The Lost Films of 20th Century Spatchcock is published by TMB Books and tells the story of the Spatchcock studios between 1921 and 2004, with details of dozens of 'lost films' that have been discovered by celebrated local librarian, Dr Derek J Ripley.
Acclaimed broadcaster Andy Kershaw has described Dr Ripley’s work as “the definitive appreciation of Spatchcock!” and advises that “Anyone who has managed to get through From Here To Maternity or Wendy Does Wigan will want - and need - this book.
”Highlights include the first extended essay on the Lancashire Office of Information's public information films, including Always Wear A Hat! and How To Eat Tripe, alongside the first published analysis of Spatchcock's blue movie period in a chapter on The Golden Age of Filth. Over 200 pages of facts and details about a hitherto forgotten north west film studio.
The following films have been accepted into the permanent archive of 20th Century Spatchcock and have been officially designated as 'found':
With Ale and Pie (1941)
It's Wakes week in Wigan and two unemployed miners decide to spend a few days in Southport with flamboyant Uncle Dickie. Armed only with a family size meat and potato pie and two bottles of Uncle Bill's Brown Ale, they get on the wrong train at Wigan Wallgate station and end up in Blackpool by mistake. With Richard E Blunt.
Submitted by F Fisher, Fleetwood
East of Edenfield (1955)
James Pearldean, Julie Harrispoll, Burt Ives, Ray Massive
Pearldean plays the son of a modestly successful tripe finisher (Massive) whose idealistic plans for a long-haul tripe shipping business venture end in the loss of thousands of pounds. He decides to enter the pie-baking business to recoup the money his father lost. Meanwhile, his brother's girlfriend (played by Harrispoll) gradually finds herself attracted to Pearldean's character.An impeccable story well-scripted, a strong cast and acting that, for once, seemed to show signs of some rehearsal. It was Spatchcock's to ruin, therefore, and he did so in spectacular fashion by employing over-long pan shots of reticular tripe that played poorly with a postwar audience looking for more refined stuff.
Submitted by Dave F, Bamber Bridge
The Gripes of Wath (1940)
Henry Fondu, John Annodine, Laurence Bacardi, Olivia deSecondhand
Based upon the novel by John Spatchcock (no relation). Tempted across the Pennines by money, and a cheap day return ticket, Spatchcock's account of a particulaly nasty miners strike in South Yorkshire received terrible reviews. The Telegraph described it as "emminently forgettable", The Sun called it "absolute rubbish" while The Guardian said, "Miss this flim at all csots". Fondu seems out of place as the downtrodden miner who fights against the inhuman pit owner and audiences were puzzled by his appalling Yorkshire accent, despite being coached for dialogue by Dick Van Duck.Submitted by FC Cobbs, Tottenham
Never Ever Say Never Again, Never, Never Again, Ever (1961)
Sean Combover, Kim Basically, Max von Meatball, Klaus Maria Brandenburger
Spatchcock's remake of his earlier film Dr. No-one with a soundtrack
by Russ Conway wasn't a big box office success, possibly because the
original film was released two years later.
James Blunt (Combover) thwarts an attempt by Blowfly and Bargo to take
over the world. Meanwhile he gets to shag several beautiful women.
Submitted by B Norman, Halifax, Newfoundland
Oldham's Eleven (1973)
George Clueless, Charles Hamtree, Kenneth Walliams
Casting against type, Spatchcock experimented with putting his most fey actors in this robust script about the 'Latics' (Oldham Athletic) and their unconvincing struggle to reach the F A Cup Final despite only having eight in their squad - hence their desperate call-up for three extra men. In ordinary circumstances, the Chortle Brothers would have been Spatchcock's first port of call, however, their protracted contractual difficulties with Gorton undertakers necessitated this (hugely unsuccessful) experiment.Submitted by Dave Trellis, Normandy
The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly (1966)
Woody Eastclint, Lee Van Cleavage, Eli Wallasey, Claudia Cantaloups
The first of Spatchcock's "tripe" Westerns. Denied permission to film on location in Wigan, Spatchcock moved to Pemberton colliery slag heap for shooting. Poor weather and the occasional miner straying into shot meant the shoot took three days. Eastclint was not a big hit as The Man With No Fame as audiences had difficulty hearing his dialogue through teeth clenched around a big cheroot. They don't know how lucky they were! The only good thing about the film is Ennio Morrisonse's score - it was dropped at the last minute and replaced by Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through the Tulips".
Submitted by Samantha Sinclair, Ipswich
20,000 Leaves Under The Tree (1954)
Doug Kirklees, James Macespray, Peter Lorry
Spatchcock's attempt at existential film making wasn't popular with audiences. Kirklees plays a council worker who muses on the meaning of life while sweeping up leaves in Alexandra Park. Some reveiwers felt that Spatchcock, by displaying the park as a microcosm of life and adopting a symbolic standpoint, was adressing the anomie of modern living. Most, however, thought that he had finally lost the plot. Shot in the winter, Spatchcock imported 37 tons of leaves from Poland, many of which blew onto the railway and caused transport chaos.Submitted by Doug Fleming, Todmorden
Arbuthnot and Costco Meet Finklestein (1948)
Lew Arbuthnot, Buddy Costco, Boris Killoff, Bella Lufthansa, Lon Cheery Jr
The US comedy duo were on a tour of Great Britain and had a spare afternoon, so Spatchcock grabbed them for an hour to star in a comedy horror film. Arbuthnot and Costco discover that the box that they are delivering to Baron Finklestein contains a horrible creature and that they are being pursued by the vampire Count Drabula and The Ferretman. It just wasn't funny, and critics were shocked at the cost of hiring two big American stars. They suggested that The Chortle Brothers would have delivered just as few laughs for much less. The two comics took out an injunction to prevent the film being shown in the USA, but they could have saved their money - the film wasn't seen outside the Douglas valley.
Submitted by Terry Harris, Tewksbury
Dovestone Reservoir Dogs (1935)
Six Oldham millworkers are on a day out in Saddleworth. To amuse themselves, they give each other vegetable-based nicknames. Mr Potato is so named because of the shape of his head. Mr Parsnip because of the shape of his nose. And Mr Cucumber because of his unfeasibly large penis. They stop at a sweet shop to buy some sweets. On the spur of the moment, Mr Potato steals some bullseyes. They are spotted by Mrs Grimshaw the sweetshop owner and attacked by her pet whippets. The gang hole up in a tripe factory in Hollinwood with tragic consequences. Includes a horrific scene in which one of the gang cuts an undercover bobbie’s tie in half. Made on a shoestring budget of just 10s 6d.
Minicab Driver (1974)
Robert de Chorlton, Jokey Foster, Harvey Keytel
A gritty and at times unsettling Spatchcock special, tackling the twin
themes of urban decay and market traders' misuse of the apostrophe.
The film's iconic scene when Travis Pickle (de Chorlton) studies himself
in the mirror before taking the decision to give himself a comb-over
has now become a cliche (Spatchcock himself returned to it in Hamlet, The Valley of the Colne and Beyond the Valley of the Colne).
Purists might argue that the film suffers slightly from his over
reliance on gratuitous violence, but nevertheless, this is generally
considered to be Spatchcock's signature film.
The Furred Man (1949)
Orson Carte, Joseph Viscose, Trevor Howierd
Spatchcock's first attempt at a werewolf film sank without a trace. The film was sponsored by Oddlingtons Carpets of Aspull, and the werewolf makeup consisted of off-cuts of carpets and underlay. Viscose described his ordeal in make-up as 'the most tedious three minutes of the day'.Submitted by Terry Bull, North Tyneside
Passport to Pemberton (1949)
Stanley Galloway, Dame Margaret Rumbelow, Hermione PoorlyOne of Spatchcock's famous "Hindley" Comedies. During the austerity years following WWII, while excavating beneath his living room to get access to a seam of coal, Wigan miner Jabez Thwaites discovers a buried cellar containing treasure and an ancient document proving that the residents of Pemberton are subjects of the ancient Saxon kingdom of Mercia. When the government requires the surrender of the treasure the miners declare themselves to be Mercians. Cocking a snook at the rationing of the time they set up barricades and develop a thriving black market until the regime is brutally put down by military force.
Shallow Gravy (1994)
Christopher Ecclescake, Ewan Mee, Kerry Gold, Keith Allenkey
After a Friday night drinking session, three friends and their new
lodger (Allenkey) return to their Rochdale flatshare with takeways. The
lodger feels unwell and retires to his bedroom where he takes his
clothes off and chokes on a sausage. What should they do with his body?
Why is his sausage no bigger than a chestnut? What should they do with his takeway?
And, most important of all, why is there so little gravy on his chips?
The Morecambe Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Gunnar Beaumont, Paul A Partridge, Jim Slash, Marilyn Burnley, Jim Spatchcock
The film follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to the opening of a new branch of Poundstretcher. Upon its October 1974 release, The Morecambe Chain Store Massacre was banned outright in several towns on account of its graphic scenes of Morecambe in the winter. The character of Latherface and minor plot details were inspired by the crimes of real-life murderer Ted Nopain-NogainSubmitted by Alex Cairn, Bootle
Field of Sheep (1989)
Kevin Costco, Amy Cardigan, Bert Lancashire, Ray Panacotta, James Earl Belmondo
Fantasy-drama film based on the novel by WTF Kinnell.. The film stars Kevin Costco as Geoff Boycott with James Earl Belmondo as Clive Lloyd and Bert Lancashire as Mr Dickie Bird.
A Todmorden sheep farmer hears voices and interprets them as a command to build a cricket pitch on one of his fields. He is sectioned. When he is released he builds the pitch and invites Lancashire CCC to play one of its games there but they are prevented from doing so as part of the pitch is just over the border in Yorkshire. The film ends in a mass brawl between Lancashire and Yorkshire cricket teams.
Field of Sheep was nominated for three awards at the 1989 St Anne’s Film Festival -worst original score (78 all out), worst adapted screenplay and worst picture. Surprisingly, it won none of them.Submitted by LS, Salford
Doctor At Leigh (1955)
Dirk Gobarde, Donald Snide, Kenneth Mower, James Robertsons Jam, Brigitte Beanbags, Joan Jibs
The amusing antics of a new trainee doctor at Leigh Infirmary failed to
get the public laughing. To save money Spatchcock filmed on location at
the infirmary without permission, scuttling about the building to avoid
detection and filming during quiet moments; this could explain the poor
continuity and confusing plot.
Elderly Robertsons Jams and a young Brigitte Beanbags carried on an
unlikely, yet torrid, affair during the shoot. This kept the gutter
press titillated but also deflected it from the equally torrid, yet
secret, affair between Gobarde and Snide.
Comedian Bob Monkfish had a brief appearance as a body in the morgue, a
part that did his career no harm.
Mad Mel 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
In a dystopian vision of the future, Mad Mel (Goebbels) is a traffic cop policing the A56 Haslingden Bypass ensuring the road is kept safe for law abiding citizens and hauling in speeding motorists, especially anyone who looks Jewish. Mad Mel 1 was released the following year.
Submitted by Ann O'Rourke, Spalding
The Pink Panzer (1964)
Peter Cellulose, Noel Craven, Peggy Mountebank
To avoid paying duty on the German tank he bought off a GI* in
Berlin, Spatchcock sprayed it pink and towed it home behind his Morris
1000, telling surprised Customs officials that it was a gift for his
wife. The first of a
long series of films which culminate in a bumbling detective crashing
the tank into the suspect's residence where he discovers the missing
*the GI in question was none other than Cecil 'Beedy' Mill who wrote in
his memoirs that is chance encounter with Spatchcock inspired him to
make his blockbuster 'The Tin Kommandants'.
Murder on the Transpennine Express (1974)
Albert Haddock, John Canary, Laurence Bacardi, Anthony Psycho, Dr John Feelgood, Michael Lancaster, Jacqueline Bisto, Dame Wendy Pillock, Vanessa Trotsky, Colin Blackley
from an important case in Leeds, Hercules
Cluedo boards the Transpennine Express at Todmorden. The train is unusually
crowded with rival football supporters. By the time the train emerges from for
the Summit Tunnel near Littleborough, one of them is lying unconscious on the
floor in a pool of his own vomit. Who dunnit but more importantly, does anybody
care? Loosely based on the book by Agatha Crispy, this movie was considered
one of the worst cinematic adaptations of her work ever. The film starred Salford born Albert Haddock, Martin Vinegar, Richard
Skidmark as Scratchitt and an all-star cast of suspects including Ingrid
Burger-King (who won the 1974 St Anne’s Film Festival Award for worst
supporting actress for her role as Greta Odearson).
Spatchcock chose to keep costs down by shooting the entire film on an
actual Transpennine Express service train (the 9.47 from Leeds).
Paint Your Shed (1969)
Marvin Drunkard, Woody Eastclint
Described by one critic as 'an unfathomable mess', Paint Your Shed was made on Saddleworth Moor, although the shed interiors were filmed at the Hollinwood studios. Filming was beset with long delays due to the constant need to re-take scenes involving an almost permanently-inebriated Drunkard. Eastclint later said this strengthened his resolve to become a director. The film's initial budget was £80, but it eventually reached almost £95 due to the cost of transporting cast and crew to the filming location, as the closest hotel was nearly 6 miles away. The elaborate shed used in the film took up almost half the film's final cost.Submitted by Alan Gilesgate, Tewkesbury
All Quiet On The Westhoughton Front (1930)
Errol Brown, Donald Snack
Spatchcock took a perfectly respectable book and savaged it with his usual disregard for style and content. To recreate the horror of trench warfare, he had his set builders erect a one and a half mile stretch of concrete bunkers (modeled on the Maginot Line) just south of Bolton. After filming, the bunkers lay in ruins for many years, until they formed the foundations for the A666(M) when it was built in 1970.Submitted by JP Ringow, Wrightington
The Crew'll See (1952)
Jack Hawkeye, Donald Snide, Stanley Bilker
A ship's captain refuses to use a curtain when in the
Shot entirely on location. An ex-RN frigate was transported to Rusholme
and floated on the Municipal Boating Lake at Platt Fields Park for the
film. It capsized following the wrap party and locals say that you can
hear the ship's bell ring on still evenings.
On The Bickershaw Beat
Norman Winsome, Dame Flora Robeson, Ronnie Carboot, Julian Camp, Susannah Spuds
Norman Pitcairn works for Wigan Police as a car cleaner but dreams of becoming a policeman like his late father. He is initially rejected by the police, but his uncanny resemblence to Luigi Canneloni, Aspull hairdresser and crime boss, means that he is recruited as part of an undercover sting operation. Winsome at the height of his popularity. Spatchcock was unable to find anyone who resembled Winsome to play Canneloni, so Ronnie Carboot had to spend 17 hours each day in make-up to portray Winsome's look-alike crime boss. A scene involving comedian Bob Monkfish was cut from the original release and has, thankfully, never been restored.Submitted by EA Trubshawe, Haxey
Mosley Common or Bust (1969)
Peter Cooker, Dudley Shorthouse, Tony Carthorse, Tommy-Terence, Eric Sacks, Hattie Jokes, Britt Eggplants, Jack Hawkeye
Another star-studded flop. Contestants in the trans-Wigan car race will stop at nothing to win, and prevent the other contestants from winning. Much of the comedy derives from crass national, regional and racial stereotypes that did not go down well with the audience. The film could have bankrupted 20th Century Spatchcock, but the studio was saved by selling the rights to the film to female animator Hanna Barbara, who made it into the highly successful cartoon Wigan Racers.Submited by Gerry Grierson, Hartlepool
If you have a lost film, please submit your details here.
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