ANGELA ALLEN

Born in London in 1929 in a district titled Maida Vale. I am still there, but where I have lived since 1967 has been the Regent Canal running through it and is now officially called Little Venice. I went to what was known as a kindergarten and then to a school run by nuns even though I was not born into a Catholic family. When I was due to go to High School, the second World War broke out and I was evacuated to Devon. I returned with the school to London, when what were called “doodlebugs” were raining down. When the war ended, I had a year at the Polytechnic where I learned shorthand and typing as well as other subjects. When I left, I got a job at an actor’s agency Filmrights and stayed for about 15 months. I was then taken by chance to a film studio, Denham, which was one of the biggest but closed many years ago. I think I got the bug on the day of that visit. It seemed much more interesting than being in an office in London.

I managed to get myself a job as the secretary to a mad Hungarian producer who was often very difficult to understand and he would dictate on every move. My shorthand wasn’t that great and he fired me quite rightly, but the desire to work in a film studio was stronger than ever so I returned to London and went knocking on doors until someone said there might be a job on their forthcoming film, so I managed to find this studio which was out of London. The first person I met was Guy Hamilton who was wonderfully helpful to me, and whom I predicted when only about 19 would be a director. I met the script supervisor on the film who agreed to give me a trial run.

My very first film was titled Night Beat (1947) and after three weeks I was put on the second unit. It was night work on one of the coldest years on record and in the dock area of London. No gentle initiation for me, but it was wonderful to have been given the chance to prove myself under very difficult circumstances. From that film, I worked on two more as an assistant until going out on my own. My first big break was working on the 2nd unit of The Third Man (1949), which had Carol Reed directing the second unit whenever an actor was involved. From that notable film, I went on to work on Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) and then to The African Queen (1951) with John Huston. Huston was immensely loyal and took me onto Moulin Rouge (1952) and then BEAT THE DEVIL (1953) which was shot on the Amalfi Coast in Italy with studio work back at Shepperton. A film full of happy memories. I subsequently stayed working with and for John Huston for a further 11 films. My total list of films can be found on IMDB.

I am no longer working as a script supervisor partly because of age discrimination, but also because I want to see more of the world and it is time to give back something of the knowledge I have gained over all those years. I talk at film schools when invited and enjoy meeting young students and hopefully imparting some useful tips. As I seem to have been blessed with good health, I drive some of my less fortunate colleagues to places they might otherwise not be able to get to. I still enjoy life and meeting young and new people from any era.

In attendance: BEAT THE DEVIL