Film Booty:
Flash Gordon, Yoda and Blue Harvest

Jasper Fforde poses badly in a prized T shirt

I took this yesterday to 'model' the T shirt. I'm laughing because its a VERY tight t shirt, and I'm really not the age or physique to be modelling... (Polaroid 55, Large Format Sinar)

Film Booty are all the odds and ends one picks up from movies over the years, and I, something of a jackdaw, have a fair collection of swag. All of it, I will hasten to add, was gained lawfully. If I'd been of a thieving disposition, then I would certainly have lifted some of Kubrick's stuff from his stable-block when I was there testing film equipment for Eyes Wide Shut . What a trove - ring binders containing every camera setup from all his films, carefully archived with a polaroid of the setup, lighting diagram and detailed description of the scene. There were boxes and boxes of technical stills from the production of 2001, too, with snaps of Pods and Dullea in his spacesuit hung from the rafters at MGM studios Borehamwood with (presumably) Stanley's notes appended in ink. It would have been so easy to do, but I was never tempted. You just don't do that.

The tee-shirt above was from a day I spent in Shepperton Studios in 1980 with the lovely Golda Offenheim, who was tasked with getting all the Flash Gordon costumes sent to Italy as a sequel was just still a possibility. There were hundreds of them and needed to be either dumped in a skip or catalogued and boxed. Emperor Ming's costume was there, still on a mannequin and countless others. There were also lots of Hawkman outfits, of various quality. The hero ones for principals were well crafted but the background artist ones more basic - and it was the tatty ones of these that were going in the skip, along with lots of other stuff.

Jasper in his Hawkman outfit standing next to noted economist and ex chief cashier of the bank of engalnd, John S Fforde

Taken around 1982, at my parent's then house in Hawtrey Road, NW3. I'm standing next to noted economist and ex-chief cashier of the Bank of England, John S Fforde. The Hawkman helmet was uncomfortable to wear, so I am in my flying helmet - which I do still have. The skirt is still present in this picture; I don't know if I was wearing the sandals. I think the Flash Gordon costume department missed a trick by not using an Arran sweater like I did.

I ended up with a Hawkman outfit and three 'Flash' tee shirts for my day's work. I gave one Tee-shirt away, wore another to destruction but kept the third, the one you see above. Of the Hawkman outfit, nothing remains except this one picture of me standing next to Dad. The helmet, probably the best part of the costume was given away by my mother to someone whom she couldn't recall so I couldn't get it back, and the wings and leather (well, vinyl, actually) straps were gradually mislaid over several house moves.

Kind of a loss really, but not the greatest. For the one item I possessed which would have been the most valuable, I point you towards my ... Yoda Head.

overexposed 'end or roll' kodachrome

Me in my bedroom in Hawtrey road when I was still living with my parents. This is a horribly overexposed and out of focus Kodachrome slide taken sometime in 1982. I'm wearing my Blue Harvest cap (yes, you read that correctly) and there, in the top left, is Yoda.

Yes, you did read that correctly, a real film-used latex Yoda head from Revenge of the Jedi. No shit, for like f**king real. Here it is again in close up:

overexposed 'end or roll' kodachrome

The weapon in the foreground is a prop I had made for a film named 'Game Over' about someone who gets trapped in a video game. I shot about a minute's screen time on BW 16mm and did quite a lot of preparatory work. This photo is the only evidence that I did actually once possess a Yoda head.

The Yoda head was only the latex covering that surrounded the head that Frank Oz would have operated. The actual head contained the movable eyes and all the mechanical complexity that would have imbued the latex covering with the expressions. I was given this, along with the Blue Harvest cap from a publicist at Shepperton who had been given it by a crew member on the shoot.

The story that came down to me was that the latex Yoda heads had to be replaced occasionally as they wore out, and this one had a large rip in it so was STR. It was painted correctly, had no eyes, but had all the hair and the teeth - and the aforementioned rip. I pinned it on to a polystyrene head, and there it sat, in my bedroom.

Sadly, latex degrades and it started to go all gooey, and yes, was thrown out with the trash. I remember thinking it 'was a shame' but didn't think to freeze it or put it in a jar for posterity. It was 1982.

The Blue Harvest cap is also something of a rarity, Blue Harvest being the name given as the working title to Revenge of the Jedi to stop Star Wars fans clamouring to get on set - a sort of placeholder subterfuge. The cap? Who knows where that is. I have this hopeful notion that I'm going to open an old suitcase and find it one day, all squashed but complete.

I have another picture of me wearing it back in 1983, so I could prove provenance, as you can find repros out there very cheaply. But I'm not that hopeful. It, like the Yoda head, my Hawkman outfit - and Dad - are gone.

Of course, Revenge of the Jedi became Return of the Jedi as Jedi aren't meant to be vengeful, but not before the crew jackets were made and distributed. I was offered one by an AD on the shoot for 100 but I turned it down. Why would I have wanted a Revenge of the Jedi crew jacket?

Recalled 7th June 2020

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