MACE write for Derby Telegraph ‘Bygones’ about Behind the Scenes filming on location of ‘Women In Love’ (1968)


On the last Monday of every month I look at a Derbyshire film we hold here at MACE and write about it for Derby Telegraph’s Bygones.

This month I have focused on ATV Today: 18:11:1968: Women in Love, a behind the scenes film made by ATV of the 1969 movie Women in Love.

You can watch the ATV film below:

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/71004373]

Some of the scenes for Women in Love, produced and adapted by Larry Kramer from DH Lawrence’s classic novel, were filmed on location in and around Derby in 1968.

Directed by Ken Russell, the film starred Derby’s own Alan Bates, alongside Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden. It was nominated for four Oscars; for Kramer’s screenplay adaptation, Ken Russell’s direction and Billy Williams’ cinematography, with Glenda Jackson winning Best Actress for her portrayal of Gudron.

The black and white ATV film made during shooting on location in Derby was broadcast on November 18, 1968. It begins with a high-angle shot of the cast and crew at Derby’s Arboretum, where about 100 extras are gathered for a war memorial scene. This scene appears approximately 25 minutes into the movie, where the crowd sings Jerusalem and Alan Bates’ character Rupert Berkin rants to lover Ursula Brangwen (Jennie Linden) about war, love, hate and humanity as he carries her shopping through the singing crowds.

We see director Ken Russell behind the camera and shots of extras in 1920s period costume. Between these shots, is a brief glimpse of stars Jennie Linden and Alan Bates.

There are also images of cinematographer Billy Williams working with Ken Russell on setting up the shots.

Then follows an interview by reporter Barri Haynes with Larry Kramer in which he comments “many people at home are confused by the two distinct roles of director and producer”.

Kramer answers: “Well, traditionally, the producer is the one who finds the book, finds the director, gets the money for the film from the distribution company like, in our case, United Artists, then works with the director in helping the director formulate the film in the way the director wants to do.

“The director is obviously the one who takes care of everything that goes on in front of the camera, the performances of the actors, the cutting of the film, it’s his artistic concept.”

Barri goes on to ask how closely Kramer has been able to keep to DH Lawrence’s conception of the characters. Kramer replies: “Both Ken and I feel very strongly that we have a very fine classic novel and why change it. We’ve been very faithful to the book… I think Lawrence would be proud, which is the main thing, as far as we’re concerned.”

We then cut to footage of Ken Russell setting up shots and we hear and see what we presume to be the assistant director, who uses a megaphone to instruct the extras and crew. Next, Mr Haynes interviews Alan Bates, who was born in Allestree and attended Herbert Strutt Grammar School, in Belper, from 1945-51.

Alan Bates says: “I was born here, I was born about three miles north of Derby in what was a village then, called Allestree. I suppose it still is a village. And I went to school about 20 miles…”, he thinks… “Ten, 15, 20, I can’t remember… Belper, a town called Belper, a bit further north, and the town of Derby was my town.”

Barri asks: “This was where you started your professional life, wasn’t it?” Bates responds: “Well, in a way, I studied with a teacher, probably the best teacher I ever had, a man called Claude Gibson, who a lot of Derby people knew very well. But from then I went to RADA, I didn’t have anything professionally at Derby until now.”

Following this interview, there are wonderful shots of a 35mm film camera and Mr Haynes then interviews Jennie Linden. He asks her how she feels about the role.

Jennie says: “One’s very involved but I think I feel happy. I couldn’t say happy with playing at the moment because one is fighting to do it very well, and fighting to find the character and Lawrence’s characters are very, very difficult because, in his books, he depicts them so well and you know you’re given one line but, in actual fact, there are five different things going on in one line and this is what I’m striving to do… to kind of find the five dimensions.”

Jennie explains that she went into early retirement to have her son, coincidentally called Rupert, the same name as the Alan Bates’ character she is playing opposite, and how she came out of retirement after Russell and the producers saw a screen test she did for another film (believed to be the 1966 film Lion in Winter).

Jennie says: “Well, I did a test for another film last September before the baby was born, before I knew I was going to have a baby and I thought perhaps it was the most marvellous test I’d ever done in my life and, if it didn’t get me that particular part, I would almost, I thought to myself, give it up.

“Well I didn’t get that particular part so I think I thought it’s time I had a rest from this business…. And suddenly this test, which was on a very dusty shelf for some time… suddenly it was taken down from this dusty shelf and was shown, unbeknown to me entirely, to Ken Russell and the producers.

“And suddenly this phone call came and they said would you play Ursula? I was so entranced with my little son because he is only four months, and I thought, ‘No! I don’t want to’. And then when I read the book and I realised it was Lawrence, and working for Ken Russell. The opportunity is so marvellous.”

The behind the scenes film ends with Russell and extras again as the ATV cameras film a scene identical to the one which appears in the film, as characters Ursula and Rupert walk through the Arboretum, Rupert carrying the parcels.

Many scenes were filmed in Derbyshire, including New Street and Bank Road, Matlock, Crich Tramway Village and Kedleston Hall. Footage of the ATV film can be viewed on our website http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk or search “Women in Love” on MACE’s website at http://www.macearchive.org

Stills from the Film:

Women in Love - Location

Women in Love - Alan Bates

Above (top) Location filming in Derby Arborerum (Bottom) Sir Alan Bates in November 1968 filming Women in Love.

All stills and moving image (c) ITV Studios Global Entertainment (Associated Television 1968)

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