Pendry started out as a movie-crazed 14 year-old who talked himself into a job as a second camera assistant on a Denham studio movie sets. In 1943, he recalls watching Nazi buzz bombs fall on London from the roof of a studio where Anthony Asquith was directing A Way To The Stars, starring Michael Redgrave and Stanley Holloway. He was also camera assistant on Noel Coward’s The Way Ahead, and after the war, on the Peter Ustinov movie Private Angelo, among many others.
Phil’s first brush with history was as a British soldier gathering evidence for the Nuremberg War Trials at the end of World War Two. Back in England and out of uniform he went to work as an assistant cameraman with the great British movie director Anthony Asquith. Phil also worked on a Peter Ustinov movie “Private Angelo”. Sometime during this period he learned to fly.
Set of “Away To The Stars”, 1945
As of this writing ( September 2013) Phil Pendry is still a working cameraman at age 86. Phil and I go back to the late 50s, early 60s in London when he was a staff cameraman for the CBC based in London. I was a staff current or public affairs producer in the same London Great Titchfield office. The first film I did with Phil was an interview with Paul Anka who was performing at I believe the Golders Green Hhippodrome?. I have tried and failed to find a date for this gig on Google. Phil used his Ari 16 mm film camera or Aurcon which captured sound as well as picture on a single roll of film.
David Levy and Phil Pendry in Red Sware, Moscow
Phil has worked with the best people in the business and seems to have been a witness to every war and revolution since World War 11.Peter Jennings called Phil “one of the giants in the business” . Jennings was on a long list of celebrity reporters who have worked with Phil, among them Morley Safer of CBS 60 Minute fame, Mike Mcclear (notably in North Korea), Peter Kent, Lloyd Robertson, Peter Truman and Norm dePoe.
With Morley Safer in Egypt
Phil was a good friend of John and Yoko Lennon and babysat their son Julian in their London home. I believe he first met Yoko in Japan where he was stationed as Mike McClear’s camerman. Phil and Yoko are still friends and see other in New York from time to time.Phil worked on Yogo’s 1967 “Film No. Four, Bottoms”
This experimental film consists of 365 bare bums filmed in black and white (they walked on a tread mill). The film cost was $168. The film was banned in Britain before a court order allowed the feature to be shown in London.
One of the anonymous persons was Wendy Michener. daughter of a Canadian Governor General, Rolland Michener, and writer for the Globe and Mail and the CBC. She died unexpectedly in 1969 at the age of 34. It was my understanding at the time that it was a case of suicide. In those days, unlike today, the suicide of prominent persons was hushed up.
I played a tiny part in the making of the film. I was on staff at CBC London and provided the tape recorder that was used by ( I think freelancer and later NFB director Barbara Green) to record interviews with the participants. This was cut into soundtrack for the film but the only version I have able to find on YouTube is the silent version.
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