Two stars. Two totally different acting methods. One worried movie director.

The Legend of Hell House poster

When I was a kid growing up, living with my parents, watching television a lot, there were two people who established in my brain the importance of the director.

One was Mike Hodges, who directed some of the ultra-stylish ABC TV Arts series Tempo. He went on to direct movies including Get Carter and Flash Gordon.

John Hough

John Hough’s feature films include Escape to Witch Mountain, The Watcher in the Woods, Twins of Evil and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry

The other was John Hough (pronounced ‘Huff’) who directed five years worth of The Avengers TV series under producer Albert Fennell.

I always reckon, if you see an Avengers scene shot through an empty wine glass or with exceptionally arty angles, it was a John Hough episode.

Last night I went to a rare screening of The Legend of Hell House, a movie produced by Albert Fennell and directed in 1973 by John Hough from a script by the brilliant Richard Matheson based on his own superb humdinger of a novel Hell House.

After the screening finished, John Hough was asked which actors he most enjoyed working with in his career.

John Cassavetes,” he replied, “was really interesting to work with. I did a couple of films with him (Brass Target and The Incubus). He genuinely never read the script. He would ask: What’s the situation? He just wanted to know what the scene was about and how the character was feeling and then he would ad-lib the scene brilliantly.

John Cassavetes co-starred with Sophia Loren in Brass Target

John Cassavetes co-starred with Sophia Loren in Brass Target

“But, when I did a picture with him and Sophia Loren (Brass Target) she could not ad-lib so, when I said Action! she was waiting for him to say what was in the script and he didn’t say that. I was in big trouble there. She couldn’t do it.

“So I rang up MGM – it was their picture – and the answer came back: The poster reads SOPHIA LOREN… and John Cassavetes. So he had to learn the script.”

2 Comments

Filed under Acting, Movies

2 responses to “Two stars. Two totally different acting methods. One worried movie director.

  1. Owen Morgan

    Wasn’t ‘The Legend of Hell House’ a British film? I know that the US punk band The Cramps had a thing about it. I get it mixed up with the novel ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ by Shirley Jackson, 1959- “whatever walked there, walked alone” (sounds a bit like the European Parliament these days!) Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the film shot at what is now a hotel near Hereford? I know that that place really IS supposed to be haunted. The film poster is scarier than the film anyway!!
    Sophia Loren did a lot of filming with Richard Burton- they had to do a shot in a ’60s action film where they ran across a viaduct just before it got blown up. The viaduct in question was in South Wales, near Merthyr, and it really WAS destroyed for the movie (a bit like the liner SS ‘France’ for the film ‘The Last Voyage’). Another piece of Welsh industrial history gone forever….

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