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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Picturegoer: February 19th 1955
They Save Money By Hanging Around
They sign up fifty people and let 'em hang around for about eight weeks. That, strangely enough, is how they're saving money in British studios.
It's so - at Elstree, when Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (they made The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffmann) are shooting Oh, Rosalinda! in colour and Cinemascope, with Michael Redgrave, Mel Ferrer, Anton Walbrook, Ludmilla Tcherina and Dennis Price atop the cast.
P. and P. have engaged the half-hundred for spectacular ballroom scenes in this up-to-date version - it is set in Four-Power-occupied Vienna - of "Die Fledermaus".
Whoever heard of contracting to pay fifty extras for two months, on call or not on call? Sounds the Everest of extravagance, doesn't it?
But the extras aren't extras. They take in many well-known show business personalities who, besides making up the crowd in the dance scenes, do bit parts as well.
And this two-purpose deal, it's reckoned, saves up to £20,000 in cast salaries.
Among the crowd that's not a crowd: Grizelda Hervey, of B.B.C. sound-drama renown; Olga Lowe, who scored a hit with her "Zip" number in the West End presentation of "Pal Joey"; Terry Cooper, who did ditto with his "They Call The Wind Maria" spot in "Paint Your Wagon"; Ron Randell's fiancée, Hildy Christian; up-and-coming bass singer, Ray Buckingham; dancer Betty Ash, who's been on TV with Benny Hill; and several talented ballet people.
[The list of 50 talented "extras" also included Jill Ireland, later to become a star in her own right as well as being married to David McCallum and later, to Charles Bronson. Oh... Rosalinda!! was Jill's first appearance on screen.]
Watching the fifty at rehearsal sometimes is mainly a matter of watching people nattering while a few go through routines.
But who cares about the hanging around - if you're being paid and it saves money too?
E. P. (Ernie Player)
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