Academic journal article Framework

Letters to Andrew Oldham

Academic journal article Framework

Letters to Andrew Oldham

Article excerpt

The following correspondence between Peter Whitehead and Andrew Loog Oldham details their contact following the completion of Charlie Is My Darling. The letters are notable because of Whitehead's frequent references to an emerging project concerned with London and its contemporary cultural status. These are the fi rst references to the project that would eventually become Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. With this in mind, it is interesting to consider the observations of the Variety review stating that in Charlie Is My Darling, Whitehead challenges "each individual Rolling Stone to display his 'genuine' self behind the mask that every one of this group has to put on for his life in the public eye." It could be argued that with Tonite, Whitehead was extending this interview technique into a wider critical method to interpret "London" as a whole.

7th October 1965

Andrew Oldham Esq.,

138 Ivor Court

Gloucester Place,

London N.W.1.

Dear Andrew,

The sound editing on the fi lm is now complete, and I've started the selection and editing for the fi nal fi lm. I've hired the editing equipment, so you can see it at any time, here at my place, day or night; just give me a ring. As Musical Director- AND Producer- there's a lot of decisions to be made, soon, for the music!

Talking of your being Producer, may I once again, respectfully, ask for the cheque to complete the fi lm, as there's all the sound laboratory charges, and hiring charges etc. etc. As I said a week ago or so, £1,000 will complete the fi lm!- which is 2/5ths the bud get!

By the way- it's fantastic with sound!

As I have the reputation for being the only creative artist in the business who pays his bills on time- which means I get things done on time too- could I have the cheque as soon as possible?

See you, when convenient- one eve ning I suggest, or at the weekend if you prefer. Let's have a few hours to go through it, alone, with the sound. The time has already passed for it being a home movie. I want that gold medal- for Christmas!

Yours,

Peter L. Whitehead

P.S. I'm working on/writing a fantastic idea for a tragic- comedy feature fi lm for the "boys"- which is the work of nothing less than genius. Will talk about it when you're here to see the Documentary.

21st Dec. '65

Dear Andrew

I'm sorry you were unhappy about the fi lm- not sorry in the apologetic sense, but sorry because I know how excited you were about it before, and, more important, how keen you are to get a really good fi lm out of it- for all reasons. Not that you've even said you were disappointed! With extraordinary insight, I guessed it.

So let me defend the fi lm's position- you said you wanted reassuring.

Seeing a fi lm is EXACTLY an opposite experience from listening to a pop record- its purpose is NOT to "grow on you"- to become subliminal- it's something that really is immediate-present- tense happening. A fi lm works because it is a surprise- things happen as if you are there with them at the moment- the whole principle of editing is either to make a thing fl ow as if you were there looking at it, or to surprise you with a surprise cut.

The point is it's a one- time- once- only experience- very very few fi lms can bear being seen twice!

Already you see what I'm getting at. We've seen that fi lm ten times- I've seen it a hundred times. It is impossible to judge the audience's fi rst reaction to it by comparing it to ones own reaction- after seeing it so often, and worse seeing and remembering what it was like before, what was left out and so on . . . you have to learn what an audience is going to feel when seeing it the fi rst time. You can get some idea by remembering your fi rst reaction- was it surprise, or just . . . yes I've seen that all before. Obviously this fi lm did work and does work the fi rst time- it fl ows and for a person who has never seen it, it does not drag. …

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