In May 1999, after a 40 year career including 100 films Oliver Reed died as he had invariably lived, Drinking With Friends while making another film is well received performance in the Blockbuster gladiator and having Risen through hammer horror films to international starred up as Bill Sikes in Oliver Reed became in his own words the biggest star this country has got With his legendary off screen exploits and blue opinions especially of his co-stars he was one of the most infamous.
All quotes belong to Oliver Reed or others, and copyright belongs to Cliff Goodwin.
In the Previous in this blog -Oliver has now left the army, and is using a combination of sex and lies to get himself few walk on part in films. making the grand sum of £14 and by the 1958 he’s been in four films. Yet he feels a need to talk with his uncle the director Carol Reed all he gets in the end is advice he’s already taking. He even meets his brother’s girlfriend and future wife who is left speechless when she first sees him Oliver’s inability to read properly in the end plays a big role in him getting a part on a children’s television show the golden spur playing Richard of Gloucester. He meets and marries Katie Byrne after she Forges her father’s signature on the marriage licence, But Oliver has a problem with keeping his income balanced with his outgoing so then has to rely on his maternal grandmother and eventually his father-in-law who doesn’t want to see his daughter thrown out homeless. In the end however he is taken on as a bit role player in the hammer horror series of films by the studio of the same name. All this happens as Kate becomes pregnant. And Oliver begins to form his famous drinking Club
Chapter Six ” everyday life is my favourite people are my favourite actors”
Anthony Nelson Keys has the task of find the team of specialists needed for each new hammer production the last letter of the afternoon was addressed to Roy Ashton, has learnt his make-up skill before the War as an apprentice with a Gaumont British Film Company. And by 1957 had 25 films under his belt Ashton was invited to work on Curse of the werewolf would be his 6th film with hammer in a little over two years. After doing his usual research in the Natural History Museum Ashton therefore came to the conclusion the only suitable actor for the role would be Oliver Reed because he’s powerful bone structure. But Ashton still hadn’t officially been given the job just yet, he rang Oliver who was very co-operative.
“He was very ambitious at the time and nothing was too much trouble, after all this film was his big chance and a professional artist goes I think he was marvellous”
The shooting started on 12 September, there were still a few days for Ashton to perfect his creation, more that anything it was the werewolf fangs that he was unhappy with, and with help of fellow Australian Phil Rasmussen they came up with a solution.
” he was attempting to make the werewolf fangs from taking impressions of real teeth it was an impossible task and I suggested he decide his own from scratch”
For Oliver the application of the werewolf makeup with a tedious and somewhat painful experience each money he will arrive at Bray by 7 and sit permantly for up right to 2 hours as Ashton and one of his assistants glued pieces of the monster mask onto the actors face laying here over joints of his own skin Oliver’s on-screen transformation into the werewolf cause problems this time for the director and the camera Crews Ashton came up with a solution for this as well he suggested The Wolfman transformation was only shown using the hands to do this they would lock off a camera in set position for each shop and use stop-motion photography and plaster casts of Oliver and the whole thing would roughly take two hours.
Oliver’s work on werewolf officially terminated on the 2nd of November and the end around £1,000 for 8 weeks work, bedsit years he would remember the Promotion as his first real test as an actor
“as an extra an actor gets his first half of doesn’t films for free you’re basically paying yourself in a variety of different surroundings and then the present moment captures spoke with you and you and you have to use your imagination to create a character that’s when your real acting starts.
For devoted hammer fans the film ranks as one Bray Studios best efforts at its best ernest attempt to understand and interpret Iberian folklore, sometimes a little too closely. However verdicts on the film remain unanimously bleak, but for Oliver there was a Glimmer of hope one lone critic described his performance as mesmerising.
On 21 January 1961, Kate gave birth a boy they named Mark Thurloe Reed, guessing Oliver’s profession was almost impossible already a hammer leading man he found that were few benefits if any, and enquiries about his latest film or contract were ignored or swept politely aside names would never dropped work was work and play was play. Michael Monks Oliver’s stage manager friend with an acting ambition of his own always amazed how his friend found time to prepare for part.
Not once did I see him with a script in his hand not once did he say he couldn’t come out because he was learning his lines or rehearsing.
Yet Oliver was working you may have moved from stealing from Kate’s purse are begging money from his aunt to pay for his afternoons at the cinema. he would invest his money in every public and saloon bar he visited calling every pint he bought an investment providing he could make his drink last the day he would have a whole days lesson from the best teacher on earth the genuine original if a partner man need a rough loudmouth navvy. he would traveller working men’s club until he found a character to fit watching every mannerism every flattering action every slurred and mumbled expression, and the same would go for the upper class artists he would watch in the London and drinking clubs.
By the end of 1961 cinema audiences as a hammer horror body his roll this time was Brocaire brief yet competent, and for the Damned based on hell HL Laurence novel the children of light Oliver swapped his fur and fangs for a tweed jacket and black tie his performance in this flim would also inspire one of the seminal novels of the 1960s when it’s pretty violent scenes and redistion in latest social neurosis. Anthony Burgess would later admit it was Oliver Reed’s performance of King the leader of a a predatory teenage gang that inspired him to write a Clockwork Orange, the novel was later adapted for the cinema and in response to a spate of attacks copycat in the scenes from the film it’s director Stanley Kubrick took the unique step in 1973 of adding a lifetime ban on it screenings it was finally released in the United Kingdom again on the 17th of March 2000 after Stanley Kubrick death the previous year.
the fame and fortune had failed to materialize for Oliver but a least he could have for a new home for his wife and 18 months year old son and in the charts between the 1950s and 1960s and you type of actor was a virgin two interest British film directors the fake elegant officer gentleman whose trademark was tapping have a cigarette on a monogram case was being replaced by the Rough Trade brush and physical young men who’s personal independence and drunkenness wait and constantly shooting a mouse off were more in tune with the public and were about to enter the picture.
one such part he portrayed an ugly was for the popular television show the Saint Adventures starring Roger Moore and adaptation from the Leslie Charteris novels, The episode was called The King of Beggars filmed at Elstree studios on the back lot with mockups of Italian streets and houses, John Oliver for his safe babe you were the following actors and future stars Ronnie Corbett and Warren Mitchell. So enthusiastic was he at one point Oliver’s method acting cost him to fall backwards into the scenery and not himself unconscious.
Michael Winner was a director with a passion for gold jewellery he said he could smell Talent before it was into his London and it was a man to keep his promises, and it was one 1962 October morning winner had a phone call from Oliver who trying to get a short screenplay he had written into a film, all about two men living in a wardrobe on top of a hill it was too esoteric even for Winner but a low budget movie certainly couldn’t do his reputation any harm so he arranged an interview.
Winner and Oliver talk for more than an hour according to win it Oliver came across as a very shy sensitive young man full of ideas about how he thought he should be shot and what the message should be sleeping through the script and Reading line-up we decided against the project what he didn’t tell Oliver all he was really interested in was trying to find him the right film. it took almost 2 years for this to happen the script was West Eleven an adaptation of the Laura de Rivo novel The furnished room in which a rootless drifter is offered £10,000 to commit murder winner wanted Oliver and the actress Julie Christie star but the decision was taken out of his hand as Christie and Oliver were both too inexperienced.
And in 1963 winner approach them both again this time with parts in his latest project the system unfortunately Julie Christie was busy filming Billy Liar so her part was taken by Julia Foster, impressed by winners loyalty the cast of other blooming Talent including David Hemmings, Derek Nimmo John Alderton and Harry Andrews. The flim set in the British sea side was a seafront photographer who leads a group of young men into a system which shares out the pretty women who come on holiday. Oliver’s role was that of the photographer. who falls in love with a classic model played by Julie Merrow and Unites his passion and Talent to become a London photographer . When arriving on set one day there are directive found Oliver being received by a group of young women they were in fat members of the Oliver Reed fan club although married with a young son Oliver exploited his good looks and sexual appeal and made no excuse for his rather obvious casual affairs.
On the first day of shooting Oliver discovered the flamboyant winners presents to be as intimidating as his ego, enthused with Cecil b demille megalomaniia microphone winner would insist on issuing all his on set instructions through a megaphone no matter how close he was standing to the recipient this whimsical sense of humour also indeed him to his latest Star. however once again the BFI critic found the stars performance lacking
“Oliver Reed is badly cast as Tinker in this very class conscious film accent places in firmly in the U theory while Script put him several pegs lower this plays havoc with the action and we can never really believed in let alone feel sympathy for this rather unattractive Don Juan of the beaches”
Edited and reissues two years later in 1966, as The Girl Gets the film not only established Oliver Reed is an actor capable of representing the dreams and delusions of his generation, but it also fixed him as one of the pre pop icons. Many for the studio press releases mentioned his Marriage or his young son preferring to exploit his image as new brooding teenage idol
With the list of credits growing the curse of the werewolf, Captain Clegg, The Pirates of blood river, Paranoiac and The Party’s Over an official fan club was now being formed to deal with all his mail.
Early November 1964 Oliver invited his friend David Mumford the former Royal Army Medical Corps sergeant to an event the opening of a bowling alley with the star Kathy Kirby unfortunately Mumford informed Oliver he could not drink as he had a show to perform so Oliver had him right down his address on a piece of paper and passed it to the barman and informed him to delivery a create whiskey to his friend on him.
What I think – I guess that on the one hand we have Oliver the successful Rising movie star with several credit to his name and we now have the total opposite we have Oliver Reed the gentleman not trying very hard to keep well call it within married lines. I’m not taking sides, but the studio did have quite a big influence in how the public would perceive him and Oliver obviously did not want to let his public down so to speak. As for Oliver’s professionalism does seem to be quite a high priority you spent quite a lot of time working with the makeup artists on his first film and almost goes out of his way to make sure he has some form of working relationship with people he doesn’t even really know. The question becomes then how far and how long will the professionalism and stardom last for and how long is that will his marriage last.
So that’s your lot for this week and in the next blog we will be covering more of Mr Reed’s life, as always if you have done thank you for reading and whoever you are whether you be I hope you can join me next week.