before discussing The Prisoner (interspersed between an aside on “a huge quarrel” with Lew Grade which has more to do with taking the money now and realising later it was ill-advised than anything controversial) and rounding off the interview with his work alongside Alfred Hitchcock. Although the audio quality is not entirely ideal, this is black gold: Smart has been sorely overlooked in the recent commercial releases of Danger Man, and this worthy inclusion of his recollections working on the series is a testament to the levels Madman Entertainment have gone to in making this DVD boxed set a decidedly attractive proposition.

    Roobarb's Forum




    Danger Man the Complete Series (1964-1966)





  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    EXCERPTS from an audiotaped interview with the late Ralph Smart in Bowen 15 years ago have emerged as one of the special features of a new DVD box set. Madman Entertainment has just released Danger Man: The Complete Series 1964-1966, a DVD box set comprising 13 discs featuring all 47 50-minute episodes of the groundbreaking cult television show starring Patrick McGoohan and many extras.



    When former North Queensland Register journalist David Anthony met Ralph in 1993 he conducted a series of interviews with him about his career in film and television in Australia and England.



    Their discussion about Ralph's work at Sir Lew Grade's fabled television company, ITC, was culled from the tapes for Madman's DVD project.



    Filmmaker and pioneer of English television Ralph Smart regarded his Australian feature film, Bush Christmas, and the Danger Man television series as his greatest achievements of his career.



    After making his last feature film in 1954, Smart turned to television to work for Sir Lew Grade's fabled company, ITC.



    As a producer, writer and/or scriptwriter, Ralph worked on such highly-regarded television classics as The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Sir Lancelot and The Buccaneers.



    He produced all episodes in the subsequent series, William Tell and HG Wells' Invisible Man before creating, devising and executive-producing Danger Man.



    The first Danger Man half-hour series (available on Umbrella DVD) was produced in 1959 predating and influencing the craze for spy adventure films and television series in the 1960s.



    The series was put on hold after the first season, but resurrected in the 50-minute format following the success of the James Bond films and ITC series such as The Saint.



    Brand manager at Madman Entertainment and dedicated ITC fan, Grant Taylor, previously produced DVD box sets of ITC shows for Umbrella, including all five seasons of The Saint, Patrick McGoohan's legendary post-Danger Man series The Prisoner and Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, featuring scripts by Ralph Smart.



    He was nearing completion of the latest Danger Man project when he learnt of David Anthony's taped interviews with the original series creator and executive producer.



    "Grant contacted me and I quickly arranged to copy the tapes on to CD just in time to make the DVD production deadline," David said.



    Grant culled 15 minutes from the interviews related to Ralph's involvement with ITC.



    The interviews appear on disc 11 as 'The Ralph Smart Tapes' and they accompany a lengthy slideshow of production stills from the TV series.



    Ralph left England in the 1970s to live in retirement in Bowen. He deliberately chose Bowen as his home because he had long nursed the dream of retiring in the Whitsundays.



    During World War II, Ralph flew several times over the Whitsundays on his way to Papua New Guinea to make air force documentaries. He was struck with the region's natural beauty.



    The Smart family made their home at pretty Rose Bay, where the interviews were conducted in November and December 1993. Ralph passed away in 2001, aged 92.



    A copy of the complete Ralph Smart tapes, running four hours, are preserved in the National Film and Sound Archives in Canberra.


    Danger Man DVD reveals North Queensland link - State News - Niche - General - North Queensland Register




    The web page includes a nice picture of an elderly Mr. Smart.





  13. #13
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    I always though that McGoohan,Smart & Chaffey were the A team of that time.

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