Scots artist Eduardo Paolozzi’s forgotten film to be shown in Bo’ness

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It is a rarely-seen film featuring the celebrated Scottish sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi in his only screen role.

Now the “Pop Art” pioneer’s little-known past as an actor is set to be celebrated in his home country - more than 60 years after his film debut.

Eduardo Paolozzi (on left) in a still from the film. Picture: Contributed

Eduardo Paolozzi (on left) in a still from the film. Picture: Contributed

A gala screening of what was to be his only screen role, as a mute docker in London’s East End, is to be staged at Scotland’s annual celebration of silent film next month.

Made after Leith-born Paolozzi had relocated from Paris to London, Together will be screened at Scotland’s oldest surviving cinema, the Hippodrome in Bo’ness, with a live soundtrack as part of its annual “HippFest” event.

After graduating from Edinburgh College of Art, Paolozzi moved to London to study at St Martin’s School of Art and then Slade School of Fine Art before moving to Paris.

Paolozzi, an unknown artist at the time Together was made, modelled his role on Brando, who had only recently found fame in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront.

Celebrated Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi. Picture: Contributed

Celebrated Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi. Picture: Contributed

Painter Michael Andrews played the other main character, another mute docker. Like Paolozzi, he was a friend of Together’s Italian director Lorenza Mazzetti, a leading figure in the “Free Cinema” movement in the 1950s.

Funded by the British Film Institute and shot in the summer of 1954 on a budget of less than £2000, Together represnted the UK at the Cannes Film Festival in 1956. Musicians Christian Ferlaino and Raymond MacDonald have created a brand new score for the film - billed by the festival as “a refreshing and sometimes moving slice of everyday working-class life” - for its screening on 23 March.

The official BFI description of Together states: “Together is set in London’s East End, with its bombsites, narrow streets, riversides, warehouses, markets and pubs. It follows two deaf-mute dockers who are completely cut-off from the outside world and are constantly pursued by groups of jeering children.”

Alison Strauss, director of the festival, said: “Paolozzi wasn’t really an actor, as such. He really just fell into it as he was a fellow student of Mazzetti at Slade School of Art.

“He agreed to do it after discovering he did not have any lines, but got quite into the idea of being an actor and really fancied himself in the role, modelling himself on Brando. He actually looks a bit Brando-esque in the film.”

The festival also includes a strand celebrating the largely-forgotten women of early cinema, when more of them were working at every level of the industry than today. Canadian actress and filmmaker Nell Shipman and Chinese superstar are Ruan Lingyu are among those featured, along with Phyllis Haver, star of the original version of Chicago.

The festival will also feature former Scottish Album of the Year winner RM Hubbert performing a new score to the Soviet Western film By The Law and What’s the World Coming To, a “gender-swapping” film co-written by Hollywood icon Stan Laurel.

Ms Strauss added: “We’re all about making cinema special – engaging the best musicians to accompany rarely-screened titles, presenting them in beautiful and atmospheric settings, seeking out the best restorations from the world’s archives, and generating an atmosphere of inclusion and fun with our audience.

Since we established the festival in 2011, more and more people are finding out that early cinema is not clunky and out-dated, but rather is fresh and relevant, sometimes even colourful and never actually ‘silent’.”