Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Michael Winner The Joker

Michael Winner 1935/2013
It is always sad when a person of character dies so it is with sadness that I see that Michael Winner the film director and restaurant critic died yesterday of liver failure. I never met Winner although our paths crossed once when I spent two memorable nights in Eton courtyard chaperoning one of the actors, William Kendall who was in Winner's film The Jokers.

Michael Winner was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He had no money worries and could please himself and he did. I suppose I was jealous of his ability to fund his own projects and envious of the perks to which only an Eton educated man could aspire. For Winner to hire Eton Courtyard for two nights with a full film crew and turn it into the Keep of the Tower of London was no problem. As an old boy he was allowed carte blanche.

The shoot was well organized and Winner obviously knew what he wanted. There were no major catastrophes but it was amusing to watch Winner work with his stars, namely Oliver Reid and a young Michael Crawford . All three were eccentric and spent most of the waiting moments seeing who could spit the furthest! The rest of the huge crew and cast were spell bound.

I did know Michael Crawford quite well having worked with him at Aldeburgh but he had become a Star and I did not feel up to coping with him at this moment. The three of them had challenging personalities and could be quite rude if they felt like it. I did meet Oliver Reid later on another film set and he was quite charming.  I remember he bought me a drink!

The film was average of its type for the middle sixties and you can see it on YouTube if you look for it. I was not very impressed at the time. William Kendall plays the Governor of the Tower. He was Daddy's drinking partner at the Seven Balls in Whitchurch Lane and needed a chauffeur to get him from Stanmore to Windsor. It was fun and I got paid. 

Still it is always sad to see a character go and Winner seems to be in this category. The arts needs patrons of any kind.

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