The Red Shoes (1948)

Voted one of the top ten films of the century!

Leonard Boucher's Red Shoes Diaries

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July - August - September - October

My father, Leonard Boucher, kept diaries from the war years until he went to America in 1952 - these are excerpts from his diary during the making of the Red Shoes. My mother is referred to as 'G'.

July 1947

Tuesday 08 July 1947

Telegram from A C but too late and I miss a shooting session at Pinewood. G, who was there tells me that nothing of note was done therefore nothing of importance lost - except £3.30! Massine was there. Joan Harris, I believe, is being rather 'off hand' these days. A great pity - we are quite fond of her and were good friends in the days of the International ballet.

Wednesday 09 July 1947

Early to bed and early to rise - 5;30 am. to Pinewood Studios for 8am - 8:30 class. the earliest class on record! I was most pleased that massine recognized me and asked "How is your child?". "Very well," I replied "dancing all day long. "Mine too", said Massine. watch 3 scenes 'shot'. One took ten retakes - a rather difficult piece including Tcherina, Shearer, Joan Harris, Massine and Helpman. Moira Shearer is the nicest little thing I've seen since Baronava. Tcherina is beautiful and has good turns. Helpman is amusing. The word for his type of character is, I believe, in theatre terms, 'camp'. One sees him either very smartly dressed or ragged and rolling with jokes but I must say, always quite a good chap. Massine looks tired. it is rather a shock to find him an old man, but still a great character. If Shearer is used well she should develop into a 'Big Star'.

Thursday 10 July 1947

G (Gladys - my mother) to Pinewood 6:30 am. Having worked three times in a British studio and once in an 'American ruled' studio there is no doubt in my mind that there is a marked 'fall off' in the standard of efficiency in the all-british studios which is obvious in the majority of british productions. Michael Powell who directs 'Red Shoes' is considered an authority but how many times does he miss the opportunity of making a really excellent film? All the time, I'd say. Straight cut, the usual times, the same old dialogue, the ordinary angles etc., etc. And so! A great deal could be done with ballet, dancing rehearsing, class - the true story of the rise to fame.

Friday 11 July 1947

I telephone equity They admit that until contracts are sent and signed satisfactorily Archers can still change their minds to suit themselves - but have not considered the fact in spite of A's suspicious behavior. The girls received only 12 (£?) including 3 days at Pinewood. the only hope for the ballet dancer re better salaries, conditions etc. is the formation of a new union treating the dancers as artists of the highest standard and setting a standard of performance to mark the different classes of artist.

Wednesday 16 July;y 1947

To Shank for 10 but fitting there is cancelled, on to ????of Court for the Red Shoes fitting. I am a factory worker - the costume is not very pleasing. Do not leave there until 1pm and then to Freed's for shoes. Onto Chelsea for Giselle fitting (courtier). the costumes which actually should be huntsmen not courtiers are awfully dull, pale blue cotton material. gorgeous skirt with usual drape and long feathered hat. all that - six hours - and no question of pay! i ring equity re the 'technical ' position but find them again most unhelpful and in fact, well on the side of the management. Twice today there was (concerning those who are already working) an excellent opportunity for Equity to do something and give Archers a jolly good rouse - of course, nothing was done and only the silliest excuses made to us. Obviously the artist is still of little importance.

Thursday 17 July 1947

G to Pinewood with swim suit for Monte Carlo scenes. everyone disgusted and most disappointed also concerning the treatment of the dancers by Archers and other studio authorities. the latest insult is that the dancers are not allowed to use the studio restaurant and can only use the 'extra's' canteen. had I been there a 'strike' would have occurred immediately. they merely 'complained' to Alan Carter who had not the 'guts' to act with dignity and preserve. thus all very aggravating.

Friday 18 July 1947

To a fitting at Shanks. A pleasant change to find court ious and pleasant people. the costume (Swan Lake huntsman) is in pale colors - the usual style. thin material. A pity something really rich is not used in contrast. however I doubt we shall get even as far as the cutting room!

Saturday 19 July 1947

G to Pinewood 7am. A telegram arrives at 9am - 16 hours late. G should have returned 1pm but didn't leave Pinewood until 6. Still no shooting done! Hopelessly behind schedule. A card for me to begin Monday 10am, but half the cast must be at pinewood again on that day for mercury theatre shots (including Madam Rambert). I wonder who isn't in this epic!?!

Monday 21 July 1947

To Inns of Court for 10am. G to Pinewood 6:30am. Class given by Joan (Harris) which was fairly good. Daphne (Irina Marinova) was there. She of course would not join in the class to be taught by Joan. No rehearsal as girls delayed at studio. Two fittings and home by 4:30

Tuesday 2( July 1947

G to Pinewood 6:30 am. Fit Swan Lake costume also worker costume and clown. The latter is a fine design made of thick grey satin on which a number of cards - the size of playing cards - printed with the most detailed and exquisite designs - each one a work of art (Heine Heckroth). the cost - at least £50 - there are three of them. The pattern most certainly will not be seen - in fact the clown may not be seen at all!! The Giselle and Swan lake girls costumes are really beautiful - well worth £40 each - all for one showing only and then to rot! 'Swan Lake' shot at 5:30 - in the nick of time. (Hands down studio staff %:45pm) Helpman today was full of effeminacy - a great shame. Tcherina has wonderful style but does not impress one. See Walbrook who watched the 'dancing' with intence interest. Return 8pm.

Wednesday 30 July 1947

G to Pinewood earlier than ever for shooting of Heart of Fire. I said to G yesterday - the star of this film is Michael Powell! The Big noises of British films are having a very easy time at present and show only poor results. nothing really new. No real art. I wish Wells would stay. I would like to meet him. But perhaps not. He is a great Lord and Massine was my lesson. G returns at 7:30 very exhausted after 10 hours of Heart of Fire. Another set of glorious costumes made of costly materials for one performance only! And so is film business......possibly part of its fascination.

Thursday 31 July 2007

G to Pinewood for 8:30am on the set (Stage Royal Opera House Covent Garden) 9am in practice clothes. The action is Tchinas late arrival for rehearsal morning after the big 1st night. massine wrath, remarks from helpman (another leg display - rather like a male Marlene Dietrich!) and then some words to Shearer ending with odd steps by eight in a small circle (approximately 30-40 seconds). most of us (including all principles) merely stand around in groups etc. Nothing but rehearsal until 3pm - 6 takes - the last at 5pm. finish 6pm. see Marius Goring, Robert Newton and Joan Bennett?! A tiring and somewhat boring day. Walbrook watched class and seems most interested in the ballet shots.

July - August - September - October

Home | Cast | Cast photographs | The film | The ballet | The story | Making the film |
Little known facts about the film
| Moira Shearer | Posters and stills| Links | My father's Red Shoes Diaries | Letters from Moira | After the Red Shoes