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5th May 2003I ran out of space!
By Marc Jung
I also remember little snippets with him standing, and stating where Colour Sergeant Bourne gave the order to 'Stand To!' I'd also like to say that Zulu Dawn is vastly underrated, as Alan Critchley has. An excellent site, I know I've said before, but keep up the good work!
5th May 2003Alan Critchley
I have to cofess to not recalling Bourne saying stand too. It may have been Bromhead but it was certainly used in Zulu Dawn (by the bloke who was in 'KES'), supported be Col. Sgt. Williames (Bob Hoskins)).

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5th May 2003Peter Ewart

Haven't seen the film for a while but do recall the order "Stand ... To!" being barked out about halfway through the film, shortly before action, as the men stood "at the ready," as it were. It was a rather distant voice which broke the silence and certainly resembled Nigel Greene rather than Michael Caine (thank goodness!) but I don't think the individual giving the order was visible.

When I was a boy it must have been just before the Intermission, I reckon. (I'm sure it's in the same place today, only presumably without the intermission!) In those days no film would claim to be a blockbuster without an intermission, which meant that instead of a standard two-hour length (to be shown, of course, alongside at least one other black & white British "crime" film of an hour's length) it would be of up to three hours, such as in Ben Hur, South Pacific, Bridge/River Kwai, Dr Zhivago etc etc.

So the official running time of only 138 mins (as shown on this site) baffles me in some ways. Two hours 18 mins in those days was nothing & certainly not worth an intermission. Funny thing is, I remember seeing it nine times in the 1960s at around five or six different cinemas in Sussex (long bus journeys for each performance after perusing the Evening Argus for clues, weeks in advance each time!) and was absolutely certain then that, after the first two times I saw it (both in 1964), the later performances had cut certain bits which I remembered (I was word perfect in those days!) and so I was convinced that it had been shortened - and still am. Someone else once mentioned a similar suspicion on this forum I think. I admit I only noticed a couple or so short bits were gone (no idea these days what they were) but how did the length come all the way down to a piffling 2 hrs 18 mins, which I suppose would be a longish film today, I don't know. Is it generally accepted that it is shorter now or is it me looking back at my early teens through rose-tinted spectacles? Anyone got the definitive answer?

Although I never saw the almost annual Christmas showing, I've seen it on video once or twice in recent years - not NEARLY as good as the real thing, though. I suppose it must be the case that a whole generation (two?) has grown up and never seen it at the flicks - but only in miniature?

6th May 2003Sheldon Hall
Although some individual cinemas might have included an intermission on their own initiative during its first general release (and some which might have employed projectionists who deliberately trimmed bits from the last performance to get home earlier), ZULU did not have an "official" intermission until its 1972 roadshow reissue in 70mm. It was placed just after the Zulus' first appearance on the crest of the hill; part two began with the close-up shot of Chard loading his pistol. (The National Screen Service technician who edited the intermission title card into the prints told me this.)

ZULU was never any longer than 138 minutes. Although that is not long for an epic, there were other, even shorter roadshow films of the period which were also given an intermission, e.g. KHARTOUM, which clocks in at 136 minutes (including eight minutes' worth of play-in and play-out music).

There is one remaining 35mm print of ZULU still in circulation (distributed by UIP) if you want to try and persuade your local cinema to show it!
7th May 2003Peter Ewart
Thanks for such a helpful reply, Sheldon.

Hadn't realised intermissions were up to the projectionist but it seems obvious now you point it out. I distinctly remember the intermission in the showings at The Regent, Rye, in May and Oct 1964. (What a sad thing to clog up one's brain with!!!)

I see I said 2 hrs 18 mins was nothing then, although I meant that it was only about 20 mins longer than the usual length of around two hours or just under (unless my my memory's wriong there too) for most feature films. When the big ones came along with above average hype and an intermission, they were between two and a half and three hours I seem to remember. (Now someone will tell me that Ben-Hur, S Pacific, R/Kwai or Dr Zhivago were no longer than ZULU!) At 138 mins, ZULU doesn't seem a very long film by comparison.

I assume the intermission came halfway into the film but even that, I suppose, is not certain. I do recall clearly that it came before any of the fighting so I've always understood that the actual action involved no more than half the film. These days I suppose that could be calculated to the second. Your mention of it coming when Chard loaded his revolver (presumably the first time, with the "shakes"), is also very familiar.

On the subject of footage about the making of ZULU which crop up in these discussions on this site, I wonder if Southern TV or its successors still have a copy of the interview between Tony Bilbow and Stanley Baker which appeared on the teatime magazine programme "Day by Day" in the winter of 63/64? It was this bit of plugging which grabbed my attention and made me go to see it when it arrived in Rye, although one couldn't have avoided the trailers at the pictures anyway. I remember SB saying the locals had never seen a cine camera but were doing exactly as required within three weeks. (To think all this is virtually 40 yrs ago is now coming as a bit of a shock!!!)

7th May 2003Sheldon Hall
I too recall intermissions as being associated particularly with big, "important" movies, and I'm always pleased when video and DVD versions include them. (See for example Warners' DVD of the Robert Redford Western JEREMIAH JOHNSON, which has one despite running less than two hours!)

Unless the intermission had been purposely built into the film by the makers and a special title card supplied by the distributor, the decision of whether or not to include one was probably that of the theatre management - doubtless with the intention of increasing sales of drinks, ices, etc. Some independent cinemas still have an interval in every film regardless of length, e.g. the Paramount in Penistone, Cumbria. This is a bit naughty, but presumably the locals accept it as traditional. Most modern multiplexes avoid them - perhaps they fear that patrons might get lost during the break and go back into the wrong auditorium!

ZULU was not the only blockbuster to be reissued with an official intermission not included in the first release: another example is THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (in which, of course, Stanley Baker appears), with the break being taken just after the saboteurs' capture by the Nazis.