By Douglas Brass
LONDON, October 30 — I remember Gen. Eisenhower reprimand- ing a young American
colonel in his combined Anglo-American com- mand just before D- Day in Normandy. "They tell me you've been cussing at your British off- sider," he said. "They tell me you called him a British so- and-so. Well, understand this: You can call him a so- and-so as often as you like. But if you call him a British so-and-so you can pack your kit and get out." The same prudent principle is being honored just now at Ealing film studios where a Michael Balcon production of that magnificent best seller "The Cruel Sea" is sticking closely to the book save in one important detail. The many thousands of Australians who have read
this epic of the Battle of the Atlantic will remember that Nicholas Monsarrat, for some unexplained reason of his own, represented his most unsavory character as an Australian. This was Bennett the coward and the rat— a chap whose behaviour at sea and on land seemed more dis- tasteful even than the blood and-guts slaughter scenes. Well, Ealing studios have a Bennett in their film— but he's not an Australian. "He's just one of us." says studio director Maj. Reginald Baker. "It's a safe rule: If you've got to have a so-and- so in a picture make him one of your own people. Then no- body can complain." I questioned whether this device was either wise or straightforward. Would not Australian audiences have taken Bennett in their stride? But no doubt the film people know best. Bennett is now being played in all his un- pleasantness by a virile young Welsh actor, Stanley Baker, also starring just now in the airborne tr00ps epic "The Red Beret." Stanley Baker tells me he loves the part. "Bennett's not an Australian villain he's a universal villain." Two Australian actors, Vincent Ball and David Wil- lams, have told Baker they would have given their eye teeth for the role.
Producing "The Cruel Sea" is plainspoken Leslie Nor- man, who edited "The Over- landers.' Norman's one am- bition is to make more Aus- tralian films, but he, like other British producers, can't see this happening for a good while to come. Why? Norman tells me it is because of crippling Aus- tralian regulations. "We are up against the stumbling block of Government policy, it seems. They make it diffi- cult for us to take in equip- ment and technicians. They make it impossible to get fin- ance and the upshot is pro- hibitive costs." Norman believes Australia has a tremendous lot to offer films. He would like to make "A Town Like Alice," "Rob- bery Under Arms" and a sophisticated metropolitan type of Australian film based
on "Come in Spinner." Britain's biggest goggle- party is at the motor show. Hundreds of thousands of people are drawn there by some fundamental urge to stare at the shiny new cars. But though more cars are available for the starved home market, one still needs a minimum of £1,500 to com- mand immediate delivery. Few car lovers can emu- late the young King Feisal of Iraq, who has been trying out the Bentley sports saloon —£4,890 plus £2,718 purchase tax. But everybody is apprec- iating the ironical change in car sales methods. The ele- gant gentlemen with the or- der books, after ten years of persuading people not to buy, are once again polite and at- tentive to inquirers. Britain's motor manufac- turers, by the way. have one big hope in life, that the "magnificent" Australian market for British cars will soon be opened again.