the final scene of Gone To Earth, where Hollywood actress Jennifer
Jones throws herself down a mineshaft, Percy Tarbuck, a shopkeeper
from Church Stretton, makes a despairing effort to save her.
I throw myself down on the old mineshaft, I think that's the
final shot," said Mr Tarbuck, who is now 81.
Scores of locally-recruited extras were used in the movie
when it was filmed in Shropshire in 1949, but Mr Tarbuck said:
"I think I was the only person in there as an actual character.
I doubled for Cyril Cusack."
Cusack played Edward, the parson married in the film to
Hazel, played by Jennifer Jones.
But in the final hunting scene, where Hazel, carrying a
fox, is chased by a pack of hounds, neither of the stars were
available for the autumn filming, which meant that stand-ins
Tarbuck dressed up as a parson and took Cusack's role running
after Hazel, while Hazel was played by a professional actress.
As for the fox that Hazel was carrying, that also had a
double - a small corgi-type dog.
"They're distant shots. They were very careful to make sure
that we were not really recognisable. From memory, I don't
think we had too many takes," said Mr Tarbuck, who will be
one of the locals who appeared in the film version of Mary
Webb's novel who will be at a special showing in Much Wenlock
on May 26 as part of the Much Wenlock Festival celebrations.
son of legendary British director Michael Powell is expected
to attend the showing of the Powell and Pressburger movie,
and extras will have a get-together at Much Wenlock Museum
And because the evening showing has sold out, a ticket-only
matinee has now been added to the programme to cope with demand.
Mr Tarbuck said: "It was difficult to get all the timing
right for the final scene where Jennifer Jones was being chased.
They had to lay a trail of meat for the dogs to smell. In
the film it looks as though they are chasing her. In actual
fact, they are following this trail of meat alongside her."
Back then he had a shop selling fruit, flowers and vegetables
in Church Stretton High Street, and was hand-picked by the
moviemakers to take Cyril Cusack's part.
"All the actors were at the Longmynd Hotel. I was often
up there, so they had seen me up there. I'm not an actor.
They thought I looked reasonably similar to Cusack. I'm not
a dead ringer, but I'm about the same height.
"I did about five or six days, and got paid £12 a day which
was a terrific sum then. The wages then were about £4 a week.
I also had to sign a form which I believe was for Equity -
I joined the actors' union."
He says the final scene was done somewhere near the Lordshill
Chapel in the Snailbeach area.
"In some ways for me it was a bit boring. They would all
get assembled, together with the horses and the hounds. And
then of course the light would not be right and they had to
cancel it. It created tremendous excitement locally.
"I would not have been in it for any acting ability. They
told me what to do. I had to run. I would be arguably the
only person there who had a defined part, and was not in a
Much Wenlock Museum is staging an exhibition on the making
of the film, which was shot on location at various Shropshire
sites, including Much Wenlock and Snailbeach.
Museum assistant Martha Ledgard has been compiling a wealth
of memorabilia and memories from the local extras and only
in the past few days has solved one mystery which puzzled
She had been trying to track down a little girl with blonde
curls called Susan Shaw who was pictured being held by Jennifer
Jones during the filming in Much Wenlock.
On the back of the picture is written: "Jennifer Jones,
a native of Oklahoma, was coached in the Shropshire dialect
by Mr J. K. St J. Trevor of Harley. She is seen here holding
By asking around, she has found that Susan Shaw's father
Clement Shaw had a steam traction engine which was used in
the film, and that Susan Shaw is living now in Dawley.
Martha added: "Jennifer Jones herself is still alive. She
does not do interviews, and she did not do so at the time
"She hated interviews and hated photographs. I'm learning
all sorts of things. I will be able to go on a lecture tour
by the time I'm through!"