6 April 2005 | rsoonsa
Update To Previous Review.
Director Peter Webb has informed this reviewer of valuable elements necessary to correct and enhance my comments of 22 July 2004. The following is excerpted from Mr. Webb's remarks:
"'These were not actors. In fact nobody in the entire film had ever been in front of a camera before they got my call.
They came from a comprehensive file of "faces" I had built up for my advertising stills work, a style (including building "authentically" crumbling studio sets) I had learned from my former employer and mentor Photographer/Director Howard Zieff (Private Benjamin, My Girl etc.) acquired working for him as third assistant in his New York Studios in the early 1960's.
The cast was exclusively "from the street", ranging from (Cockney) Jerry O'Shea playing "Big Butch" (in fact a Covent Garden Fruit Market Porter) to "Harry The Horse" Harry Gaunt (a rather shy man with high blood pressure who loaded the trucks at one of the movie props supply companies) via "Damon Runyon" played by Ivan Cotton (A former saucepan salesman from Esher) etc. and, last but by no means least, my nephew Zachary Peirce, age 9 months!
Apart from the scenes like Mindy's that required the exact words of the story to be spoken by the characters, most of the "dialogue" was created by me chatting to the actors off camera about their holidays, etc., to relax them. The occasional change of questioning or even insult thrown in from nowhere usually sufficed to produce a reaction!
The movie was shot mute, and the approximate words of the storyline fitted by a foreign language dubbing expert, and spoken by a range of talented U.S. radio actors resident in London, the most prominent being the aptly named Thick Wilson.
Possibly it was the audacity of the concept, combined with the use of false-perspective miniatures and models for the New York streets that swung the jury into voting Butch as a BAFTA winner (Short Film 1979) and a Cork Film International Award (Best Drama short). It even made the far off fields of Chicago (Certificate of Merit) and Melbourne (Best in Festival).
The critical and subsequent commercial success of the film (it was released with Airport '80 in the UK Cinemas and by PBS in a series of Classic American short story writers like O. Henry, etc.) allowed me to venture into the ....worlds of Hollywood Cinema.'"