The White Bus
|The White Bus|
|Directed by||Lindsay Anderson|
|Produced by||Oscar Lewenstein
The White Bus is a 1967 short film by British director Lindsay Anderson. The screenplay was jointly adapted with Shelagh Delaney from a short story in her collection Sweetly Sings the Donkey (1963).
The main character, only referred to as 'the girl' (Patricia Healey) takes a trip in a white double-decker bus around an unnamed city she is visiting, although it is clearly meant to be Manchester; Delaney was born and grew in nearby Salford. Oddly enough, the Mayor (Arthur Lowe), a local businessman, and the council's ceremonial macebearer (John Sharp) happen also to be taking the trip.
Locations include Albert Square and its landmark, the Town Hall and the nearby Central Library. The 'model estate' of high-rise flats was shot on the Kersal Flats estate, while the factory sequences were shot in Trafford Park, including the Metropolitan-Vickers works. It also featured scenes on Cheetham Hill Road and inside Cheetham College (now demolished).
Both the exterior and interior shots of the school were taken in the former Pendleton High School for Girls - now mainly demolished, but with the original Victorian building converted to a retirement home. Using local people, Anderson also staged parodies of paintings by Manet (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe), Fragonard and Goya in Buile Hill Park in Salford. It was Anthony Hopkins film debut in a small role, while Stephen Moore is a (young) bowler-hatted man who pesters the heroine with nonsense just after her arrival.
History and production
It was originally commissioned by producer Oscar Lewenstein, then a director of Woodfall, as one third of a 'portmanteau' feature entitled Red White and Zero, with the other sections supplied by Anderson's Free Cinema collaborators Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz from the other short stories by Shelagh Delaney.
The "first real day's shooting" was on 19 October 1965, and took about a month to complete.
The two other planned sections of the film developed into what became Richardson's Red and Blue and Peter Brook's Ride of the Valkyrie (1967), Reisz having dropped out, both of which are unrelated to Delaney's work. Of these, only The White Bus received a theatrical release in the UK.
- Hedling, E: "Lindsay Anderson: Maverick Film-Maker", Cassell, 1998, p.62
- Shelagh Delaney "Sweetly Sings the Donkey", New York: GP Putnam, 1963; London: Methuen, 1964
- Paul Sutton (ed.) The Diaries: Lindsay Anderson, London: Methuen, 2004, p.141n.
- Lindsay Anderson, Paul Ryan (ed) "Never Apologise: The Collected Writings", Plexus, 2004, p.105
- Sutton, p.140-41
- Sutton, p.146
The title "Sweetly Sings the Donkey" comes from a song sung to children (by my grandmother, Edith Wendt Willis) as early as the 1940s. The song follows: Sweetly Sings the Donkey Traditional from Edith Wendt Willis
Sweetly sings the donkey At the break of day. If you do not feed him, This is what he’ll say: Hee haw, hee haw, Hee haw, hee haw, hee haw!
If you treat him kindly, He will stay with you. And he’ll go on singing All the whole day through: Hee haw, hee haw, Hee haw, hee haw, hee haw!
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