Last update 25 Sept 2022.
Lair of the White Worm on The Criterion Channel
Classic ’80s Horror is coming to Criterion Channel for Halloween. One of the films is Ken Russell's Lair of the White Worm.
Other interesting films include Michael Wadleigh's Wolfen, Larry Cohen's Q: The Winged Serpent and John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness. The full list of 30 films is here.
Elgar and Dance of the Seven Veils
Elgar and Dance of the Seven Veils are on at the National Film Theatre in London on 3 Nov 2022.
"Monitor was ground-breaking in the way it gave creatives the freedom to experiment. Overseen by the great Sir Huw Wheldon, the strand revolutionised arts broadcasting. Ken Russell’s work was perhaps the most obvious in this respect, particularly his essays on music and composers. His film on Elgar, made for the 100th edition of Monitor, remains one of the strand’s towering achievement".
"Russell’s daring film about the life of Richard Strauss, made for the Omnibus strand, was shown once and then banned because of objections from the Strauss estate, who blocked the use of his music. Now these compositions have finally come into the public domain it can be seen again. The film was hugely controversial, but it is a fine example of Russell at his most extravagant and attracted a wide and curious audience."
More details are on the NFT site here.
David Warner passes away
David Warner, magnificent as poet Wordsworth in Ken Russell's Clouds of Glory, has passed away aged 80. Other good roles include the photographer opposite Gregory Peck in the original The Omen and the lead role in cult classic Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment.
"With the rigour of his classical training, his style and his fine voice, Warner boosted the IQ of any movie he was in" (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 25 Jul 2022, click here)".
New filmmaker Luna Carmoon says she gets inspiration from the British films of the 1960s and '70s and filmmakers such as Ken Russell and Nicolas Roeg. She has made three short films so far- Hoard, Shagbands and Nosebleed (above).
She is one of the National Film & Television
School's Screen Stars of Tomorrow, and Hoard is backed by BBC Film and the
British Film Institute.
The quote is from the screendaily site here.
Teddy Girls photos
21 of Ken's photos of Teddy Girls from 1955. Nicely printed. The cover is of Iris Thornton and the other Teddy Girls were Pat Wiles, Rose Price, Vera Harrison, Grace Living, Barbara Wood, Josie Buchan, Eileen Lewis, Rose Hendon, Mary Toovey and Jean Rayner.
"Teddy Girls brings together, for the first time in one publication, images taken by Ken Russell of this scarcely documented subculture. Taken around London in January 1955 and published in the Picture Post on June 4th that year, these photographs are a testament to the supremely stylish young women depicted. The style of the Teddy Girls, like that of the Teddy Boys, grew out of a trend for Edwardian influenced fashion in post-World War II London. However, these women should be seen as more than a feminine facsimile of their male counterparts and Russell’s images document the ingenuity and complexity of their sartorial choices. As well as recording the style of the Teddy Girls, these images also provide a snapshot of London in 1955, a city in flux, still rebuilding itself after the damage inflicted by war. An essay by the fashion historian, Mairi MacKenzie, considers the cultural history and context within which these women lived and the photos were taken".
William Hurt passes away
William Hurt has sadly passed away.
After a couple of television roles his career
started with Ken Russell's
Altered States in 1980. Not a bad place to start.
My favourite, the little known Accidental Tourist.
Ken Russell t shirt
A t shirt illustrated by Paul Cemmick. Details are on Pinterest click here.
Flipping the script on Britishness
Found in an overlooked photo archive "images of Windrush arrivals and jazz club romances challenge the traditional narrative about what it means to be British". Interesting photos including "London by Ken Russell, 1954... street scenes of the 1950s from the future film-maker’s series Portobello Road – Everyday Life. Here, a young black boy plays in one of the bombed out ‘playgrounds’ much loved by kids at the time. He is wearing a kind of superhero eye mask on his forehead, from an earlier game".
From the Guardian 4 Jan 2022 click here.
Oliver Reed turned down for a blue plaque
Christopher Hastings writing in the Mail on Sunday newspaper reports that Oliver Reed has been turned down for a blue plaque because " his legacy in the field of acting was not sufficiently strong". Blue plaques are meant to celebrate notable figures and the places they lived and worked.
The article says “A committee at the charity – which has been accused of political correctness – rejected a bid to honour the hell-raising star of films including Oliver!, Women In Love and Gladiator, despite many considering him a towering figure in British cinema.”
Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam is quoted as saying “… this is crazy. Ollie was a monument to everything that was wonderful at that time in England. I think this decision proves our culture is being invaded by close-minded idealogues with no idea of either history or uniqueness.’
The article by Christopher Hastings is in the Mail on Sunday, 5 Dec 2021 is on the Mail website here
People who were awarded a blue plaque this year include Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets and Hilton Valentine, guitarist of The Animals.
Gretchen Felker-Martin podcast on Ken Russell's The Devils
The Losers' Club: A Stephen King Podcast presents a 30 minute discussion with Gretchen Felker-Martin on The Devils "A story about human fragility and the beauty of human frailty". Good to hear people genuinely appreciating the film- like an idiosyncratic discussion between friends.
The link is on atcast click here.
Dick Bush, Cinematographer
An update on one of Ken's cinematographers.
"When I was asked to do a Ken Russell film I was only an acting cameraman. I’d never been taught lighting, I taught myself really by watching other films, and went ahead to work with this terrifying creature as Ken was in those days. He would get through sound crews and camera crews in seconds. And I realised Ken was being really helpful. We’d go off to locations or work in the studio and I would light the set and he would come up and quietly say “Dick, do you really need that lamp on there”, and I’d switch it off and realise the set looked better".
The link is here .
Site updates - Savage Messiah
Updates to films Russell has acted in other than his own films, including The Russia House, Waking the Dead: Final Cut and The Moving Finger.
A major update of Savage Messiah here .
Site updates - The Boyfriend
A major update of The Boyfriend here .
Ken Russell: Portrait of a Maverick
Ken Russell Portrait of a Maverick is a documentary by Chris Wade. The
film gives an overview of Ken’s childhood and career, and has interviews
with Xavier Russell (Ken’s son who edited some of Ken’s films), Judith
Paris, Emma Millions and (voice only) Scott Antony.
Recent changes to the site:
Click here for the news archive