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A Conversation with Sir Sydney Samuelson about REAL PICTURE QUALITY: An Introduction

Read more at
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Thomas Hauerslev.Date: 26.08.2013
Sir Sydney Samuelson (right) and the rather proud award winner at the Odeon Leicester Square, London, 14 December 2009. Image by Paul Rayton

Sir Sydney Samuelson (7. December 1925, age 87) the first British Film Commissioner (1991) gives a fascinating insight about his work with the international and British Film Industry in the 1960s and 1970s. Sydney and his three brothers managed Samuelson Film Service in London, a company which supplied all the technical equipment for film productions all over the world. Their customers and industry partners included David Lean, Geoffrey Unsworth, Robert E Gottschalk, Stanley Kubrick, John Alcott, Tak Miyagishima, Ken Annakin and Freddie Young among many. In this conversation Sydney reveals a little bit about what went on in the lesser known part of the movie business, during the time of "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Doctor Zhivago", "Thunderball", "Grand Prix", "Ryan's Daughter", "Tom Jones" and many others.

In December 2009 I was presented with an award by the BKSTS, and the gentleman who gave it to me was Sir Sydney Samuelson. I only knew the name vaguely from his company Samuelson Film Service, but I like to think we hit it off right away with our mutual interest in Cinema. As our conversation progressed that winter afternoon, we talked about Panavision, 70mm and Robert Gottschalk and REAL PICTURE QUALITY. The idea of an interview emerged. Almost two years later, I went to North London to visit Sydney and listen to his amazing life story. As usual I had prepared a list of keywords to get the conversation going. As we sat in his living room and the stories came to life, we both realised we were running out of time when our conversation approached the three-hour running mark. Around 5 o'clock in the afternoon, I went back to the West End to meet the rest of my family. Before I left, we agreed to do a second recording session soon afterwards. Sydney and I met again in January 2012 to get the rest of his story on the MP3 recorder.

Following the recording sessions, Brian Guckian has tirelessly transcribed all 7+ hours, which has then again been checked for accuracy by Sydney personally, and then updated by Brian once more. The text is very long, and indeed can be read as one long conversation. For convenience, the conversation has also been broken into 10 chapters, which can be read individually depending on what the reader thinks is most interesting. Thanks to Brian for all his time transcribing this conversation and to Mark Lyndon for proofreading. Thanks to Sydney for taking the time to share his story with in70mm.com's readers.
 
CHAPTERS
• Cinema was always in my Family
• Panavision, Bob Gottschalk and The Answering Machine
• Stanley Kubrick, "Tom Jones" and one point
• Dickie Dickenson, David Lean and British Quota Film
• Stanley, Joe and "2001: A Space Odyssey"
• Takuo Miyagishima, Robert Gottschalk and a 20:1 Zoom
• David Lean and The Friese-Greene Award
• Thunderball, Zhivago, Techniscope, and Fogging a roll of film
• Ken Annakin, "Grand Prix", James Bond, Helicopters
• How lucky can you be

More in 70mm reading:

• The Importance of Panavision
• A Message from Freddie A. Young
• Stanley Kubrick
• Shooting "Lawrence of Arabia"
• Memories of Ryan's Daughter
• Joe Dunton
• Ken Annakin
• 70mm in London 1958 - 2012
• The editor Receives BKSTS award

• Sir Sydney PDF from Cinema Technology

 

Go to the Chapters

 
• Cinema was always in my Family
• Panavision, Bob Gottschalk and The Answering Machine
• Stanley Kubrick, "Tom Jones" and one point
• Dickie Dickenson, David Lean and British Quota Film, “Quota Quickies”
• Stanley, Joe and "2001: A Space Odyssey"
• Takuo Miyagishima, Robert Gottschalk and a 20:1 Zoom
• David Lean and The Friese-Greene Award
• Thunderball, Zhivago, Techniscope, Clint Eastwood and Fogging a roll of film
• Ken Annakin, "Grand Prix", Happy Endings, James Bond, Helicopters
• How lucky can you be

Full text:
Sir Sydney Samuelson and Real Picture Quality
 
Internet link:

• George Berthold "Bertie" Samuelson (1889 - 1947) (PDF)
• Samuelson Film Service (reunion)
• samuelson.la

• The Argus
• British Film Industry Salute
• Wikipedia

YouTube/Vimeo
• 'Strictly Sydney'
• Clapper Board Part 1
• Clapper Board Part 2

• St. Mary's 1963
 
  
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Updated 22-12-16