Saturday, 27 December 2014


Producer, Milton Subotsky in his quiet and unobtrusive way, had made about 30 pictures since he came to England from New York. A dedicated Anglophile, he took British citizenship. He made a number of films of the magazine type, taking four or five short stories and stringing them together, usually enclosed in a suitable envelope. He persuaded strings of star names to appear in them and they were successful. ASYLUM was another one in that style. He had selected five short stories written by Robert Bloch. He sent his plan to bloch, together with a suggested envelope. Not surprisngly, Bloch wrote a cracking good script.

All the characters in these stories were lunatics except one and it was vital that their obsessions and fantasies should be absolutely genuine, NOT people putting on an act. Milton assembled a marvelous cast which was simply a list of first class actors who all responded beautifully. I was in my element and thankful to have such a group around me.

Before we began shooting the was one sad incident. I had asked Arthur Grant to photograph the film. He had read the script and was as enthusiatic as i was, but only ten days before the start he came to me, full of apologies. He was ill, and he felt it would be irresponsible to continue. He saud he knew that he couldn't do the job. I didn't ask any questions. I never knew was he was suffering, but only a few momnths later, he died. A sad loss to us all. He was  so good natured, unpretentious and good at his job. He was an ace at photographing dramatic night sequences: his motto was 'Never mind how dark it's supposed to be - the audience has still got to see what's going on!' And yet it still looked like night.

Dennis Coop was dubious about taking over at short notice but I managed to persuade him. He was a real top rater. He had high standards and you wouldn't find him photographing any old rubbish. We worked well together and I was glad to have him on my next two pictures. After that he became one of the principal members of the team that made Superman fly and you couldn't see the wires because there weren't any!

ASYLUM is one of my favorite films. The shoot was a smooth as silk. Tony Waye being the first assistant: he later spent a lot of time as a line producer on the James Bond films. There ios no pint in describing the stories or in picking out individual performances, they were all excellent, although I must just mention Herbert Lom's piece, which was utterly convincing. It was all shot in one day too, not that that's important. And the joint efforts of Charlotte Rampling and Britt Ekland were really smart. I like the picture because it all fits together so neatly, with terrific pace, too.

Milton Subosky was one of the nicest people i ever worked with. Shy, honest, modest - not the popular image of a film producer. I should have underlined the word 'popular'. Of course all producers are shy, honest, etc! Milton was no good at the publicising himself, never put himself about. He was an innovator. He filmed Harold Pinter's 'The birthday Party' directed by William Friedkin. He was the first to revive the Sword and Sorcery style - and first into insects, with a plague of bees! After Dead of Night, which had no follow ups because it was so good, he revived the magazine format with macabre stories. His productions were in the same field as Hammer but were always somehow different. An admirable man. He loved the stories and he loved film, to him, it wasn't just a business....

Roy Ward Baker: The Directors Cut.
published 2000
Images and Layout
Marcus Brooks


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