FILM REVIEW: The Cinema Years: Forget Carter, A Celebration of Newcastle Film + The Clouded Yellow @ Tyne Theatre and Opera HouseAugust 18, 2017 11:00 am
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Review by Adam Turnbull.
To celebrate the Tyne Theatre and Opera House’s anniversary, there was a talk from the author Chris Phipps – who wrote the great book Forget Carter: Newcastle on Film and Television; the subject being, of course, films made in Newcastle, on which he gave a fascinating lecture. The first film showed as part of the event was On The Night Of The Fire – the first film to be made in Newcastle, with scenes filmed along the Quayside, on a recreation of Dean Street and in many other areas around Newcastle. Chris pointed out that none of the actors had Geordie accents, and also – curiously – a scene where the main character was smoking a pipe and playing an accordion. Chris told us that their reasons for choosing the shooting location of Newcastle was a bit of a mystery; that it was probably because the director, Brian Desmond Hurst, came from a poor Belfast family and his father worked on the docks – and so may have worked in Newcastle and remembered it. Chris also talked about Get Carter, which came about because Michael Caine wanted a change of character from the Errol Flynn-typed parts he had done before. Get Carter showed off Newcastle as a great place to film a hard-hitting, stylish gangster picture – though Chris Phipps told us that it had not performed well in the box office or America, but became popular later in the nineties as a cult classic film.
We also watched The Clouded Yellow, which is set in a country house where the ex-secret agent David Somers, played by Trevor Howard, is sent to catalogue butterflies. There, he meets the troubled Sophie – played by Jean Simmons – the niece of the master and mistress of the house, and also the leering, licentious gardener Hick, who soon meets a sticky end. When Hick is found with a knife in his back, it is quickly revealed that the knife belongs to Sophie and soon both she and David are sent on an adventurous, rip-roaring chase that leads them to Newcastle, the Lake District and finally Liverpool – where the movie makes its terrifying conclusion. The film is in many ways similar to The 39 Steps, with the great chase at the beginning and end of the film – especially with Kenneth Moore (who would later star in a revival of the Hitchcock masterpiece) playing the police detective. Watch out for scenes filmed in real Newcastle, such as when the protagonists get off the bus near the Castle Keep, and also near Osborne Villas, where David and Sophie go to the safe house. Newcastle is well suited for The Clouded Yellow’s noir theme, with the darkly shadowy streets and dockyard area – which could easily replace the dark, alluring streets of Vienna in the classic noir film The Third Man. So The Clouded Yellow is a classic, marvellous film which shows images of old Newcastle, now sadly long gone.