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Monday 16 November 2009

Titans Will Clash

Have you seen the new trailer for the remake of Clash of the Titans?

"Titans Will Clash!" I'm cool with it, because I thought Clash was a way less than perfect movie and was far from Uncle Ray's best work... that crappy mechanical owl that has to have been inserted by the studio as a poor man's R2D2, that thick-legged Pegasus, Harry Hamlin giving a performance so stiff that it makes Talos look like Jim Carrey...

Maybe I'd think better of the movie if it didn't stand so much in the shadow of Jason and the Argonauts. I have a personal memory of it; well, a tangential personal memory. It was 1980 and I wasn't yet making enough money out of Me Art to live on, so Yvonne, my then-agent, had landed me the job of novelising a David Essex bike racing movie called Silver Dream Racer. The movie was shooting at Pinewood Studios and I was invited down to visit the set and to meet with whichever executive had been assigned to supervise the writing of the tie-in.

All I really remember of the meeting was being told in no uncertain terms that my expansions and additions to the basic storyline were less than welcome, and all that was required of me was the script in prose form and nothing else. Which wasn't true of the tie-ins I'd enjoyed, and still seems like a pretty joyless approach to the form.

But Yvonne and I got lunch in the Pinewood commissary. Over at the next table was Burt Reynolds, in England to shoot Rough Cut for director Don Siegel. He was lunching with a tall grey-haired man with an eyepatch whom I guessed, on no evidence other than the eyepatch, to be Andre de Toth. Over on another table, both in white bathrobes, sat Judi Bowker and Neil McCarthy, Clash of the Titans' Andromeda and Calibos (Calibos was McCarthy in closeup, and stop-motion in the long shots).

I said it was a connection. I didn't say it was a particularly impressive one.

The Silver Dream Racer novelisation went out under the pseudonym of John Lydecker. I'd lifted the name from one of my own early radio plays, An Alternative to Suicide, for which I'd lifted it from Howard and Theodore Lydecker, the effects technicians who'd made Captain Marvel fly.

That mechanical owl in Clash was called Bubo, if I remember correctly. And if I also remember my Camus correctly, that's also the French word for a plague abcess.

Please, God, just tell me he's not in the remake.


Stan said...

On 'Silver Dream Racer', did your novelisation have the happy ending (where he dies) or the sad one (where he lives)? And I do mean it that way round!

Couldn't agree more about that stupid owl - when I saw it at the pictures as a kid it annoyed me.

Stephen Melling said...

When I recall Clash of the Titans I see only an image of Judi Bowker emerging naked from a bath. Almost made Bubo bearable.

Stephen Gallagher said...

The ending? I swear I don't remember... I think it didn't end too well for the protagonist...

Stan said...

Just had a quick look at the script (which I imagine you'd have followed) and it was the 'sad' ending where he's dragged along and dies.

Out of interest (and if you can remember), how long did it take to turn the script into a novel?

Stephen Gallagher said...

Novelisations had to be turned around pretty fast, because commissioning a book would be one of the last decisions made on a film and publishing lead times are comparatively lengthy. I don't remember extactly how long SDR took, but a typical deadline would have been around 3 to 5 weeks... which is a lot of typing but not that big a deal creatively when they make you follow the script to that degree.

My fastest turnaround on a project was 100,000 words in 21 days; 2 novels extracted and structured from a series comprising 22 hour-long TV scripts.