Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Callan and Peter Gilder 1970 and 1974.

Callan,the 1974 film, where the wonderful terrain and figures of Peter Gilder figured. When I went to the cinema to see this film, all I ever wanted was to possess the room and the figures that I saw on the screen. Even in 2016 I don't think the set up has been bettered, copied yes, but never excelled. Wonderful stuff. 
  
For those readers born in a much later time, Callan was probably the first television anti hero, following on from Jack Carter in Get Carter and I suppose James Bond to a lesser extent. He was what appeared to be a loser, used by his superiors, an anti establishment loose cannon, with a bent? for collecting and playing with toy soldiers. 
 It all kicked off with a a pilot called;   
  Callan, A Magnum or Schneider; Feb.1967;
In February 1967 ‘Armchair Theatre’ aired one such pilot under the title ‘A Magnum for Schneider’. It was written by James Mitchell, the author of a number of potboiler spy and crime novels, who would go on to have his greatest success with a nostalgic and romantic TV series called When the Boat Comes In about life in Tyneside during the 20s and 30s. But it was his spy fiction background he put into ‘A Magnum for Schneider’. Its central character was a professional assassin who had just resigned from a shadowy department of British intelligence, but who was just too good at his job for them to let him go. 
 In this pilot Callan accidently befriends his target by bumping into him, literally, and knocking a box of toy soldiers out of his hand, from their he is able to get inside his flat to be shown a table full of  Napoleonic figures [make unknown unfortunately]


 You can see how different the television producers portrayed viewed wargaming in 1967, this was  to change in the later series, and of course in the great film.. 


  Plot for the film; Callan; 

 David Callan (Edward Woodward), a leading intelligence agent/assassin in the employment of S.I.S., was forced into retirement due to him losing his nerve. Now, Callan is called back into service to handle the assassination of Schneider, a German businessman. Colonel Hunter (Eric Porter), his former employer promises Callan that he'll be resumed to active status as long as he follows his orders. But as ever, Callan refuses to act until he knows exactly why Schneider has been marked for death...

In the film, Callan gets to play two games, The Battle of Talavera and the Battle of Gettysburg. The whole wargames set up was far superior that what many wargamers had ever seen, and boy did it cause some envy, well it did for me. I will try and find out how Peter Gilder obtained a job creating the games for the film, it should prove very interesting, I hope.

                                         






















Below are some stills of figures used in the television episode of Callan, titled an Act of Kindness, from 1970.Away from the Section, David Callan has one major interest – model soldiers and fighting war-games with them.  Given that his job involves killing (and usually it’s the dirtiest and most squalid kind) it’s therefore worth wondering if his love of re-creating famous battles from history is a yearning for the past when war might be seen as a more honest, chivalrous pursuit.
 Act of Kindness sees Callan tackle an opponent across the tabletop field of battle and it provides us with a very interesting clash of personalities.  Heathcote Land (Anthony Nicholls) isn’t a spy or an enemy agent – he works for a company that exports tractors worldwide.
Again beautiful Peter Gilder painted figures on a basic terrain;






Callan, A Magnum or Schneider; Feb.1967;
In February 1967 ‘Armchair Theatre’ aired one such pilot under the title ‘A Magnum for Schneider’. It was written by James Mitchell, the author of a number of potboiler spy and crime novels, who would go on to have his greatest success with a nostalgic and romantic TV series called When the Boat Comes In about life in Tyneside during the 20s and 30s. But it was his spy fiction background he put into ‘A Magnum for Schneider’. Its central character was a professional assassin who had just resigned from a shadowy department of British intelligence, but who was just too good at his job for them to let him go.

2 comments:

  1. How fascinating Robbie, that you have found out so much already. Of course, like you, I loved the model soldier element to Callan on TV. It gave a kind of credibility to our boyhood hobby - if an intelligent Intelligence agent like him can get enjoyment that way, well it must be OK? When the film came out one of my wargame friend's dad was a projectionist at the ABC cinema and I was asked to do a display of my Napoleonic collection in a glass case in the foyer - as result the then Cheltenham Wargames club got its biggest influx of new members. As I recall Don F. wrote about it in WGN and said that one of the producers or writers - Don Houghton, was himself a wargamer so it got written into the series as Callan's hobby.
    Chris
    http://notjustoldschool.blogspot.co.uk/

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  2. Chris,
    that may explain why Callan was a wargamer in the first place. I will attempt to find the original article from the Newsletter. That is if I have that copy in my collection. The film did lend a lot of credibility to the hobby upon its release.

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