A Retake Please!: Night Mail to Western Approaches by Pat Jackson
By Pat Jackson
This memoir is an strange contribution to the historical past of movie and cinema. At its centre is the tale of the making of the British movie vintage Western ways, the 1st tale documentary in Technicolor, completely enacted via amateurs. It used to be nominated for the simplest movie from any resource Oscar.
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Extra info for A Retake Please!: Night Mail to Western Approaches
The sequence would be built with the trainee standing by the opening of the van, waiting for the critical moment to lower the metal arm to which is attached the mail pouch. He is getting nervy. ’ His instructor shakes his head and shouts back: ‘No, no. ’ The ﬁrst bridge passes and soon after the second. Harry comes into close shot as the trainee starts to count beats of the wheels. He cuts to the trainee’s ﬁngers beating on the man’s chest. Cuts to the instructor. Back to the trainee’s ﬁngers: 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.
It was cold, I remember, and we played ‘rugger’ with my battered old trilby to keep warm, and then she appeared miles below us. Two puﬃng funnels were shooting white smoke up the valley for there was a pusher to help the climb. As already mentioned, these shots were eventually to carry the opening lines of Auden’s verse: ‘This is the Night Mail crossing the border, bringing the cheque and the postal order’. The following day we boarded the footplate of the Royal Scot to get shots of the driver, the ﬁreman and the passing country for the rest of Auden’s verse—‘Past cotton grass and moorland boulder, shovelling white steam over her shoulder’.
As I have said, he believed education could be the cure for everything. For this reason, he sent his young brother-in-law, John Taylor, who had photographed Song of Ceylon, to Glasgow University to do a course in something or other. Even if he didn’t get a degree he would learn how to concentrate through enforced essay writing. During a visit to the unit at Mousehole, Grierson saw my French homework on the table of the digs I was sharing with Harry and his wife Lulu. I was doing a correspondence course with Wolsey Hall, trying to make up for the loss of my school years.