Rungs on a Ladder: Hammer Films Seen Through a Soft Gauze
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Rungs on a Ladder looks at part of the movie industry from a unique perspective. Christopher Neame, son of director Ronald, started his career (in the early 1960s) at the very bottom, but determinedly made his way to the top. Neame fondly recalls his learning years at Bray Studios and beyond. Simply and often amusingly, he recounts his days with Hammer Films and observes many of the characters both in front of and behind the camera―names synonymous with those classic tales of Gothic horror: director Terrence Fisher, producers Anthony Hinds, Michael Carreras and Anthony Nelson Keys, screenwriter/producer Jimmy Sangster, and of course, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Along the way, he encounters those less obviously connected to Hammer like Joan Fontaine, Joseph Cotten, Norman Lloyd, and Bette Davis. Never the one to reserve his critical eye for others alone, Neame willingly says mea culpa when deserved. The book begins with his rude awakening to the "string and sealing wax" world of Dracula Prince of Darkness and follows his journey through sixteen subsequent productions including three Frankensteins, The Devil Rides Out (which American distributors thought was going to be a Western!), and a couple of Mummy films. Neame also shares stories of his participation in non-genre ventures like Quatermass and the Pit, The Anniversary, Demons of the Mind and Fear in the Night.
Includes 16 pages of photos.
of the picture was at Hammer’s gothc best with an interesting new angltransplanting the soul of a young man, wrongly gudlotined for a murder, into h s girlfiiend’s body. The plot concerns hidher revenge. The Next Rung 25 The greatest joy for me was to work with Peter Cushing-just to think that this mddest of men could ever have played the cold-hearted Baron Frankenstein so convincingly! It was certainly a testament to his ability and sheer professionalism.Some actors, far too few, thoroughly
assigned the task himself, especially as he had already directed secondunit sequences successfully in the past. Actually, if the truth be known, he was far too valuable as the first assistant on the main unit. I set about doing my own storyboard-and as I can’t draw, the pictures were pretty dire and only I could understand them (occasionally). Funny how the memory holds some things more clearly than others. I can see them today, hopeless squiggles in red ink with arrows and an indication of which
Tanith’s car closer, whipping through the frame. Frankly, there is nothing more boring than “up and past” shots of cars, so in an attempt to keep things going, I wanted the camera to move fi-om a medurn shot following the car and end up panning with the front No Cowboys! 61 wheel as it came within an inch of the lens-then leave it to blur out of picture. Potentially this shot might be a bit dangerous, but the period vehicle (with its unfamiliar layout of foot pedals) was driven by a superb
response. Half an hour later, he and his assistant were summarily fired. A little uncalled for, I thought. Such a thing can break a strong man’s heart. On the Buses, which starred Reg Varney, was a memorable product from the company. It was all right as a piece of light work, but its claim to fame was that we produced it for under one hundred thousand pounds and that within weeks of its release it became Hammer’s quickest domestic earner. This was one of the earliest examples of a TV series
to get her before she took off and shot to the very top. As a person she was demanding, although I do not say it as a criticism. She would work people around her hard, but she equally drove herself. I should add that Joan looked a million dollars in every shot. Jimmy Sangster and Michael Carreras had been good chums for many a year, and both wanted Hammer to move with the tide. Jimmy was progressing toward the psychological drama. While supporting ths, Michael’s efforts went into pulling in any