Up Jumped a Swagman (1965)

Director's Comments

When my new agent, Leslie Grade, father of Michael, suggested I directed a musical comedy with one of his other clients, Frank Ifield, I asked him why he thought it was a good idea? "Because he makes more money in Blackpool than Cliff" was Leslie's quick reply.

l-r Frank Ifield, Christopher Miles and Leslie Grade at the Press Show 16.12.196

I was flattered to be asked to direct my first feature at 25, which was unheard of in the mid sixties making me the youngest film director working in England, but I still had problems in equating Blackpool with the general cinema going public!  However knowing that the Grade Organisation with ABPC had given first 'musical' features to Sidney Furie, and Peter Yates with the Cliff Richard films, and John Boorman had just directed the Dave Clark Five in 'Catch us if you can' - I thought I would try, but where was the script?

Unfortunately the two writers of the Cliff pictures were not then on speaking terms, so the two halves of a rather soggy script arrived separately in the post, and not surprisingly made no sense at all. So Leslie, not one to be beaten, got an old writer friend from ITV, Lewis Greifer, saying "He's the man, I know you'll get on well" which we did.  However thinking up a credible vehicle for Frank, amiable and charming as he was, proved to me that ultimately you cannot make a celluloid purse out of a sow's ear, even though Frank was gamely willing to send himself up.

It was going to have to be a small budget, and to save money I was asked to use a new film saving invention - the dreaded 'Techniscope' process. By only using two sprocket holes for each frame (instead of the standard four) a narrow negative was created, which had a sort of wide-screen look.  However in 1965 colour film stock was still rather grainy, which showed when the final picture was blown up for the large cinema screen. 

Then the boyfriend of the leading lady rang me up a few weeks before shooting to say she was 4 months pregnant, and it was because of that I then discovered an unknown model, Suzy Kendall, to replace her. However what the Boulting brothers suggested I should do to the pregnant actress, is all in '''Carrying the Can'.