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FAREWELL TO OLIVER REED AND A FRENCH EXCURSION... (excerpt)
WHATEVER you want to say about Ollie Reed, he went out in style - a style he had made his own - stretched out on a bar-room floor giggling that he had pains in his chest. It all seems a bit of a waste to me but then I've got a thing about drunks. One paper that I read claimed that he boasted to have once sunk 104 pints. As Tony Hancock might have pointed out, that is considerably more than an armful. A skinful, in fact. Where did he put it all? Ollie was riding high in the early Seventies. I was doing my Premiere Queen bit and used to bump into him, although he rarely went to other people's premieres. But he always had some outrageous suggestion to make and then instantly forget. For a man with his record of throwing up and being thrown out, he had a remarkable circle of loyal friends. I caught Michael Winner on the box the other day trying to ruin Reeds' reputation by saying he had done eight or nine firms with him and had never known him to be the worse for wear on the set. It was Ollie's idea to do the nude wrestling scene in Ken Russell's film of DH Lawrence's Women in Love. The scene has gone down in cinematic history but Ken, or DH Lawrence, didn't come up with the idea. Ollie convinced Ken that a nude scene would be something to talk about down the ages and Ken still thanks him for it.Ingrid Pitt, Shivers magazine, June 1999 Return to Listing
Peter Brace, the top English stunt man, worked on the Musketeers films with Reed and was impressed with the way he was able to focus and be in control, even after a few stiffeners. Nevertheless, Peter was none too happy about doing a sword fight with him. Ollie walked up to Peter, draped a companionable arm around his shoulder and said "Two strokes and we knock off for refreshment". Peter wasn't sure what he meant but he soon found out. Ollie did two strokes, the director called "Cut!", Ollie took a long pull at something cold and revitalising, the director called "Action", two more strokes and "Cut!". But it all seemed to work out as you can judge for yourself in the films.
I remember Ollie on a hot afternoon in Rome, having lunch al fresco. Reed was there
to talk about some film with his agent and I had just spent three days auditioning with Fellini. Ollie slouched in his chair, smiled incessantly and talked about anything that came into his head. He was a great talker but lacked something in the listening department. For some reason I've never been able to fathom, he compared me to a race-horse. Where exactly that was leading I never found out. I had a plane to catch and I left him sprawled out in the shade as happy as... Ollie. I'm not even sure he noticed me go.