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  1. #121
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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  2. #122
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Amazingly and most welcomely, Fergus McClelland has placed these reviews on amazon uk and Movie Mail regarding the forthcoming DVD. It must be the first time ever that a star of a film has done this.



    5.0 out of 5 stars Star's Eye View of the film, 1 Jun 2010

    This review is from: Fergus McClelland (England).



    Sammy Going South [DVD] [1963] (DVD
    ) It's amazing to think how many years have passed since I was filming Sammy Going South in Africa and England in 1962. At the time, I had fun and learned so much from so many experts. Sandy MacKendrick had directed a lot of the best films of the 50's in England and Sammy was the most expensive film ever made by a British company at the time - so Bryanston Films (after Bryanston Square in London where Sir Michael Balcon had his offices) joined with 7 Arts from America and the whole project took off. Sandy was a perfectionist and studied traumatised children in foster homes before making the film. It was many years before I realised what a deep and dark classic was blended in with a simple family film. I don't think you will be disappointed when you buy it. I KNOW I won't be. And NO, I will not make a penny from the release, I am just happy to know it is out there for new generations, and for all the people who have written to me over the years wanting to see it.



    Have fun.



    Fergus



    Fergus McClelland



    "Star's Eye View"

    By Fergus McClelland on 1st June 2010




    I loved the full review I just read and agree with it. At the time, aged 11, I didn't have any idea of the subtlety of what Sandy MacKendrick was asking me to do. Some shots were heavily coached by him, others, he went over the wording with me and discussed what Sammy would be feeling like, in his view. I did the rest. Sometimes, a scene took ages, sometimes, I did what Sandy wanted at high speed. He said to a friend of mine in 1988 Fergus did very well - considering he was wrongly cast. At the time I was horrified, and then realised what he meant. He chose me for Sammy because I was highly independent and believable as a toughie. But Sammy is supposed to be slightly built, dark-haired and able to pass for an Egyptian. The film has a brooding presence and shows a boy travelling from total numbness at the loss of his parents, through the horror of losing his surrogate father to a new life. Very motivational. And very picturesque. I can't wait to see it again after so long.

  3. #123
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    BELOW: Fergus McClelland and Edward G. Robinson arrive at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London, for the Royal Film Performance of Sammy Going South on Monday, March 18th, 1963 and are both presented to Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.










  4. #124
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    I attended a screening of the restored version of this film in London a while ago - I hadn't heard of it before but thought it was a wonderful tale, full of colourful characters and stunning photography - can't wait to buy the DVD and see it again!

  5. #125
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    I attended a screening of the restored version of this film in London a while ago - I hadn't heard of it before but thought it was a wonderful tale, full of colourful characters and stunning photography - can't wait to buy the DVD and see it again!
    It makes me feel rather old to realise that I was only 16 when I ran Sammy Going South (129 minutes all but five seconds version) as a new film in 1963 and I'm 63 now. Was this restored version you went to see of the original full length version, John, or the 119 minutes version which seems to be the one that's been put on the new DVD? (which would run for 114 minutes at PAL running speed). The various websites like amazon; HMV; Play, Love Film and Movie Mail can't seem to decide what the length in minutes is. One says 114 minutes; another 118 minutes and another 128 minutes and so on. I guess we'll just have to wait another ten days for the DVD to arrive. It would be a nice surprise if Optimum had found the original full length version after all, after Candy Vincent-Smith emailing me to say they were unable to track it down and would have to release the shortened version on the DVD.

  6. #126
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    I've checked the synopsis we were given and it is listed as 114m 10s. By "restored" I meant cleaned up etc. I agree it is a pity the full length version couldn't be found. There must be a print out there somewhere.

    After viewing this film I've gone on to order the Region 1 DVD of "A High Wind in Jamaica" which doesn't seem to be available in Region 2.

  7. #127
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Oh, well, as Confucious might have said (if he was still around): "114 minutes version better than no version." It is to the film's credit that it still plays so good, even minus 1,000 feet (half a reel) of film.

  8. #128
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    Considering that it played at almost 80 minutes in America, it will still be a huge improvement over that.

  9. #129
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    I see from Fergus McClelland's comments on YouTube that he attended a special screening of the film on Sunday, June 13th, 2010. I suppose that would have been a pre-release screening of the DVD, for promotional reasons, rather than an actual 35mm print of the film.

  10. #130
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Here, transcribed word for word from a tape recording I made (a very laborious task), is another interview that Fergus did recently. This time on a radio programme.



    Dave Aldrich interviews Fergus McClelland for BBC Radio 5 Live’s “Up All Night? Programme, first transmitted on Sunday, June 27th, 2010.



    DAVE: “Fergus, how old were you when you made Sammy Going South??



    FERGUS: “I was eleven and a half when I started and I had my twelfth birthday on the set, with a huge cake.?



    DAVE: “It must have been fun. What are your memories of it??



    FERGUS: “The main memories are of suddenly having my own life…having to be an adult at the age of eleven and a half…having a crew of sixty dependent on me and realising that I had to be disciplined and learn my lines and deliver them in the right way and being polite and not getting a star complex.?



    DAVE: “And seeing Africa. I mean some of it was actually filmed out there, wasn’t it??



    FERGUS: “Three months was filmed in Africa. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see much, except out of the car window, because I was working so hard. But a lot of the crew would come back after their day off and say: ‘Ahhhh, it was great in the Ingorra Gorra crater yesterday’. I didn’t get to the craters, but on the roadside, you’d see the elephants, you’d see the giraffes, you’d see snakes, you’d see chimps, you’d see everything. It was absolutely lush and amazing.?



    DAVE: “Did you ever imagine that nearly fifty years later, you’d still be talking about the film??



    FERGUS: “No. I thought it was just a thing to do. It was great fun and I’m going to be a star or an actor or something, but what I wanted to be was a proper actor, like Dame Judy Dench, whom I’m distantly related to by marriage and who is a family friend.?



    DAVE: “Well, like your dad. Your dad was an actor.?



    FERGUS: “My father was an actor and a playwright and he’d been going for decades and I wanted to be a serious, proper actor, but then I’d go to school and they’d say ‘Have you worked with Steve McQueen?’ I’d say ‘Who? No, I’ve worked with Edward G. Robinson.’ ‘Never heard of him.’ ‘I’ve worked in the Royal Shakespeare Company.’ ‘Never heard of it.’ And so I thought, well, okay, I don’t care, I want to be with the ones who are good, rather than the ones who are famous.?



    DAVE: “Is that good, never having heard of the likes of Edward G. Robinson? Presumably, you don’t have whatever the film equivalent of stage fright is. You can just go on set. You’re working with this famous gangster star, but, because you don’t know who he is, so what??



    FERGUS: “Yes and when he introduced me to George Raft a couple of years later, he said: ‘He’s as good at acting as you are at running a casino.’ A few months later, George Raft was banned from England. But, I just thought that he’s this nice old man and he didn’t look like I expected and everybody said: ‘He’s Edward G…’. Working with Harry H. Corbett, who was a great bloke, was much more meaningful to me because I’d seen him in Steptoe.?



    DAVE: “What’s the thing about the film that’s resonated with people? I went on the Internet and trawled you a bit and there’s lots of people saying it was the film they most remembered from their childhood, it’s the film that made the most impression on them. What is it about Sammy Going South that seems to leave that sort of mark??



    FERGUS: “With wonderful hindsight, that I didn’t realise at the time and I know somebody…a fan from then…and he told me that he started a thread on the Internet a year ago and it’s had ten thousand follow-ons. I think a lot of people saw it as a boy in a vulnerable position, finding his own life, supporting himself, making the right friendships and it’s a very, very powerful motivational message.?



    DAVE: “It’s almost the equivalent of running away to join the circus, isn’t it? As you say it’s something that every boy and presumably every girl might want to do. The idea of trekking umpteen thousand miles down the length of Africa to find your aunt after your parents had got killed. I mean it’s sort of romantic in a strange sort of way, isn’t it??



    FERGUS: “It’s very romantic. So much so that Stephen Spielberg found it one of the best films he’d ever seen to this day and it was a big inspiration for Empire of the Sun.?



    DAVE: “Great shame the Americans called it The Ten Foot Tall Boy, which made it sound like either a sci-fi fantasy film or about a kid with a growth hormone problem.?



    FERGUS: “Yes, they were very worried that white Americans would think it was about a black boy called Sammy and wouldn’t go to see the film and I was asked did I want it called Fergus Goes Far and I said ‘no, let’s stick to the title of the book, let’s call it Sammy’.?



    DAVE: “I like the literation, it’s nice, I like the ‘Sammy’ and the ‘South’. Now, after you made Sammy Going South, you did, I think, The Pumpkin Eater with Anne Bancroft, if my memory serves me right, you did a lot of TV work, stuff like Z Cars and Emergency Ward 10 and then after 1968, according to the all powerful IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, you disappeared off the radar. So what happened? Did you suddenly decide that you didn’t want to be an actor and what have you done in the forty-odd years since??



    FERGUS: In about 1969, I decided that I wanted to write, produce, direct and star in a film, which, you know, everybody does, like Rocky. But, I didn’t have a story, I hadn’t lived and so I went into electronics with a friend and the work was short, the pay was long and I studied psychology, history, religion, classical music, classical literature. I wanted to understand life much better and I did that for twenty-five years with him and then a girlfriend in Pasadena said ‘Fergus, you’re a life coach’ and I said ‘I don’t know what it is, but I don’t want to be one.?



    DAVE: “Only the Americans can have life coaches.?



    FERGUS: “Exactly and I said ‘I don’t want to be a coach for somebody’s life’ and she said ‘Well, you’re helping people all over the world already. Why don’t you start charging them?’ And I thought that was a good idea, so I left electronics and started training people and what I found very, very quickly is that people wanted communication skills very powerfully within relationships and within business. So what I do now is show business people and people in a relationship, whatever it is, with life, politicians, celebrities, how to communicate much more effectively how they feel inside and it works.?



    DAVE: “It’s still all about performance. Do you regret not following in father’s footsteps and becoming a full time actor??



    FERGUS: “Not really. I was an actor until I was about eighteen – nineteen. But what I didn’t like was that I was always dependent on the producer, the director and somebody else’s script. Now, when I stand up in front of an audience of a thousand, it’s my stuff and that feels much better.?



    DAVE: “Well, that was Fergus McClelland, who, forty-seven years ago, was Sammy in Sammy Going South.?

  11. #131
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    BELOW: Blasts From The Past. The cover and centre pages of an August, 1963, Plaza, Fenton, programme booklet, showing the date I ran Sammy Going South and a photo of me, aged 16, in the Plaza projection room towards the end of July, 1963, about a week before I ran the film.












  12. #132
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Where you could have gone to see SAMMY GOING SOUTH in the Stoke-on-Trent area in 1963, if you had been in the area at the time:



    GAUMONT, Hanley: Sunday, May 12th, for 7 days.



    ODEON, Stafford: Sunday, June 2nd, for 7 days.



    ESSOLDO RIO, Newcastle-under-Lyme: Sunday, June 16th, for 7 days.



    ESSOLDO, Tunstall: Thursday, June 20th, for 3 days.



    ODEON, Crewe: Sunday, July 7th, for 7 days.



    ESSOLDO, Stoke: Thursday, July 11th, for 3 days.



    ESSOLDO, Burslem: Thursday, July 18th, for 3 days.



    ALHAMBRA, Longton: Thursday, July 25th, for 3 days.



    PLAZA, Fenton: Monday, August 5th, for 3 days.

  13. #133
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Another recent interview, transcribed by me word for word off a tape recording I made.



    Matthew Sweet interviews Fergus McClelland for BBC Radio 4’s THE FILM PROGRAMME, first transmitted at 4:30 to 5 pm on Friday, July 23rd, 2010, about the making of Sammy Going South.



    FERGUS: “I was told I was going to go off to make a film in Africa, was I interested? My father made it clear, ‘Are you really interested?’ I said ‘Yeh!’ ‘Do you want to be an actor?’ ‘Yeh!’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Yeh!’, because he was an actor and a playwrite and he knew the strain and how horrible it can be and so I flew out to East Africa. There was one point where I worked solid for seventeen days from six in the morning until nine at night and I was eleven and a half and the unit doctor said to Sandy Mackendrick, who was a fantastic director but very driven and he said ‘Look, you can either have a dead star or a live little boy, which do you want?’ ?



    MATTHEW: “And what was his answer??



    FERGUS: “What can we do to make him healthy and get him filming more??



    MATTHEW: “Constance Cummings said that this film was jinxed. Do you know what she meant by that??



    FERGUS: “Yes, actually, because when we were filming in a forest, a rain forest at one point, I was supposed to climb a tree and they said: ‘Fergus, before you climb the tree’…now, I was brought up in west London, I was very tough, I could climb trees, I could climb drainpipes, I could climb anything. He said ‘Let’s send one of the white hunters up first.’ So they sent this white hunter up the tree who fell off. Now, he’d been mauled by a lion two years before and he still had deep scars on his legs. So when he fell off the tree, all the scars opened up, he was gone. Another white hunter was moving a log and was bitten on the thumb by a Black Night Adder. The last I heard, he’d lost his arm up to the elbow. Edward G. Robinson had a very serious heart attack when we were filming and had to be moved off to a special hospital in England, so I think Constance Cummings was speaking about things like that.?



    MATTHEW: “But Mackendrick did seem to…the way he spoke after the event about your casting in this film, there’s an oddness about it. I mean I’m sure you will have heard this quote before, but he said that when he cast you, he said you were ‘a lean, hard, little boy. Tough as old nails’, just what you said there. But he then says: ‘He had the hunted look of an abused child, which in some ways he was. He came from a disturbed home. His parents were getting divorced and there were problems. So he was perfect casting.’ It’s a very odd remark, isn’t it, that??



    FERGUS: “Mackendrick was very, very, perceptive and one of the things that got him to cast me was I was lean. I used to play around on the streets of Bayswater and Paddington…my parents had separated…and, I wanted to be strong and tough and hold myself together and I didn’t think ‘Oh, my God, my mother’s left.’ I thought ‘Okay, she’s gone, alright, let’s move on.’ I’d come home from school and there’d be nobody home. I’d have to let myself in…I’d have to make myself a sandwich. It was nobody’s fault, but I had to learn to be tough.?



    MATTHEW: “But what do you make of that instinct of Mackendrick’s? He sees you and he sees something of your toughness, but also of the unhappiness, possibly, of your life.?



    FERGUS: “Well, he did…like the sequence where I go ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummeee-eee-eee!’ He actually had me working on it for an hour, before I really felt the pain and then it came out. It was ‘Ahhhh', I thought, 'I didn’t know that was in there. I didn’t want that to come out!’ Because I’d buried it, as my way of surviving. I’d buried my pain very, very deeply and very, very well and I was in functional mode…survivor mode…which a lot of children are if their mother’s left home when they’re ten and people would say ‘Ahhhh, it’s terrible for you. Your mummy’s left home. You must feel bad.’ ‘No, I don’t. No, it’s great. Mum and dad aren’t arguing anymore. It’s fine! It’s fine! It’s great!’ and I believed it on the surface, because there was something very deep going on underneath and when I went off to Africa, I think my father expected me to phone and go ‘Daddy, daddy, I miss you!’ I didn’t. I thought ‘Great!, I’m living a normal life now. A normal life with sixty camera crew and sound and technicians in the middle of Africa. But it felt like I was a normal human being for the first time in my life in a way.?



    MATTHEW: “Fergus McClelland and Sammy Going South is out now on DVD, certficate PG.?

  14. #134
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    From 2005 until shortly before he passed away three years later in Australia, I corresponded regularly, by email and letter, with Tristram Cary, the composer who wrote the music for Sammy Going South. He was a very generous and wonderful man and very talented. Here below, I am making public for the first time what he had to say to me about the film and his score for it, as I feel that fellow members of the forum and indeed any lover of classic British films, would be very interested in it.







    Tristram Cary.



    "Sammy Going South was directed by Alexander Mackendrick, for whom I had written The Ladykillers music in 1955 (my first film), and as with Don Chaffey, Sandy and I were old friends - we lived a few blocks away from each other in London, and drank at the same pub in the Fulham Road. In the discussions about the score I wanted to go to Africa to see to the village music, but this was ruled out for budget reasons. I met old Eddie Robinson at the studio, and he was a lovely old boy - I believe he had a distinguished art collection at his Hollywood house. I had this idea of using a wordless female voice in the score to represent the dead mother who Sammy thinks about when he's in a tight spot. Sandy liked the idea, and I engaged my old friend from student days Monica Sinclair, by then a principal singer at Covent Garden. She did a lovely job of my vocal music, and her tracks duly went into the film. Years later, here in Australia, I noticed in my TV Guide that some channel was running the American version, A Boy Ten Feet Tall, so I thought I'd have a look at it. Outrageously, they had removed Monica's voice and patched up the tracks with badly composed links by this Les Baxter fellow - most of the score was still mine, though savagely maimed, but attributed to Baxter – I wasn't in the credits anywhere. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do contractually, but I did write to the PRS, who reassured me that whatever the credits said I was acknowledged on the cue sheets and getting royalties. An LP of the score was planned, and I sent Decca (I think) a copy of the tracks, but it never happened. I know nothing whatever about the song you mentioned - this is the first I've heard of it; I'd be quite interested to hear what was recorded - maybe someone else pinched my stuff as well as Baxter.



    Anyway, the last I saw of Sandy Mackendrick was in Los Angeles about 1978. Hilary, his wife, had an academic post with USC, and Sandy was Head of Film at CalArts. Some years ago I got a phone call from Fergus McClelland, by then a middle aged man, saying that he always liked my original score and the original version of the film, and was appalled at the way the film had been cut and castrated. He was planning to do a re-cut and re-dub of the picture in an attempt to restore it to its original state (I don't know if he had access to the negative). He asked if I had a copy of the original recordings and if so could I send him one. I duly sent him a complete tape, which he acknowledged and said he very much enjoyed playing it through. Since then I

    haven't heard a word, so I've no idea whether he carried out his plan – if he did I'd love to get hold of a DVD of his restored version. At the time of the movie I knew Fergus' father, Allan McClelland, quite well - a good actor with whom I worked on at least one BBC job. Halliwell obviously doesn't think much of Sammy Going South - one star and "disappointing family-fodder epic in which the mini-adventures follow each other too predictably".



    What a great shame that Tristram passed away two years before the film was finally released on DVD. I'm sure he would have loved to see it again properly after all these years.

  15. #135
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    A bit short notice, I know. But I only just found out myself. There is an exclusive screening of a brand new 35mm CinemaScope print of Sammy Going South at the Cornerhouse, 70, Oxford Street, Manchester, as part of the Family Friendly Film Festival this Sunday, August 1st, 2010, at 12 noon, with an intro from a very special guest - Fergus McClelland himself (Sammy!), and he will be the subject of a question and answer session about the film.



    Get your tickets now! Call 0161 200 1500 Tickets are £5 for adults and £3:50 for children.

  16. #136
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    BELOW: Three more colour publicity stills from the film.












  17. #137
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    That made for fascinating reading darrenburnfan - once again, thanks.

  18. #138
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    That made for fascinating reading darrenburnfan - once again, thanks.
    Glad you found them of interest, Tim. I'm only sorry that the present state of my health wouldn't allow me to travel to Manchester last Sunday to see Fergus in person and have a talk to him about his famous role in the film. I notice that this thread has now had over 11,000 views, so there's definitely an interest in the film.

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    A further piece of trivia.



    The original director was going to be Freddie Francis. The film was originally scheduled to start in very early 1962 with Francis signed on as director. It then got delayed until May. Because of the delay Francis decided to direct Vengeance (aka The Brain) instead and this was still shooting when Sammy started filming in early May. Sir Michael Balcon released Francis from his contract and MacKendrick was hired instead.



    Would Freddie Francis have ever become a horror film director if he had made Sammy Going South rather than The Brain? In retrospect this was probably his most decisive career decision/mistake.



    Anf what would sammy have looked like with Francis at the helm?

  20. #140
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Thanks for the trivia, m35541. I didn't know about that. Unfortunately, although it's interesting to ponder, we'll never know how Francis would have handled Sammy, unless perhaps, he gave an interview somewhere along the line where he stated how he would have made it. Maybe the delay in the start of shooting was because Mackendrick was still looking for the right boy to play Sammy. I believe it was March, 1962, before Fergus got the part over scores of other boys.

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