BBC Omnibus: Documentary profiles of Cassavetes, Lumet, Altman, Tarantino, Ray

Omnibus was an arts-based BBC television documentary series, broadcast mainly on BBC One in the United Kingdom. It ran from 1967 until 2003, usually being transmitted on Sunday evenings. During filming in 1970, the BBC followed John Cassavetes and his actors in New York and London making a documentary for their Omnibus strand, examining the unique way this great director made his movies. This is a super-rare look behind the scenes of Cassavetes’ first ‘big budget’ film, Husbands. It depicts several scenes which never made it into the final film, and a few that did. Also great is to watch Cassavetes working out scenes with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara, sitting around a table smoking, brainstorming, joking, and singing—just like Archie Gus and Harry!

Originally broadcast on the 26th of February 1991, Omnibus interviewed Sidney Lumet and filmed him on set in New York in September 1989 during the shooting of Q&A. This episode was aired to coincide with the films UK release on 5th April 1991 almost 12 months after it’s US release. Interviews: Sidney Lumet, Nick Nolte, Treat Williams, and Alan King.

George Lucas: Flying Solo profiles the director as he discusses his formative years, as well as clips and insight into his 16mm short films, Look at Life, Herbie, and Freiheit. With rare behind-the-scenes footage, Francis Ford Coppola, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Ron Howard, and Walter Murch.

Quentin Tarantino: Hollywood’s Boy Wonder profiles the titular filmmaker in the wake of the success of his now-classic Pulp Fiction. The documentary is mainly comprised of interviews, many with the director himself in his apartment, but the highlight for most will be the scene of Tarantino and Brian De Palma talking about the similarities in their careers of having to deal with public attention regarding the violent content in their films (this comes after an extended sequence featuring Tarantino explaining his love for De Palma, which includes a personal scrapbook of printed interviews and a description of the influence that Casualties Of War had on certain elements in Reservoir Dogs). —The Seventh Art

A Long Time Ago—The Story of Star Wars. Featuring interviews with Ewan McGregor, Carrie Fisher, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Rick McCallum, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, David West Reynolds, Francis Coppola, Saul Zaentz, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Doug Chiang, Gareth Wigan, Irvin Kershner and Lawrence Kasdan.

On the eve of the release of his first film shot in England, Gosford Park, Omnibus profiles the maverick American director. “Robert always surprises you,” says fellow director Kenneth Branagh. “Even if the subject matter may be familiar or the genre may be familiar, his treatment of it always has an original characteristic.” Former colleagues and associates including Mike Hodges, Stephen Frears and Stephen Altman, his son and Production Designer for Gosford Park, offer their insights into working with Altman and examine his lasting appeal.

Between 1959 to 1970, Ken Russell directed art documentaries for Monitor and Omnibus. His best known works during this period include: Elgar (1962), The Debussy Film (1965), Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967), Song of Summer (about Frederick Delius and Eric Fenby, 1968) and Dance of the Seven Veils (1970), a film about Richard Strauss.

Dance Of The Seven Veils by Ken Russell. This episode was originally broadcast on 15th of February 1970.

Alan Yentob’s incredible documentary made for the BBC in 1974, which Nicolas Roeg saw and took the car scenes for The Man Who Fell to Earth. This documentary changed the way rock docs were made—before this they were chronological, linear, and this film was modeled after the mercurial nature of its subject, David Bowie.

Stephen King: Shining in the Dark (1999). This Omnibus episode is a detailed biography, with scenes from the many film adaptations of his work including Needful Things (1993), The Shining (1980), The Green Mile (1999), Stand By Me(1986), Carrie (1976) and Misery (1990).

An excerpts from Omnibus: The Cinema of Satyajit Ray, a BBC documentary on Ray.

Nigel Finch’s 50-minute 1978 documentary of Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman titled Fear And Loathing In Gonzovision at the beginning and Fear And Loathing On The Road To Hollywood With Dr. Hunter S. Thompson And Ralph Steadman at the end.

Director Ridley Scott was the subject of Omnibus in 1992. Titled Eye of the Storm, it was first shown on UK television around the release of 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992).

This is an exclusive 50 minute documentary about the legendary John Barry, the most successful and decorated film composer of the 20th century. The film gives insights to his childhood, the origins of The John Barry Seven and covers his scores from Bond and Midnight Cowboy to the pinnacle of some of his unforgettable symphonies: Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves. John Schlesinger, Sydney Pollack, Vic Flick, Kevin Costner, Barbara Broccoli, Don Black and the great maestro himself—John Barry are all featured. Greta Scacchi narrates.

Documentary profiles of the driving force behind the Cannon Group film production company, producers Menahem Goland and Yoram Globus. Israeli Go-Go Boys Golan and Globus at the height of their careers—everybody is working for Cannon!

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