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Victor Valentine pays a visit to
\T ONDON, Friday.r-Hearing 'thai Britain's newest and ^ brightest stars, Peter Finch and Diane Cilento, both Australians, had almost finished making their first film together, I thought it would be a good idea to see how they were getting along.
The film, also co-starring Anthony ; Steele, is called "Passage Home," and is one
of Rank's most important pictures.
The story deals with the 30-day Atlantic voy age of a young woman on a . battered cargo ship, alone among a crew, of 30 men described in the publi city blurb as having "no time for., refinements or pre
These studio visits follow a set pattern: a studio car to take you on the hour's run from Fleet st. to Pinewood; two or more publicity people to shepherd you around and tell you how wonderful the film ..is going to be; a few sherries in. the bar; lunch with the stars in the mag nificent/ 18th, century res _ tauranfc (Pinewood was ori
ginally a stately homè) dur ing -which v the female star burbles happily over the filet mignon about her dedi cation to her public; and then the afternoon on the set, getting in the way/ of the technicians and watch ing the actors repeat eight words bf dialogue ad naus
But it didn't happen like that this time.
The entire day's interview with Diane consisted of "Woof!" "Australian, eh?" and a petulant "Stop look ing," on her part, and "Woof," "Yes," and "Well, come over here" on -mine.
Before lunch I looked over some of the gigantic sets in company . with a publicity live-wire named Jerry, and
'2 ? ? p ?
a trim young brunette named Shirley.
The main set, consisting of a full-scale reproduction of a cargo ship In a vast tank of water, with a network of pipes overhead to make rain, and huge wind-machines to lash it to a freney, was breathtaking.
/ Optimism that "Passage ?Home" was a winner was in the air.
LATER, in the bar,
I was told Peter would be joining us for lunch, i but they doubted if Miss Cilento would be available at all that after
Then in walked Diane, looking like an exquisite, ex otic ' but untidy doll, with enormous blue eyes and sulky mutinous Ups.
She wore a short duffle coat, stovepipe tartan pants and flat shoes with buckles.
From the hush that des cended it was apparent that Diane, pale blond hair streaming haphazardly down her back, had them all bluffed.
A worried executive rushed over to me. "I'm afraid you won't be ab'e to interview. Diane. She has so far flatly refused to sit for a 'stills' session this afternoon and I simply daren't suggest an interview as well. She's very difficult. - -
. "I'll try giving her a few champagnes to smooth her over." He rushed off. "Tem perament," commented an other official. ."What that girl needs is a good smack on the bottom."
An even higher executive blanched at these words: "That smack would cost us £150,000," he' breathed.
While Diane was scowling into her champagne cocktail, the first executive came back. "I'll tell you what, come over and meet her as a friend but don't mention anything about newspapers or Interviews," he said.
"No," I replied, "I came
to interview her. On a casual \ ordinary acquaintance I can hardly ask her personal questions, like how big her bust is, "without risking a slap in the eye! Who does she think she 1 is, anyway, Clara Bow!"
Diane looked up from her second soothing cocktail and caught my eye.
"Woof," she said amiably. "Woof" I replied edgily
"T\IANE is wonder ÈJ ful in 'Passage Home,' " said Shir
ley quickly. "It's a» wonder- . fu? film."
"Don't you ever blush when you say that," I asked.
"I am now," said Shirley. : Peter Pinch came in. "You , look well, Peter, younger and i healthier than when I last
saw you. Peter. Did you have ?
an early night for a«
0 PETER FINCH is the captain of
a crew of 30 and Diane Cilento the , only woman in a battered old cargo , ship crossing the Atlantic. "Pas sage Home" is expected to be a
change?"\were the general greetings.
Peter looked pleased for à minute. "Oh. you mean my make-up?" he said.
He was made up as a 65 year-old sea captain for the opening shots of the film.
At lunch Peter, who is try ing to lose a stone In weight, late curried eggs. "I lunched here yesterday with a dear old seul from a knitting magazine," he said apropos of nothing, "she kept re ferring to her 'dear read
ers.' " " .
Diane and her bevy took their places at a far table. She was talking loudly and animatedly.
"Why doesn't she like still sessions?" someone asked.
"Poor kid. they promised her the afternoon off, and then wanted her to pose after she had made other plans," said Peter, who is always kind.
"She was wonderful in thc storm scenes, she was drenched with tons of water for days on end with never a murmur," put in Shirley loyally. "She was even will ing to have stills taken in a tank under water."
Looking thoroughly bad tempered, and thoroughly enchanting, ? Diane. walked
across the restaurant an< sat down behind me where featured player Cyril Cusack was eating alone.
Tears welled un in her gor geous eyes: "Nobody under stands me. but you do Cyril . . ." she began as a tearful preliminary to a protracted soul-baring session in that sensuous husky voice of hers which carries so well.
More publicity officiais joined them. Cusack left to go on the set.
"I hate that man," sobbed Diane.
They led her out via the kitchen. Exit Diane for the day.
MIND you, I'm not
c o m p 1 a i ning
about Diane. I claim that far too many fe male film stars, off-screen, look, act. and talk like the dreary woman-next-door.
Twenty - one - year - old Diane, even in the sulks, stands out as unusual and fascinating.
In six years of meeting Aim stars, she is the only one I have ever wanted to put In my pocket. »nd keep for a
Ön the set by contrast, Finch was strictly workman like. Between takes he talked cheerfully, unobtru sively, and without airs. Be fore the cameras he was quietly efficient.
They stopped turning, he relaxed, and, as always, lapsed into his Australian accent.
At each pause a mirror was poked in front of him and a hairdresser rearranged his grey wig.
"I've never used a mirror on a film-set befôre." he said, while the arc lamps were moved á fraction of an inch to light hts face better. He looked into the mirror once more. "Ooohl Laurence Harvey !" he shuddered.
His next film ls "Josephine and the Man," with Glynis Johns, for the Boultliig Brothers. He mentioned a rümór that he might be . playing in Shute's "A Town
Called Alice," some time next year, part of it to ,be made in Singapore.
"If it's true I'll hop over to Australia to see all my old mates," he said.
Meanwhile, I never did find out if Diane was "smoothed over" sufficiently to do her still session . . .