Film ID: YFA 2341 Video of YFA 2341 Short stop 1959 SHORT STOP 1959 Visitor TabsDescription This is a unique film which shows the dangers of drink driving through a short story shot in a 'film noir' style. It tells the story of a boy and girl who drive off to the country from a jazz club whilst under the influence of alcohol. The film was made by BV Edgar, director of a small cine society based out of Stocksbridge, near Sheffield. Title – Amateur Cine World – This is to certify that this film has been Specially Commended by Amateur Cine World The film opens with captions informing the Imperial Jazz band are supplying the sound. They are playing in the jazz bar where the young girl and boy meet. As they leave the club, the film uses long shots of the car on the road intercut with close-ups of beer glasses and others having a good time at the jazz club. As the music crescendos, the driver and passenger lose concentration. The rapid cuts between glasses and the car emphasise the danger the couple are in before they finally crash. End Credits: Cornet – Mike Armstrong Clarinet – Jack Senior Trombone – Mick Shore Banjo/Guitar – Alan Senior Bass – Ken Yates Drums – Mick Carrington Production Assistants – Joseph Cooke, Michael Shore Photographed by John Hoyland Written and Directed by B. Vincent Edgar 3 Star Award – Amateur Cine World Ten Best Competition Context This is one of a number of films made by local amateur filmmaker Bill Edgar. This film was made in collaboration with John Hoyland, using a Paillard Bolex H16, and helped by Joe Cooke. John photographed most of it, but on his way home with his wife from a shooting session they were both knocked off their scooter and spent some time recovering in hospital. Bill therefore had to finish the filming of the fateful motoring sequence. The film won a Three Star Award in the 1960 Amateur Cine World Ten Best competition. Others that Bill made on his own that are held with the YFA include Run (1955), And So to Hell (1956) and Detail (1959), all under Bill’s initials BVE. These films also show Bill’s imaginative flair; the former having a secret agent style plot, and the latter two both earning a 4 Star award in the Amateur Cine World Ten Best Competition. The action of the final scene takes place on Salter Hill Lane on the high ground between Stocksbridge and Cubley. The couple in the car were played by the real life married pair of Peter and Pearl Shaw, inside a Morris 8 owned by Mike Short (see below). Bill Edgar discusses the film in his document The Ramblings of an Inspiring Film-maker. Bill also created two cine film clubs based at the United Steel Company: Unit VIII and Vixen, the latter under the sanction of the committee of the Stocksbridge Works Social Services Club. The original steelworks, specialising in stainless steel, was owned by Samuel Fox & Co, and was commonly known as ‘Foxes’, hence ‘Vixen’. The YFA holds films made by both these cine clubs. Interestingly, And So to Hell is also about the dangers of excessive drinking. The motoring and lovemaking scenes, using Mick Shore’s car, were shot on the high ground between Stocksbridge and Penistone. The opening sequence takes place at the jazz club that was held in the Earl Grey pub on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield, where the Imperial Jazz Band played every Friday night. Unfortunately, the old Earl Grey pub was demolished to make way for road improvement projects somewhere around late 60s/early 70s (a photo of it from 1905 can be seen on the Sheffield Villages website). Mike Shore, trombonist with the Imperial Jazz Band, went on to form his own band called Mick Shore's Tuxedo Jazz Band, which was to become one of the leading bands around Sheffield. The music performance was actually shot at one of the regular Friday night sessions, whist the 'action' shots were made at a closed session in the same room one Sunday afternoon. The music 'riff' accompanying the speeding car was directed and performed by Mick Shore (trombone) and Mike Carrington (drums). Sadly most of the band has now passed away, although they continued to play for many years. The musical piece featured in Short Stop is Bei Mir Bist Du Schön. This song originated from a Yiddish musical 'I Would If I Could' of 1933, composed by Jacob Jacobs (lyricist) and Salom Secunda (composer). The show run didn’t last long, but on hearing two black singers performing it, Sammy Cahn wrote some English lyrics and a more swing version was a hit in 1937 for the then relatively unknown Andrews Sisters. Maybe the song, which translates as, "To Me You're Beautiful", was chosen because of the theme of the lyrics, about two lovers – although of course they are not sung in the film version. The way the song has been transformed is typical of jazz of any variety: it can take a song or piece of music from any source and make it its own. The jazz music accompaniment is clearly an integral part of the film. Bill was very aware of the effect that music can make in a film, as he states in correspondence to the YFA: “Change the music and the film will look. different” The Sheffield jazz scene was very lively at that time, and trad jazz especially so. It is fascinating to see a pub packed full of young people enjoying traditional ‘trad’ jazz, before the Beatles came along together with a huge mushrooming of rhythm and blues bands. The film certainly reflects a unique moment just as the 1950s is transformed into the 1960s. Trad, or revivalist, jazz really took off in Britain from the late 1940s; and this despite the fact that there was an almost complete ban on foreign jazz musicians playing in Britain up to 1956. The ban was the result of a rather short-sighted policy of the Musician’s Union from the 1930s. It was opposed by many jazzers at the time, including Humphrey Lyttleton, the leading figure of the revivalist movement. Trad jazz has its critics among jazz enthusiasts, as evidenced by the entry on ‘Trad’ in the New Grove Dictionary of Music by jazz writer and broadcaster Alan Shipton. Here Shipton states, a touch unfairly some may feel, that it was “a commercial and simplified form of revivalist jazz which was modelled on the serious attempts of Ken Colyer and Chris Barber to re-create New Orleans styles.” Shipton’s view reflects the hostility there was at that time between the two camps of revivalists and those championing bepop – although some, like Humphrey Littleton, rose above this. It might be argued that some of the most well known trad jazzers at this time, such as Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball, often pandered to popular tastes, making hit records in the process – Acker Bilk especially with Stranger on the Shore, which topped the charts for 6 months in the UK and 7 weeks in the US. Alan Shipton is right though to single out Ken Colyer and Chris Barber (who also recorded Bei Mir Bist Du Schön) as both branched out into other areas, Ken Colyer with a skiffle band, playing at times with Lonnie Donegan, and Chris Barber into rhythm and blues. In fact Chris Barber got credited with the record that got trad jazz into the charts, with ‘Petite Fleur’ in 1956, although he didn’t actually play on it – the credit actually goes to Monty Sunshine. This was one of many examples of the original black musician, in this case Sidney Bechet, earning large royalties on a song that a white band made famous. The editing of the film, however, is reminiscent of a much earlier time: the techniques pioneered by the Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein – the use of lots of different angles, quick intercutting between images, the build up of tension and so on. Bill Edgar cites Battleship Potemkin as an influence. Interestingly, Battleship Potemkin wasn’t shown publicly in Britain until 1954, as the British Board of Film Censors had a particular category forbidding ‘Bolshevik propaganda’. Just prior to the making of Short Stop, in 1958, it was selected by an international film jury as the best film ever made. Bill also mentions that he greatly admired the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and some might be see the odd connection with the many great films that Hitchcock made in the 1950s – and of course Psycho in 1960. The film also reflects the particular time it was made through the opening poem, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by English poet Edward FitzGerald in 1859 – which Tony Briggs claims is a “bravura display . . richer than anything in the scanty Persian originals” (see Briggs, References). This famous poem, by the eleventh century ‘Astronomer-Poet of Persia’ (as FitzGerald described him), was learnt by heart by many school children in the 1940s and 1950s – although some liberties have been taken in the film in the ordering of the words. Some might remember it being recited in part by the character Scott Chavez to his daughter Pearl, before being hanged, in the 1947 film Duel in the Sun. The lines that Edgar and Hoyland choose – “come fill the cup and leave the wise to talk, one thing is certain the rest is lies, the flower that once has bloomed forever dies” – reflect the storyline of the film. But the poem as a whole has a theme that also mirrors the film. Although open to different interpretations, there is no doubt that these existential reflections on life, death and the pleasures of drink – whether taken symbolically or literally – are relevant to the film’s protagonists: .“Drink! for you know not whence you came nor why: / Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where” References Bill Edgar, The Ramblings of an Aspiring Film-maker, 2005, and The Ramblings of an Amateur Film Maker (copies of each are held at the YFA) Tony Briggs, ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward FitzGerald’, Daily Telegraph, 18th April 2009. B. Mathew, Trad Mad, London, 1962. Jim Godbolt, A History of Jazz in Britain, 1950-1970, Quartet, London, 1989. Sheffield Villages Further Information Berg, I., I. Yeomans and N. Brittan, An A to Z 'Who's Who of the British Traditional Jazz Scene, Foulsham, Slough, 1962.