Harvey, Anthony

Harvey, Anthony
(1931– )
   Anthony Harvey was born in London, on June 3, 1931; he would become the film editor of LOLITA and DR. STRANGELOVE. Harvey studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and performed on both stage and screen, including in the film version of Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). He became an assistant film editor in 1949 and a fullfledged editor in 1956. He edited the comic social satire I’m Alright, Jack (1959), which was directed by John Boulting and produced by his brother Roy and which starred PETER SELLERS as a benighted union official.
   After Harvey finished editing Bryan Forbes’s LShaped Room (1962), he wrote to STANLEY KUBRICK indicating his high opinion of PATHS OF GLORY, and inquired about the possibility of editing Kubrick’s Lolita (1962), which Kubrick was shooting at Associated British Studios, outside London. Kubrick then interviewed Harvey, asking about his work habits and the kinds of hours he was willing to work, in order to be sure that Harvey would be available seven days a week, if necessary, Harvey explains. Indeed, Harvey wound up working very long hours, but valued the opportunity of collaborating with such a fascinating and brilliant director.
   Harvey told journalist John Gallagher that Kubrick favored long takes while photographing the film. An extended take, uninterrupted by cuts to other angles, enables an actor to give a sustained performance of a long speech and thus build steadily to a dramatic climax. Kubrick rarely opted to interrupt these extended takes by the insertion of reaction shots. “His great thing was, don’t cut to a reaction shot if the actor is giving a brilliant performance; you imagine the reaction shot for yourself,” says Harvey.
   In Lolita, for example, there is the long take in the scene in which Humbert (JAMES MASON) is staying in a hotel with his nubile stepdaughter Lolita, to whom he is sexually attracted. Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers), who has designs on the girl himself, wants to thwart Humbert’s plan to bed down Lolita in their hotel room. In a long monologue, Quilty, who is impersonating a police detective, suggests that it is inappropriate for Humbert to share a bedroom with his own stepdaughter, especially since she is such a “lovely, sweet girl. ” By the time Quilty has finished his prolonged spiel, strewn with sly innuendos, Humbert is sufficiently intimidated to cancel his plans of possessing Lolita on that occasion. Director and editor developed a genuine rapport while working on Lolita, and Kubrick consequently asked Harvey to edit Dr. Strangelove (1964). Kubrick completed principal photography on that film on April 23, 1963, at Shepperton Studios, outside London. Harvey had been gradually assembling the footage into a rough cut while Kubrick was shooting the movie, and he finished his first cut shortly after filming was finished. Then Kubrick joined him to produce the director’s cut of the film. When Harvey and Kubrick looked at Harvey’s cut, they were depressed. “As with all first cuts,” says Harvey, “you want to slit your throat, and everyone runs off in different directions looking for a knife! The balance of one scene to another is such a delicate thing that sometimes it can’t really be put on paper.
   “We started with the first reel” and went through to the last “in minute detail,” Harvey recalls. “I remember I took the whole film apart. Stanley and I put cards up on a big corkboard and rearranged them in many different ways until it looked like a more interesting way to cut it. We recut the whole film, the juxtaposition of placing one scene to another was totally different. When you’ve got the film on the Moviola [editing machine], one so often does rearrange things—it was major in this case. ” The dark satire of Dr. Strangelove broke new ground. The straight-faced humor permitted filmgoers to laugh at the notion of nuclear destruction. “The Boulting brothers, who I started with, always said that if you start laughing” while the scene is being shot, “God help you,” Harvey told Gallagher. “Comedy is very serious. When an actor thinks he’s funny and starts playing to the crew, it’s death. When it comes on film, it’ll never work. ” So Kubrick had his cast play their scenes with deadpan seriousness. In editing the film with Harvey, Kubrick originally included a scene in which the War Room personnel engage in a slapstick fight with pies from a buffet table. Kubrick retained most of this sequence until the first preview. After seeing the film with an audience, he had Harvey edit out the entire scene, since slapstick was not in keeping with the more muted satire in the rest of the movie.
   The movie was ready for screening in November 1963; when the news came on November 23 that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, Harvey remembered ruefully a line in the pastrythrowing sequence, when President Muffley is hit with a pie. One of the generals says,“Gentlemen, our beloved president has been struck down in his prime. ”That line, along with the whole pie fight,was no longer in the picture.
   When this writer talked with Harvey at the Cannes Film Festival, Harvey recalled that Kubrick once quipped to him,“You’ve become quite impossible; you’d better direct your own pictures from now on, before you drive me crazy. ” Harvey did turn director with Dutchman (1966), which he also edited; it is a racial allegory from the one-act play by Le Roi Jones. Harvey then directed the historical drama A Lion in Winter (1968), for which Katharine Hepburn won an Academy Award, and which was rereleased in a restored print in 2001. Harvey turned to TV in the 1970s with a fine version of Tennessee Williams’s Glass Menagerie (1973), starring Katharine Hepburn. But his last work (and last pairing with Hepburn), the unfunny comedy Grace Quigley (1984), was disappointing. The two Kubrick films that Harvey edited and the magnificent A Lion in Winter, which he directed, represent the peaks of his career.
   ■ Gallagher, John, Film Directors on Directing (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989);
   ■ LoBrutto, Vincent, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography (New York: Da Capo, 1999).

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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