From Joan's Book Joan Littlewood's Peculiar History as She Tells It by Joan Littlewood, Methuen, 1994, ISBN 0 411 64070 1

pp. 646-647

I arranged a read-through, hired a room over the local pub.  Una and I got there early, swept and dusted the place and arranged chairs and ashtrays.  Una posted this notice:  'The artists will act the story of the film, so that you will have an idea of the style I have in mind and feel able to co-operate.'

The crew trailed in, looking completely lost.  'We don't need to know the story to make the props,' I heard one say.  Mr. Greene arrived last, found a secluded corner and settled down.

I gave three bangs for fun and the company rose to it.  Barbara Windsor got laughs and wolf-whistles all the way through and Roy Kinnear had them in stitches.  I glanced across at Mr. Greene.  He was buried in the Sporting Life and obviously had no intention of wasting his time watching a bunch of silly people.  This highly experienced cameraman was hardly a man after my own heart, but I had to make a team out of this clanjamfrie or the film would be a disaster.

My launch party would break the ice.  We made a huge bowl of punch and a cauldron of curry.  When the front door was opened, the neighborhood poured in:  The Krays, looking sleek, Yootha looking glamorous, the Krays' minders and Yootha's admirers, David Booth with Maurie, his six-foot-two baby-minder, laughing at his jokes.  Wozzo and Bugsie, Marleena and Christabel.  Barbara's Ronnie turned up with two or three yobbos, but vanished when he saw the Krays.  Barbara came in later with the Misses Pelham, two very strait-laced sociable workers she'd picked up on the doorstep.

What a salad!  Cops and robbers, do-gooders and cony-catchers, racists and humanists--anything could happen.

Limehouse Willy introduced himself:  'One of the Krays' minders," he told me, then added under his breath, 'Very naughty boys.'

A bloke nobody knew never left the doorway, but stood there, watching everybody.  He wore a soft black trilby, a black bow-tie and a black velvet jacket.

"Looks a bit dodgy," said David.  "Do you want Maurie an [sic] me to sweep up?"

"Don't worry," I said.  "They're all going to be in the film.  They're mad about show business."

If you look carefully at the scene in Angel Lane, the one where David is careering along beside Barbara with their baby in the pram, you'll see quite a few of the boys.  That's Limehouse Willy, polishing the antique tray.

The producer never noticed the unusual extras; they were paid off by the Extras Union who were too scared to ask questions.

"What happened to that bloke in the black velvet jacket?" asked Limehouse Willy one day.

"Safe in the arms of Jesus," he said.

Tom Driberg didn't turn up.  He'd already been photographed with the Krays and didn't like it.  I was relieved that Gerry had decided to stay away:  he didn't approve of my mixing with such types.  I was wrong.  He came rolling in on his own and stood drinking brandy.  Well, so long as Price didn't turn up.  He'd been dubbed the arch-enemy, luring me away from theatre, and they were a pair who would be frightened of nobody, not even of each other.

The ranks were thinning.  David had already disappeared with Yootha and Maurie was looking lost.  I began collecting dirty glasses, stubbing out smouldering dimps and retrieving plates of half-eaten curry left in corners. ..


p. 650

I managed the master shot of the pub scene without closing in on Barbara and got Queenie Watts and her gang in the can, but there was an awful atmosphere on the set.  I overhead Chuck Sewell talking about settling the score with Barbara's bloke, who was a slob if ever there was one, though she'd kill you if she heard you say so.

Suddenly, in the middle of the scene, David hurled a glass at the family group standing by the bar.

"David!  You can't do that."

Why not?  It made them shut up."

"It's not in character.  Your character could get attention without that."

He promptly walked off, threatening to turn in the part.  It took another outburst and a lot of soothing syrup before he would consent even to try the take without the glass smashing, but when he did, it was good.