|The Small World of Sammy Lee|
|Directed by||Ken Hughes|
|Screenplay by||Ken Hughes|
|Based on||story by Ken Hughes|
|Produced by||Alec C. Snowden|
|Starring|| Anthony Newley |
|Edited by||Henry Richardson|
|Music by||Kenny Graham|
|Distributed by|| British Lion Films (UK)|
Seven Arts Pictures
|April 1963 (UK)|
|Box office||£49,981 (UK)|
The Small World of Sammy Leeis a 1963 British crime film written and directed by Ken Hughes and starring Anthony Newley, Julia Foster and Robert Stephens. A striptease-show compere is hunted across the seedy London underworld of Soho by debt collectors.
Sammy Lee has five hours to pay off a gambling debt.
The film was based on a 1958 television play written and directed by Ken Hughes which also featured Anthony Newley in the lead.
The story was originally filmed for BBC TV by Hughes as Sammy in 1958. This version was a one person show and starred Newley.
Variety called it "a masterful piece of work."
This in turn was adapted for American TV in 1958 as Eddie on Alcoa Theatre . It starred Mickey Rooney and was directed by Jack Smight.The production was censored at the last minute - during the final scene Rooney's character is beaten up, but the sponsors worried this was too violent. So instead the screen went dark for twenty seconds.
Variety called it "interesting, at times exciting."
Both Rooney and Smight won Emmies for the show.
The original TV play was very successful and Hughes had requests to turn it into a feature, but he was reluctant, considering that the one-person aspect of the story was crucial. Eventually he decided to adapt it, but disliked the job he did. "I did everything wrong," he said. "I opened the story out in all the obvious ways. I showed what was happening at the other end of the telephone calls for instance when Sammy's end was all that was really needed." He then did another version which he liked.
In June 1962 it was announced Anthony Newley would star in the film version. Newley had just achieved a London stage success in Stop the World I Want to Get Off and would shortly repeat this success on Broadway. The film of Sammy was co produced by Kenneth Hyman of Seven Arts.It was one of Seven Arts' first distribution efforts. Newley called it "the drama of the perennial loser."
Julia Foster played the female lead. She says Ken Hughes was "scary... and he frightened me slightly". Foster said later when she confronted him about this, the director said he did that deliberately to make her feel more vulnerable.She appeared nude in the film which was rare at the time.
Music for the film was composed by Kenny Graham; a soundtrack album did not appear at the time of the film's release, but one was later released by Trunk Records in 2013.
The New York Times called it "monotonous".
Filmink later said "The film contains much to admire, including superb photography and acting... and a glimpse of Soho of the time. It is repetitive (Sammy tries to get money, almost gets it, doesn’t) and how much you like it will very much depend on your opinion of Anthony Newley."
The film was a box office disaster and caused Bryanston to lose £80,000.Hughes said "nobody came near me" after the film came out.
Andrew Pulver wrote in November 2016 for The Guardian , at the time of the film's re-release: "It’s a genuine curiosity: the last knockings of black-and-white, beat-influenced hipster cinema before a tide of gaudily-coloured, new wave-inspired, pop art films. Ken Hughes, its director, reached back to the pre-war working-class bohemianism so perfectly captured by Graham Greene and Gerald Kersh".
Anthony Newley was an English actor, singer, songwriter, and filmmaker. He achieved success as a performer in such diverse fields as rock and roll and stage and screen acting. As a recording artist, his recordings reached the Top 40 chart on a dozen occasions between 1959 and 1962, including two number one hits. With songwriting partner Leslie Bricusse, he wrote "Feeling Good", which was covered by Nina Simone and other artists, as well as the lyrics for the title song of the 1964 film Goldfinger. Bricusse and Newley received an Academy Award nomination for the film score of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).
Leslie Bricusse OBE was a British composer, lyricist, and playwright who worked on theatre musicals and wrote theme music for films. He was best known for writing the music and lyrics for the films Doctor Dolittle, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Scrooge, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, the songs "Goldfinger", "You Only Live Twice", "Can You Read My Mind " from Superman, and "Le Jazz Hot!" with Henry Mancini from Victor/Victoria.
Harold Thomas Gregson, known professionally as John Gregson, was an English actor of stage, television and film, with 40 credited film roles. He was best known for his crime drama and comedy roles.
John Ronald Smight was an American theatre and film director.
Stop the World – I Want to Get Off is a 1961 musical with a book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
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Kenneth Graham Hughes was an English film director, writer and producer. He was the co-writer and director of the children's film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). He has been called "a filmmaker whose output was consistently interesting and entertaining, and deserved more critical attention than it has received."
Julia Foster is an English stage, screen, and television actress.
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Bryanston Films was a British film company formed by Michael Balcon and Maxwell Setton in mid-1959 following the collapse of Ealing Studios. Neither a production studio, nor a distributor, it released independent British films through British Lion Films In operation until 1963, it was intended to be an unofficial group of independent film producers.
Maxwell Setton was a British film producer, notably active in the 1950s. He was born in Cairo to British parents and studied law, becoming a barrister. In 1937 he became legal adviser to Mayflower Productions, the production company of Charles Laughton and Erich Pommer. After serving in the war, he became an assistant to Lord Archibald, who was managing Independent Producers Ltd.
Call Me a Liar is a 1961 Australian TV play. It was shot in Melbourne in studio with some location work. It was Channel 2's 49th live play.