Sunday, November 10, 2013

Oliver Reed Wrestling with Alan Bates and Friendship

It was of course Oliver Reed who insisted that they do this scene in the film as they did it in the Book inside a great dark room by a blazing fire, not as the poncey screenwriter (Larry Kramer, he of The Normal Heart and Faggots) altered it for the script (where they would have been in some flowery field by the river.)  I like that Reed really wanted to do this scene, yet was a bit scared of it.  He was much the best actor of his time.  Though he came from a great theatrical family, he didn’t take advantage of his connections (and he always worked in film and television, never the theatre.)  When he was a boy, my friend Sebastian (scion of another great theatrical family) once had afternoon tea with Mr Reed just by chance in a near empty restaurant of great renown.  I think Ollie didn’t like seeing this kid sitting all by himself in that imposing place (and I never tire of hearing this story whenever Sebastian chooses to tell it.)  Women in Love may not be Ken Russell’s very best film, but this is the best scene he ever shot, and it never would have happened without Oliver Reed throwing himself into it as he did.




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