By Pat Jackson
This memoir is an strange contribution to the heritage of movie and cinema. At its centre is the tale of the making of the British movie vintage Western ways, the 1st tale documentary in Technicolor, absolutely enacted via amateurs. It used to be nominated for the simplest movie from any resource Oscar.
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Additional resources for A Retake Please!: Night Mail to Western Approaches
We tried all the tracks we had recorded of wheel beats: none ﬁtted. Unless they did, the sequence would be ruined. The ﬁlm was being edited as we went along for we could not always shoot on consecutive days. We 27 A Retake Please! S. and their facilities. So there would be three or four days to edit the material already shot. I was editing the apparatus sequences and was in despair how to ﬁnd a matching track for the counting process. It was the Jackson toy cupboard that provided the solution. My brother Michael had been keen on model railways.
C. True enough, in the early afternoon, a Rolls Royce drove down Bennett Park Road. The only form of red carpet to greet the great man was ‘the Chief’, John Grierson, who shepherded him through the studio to the stage. Having seen him arrive, this august presence, I hopped it to the sound van with Martin, who was now Ed Pawley’s assistant and responsible for loading and unloading the sound camera and its magazines. We could hear what was going on as Grierson played the host. He was not used to being upstaged but, of course, on this occasion he had no rank to pull.
Towards evening, the weather eased and it became ﬁne. The sea abated and a mile or so of nets were shot and we drifted with them. Our drifter was based in Hull and her skipper was a jovial, rubicund ﬁgure, Sam Spilling, an ideal Father Christmas for Selfridge’s toy fair. He invited us for a game of poker in the wheel house. The table was an upturned empty crate for mackerel, covered with ﬁsh scales. He switched on his ship-toshore radio and we listened to Henry Hall, playing Night and Day and all the hits of the middle thirties.