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Ken Russell hot news

Last update 16 Dec 2022.

Novelisation of Gothic

Novel Gothic by Stephen Volk based on Ken Russel's film

Details of the novelisation by Stephen Volk are added to the Gothic page.  Click here.

Updates to the play Weill and Lenya

Weill and Lenya - Big City - Otto Dix

Updates about the play on Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya by Judith Paris and Ken Russell, directed by Russell.  Click here.


Updates to The Rainbow

Ken Russell - The Rainbow - Sammi Davis

The page on The Rainbow has been extensively updated.  Click here.

The Dance of the Seven Veils coming on Blu-ray

Ken Russell Dance of the Seven Veils

The copyright on Richard Strauss' music has expired, so there is no legal obstruction to presenting The Dance of the Seven Veils.  The BFI are looking at issuing a Blu-ray.  More details when known.

Thanks to Alex for the information.

Glenda Jackson interviewed on Radio 4 about directors she has worked with

BBC This Cultural Life

BBC Radio 4's This Cultural Life will interview Glenda Jackson including on directors she has worked with.  It is broadcast on Saturday 1 Oct 2022 19:15 on BBC Radio 4.  It will also be available live on the BBC Website click here.  Thanks to Michelle for the information.

Update: You can still watch it online.  She talks of working with theatre director Peter Brook, of her view of Margaret Thatcher and her decision to become an MP, and of course on Ken Russell.

"He could be absolutely ghastly, he could be rude- not to the actors, I give him credit here- and, you know, he could scream his head off and be furious, and them thirty seconds later he’d be completely stuck on a rock somewhere and anybody who had an idea he would listen to, and listen to openly and properly and not infrequently those ideas would trigger something in him and he would do it.

But he was a marvelous marvelous director to work with, I think, because he had images, visions.  It was always with him something that was seen and was set, the image, it was the vision, it was the idea how the person could physically change or develop that were really the things that triggered  him.

I think the way this country has treated him is an absolute and utter disgrace.  It’s almost as though everybody on the production or direction side of cinema in this country simply don’t want to hear his name, and I think he at the peak of his directing talents really made fundamental changes to British cinema, and I just think it is scandalous that he’s been sort of discarded because he made major, major positive changes, and he helped dozens and dozens of people to discover their talents".

Lair of the White Worm on The Criterion Channel

Ken Russell The Lair of the White Worm 

Classic ’80s Horror is coming to Criterion Channel for Halloween.  One of the films is Ken Russell's Lair of the White Worm.

Other interesting films include Michael Wadleigh's Wolfen, Larry Cohen's Q: The Winged Serpent and John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness.  The full list of 30 films is here.

David Warner passes away

David Warner Ken Russell Cloud of Glory William Dorothy Wordsworth 

David Warner, magnificent as poet Wordsworth in Ken Russell's Clouds of Glory, has passed away aged 80.  Other good roles include the photographer opposite Gregory Peck in the original The Omen and the lead role in cult classic Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment.

"With the rigour of his classical training, his style and his fine voice, Warner boosted the IQ of any movie he was in" (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 25 Jul 2022, click here)".

Luna Carmoon

Luna Carmoon 

Luna Carmoon Nosebleed

New filmmaker Luna Carmoon says she gets inspiration from the British films of the 1960s and '70s and filmmakers such as Ken Russell and Nicolas Roeg.  She has made three short films so far- Hoard, Shagbands and Nosebleed (above).

She is one of the National Film & Television School's Screen Stars of Tomorrow, and Hoard is backed by BBC Film and the British Film Institute.

The trailer for Shagbands is here.

The quote is from the screendaily site here.

Teddy Girls photos

Ken Russell - Teddy Girls 

21 of Ken's photos of Teddy Girls from 1955.  Nicely printed.  The cover is of Iris Thornton and the other Teddy Girls were Pat Wiles, Rose Price, Vera Harrison, Grace Living, Barbara Wood, Josie Buchan, Eileen Lewis, Rose Hendon, Mary Toovey and Jean Rayner.

"Teddy Girls brings together, for the first time in one publication, images taken by Ken Russell of this scarcely documented subculture.  Taken around London in January 1955 and published in the Picture Post on June 4th that year, these photographs are a testament to the supremely stylish young women depicted.  The style of the Teddy Girls, like that of the Teddy Boys, grew out of a trend for Edwardian influenced fashion in post-World War II London.  However, these women should be seen as more than a feminine facsimile of their male counterparts and Russell’s images document the ingenuity and complexity of their sartorial choices.  As well as recording the style of the Teddy Girls, these images also provide a snapshot of London in 1955, a city in flux, still rebuilding itself after the damage inflicted by war.  An essay by the fashion historian, Mairi MacKenzie, considers the cultural history and context within which these women lived and the photos were taken".


William Hurt passes away

William Hurt in Ken Russell Altered States

William Hurt has sadly passed away.

After a couple of television roles his career started with Ken Russell's Altered States in 1980. Not a bad place to start.
He appeared in major mainstream films such as Spielberg’s AI, but he also often undertook quirky films different from the mainstream, such as Children of a Lesser God (he won an Oscar for this), Kiss of the Spider Woman and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.

My favourite, the little known Accidental Tourist.

Ken Russell t shirt

A t shirt illustrated by Paul Cemmick.  Details are on Pinterest click here.

Flipping the script on Britishness

London by Ken Russell, 1954

Found in an overlooked photo archive "images of Windrush arrivals and jazz club romances challenge the traditional narrative about what it means to be British".  Interesting photos including "London by Ken Russell, 1954... street scenes of the 1950s from the future film-maker’s series Portobello Road – Everyday Life. Here, a young black boy plays in one of the bombed out ‘playgrounds’ much loved by kids at the time. He is wearing a kind of superhero eye mask on his forehead, from an earlier game".

From the Guardian 4 Jan 2022 click here.

Oliver Reed turned down for a blue plaque

Oliver Reed in The Devils

Christopher Hastings writing in the Mail on Sunday newspaper reports that Oliver Reed has been turned down for a blue plaque because " his legacy in the field of acting was not sufficiently strong". Blue plaques are meant to celebrate notable figures and the places they lived and worked.

The article says “A committee at the charity – which has been accused of political correctness – rejected a bid to honour the hell-raising star of films including Oliver!, Women In Love and Gladiator, despite many considering him a towering figure in British cinema.”

Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam is quoted as saying “… this is crazy. Ollie was a monument to everything that was wonderful at that time in England. I think this decision proves our culture is being invaded by close-minded idealogues with no idea of either history or uniqueness.’

The article by Christopher Hastings is in the Mail on Sunday, 5 Dec 2021 is on the Mail website here

People who were awarded a blue plaque this year include Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets and Hilton Valentine, guitarist of The Animals.

Gretchen Felker-Martin podcast on Ken Russell's The Devils

The Losers' Club: A Stephen King Podcast presents a 30 minute discussion with Gretchen Felker-Martin on The Devils "A story about human fragility and the beauty of human frailty".  Good to hear people genuinely appreciating the film- like an idiosyncratic discussion between friends.

The link is on atcast click here.

Dick Bush, Cinematographer

Dick Bush and Ken Russell on Isadora

An update on one of Ken's cinematographers.

"When I was asked to do a Ken Russell film I was only an acting cameraman. I’d never been taught lighting, I taught myself really by watching other films, and went ahead to work with this terrifying creature as Ken was in those days. He would get through sound crews and camera crews in seconds. And I realised Ken was being really helpful. We’d go off to locations or work in the studio and I would light the set and he would come up and quietly say “Dick, do you really need that lamp on there”, and I’d switch it off and realise the set looked better".

The link is here .

Site updates - Savage Messiah

Updates to films Russell has acted in other than his own films, including The Russia House, Waking the Dead: Final Cut and The Moving Finger.

Ken Russell - Agatha Christie Marple - The Moving Finger

Ken Russell - Sean Connery - The Russia House

A major update of Savage Messiah here .

Dancer in Savage Messiah Ken Russell

Ken Russell Savage Messiah

Site updates - The Boyfriend

A major update of The Boyfriend here .

Ken Russell The Boyfriend 

Ken Russell The Boyfriend

Ken Russell: Portrait of a Maverick

Portrair of a Maverick

Ken Russell Portrait of a Maverick is a documentary by Chris Wade. The film gives an overview of Ken’s childhood and career, and has interviews with Xavier Russell (Ken’s son who edited some of Ken’s films), Judith Paris, Emma Millions and (voice only) Scott Antony.

Xavier gives some good insight into Ken’s working such as how he edits. He also mentions the friendship between Ken and Coppola, and Scorsese (who would send Ken copies of his latest films), as well as Fellini’s admiration of Ken. He also mentions Ken’s mixed feelings about Kubrick.

Judith Paris brings out how devoted she is to the work of Ken and mentions his insistence on lots of takes. As well as in films, she worked with Ken in the theatre.

Emma Millions covers the last films of Ken. She gives examples of Ken’s inventiveness such as when they had to find a way of portraying a castle collapsing (The Fall of the Louse of Usher) and he came up with the idea of using a bouncy castle. She also touchingly tells how she burst into tears when she overheard someone say Ken had just died.

The film is just over 55 minutes. You can buy the DVD or the download here


The site has a short online trailer you can watch.


Recent changes to the site:

  • upgrade of site underway

 Too late- you missed it


Crimes of Passion in Austin, USA

Kathleen Turner Crimes of Passsion

Crimes of Passion is on at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas.  It is showing on 7 Dec 2022. Details are here.


Elgar and Dance of the Seven Veils in London

Elgar and Dance of the Seven Veils are on at the National Film Theatre in London on 3 Nov 2022.

"Monitor was ground-breaking in the way it gave creatives the freedom to experiment. Overseen by the great Sir Huw Wheldon, the strand revolutionised arts broadcasting. Ken Russell’s work was perhaps the most obvious in this respect, particularly his essays on music and composers. His film on Elgar, made for the 100th edition of Monitor, remains one of the strand’s towering achievement".

"Russell’s daring film about the life of Richard Strauss, made for the Omnibus strand, was shown once and then banned because of objections from the Strauss estate, who blocked the use of his music. Now these compositions have finally come into the public domain it can be seen again. The film was hugely controversial, but it is a fine example of Russell at his most extravagant and attracted a wide and curious audience."

More details are on the NFT site here.



The Devils and Hell on Earth on-line

Ken Russell The Devils

Ken Russell The Devils


You can watch The Devils as well as Mark Kermode's documentary Hell on Earth plus Q&A with Ken etc. The link is on the Internet Archive is here.

As well as the film the extras are:

  •  Hell on Earth - A documentary exploring the film's production and controversial history. (2002, 48 mins)

  • Onstage Q&A with Ken Russell - The director in conversation with Mark Kermode at the NFT in 2004. (2012, 13 mins

  • Director of Devils - A documentary featuring candid Ken Russell interviews and unique footage of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies recording his score. (1971, 22 min)

  • On-set footage - 8mm footage of the set with commentary by Michael Bradsell. (2012, 8 mins)

  • Deleted Scene: The Rape of Christ - The infamous orgy scene scene never officially released. (1971, 2 mins)

  • Deleted Scene: Grandier's Bone - In this often cut scene, Sister Jeanne appears to masturbate with the charred bone of Grandier, given to her by Laubardemont. (1971, 1 min)

  • Trailers - Original UK and US theatrical trailers for The Devils. (1971, 5 mins)

  • James Ferman - The former secretary of the BBFC discusses censorship of 'The Devils'. (3 mins)

  • UK Censors - A short excerpt on the campaign to censor 'The Devils' in the UK. (1 min)

  • Year of Censorship - Interviews with film critic Alexander Walker, Ken Russell, and BBFC examiner Ken Penry on the controversies of 'The Devils'. (5 mins)

Bernard Haitink, Russell's conductor of Mahler, dies

Bernard Haitink from Mahler by Ken Russell

The music on Ken's Mahler was conducted by Bernard Haitink, shown above from the credits of Mahler.  I saw Haitink conduct many times and he was one of the great conductors.  He was with the Dutch Concertgebouworkest for 65 (!) years, his first concert in 1939 (from NRC.NL 22 Oct 2021).  He was also conductor of the London Philharmonic from 1967- 1979 and the Royal Opera House London from 1987-2002.  He died on 21 Oct 2021 aged 92.  He will be missed and I will be playing all my Haitink CDs to remember him.

The Music Lovers on The Criterion Channel

The Music Lovers

The Criterion Channel have a season of Glenda Jackson films, one of which is The Music Lovers.  Not sure which regions it covers or dates- for non-members there is limited information.  Other Glenda films included are The Maids and Sunday Bloody Sunday both of which are recommended.

The Criterion blurb on The Music Lovers has the usual shoddy clichés- "gloriously bonkers spectacle of madness".

Glenda Jackson season in London

Glenda Jackson in Ken Russell Women in Love

The British Film Institute in London have a month long Glenda Jackson season in July including "Ken Russell’s fine take on DH Lawrence’s Women in Love" and The Rainbow.  Glenda got an Oscar for the performance in Women in Love, and the season includes her second Oscar film the comedy A Touch of Class.  Women in Love is on 2 and 13 Jul 2022, The Rainbow is on 19 and 31 July and she is in conversation on 5 July.  Other highlights with Glenda are The Maids, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Strange Interlude.

Tommy in Berlin

Eric Clapton in Ken Russell film of The Who Tommy

Tommy is shown as part of Berlinale 2022 on 16 and 20 Feb 2022.  Click here for the Berlinale website.

Digitally Restored Tommy in Leederville, Australia

Ann-Margret in Ken Russell Tommy

The 4K digitally restored version of Tommy will be shown at the Luna Outdoor Cinema in Leederville, Australia on 18 March 2022.  Details are on the Luna website click here.

Tommy in MOMI, New York

Ken Russell film of The Who Tommy

Tommy at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York on 13, 14 Nov 2021.  It is part of their See It Big: Extravaganzas!

"Often we praise movies for their restraint. We’re putting a stop to such gentility with our latest edition of See It Big, a properly super-sized, two-part, bursting-at-the-seams program that features a selection of films that push cinematic style into excess. The makers of these films, which span the silent era to the 21st-century, really pile it on: teeming canvases, crammed frames, ornate art direction and costume design foregrounded by lush camerawork and intense performance style".

More details are here.

Altered States in London, UK

Ken Russell Altered States

Altered States is on at the British Film Institute on 30 Sept 2021.

Ken Russell Altered States


Altered States in St Louis, USA

Ken Russell Altered States

A chance to see Altered States in the open air.  It is on 4 Aug 2021 at The Arkadin Backlot at The Heavy Anchor, St. Louis, MO 63116.

Ken Russell Altered States

The link is here .

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