EXPOS AT THE MOVIES
Continued from page 7. Spring issue No 24
Stanley K Hunter
Three commercial videos for the Garden Festival were issued. The "official" video was COMING UP ROSES, released by the Scottish Development Agency which was the parent body of the Festival. FESTIVAL IN FOCUS was made up of more than 200 colour transparencies. This "electronic picture book" was compiled from the work of two local amateur photographers and lasts 30 minutes.
The Church of Scotland produced PENTACOST SUNDAY (26 minutes). While this homes in on a single day, Sunday 22nd 1988, it is perhaps the best general approach to the Festival of all three videos. Attendance was 4,345,820 - which is not bad for a "flower show"! (Should members be interested in obtaining any of these, I can supply further information).
The most widely screened shots of the Festival appeared in the Taggart adventure ROOT OF EVIL. This screenplay showed a number of features of the Festival - D.C. Jardine (James Macpherson), on speed craft on the Clyde racing past the Festival site. The villian of the piece was a performer in a barbershop quartet which performed in the National Trust for Scotland Exhibit. This included the water statue Foam, (J d'O Pilkington Jackson) and depicted on a NTS Festival postcard. It had first been exhibited in a fountain at the 1938 Empire Exhibition. It can be seen on Valentine's 1938 cards X71 and X73 and the Artcolour A716, complete with plaster dolphins (now lost). The original photographs do not show the fountain in action but a variant shows X71 with a fancy spray added by hand.
Foam has now been returned to the NTS garden at Greenbank, Glasgow, where it can be seen by visitors.
Taggart featured Kelvingrove Park in a number of programmes, Dead Ringer, for example, had a hilarious scene with the suitcase of ransom banknotes floating over the Robert Stewart Memorial Fountain. This was designed by James Sellars - the architect who designed the 1888 International Exhibition held in the park. This fountain was used as a photo opportunity for all three major exhibitions staged in the park, 1888, 1901, and 1911, and on later postcards. The fountain was turned on in 1872 and has been restored. It is overlooked by the dramatic Park Terrace complex, which featured in Death Cell. The University on the opposite drumlin appears in several Taggart episodes, like Flesh and Blood.
Not all of these episodes have yet been released on video, but they are featured in the book Taggart's Glasgow. This was compiled by Mark McManus & Glen Chandler. It is a Scottish Television book published by Lennard Publishing, Oxford. (1989) ISBN 1 85291 072 0
Tyne-Tees TV produced a video in 1990 of the National Garden Festival - Gateshead. Using the link of Alice in Wonderland ("Through the Looking Glass" was written in the neighbourhood), the film gives a good account of the 1990 National Garden Festival.
It was intended to produce a commercial video of the Glasgow 1990 European City of Culture Year, but negotiations apparently broke down. As a result many interesting events were not recorded. One such event was the remarkable GLASGOW'S GLASGOW 1990 Exhibition. Although beset with problems (mainly politically inspired) it was certainly the largest loan exhibition held in Britain that year. The earlier Glasgow exhibitions were featured in two main displays and I was invited to lend material for both. One display covered the 1888, 1901, and 1911 Exhibitions held at Kelvingrove, while the other dealt with the Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston, 1938.
Both displays had loop videos running, the early display incorporated stills of the exhibitions while the 1938 video used film. I have tried to obtain copies of both videos but have had no luck so far. In one of the cinemas there were regular showings of a colour film of all aspects of the floodlit fountains which were such a feature of the 1938 Exhibition.
I mentioned in an earlier article that there was a commercial video of films of the Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island, San Francisco 1939-40, I do not know if it is available on the PAL format suitable for Europe.
In the same article I mentioned that I wanted to visit the US Army Museum in the Presidio, the 1,400 acre military instalation in San Francisco. I had been informed there were some items on the San Francisco Exhibitions, including dioramas (and a display on the 1906 earthquake). Unfortunately, the Army Museum was closed because of the damage suffered in the 1989 earthquake. I had to be satisfied with a few snapshots of the exterior of the museum, just south of the site of the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition.
A few weeks ago I spotted a video called THE PRESIDIO starring Sean Connery, Mark Harmon and Meg Ryan, I thought there may be some good shots of the Presidio, Perhaps even a glimpse of the museum. Imagine my surprise when there was a shot of the exterior, exactly like my own photograph, looking north towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Then an entire sequence took place inside the museum with Sean Connery, as provost of the Presidio walking through the rooms, with curator Jack Warden (who comes to a sticky end). Alas, only military exhibits can be glimpsed. The film (Paramount, 35 mins) was apparently shot only months before the earthquake.
At our Exhibition Study Group annual dinner, a few other suggestions were thrown at me. It was thought that a Frank Sinatra movie SUDDENLY had a sequence at a US Worlds Fair of 1940. The film (UA 1954) concerns a plot to kill the US President. As it is set in the sleepy town of Suddenly, California, I assume it was the Golden Gate Exposition of 1940. The President is on a top secret fishing trip but is on his way to destiny with the crazed Sinatra. The film (75 mins) also stars Sterling Hayden, James Gleason, and Nancy Gates. It makes direct references to the killing of Lincoln and Garfield. McKinley was shot during the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo, NY, in September 1901.
Although it does not appear to be on video it went through a "Colorization" process. Astonishingly, "Old Blue Eyes" appears with brown eyes in the later film copy!
It is reputed that Lee Harvey Oswald had watched "Suddenly" only days before murdering Kennedy in 1963. The film was withdrawn shortly afterwards. Can anyone confirm that this was the film remembered?
Another suggestion was a John Mills film featuring the Festival of Britain. This was presumably IT'S GREAT TO BE YOUNG (Marble Arch/AB Pathe, 1952, 94 mins). Sir John plays a popular music teacher who is sacked by the head-teacher Cecil Parker. The co-ed grammar school revolt that follows stars Jeremy Spenser, Ruby Murray, Elizabeth Kentish, and Humphrey Lyttleton. The climax comes at a national music festival. Over thirty years later the Motion Picture Guide could still describe it as "a fresh comedy with Mills at top form". It does not appear to be issued on video.
I am sure that other exhibition-related films and videos exist. A listing could be a useful database and perhaps your editor could be persuaded to use some of the newsletter space for such an ongoing catalogue. (Note the Editor is very persuadable Stanley, and will always find room for anything of interest).