Saturday, March 08, 2008


Re-run of forgotten South London movie gem

By Ben Clover

A STARSTRUCK historian is trying to track down children who had an early brush with fame as extras in a British film about schoolboy romance.
Stephen Bourne is trying to track down children who graced the silver screen in the British film Melody when it was filmed in South London.

The film, pictured, was made in and around Lambeth and Kennington Roads in 1970 and featured Jack Wild and Mark Lester, stars from the smash-hit Oliver!
It also featured dozens of South London youngsters who were recruited after word had got around the estates in the north of Lambeth during the school holidays that the pair were filming in the area and that extras were needed.
Now Mr Bourne has helped to organise a showing of the film at Tate Modern on Monday. Although he didn’t get to be in the film, he has his own memories of that summer.
"Word got out that Jack Wild played footie with the extras and local kids when he wasn’t needed on the set," he said.
"On one occasion I queued for about an hour for Jack Wild’s autograph. He happily chatted to everyone, and cheerfully signed their autograph books.
"As my turn came nearer, I realised to my horror that I didn’t have an autograph book, or anything else, for him to sign.
"So in great embarrassment I gave him my bus ticket, and he gave me a big wide grin as he signed the back of it."
The film follows the fortunes of two school friends whose lives change forever when they meet schoolmate Melody.
In spite of the intervening 38 years Stephen, 50, from Camberwell, still runs into extras from the film.
"I was talking to a Southwark police inspector who told me he grew up in the area and had been in it," he said.
Although produced by David, now Lord, Puttnam and written by Alan Parker, who later found fame as director of Bugsy Malone and Midnight Express, Melody wasn’t a hit.
But the film, which featured a musical score by the Bee Gees, was a massive hit in Japan.
Stephen said the film is not available on DVD and hasn’t been shown on television since the 1980s.
* The film club was launched following discussions with members of the Bankside Residents Forum.
It shows films made in and around South London and has expanded to include features shot around the capital.
Films are shown once a month and admission is free.