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Report on the filming of the ’67 Monte Carlo Rally

Monte Carlo

When taking on a major assignment that we had not done before, such as the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally, I thought it desirable to keep a daily diary.  This was to be made available to anyone in the company contemplating the repetition of such an assignment and also to inform the commissioning editor, in this case Ken Watanabe of UPI Japan, of what had taken place. In the case of the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally, he could judge that our budget was too low for the job in hand.

In order to make the notes more understandable, I have added current information in italics.  The report is over 8,000 words long, so while it is featured below, I’ve also created a .pdf of the report for downloading and reading offline.

Monte Carlo Report 1967 PDF

Dairy of events – Problems – suggested solutions regarding the commercial production for Nissan Motors of the Monte Carlo Rally

PRELIMINARIES;  For almost a week before my departure for Monte Carlo, I, with others in London, Paris and Monte Carlo, were engaged in intensive arrangements for the filming of the Rally.  The brief received from Tokyo was a rather vague and the fact that they asked us to shoot in both colour and black and white for the same film, was a mystery which, first, we did not understand and, having understood, we used some effort to discourage this requirement – successfully.  Several messages were required between London and Tokyo to establish the reason for the request.  Further messages were necessary to allow us to propose total use of colour and for Tokyo to agree to it.

Having established what the client wanted (after having been asked to produce a quote) we had to decide how we would cover the Rally within a specified budget.

On five consecutive days I had lengthy conversations with Henri Brzoska in Paris (UPITN Bureau Manager)  Between us we were exchanging information regarding client requirements, quotes for specific services, arrangements for passes, crews, equipment, cars and a helicopter.

At this point I should say that much of this work had already been done during the previous week by Ken Warr (U.K. Manager UPITN) and Henri Brzoska and subsequent messages between Tokyo and London concerning the lowering and raising of the budget and alternative requirements of the client rendered much of their work useless.

For too long, we were working in the dark – on the one hand not knowing precisely what the client wanted and, on the other hand, not knowing precisely what happened in the Monte Carlo Rally.

(We were fortunate in that we were able to communicate via the teleprinter service of United Press International, our parent company.) UPI had half a million miles of privately leased wire and it was possible to communicate immediately with bureaux around the world.  Alternatively, there was a message service which would travel via various exchange points on its way to the final recipient of the message.  In Bouverie Street, there was a large office, occupying most of a floor, in which there were rows of teleprinters with a man sitting at each machine.  These were the teleprinter operators who were able to re-send messages, typing at high speed and with a regular rhythm.  Why there were no ladies doing the job, I do not know.  Perhaps it was the requirement to work shifts through twenty-four hours.  As an example of their work, a message might come in to London from Lisbon bound for Sydney.  It would be received on a machine in Bouverie Street and then hand-delivered to an operator who was operating a line going directly to Sydney.  This system was in place years before Telex came into use.  The same wire system allowed UPI to deliver its news wire service to subscribers which, of course, included a large number of newspapers and other organisations involved in news.

We must consider what other forms of communications were available at that time.  There was telegram and cable services, which were comparatively expensive and, from the point of view of the cost, tended to make for short, cryptic messages.

Then there was the telephone. I recall a time when I wished to make a call to the UPI Bureau in Cairo.  It was a Friday afternoon when I called the International Operator.  I asked to make a call to Cairo and gave her the number.  She said she would call me back.  After twenty minutes or so, she called back to said that she had booked the call for the following Tuesday morning.  The UPI wire service was a Godsend.)

For three days prior to my departure for Monte Carlo on the 11th January, one of the problems concerned the importation (into France), the exportation (from France) and re-importation of rawstock between the U.K. and France.

These were the alternative ways of doing it:

  1. Smuggle the film in (to France) and ship it back as newsfilm.
  2. Make out a Form 140 which will allow re-importation into the U.K. without trouble – but still smuggle it into France.
  3. Take out a Carnet de Passage en Douane prepared by the London Chamber of Commerce – this acts as the equivalent of 140 for both the U.K. and French Customs.  The only problem with this system is that one needs to bring back to the U.K. precisely what one took out.

We went for he third alternative.  We had to make use of Tim Piper (UPITN Journalist) who, between lunch and an assignment at 15.30 had to go to the London Chamber of Commerce to make out and sign the Carnet and to deposit a cheque for half the value of the rawstock.  I passed through British Customs with the rawstock to have it recorded as having left the country.

(Travelling around Europe at that time meant passing through Customs going in to a country and coming out.  We used to think that Customs officers regarded every traveller as a smuggler.  They took great delight in searching baggage.  Seasoned travellers knew the ropes and would never  be caught carrying something illegal or trying to avoid customs duty.  If one did, one would be marked down for future reference.  Customs officers could do, virtually, anything they liked.  They did not have to give reasons for holding up a particular passenger. One time, a UPITN crew were returning to London and the director, who shall be nameless, made a flippant remark to a Customs officer and the crew were held in Customs for over two hours, just for the fun of it.  However, is that not why a certain type of person becomes a Customs officer ?)

Shipping (Department) took me to London Airport where we picked up a man from Shands (Shands Air Cargo, our shipping agent at Heathrow) to help through Customs.  It was not possible to fly direct to Nice and I was obliged to change planes in Paris.  The London – Paris plane was thirty-five minutes late landing, leaving me only twenty-five minutes to catch the Nice flight.  To my surprise, I was conducted through French Customs.   An Air France Porter was there with ONE of my two bags.  I told him there was a bag missing so he went to the Customs officer without the bag.  The Officer asked me if I had anything to declare – I said “There is nothing in the bag you have, but there is something in the bag which is missing and the Customs documented are also in the bag “.  I spoke in English and he did not understand a word. The Porter said he would find the other bag and put it on the Nice flight.  The Nice flight turned out to be half an hour late in leaving so I had plenty of time.

On arrival in Nice I was surprised, once again, to find there were no customs officers on duty at all and nobody was interested in my hard-won Carnet de Passage.  I was a smuggler.

I reached my hotel (Hotel Forum, Beausoleil) at 22.00hrs, unloaded my baggage and went straight out again to find Mr. Namba or Mr. Sakakibara (with the Datsun Rally Team) at the Hotel de Rome in Monte Carlo.  They were engaged in a “tactical talk” with the cars’ crews and the service crews, so I left a message, had dinner and went to bed.

(The Hotel Forum is located in the Place de Monaghetti, Beausoleil, some 200 metres from the Monaco border.  It was a small hotel.  It had no restaurant, but a small breakfast room where four or five people could sit at one time.  My room was basic on the fourth floor and cost 11 new francs a night.  At that time it was the equivalent of 85 pence.  It was run by a husband and wife team.  The husband had another occupation in that he provided lights for major events in Monte Carlo.  We made use of them later.  Each morning we rose to the smell of strong coffee and we were provided with a croissant to go with a large cup of the strong brew.  Sometimes, we would rise so early, we would have left before they put the coffee on.  Today, the Forum is a four star hotel ).

After breakfast, I received a phone call from Hubinet from Marseilles to say he was having trouble with his car and would not be arriving until late afternoon.   The car was being specially fitted with a camera mount for “tracking”, the work had been delayed because Hubinet’s original Mercedes had broken down so often the makers had asked for it to be returned to Germany.  This had happened only the day before so that work on the replacement car had had to be delayed until this day.

(Jacques Hubinet was a freelance cameraman working with the Paris office and who had been recommended by Brzoska. He was to work with me on several Monte Carlo and Safari Rallies.  Today he heads his own large film and television company, Films de Soleil one of the largest film and television production houses in France)

Later Henri Brzoska phoned to give me the same message.

I went down to the Hotel de Rome to contact the Japanese contingent.  I met Mr. Namba (Team Manager) and Mr. Sakakibara (the stills photographer working for Nissan.

I asked them if it was possible to shoot “Cut in” material with their cars that day or on Friday.

(“Cut-ins were useful, in that we could get close ups and individual features of a car which could not be obtained during the Rally.)

I was told that the cars were being worked on all that day in the garage and that, after being sent to the scrutineering garage the next morning, the cars would be “sealed”.  I decided that we would, therefore, make this film as an “Actualité” and shoot what happened.  The next task was to find out what happened, when it happened and how it happened.

At this stage, the main problem was that the Japanese interpreter had returned to Paris because his wife was sick.  Mr. Namba spoke very little English and Mr. Sakakibara spoke none.

I returned to the hotel to wait for Hubinet and his driver/soundman Monsieur Corsi.

On the way back, I called into Barclays Bank (Monte Carlo) to draw some money which had been deposited there from London via the Morgan Guarantee Trust in Paris (a fact I was not aware of at that time).  I offered my passport and had it returned to me as the bank claimed to have no knowledge of the credit.  I had arrived in Monte Carlo with what was left of £10 which I had officially left England with (plus an undisclosed, unofficial amount which I happened to have in my pocket).

(It should be recalled that, at this time, there were Exchange Control Regulations, which prohibited the carrying of currency out of the U.K. in excess of £25.  In the event, I was carrying only £10 which I had secured, after long explanation, from Barclays Bank at Heathrow.  It was possible, as we had done, to transfer money to a local bank, but this was scrutinised to make sure the money was only used for its stated purpose).

I phoned Brzosca, who checked with Morgan Guarantee Trust who, in turn, gave him the reference number of the transaction.  M.G.T
Had even received an acknowledgement and invoice from Barclays for the transaction.

I eventually returned to the bank, gave them the necessary information and left them to search for my money. They rang me at my Hotel (after the bank had closed) to say they had found it.  Two days after my arrival, I was able to get some money.

When Hubinet and Corsi arrived, we went to dinner to sort things out for the next day and talk generally about the coming week.  It was a long dinner.

We were not deterred by the date as we went out shortly after first light to find the Datsuns.  Still without an interpreter, Mr. Namba told us, with a few words plus hands and fingers, that the cars had to go to the Auto Riviera for scrutineering.  They had fixed times for arrival, but that one car (191) needed to go up before time.  He told us thus:  “One car” – “Garage (here, he pointed downstairs – so I assumed he meant that the car would start from the Hotel Garage) “up” (he was now pointing – incorrectly it turned out – to a spot on the street plan of Monte Carlo) “Ask question – quick – answer – zoom – Garage (once again he pointed downstairs) – drill holes – engine (he meant the hood) – zoom back (he points – once again incorrectly – to the street plan) – Officials”.  We got the message – we said we would shoot it but we had no idea what we were shooting.  It was some time later when the penny dropped – we followed car 191 to the Auto Riviera (that’s what Mr. Namba thought he was pointing at on the street plan) and filmed the argument that ensued between the crew, Mr. Namba and an inexhaustible supply of Rally officials.  As each official retired to lick his wounds, he was replaced by his superior.  The argument raged for an hour and I saw the end in sight when the director of the officials arrived.  He settled the argument in  a minute – the rally number plate had to be vertical and not horizontal.

(The shape of some cars was such that there was no place to fit a vertical rally plate and, in the case of such cars, the crew screwed the number plate on to the hood).

This story became the more amusing when cars arrived from Frankfurt and Rheims with horizontal plates.  This sequence was shot inside the garage with a sun-gun – we should have had, at least, half a set of Colortrans.

(Colortrans lights were portable lights which fitted into suitcases. A suitcase would house half a set.  I am not sure of how many lights half a set would have provided, but it would probably be three or four, adequate for lighting a small scene)

We filmed the day’s proceedings which included the other cars arriving for scrutineering and then their first car (167) having its number painted on (the doors) and its lights being checked.

At about 19.00hrs we made a remarkable rendezvous with Badin (Paris Cameraman) who was flying into Nice from Paris to film from the helicopter.  He had tried to stop him at Nice so that we could pick him up, but when we realised that Badin was on his way to Monte Carlo in a taxi, Hubinet said “That’s all right, we will stop the taxi on the way and take Badin into the Mercedes”.  I thought he was mad, but as we sped on our way to Nice, along the Grand Corniche, Hubinet suddenly sounded his horn, slammed on his brakes, got out of his car and went to shake hands with Badin who had just alighted from a taxi which had been going at a similar speed in the opposite direction

I had already met the incredible M. Pierre Deus, UPIN stringer in Monaco, who had, up to this time, laid on all sorts of facilities for our operation, including obtaining permission for us to paint a white spot on the top of each Datsun enable the helicopter (and Badin) to find Datsun cars.  This spot turned out to be a talking point at Monte Carlo and was the subject of, at least, one file story of a freelance journalist.

(The helicopter was hired from a company at Nice Airport. It was to be an Alouette. I was given a price which confirmed the price I had been given a week or so before.  We were briefed on what the helicopter could and could not do flying around southern France.  I had seen quite a number of Rally entrants around Monte Carlo and was struck by the fact that, nearly all of them were coloured red. From altitude, it is difficult to tell one car from another if they are the same colour. At that time, the roof of Rally cars was clear of anything but the general colour of the car.  I thought it would be a good idea if we could paint a large white disc on the roof of our cars, so that the pilot and Badin could spot them from a few hundred feet above. I had no idea of the furore it would cause)

We all met in Nice, M. Hubinet, Corsi, Badin, Deus and myself and had dinner at the Cave Nicoise.  Paper serviettes were changed several times as we plotted and counter-plotted moves for the next day.  The first shattering blow fell as M. Deus told us that the helicopter, which he had finally laid on, would cost NF950 an hour.  (About £90 or $200 in 1967)  A swift calculation into dollars showed that the cost was double the quote we had been given.  When I told him this, he said that the quote we had been given was for the helicopter and then there was the pilot to pay for and insurance – now he tells me.  We had booked the helicopter for six hours on Saturday 14th, and calculations showed that this would have taken the whole of our helicopter budget, plus the whole of our contingency fund for the entire production.  I decided to take two hour on Saturday and two hours on Monday, which still meant eating into our $400 contingency to the tune of some $220.

M. Hubinet and I went to the Press Club to arrange all our passes and Rally Plates for our cars – because M; Hubinet knew all the important officials, we got our passes quickly and in sufficient numbers to allow all our crew and both cars to be accredited to the rally.

At the dinner in Nice, we worked out the detailed movements of each person and each vehicle for the next day. The helicopter was to appear over Monte Carlo at 12.44hrs for the departure of the first Datsun and then wait until 13.03 for the second and 13.08 for the third.
Between 12.44 and 13.03 Badin would shoot a roll of black and white for the (UPIN News) service.  Similar detail had to be worked out for Hubinet.  Brzoska had already assigned Berliet (Bordeaux stringer for UPIN) his task in the Bayonne/Pau district to cover the south western corner of the rally route.

(the Mercedes of Jacques Hubinet had been specially prepared for the Rally.  It had an extra spring inserted into the rear suspension.  A platform was built behind the windscreen on the passenger side to house a camera mount, and then a camera, used for shooting Rally cars that appeared in front of the Mercedes. On the front bumper were mounted powerful lamps to illuminate the said Rally cars.  These lamps required extra batteries which were housed in the boot of the car.  In addition, the car carried a set of spiked tyres to be used on icy roads))

The Mercedes camera car would follow the route as far as Mende where we had arranged accommodation for the Japanese still photographer, their journalist (Mr. Kajiama) and their interpreter (Madam Hazama), their driver M. Antoine, M. Hubinet and M. Corsi.  M. Antoine was driving a Citroen Vitesse. After talking about the detailed plans, we re-capped so that everyone knew what everybody else was doing.  It was a very long dinner.

The start of the rally was in front of the Monte Carlo Automobile Club near the Casino.  Hubinet, through his connections, had arranged that both his Mercedes and the Citroen would start off from the start line behind the third Datsun (191) (Ewold van Bergen/Michael Hooper).   This caused a stir – some officials hadn’t heard about it, other camera crews wanted to know why they could not take up such an advantageous position.  They were still talking about it when the Mercedes and then the Citroen set off in hot pursuit of the third Datsun.

Shortly before this, I was approached by a cameraman from Finnish TV who asked if we were using a helicopter.  I said we were.  He asked where it was and I said, with a good deal of faith in Badin and the French Air Force, “in two minutes it will be up there (pointing to a point in the sky above the Casino) where he will film the first Datsun to leave”  Two minutes later, I was able to tap him on the shoulder and show him our helicopter hanging up above the Casino.  He wanted to ask if Finnish TV could use our Black and White coverage from the helicopter.  I said I would ring the Paris Bureau, get them to message London so that London could take a complete fine grain (duping positive) and ship it on the first available flight to Helsinki for use on the Sunday evening bulletin. I said I would wait until London had acknowledged to Paris that they would do this and Paris had phoned me back to say it was done.  I said I would ring the Finns at their Hotel before 16.00hrs with the answer.  With complete faith in the U.P.I. communications system I left the Finns and at 16.00hrs I phoned their hotel to say that all we said we would do had been done.

(At that time, all European broadcasters were clients of UPIN and took a daily package of news items which would be delivered by airfreight.  At the same time, it was quite common for individual stations to ask for special coverage which they would pay extra for.  For an event like the Monte Carlo Rally, it was quite usual for many of the European broadcasters to send their own Sports Department film crews to cover the event and to ship their film directly back to their base.  We were keen to help out where we could and what we did for the Finns was much appreciated)

During the next five hours, I made four visits to the Press Club at the Palais de Congres to keep a close watch on the progress of the cars in the Rally.  It all seemed to be going well.

Badin returned to the hotel and said he was disappointed in his helicopter work – these are the problems:  On Saturday he experienced a good deal of turbulence working over the sea in close proximity to the land.  We had been given 30 metres as the lowest operational altitude of the helicopter, but, over built up areas, this increased to about 160 metres (nearly 500 feet).  The helicopter was not allowed over Nice, itself, because it was in the air lane for Nice Airport.  No filming could be done in the Alps because the average altitude for flying would be some 5,000 feet – much too high for a helicopter.  Badin managed to get some good coverage along the coast showing the cars making progress through the Entrevaux-Grasse area to the north and west of Nice.  Before the start he was able to get some aerials of Monte Carlo.

Badin and I went to dinner.

Badin and I got a taxi for the day and toured Monte Carlo and Monaco generally to get our scenics for the opening of the film.  It was our intention to get a taxi driver who knew the roads and could drive well so that we could use him again during the week.  When we first phoned for a taxi, a beat-up old car arrived with a driver to match.  Badin offered his condolences and asked the man if he knew of a young driver with a new car. The new car and a young driver arrived shortly afterwards and we set off in beautiful weather.

I wanted a shot of the local Gendarmerie directing traffic, so we approached an officer of the law who said we couldn’t without the permission of his superior.  He conducted us to police headquarters where we were interviewed by a senior officer who said that he could not give permission and that we would have to see the Deputy Director.  The Deputy Director was on duty in his office and spoke at long length to Badin, asking him why we wanted to do it, how many would be in the crew and how long it would take.  He accepted Badin’s explanation and we went off and got several shots of the policeman on duty.  A great deal of confusion was caused, with the local traffic, because the policeman chose to direct traffic at an intersection where traffic is not normally directed.  Cars did not know which side to pass him on and Badin was kind enough not to shoot this incident.

The whole proceedings of the policeman took and hour – ten minutes to walk to the Police Headquarters and back – 45 minutes to argue about it and five minutes to shoot it.

We dismissed the taxi driver for the day and then visited the Press Club for information – we found that car 167 was 58 minutes late at the Bergerac control.  I was a bit worried as this stage since 60 minutes late on the first stage can mean disqualification from the Rally.

(At the Sports Club, a large scoreboard had been erected.  It showed each control point and as each car entered the accompanying Special Stage, its number would be shown and upon departure from the Special Stage, its time would be shown.  By this means it was possible to see the progress of each car.   Eventually, it became compulsive viewing. The time taken to pass through each Special Stage was added to the previous stage and the car with the shortest overall time was the leader of the Rally))

I watched progress closely to see whether we were going to be a car short.  At the Hotel de Rome (Headquarters of the Japanese).  I heard that sand had been found in the petrol tank of car 167.

Badin and I took Madame and Monsieur Deus to Dinner in return for all the help they had given us.

Deus, Badin and I worked out the schedule for the helicopter’s second mission with Badin.  It was very difficult and had to be very detailed.  The object of the exercise was for Badin to rendezvous with the Datsuns near Digne on their return journey to Monaco.  This meant that we had to plot the expected position of the Datsuns on this road – where the helicopter would most likely meet them – so we had to determine how long it would take the helicopter to get to Digne from Nice. This departure time in turn dictated the time of the helicopter’s return to Nice since we had only booked it for two hours.  It was settled, the helicopter would leave Nice at 11.30hrs, it would reach crossroads of N854 and N211 at 12.23hrs where they would find car 186 (Risto Virtapuro/Urpe Vihervaara), he would stay with 186 until; 12.30hrs at which time, the helicopter would return to (the crossroads) find car 191 at 12.38hrs.  The helicopter would then follow as far as the foothills (on the D2) which place he would reach at 12.47hrs.  The helicopter would then return to Monaco to arrive by 13.20hrs, deposit Badin and get back to Nice by 13.30hrs.  All this happened as described.  The times were calculated based on rally times, Mr. Namba’s times, probable speed of the cars and helicopter plus a couple of good guesses.

The next move was a masterpiece of organisation by M. Deus, using the Deus method (this is a method which is a mystery and achieves remarkable results without one ever knowing in detail how it was achieved).  It was arranged for the helicopter to land in Monaco at the Football Stadium.  I am told that helicopters don’t land in Monaco more than once or twice a year, but, as usual M. Deus provides the exception.

Waiting in the middle of the football pitch was our taxi driver (plus taxi) and in a minute Badin was being transported to Les Jardins Exotiques above Monte Carlo.  Here he was to film the passing of several cars, including the first Datsun and then return to the finishing line for the arrival of the rest. He would return with M. Deus who would be up at the gardens shooting for the (News) service.  Badin was being used as an insurance against the possibility that Hubinet and his entourage would not return in time for the finish.  Hubinet was to leave the Rally Course before the Alps and return by main highways to Monte Carlo to be able to film the finish of the Datsuns.

M. Deus returned to the finish, where I was waiting, to say that he couldn’t find Badin.  He was to make another three trips up to the gardens to find Badin, all without success.   Badin was lost.  We first checked that the helicopter had returned safely to Nice – it had, so Badin was, at least, lost in Monte Carlo.  He never arrived at the finish, but Hubinet plus the Mercedes 220S did.

Hubinet told me of his travels to Mende and back, how he had overtaken four Rally cars at 180 km per hour with the Citroen, driven by M. Antoine, pursuing him at 200km per hour.  This was amusing to me after having been told by the Rally fraternity that we would need rally drivers for our cars to keep up with the Rally and than, having stopped, we would have no chance of catching them again.  Our crew were gaining a certain amount of respect in Monte Carlo, people were talking to us now who didn’t want to know us before.  Our camera car was attracting as much  attention as the rally cars by spectators and rally crews alike.

(One of the Datsuns had South Africans as drivers and co-drivers. (Ewold van Bergan and Martin Hooper) They were a little arrogant, especially the wife of van Bergen, and were the first to tell us that our cars would not be able to catch them, but they did not know about us having the ability to cut across country and come out in front of them.  They also discounted the ability of our drivers, who had many years experience in driving in that region.  In fact they had more experience than the South Africans.)

Hubinet confirmed the story of the sand in the tank of car 167 (Raimo Halm and Sakari Olamo).  He had seen the Datsun service crew change the tank in Digne.  He had filmed the tank being removed, turned upside down and sand and petrol coming out.  The service crew changed the tank in twenty five minutes.  Car 167 had made up a lot of ground so that when it arrived in Monte Carlo it was in a good position to make the Monaco-Chambery- Monaco circuit.

We had a conference with the `Japanese.  Their new interpreter was Madam Hazama, aged 62, who had braved the first circuit in the Citroen and had thoroughly enjoyed it.  We discussed plans for the next day and the Monaco-Chambery-Monaco circuit.  She would not be going in the Citroen, but Mr. Sakakibara and Mr. Kagiama would.

We organised our rendezvous for the next day and went to dinner, but not before finding Paul Badin in his room at the Hotel.  He had arrived at the Gardens on time but, by a series of mischances, had never seen Deus.  He remained at the Gardens assuming that Hubinet must have arrived and that he was not wanted at the finish.

I could not leave this day without reference to yet another example of the work of the unique M. Pierre Deus.  While waiting at the finish, he approached me with a serious looking motor-cycle policeman of the local Gendarmerie complete with leather jerkin, crash helmet, riding breeches, brown (brown ?) boots and pistol.  Deus said “This is my despatch rider, he will take my film to Nice Airport”.  Shortly afterwards, the D.R.’s comrades stopped all traffic to let him speed away to Nice with M. Deus’ Service story – he disappeared up the Boulevard Albert 1er in a cloud of smoke.

Mr. Deus would show me a good location for our camera the next day.

Hubinet had moved hotels because he was  told there was some room at The Balmoral which was nearer the centre of operations.  We went down to meet and make final arrangements with Hubinet and M. Antoine – The Japanese were happy (I think)

I had told M. Deus that I wanted to get a shot high up on the mountain road towards La Turbie which would show the lower road snaking up towards the camera so that we could show several cars approaching the top, at different levels, all in one shot.  He said he knew just the place.

Our young taxi driver and his new Taunus saloon were to be put to the test.  The taxi followed M. Deus up to the gardens, there, M. Badin got out and went into Mr. Deus’ Citroen 2CV.  They rolled back the top canopy and stood side by side and were driven along by Madame Deus.  As we made progress towards the road leading up to the mountain, Badin and Deus resembled two First World War airmen sitting high up in their cockpit with the wind blowing hard.  They were after a “trucking” shot of the signpost as the car left the main road and turned  into the mountain road.  This proved very difficult.  First, the turn was wrong, they tried again after backing out into the main road.  Then, as they made their turn the second time, a large cement truck came between them and the signpost.  Once again they backed out into the main road and then advanced – another cement truck (We should have guessed that we were receiving a heavenly message).  The next time, they got it.

We went up to our position – it was indeed a magnificent view and a wonderful camera position .  We had plotted the expected time of arrival of the cars to this point, the first rally car would pass us at 11.37hrs.  I said that I would be able to see the first car pass the service station below at 11.35hrs.  It didn’t.  We waited – nothing came.  Another five minutes and nothing came.  I said to Deus and Badin “Is this the right road ?”  We consulted the map – it wasn’t, the cars were using the road nearer to Monte Carlo.  We were lost in a cloud of smoke and dust as we changed positions.  The next position was not as good as the first, but, at least, the cars came past that way.  Fresh plotting was required so that we could film the first Datsun and then tear off to another position for the second.  At 13.35hrs car 167 came past up the gradient – they spotted us and put on a show of crazy driving – then he shot away from us up the hill.  We left Deus and shot off in the taxi, Badin and I securing ourselves in the back of the car by wedging ourselves between the back of the front seat and the front of the back seat and holding on to the door handle with one hand leaving the other hand free for emergencies.  We travelled seven kilometres to Laghet without being caught before arrival by the next rally car which was only one minute behind the Datsun we had filmed.

There were many curves which caused no difficulty for the driver.  At Light, we had time to park the taxi off the road and take up position before the next car arrived.  We had nearly fifteen minutes to wait before the second Datsun appeared.  We filmed their passing and, once again, made off down the road.

The roads were now liberally dotted with signposts marked “Verglas” and up to this time, all the road, for the next eight kilometres, had been iced up.  The ice had just melted but was still very slippery.  We followed the snaking road through the hills passing sheer rock on one side and a sheer drop on the other.  We caught up with a rally car No. 182, a Matra Bonnet, and proceeded to follow at high speed.  The Matra tried to pull away, but the taxi went even closer than he had been before.  The pursuit was on like something out of James Bond .  The Rally driver was getting mad as the taxi held on with ease.  The co-driver was looking at us occasionally to see if they had lost us, but the faster they went, the faster went the taxi.  Perhaps the Rally driver would have felt a bit better if the taxi driver had removed his “Taxi” sign from the front window. For eight kilometres the pursuit went on until the taxi slowed down on the, now, straight road to let Badin and I select a new position.

We settled for the village of La Trinite Victor and there, we waited for the third Datsun.  This car was on a time schedule only four minutes behind the car we had filmed at Leghet, but, thanks to our intrepid taximan, we had time to set up and wait.  After 191 came through, we filmed several other cars and returned to Monte Carlo.

During a conversation with Brzoska, I mentioned the story of the sand in the tank of 167.  He passed it on to the General Desk in Paris, they asked their reporter in Monte Carlo to check on the story.  Apparently, he was told the story was untrue by various officials..  Later on during the week, I spoke to the Bureau in Paris who told me this.  I said the story was true and that we had film to prove it.

(The General Desk of UPI in Paris, handled incoming news from around the world, arriving via the UPI teleprinter service, as well as other wire services that they contributed to. This was supplied to French newspapers and periodicals. They were also the source of news material from France and the French overseas territories. This material was fed onto the wire service for distribution around the world. )

Later on, the taxi driver took Badin to Nice for his return to Paris.  It was a pity we could not have had Badin for the whole week, but I thought it would take too much out of the budget and decided he would have to return to Paris. Badin had been kept very busy, but I am sure he enjoyed it.

I was up and out early to meet the cars returning.  Hubinet eventually arrived to film some of the finish of the second circuit.  During the previous night, the use of the Citroen as a security car had paid off.  Hubinet’s Mercedes ran out of petrol on a long section between stations (that were open).  The Citroen pushed the Mercedes for four kilometres until they found the Datsun service crew who gave them some petrol.  They had petrol to spare as, first, car 167 abandoned with a minced- gear-box and second car 186, abandoned after hitting a rock at high speed.  Car 191 got home later after several fuel-line blockages had held them up.

During the afternoon, we waited patiently to see whether the remaining Datsun would be selected for the third circuit Monaco-Monaco.  As the sheet went up in the Press Club, we could see that 191 had crept into 58th place out of the final 60.

We were very tired, Hubinet and Corsi had been working on and off without a reasonable sleep since the previous morning.  After some lunch, we all went back to have a sleep at about 16.30hrs.

At 17.10hrs, I received a call from Ken Warr asking that we ship on that night’s plane some selected rolls of our colour for use (in black and white) by the Japanese.  I called Hubinet from his sleep, he selected four of the rolls and I took one of Badin’s.  At 18.00hrs, we left for Nice to catch the 19.40 plane to Paris. On arrival, we were told that the shipment could not go as Customs had closed.  They were not going to allow the shipment to go until I said I could see no reason why the shipment could not pass through Customs in Paris.  Apparently, it had never been done before, so the film went.  We did not know that London had arranged for Brzoska to handle such a trans-shipment in Paris.  So we tried to contact Brzoska to ask him to handle the shipment..  We couldn’t find him at the office or at home (he was at Orly) We returned to Monte Carlo and tried again.  We rang the Bureau and asked them to handle the situation by finding either Brzoska or Badin.  There was nothing further we could do since, if the shipment was not transferred immediately in Pairs, it would not be shipped to London until the following morning. I decided to ring Denham the next morning and alert them.  This I did only to find they knew all about it.

Hubinet, now partially recovered from the previous day, was at the Parc Ferme to film the changing of tyres for the Monaco-Monaco circuit.  We were joined by M. Gaudin (Fox-Movietone Marseilles) and M. Bianci (Actualities Francais Marseilles) who had arrived to shoot Pool film for the newsreels.  They were to give us valuable service in the next few days.

We all had lunch together and then Hubinet, Corsi, Bianci and Gaudin set off for the Col de Turini where they would shoot the night material on the third circuit which starts in the dark and finishes in the early morning of the next day.  It was arranged that Hubinet and his Mercedes would meet M. Antoine and the `Japanese at Sospel in the early hours for more shooting and their joint return to Monaco.

After lunch with the crew, which was very late, I returned to the Hotel to work out the questions I would have to use in the interviews on Saturday.  The last questions would depend on the result of the third circuit and how Car 191 fared.

I had dinner alone.

I got up very early and went to meet Hubinet on his return at the finish line.  This was at the old railway station near the Casino.  It was still dark when I arrived and raining.  It had rained very hard during the night and when I found Hubinet and Corsi, they were soaked through.  We filmed the arrival of the winner and some other cars and waited, patiently, for 191 to arrive.  I had already checked that he had passed through all the control points up to 07.00hrs.  He was now overdue.  I made some enquiries and found that he had abandoned at 07.15hrs after catching fire.  I was told he had caught fire four times, but, later, the driver, Von Bergen, told me they had caught fire twice and only had one extinguisher on board.  The first fire cost them 25 minutes, but, after putting it out, they repaired the burnt cables and went on.  The second fire forced him to retire because it would have taken them longer to put out the fire and repair the damage than the time left available before disqualification.  He tried very hard.

Hubinet was now able to tell me the sad tale of the night’s work.  Shortly before getting to the Col de Turini, the gear-box in the magnificent Mercedes had broken.  M. Bianci and M Gaudin transferred all the equipment they could from the Mercedes and went on with Hubinet to get their shots at the Col de Turini.  It was impossible to phone me (the purpose for which I had always remained in Monte Carlo) because there were no phones available in the area.  Meanwhile, the Citroen was waiting at Sospel for Hubinet who was never going to arrive.  They too, Antoine and the Japanese, were unable to phone me for the same reason – no phones at that time of night.

After filming, Bianci and Gaudin took Hubinet and Corsi (and the Mercedes) on the road back towards Nice.

Twelve kilometres from Nice, they had to abandon the Mercedes on the side of the road.  This group of gentlemen loaded to the roof with twice the gear they should have been carrying returned to Monte Carlo at 06.00hrs to get their shots of the finish.

M. Antoine arrived with the Japanese and they were told the sad tale. M. Antoine did twice the work with the Çitroen.

In the afternoon I had an appointment with M. Deus who was kind enough to offer to take me to the nurseries for some flowers to take home.  I waited from three o’clock to after four.  At 4.30, I had an appointment with the Japanese and their interpreter.  I had to go.

When I got to the Hotel de Rome, I was told that the Japanese and Madame Hazama had gone for a ride in a taxi and they would be back later.

Very tired, I returned to my hotel.  At 5 o’clock, Pierre Deus arrived with his wife, full of apologies.  He has fallen asleep after lunch and had not woken up until 4.30.  He, too had spent the night up on the Col de Turini working for the service.  We went for the flowers. I intended to return to the hotel, have a bath and change for dinner, but, when I did return, there was a message from the Japanese, they wanted to talk to me about the interview the next day.  I went down immediately, as I was, we talked for half an hour or so when a new Japanese man arrived, Mr. Aiyama, the Nissan man from Brussels.  I had to explain to him all that we had done in the film,  he told the rest in Japanese.  I left them with my proposed questions for them to discuss among themselves.  I left at eight o’clock which was the time for my dinner appointment with M. Hubinet.  I was unable to return to the hotel at all.

We had dinner and I invited M. Bianci and M. Gaudin to dinner as well, they had earned at least that.  That afternoon, while Hubinet had been in Nice organising the repair of his Mercedes, Gaudin had taken his camera and shot the announcement of the results of the rally at the Press Club.  This was Gaudin’s offer to Hubinet and it seemed to sum up the co-operation that existed between these cameramen.

We made our plans for the next day and went to bed.

Using Gaudin’s Citroen 4L and M. Antoine’s Citroen, we transported ourselves up to the Palace for the presentation and the interviews. All were there, all the cars, the winners, the Prince and Princess, the Japanese and M. Pierre Deus.  We filmed the presentations and then Hubinet arranged with the Palace Guard that we could film the interviews in front of the Palace.  The guards and police even diverted some of the traffic to allow us to do it.  We had some trouble with film breaking in the magazine, but, eventually, we were ready to go and the interviews took place without incident.  We were watched by a large crowd of amateur photographers and tourists who dispersed only when the Guard changed at midday.  The amazing thing was that the Datsun 191 had driven up to the palace with a burnt-out engine. I wanted to get a shot of it to prove that it had driven there, but Mr. Namba said no – no pictures of the burnt engine.

We were finished, we said goodbye to the South African (and the Finnish) drivers and the Japanese.

We had lunch and then in convoy Bianci and Gaudin in the Citroen 4L and Hubinet, Corsi and myself , driven by M. Antoine in the Citroen set off for Nice.

We stopped to see what was happening to the Mercedes.  The mechanic said he could not get all the parts until the following Monday.  M. Antoine lent a car to M. Hubinet so that he could go home to Marseilles and return with it later to pick up his own car.

I returned to London – Hubinet shipped all the film.

(The film was processed at Reed’s Laboratories in London so that we could verify that the film was of top quality)
25 JAN 67

(There was not much in the way of solutions to problems shown in the foregoing, but, I thought it was painfully obvious from the report that I did not have enough money or crew to do the job properly.  One had to be careful what one wrote in reports that were likely to be seen by the client.  However, by sending the report to Tokyo, to our man there, Keikichi (Ken) Watanabe, it secured a string of assignments at a proper price. The client was well pleased with what we did but there was always the danger that they might accept what they got and then ask for it to be done the next time for the same price).
TMG 2011.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2011.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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