Download Wisconsin Film Studies : Many Lives of Cy Endfield : Film Noir, the Blacklist, and Zulu PDF

TitleWisconsin Film Studies : Many Lives of Cy Endfield : Film Noir, the Blacklist, and Zulu
File Size3.1 MB
Total Pages319
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Early Life and the Thirties
2. The War and After
3. The Sound of Fury and HUAC
4. Britain in the Fifties
5. Zulu and the Sixties
6. Magic, Invention, and Telluride
Select Bibliography
Document Text Contents
Page 2


Patrick McGilligan

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its success on excitement and action and not on beautifully composed shots and
Oscar-winning photography.” There were also fears about whether some of the
director’s shots “will cut as he’s intended” and reports that the picture looked as
if it could run well over three and a half hours.19

The crisis gradually eased after both Endfield and Baker sent reassuring
letters to, respectively, Jack Karp at Paramount in Hollywood and Joe Levine at
Embassy in New York. In May Endfield told Karp that the predictions of the
film being behind schedule were exaggerated. He defended his judgment on the
natural length of the film, which he estimated at something between two hours
and two hours and twenty minutes. He referred also to “labour trouble,” to
“arduous and nerve-racking arbitrations” that finally led to agreement about
shooting on some extra Sundays, and to his decision to burn the hospital set at
the end of the film (rather than doing this earlier and having to rebuild it). The
latter measure was designed to generate extra shooting days. Baker and Endfield
remained close in the face of these early pressures and the doubts raised by the
studio representatives. Lesslie sent some seventeen telegrams back to the
insurers, recounting progress made and days lost to bad weather.20

For all the importance of the collaboration of Endfield, Baker, and Prebble,
not to mention the pressure on them from visiting or watching executives, Zulu
was to achieve a consistent and elegant directorial style that made maximum use
of the location. While the concerns and strictures of Film Finances may well
have been productive, there is little doubt that Endfield and Baker did have a
grander visual conception of their project that they fought hard to defend. After
the opening tableau of the fallen British soldiers at Isandlwana, there follows a
long opening sequence of a Zulu wedding ceremony at King Cetewayo’s
homestead. A recurring style is established here of slow, careful camera
tracking, along lines of dancers and spectators, interspersed with wide shots of
the overall ritual, performed before the King and his guests, the missionaries, the
Reverend Otto Witt ( Jack Hawkins), and his daughter Margareta (Ulla
Jacobsson). The chanting, singing, and dancing draw the spectator into this
world, while the direction enhances and emphasizes the sexuality of the young
female dancers. The spectacle unfolds while the Reverend Witt, of the
neighboring mission station at Rorke’s Drift, provides interpretive commentary
to his wide-eyed daughter, alongside Cetewayo. When news of events at
Isandlwana is conveyed to the chief, the Witts leave hastily for the remote
British outpost that is the locale for the rest of the story.

At Rorke’s Drift there are again slow, studied pans and tracks, and dolly and

Page 160

crane shots that introduce the encampment and the mountainous vistas that
surround it. It is a measured construction of the spatial dynamics of the drama.
The two principal officers, Lieutenant John Chard of the Royal Engineers
(Stanley Baker) and Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (Michael Caine), are divided
by upbringing and profession but united by the events of history. Also
introduced are Colour Sergeant Bourne (Nigel Green), whose underplayed
authority and paternal concern with the welfare of the other ranks brings so
much to the film, and Lieutenant Adendorff of the Natal Native Contingent (Gert
van den Bergh), who provides a white South African view that is admiring of the
Zulus’ military prowess and skeptical (“You damned English!”) of the British.
Enter Private Hook ( James Booth). The final shooting script calls him a
“wizened self-reliant Londoner with a loyal devotion to Number one.” Hook’s
scenes (all filmed in Twickenham after the location shoot) provide a part-comic
element until the Zulus set fire to the hospital and he emerges as an unlikely

The equation of forces is established: ninety-seven fit men— together with
the wounded, the native levies, and members of the Natal contingent—against
four thousand Zulu warriors. Depth of field is used to show the men waiting and
contemplating the coming attack. The engagement as staged, beginning an hour
into the film, doesn’t really reflect the balance of numbers, not least because the
number of Zulu extras who were available at one time was never more than 250.
Endfield represents the battle in such a way as to disguise this shortfall. This he
does by switching between different points of attack and by sparing use of the
more spectacular tracking shots of the Zulu charges. There are also more distant
shots of Zulus on the far horizon as well as in the foreground, with a diagonal
track of warriors connecting the two lines. The director acts here as an
illusionist, suggesting the existence on-screen of the overwhelming body of
attackers that the story assumes. This is also attained by the use of sound. The
Welsh sentries on the hill hear the train-like noise of the Zulus in the distance,
and the same sound then percolates to the men below, before Bourne’s report of
“Zulus to the southwest, thousands of them.”

Endfield later recalled that there was “a sense of structure about something of
dimension that I have found lacking even in pictures that were supposed to be
big.” He mentioned (William Wyler, 1959) as a successful example of
this “trick” of achieving a canvas of scale and dimension while also maintaining
a sense of detail. He continued, “ is a two hour twenty minute picture, of
which an hour and twenty was battle. The battle only consisted of two things—

Page 318

Brian Neve

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