[ Philip Saville, 'the Orson Welles of the small screen'. ] Two Autograph Notebooks by the pioneering British director: first with account of making of 'Hamlet in Elsinore', second with plot, dialogue, notes, for 'Stop The World, I Want To Get Off'.

Philip Saville (1930-2016), 'the Orson Welles of the small screen', pioneering British film and television director, associated with Harold Pinter, Jane Arden, Diana Rigg, Bob Dylan, Pauline Boty
Publication details: 
Both with Saville's London address, 28 Finchley Road, NW8. Both volumes undated, but the first around 1964, and the second around 1966.
SKU: 20518

These two items date from the 1960s, a period during which Saville was a notable 'face' on the London scene: he dated the 'Avengers' actress Diana Rigg and the Pop artist Pauline Boty, and flew Bob Dylan to Britain for his first acting role. For more information about him, see his obituaries in the Guardian (1 December 2017: '[…] an important figure in British television drama [...] an innovative practitioner […] His visual experimentation worked in harmony with a keen intellectualism, and he pushed the envelope both technically and in terms of subject matter.') and the Telegraph (17 February 2017: '[…] directed two of the most notable television dramas of the 1980s, Alan Bleasdale’s bleakly compulsive series Boys from the Blackstuff (1982) and The Life and Loves of a She Devil (1986). | His technical bravura as a young director led the critic John Russell Taylor to anoint him “the Orson Welles of the small screen” […]'). Both items in fair overall condition, aged and worn, the second in heavily worn covers with spine repaired with tape. At the front of both Saville has written his name and Finchley Road address. ONE: 72pp (of which 21pp. start at the front and 51pp. at the back). In black 'Rowney' 8vo notebook in black boards, with perforated leaves. Untidy and chaotic. Written lengthwise on 21pp. is a heavily-revised draft of an article giving a personal account by Saville of his 1964 production 'Hamlet at Elsinore' (of which the Guardian wrote: 'In 1964, with Hamlet at Elsinore he broke new ground by recording the play entirely on location (with a Danish crew) at Kronborg Castle. Christopher Plummer was Hamlet, Robert Shaw Claudius and Michael Caine Horatio.'). Early on Saville writes: 'Reading the text of Shakespeares play Hamlet very carefully I soon realised that a large amount of the conflict took place in interiors. Large rooms. Ante-chambers. Bedrooms. Council chambers. Halls. Offices. Chapels. Royal Chambers. These rooms contain the drama of a Royal Household.' Elsewhere he writes: 'The production has been seen to date in twenty four countries and there is no doubt that a great deal of the success can be attributed to the marvelous working relationship I had with the actors & technicians alike. Christopher Plummer as Hamlet was very challenging to work with. A very distinguished but extremely pragmatic actor made discussions of his performances under these unique circumstances a very stimulating experience. Peter Straw as Claudius somehow worked out to be a thrilling Performance, and Michael Caine's Horatio very moving in his sincerity.' He continues with comments on other actors and members of the crew. 'I spent an intensely paced forty eight hours in which I hardly slept or ate anything except the incredible excitement of this visit. I was accompanied by a group of equally enthusiastic Danish Technicians. I began asking for various camera mountings, lens and special equipment, which as a modest TV organisation they didn't have. But I was struck with their undaunted response to my demand, saying what they didn't have they would borrow from their neighbours in Sweden & Norway and what they couldn't borrow they would make […]'. The 'Hamlet in Elsinore' section ends: 'I wanted to reveal Hamlets anti-action as a result of his intellect masking the split in his feelings. Thus, when confronted with stone stairs, wooden floors, cloistered vaults and window panes Hamlet is like a man moving through the architecture of a dream. Unable to touch reality. Plummer resisted this idea at first, mostly because technically it was extremely difficult to sustain a performance over many camera positions.' The rest of the volume is interspersed with addresses, telephone numbers, a shopping list, drawings, poetry and word play ('How can you specialise in a series of unmitigated lies when all around are sterilized hot apple pies'). Nine pages carry notes on Oedipus, including drawings. A couple of pages concern a proposal for a piece featuring a 'Spastic little girl' in the aftermath of an explosion: 'Film begins with a childrens party & About twenty five sit at a long table They are english speaking but many are of different nationalities. | After the explosion each of the children are caught under debris of some kind They make their way Spastic girl & coloured boy find each other. A cry comes from another area of the explosion | Spastic Girl & Negro boy seek the sound out.' A section headed 'Tripod' concerns the lighting of the proposed piece (the Guardian noted that 'Great technical skill was required to realise his ambitious visuals – the framing and camera angles – as many of these productions were live. His trademark was inventive use of the camera, and he sometimes used mirrors to create offbeat, beguiling imagery or otherwise unachievable shots.'): 'There is misunderstanding between the hospital authorities. | How to make the dark journey bearable in terms of light. The continued setting of the three children in searching for the surface (light) must be structured so that their activity can be seen in the camera clearly. | First. The three are lost in their separate places. One of them is injured and in pain difficult for him to walk. The two of them find each other. The difficulty of their situation Spastic girls problems of negotiating difficult surfaces. Negro boys not being able to hear the sporadic utterings of the girl. Their tears and fear'. Among insertions in the volume are a postcard from 'Sebastian' (his son?) and newspaper cuttings. TWO: 54pp. In graph-paper notebook, Italian in origin, in heavily-damaged black wraps. The volume contains notes and dialogue for what would become the 1966 television production, 'Stop The World, I Want To Get Off', with the provisional title on first page 'Exit 19.' Begins with rumination on 'How to move out of the 19th Century': 'We still think of heaven as the place to go after death. | We still see the moon as a mystical light – when quite soon man is about to confront its physical phenomena by actually landing on it. […] The impregnable structure of a nineteenth century man has been found to be rotten – why is man today so busy in repairing the facade of the nineteenth century respectability. Still passing on the conditions of a society we know to be faulty & fruitless.' Applying these thoughts to his proposed production Saville writes: 'Recurring experience of trying to break out door. The door 'EXIT 19th Century'. Saville proposes to include dialogue by Bertrand Russell (including 'Earl Russell's first speech on 19th Century marriage') and an 'Interview with his first wife Jane Arden, asking for opinion regarding marriage for a woman in the XXth Century. | Seg. 1. in Hairdresser. - being met by man | Seg. 2. in Restaurant'. One scene is set in Carnaby Street, and another with 'Jesus as rocket shape blasting off to countdown'. There is extensive dialogue for the work, and sections are divided into 'Segs' and 'Slates' Seg. 1 is set in the 'Bedroom of Editors apartment | The Editor is in bed with his Model girl. There is a sudden end to their love banter. Serious Silence'. On the opposing page Saville writes: 'He loves her. She loves him. They love each other. They struggle for affections of the other, laughing smiling & sighing they clutch tightly & warmly mouth touches mouth & heat from hands gently smooths the edges of her hip bone'. Later sections include dialogue between 'Jack' and 'Maureen'. The main part of the notebook ends with names and details of individuals involved in the production, and a list of 21 opening shots, beginning: '1. Traffic. | 2. More Traffic. | 3. And More Traffic. - Screech of braking. | 4. STOP. (On Theatre marquee) | 5. THE WORLD. | 6. Full shot. STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF. Zoom. to last word OFF. | 7. Taxi meter Flag moves up. | 8. Evening dress shoed [sic] feet alight from Taxi | 9. Tracking shot (Hand held) with people in Theatre foyer | 10. Cloakroom. Hanging of coats.? […]' Loosely inserted in the volume is a manuscript love letter (2pp., 8vo), addressed to 'My love', who at the end is named as 'Monkey'. Whether this was written by or to Saville is unclear. The writing is far neater than that of the two volumes, but may be his. The letter suggests: 'Why don't you take the next 6 months/3 months/year/moons/sun/stay as “sabatical” and travel with me? I've mumbled it you in sleepiness and in my dreams I ask it time and again. I can't say it to your face because I don't want you to feel “trapped”, […] Although we are both at very different stages in our lives (I am, as it were in a revolving door seeking the direction of Mecca, you have, as it were, found it) we have both arrived at a time at which before committing ourselves to a particular area of work we could easily “take flight” without leaving too much dust in our wake.' At the rear of the volume are a further six pages of names and telephone numbers (including Dudley Moore and several Italian individuals), together with costs, dates and times, such as 'Full Rehearsals + Pre Shoot. | - Pinewood'.