Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Happy Birthday Vivian Pickles
The great Vivian Pickles, whom you all remember as Bud Cort’s mother in Harold and Maude has a birthday today. As part of my work writing the authorised biography of Ken Russell, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Vivian talking with her about her life and work, including her astonishing performance as Isadora Duncan in Ken’s remarkable film. Those of you who have seen the film will know there probably isn’t a better female performance in world cinema. If you haven’t yet seen it, do treat yourself by buying the DVD box set, ‘Ken Russell at the BBC’, which contains the Isadora Duncan film, and five of Ken’s other BBC films (including two feature-length ones starring Oliver Reed).
Vivian was thrilled to recieve a copy of the BBC DVDs from a friend (her offer to consider doing a commentary was ignored), but she is understandably disappointed that the DVDs won’t play either on her DVD player or on her computer - because the discs been ‘region-coded’ to play only on American machines!
How can the DVD companies get away with such nonsense? and penalise in this way the very people who made the films?
Vivian is proud of her work on the Isadora Duncan film, not least because it led to a meeting with Hal Ashby, of whom she always speaks with great fondness. Her performance in Harold and Maude is her personal favourite, but her Isadora won the most awards. Here’s a photograph I took of Vivian a few weeks ago. She’s holding the award for Isadora she won at Monte Carlo.