Filmumentaries

A new look at your favourite movies

Carrie, The Pythons and The Stones (and The Beatle(s))

02/01/2017 by filmumentaries | 0 comments

Idle and Hamill with a very jolly Ford

Idle and Hamill with a very jolly Ford

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As a fan of both Star Wars and Monty Python for the vast majority of my 40 years, I was surprised and delighted to read, back in the mid 2000’s in Michael Palin’s diaries 1969-1979, that those two worlds of the famous collided on more than one occasion. On one particular night this celebrity friendship led to a third unexpected megastar encounter with… The Rolling Stones! – On a side note I have a tenuous link to the Stones myself, having been born in Dartford, the Stones being our most famous “export”. My dad even remembers being in the Cubs while a Scout member and BB gun wielding Keith Richards hid up a tree taking pot shots at the younger targets below.

Anyway, back to Carrie and that megastar crossover story…. You see in 1979 during the production of The Empire Strikes Back, Carrie Fisher rented one of Eric Idle’s properties.  41 Carlton Hill, London to be precise.  During that stay Carrie recounts one particular night:

“I was staying in Eric Idle’s town house in St. John’s Wood—that’s near St. John’s Wort, only more depressing—and Eric had just come home from filming “Life of Brian” in Tunisia. He brought this drink that he said they gave the extras so they’d work longer. I called it Tunisian Table Cleaner.”

“…Eric called down and said, ‘The Rolling Stones are here!’ They were recording two blocks away. And I came down and it was all of them. As a rule I’m allergic to alcohol, and Harrison doesn’t really drink either. But I called Harrison and said, ‘Get over here. This is ridiculous!”

“And we had a really early call the following morning, but you have to measure the fun – Rolling Stones, or early call? Rolling Stones, or early call? And we decided on both. I wonder how he remembers it. But that night, there was a makeshift party.”

“And they’re a partying bunch of guys, and though I didn’t drink at the time, to be kind of amenable, or whatever, I drank. I used to say I’m allergic to drinking, and this would have been a demonstration of that. And we stayed up pretty late. Charlie [Watts], that one, he didn’t have a lot of facial expressions. He’s like the Darth Vader of the Stones.”

“I remember that we never went to sleep.”

“That morning we shot our arrival at Cloud City, where we meet Billy Dee Williams. And it’s one of the very few times in the series both Harrison and I smile. To this day, Eric is proud as a papa of his impact on the trilogy.”

Behind the Scenes on Cloud City

Behind the Scenes on Cloud City


 

Carrie and Harrison having a rare smile together

Carrie and Harrison having a rare smile together

 

Michael Palin remembers that same night in this entry from his diaries –

“Saturday 6th June 1979:

In the evening to a party at Eric’s – given by Chris Miller (Chris looked after the house while Eric was away) for Carrie Fisher (the heroine of Star Wars), who is renting El’s house while she works on a Star Wars Sequel at Elstree.

Carrie looking very small and delicate, her soft, pale skin a refreshing change from the butch aerosol-spray healthy look of most Los Angeleans. She doesn’t know anyone, but is straight and funny at the same time, and we have a mutual line of chat belonging to the select band of Saturday night Live hosts. She is currently ‘going with’ Paul Simon…”

Carrie "going with" Paul.

Carrie “going with” Paul.

 

“The two heroes of Star Wars are also there – Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford.

Hamill is chirpy and is dressed like a delivery boy. Harrison for looks young and alienated. he would look over his glasses at us if he had any. As it is he moves broodingly around – like a a famous man might do if he knew how famous he is.”

UPDATE: Eric Idle – the man himself – just replied to my tweet in which I asked him “how well do you remember that night?”:

UPDATE: It suddenly occurred to me today to check in Alan Arnold’s brilliant book, Once Upon A Galaxy – A journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes back. On that day, 6th June 1979 the whole crew were in shock as Second Unit Director John Barry had suddenly died. There is no record for that following morning.

The Beatle(s) connection is separate from the above, but just as surprising. In fact before today I didn’t even know it existed. In 1978, with the Star Wars cast at the top of their powers, Carrie Fisher appeared on “Ringo”, a TV Special starring Ringo Starr “as a both fictionalised version of himself, and as his fictional half-brother “Ognir Rrats” (Wikipedia). In in the sequence they sing a duet – “You’re Sixteen” in what has to be a special brand of awkwardness previously reserved only for “The Star Wars Holiday Special” of the same year. The “music video” even contains some Terry Gilliam-esque animation (by Linda Taylor), almost bringing us full circle back to Eric Idle.

 

Sources
The above quotes from Carrie are culled from the following three articles –
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/star-wars/11546311/Carrie-Fisher-I-was-quite-the-space-slut.html http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/carrie-fisher-in-1999-star-wars-taught-me-everything/ http://www.nickiswift.com/31349/heres-happened-carrie-fisher-harrison-ford/?utm_campaign=clip
Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969-1979 – ISBN-10: 0312369352

Rare Video: Visit to The Empire Strikes Back set at Elstree

04/09/2011 by filmumentaries | 0 comments


Many thanks to Scott Weller of StarwarsAficionado.com for providing this amazingly rare video in which on lucky kid visits The Empire Strikes Back Set at Elstree Studios back in 1979/1980.

Older UK dwellers (like me) will remember the long running Jim’ll Fix series in which kids could write in and ask for their wish to come true. This kid was clearly the luckiest of all!

I wonder where the kid is now.

BBC Radio 4 Film Programme Interview with Francine Stock

20/05/2011 by filmumentaries | 0 comments

Shortly after the initial release and widespread coverage of Star Wars Begins, I was contacted by the lovely Francine Stock of BBC Radio 4 Film Programme. My other half and I ventured up to Broadcasting House in Central London one chilly afternoon.  Francine and her producer gave us a warm welcome and after a half an hour chat with a microphone in front of me, we were done. Below are the results.

Star Wars Begins – The Complete Documentary

01/02/2011 by filmumentaries | 7 Comments

Press Release – 2nd February 2011

Filmmaker Jamie Benning has finally finished his trilogy of documentary-commentaries.  This final chapter concentrates on the first Star Wars film. Like his two previous documentaries, Building Empire (2006) and Returning to Jedi (2007), Star Wars Begins is an unofficial look at the creation of the classic movie and features deleted scenes, alternate takes and different angles, bloopers, original on set audio recordings and a huge amount of commentary from cast and crew, culled from every corner of the galaxy.

What’s interesting about the format is that Benning’s documentary is feature-length, and follows the flow of the original movie itself with the deleted scenes added where they would have been, with interviews placed over the top of the action they’re describing. The overall effect is much more engrossing than a DVD commentary track and the wealth of material contained makes it well worth sitting through the entire runtime of 2hrs 18mins.
If you’ve never seen the deleted scenes of Jabba the Hutt or Biggs Darklighter on Tatooine, or heard David Prowse saying Vader’s dialogue, then you will get a real kick out of this. Many reviews and comments have centered on the fact that it’s like watching your favorite movie but from an entirely different perspective.

Benning has obviously invested rather a lot of time and effort into creating this film, and the other two parts of his own trilogy. Lets hope that on the forthcoming Blu Ray Boxset (released in Sept 2011) LFL will go into as much detail and exude as much love for the subject matter as these films do.

All of Jamie Benning’s Star Wars ‘filmumentaries’ are unofficial. They are all completely non-profit making exercises and are made with respect to copyright and with a genuine affection for the films.

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Reviews

“It’s nearly two and a half hours of nerd paradise.” Mike Hale, New York Times

“This is a quality product.” Francine Stock, BBC Radio 4, The Film Programme.

“Quite simply, if you’re a Star Wars fan of any kind, this thing is an absolute blast to watch… Readers immediately fell in love with ‘Star Wars Begins’ after we covered it…”Erik Davis, AOL.com / Moviefone.com / Cinematical.com / Movies.com

“Jamie Benning has created a series of Star Wars documentaries that have taken the Internet by storm. With even die-hard Jedis declaring they learnt more from his docs than from 30 years of fandom.” TotalFilm.com

“…One ambitious fan, has taken it upon himself to create individual, extensive and two-hour-plus documentaries for each film.” Buzzlegoose.com

I don’t know how the documentary included with the Star Wars Blu Ray release can top this one.” Swtorstrategies.com

“I haven’t been this impressed by a fan made documentary in…well…ever… he’s crafted a truly amazing doc on the making of Star Wars.” Steve Weintraub, Collider.com

“As Vader would say, ‘Impressive, most impressive’”. Nathan Barry, WiredGeekDad, Wired.com

“I feel like I have failed as a nerd for never having heard of this before… it’s unbelievable, and it’s unbelievably interesting”. Rob Bricken, ToplessRobot.com

“Frickin Awesome.” Sci-Guys.com

“This ain’t no crummy youtube mashup, this is some serious work.” Agentorange, QuietEarth.com

“It acts as a very appetising starter to the main course of Blu-Ray releases out in September” Scott Weller, Star Wars Aficionado Blog

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