"1966 Ford quieter than my Jaguar? Not jolly likely"
It is interesting to note that the Mark 10 turned out to be quieter on the decibel machine than the Rolls; I think the clock must have ticked too loudly on the latter and it was only fractionally noisier than the Ford, possibly due to the greater power output.
Filming was due to start with Lord Bath at Longleat, so I was not involved, but I later heard that all did not go too well. Apparently, for a straight actor, commercial films are not considered very highly and the Quiet Man was not too happy with his role and when the film director called him by an abbreviation of his Christian name a slight altercation arose and he was directed back to Hollywood. This caused a 24-hour delay whilst another Quiet Man was engaged and flown out from Hollywood. He turned out to be a most charming person called Bob Gunner who had just finished a nine-month contract doing a film take-off of James Bond, in which he was in the star role. He later told me that, for what he was being paid, he did not mind what the director called him, but in fact he was always called Gunner as there were so many Bobs and Robs around it avoided confusion. He also said that commercial filming was not too bad as after all Bing Crosby and many other notables did it, but it could do one some harm.
Otherwise, filming went on successfully at Longleat, and after two days they were ready to come on to Stockton. It was thought unnecessary to charter a 707 for the journey as the aerodromes are not too frequent in the area and it is only 20 miles anyway. So we decided to go in a car convoy consisting of about six hire cars and myself leading to show the way in the Facel.
I had with me Barney Clark, a Vice-President of J. Walter Thompson, and he impressed on me that we must not lose anybody as nobody knew the way. The last car in the convoy was being driven by a more than steady driver and she kept on being left behind. After stopping for her to catch up about five times, I remarked to Barney that I thought she must be a beginner and he replied, “Surely you can’t get that bad in so short a time,” which struck me as a fairly apt way of putting it.
Eventually we arrived safely and soon all equipment was ready and we began shooting. I found it very interesting because, apart front one or two television films, I have had little experience of the movies and I was most intrigued to see that they started with filming almost the final scene and it did not seem to matter in what sequence anything was taken; all very confusing for the layman. We had a short break for lunch, which was piovided by the film company, having been brought 20 miles by van: otherwise shooting went on until the light failed and this meant we had had about six hours of it, so I was slightly surprised when the director told me at the end that he thought he would get about 30 sec, out of that lot and, in fact, of course, the whole two days’ work was only to amount to a one-minute film, luckily for the public.
We only had one real hitch, when we were filming just outside the front door, and my mother’s butler, who is rather old, slightly deaf and very blind, having been with us for 35 years, stepped out of the front door straight on to the set where we were filming, looked around a little blankly and said “Is her Ladyship here as she is wanted on the telephone ?” Meanwhile there were frantic shouts of “Cut, cut,” and after I had assured him that she was not here, he wandered back into the house quite unaware that anything unusual had happened and wondering what all the commotion was about.
The following day they wanted me to start at dawn, because apparently all the best stills are taken at dawn or dusk as it brings out the colour better, but I said I was definitely a dusk man, although I felt a bit ashamed about it later on because I found the photographer had been up all night having rushed the stills to London, developed them and then dashed back to Wiltshire. Film people may be well paid but my word they work for it.
It was a horrible morning next day, raining hard and we all felt very depressed as it had just come through on the news that John Surtees had had such a had accident in Canada and was in a critical condition. Fortunately, before the end of filming that evening we heard that he was out of danger, which cheered us up no end.
Because of the rain the whole script had to be altered, but this did not seem to worry Bob Yung, who made his decision in a moment and then sent one of the chauffeurs into the nearest town to buy 27 pairs of gumboots and 27 mackintoshes so that the crews could keep going. I am sure the local shops considered them a great asset. The final stage came with the taking of the stills at dusk. These were time exposures up to 25 seconds and, for some unknown reason, at four seconds somebody hidden in the car behind us in the picture had to turn the side lights on. The Quiet Man and I had to face each other in the picture and the photographer would take the time by shouting out “One thousand, two thousand,” etc. and we had to keep quite still. When he got to four thousand the person in the car was to turn on the side lights, but unfortunately he was deaf so the photographer would shout louder and louder “five thousand,” and if they did not go on then he would scream out “six thousand.” Well by this time either the Quiet Man or I would have got the giggles and we had to start again. After about six attempts we were rather unpopular because it turned out each plate cost £10 so that was £60 up the slot so far. We were asked what we were giggling at, like naughty schoolboys, and after that we really had to control ourselves.
When the Quiet Man arrived, my wife held an umbrella up for him, but when he left she let him get wet and the final script says something like “Rob Walker seemed to accept his defeat graciously but I don’t think Mrs. Walker was so pleased as she did not hold the umbrella up for the Quiet Man when he left.” So at least my wife kept the flag flying even if I did let the side down.
Jaguars have been simply wonderful about the whole advertisement, just proving what an excellent and broad-minded firm they are.
I gave them the full circumstances and explained that I thought they could get wonderful free advertising from it and suggested that they do a reply advertisement saying maybe the Jaguar is slightly noisier than the Ford but this is only because of the greater power from the engine which does 0-60 m.p.h. in X sec., whereas the Ford takes X + Y sec. to reach this speed. Jaguars were kind enough to agree with my views and any letters I have received from them have been more than courteous and I have the very highest respect for them.
I would like to say to the readers that to harm Jaguars, or any other product of my country, is the very last thing I would do intentionally and I firmly believe in this instance I have not, but you may not think me competent to judge after reading these ramblings.