The India Queen

Filmed August 1970

I wrapped photography on THE HUMANIZATION OF HERBERT T. PEABODY on Monday, July 27, 1970. Producer Charles Fitzsimons invited me to stay on and direct, back to back, three more episodes of NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR. It was an assignment like one I had earlier on THE COURTSHIIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER: I spent the next four days, while another NANNY episode was before the camera, doing the prep work for all three shows: casting the guest stars and setting the locations away from the studio. The following Monday, August 3, I commenced filming the twelve days it would take to complete the three production. The first of the trio was THE INDIA QUEEN. Now I wonder where the inspiration for that script came from!

africanqueen

It appears that I was directing half-hour comedies because my firing on STAR TREK’s THE THOLIAN WEB made that the only employment available to me. Actually that’s not true. I think the move into comedy would have occurred without the firing. My theatre background had been filled with more productions of comedies than dramas. It had been a production of the comedy MORNING’S AT SEVEN that had led to my first directing assignment on DR. KILDARE’S JOHNNY TEMPLE. And I loved doing comedy.

The running time for a half-hour episode of NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR after time was deducted for the commercials, the opening billboard and the closing credit was 23 minutes. THE INDIA QUEEN teleplay was 33½ pages long, and I do mean long. With four days scheduled to film the episode, there was no problem getting it into the camera. The problem was what to take out in the editing room. Some charming scenes were left on the cutting room floor. The last scene of the three kids in the garage was an example. The following two pages were filmed, but the resulting minute and a half scene never made it into the final cut viewed in our nations’ homes.

raft1

raft2

Three of the four days were filmed at the studio, and almost all of those three days were spent on stage 11, which housed the ground floor of the Everett home. The upstairs bedrooms and hallway were on stage 3, which was where I filmed for the first time and a very short time it was, just enough for one early morning shot.

And then there were scenes that were written for which I had planned the staging and camera that were cut because we realized we were going to be long.

phoneman

Our fourth and final day on THE INDIA QUEEN was at the Fox Ranch, my first time filming there.

The old salt seated on the bank of the lake fishing was my dear friend, Paul Bryar. I had known Paul and his wife, Claudia, since 1955, when they came to audition for MY THREE ANGELS, a play I was directing at the Players Ring, a theatre in West Hollywood. They were cast, and the following year they played the Lomans in a production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN, a play I directed at the Morgan Theatre in Santa Monica. Paul’s parents were French and his real name was Gabriel Paul Barrere. To me he was always Gaby. He took the stage name of Paul Bryar because of the times, which have definitely changed. His sons, Mike, Robert and Paul all worked in phases of show business under the name of Barrere, and all of the grandchildren have French given names.

And here we’ve just passed another scene, filmed but left on the cutting room floor.

pop

NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR was probably the most formulaic of the four series’ half-hour comedies I directed, but it was sophisticatedly elevated by three presences. Beautiful Juliet Mills brought an elegant charm to her onscreen witchery. Richard Long, who had made his film debut straight out of high school at the age of eighteen, had developed into a very highly (and I hate to use the word again) sophisticated comedian. And at the helm overseeing scripts was producer Charles Fitzsimons. Charlie was Irish, with a wicked black Irish humor, but he was also elfin and impish, with that humor to match. The humor in his scripts did not depend on the one-liners; it came from genuinely humorous situations.

Sam Goldwyn once said, “Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union.” I’m afraid I disagree with that, as long as the message is subtle and not propaganda. For instance in this film as the raft set sail,, Nanny said:

…and later as Nanny and the professor conversed:

My one regret: I didn’t have this completed two days earlier so it could have been posted on Fathers’ Day.

The journey continues

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3 Responses to The India Queen

  1. Shirley Lanham says:

    I love The African Queen. I still watch it when I find it on TV.

  2. Bill Rodebaugh says:

    The Nanny and the Professor looks like a charming show. I missed it during its run. I assume it was short lived. Too bad if it was…. that is the type of show I would have enjoyed watching each week or in reruns.

    Bill R.

  3. Phil says:

    Ralph, in this case I think it’s the F/X channel that has a cutting room floor. For better video and sound quality, I watched this episode first on Hulu.com and they include the kids’ nautical discussion in the garage, word-for-word. Hulu also has Hal asking his Dad about the canoe trip with Uncle Bob.

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