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Ken Russell Writing 5

UFO over Eden: related books


Evil Spirits Evil Spirits

By Cliff Goodwin. A good popular biography of Oliver Reed, 2000.  From the Hammer Werewolf to one million dollars for his last role in Gladiator, Reed's career is impressive, as was his professionalism.  Anthony Burgess is quoted as saying that Reed's role in The Damned was the inspiration for his novel A Clockwork Orange.

Ken Russell was watching the television programme Juke Box Jury, a chat show where celebrities talk about new singles, when he saw Reed and his resemblance to Debussy led to The Debussy Film. Reed would go on to do the voice-over on Always on Sunday, Dante's Inferno and Prisoners of Honor.   On film he did Women in Love, The Devils and Tommy and had cameo appearances in Mahler and Lisztomania. Also with Russell he did the radio "The Death of Alexander Scriabin", playing Aleister Crowley.

Starring roles Reed turned down: The Sting and Jaws. He was also a candidate to replace Sean Connery as James Bond.


The British Cinematographer The British Cinematographer

By Duncan Petrie, 1996.  This includes useful information on Ken Higgins, Billy Williams and Peter Suschitzky.


Ann-Margret Ann-Margret

By Ann-Margret with Todd Gold, 1994.  Ann-Margret Olsson Smith was born in Valsjobyn, Sweden, a town of 150 people.  She entered America not speaking English, dated the young Presley and remained friends to his death, starred in Carnal Knowledge and Tommy, received Oscar nominations for both, and survived alcoholism and a near fatal fall.  Despite this her ghost-written autobiography is stunningly boring.  The quotes on Ken are of slight interest:

"Director Ken Russell adds an exhilarating, inspiring creativity.  He was wild, indulgent, kind, and funny, always pushing for more.  He didn't think anything of doing twenty-five or thirty takes on  single scene.  In fact, that was normal."

"Invitations [to the Tommy world premiere] etched in white on black Plexiglas... six hundred guests...".


Paddy Chayefsky Mad as Hell. The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky

By Shaun Considine. A biography of the writer Paddy Chayefsky, 1994.  Chayefsky wrote the novel and film script Altered States. The mutual personal dislike of Russell and Chayefsky is very apparent in this biography.

"Chayefsky admitted upfront that the genesis for [Altered States] was the metamorphosis split-self classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

"William Hurt ... noticed that the director had Betty Boop on his socks and he knew he was safe"


Dancing Ledge Derek Jarman Dancing Ledge

By Derek Jarman. A good autobiography by Jarman, 1993.  A couple of short chapters cover Jarman´s work as set designer for The Devils and Savage Messiah "Ken called to say...we've lost the sets for Louis XIII´s palace...so the original design will never be realised- a historical film shot entirely in sets".

Ken Russell The Devils

"Ken asked me what would most upset an English audience. Louis XIII dining, carelessly shooting peacocks on the lawn...Later Ken dressed his extras as blackbirds while the king shot".


Linzi Drew Incest and Morris Dancing

By Linzi Drew. An autobiography, 1993.  Linzi Drew is a proud porn star, who worked as a stripper on ABC of British Music then got the part in Ken's sublime Aria.  She is also in Salome and Lair.  Her biography starts off kiss-and-tell (well, screw-and-tell) but the second half, dealing with the Russell films, and her trial and imprisonment, are very good.  While in an open prison she helped mentally handicapped people.


Glenda Jackson: a Study in Fire and Ice

By Ian Woodward, 1985.  A comprehensive biography.


Glenda Jackson

By David Nathan, 1984.   A very short biography but with some interesting quotes.


Cinematographers Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers

By Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato, 1984.  In his interview Billy Williams says of Women in Love: "Ken is a very demanding director. He's emotionally exhausting to work with. He has great vision...he's very headstrong so that I found myself struggling sometime to get what I wanted and what I felt Ken really wanted... He has an intense dislike of cinematographers using lights on day exteriors".



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