Boy In The Public Eye
A BOY and a man
wrestled verbally and physically under the flood- lights at the Pagewood studios last week during trial shootings of a film about Long John Silver.
The boy will be known as Jim Hawkins, and in the film he will undergo severe ill-treatment at the hands of Stevenson's Long John Silver.
But when more soberly dressed and freed of Long John's tyranny that boy is known to his mother and actor father as Kit Taylor.
He is 12, unselfconscious, angelic-faced and must sweep them off their feet at his co- educational school at Vaucluse.
Treasure Island Inc., the firm that is making the film, has just given him a three-year contract. He will earn more than a univer- sity lecturer for the first two years and about as much as a professor in the third.
Eye-rolling Robert Newton, from England, will co-star with
Last week's effort was a re- hearsal before the film proper is shot and cut (or cutlassed).
As Robert Newton will not come to Sydney until next month, Byron Haskin (in slacks, flow- ing shirt and dark glasses) stood in for him.
I arrived while the set was still in darkness. A few lighting men checked gear. Kit, in period dress, padded silently about ad- miring the props. His mother
came in one door, twirling a prop automatic pistol (it wouldn't do for Long John) and went out
I watched Kit make himself al home in the 1954 craftsman's idea of a 1770 room. Ah, yes, there was the model ship, the nouveau-Hartog plates over the mantel, the beamed ceiling set with floodlights, the "Jacobean" table, the rough-hewn bricks of finest convict cut.
HE wore a brown tricorn-like
hat which Bonaparte would have spurned, gaberdine britches, blue stockings,.sneakers, and what period-conscious wardrobe staff would describe as a "leather jer-
"Some room, eh?" I said. "Mmmm, wouldn't like to live here, though," he said. At that moment in walked Byron Haskin. "Morning, Kit," he said, shaking hands. "How is it?" The ques- tion hung in the air.
"Hey, take that haystack off your head," said the realist, Haskin, intent on drama, not laughs. Seemingly from nowhere came blue, red, puce tricorn hats, but Kit sneaked away hold- ing his own.
Lights came on. But Mr. Has- kin conferred with the father Hawkins. He clawed the empty air, hunched his shoulders and bared his teeth. He stopped the pantomime to prod Hawkins in the ribs. They both giggled and looked around guiltily.
Gentlemen! Please! Here we
have eight technicians, two movie cameras, about 10,000 kilowatts from Bunnerong over the way and hundreds of feet of movie film just itching to be- come immortal. Action, then.
So Mr. Haskin and Kit sat at a table and insulted each other remorselessly.
I counted 15 repetitions of the following dialogue:
Long John (Haskin): "Give me the medallion . . . You blasted water rat, mutiny will you? Them as died were lucky ones."
Jim: "You dirty pirate!"
Occasionally Kit threw himself at Mr. Haskin in convincing rage and clawed at whatever part of his accommodating torso was within reach.
Before each repeat, young Hawkins and John had a chat, repaired the water-rat's dis- hevelled yellow locks and showed themselves to be the best of friends-partners, in fact, as the script suggests.
I HAD a word with Kit and
Mrs. Taylor (minus pistol) in a quiet moment. Kit was mono- syllabic and obviously thought me a dull stick. Mrs. Taylor (minus pistol) said she didn't worry because the studio had provided Kit with a tutor.
I wonder what happened to that pistol. I counted heads be- fore I left and all were present and correct. But that explosive dialogue! A shot would have passed unnoticed.-B. McG.