The Collector | 1965
- DIRECTOR |
- William Wyler
There are massive cuts to this adaptation of John Fowles’ novel by William Wyler, legendary Hollywood director of such classics as Jezebel, The Best Days Of Our Lives and Ben-Hur.
A good 35 minutes – the whole sub-plot involving Miranda’s tutor GP (Kenneth More) – was removed, much to the veteran actors annoyance. What’s left is a straightforward, but effective, woman-in-peril thriller.
The production was split in half, with two different cinematographers. Exteriors were filmed in the UK by Robert Krasker (Brief Encounter, The Third Man, El Cid), but the interiors were built at Columbia’s Gower Street Studio in Hollywood, and photographed by Robert Surtees (Ben-Hur, The Sting, The Graduate).
Terence Stamp plays down his cool 60s image as Freddie Clegg, the repressed and unhinged butterfly collector who kidnaps art student Miranda (Samantha Eggar) in the delusional hope that, once she gets to know him, she’ll fall in love with him.
The opening set up is filmed in London, where Freddie stalks the unwitting Miranda, following her as she leaves her art college from Montreal Place (opposite the entrance to the much-used Somerset House courtyard), along the Strand and up to Holborn tube station.
Miranda takes the Northern Line. She’s going to Hampstead but for some reason (presumably to crank up suspense) alights a stop early at Belsize Park and walks up Haverstock Hill. You can see Belsize station in another 60s film as Alan Bates and Charlotte Rampling head to the registry office to get married in Georgy Girl.
Getting off at Belsize Park also allows for one of those little cinematic in-jokes as Miranda passes the old Belsize Park Odeon, which happens to be showing Ben-Hur – director Wyler’s biggest success.
This parade of shops was built in 1934, and included the art deco Odeon cinema. It closed and was demolished in 1972, to be replaced by a supermarket, post office and a smaller modern cinema, originally the Screen On The Hill, now the Everyman Belsize Park, 203 Haverstock Hill, NW3.
Miranda continues up the hill to Hampstead and pauses outside a garage, which is now Hampstead Community Centre, before ducking into the King William IV, 77 Hampstead High Street, Hampstead NW3, where Freddie watches as she talks to the (unseen) GP. Even his biggest fans would be hard pressed to recognise the left ear of Kenneth More, the only remaining trace of his role in the movie.
The pub’s interior, by the way, was built in Hollywood and looks nothing like the real thing. The William was presumably chosen purely for its location, since it’s famous as one of London’s oldest gay pubs. It’s been a gay bar since the late 1930s, when it became a gathering place for chaps visiting Hampstead Heath, a cruising area since at least the 19th century. In the heart of Hampstead, alongside the famed Creperie stall, it’s now a bustling and friendly mixed pub.
Oddly disturbed by this conversation (which the cuts leave unexplained), Miranda leaves and turns into picturesque Perrin’s Lane (those quaint wall-mounted lamps are still there).
She ends up on Holly Hill (which is actually in the other direction), in the picturesque knot of little streets off Heath Street, walking up to Mount Vernon, where Freddie is lying in wait for her in his van.
Just out of shot here is the wonderfully traditional old Holly Bush pub, where June Buckridge drinks in 1968’s The Killing Of Sister George.
Having abducted Miranda, Freddie drives – unwisely in the circumstances – through busy Trafalgar Square in the West End en route to his secluded country home.
The house where Freddie holds Miranda prisoner is Gabriel's Manor, Marsh Green Road, Marsh Green, Edenbridge in west Kent. Standing in a huge estate, the 400-year-old Grade II-listed Tudor-style farmhouse displays impressive elevations of render, brick and oak with ornate, carved gables and imposing brick chimney stacks.
If this sounds like estate agent’s talk, well, it is. The house was recently put up for sale at nearly £2 million and, since it is a private home, please don't trespass or do anything to disturb residents.
The local village, to which Freddie drives for medical help after being clocked on the head by his increasingly desperate captive, is Westerham, five miles to the north.