Director: Tony Scott (as Anthony Scott). Writer: Tony Scott. Producers: Stephen Bayly and Albert Finney (uncredited). Starring: Rosamund Greenwood (Woman), Roy Evans (Man), David Pugh (Young Boy). Cinematography: Chris Menges. 52 mins, 1971.
The suicide of film director Tony Scott makes the title of his early experimental film Loving Memory (1971) bitterly ironic. This splending BFI Dual Format release contains the title film and two other shorts, One of the Missing (1968) and Boy and Bicycle (1965).
Tony Scott was, of course, the younger brother of Ridley Scott, and though both were successful mainstream Hollywood directors Tony is generally regarded as the more commercial of the two: his first Hollywood movie was the stylish arthouse vampire film The Hunger (1983), a box-office failure, after which he returned to advertising, but a successful campaign for SAAB featuring a Saab 900 turbo racing a Saab 37 Viggen fighter jet lead to him being offered the director’s seat on the gung-ho action flick Top Gun (1986); this was followed by a string of commercially successful blockbusters including Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Revenge (1990), Days of Thunder (1990), The Last Boy Scout (1991), True Romance (1993), Crimson Tide (the first of a series of successful collaborations with Denzel Washington, 1995), The Fan (1996), Enemy of the State (1998), Spy Game (2001), Man on Fire (2004), the time travel movie Déjà Vu (2006), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009), and Unstoppable (2010).
Loving Memory is about as far away from these star studied, blockbusting action movies as it is possible to imagine. Despite being British neither of the Scott brothers have set much of their work in Britain: Loving Memory is Tony Scott’s only purely ”British” film (although Spy Game features some London scenes); it is a macabre character study which has been justifiably compared to Harold Pinter.
The film concerns an elderly couple played by Rosamund Greenwood and Roy Evans, who we later discover to be brother and sister, who accidentally run over and kill a young cyclist played by David Pugh on a lonely northern moor – but instead of reporting the incident to the police the woman decides to take the corpse home with them. There she dresses him in the clothes of a second brother, killed in the Second World War, shows him her photo-albums, and tries to engage him in conversation. Her brother, meanwhile, gathers wood to build a coffin.
Greenwood has the only speaking part in the movie and largely carries it; she gives a subtle, heart-rending performance as a sister clinging to her past. Memories of the War hang heavily over the house – quite literally in the form of an aircraft propeller suspended from the ceiling that the woman boobytraps in order to prevent her brother burying the corpse. Greenwood had appeared in Jacques Tourneur‘s classic horror film Night of the Demon (1957) and Wolf Rilla‘s Village of the Damned (1960), and would appear as a witch in Nicolas Roeg‘s The Witches (1990), an adaptation of the children’s book by Roald Dahl; her distinctive features are beautifully captures in Chris Menges photography and reproduced in detail in the crisp Blu-ray transfer.
Roy Evans, the brother, was a character actor who had previously appeared in Doctor Who as Trantis in ”The Daleks’ Master Plan” (1965-66), and would later appear in ”The Green Death” (1973) as Bert, a Welsh miner, and as another miner in ”The Monster of Peladon” (1974). Here too he wears a miner’s helmet.
David Pugh would be a regular in the ITV children’s show Roberts Robots (1974)
Cinematographer Chris Menges had previously shot Peter Watkins‘ The War Game (1965), Ken Loach‘s Kes (1968) and Lindsay Anderson‘s If…. (1968); he would later photograph Bill Forsyth‘s Local Hero (1983), Roland Joffe‘s The Killing Fields (1984) and The Mission (1986), which won him an Academy Award each; Neil Jordan‘s Michael Collins (1996) earned him another Oscar nomination. As you would expect the landscapes look incredible on Blu-ray, and the cluttered rooms of the elderly couple’s house are rich in detail.
Loving Memory was selected for the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics Week.
Director: Anthony Scott. Writer: Anthony Scott. Photography: Anthony Scott. Starring: Stephen Edwards (James Clavering), Ridley Scott (Unionist Officer, uncredited), Dave Edwards (Voices). BFI Production Board, 26 mins, 1968
One of the Missing (1968) was Tony Scott’s first film, an experimental short based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce about an American Civil War soldier trapped beneath the rubble of a collapsed building.
The film is a tense, claustrophobic film with virtually no dialogue other than an opening narration, and contains no synchronously recorded sound – presumably for budgeting reasons. Scott appears to have been inspired by Robert Enrico‘s Au Coeur de la Vie (In the Midst of Life, 1963), which also drew on Ambrose Bierce’s work.
Although Tony Scott would not return to the historical genre himself the visual style anticipates that of Ridley Scott’s 1977 film The Duellists.
One of the Missing is presented in it’s original full-frame format and shows a little sign of wear but that’s not surprising given the age of the source material.
The third feature in this set stars Tony Scott (again credited as Anthony Scott) as the title character in the charming experimental short Boy and Bicycle (1965) written and directed by Ridley Scott. This tells the freewheeling adventures of a 16 year old cyclist in a Northern industrial seaside town.
As with One of the Missing there is no synchronous sound and the only speech is Tony Scott’s internal monologue. The script is funny, with Tony filling in the absence of dialogue with his own parodies of adult speech.
It’s not hard to see this short as the inspiration of Ridley Scott’s classic Hovis advert, “Bike Round” (1974).
Boy and Bicycle is also presented in its original full-frame format.
- Bierce, Ambrose ”One of the missing”
- Morrison, David (undated) ”Boy and Bicycle” at BFI Screenonline
- —– (undated) ”One of the Missing” at BFI Screenonline
- Newman, Kim (undated) ”Ridley Scott” at BFI Screenonline
- —– () ”The Films of Tony and Ridley Scott” (published in the booklet accompanying the BFI Dual Format release)