I have met Lindsay Anderson in early seventieth.
We were still in contact after I left London for West Germany


"came from what he has described himself as, "an impeccable upper middle class background". He was born in India, the son of an officer in the British army. Following public school education in Cheltenham College, England, he went on to Oxford University to read classics, which was interrupted by war service in the army.

Eventually he returned to Wadham College, Oxford, this time to complete a degree in English. Although he had done a little acting at school and some at Oxford, where he described the atmosphere as unpleasantly competitive and "pseudo - professional",  there was little evidence to suggest, at this stage, a creative artist who would become a film director.

But during his time at Oxford his passion for cinema found expression, when in 1947 he became one of the editors of "Sequence" which had begun life as a magazine for the Oxford University Film Society. Subsequently the magazine continued in London until 1952 when it was then co-edited by Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz".  

"Anderson was invited to make "The singing lesson" in Warsaw when he was there to direct  a play. Poland was a country with which Anderson always had very affinity". 

John Cartwright 

- letter first dated on March 14, 1977 -


9 Stirling Mansions,
Canfield Gardens,

 March 14, 1977

Bergengruenstrasse 25,

West Ber1in,


Dear Slavik,

Thank you for arranging the seats for SUMMERFOLK. I am sorry I missed Ilse after the performance - we may easily have failed to recognized each other.

I promised to write to you my impressions of the production, but it's quite difficult. I admired the work, and the obvious grasp, imagination and talent of the director.
OF course what everybody says is true: there is a rather extraordinary capacity to fill the stage and keen it moving in a "musical" kind of way. But I have to  say that I didn't react very sympathetically to the personality of the production.

Personally, I prefer a production that does not advertise itself. That's to say that I prefer the kind of direction which is not noticed by the public. It seems to me that a director's work is first of all to serve his author and his actors, if the play is truthfully and understandingly represented, 'then the director has done his job. But in this kind of production, one is continually and chiefly aware of the work and the presence of Peter Stein. The play is not brought to the public, it is represented on the stage with what sometimes seems a great deal of  complacency or artistic self-satisfaction. The actors on the whole seemed to me to be extremly good and to work in a vary dedicated and intelligent way. But this did not stop them sometimes from being very irritating, in their over-indulgence of mannerisms and "atmosphere". I don't blame them for this: they are acting in the style set by the director.

For me, the production suffers from what I can only call a lack of  humour. In life, Peter Stein may have a sense of humor: as an artist he, has none, or not very much. His work seems to me aesthetic in a very bourgeois sense - quite different from the aestheticism (or artistry) of Brecht, which is not bourgeois at all, but which is open, accessible, and always at the service of the subject. I know I surprised Ilse by saying that there was a lack of rythm in the production.

I don't mean moment-to-moment rhythm, but the overall rhythm which gives shape and significance to the whole evening. I haven't read Gorky's play but I don't imagine it is a very good one. Stein has not found a way of making it better, he has rather exploited its faults in order to create an impressionist work of his own. Perhaps this is what I mean when I say his production lacks "modesty".

I do appreciate the virtuosity of the staging - particularly in the second half of the play. I am really glad I saw it - but I have, to admit I would cheerfully pay the same money not to see it again!

I genuinely admired Else's acting, which I thought was, intelligent and sensitive, and quite free from the complacency shown by some of her fellow-artists. And remember what  I said, Slavik, about writing objectively. Sometimes it is better to be untruthful if to be "truthful" means to be egotistical and self-indulgent and over-emotional and boring! (Perhaps this is something that Peter Stein could usefully learn too).

I am now rehearsing a new comedy with Ralph, Richardson  and two other old, and very good actors. It will open for a provincial tour in April. In the middle of April I go to South Africa to present my films at Cape Town University, then I return and will  bring the play into London at the beginning of May. So you see, there won't be any time for me in the near future to come to Berlin. I am sorry. Perhaps later in the year.

How are you enjoying, Berlin? Your letters don't really tell me...

All my best wishes to you and Ilse - 

Lindsay Anderson born April 17, 1923, Bangalore, India died Aug. 30, 1994, near Angoulême, France.

In full LINDSAY GORDON ANDERSON, English critic and stage and motion-picture director. Anderson received a degree in English from the University of Oxford and in 1947 became a founding editor of the film magazine Sequence, which lasted until 1951. Subsequently he wrote for Sight and Sound and other journals. Anderson began directing in 1948, making documentaries for an industrial firm, and in 1955 he won an Academy Award for his short documentary Thursday's Children. In 1956 he coined the term Free Cinema to denote that movement in the British cinema inspired by John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (1956). Anderson and other members of the movement allied themselves with left-wing politics and took their themes from contemporary urban working class life.
first feature-length motion picture, This Sporting Life  (1963), adapted by the English writer David Storey from his novel, is about a brutish miner who succeeds as a professional rugby player but who fails in love. The film is a classic of the British social realist cinema of the 1960s. Anderson directed productions at the Royal Court and other theatres before making his next film, If ...(1968), in which three English students violently rebel against the conformity and social hypocrisy of their boarding school. Anderson then directed the premieres of Storey's plays In Celebration (1969), The Contractor (1969), Home (1970), and The Changing Room (1971). His subsequent films included O Lucky Man! (1973), In Celebration (1974), Britannia Hospital (1982), and The Whales of August (1987). His later stage productions included Storey's The March on Russia (1989).

Director - filmography

  1. Is That All There Is? (1993)
  2. Ritorno di Robin Hood, Il (1991)
    ... aka Robin Hood: Quest for the Crown (1991)
  3. Glory! Glory! (1989) (TV)
  4. Whales of August, The (1987)
  5. Wish You Were There (1985)
  6. Britannia Hospital (1982)
  7. Look Back in Anger (1980)
  8. Old Crowd, The (1979) (TV)
    ... aka Six Plays by Alan Bennett:
    The Old Crowd (1979) (TV) (UK: series title)
  9. In Celebration (1975)
  10. O Lucky Man! (1973)

  11.  Home (1972) (TV)
  12.  If... (1968) (TV)
  13.  Singing Lesson, The (1967)
         ... aka Raz, dwa, trzy (1967) (Poland)
  14.   White Bus, The (1966)
         ... aka Red, White and Zero (1966) (USA)
  15.   This Sporting Life (1963)
  16.   Every Day Except Christmas (1957)
  17.   Every Day Except Christmas (1957)
  18.   Energy First (1955)
  19.   Foot and Mouth (1955)
  20.   Green and Pleasant Land (1955)
  21.   Henry (1955)
  22.   Hundred Thousand Children, A (1955)
  23.   £20 a Ton (1955)

Actor - filmography

  1. Vidím svet jako bílý autobus (1995) (TV) .... Himself
    ... aka I See the World as a White Bus (1995) (TV) (International: English title)
  2. Lucky Man (1994)
  3. Blame It on the Bellboy (1992) (voice) .... Mr. Marshall
  4. Prisoner of Honor (1991) (TV) .... War Minister
  5. John Ford (1990) (TV) .... Himself
  6. Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius (1989) .... Narrator

Writer - filmography

  1. John Ford (1990) (TV)
  2. White Bus, The (1966)
    ... aka Red, White and Zero (1966) (USA)
  3. Children Upstairs, The (1955)
  4. Foot and Mouth (1955)
  5. Green and Pleasant Land (1955)
  6. Henry (1955)
  7. Hundred Thousand Children, A (1955)
  8. O Dreamland (1953)

Producer - filmography

  1. O Lucky Man! (1973) (producer)
  2. If.... (1968) (producer)
  3. Let My People Go (1965) (producer)

Production Manager - filmography

  1. Pleasure Garden, The (1953) (production manager)


- letter second dated on  May 25, 1977 -

 9 Stirling Mansions,
Canfield Gardens,

25 May 1977 

Bergengruenstrasse 25,

West Ber1in,


Dear Slavek,  

I'm sure you are right to try to avoid judging your neighbors. I also, I'm afraid, am over-prompt to make judgements and 1 wish I knew how to restrain this impulse, but it's very difficult. Of course, the more busy and productive one is oneself, the less interested one is in other people's work, and so the less prompt to make judgements about it.

Of course Pieter Stein is a remarkable talent
, whether one happens to enjoy any particular work of his or even his work generally - or not. I certainly feel rather guilty to have made all those criticisms under the impact of that production, because it is at least an extremely individual, creative, work. and there aren't many directors who are capable of producing such. 1 feel particularly vulnerable, having just opened my own new production in the West End - the comedy THE KINGFISHER - about which I may have written, before.

This new play is a very light, entirely bourgeois comedy - though not without charm. A cast of three old people; the two men are 74 and 71, and the heroine (the actress I mean) 68. The two leading players are very popular, loved and talented stars: Ralph Richardson and Celie, Johnson. The play itself is by a strange, rather nice, very prolific author, who has written some very successful plays (mostly comedies) and also quite a lot of very unsuccessful plays. He is generally derided by the intellectuals and regarded as the archetype of superficial, irrelevant, reprehensible dramatists. THE KINGFISHER has a lot of charm, and could have been an enjoyable, civilised exercise in style. Unfortunately, the two stars, who have their own very expert and long-tested methods of extracting applause have simply ended up giving their own habitual performances - very well received by the public of course, but having absolutely nothing to do with acting, as I can recognise or like it.

You can probably imagine that this makes me rather depressed and also makes me feel very insecure in my criticisms of Herr Stein. I can only comfort myself  by thinking that he would either have been defeated by Ralph Richardson and Celia Johnson as decisively as I was. Or perhaps he would not have got beyond the second or third week of rehearsal. In any case, the play seems to be at least a commercial success and attracts a lot of tourists and moneyed upper-class people. Ralph Richardson, particularly, is now like a much-loved, rather grotesque museum piece: people like his eccentricities and as a result he becomes more and more extravagant with them.
The expensive seats sell well. Nor do the actors particularly feel the need to see their director, so I ought to be happy...

To tell the truth, I begin to wonder whether I really like "theatre" at all. I realise more and more that what people like
is bad acting, at least "bad acting" by my standards. The only kind of acting I like starts with absolute naturalness.
(I don't exactly mean naturalism). I cannot stand performance that do not have inner reality, which demonstrate
instead of experiencing. (In other words the Royal Shakespeare style). Nor, on the other hand, do I like acting
which enjoys too much its inner reality. This reality has to be refined not indulged - and then presented. This quality
of "presentation" is extremely important, and raises the whole question of style and it is here, I -suppose, that the influence of the director is most necessary. Because it is extremely difficult for the actor to achieve style or for a Company to achieve a corporate style without the objective guidance and sensitivity of the director.

Yes, it is extremely interesting how certain directors seems to influence their actors without ever saying a great deal to them. I'm afraid I tend to talk too much, and so I never understand the kind of director of whom their actors say "but he never said anything to us".

Perhaps it is better not to have a sense of humour. In fact I'm sure that must make survival easier. Easier that is to believe in oneself. If one is a sceptic one starts by disbelieving other people and ends by disbelieving oneself. Of course this is easy here, where nobody believes in the art of theatre for its own sake. Or should I say "for humanity's sake", without of course being, sentimental).

The course of the play has not been completely smooth. All the lights went out in Shaftesbury Avenue on the
First Night, and we spent a war-like couple of hours wondering whether we would be able to give the performance
- In the end the curtain went up two hours late, and I must say the old actors all behaved with most gallant professionalism). Then Ralph Richardson threatened to lose his voice, and now the "younger" man has gone into hospital, and it may well be that I will have to find a replacement. Apart from my general, neurotic incapacity, to displace myself, this means that I can't leave London just now.  

I'm glad I made a good impression on Ilse in 0 LUCKY MAN! - and even more glad that the film seems to have made a good impression on her. I have just finished replacing in it a ten-minute section that was cut out by Warner Bros. in the original release, as they felt it was too long. I am pleased to have it restored. I have been thinking: I would like to make a sequel to that film - I have the title, which would be THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF MICK TRAVIS. Naturally Nick Travis would not appear in it.  

I will try to track down the book you talk about - though I must say your indications are a bit vague.  

My beat to you and Ilse. - Tell her she is lucky to be working in such a flourishing, creative scene.  

As ever,


This Sporting Life is a kitchen sink drama telling the story of a tragic love between rugby player Frank Machin (Richard Harris), and widow Mrs Hammond (Rachel Roberts). Frank Machin, an aggressive Yorkshire coal miner becomes a local celebrity as a professional rugby player. Frank yearns for the love of his landlady, Mrs. Hammond, a passionless widow, who eventually has a physical relationship with Frank but refuses any emotional involvement. Frank meanwhile remains the star of the rugby club', and as long as he performs on the field, his waywardness is tolerated. Mrs. Hammond eventually grows tired of Frank's callousness; they fight terribly at the wedding of a friend and split up. Franks realises how much he needs Rachel’s love and tries to patch things up, but tragedy await his attempt at reconciliation. Finally, Frank is left only with the violent world of rugby, in which he is only as good as his last game.

Richard Harris Frank Machin
Rachel Roberts Mrs. Hammond
Alan Badel Weaver
William Hartnell Johnson
Colin Blakely Maurice Braithwaite
Vanda Godsell Mrs. Weaver
Anne Cunningham Judith
Jack Watson Len Miller
Arthur Lowe Slomer
Harry Markham Wade
George Sewell Jeff
Leonard Rossiter Phillips
Katharine Parr Mrs. Farrer
Bernadette Benson Lynda
Andrew Nolan Ian
Peter Duguid Doctor
Michael Logan Riley
Frank Windsor Dentist
Edward Fox Restaurant barman
Helen Shapiro Night Club singer
Glenda Jackson Bit Part

- letter thired dated on September 21, 1977 -

Slavek,                                                           21 September 1977
c/o Ilse Ritter,
Zehlendorf, West Berlin,

Dear Slavek,

I think you’re quite right in opposing my feelings about acting to the tradition at the Royal Shakespeare Company, - in fact to the generally "established" tradition in Britain at the moment. Or certainly in London. It results, I think, from the victory of the Peter Hall tradition, coming from Cambridge University and therefore very academic or "conceptual". Hall, of course, developed the present Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford, started the Aldwych and now runs the National Theatre. This is theatre without intuition, without emotion - but with a great deal of bourgois pretension and "intellectual" claims.

The theatre in England is vitiated - like most art - by the inherited class system and class attitudes. Working class actors can become successful now, but only at the price of making themselves "respectable" and conforming to bourgeois standards. Albert Finney is a perfect example. He preserves a certain superficial roughness of speech, but has sacrificed his real abrasiveness and any real quality of emotion he had. A perfect contemporary candidate for the mantle of Olivier.  

(Arid now Albert Finney has launched a dreadful album of songs, written and performed by himself. A typical media-creation, which he plugs on radio and television in the U.S. and this country. An ironic progression. I remember him coming to London first, and rather self-consciously refusing to wear socks when he was being photographed for Vogue magazine).

Thank you for your postcards, from which I saw that you had returned safely to Poland. And now, apparently, things are all right again with Ilse and you are going back to Berlin? This must mean that things are going better - I hope so and am glad for you.

As for my not having my own group of actors. Every successful theatre has always run on two people - a director and a manager. Think of the Moscow Arts (with Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko) or the early Royal Court (with Granville-Barker and his manager Vedrenne) or the American Group Theatre (which had the advantage of three collaborating directors). I, unfortunately, have never found a collaborating management, and I am not an ambitious politician, like Peter Hall or Laurence Olivier! It's true that I do have good relationships with actors, and it is among the actors that I have my strongest supporters. But in our system that is not enough - particularly when one's approach is unfashionable, without being startlingly revolutionary. Really, I was very lucky to find an opportunity to direct theatre in the late fifties and early sixties at the Royal Court. If George Devine hadn’t existed there, I’m sure I would never have gone into the theater at all. There would certainly not have been a place for me in the Peter Hall tradition. 

As you know, the situation in Britain has declined badly in the last five years. That is why I find myself very much at a loose end. It's a pity you weren't able to be in London a few years earlier. I think you would have enjoyed the experience of some of those later David Storey productions.

I've seen a couple of productions at the National Theatre recently and found them generally dull if not offensive. I saw John Schlesinger's JULIUS CAESAR, a dreadful piece of work, with no feeling for either drama or character. The poor actors suffered terribly - including John Gielgud-~who really did nothing except spe2k beautifully.

I wi11 probably go to the U.S. in the autumn - I've been invited to a Festival in Chicago, where they are going to show some of my w1ork. Luite boring really, but an excuse to get away and spend a Little time in New York. Probably I will also go to Hollywood and have a look round there. I don't really want to do a film in America and probably I haven't the right temperament to take advantage of it, but it's always amusing to see for a little. I read scripts, both of plays and films, but nothing really attracts me seriously.

It's always difficult to help people from childhood to adulthood. Ilse is lucky that you want to think of her as a woman and not as a child. I hope your relationship goes well, for both your sakes. I'm sure she helps you to be less neurotic!

I had a short "retrospective" of my films at the National Film Theatre recently. Quite respectful and unenthusiastic. It all felt like a beautiful Obituary...

I'm sorry I have no more stimulating news from London. I hope the Berlin atmosphere is more enlivening.

Meanwhile - to you and Ilse both - my very best wishes,

As ever,


"At the Britannia Hospital, which celebrates its 500th anniversary, the Queen Mother and the Japanese ambassador are to open the new Millar Centre for Advanced Surgical Science, partly funded by Banzai Chemicals of Tokyo. The celebration is, however, disturbed by industrial action, broken-down telecommunications and fierce demonstrations against the African dictator Ngami (Val Pringle) who is a private patient. Further, there are the disturbances caused by police violence and Professor Millar's disastrous experiments with human corpses. Anderson directly relates the characters of the film to the audience. At the end, demonstrators, striking workers, royalty, police, hospital managers, all gather to experience Millar's demonstration of 'Genesis’, the new man consisting of a human brain situated in a pyramid-shaped computer. They are positioned as in a cinema, voyeuristically enjoying the spectacle, at least partly representing the 'real' audience of Britannia Hospital."

"The question posed at the end of the film is 'Is man intelligent enough to survive?' The speech concluding the film is not sentimental; it's much more the speech of an angry rationalist who is appalled and irritated by the stupidity of mankind. He proposes that the only solution is intelligence. But, of course, having made this speech, which most people would agree with, he then proposes a solution that is even crazier and more horrifying than anything the establishment represents. He produces the idea of a disembodied intelligence, this brain we see, which he tells us will be combined into a silicon chip. So, the challenge at the end is a question, If only intelligence can save us how can that intelligence be controlled? The film does say, I hope, that we must mistrust institutions, power, the instincts for power within us, and in that way I think Britannia Hospital is an anarchist film. It puts the responsibility squarely on the individual to develop first the intelligence and the moral awareness by which alone man can control his destiny".

Leonard Rossiter Mr. Potter
Brian Pettifer Biles
John Moffatt Greville Figg
Fulton Mackay Chief Superintendant Johns
Vivian Pickles Matron
Barbara Hicks Miss Tinker
Graham Crowden Professor Millar
Peter Jeffrey Sir Geoffrey
Jill Bennett Dr. MacMillan
Marsha A. Hunt Nurse Amanda Persil
Catherine Willmer Dr. Houston
Mary MacLeod Casualty Sister
Joan Plowright Phyllis Grimshaw
Robin Askwith Ben Keating
Dave Atkins Sharkey
Malcolm McDowell Mick Travis
Mark Hamill Red
Frank Grimes Sammy/Voice of Genesis
Peter Machin Peter Mancini
Marcus Powell Sir Anthony Mount
John Bett Lady Felicity
Gladys Crosbie Queen Mother
Rufus Collins Odingu
Dandy Nichols Florrie
Brian Glover Painter
Roland Culver General Wetherby
John Gordon Sinclair Gregory
Patsy Byrne Nurse
Michael Medwin Theatre Surgeon

- letter fourth dated on November 29, 1978 -

Slavel,                                 (Ditated) NEW YORK)
Bochum 4630                     29 November 1978  West German Republic 
Lessingstrasse 194


Dear Slavek, 

Thank you for your greetings. And mine to you. As you can see ‑ I am working abroad just now: a production in America of THE KINGFISHER, which I already directed in London last year. And next a production in Australia of THE BED BEFORE YESTERDAY, which I already directed in London two (or three?) years ago ... Not a very creative programme, I'm afraid. I tell myself: this brings to an end my "commercial period". 

I'm afraid I have become quite bored with the theatre in England. No new plays that I really like ‑ unhappily my favourite author, David Storey, is not writing good plays at the moment, and is suffering (like everyone else in Britain) from a kind of creative frustration. I was invited to direct GALILEO at the Nationa Theatre ‑ with Albert Finney and I nearly accepted, but at the last moment my heart failed me. I dislike that building, and the people in it, so much. And when I read the play again, it seemed to me forced and schematic. And not particularly relevant to our time and our problems. Was I wrong? Also they wanted me to work with the National Theatre "Company", which meant Peter Hall's choice not mine. And they seemed to me an unexciting bunch, including Albert Finney, who has been acting badly ever since he started at the National, I'm sorry to say. His HAMLET was very disappointing ‑ of course he should not be playing Hamlet but Claudius ‑ and I didn't see his TAMBURLAINE. Then THE CHERRY ORCHARD, which was really a lamentable production all together by Peter Hall, and most recently a disappointing MACBETH. It is sad when you think that he was undoubtedly the most promising talent of his generation. 

Then I was asked to do a new play by David Mercer, for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych. Again a group of actors I am not particularly enthusiastic about. And I thought the play, which was supposed to be of some political significance (about a corrupt Russian dissident who arrives in London) was very poor. But then how could anybody in Britain be expected to write a political play of any European, let alone world, significance?

So perhaps you won't be surprised that I have ended up reviving two previous productions in America and Australia.

I tell myself that after this rather anti‑climactic theatrical activity, I must try to make another film. And indeed I have agreed to attempt to "develop" a couple of subjects for a Hollywood company. But it is extremely difficult ‑ although they say they are theoretically ready to undertake British productions, I know very well that they are much more favourable towards projects that can find favour with American audiences. And who can blame them? The British should be making their own films, but of course the chief British finance now goes into American productions ‑ like STAR WARS, or Ryan O'Neal in THE DRIVER or Robert de Niro in THE DEER-HUNTER. it's a shame that you chose to come to Britain just about the time when British post-war vitality petered out. Now, as you probably know, even The Times has ceased publication. And that really means the end of an era.

I leave New York for Australia next Thursday, the day after the offivial "Opening" of THE KINGFISHER, and the next Monday I start rehearsals for THE BED BEFORE YESTERDAY, with my friend Rachel Roberts (whom you may remember from 

I leave New York for Australia next Thursday, the day after the official "Opening" of THE KINGFISHER, and the next Monday I start rehearsals for THE BED BEFORE YESTERDAY, with my friend Rachel Roberts (whom you may remember from THIS SPORTING LIFE or 0 LUCKY MAN!). So I shall be spending Christmas in the sun, I hope on an Australian beach somewhere. And maybe I will return to London by way of Indonesia or Sri‑Lanka, or India.
I may even make a pilgrimage to my birthplace (Bangalore, South India).

I'm glad you found stimulus and some satisfaction in Germany. Even if all your questions have not been answered. (But then I doubt if you have the kind of temperament that will ever find complete satisfaction in anything). Anyway, I certainly think you were lucky not to have been able to return to Britain when you wanted to. Undoubtedly you have had a much more fulfilling time in Germany.

And good luck to you too in 1979 


O Lucky Man!, Once again Malcolm McDowell plays Michael Travis, who comes face to face with an even more troubled society than in If. . . Here, he has become a conformist, caught up in rigid philosophies - either it is the petty bourgeois dreams of success or the naïve altruism of existential humanism. Anderson himself claimed in his preface to the published manuscript that Travis was 'an organic development from that work of five years ago'.

Malcolm McDowell Mick Travis
Ralph Richardson Monty/Sir James Burgess
Rachel Roberts Gloria Rowe/Mme. Paillard/Mrs. Richards
Arthur Lowe Mr. Duff/Charlie Johnson/Dr. Munda
Helen Mirren Patricia
Graham Crowden Stewart/Millar/Meths Drinker
Peter Jeffrey Factory Chairman/Prison Governor
Dandy Nichols Tea Lady/Neighbor
Mona Washbourne Sister Hallet/Usher/Neighbor
Philip Stone Interrogator/Jenkins/Salvation Army Major
Mary MacLeod Mary Ball/Vicar's Wife
Michael Bangerter Interogator/William
Wallace Eaton Stone/Steiger/Executive/Warder
Warren Clarke M.C./Warner/Male Nurse
Bill Owen Barlow/Superintendent
Michael Medwin Captain/Dickie Belminster
Vivian Pickles Welfare Lady
Geoffrey Palmer Basil Keyes/Doctor
Geoffrey Chater Vicar/Bishop
Brian Glover Foreman/Power Station Guard
Alan Price Alan Price

- letter fourth dated on March 14 1979 -

                                           14 March 1979   
Bochum 4630,                  
Lessingstr. 194,


My dear Slawek, 

Yest“Absurd is beautiful when we find the way how to be with him…”(in fact you wrote “finden" – I have taken the liberty of turning it into English, of a kind).

I’m afraid your English has not improved as a result of your stay in Germany ‑ but that is only natural. I would certainly be happy to think that my "Pessimismus” is exaggerated or unjustifiable. Of course all these emotions are very subjective. And I agree that in acme ways a country that is disintegrating should be quite pleasant to live in. But perhaps no" in  modern life when a are all so dependent on decent technological organisation. Of course if we were living in the country, planting potatoes and milking cows, it would be different. But it would be difficult to work in the theatre or in such conditions.

The problem with Britain at the moment is that it refuses to disintegrate in an exciting way, and is also incapable of pulling itself together. So everything just winds down, in an atmosphere of increasing scepticism and increasing bourgeois complacency. 

I wish you could have seen my most recent work, which was a piece for television, based an a script by a writer called Alan Bennett, who is an eccentric rather mild‑mannered humorist. The "film”(though it was shot on video) which I made from his script was not exactly mild‑mannered. But of course it was humorous, and anyone with any feeling for European culture would have found it amusing.(A sort of combined influence from Bunuel and Brecht, if you imagine such a Combination). The Outlays and Fury and scorn which this provoked among the bourgeois critics (and Of course ail critics are bourgeois) was almost incredible. Out it has really increased my Pessimism about being sale to do anything much in this country. Unfortunately, the critics really do have the power to Prevent ... working in a medium like television - where standards are almost entirely dependent on popular reception.

On Monday I am going to Los Angeles again to investigate seriously the offers that are being made there to develop a subject for a film. No particular subject at the moment ‑ a question of finding something that I could like and that could be acceptable to the Americans and turning that into a script. As you can imagine, I would much rather be working subversively in Britain but, as I have tried to explain, that becomes more and more difficult.

Yes, it's true, most people do imagine that choir country is their country is the "best in the world". I have never been able to understand this. I think that patriotism is very nice as long as it is sentimental and poetic. But is neither nice nor intelligent when it claims to be rational. 

I can't imagine why I have developed these non‑nationalistic ideas.
I was not either educated nor brought up in a particularly cosmopolitan way. However, perhaps it is due to the fact that my blood is Scottish rather than English, and of course the celtic temperament is very different from the Anglo‑Saxon.

I’am glad vou are surviving; I think in spite of everything you were fortunate to get to Germany rather than to stay in Britain. If you are any kind of an artist, this not the place to be!

Good luck in all things: keep in touch,

With If... Lindsay Anderson reached out to the peak of achievement in the British cinema and made a film which must count as one of the most powerful ever made by an English director. A study of a rebel in an English public school, it showed an individual making a protest against authority, a cry which turns eventually into anarchy and armed insurrection, with parents, masters and prefects subjected to guerrilla gunfire from the rooftops on Founders' Day, an ending recalling Jean Vigo's classic Zero de Conduite, which had more than one resemblance to Anderson's film.

- letter fifth dated on July 8, 1984 -

Dictated 8 July 1984

Dear Slavek and Krystyne,

Thanks for the charming photograph ‑ and I'm sorry I couldn't have been there. It must have been a happy occasion. And I'm glad, Slavek, that you have been sensible enough to marry a bio-chemist, and not someone connected in any way with the theatre.

Maybe we  will have an opportunity of  meeting later this year. I've been invited to come to New York in the autumn and direct a play by David Storey, IN CELEBRATION, at the Manhattan Theatre Club. And after that I am going to do HAMLET in Washington at the Folger Theatre. So I'll be quite a bit in the U.S. Whine will certainly be a ood change from Britain, which I'm afraid is as much stuck in the past as ever.

I'm just now rehearsing a production of Synge's PLAYBOY OF TIE WESTERN WORLD which opens at Oxford at the end of July. So I'm keeping busy.

I enclose a separate letter Slavek, which I hope may be of some use to you.

Love and good luck,


A revolutionary soldier kneeling to be blessed”,
by Saxon Logan and Charles Drazin

There are photographs taken before he died. All still exist as a poignant and moving record of the last day of this extraordinary British Artist.

He was on holiday in Northern Dordogne and had agreed to accompany friends for a swim in a nearby lake.
He undressed a little apart from the others and with a neat surface dive swam evenly out into the lake. He came back, crossed the thin strip of beach and climbed up the bank towards his clothes. His friends heard a strange rustling noise and saw him plummet down the bank, falling heavily across the beach into the shallow water, his head submerged in the lake.

The day after, they found a postcard he had written to a friend in Canada, waiting to be posted. He wrote: “Today the sun is shining and I shall shortly be bathing in the placid lake.”

Lindsay Anderson (April 17th 1923 - 30th August 1994)

Lois Smith, his hostess while on that holiday and long time friend, has written movingly of the last days Lindsay Anderson spent with her and has agreed to recount this particularly personal memory which will form a potent, enticing and affecting opening to this comprehensive documentary programme of the man and his works.

Lois’ was arguably Anderson’s closest and most significant friendship. They met while at Oxford and found they shared a passion for cinema. When Anderson left intending to become a teacher, it was Lois who - recognizing in him a unique blend of authority and talent, - persuaded Anderson instead to make a documentary on her family’s factory.  Meet The Pioneers was the first of a series of striking and original films that drew on a rich tradition of British realist filmmaking, and this documentary will look at the influences that shaped him as a distinctly British filmmaker. Hardly ever shown, these films revealed Anderson to be every bit as much a poet of the cinema as his great inspiration Humphrey Jennings. Our programme will look at the influences that shaped him as a distinctly British filmmaker and reflect on the development of Anderson’s own vision with its mix of tender humanist lyricism and biting social commentary. It will also celebrate his substantial, vigorous and elegant contribution to British Theatre.

Central to our appraisal of his work - its influences and impact-, will be a comprehensive account of the person. It is the character of Lindsay Anderson that is finally most fascinating, and this programme will explore the formative influences of a childhood in India, a fractured family life and an unhappy public school career. With special access to his beautifully expressed letters and diaries, to his friends, family and eminent collaborators we will provide a definitive and candid portrait of the man.  Interviews with his detractors and critics too, - most of who now form the establishment of British film and theatre - will lend an essential shading and contrast.

Recorded on video at the memorial evening held at the Royal Court in November 1994 to mark his passing, the playwright David Storey gave a memorable speech that summed up incisively the character of his close friend and collaborator:

"We have never seen nor shall we see again anyone like him.  He was a man of vivid contradictions. Authoritarian, some even found him an autocrat, and yet he was unmistakably a liberal. He was a stoic and yet undeniably sentimental. He was a vigorously self-confessed atheist, and yet he was imbued with what can only be described as a religious spirit. He was a teacher, yet in my experience he was always asking for instruction. He was a classicist and yet a romantic. He was an intellectual and an artist, he was cantankerous, he was vituperative, he was obdurate and acerbic, and yet he was incorrigibly loyal and unfailingly generous. He was in many respects human nature turned inside out. He loved what he hated and hated what he loved…His was an expansive, celebratory, liberating spirit with an ability to look at the worst in human nature, often with a mordant relish, only to come up with aspirations for the best. Above all, there was his appetite for a world which was nobler, more charitable and more gracious than the one in which he found himself and which he struggled unfailingly to enhance…”

Anderson’s contribution to the British theatre is often overlooked. He worked with a great many leading actors of the English stage and nurtured some of our greatest playwrights.

Never self serving, he was responsible for introducing new talent some of whom went on to become actors and movie stars of genuine international stature: Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Alan Bates, Malcolm McDowell and the late Richard Harris. He was greatly admired too, by many of his contemporary filmmakers: Andrzej Wajda, Milos Foreman, Robert Benton, Stephen Frears, Martin Scorsese and Terence Malick.

Their impressions of the man and his influence will lend extra appeal and gravitas to the programme. A younger generation of filmmakers struggling for recognition will be included. They look to Anderson’s anarchic vision as an inspiring lodestar countering the timidity of mainstream cinema. 

One reason Lindsay Anderson makes for such a good documentary subject is that his works provide an accurate mirror of the nation and times in which he lived. From the late fifties with This Sporting Life through to The White Bus and If in the sixties, he captured the growing spirit of rebellion. In the seventies, his humanist, incisive satire O Lucky Man! depicts a foolhardy nation in decline; underscored later by his scathing interpretation of Alan Bennett’s black comedy The Old Crowd. While society itself was in flux, his voice struck a chord; but he found himself disastrously out of favour with the backlash of Thatcher’s Britain; he found it hard to be heard in a conformist and materialistic age. Britannia Hospital, his savage satirical vision of Britain could not have been more ill timed as it premiered on the eve of the Falklands War.  From this point on he found it increasingly difficult to make the films that interested him.  He was not a careerist, but a vocational filmmaker who strove to make films of personal commitment, and in pursuit of this freedom, he had to rely more on chance and luck.  Nothing, however, in the later works: Glory, Glory, an unbearably funny film about American Television Evangelists and the exquisite, poetic Whales of August suggests an artist in decline. Yet, out of sympathy with a new age, Anderson felt he was. He considered himself a yesterday’s man and became dreadfully depressed as he struggled to find backing for his lyrical but acerbic and dissident brand of filmmaking.  Sadly, original scripts by Anderson and his collaborator David Sherwin remain unrealised.

Lindsay Anderson was a complex man. Again, with the help of his personal diaries, his close friends Malcolm McDowell and Gavin Lambert, his brother Murray and nephew Sandy and collaborators David Storey and David Sherwin the programme will explore his ‘inner life’.  His homosexuality caused him considerable torment. His strong moral sense fought his personal desires to a stand off and he elected to live a celibate life. Nonetheless his repressed sexuality was a source of powerful artistic expression. Scenes from This Sporting Life and If... possess a tender, autobiographical intensity and sensuality rarely seen in British cinema.

He made frequent appearances on radio and television, providing eloquent commentaries on his work, his country, the people he admired and those he viewed with mistrust.  There is a wealth of archive footage to draw from along with a prolific and sometimes intimate and personal collection of stills.  Anderson was a highly accomplished photographer and his personal record of these private moments captured while at work and within his social environment will in most cases be seen for the first time.  We have, also, been assured by the BFI that we can expect their fullest co-operation.

August 2004 marks the tenth anniversary of Lindsay Anderson’s death and would offer an optimum and attractive platform for transmission. A major commemorative retrospective is being planned for the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival along with other events throughout the year, not just here in Britain but in North America and the rest of Europe too. All this I am certain will heighten the interest of domestic and international television audiences alike. 

Returning to David Storey’s eulogy, he recalled Lindsay Anderson reciting his favourite poem by WB Yeats,
"A Municipal Gallery Revisited": “He came to the final line of the first stanza,  'A revolutionary soldier kneeling to be blessed', and, pausing, said, "I don't wish to flatter myself, but at the end of the day I'd like to think that would be my epitaph." Well, "blessed" he certainly was although he didn't kneel for very long, as for "soldier" it goes without saying, and "revolutionary" not only time will tell….”

Lindsay Anderson Interview on Pop Promos
Richard Harris Tribute to Linsay Anderson
Malcolm McDowell on Lindsay Anderson
Lindsay Anderson on Tokio Story

free cinema - LINDSAY ANDERSON
Lindsay Anderson - Official Site
Lindsay Anderson remains a unique figure in British culture. 
He stands for an attitude toart and life that is committed, 
personal and socially engaged. He made some of the most 
remarkable films in the history of the British cinema, and was 
one of this country's leading theatre directors.

IF... (1968) full movie
THIS SPORTING LIFE (1963) full movie



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