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INFO on unmade film - partly made in Ireland - New Spartans - Oliver Reed/Susan Georg

  • 24-01-2015 11:09pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,293 ✭✭✭

    I've just learnt of a lost Irish exploitation film. And it is true. I discovered it in an old Flesh and Blood fanzine, in an interview with Blaxploitation star Fred Williamson. Yes, he nearly made a film in Ardmore,The New Spartans in c.1975, and what a cast - Oliver Reed, Susan George (would they have been on the Late Late Show in that infamous wrestling bit at the time), Patrick Wayne, Jimmy Wang Yu, Toshiro Mifune, Harry Andrews, Graham Crowden, and directed by Jack (Race with the Devil, Cleopatra Jones) Starrett. It sounds so enticing. Toshiro Mifune as a WW2 vet who thinks the war is still on, and can only say ****!, Susan George, Patrick Wayne, Oliver Reed as a one eyed/handed/legged general, Graham Crowden, Harry Andrews and JimmyWangYu. The director was Jack Starrett.
    It sounds so brilliantly mental. I wonder if any footage survives. Probably not. Sadly.
    Chris Poggiali calls it “a Blazing Saddles-style spoof of ‘men on a mission’ films.” He goes on to write:
    “It was a troubled shoot from the get-go, as the production had to be moved from Ireland to England when the IRA threatened to kill all the English in the cast (which also included Susan George and Harry Andrews). The tabloid press was quick to imply that Patrick Wayne and Susan George were having an affair and they flocked to the set . . . Wang Yu was basically playing himself in the movie—a martial arts movie star—but his character's name was ‘Wang Fu.’ To give an idea of the level of humor, Patrick Wayne's character was named ‘Bigdick McCracken,’ Williamson was ‘Lincoln Jefferson Washington IV’ and Reed played ‘Colonel Lancelot,’ a commando leader with one arm, one leg, and one eye.”
    Apparently, filming was done in Nottingham. Still, the idea of Mifune, Wang Yu and Williamson roaming around Nottingham still sounds intriguingly bizarre.
    Sometimes I hate the IRA. This could have been awesome. Or ****e.
    I think this calls for research.
    Does anyone know was this done in Ardmore or supposed to be?
    Wasn't the George/Reed interview with Gaybo done around '78? But wouldn't it have made sense that they would be doing a film together in Ireland the same time they were on the Late Late? Does anyone recall them promoting this film on the Late Late? Reed did two other films in Ireland, and they were in 1972 and 1961 respectively, although he have property here. George, I'm not so sure on.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,438 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D

    The film was to have been shot at Ardmore in 1975, produced by Rene Du Pont who had worked on "The Blue Max" at the studios.

    The Irish shoot was abandoned after letters were sent to the UK production company warning: "Keep out of Ireland. We do not want Brits in our country. All of you will not be safe whatever security you think you may have. This is not a threat, it is an absolute promise. British police and British forces cannot protect you in Ireland. Keep the British out of Ireland. Take this warning seriously" (reported in Irish Times 11/9/75, front page).

    Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" abandoned its production base in Ireland the same year, after similar threats.

    Not everyone, however, believes the letters came from the IRA.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,061 ✭✭✭✭Harry Palmr

    Fascinating, never knew about this. Was expecting Peter Collinsons name rather than Jack Starrets though. Collinson knew Reed well by the mid 70s and is of course ex RTE.
    Wasn't the George/Reed interview with Gaybo done around '78?

    It was, the third showbiz guest that night was Rod Taylor, Reed and Taylor decided to arm-wrestle on the floor of Studio One for the affections of Ms George. I forget who won! :)

    Here are the full credits
    In the mid 70s he was cast alongside Oliver Reed in a film called The New Spartans - or so he thought. It was never released and was thought to have been what he described as a 'tax loss film'.

    "It was absolute chaos. The director was a guy called Jack Starrett who spent the whole time wearing a Stetson and a t-shirt with the words 'I am not Lord Lucan' on it.

    "He was so vague about what he wanted us to do and in one scene I ended up directing it myself. I thought 'this can't be the way films are made'.

    "I'd also heard there had been a terrific incident involving Oliver Reed challenging a King Fu artist to a duel. The hotel was in a terrible state afterwards and I was thinking why would they do something like that while working.

    "But in the end I think it was one of those tax loss films. No-one got paid and it never came out which was why there was all those nods and winks between people. It certainly gave me lesson about film making."

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