By Pat Jackson
This memoir is an strange contribution to the background of movie and cinema. At its centre is the tale of the making of the British movie vintage Western techniques, the 1st tale documentary in Technicolor, completely enacted through amateurs. It was once nominated for the simplest movie from any resource Oscar.
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Post 12 months observe: First released August 1st 1996
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Additional resources for A Retake Please!: Night Mail to Western Approaches
I’ve forgotten most of them now but the sorters could tell within a mile exactly where they were on the run between Euston and Crewe. I was having the time of my life playing around with these wonderful steam engines. It was a glorious adventure. By now the sets were ready for us on the tiny stage of our studio. Two sides of a sorting van had been built by the Jacob brothers. Two wonderful master carpenters—just the two of them, and they built all the sets for future productions, never calling on extra help.
The ﬁrst person we tell is Ed. ’ Ed Pawley received the news with momentary shock, of course, and then took charge in the most wonderful way. How long was the red light switched on, before the lid was put back? Perhaps three or four seconds. No more. Pawley told Martin on no account tell the Chief and resign until tomorrow when we would know the worst. Sound ﬁlm was not as fast as picture ﬁlm and it was just possible that the light had not penetrated dangerously and irretrievably into the Visatone Track.
It was Basil also who thought that he might give a young composer, Benjamin Britten, a trial. Benjamin faced no easy task. Finances would not permit him more than ﬁve instruments. Until we could give him exact measurements of the sequences which were to carry music, Benjamin hung around the studio, and saw each running as we were ﬁnalising the editing. During this time, Benjamin would come home to play tennis on our somewhat imperfect lawn. He was lethal and not only a ﬁne player but upstaged us all by appearing with one of those Bunny Austin rackets which looked like an Alaskan snow shoe—outrigger struts from handle to racket frame.
A Retake Please!: Night Mail to Western Approaches by Pat Jackson