Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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Roger's stand-in in IKWIG
One of the remaining mysteries about IKWIG is the identity of Roger Livesey's stand-in. Roger couldn't go to Mull to film any exterior shots because he was appearing on stage in London every night in Peter Ustinov's The Banbury Nose. So they used a stand in. In his autobiography, Michael Powell says "I'm not sure, but I think it is one of the cleverest things I ever did in movies. Of course, in quota-quickies you were always doubling somebody, and in 49th Parallel I doubled about half a dozen well-known personalities, but to double the leading man in all the exterior scenes of the film and intercut them with studio close-ups with such a distinctive person as Roger Livesey, was a miracle. We tested twenty young men before we found one who had Roger's heigh and could copy his walk, which was very distinctive. Roger came to the studio and taught him to walk and run, and hardest of all, to stand still. Then there was the little matter of wearing the kilt. No two men walk the same way in a kilt. We had six weeks of exteriors in front of us and Torquil MacNeil was in all of them. The secret of doubling an actor is not to run away from the camera or turn your back on it; on the contrary, you walk straight up to it. The camera is just as easily fooled by calm assurance as most people are. Eerwin Hillier and I would work out the scene and rehearse it, and the script-girl would make notes of the places where we proposed later to cut-in medium shots and close-ups of Roger filmed in the studio. Then we would shoot the scene exactly as if Roger were playing the part. Of course there were all sorts of tricks; sudden cuts and turns and masking pieces in the foreground, which we used to help the editor of the film. But so perfect is the illusion that I couldn't tell myself, now, which is Roger and which is his double in certain scenes."
Some examples of this are when Torquil approaches Carsaig House on the first morning. We see a shot from behind him as he (the double) approaches the kissing gate. There's a close-up of him (Roger) at the gate and then a medium-shot from Joan's room of her looking down to him (the double).
Or when Joan and Torquil run for the bus. The close-up before they start is of Roger, but the person that runs for the bus is the double. Here we see him as he turns slightly towards Joan. This only happens for a few frames so is very hard to spot while you are watching the film. But with modern technology, not available in 1945, we can capture this and you can read all about it.
Another great example is when Torquil goes to try to talk Kenny out of his foolhardy mission. As Torquil crouches down on the pier to talk to Kenny in the boat the shots alternate between looking from behind Torquil (the double), looking down into the boat and looking from the boat, up to Torquil (Roger) on the pier. Spot the join.
But the question remains:
Who was the double?
Michael gives no clues in his autobiography and we haven't managed to find anything in the archive ... yet.
Thanks to Charles Barr for the screen capture of the double running for the bus
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