A MIDAS TOUCH – THE TV AND FILMS OF JACK GOLD
TWO MONTH SEASON AT BFI SOUTHBANK
IN JULY AND AUGUST
During July and August BFI Southbank will host a season dedicated to the remarkable 60-year career of director Jack Gold, who died last year aged 85.
A director who could turn his hand to any genre – documentary, drama, comedy – with consistent quality, Gold directed some of the most perfectly crafted films for both big and small screen. Perhaps more known for his work with actor John Thaw on the TV feature Goodnight Mister Tom (1998), ITV series Kavanagh QC (1997-2001) and the final episode of ITV’s detective drama Inspector Morse (2000), this season will focus on earlier work and the dazzling versatility of Gold’s career from the 1960s to 1980s.
Titles screening in the season include Gold’s debut feature The Bofors Gun (1968) and perhaps his most famous work, the deeply moving and witty story of Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant (Thames TV, 1975). The star of the latter, John Hurt, will take part in a panel discussion in association with BAFTA about working with Gold on Monday 25 July at BFI Southbank; he will be joined by producers Sir Jeremy Isaacs and Tony Garnett, actor Jane Lapotaire, composer Carl Davis and cinematographer Brian Tufano (all work permitting).
Like many great directors, Jack Gold began his career as a film editor at the BBC, which imbued him with a natural skill for pacing and rhythm and an eye for framing. In 1960 he joined the revolutionary TV series Tonight – examples from this series include Tonight: Black Campus (BBC, 1968), Tonight: Is It Cricket? (BBC, 1963) Tonight: Dance Hall (BBC, 1960) and Tonight: Happy As Can Be (BBC, 1959). Tonight gave Gold his big break when, in 1964, he won his first of three BAFTA awards for a special episode Death in the Morning, about fox-hunting. Also screening will be two early dramas: The Lump (BBC, 1967), a Wednesday Play produced by Tony Garnett about a bricklayer who’s sacked from his job and forced to take up work on ‘the lump,’ an exploitative mode of employment without proper regulation and The World of Coppard: Dusky Ruth (BBC, 1967), which was heavily influenced by the French New Wave.
Gold’s experience as a director of documentaries as well as drama meant that he was able to perfectly judge the tone required for dramatisations based on real incidents such as Stocker’s Copper (BBC, 1972) starring Gareth Thomas and Jane Lapotaire and Ninety Days (BBC, 1966) scripted by anti-apartheid activist Ruth First, who plays herself in this revealing account of her arrest by South African authorities for being a supporter of Nelson Mandela.
Other key titles playing include his feature debut The Bofors Gun (1968), a tense, brooding, occasionally darkly comic interpretation of John McGrath’s play Events While Guarding the Bofors Gun and The Naked Civil Servant (Thames TV, 1975), Gold’s ground-breaking drama, adapted by Philip Mackie from Quentin Crisp’s autobiography. The film saw Gold coax an astonishing performance from a young John Hurt and find precisely the right style to tell this moving story of intolerance and one man’s fight for dignity and acceptance.
Part two of the season in August highlights some of Gold’s most remarkable work for TV, as well as his successful move into features including The Medusa Touch (1978) – a cult horror-thriller featuring a larger-than-life performance from Richard Burton.
By the early 1970s, Jack Gold had cemented his reputation as a director who could turn his hand to anything and place his unique stamp of quality on the material. With the huge success of The Naked Civil Servant (Thames TV, 1975), Gold found himself being offered larger-budget feature films to direct. His move from the small to big screen is a journey that displays dazzling versatility – from his immensely stylish reworking of Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (BBC, 1972) and a savagely funny satire of Stalin’s Russia in Red Monarch (Ch4 1983), to the quiet intensity of Trevor Howard’s tortured priest in Catholics: A Fable of the Future (HTV, 1973) and the romance between a miner and a fisherwoman in God Bless Thee Jacky Maddison (1974), to the pitch-black medical satire of Peter Nichols’ The National Health (1973) and Jack Rosenthal’s hilarious The Chain (1984).
Jack Gold was absolutely trusted by producers, writers and actors alike due to his natural sensitivity to the subject – whether it be the social realism of The Lump, the eroticism of Dusky Ruth or the deeply moving nature of The Naked Civil Servant. This season has only been able to scratch the surface of Gold’s incredible 60-year career but has hopefully helped to reinforce his rightful position as one of Britain’s great directors. He leaves behind an incredible legacy of some of the most powerful and beautifully-crafted films to have graced our screens.
A MIDAS TOUCH – THE TV AND FILMS OF JACK GOLD is on now until Wednesday 31 August 2016 at BFI Southbank
For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.
Gold’s Early Dramas
These two early dramas display Gold’s dazzling versatility
The Wednesday Play. BBC 1967. Dir Jack Gold. With Leslie Sands, Colin Farrell. 75min
Jim Allen’s script tells the story of a bricklayer who’s sacked from his job and forced to take up work on ‘the lump,’ an exploitative mode of employment without proper regulation. With a style reminiscent of Ken Loach, Gold brings a deep humanity to the workers’ struggle.
+ Omnibus. The World of Coppard: Dusky Ruth
BBC 1967. Dir Jack Gold. With Francis White, Mike Pratt. 20min
Heavily influenced by the French New Wave, Gold (alongside DOP Brian Tufano) creates a beautiful and powerful dissection of the nature of desire through images and performance, with dialogue pared down to essentials.
WED 27 JUL 18:20 NFT2
The Bofors Gun
UK 1968. Dir Jack Gold. With Nicol Williamson, David Warner, Ian Holm, John Thaw. 106min. Video. 15
With his feature debut Gold delivers a tense, brooding, occasionally darkly comic interpretation of John McGrath’s play Events While Guarding the Bofors Gun – cleverly managing to keep aspects of the play’s theatricality without the film becoming static and wordy. Williamson is particularly outstanding as the drunken, embittered Irishman who mercilessly goads a nervous Corporal (Warner) who holds responsibility for the first time.
FRI 15 JUL 18:00 NFT2 + SUN 17 JUL 15:45 NFT2
Jack Gold Arts TV Programme
Gold was equally at home in the world of arts programming, as these two superb examples testify.
A Lot of Happiness: Kenneth MacMillan Creates a Television Ballet
Granada 1981. 64min
An insightful behind-the-scenes look at how the great choreographer MacMillan constructs a ballet, based on Orpheus, specifically for TV.
+ Dowager in Hot Pants
Thames TV 1971. 51min
A revealing examination of the Hollywood studio system and the survival tactics its stars had to adopt from the earliest days up to the 70s. The film includes rare interviews with Betty Blythe, Stanley Kramer, Adolph Zukor and many more.
+ Tonight: Dance Hall
BBC 1960. 10min
A charming observational short looking at a dance hall in the Midlands on a typical Saturday night circa 1960.
SAT 23 JUL 18:00 NFT2
The Naked Civil Servant
Thames TV 1975. Dir Jack Gold. With John Hurt, Patricia Hodge, John Rhys-Davies. 78min
This groundbreaking drama, rightfully regarded as Jack Gold’s masterpiece, had a huge impact on audiences in 1975. Adapted by Philip Mackie from Quentin Crisp’s autobiography, it saw Gold coax an astonishing performance from a young John Hurt and find precisely the right style to tell this moving story of intolerance and one man’s fight for dignity and acceptance. Joint ticket available with the Jack Gold panel discussion £16, concs £12
MON 25 JUL 18:30 NFT1
Jack Gold Panel Discussion with actors Sir John Hurt and Jane Lapotaire, producers Sir Jeremy Isaacs and Tony Garnett, composer Carl Davis and cinematographer Brian Tufano
(all work permitting) TRT 90min
Our distinguished panel, comprising those who knew and worked with Jack Gold, will discuss the career of one of the most important directors British television has so far produced. The event will be illustrated with clips of Gold’s work, plus there will be the opportunity to ask questions of your own. Joint ticket offer with The Naked Civil Servant. Check bfi.org.uk for updates on panellists
MON 25 JUL 20:30 NFT1
Jack Gold Drama Programme
Two totally contrasting dramas, in both content and tone that demonstrate Gold’s incredible ability to adapt his style to the subject.
The Wednesday Play. BBC 1970. Dir Jack Gold. With Michael Jayston, Michael Pennington, David Wood, Clive Swift. 68min
Michael Jayston excels as the complex poet Siegfried Sassoon, who awaits his fate having declared that he will not fight in a war he regards as a pointless waste of life. Gold’s direction and Carl Davis’ score combine wonderfully with Sassoon’s own poetry and the result is both compelling and highly revealing.
+ Faith and Henry Sunday Night Theatre. LWT 1969.
Dir Jack Gold. With Hilary Baker, John Baron, Julia Jones, Allan Surtees. 56min
This drama is remarkable for the casual, almost incidental way a charming interracial relationship is presented, given attitudes in 1969. Julia Jones’ coming-of-age story and Gold’s unselfconscious direction nicely capture the optimism of youth as Henry asks Faith to be his girl – but Faith demonstrates a surprising independence that reflects the emergence of the modern woman.
SAT 30 JUL 18:10 NFT2
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
The Gangster Show, BBC 1972. Director Jack Gold. With Nichol Williamson, Sam Wanamaker, Peter Frye. 100min
Produced by the great Tony Garnett, George Tabori’s adaptation of Brecht’s drama deftly exploits the additional depth and texture that the TV play can bring to such material. As the psychotic megalomaniac Ui, Nichol Williamson’s performance nods to Hitler, while Gold’s assured direction brilliantly uses the visual feel of the Hollywood gangster movie to emphasise the wider political points about the criminal aspects of unbridled capitalism.
MON 1 AUG 18:30 NFT2
Catholics: A Fable of the Future
ITV Sunday Night Theatre. HTV 1973. Dir Jack Gold. With Trevor Howard, Martin Sheen, Michael Gambon, Cyril Cusak. 78min
In Brian Moore’s powerful and thought-provoking adaptation from his own novel, Father Kinsella (Sheen) is parachuted into a remote Irish abbey to instruct the monks to cease holding mass in Latin and obey the orders of Rome – conflict is inevitable. Trevor Howard’s tortured Abbot is one of his finest performances as he’s forced to face up to his crisis of faith.
+ God Bless Thee Jacky Maddison
BBC 1974. Dir Jack Gold. With David Daker, Anne Raitt, James Garbutt, Jean Heywood. 30min
This drama, written by Tom Hadaway, is set in Northumberland in 1905. Jacky (Daker) declares his love for Ann (Raitt), but he’s from the local pit and she belongs to a tightly-knit fishing community recovering from terrible losses at sea. Can his love ever triumph over the cultural chasm between them?
MON 15 AUG 18:20 NFT2
UK 1984. Dir Jack Gold. With Warren Mitchell, Billie Whitelaw, Leo McKern, Rita Wolf, Nigel Hawthorne. 96min. 35mm. PG
This star-studded episodic comedy was written by the great Jack Rosenthal. Seven sets of house hunters are all due to move on the same day and are interconnected by the tenuous ‘chain’ that allows everything to fall into place. Gold’s unfussy direction suits the complicated theme, allowing Rosenthal’s wonderful ear for the comedy of natural dialogue to take centre stage.
SUN 28 AUG 18:15 NFT2
WED 31 AUG 20:40 NFT2
Ch4 1983. Dir Jack Gold. With Colin Blakely, David Suchet, Carroll Baker, David Threlfall. 101min
Written by Charles Wood after a story by Yuriy Korotkov, this is a savagely funny satire on the nature of Stalin’s Russia. Blakely excels in the role of Stalin, perfectly capturing the unhinged nature of a man corrupted by total power, while David Suchet as the Chief of Police is forced to take ever more brutal and ridiculous measures to serve his master’s iron will. Gold successfully treads a difficult line between farce and irony here, and the film is a timely reminder of the refreshingly original, unexpected and quirky titles that were commissioned by Film4 in its early days.
THU 25 AUG 18:20 NFT2
The National Health
UK 1973. Dir Jack Gold. With Eleanor Bron, Lynn Redgrave, Jim Dale, Colin Blakely, Bob Hoskins. 97min. 35mm. PG
This pitch-black medical satire from Peter Nichols (adapted from his own stage play) mixes drama and comedy in its depiction of Britain as a patient in a terminal ward. A further level of satire is added by juxtaposing the shambolic real-life traumas in the chaotic, underfunded public sector with a glossy, hospital-set soap opera entitled ‘Nurse Norton’s Affair.’
MON 8 AUG 20:40 NFT2
WED 24 AUG 18:20 NFT2
The Medusa Touch
UK-France 1978. Dir Jack Gold. With Richard Burton, Lee Remick, Lino Ventura. 109min. 35mm. PG
Adapted from the novel by Peter Van Greenaway, this was the first movie produced by Arnon Milchan, who has since produced films like Fight Club, JFK and Once Upon a Time in America. This cult horror/sci-fi thriller features a larger-than-life performance from Burton as an intensely troubled author with murderous telekinetic powers. It’s a full-blooded, full-throttle slice of movie mayhem from Jack Gold, who clearly enjoyed flexing his directing muscles beyond the small screen, and with the deft touch of Oscar®-winning editor Anne V Coates (Lawrence of Arabia) he managed to elevate the film way beyond B-movie territory.
WED 17 AUG 20:40 NFT2
MON 22 AUG 18:20 NFT2