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Now and Then: John Boulting (1967)


Main image of Now and Then: John Boulting (1967)
22 September 1967
16mm, colour, 21 mins
Production CompanyAdanac Productions
ProducersBernard Braden
 Barbara Kelly
PhotographyRichard Bayley

Bernard Braden interviews film director John Boulting.

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Bernard Braden's interview with John Boulting focuses predominantly on two topics: the current state of the British film industry, and Boulting's relationship with actor Peter Sellers.

Veteran filmmaker John Boulting had formed an enduring director-producer team with his twin brother, Roy. As the Boulting brothers, they had shared production and direction duties to make a string of highly regarded British films in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Though many considered the 1960s a boom time for the British film industry, Boulting is not convinced that, beneath the surface, the studios are actually 'swinging'. He describes the mechanisms of exhibition as 'unhealthy', in that they are controlled by a small number of big combines. He draws attention to the fact British production is currently dominated by the American studios, and that though British actors and technicians are indeed employed on globally-successful films shot in Britain, the profits from the films are returning to American companies, consequently "not helping the balance of payments problem" in Britain.

Braden and Boulting discuss the work of Peter Sellers, who by 1967 was developing a reputation as a 'difficult' actor to work with, and one whose career had begun a downhill slide. Earlier in his career, Sellers had given critically acclaimed performances in Boulting brothers films; as trade unionist Fred Kite in I'm All Right Jack (1959) and as clergyman Reverend Smallwood in Heavens Above! (1963).

Boulting suggests that Sellers needs a "strong director" to avoid self-indulgence; indeed, a few years after this interview took place, Sellers attempted to revitalise his reinvigorate his critical and commercial profile by renewing his working relationship with the Boultings to make There's a Girl in my Soup (1970) and Soft Beds, Hard Battles (1974). Neither film, however, was an unqualified success.

For his part, Braden seems more certain of Boulting's talent than that of Sellers. While Boulting does not hesitate to describe Sellers as a genius, Braden seems unconvinced, describing him as a 'bit player' that Boulting made into a star.

Vic Pratt

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Video Clips
Complete unedited video (21:08)
Boulting, John (1913-1985)
Now and Then (1967-68)