Renee Glynne's recollections of her long career in the film business, commencing in 1933 as a junior reader in the scenario department and from there graduating to Script Supervisor; her latest film being "The Happiness Thief" in 2004.



RENEE GLYNNE - SCRIPT SUPERVISOR FROM 1945 - 2004







Renee Glynne was born in 1926, she was evacuated with her school to Welwyn Garden City at the beginning of World War 2.   When she left school and secretarial college, she got a job at Welwyn Studios as a junior reader.   She recalls:  'I looked around the studio and used to go on the floor and I saw that the most exciting, most challenging job that I might be able to do was that of the continuity girl.   So that's what I wanted to do, but I was only 17, so there was no hope at that time.

'I worked in the scenario department, production office, accounts department and later I told the studio manager, ex-actor Warwick Ward, that my family was moving back to London and, as my journey would be two hours each was, I would like him to promise me that I could soon become assistant continuity, otherwise I would have to leave.   He said, 'Oh, I think you'd better leave then'.   So I left Welwyn Studios, by which time I'd had contact with a visiting production company called Two Cities Films, who had an office in Hanover Square and were making films at Denham Studios.   I went to see them at their office and got a job working for the managing director's private secretary, Guido Coen.

'He took me to Denham  Studios where they were shooting "Henry V" with Laurence Olivier.   I visited the set and bumped into Gabriel Pascal, the Hungarian film mogul.   He fell in love with the image of this enthusiastic, chubby-cheeked, long-haired 18 year-old girl and said, "You must work on my film "Caesar and Cleopatra" (1945) and I will make you the finest continuity girl in the country."   He pursued me, through his secretary, to work on the pre-production on "Caesar".   I gave in and went for an interview at Mumford's Farm in Chalfont St. Peter where he was working on the script.   When I turned up he was lying on a bed practically naked having a massage and dictating a script!   I used to take the written scenes to George Bernard Shaw in Pall Mall for his approval and one one occasion had afternoon tea with him.   The film got made at Denham Studios and I was the production secretary on it.   I then went on to "Brief Encounter" (1945) as production co-ordinator.













 

     
  Zachary Scott rehearsing a scene with Renee Glynne during "Wings of Danger" (1951)
 
 


'So I saw and learned what a continuity girl did.   I got to know various established continuity girls and as time went on, after about a year or so, one of them, Jo Harcourt, rang me from Shepperton Studios, which had just re-opened after the war, and asked me if I wanted to be her assistant.   I said yes of course I would and off I went to be her assistant on "While the Sun Shines" (1947) directed by Anthony Asquith.   I really learnt then what a continuity girl did by doing the various tasks seconded to me.   After the film finished, I was freelance and out of work, but within a short time I was offered documentaries and low budget features to do as continuity and these I did.   So there I was in the big bad world having to do films on my own, which at 20 was a very big responsibility.   In reality, I would have much preferred to stay as an assistant for a while longer.'



 


She soon found work with Hammer Films.    'I had a call from Tony Hinds asking me to Marylebone Studios to work on Exclusive's "Death in High Heels" and part of a Dick Barton.    This led to "The Adventures of PC 49" at Dial close.   Having found me I was continuously employed by them for something like eight years'.   She rotated through the early 'house' studios, going from film to film, on and off the payroll.   She used to do the post production scripts for Hammer, in between films, being paid by them every week for eight years.   She said: 'At the time the films weren't very well respected because they were just B-features, and little did we think Exclusive and Hammer films would remain in film archival honour.    Hammer eventually found a home at Bray.    'It was quite dilapidated when we first moved in', she maintains.   'It wasn't just crumbling decor, it was a crumbling house as well.   It had been used as a store for duffel coats and we all acquired white duffel coats.  It was freezing cold in the winter, but so enjoyable the rest of the time.'   Initially, Hammer rented the house from the Aspro/Davies family, who were in residence in one wing.   Later they were able to buy it and develop it into the studio it is today.














   
 


  Various views of Bray studios, originally called Down Place, purchased in 1957 by Hammer Films. Hammer Productions was initially formed in 1934 by Anthony Hinds, Exclusive Films being their distribution company, started by Enrique Carreras in 1932.  



'The continuity girl's job starts on receipt of the script.   There is usually a period of a few weeks allocated for our prep.   It is our job to work out the story chronology and do a synopsis/one-line;  script writers rarely convey time scale or the day changes.   When the chronology has been agreed by the director it is from this that the art department, costume and make-up work.   Making up and tabulating one's own script, preparing the necessary paperwork, attending meetings and going on location recces is just some of the essential prep.   Sometimes, for whatever reason, we do get called onto a film after the shooting has begun and you can survive, but it's fraught with danger!'

Given the ramifications of the job there has to be a system:   Renee explains:  'The system is not called 'memory', it's called notation and cross references, invaluably assisted by Polaroid or digital photographs.   In yesteryear instant photographic reference was non-existent, but I did utilise the laboratory's cinex strips sent daily to the lighting cameraman.   So I had a frame from each set-up taped onto the appertaining left page of the script.   Mostly the reference system I use is with tabs on the script which build up during the produciton, a reference to story days, ageing, costume, injury progression, character departures, etc.   During the shoot, I hand-write the diary, log and sheet per set-up;  and at the end of the day photocopy or fax the notes through to the editor and production office.   There were no computers back then and we had to use shorthand and type our notes up, so we usually came from a secretarial background.   They now call us script supervisors because continuity girl was thought to be demeaning.   Actually I quite like being called a girl!'













 

   
 
 

Left: Renee (bottom left) working on "Flanagan Boy" in 1952, directed by Reginald LeBorg (in hat).
Right: Renee centre right, Bill Slater recording sound.
 


Renee worked on "The Quatermass Xperiment":   'Lovely Val Guest directed it.  I did numerous films with Val, before Hammer, such as the "Just William" films, then at Hammer, the two Lyons family films and "Men of Sherwood Forest".   I was pregnant in 1954 and Michael Carreras thought it imprudent in my condition for me to continue work on Val's "Break in the Circle", as this involved traveling in a helicopter and climbing in and out of boats, but I did then do "Quatermass".   Val was great to work with, demanding and perfectly organised, his baton in hand pointing to the next set-up.'






 


Renee continued with Hammer Films during 1956, working with directors Brian Donlevy and Michael Carreras, who she liked, and did all Hammer's release scripts at that time:   'You would run the sound and picture in synch, transcribe the audio and visual, noting the measurement of each cut including music and effects in and out.   Then type from these notes, producing a measured shot by shot, accurate to a syllable, script.  Then minutes of film took approximately half a day to transcribe and half a day to type.   It was a very laborious job, but I loved it.   I could work the hours that suited me, without interruption and was even free to go to the loo when I needed to, which is absolutely not so when shooting a film.   You even have to wait til after the shoot to be ill!'








 

       
   "Lady in the Fog" (1952) Renee seated centre, director Sam Newfield standing c.l. of Renee
  "Mantrap (1952), Lois Maxwell, Paul Henreid, Renee, director Terry Fisher.
 



During 1963 - 1965 Renee worked on various films and recalls anecdotes with 2 Hollywood matriarchs: On "Fanatic" with Tallulah Bankhead:  'Tallulah Bankhead was wonderful.   For a scene with a long threatening speech to Stefanie Powers she had to have her glasses, bible and gun and sit on a large basket armchair, her little legs dangling.  She cried out that she couldn't do the dialogue holding all these props and seated on this chair.   Silvio Narrizano screamed at her, 'Give me the f****** glasses and I'll show you how to do it!'   At which point she rose up, practically falling off the chair and said, 'Don't ever use that word 'glasses' to me again!'    She stormed off the set, sent a message to say that she wasn't coming back unless he publicly apologised to her and kissed her fully on the mouth.'

On "The Nanny" with Bette Davis:  'I got on really well with Bette Davis, who I called Miss Davis.   She was always very fair and she listened to everything regarding continuity.   The director, Seth Holt, was gorgeous and humorous with a fine mind.  Because he had been a film editor, I had an easy time working with him;  there were never any of those potential muddles with camera positions or eyelines.'

 


In 1967 she worked on "Casino Royale" and other features, plus "Catweazle" and "Special Branch" for tv.   She was asked to go to Hong Kong on two more Hammer films, where cultural and language problems beset them, including lack of discipline on set in a country where sound was not normally recorded and the local crew were used to being able to walk around and spit (as is the local habit) during takes - this behaviour did not amuse director, Roy Ward Baker.    Peter Cushing was in both films:  'He was a dream to work with, to perfection.'

Renee did numerous work with director Jack Gold, including "The National Health" and "Aces High".  She worked on Merchant Ivory's "A Room with a View" in 1985 and "The Krays" and a lot of television work, including "Hart to Hart" and "The New Avengers".  The most recent film she worked on was "The Happiness Thief" in 2004.




 

   
 
  Renee Glynne left, Jimmy Sangster right, at Bray 4th August 2007 for a Hammer get-together.  Sangster was the scriptwriter of most of Hammer's successful horror films.
 

 

The interview with Renee Glynne is republished here with kind permission from Tomahawk Press, and Wayne Kinsey, in who's book "Hammer Films, The Unsung Heroes" (ISBN 13:978-0-9557670-2-9) the original interview is published.
Photographs with kind permission from Tomahawk Press, Hammer Film Productions, dave@hammerhorrorposters.com