Behind The Movie Scenes Of 'Educating Rita'Highlights from The Pat Kenny Show
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- 3 Mar 2021
Bill Hughes joined Pat this morning and went behind the movie scenes of the classic movie 'Educating Rita'.
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Fasten your seat belt. It's going to be a bumpy night. To infinity and beyond, just love finding a place where I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody. Life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.
So it's that time again to go behind the scenes of another movie classic, for God's sake, come in.
I'm coming. And on that stupid bleeding, no longer do we want to get it fixed. Yes. Yes, I. I meant to.
Well, that's no good. Is it always mean. And do you want to get on with it. Because one of these days you come in and it'll go on forever because the poor sod on the other side won't be able to get in and you won't be able to get out.
And you are I'm a lot of what you are.
What is your name?
My first name. Well, that would at least constitute some sort of start, wouldn't it? Rita, Rita, Rita. It says here, Mrs. S. White.
Oh, yes, that's for Susan. That's just my real name. But I'm not a Susan anymore. I changed my name to Rita, you know, after Rita Mae Brown. FEMA Brown, who wrote Rubyfruit Jungle, that's a scene from the charming Educating Rita from 1983. It's the film that marked Julie Walters first foray onto the big screen, starring there with Michael Caine.
And to tell us all about a television producer with mind the films, Bill Hughes. Good morning, Bill.
Good morning, past. Yeah, this is such a jam. And when you think about it, Lewis Gilbert came to Dublin to make this film, and Lewis Gilbert at the time had made you only live twice the spy who loved me and Moonraker like three Big Bond movies. And here he was coming to make this tiny film on a budget of between three and four million in Dublin in an indeterminate city, because they didn't want to say it was Liverpool.
They didn't. And because the character of Julie Walters was going to an open university course that it didn't matter where the city was. So they ended up converting some of Dublin into an English city, giving it this kind of like people were shocked to walk down the street and discover a red pillar box somewhere, that because they were shooting white scenes and it had to look like they were in the UK, the red pillbox for the for the post. And so little things like that just started to annoy people.
But at the same time, people really welcomed it because having Julie Walters on board, having Michael Caine on board, like Michael Caine, had had a run of bad choices, bad movies, and he was getting really slagged off by the film critics and press who really thought he was putting no effort into his career. And so when Lewis Gilbert was chasing the rights to the play by Willy Russell of Educating Rita, it transpired that the studio had other ideas.
They wanted to move it to America and have it with Paul Newman and Dolly Parton, for goodness sake.
So Lewis Gilbert brought it back to Earth and got Willie Russell. I mean, Willie Russell was himself a hairdresser who made the play Educating Rita.
It catapulted him into the mainstream of British theatre because he ended up raising Blood Brothers and Shirley Valentine and, you know, had a lot of success. But Julie Walters was fresh from having played the part on stage and she got the part once Michael Caine came on board and Michael Caine decided to come into this tiny independent film because he thought it would prove that he still had the acting muscles. And the whole point was this was to salvage his career.
And by God, it really did, because, yeah, there were good tax reasons for shooting in Dublin as well.
There were indeed, because, you know, in those days you did the tax system in the UK was was heavily against actors and people making big money.
And the Charlie Haughey era had brought a tax break into Ireland for artists.
And so there were people able to come and take advantage of that. But it wasn't even that. It was the fact that the film being shot in Dublin meant that Michael Caine and Lewis Gilbert would not have to pay the penal British tax. And so it became a sensible thing for him to come over because you could multiply what he was getting in terms of not having to pay tax on it. It was worth an awful lot more money in the hand.
So that it's it's a charming movie.
It's a very funny movie. The plot outline, the plot is very simple.
There's a woman called who we just heard there, Susan, who had changed her name to Ruby, and she's a hairdresser, but she wants out of her ordinary life.
She wants out of she's in a marriage. She feels trapped.
She's married to a wonderful Irish actor, Malcolm Douglas, in the film. And he wants a child. She doesn't want a child.
She thinks if she has the child, she'll be forever going to the pub and doing the ordinary things he's doing. But she has bigger dreams. And so she applies for an open university course and gets it. And the next thing, she is in Michael Caine's class because he is appointed as her professor. And so she shows up the scene. We just heard there was her showing up for the first time to go to a tutorial with this professor and that the whole Ding-Dong between the two of them, because over the course of the film, they both grow so much and they both learn so much from each other because they're both quite damaged people and and him in particular, because he has taken like.
Some people drew the parallel that here he was a professor who could no longer punch his wife, and so he had taken to the bottle in the way that Michael Caine, the actor, was no longer taking big roles and so was just settling for anything. So there was a whole parallel thing going on there.
Yeah. So you have the naivete, I suppose, of the Julie Walters character who doesn't really understand at the level at which university operates. And you have this guy who's a bit patronising because of this working class woman who comes into his life and thinks she can kind of compete academically. But it's the exchanges between the two.
And we'll hear another scene explain this one, Bill.
In this one, you get a sense that a writer, Susan, whoever you want to go after, she has grown up on a diet of Pulp Fiction and she has grown up on a diet of the potboilers sort of stuff, the Harold Robbins kind of stuff.
And Michael Caine as the chooser, is trying to grapple with her, to get her to to improve the level of literature that she's starting to digest.
So here we go.
I love walking around this room. Read it. Don't you ever just come into a room and sit down? I don't want to sit down. What's that long down there, all the other students, huh? Oh, yeah, yes. Now, this essay you wrote for me, it was crap. No, no. The thing is, Rita, how the hell can you write an essay on E.M. Forster with almost total reference to Howard Robbins? Well, what do you say to bring in other authors?
Reference to other works will impress the examiner. As you said it is. I said refer to other works, but I doubt if the examiner, God bless him, will have read where love has gone. Well, that is all talk, isn't it? Yes. And it'll be your hard luck when he fails your paper, because that's what he would do if you wrote like this during an exam. Oh, that's pride. Now there's justice for you.
I did for you because I'm more worried than the friggin examiner. Devouring Pulp Fiction is not being well read. I thought reading was supposed to be good for what it is, but you have to be selective. It's great stuff. It really is. How did it do critically and financially and financially?
It was a massive success. Like financially, it cost between three and four million, but it took five times that at the box office.
So that made it a hit and put both Michael Caine and Julie Walters won the Golden Globe for their performance, won the BAFTA for the performance, got Academy Award nominations for the performance, and Willie Russell got nominated for the Oscar as well. He got nominated for each thing. He wasn't winning, but they were winning. And so it was it was really big for them. But it was a great boost to the Irish film industry at the time. It was a great boost to all the Irish actors who got to have parts in their speaking parts, nonspeaking parts.
But like the roll call of Deserve, the Malloy and Gene and Crowley and and Godfrey Quigley and maybe Jermaine and Marcus or Higgins and Allen Stanford, who has a gorgeous think Maori economy, has one of the funniest cameos in it.
Like, it's just wonderful stuff and it's very, very rich and it's really worth revisiting. They ran out of money so they couldn't afford to put a proper score on it in terms of a full orchestra because they had the score written and in the end they had to just put the synthesiser on it. And I have to say, that's the only thing that jazz is this use of a 1980s synthesiser instead of proper strings. It would be a different firm in terms of it would have been elevated if there was a beautifully rich and lush soundtrack.
But we have to make do with the, you know, children's party type synthesiser, which is it lets it down. But some of the critics, you know, they were some of them were very accepting and love the combination. But there was one Janet Maslin in The New York Times. She said the film is an awkward blend of intellectual pretension and cute, obvious humour and the perfect play about literature for anyone who wouldn't dream of actually reading books.
So that's really that's just so you know, where is Variety said it's witty, it's down to earth, it's kind and loaded with common sense and empires that it was jam and that they make a beautifully odd couple in a love story at one remove. And then all the locations around the city are just fantastic with Pier Street Station and Dublin Airport and the stag's head and Dame Court and Stony Butter Butter and Ikram Street Church, it's just everywhere around the city.
So it's a real time capsule as well. So anybody Irish watching it would just it would just fall in love with it and fall in love with both of the characters.
Well, Ed, who's of a certain age, says, I don't think that educating readers, especially a good film, but I always have a soft spot for it because I appear in several scenes as an 18 year old extra.
So they are students, no less. Bill, thank you very much for joining us. That's Bill Hughes, television producer with Mind the Gap Films.