My father Terry Trench (1917-75) was a documentary film maker. He worked on about eighty-five films between 1935 and 1973, starting as an assistant cutter, and later working mainly as the editor, but sometimes as script writer or associate producer.
Assistant cutter in the 1930s
It is as an assistant cutter at Elstree that Terry Trench seems to have started his film career. He worked as an (uncredited) assistant cutter under the editor James Corbett on the 1935 musical Music Hath Charms, directed by Thomas Bentley, with music by Henry Hall, Mabel Wayne, Desmond Carter and Collie Knox. The film features Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra. This was an Associated British Picture Corporation Ltd film, made at Elstree, London. Watch a clip from Music Hath Charms on YouTube: Just Little Bits & Pieces: Henry Hall & The BBC Dance Orchestra
Terry Trench worked again as an (uncredited) assistant cutter under editor James Corbett on Ourselves Alone (1936), another Associated British Picture Corporation Ltd picture, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst (and Walter Summers), with a screen play by Dudley Leslie, Marjorie Deans and Dennis Johnston, adapted from the play The Trouble by Dudley Sturrock and Noel Scott. This 70-minute drama film, which tells the story of a British soldier and an Irish police officer who both fall in love with the sister of an IRA leader, was controversial.
The Brian Desmond Hurst website comments that "Ourselves Alone was banned in Northern Ireland at the time of its release in 1936 although it has now achieved the recognition it deserved and is shown in museums and other public access points in Northern Ireland."
In 1936, Terry Trench was once again an (uncredited) assistant cutter under James Corbett on The Tenth Man (1936), a British International Pictures film made at Elstree. This drama film, also directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, was based on the play by W Somerset Maugham. Wikipedia: The Tenth Man
Wartime work for the Crown Film Unit, 1943-1945
In 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the Crown Film Unit was created to make documentary films for the Ministry of Information. Terry Trench joined the Crown Film Unit, and worked on Close Quarters (1943) as an (uncredited) assistant sound cutter. This short film gives an impression of a wartime submarine patrol in the North Sea, with the submariners playing themselves on board their submarine HMS Tribune. It was produced by Ian Dalrymple, directed by Jack Lee, with photography by Jonah Jones and sound recording by Ken Cameron. Synopsis on BFI ScreenOnline: Close Quarters
Terry Trench also worked on The True Story of Lili Marlene (1944), directed and written by Humphrey Jennings (BFI ScreenOnline: Humphrey Jennings), as an (uncredited) sound cutter. This propaganda film about the song Lili Marlene first shows the song inspiring German soldiers and then being adopted by the Eighth Army in North Africa. Like Close Quarters, it is a reconstruction that used non-actors to re-enact their experiences. Watch the whole film on YouTube: The True Story of Lili Marlene.
Terry Trench is credited as editor of Two Fathers (1944). Based on a short story by VS Pritchett, the film tells of a conversation between an English father (played by Bernard Miles), whose son is the RAF, and a French father (played by Paul Bonifas), whose daughter is in the Resistance. Two Fathers was directed by Anthony Asquith (BFI ScreenOnline: Anthony Asquith) and produced by Arthur Elton, shot by cameraman Jonah Jones, with sound recorded by Ken Cameron. The film is described by Tom Ryall in Anthony Asquith as 'a brief poignant tale with a mild hint of feminist sentiment'. Wikipedia: Two Fathers
Terry Trench worked on Know Your Commonwealth (1): South Africa (1944), in which he is one of three credits, as 'cutter'. The other two credits are for the composer, Victor Hely-Hutchinson, and the recordist, Ken Cameron. The film describes the contribution of the Dominion of South Africa to the allied war effort. Watch the whole film on the Indiana University Moving Image Archive: Know Your Commonwealth (1): South Africa
The New School (1944) (working title The New Teacher), directed by Rodney Ackland, was edited by Terry Trench, with photography by Edwin Catford, music by Benjamin Frankel, and a cast that includes Peter Cushing. This film was made to encourage women to train as teachers, but appears to have received minimal distribution. According to the Bradford City of Film website: 'In 1944, playwright Rodney Ackland made a documentary in Ilkley called The New Teacher (aka The New School) for the Ministry of Information (MoI). The film featured Peter Cushing but, as the MoI considered it subversive, it was banned and became a 'lost' title in the Cushing filmography. To this day it has never been seen.'
Terry Trench was one of two editors (with Alan Osbiston) on This Was Japan (1945), directed by Basil Wright (BFI ScreenOnline: Basil Wright), about Japan's pre-war and wartime Cult of the Emperor and militaristic policies. The commentator was Esmond Knight, with music by Ben Frankel and sound recorded by Ken Cameron. Watch the whole film on VPRO, a Dutch public broadcasting corporation: This Was Japan
Post-war work for the Crown Film Unit, 1946-1952
In 1946, the Ministry of Information was abolished and replaced by the non-governmental Central Office of Information. The post-war films made by the Crown Film Unit often reflect the aftermath of war, social issues, and the relationship between Britain and its colonies.
Terry Trench edited Jungle Mariners (1946), which was produced by Basil Wright and directed by Ralph Elton, the younger brother of Arthur Elton, with sound recording by Ken Cameron, and music by Elisabeth Lutyens (Wikipedia: Elisabeth Lutyens). This short film re-enacts the experience of Royal Marines patrolling in Burma, narrated by the officer in charge of the patrol. Synopsis on Colonial Film: Jungle Mariners. Watch the whole film on YouTube: Jungle Mariners.
Jungle Mariners was Elisabeth Lutyens's first complete film score. She recalled in her 1973 autobiography A Goldfish Bowl: 'Terry Trench was the editor with whom I have so often worked and with whom, in 1969, I completed my one-hundredth score for films!'.
The Way from Germany (1946), edited by Terry Trench (and de facto director), is about the attempt to return eighteen million freed prisoners to their homes after the defeat of Germany. The film shows slave labourers being liberated by the allies, and the establishment of camps for displaced persons. It was produced by Basil Wright, with sound recording by Ken Cameron, music by Elisabeth Lutyens, and a commentary written by novelist Arthur Calder Marshall. Synopsis on BFI ScreenOnline: The Way from Germany
The Way from Germany is listed as one of main films produced in 1946 in 'British Cinema and Society: Chronology 1939–1951' on Kinoeye (a University of Warwick blog).
'This film is well done, and would be excellent for Youth Club discussion groups, for UNO propaganda purposes, and, more generally, for reminding the more fortunate people of these islands of the sufferings of their Continental neigbours.' (Monthly Film Bulletin, 31 May 1947, p71-72)
Watch the whole film on the Imperial War Museums website: The Way from Germany or on the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website: The Way from Germany
Partners (1946), a short film about partnership between African and European people in the administration of East Africa, was made for the Colonial Office by the Crown Film Unit. It was edited by Terry Trench, with a commentary written and spoken by Dr Julian Huxley, photography by Robert Kingston Davies, music by John Greenwood, and sound recording by Ken Cameron. The film was described as 'distinctly unsatisfactory' by the Education Panel Viewing Committee of Monthly Film Bulletin (January 1946).
Terry Trench was the (uncredited) editor of The Railwaymen (1946), which was directed by Richard Q McNaughton, with a script by novelist John Mortimer (all uncredited). This short film gave information about various careers on the railways.
A shorter version, Along the Line (1947) (with credits, including Terry Trench as associate editor) was also released. Watch the whole film on BFI Player: Along the Line
Southern Rhodesia (1946), a short film about modern industry in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), was produced by Basil Wright, edited by Terry Trench, with a commentary written by John Mortimer, music by John Greenwood, and sound recording by Ken Cameron. According to the BFI's Background Films Viewing Committee: 'This film ... only claims to give a bird's-eye view of its subject. It is, therefore, too fragmentary to be of much educational value ...' (Monthly Film Bulletin, 31 May 1946, p72)
Tea from Nyasaland (1946), also made for the Colonial Office, shows the cultivation of tea in Nyasaland (now Malawi). This short film was produced by Basil Wright, photographed and edited by Robert Kingston Davies, with Terry Trench as supervising editor (all uncredited). According to the BFI's Geography Films Viewing Committee: it was 'a plain straightforward film', whose 'production is good', and which is 'to be recommended for showing to such gatherings as school geography societies'. (Monthly Film Bulletin, 30 November 1947, p166) Synopsis on Colonial Film: Tea from Nyasaland
Home and School (1947) encouraged parents to collaborate with schools in the education of their children. It was directed by Gerard Bryant, shot by Jonah Jones, and edited by Terry Trench, with a script by John Mortimer. According to the BFI's Education Panel Viewing Committee: 'The treatment is pleasant though the film itself is a little "showy". It may be used for such audiences as Women's Institutes and Y.M.C.A.s.' (Monthly Film Bulletin, 30 June 1948, p85) Home and School was the start of a long working relationship between Trench and the director and scriptwriter Gerard Bryant.
Voices of Malaya (1948) is credited as 'made by Ralph Elton & Terry Trench'. Elton headed the film unit in Malaya, which included cameraman Denny Densham. It was scripted by VS Pritchett, with music by Elisabeth Lutyens. Watch the whole film on Colonial Film: Voices of Malaya
There is an account of the content and process of making Voices of Malaya on the Imperial War Museums website: IWM: Voices of Malaya. It notes that the film unit in Malaya under Ralph Elton shot 250,000 feet of film, which was 'then left to a team in Britain, headed by Terry Trench, to edit'.
Voices of Malaya is also the subject of a 2013 article 'Distant Voices of Malaya, Still Colonial Lives' by Dr Tom Rice (in the Journal of British Cinema and Television). In Rice's view, 'Voices of Malaya illustrates the often-overlooked movement of British documentary film-makers, ideologies and practices into the colonies after the war. The Griersonian tradition - with its purported humanistic, liberal, pedagogical agenda - found a fresh outlet within the postwar colonies as part of the "nation-building" process.' Part of that pedagogical agenda was to help set up 'a local, instructional cinema' - the Malayan Film Unit. However, Rice argues, 'this emerging local cinema was increasingly shaped by a form of politically conservative, instructional cinema ... at odds with Griersonian traditions.' Voices of Malaya, Rice states, 'was caught in the midst of local and international political shifts and provides an eloquent testimony to this transitional moment in both colonial and documentary cinema.' 'Distant Voices of Malaya, Still Colonial Lives'.Rice comments that, while film equipment was increasingly placed 'in the hands of the "colonised"', 'post- production work continued to be carried out in London'. For Voices of Malaya, the footage shot by Ralph Elton 'was sent back to England where editor Terry Trench was tasked with creating a film from the "jungle of tin cans"'. [Here Dr Rice quotes from cameraman Denny Densham's article about the making of the film in the June 1948 edition of Colonial Cinema.]
Rice writes that 'it was Trench who ultimately manufactured the narrative structure of the film, introducing the five voices. This structure, closely aligned to prewar documentary cinema from Song of Ceylon (1934) to Five Faces, reinforces the film's documentary aesthetic.'
Denny Densham wrote as follows about the editing process (Colonial Cinema, June 1948): 'Voices of Malaya was really made by two distinct teams, the production unit of four who saw it through the camera in the East, and the assembly unit who put it together in the United Kingdom. It is perhaps strange to realise that the production members saw their rushes upon return, and then retired, as it were from the film. It was taken over by Terry Trench, who with his team started the gargantuan task of moulding a shape to the film. To Terry goes the credit for the idea of "Five voices", and to sound editor, Jean MacKenzie, for the construction of the admirable sound-effects tracks. Upon entering the cutting rooms during the early days of the assembly one became lost in a "jungle of tin cans." Many editors would have shied at the task of producing anything but factual travelogue from this mass of unlinked material.'
'The film leaves [the people of Malaya] still struggling with the enormous task [of post-war reconstruction]; it leaves one dissatisfied, but there can be no cut-and-dried finale for such a sincere and intelligent record.' (Monthly Film Bulletin, 31 May 1948, p58)
A Yank Comes Back (1949) is a story film, starring Burgess Meredith. It was edited by Terry Trench, and directed by Colin Dean. 'The film is disjointed, and tries too hard to be informal, but there is no doubt about its sincerity and general air of goodwill.' (Monthly Film Bulletin, 28 February 1949, p20) Synopsis on All Movie: A Yank Comes Back
Daybreak in Udi (1949) won the 1949 Oscar and BAFTA for best documentary for its re-enactment of the building of a maternity hospital in eastern Nigeria, in which the District Officer plays himself and other parts are taken by local villagers. It was directed by Terry Bishop, edited by Terry Trench, and produced by John Taylor (BFI ScreenOnline: John Taylor). Watch the whole film on Colonial Film: Daybreak in Udi
A substantial analysis of Daybreak in Udi can be read in a 2014 article by Ben Page 'And the Oscar Goes to... Daybreak in Udi': Understanding Late Colonial Community Development and its Legacy through Film'.
Dr Tom Rice comments (in his 2013 article 'Distant Voices of Malaya, Still Colonial Lives') that the 'differing ideologies and formal approaches taken by Crown and the Colonial Film Unit are perhaps most neatly illustrated through those subjects that were filmed by both units. A notable example here is ... Daybreak in Udi, Terry Bishop's 40-minute film of community development in Eastern Nigeria. The same subject was addressed by the Colonial Film Unit in a series of short, instructional films made for local audiences in East Africa in 1948 and 1949.'
A minor footnote to Daybreak in Udi is that the Oscar statuette itself went missing, a story retold by Jo Pugh in 'Daybreak in Udi and the lost Oscar' in a February 2013 blog on the National Archives website. It seems that the Oscar was borrowed in 1952 by the Foreign Office for display at the headquarters of British Information Services in New York, and was never returned.
In 1950, Terry Trench and Terry Bishop worked again together on Trooping the Colour (1949), made by the Crown Film Unit for the Foreign Office. 'This dignified, dramatic and highly colourful ceremony is superb material, and the film has been extremely well done. ... Military music and colour combine to make an exciting picture.' (Monthly Film Bulletin, April-May 1950, p73)
El Dorado (1951), a documentary about British Guiana, was directed by John Alderson and edited by Terry Trench, with a commentary written by James Cameron and music by Elisabeth Lutyens. Monthly Film Bulletin (May 1952, p68) commented that El Dorado was one 'of the best recent documentaries', and that the 'material has been effectively edited by Terry Trench'. El Dorado was shown at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival in the Short Films competition. Synopsis on Colonial Film: El Dorado
Basil Wright described El Dorado in Sight and Sound in 1952 as 'beautifully edited by Terry Trench, and with a superb score by Elisabeth Lutyens'. He also noted that the film was not sponsored: John Alderson (director) and Reg Hughes (camera) 'rustled up enough production funds (through independent film-financing ...), and plunged into British Guiana, living rough and shooting like mad all the time.'
Out of True (1951) is a drama-documentary, with a sympathetic approach to the subject of clinical depression. It starred Jane Hylton, and was directed by Philip Leacock (BFI ScreenOnline: Philip Leacock), with editor Terry Trench, lighting cameraman Jonah Jones, sound supervisor Ken Cameron, art director Scott MacGregor. Music was by Elisabeth Lutyens, and the screenplay was by Montague Slater. Wikipedia: Out of True Watch the whole film on BFI Player: Out of True
Philip Leacock, in an interview in 1987 with Stephen Peet, explained that 'a movie called Snake Pit had been released shortly before, which made mental hospitals ... really very horrifying. And it was felt that this not true in British mental hospitals, so we did a quite serious story ... trying to say that you go into a hospital and they try and cure you and help you and so on, and it's not a 'snake pit' situation.'
Monthly Film Bulletin (June 1951, p284) commented at the time that '... though its intentions are genuine, and its application is conscientious, Out of True is hardly likely to break down popular prejudices any more than The Snake Pit did.'
Recently, BFI Player commented on Out of True that: 'Its mix of true and false notes is what makes the film's efforts to destigmatise so fascinating. In the script, insightful intentions vie with snatches of caricature and sexism; in the production, over-stylised sensationalism risks overwhelming sensitive moments.'
The Crown Film Unit
Between 1939 and 1952, the Crown Film Unit made about 130 films. Many of these films are docu-dramas or 'story documentaries', in which people's stories were (partially) scripted and shaped, although they often play themselves. BFI ScreenOnline: Crown Film Unit
The Crown Film Unit's films were often shown by the Central Film Library's mobile film units, which travelled about the country setting up temporary cinemas in halls, canteens and schools. Their work is the subject of Shown by Request (1947), directed by Colin Dean and edited by Terry Trench. 'This is an interesting film, which might well be screened to audiences ... so that they may appreciate the hard work which lies behind these programmes ...' (Background Films Viewing Committee, Monthly Film Bulletin, 29 February 1948, p22). Watch the whole film on Internet Archive: Shown by Request
Trench's last film for the Crown Film Unit was Royal Scotland (1952), a short documentary about royal connections with Scotland, which also received an Oscar nomination, and was the last film made by the Crown Film Unit at Beaconsfield. It was directed by Gerard Bryant and shot by Jonah Jones. Gerard Bryant recalled: 'There was no script, and all I did was to provide Terry with a number of sequences which ... he merged into a very attractive ten minutes.' Watch the whole film on YouTube: Royal Scotland
Denis Forman writing in Sight and Sound in 1952 on the closure of the Crown Film Unit comments that: 'It would be sad indeed if documentary were to lose the genial and understanding leadership of Ralph Nunn May, Margaret Thompson’s precious talent in the handling of children and young people, the enthusiasm and instructional skill of Richard Warren, Ken Cameron’s unique experience as sound director and Terry Trench’s authority in the cutting room.'
Mid 20th-century documentary films and their funding
Until the mid-1950s, most of the films that Terry Trench worked on were intended for education, propaganda or entertainment, and they were predominantly funded by the state. The government funded the Crown Film Unit and other government film units, such as British Transport Films and the National Coal Board Film Unit, and also sponsored films from independent film units. Some commercial companies had their own in-house film units - most notably Shell, who set up their own film unit under Edgar Anstey in 1934 - but most companies commissioned films from independent producers when they wanted them.
Documentary film-making requires money, but it does not make money directly through sales. The sponsors, whether commercial companies or government departments, have an agenda and a view of what they want the film to achieve. However, the film makers themselves are both technicians and artists, who have a vision for a film. It is the job of the producer to balance the vision of the film makers against the agenda of the sponsor. In the case of publicly-funded films, a concept of public service often dominated, which allowed the artists and technicians a good deal of autonomy.
Even in the private sector, films were not always directly promotional. Arthur Elton, who succeeded Edgar Anstey as the Shell Film Unit's main producer, argued that the benefit to a sponsor was in inverse proportion to the number of times that a sponsor's name appeared in a film, and convinced Shell to sponsor many films (such as the Craftsmen series) that make only the most oblique reference to Shell's commercial interests. BFI Screenonline: Sir Arthur Elton
Freelance work for many production companies in the 1950s
The Crown Film Unit closed in 1952. Throughout the rest of the 1950s and the early 1960s, Terry Trench worked for many different production companies and film units, including three films for the Pathé Film Unit.
Prince Philip (1953) was co-written (with Alan Burgess) and edited by Trench, and directed by Howard Thomas (1909-1986). Watch the whole film on British Pathé: Prince Philip
The Way to Wimbledon (1954) is a documentary about preparations for the Wimbledon tennis tournament. It was directed by Franklin Gollings, edited by Terry Trench, and features music by Elisabeth Lutyens and a commmentary read by the actor John Mills. 'A certain freshness, in fact, is the keynote of this agreeable documentary. It is modestly and cleanly made, it responds to the atmosphere of its subject and inclines naturally towards the personal rather than the official - a welcome change.' (Monthly Film Bulletin, January 1953, p15) Watch the whole film on British Pathé: The Way to Wimbledon
Trench worked with Howard Thomas for British Pathé again in 1953 as one of three editors, with Lionel Hoare and A. Milner-Gardner, on Elizabeth is Queen, a Technicolor record of the coronation. The commentary for Elizabeth is Queen was written by the poet John Pudney, and the director of photography was Terry Ashwood. Watch the whole film on British Pathé: Elizabeth is Queen
Terry Trench worked on a variety of films between 1953 and 1956. He became a producer for Produzione Santa Monica Film Unit in Rome in 1953-4, and a director for the Syracuse Film Unit in Athens in 1955-6.
Trench was associate producer and editor for The Petula Quest (1955), a documentary produced by Countryman Films about three scientists - Frank Evans (British), Dick Dickson (New Zealander) and Roland Sharmer (Malayan) - who drifted across the Atlantic in a small boat to study the sea. They shot the footage themselves. 'The film gives some idea of the effort involved, the conditions of living, but suffers from the fact that at the most interesting moments all three were inevitably occupied with doing something other than taking pictures. So the record, though sympathetic, is fairly sketchy.' (Monthly Film Bulletin, January 1956, p11).
Terry Trench was editor for The Gentle Corsican (1956), made by Harlequin Productions, and directed by Anthony Simmons (BFI Screenonline: Anthony Simmons). It is a story film about a Corsican fisherman, who 'fears that his ten-year old son Nico may become so fascinated by the bikini-clad tourists with their underwater fishing equipment that he will lose his taste for their life on the rocks of Corsica' (Monthly Film Bulletin, June 1956, p80), which describes the film as 'restful and affectionate', but comments that the story is told 'through a narrative commentary rather than visually.'
Trench also edited Journey from the East (1956), a promotional documentary about an oil tanker, an oilman's son's birthday, and oil products from the Isle of Grain. It was directed by George Sturt, made by Jack Howells Productions for British Petroleum, and filmed by Cyril Arapoff, a cinematographer and fine art photographer.
Terry Trench was also the editor for Adventure On (1956), a film directed by Thomas Stobart for the Film Producers Guild and sponsored by the agricultural machinery company Massey-Harris-Ferguson. 'Tom Stobart (who photographed The Conquest of Everest) covered twenty-seven countries and is seen interviewing numerous notabilities ...' in a film which demonstrates the 'increases in production made possible by mechanisation'. 'Stobart's agreeable personality, some excellent colour and the wide range of subject matter ... maintain the interest throughout', but the film is criticised for having an 'incessant, over-dramatised musical score'. (Monthly Film Bulletin, January 1957, p11).
Terry Trench with Tom Stobart in the cutting room at
From 1957 to 1959, Terry Trench lived in Australia, and worked as an advisory editor for the Shell Film Unit of Australia. One film that he edited in Australia was Native Dances of Papua and New Guinea (1957).
While he was in Australia, Trench also directed This Land Australia (1958) for the Commonwealth Film Unit, and was an adviser on a number of other films made by the unit. Summary and clips in Film Australia Collection: This Land Australia
Back in England, Trench edited Invitation to Monte Carlo (1958), directed by Euan Lloyd, a Technicolor piece about a six-year-old orphan girl who takes a kitten as a present to the daughter of Princess Grace (Grace Kelly) and Prince Rainier of Monaco. It features Grace Kelly as herself, and Frank Sinatra. The Monthly Film Bulletin (September 1959, p126) says that the 'treatment is professional but undemanding', and that 'the film has some sure-fire box-office ingredients - child appeal, kitten appeal, underwater shots of Prince Rainier as a diver ...'
Work for National Coal Board Film Unit and British Transport Films
The nationalisation of Britain's coal mines in 1946 created the National Coal Board, which commissioned films from both the Crown Film Unit and independent producers. In 1952, the NCB set up its own in-house film unit, the National Coal Board Film Unit, which made films until 1984. BFI ScreenOnline: National Coal Board Film Unit
Terry Trench edited two films for the NCB Film Unit, both directed by Ralph Elton: How to Instruct (1958), and The New Instructor (1959), in which an experienced miner learns how to train new recruits.
Kitty Marshall, an editor and producer at the Coal Board Film Unit, was interviewed in 1988 by Gloria Sachs and Alan Lawson, and commented that: 'Terry was a lovely person and very good in ACT too, he was a very good ACT person ... I think he overdid the importance of the editor, but that’s, you know, a matter of opinion and he was very, very, very keen and enthusiastic on his work, extremely good'.
British Transport Films was started in 1949, with Edgar Anstey (BFI ScreenOnline: Edgar Anstey) as Producer-in-Charge. BTF's films were intended to encourage rail travel and tourism. They rarely advertised rail or bus travel overtly, but encouraged travelling within Britain. British Transport Films website.
Terry Trench edited two films for British Transport Films, both produced by Edgar Anstey. The first was Under the River (1959), co-edited with Cynthia Barkley, about the construction of the Severn tunnel and the Cornish beam engines that keep it pumped dry, directed by RK Neilson Baxter.
Trench's second film for BTF was Three is Company (1959), which shows three American tourists visiting Britain. It was directed by Tony Thompson, with music by Elisabeth Lutyens.
Gloria Sachs, who worked as an editor and director for British Transport Films for many years, was assistant editor on both the films that Terry Trench edited for BTF. She commented that 'you could give some editors lots of good stuff and they would make a rubbish film, but with Terry you could give him rubbish stuff and he would always turn it into a good film'. Gloria Sachs filmography on BFI.
At British Transport Films, Ian Woolf recalled Terry Trench's 'genial patience with me (it was my first proper job) and the mysterious way he could produce beautifully edited stuff from what seemed a totally haphazard process'. Ian Woolf filmography on BFI.
Paul Smith reports that John Legard, one-time Chief Editor at British Transport Films, explained that it was the normal practice at BTF to have a small group of permanent employees, and for other staff to be brought in on temporary and freelance terms for particular projects, via the Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians (ACTT) to 'keep productions fresh'. 'British Transport Films - The First Decade : 1949-1959' by Paul Smith, Chapter Two - Establishment of British Transport Films.
Service to the ACTT
Terry Trench served for many years as Chairman of the ACTT's Shorts and Documentary Division and as Vice-Chairman of the Film Production branch. Joe Telford recalled that 'through all the lively debates that took place, Terry never lost his cool and remained as always polite and considerate to everyone.' He described Trench as 'a wise counsellor with a long and distinguished industrial record'. Joe Telford added that 'I personally feel greatly indebted to him for the help and understanding he always gave.'
More freelance work in the 1960s
In 1960, Terry Trench edited a Shell Film Unit production in Britain: Background to Performance (1960), a documentary about Shell's research into fuels and lubricants, directed by Peter De Normanville.
Terry Trench was Associate Producer for Hospital Team in Action (1960), in which the story of a young boy's illness with osteomyelitis leads to an explanation of various hospital careers, including nurse, radiographer, pharmacist, occupational therapist, and almoner. The film was a Samaritan Films production, written and directed by Michael Luke, photographed by Phil Grindrod, spoken by Donald Houston, and produced by Anne Balfour-Fraser, with John Langley (uncredited) as the young boy. Watch the whole film on BFI Player: Hospital Team in Action
Also in 1960, Trench edited The Skiers of Norway (1960), directed by the British-Norwegian underwater cameraman Egil S Woxholt, who had also worked on Invitation to Monte Carlo.
Trench made a second film with Woxholt in 1964: a travelogue called Wonderful Norway. Woxholt later worked on many feature films as an underwater and aerial photographer, including the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
In 1961, Trench was reunited with Gerard Bryant for two comedies written and narrated by Spike Milligan. Milligan at Large: Spike Milligan meets Joe Brown takes a Goon-ish approach to pop music, with appropriate sound effects and visual gags. Described by Monthly Film Bulletin (November 1961, p159) as a 'most promising start to a comedy series', the rock 'n' roll star Joe Brown's career is 'interpreted, reviewed, explained, analysed and commentated by Spike Milligan' in a running commentary that is 'an ironic, acid, satirical burlesque'.
It was followed by Milligan at Large: Spike Milligan on Treasure Island WC2. Both films were produced for British Lion by the Boulting Brothers.
Terry Trench returned to Australia and worked as associate producer and editor on Bungala Boys (1961), a short children's feature film telling the story of boys setting up a life-saving club on the beach at Bungala, based on a childrens' book, The New Surf Club by Claire Meillon. The film was directed by Jim Jeffrey, and won the Children's Film Award at Venice in 1962.
Bungala Boys was made by the Children's Film Foundation (CFF), a not-for-profit organisation that made films for children between 1951 and the mid-1980s, subsidised by the Eady Levy (a tax on box office receipts to support the UK film industry) for much of that time. 'Handsomely filmed on location in Australia, this is a sturdy if conventional tale of endeavour and its just reward, well up to CFF standards.' (Monthly Film Bulletin, January 1962, p10)
In his entertaining 2010 review of Bungala Boys on IMDb, 'travis_iii' comments that: 'Between 1971 and 1975, on any given rain-sodden Friday afternoon (and there were many of them), when it seemed just too cruel to send a herd of under 12s outside to chase a lace-up football around a field, the teacher taking games would announce to us, "OK kids, you're staying in and watching The Bungala Boys." I must have watched it a dozen times, but the thrill of seeing it never seemed to pale. There we were on a grey, wet winters afternoon in London staring at what seemed to be a sun-soaked slice of paradise.' He adds that: 'For years I thought that the Bungala Boys had to be a famous piece of Australian cinema, but in adulthood every Australian I met looked perplexed when I mentioned it.' Reviews by travis_iii on IMDb
Watch the first nine minutes of the film on YouTube: Bungala Boys. In 1963, Trench directed New Look at London, an 8-minute colour documentary about London, filmed by
cameraman Mark McDonald entirely from a helicopter flying along the Thames, and with commentator Geoffrey Sumner. This film was produced by British
Movietonews, to be shown in cinemas as a newsreel. Terry Trench edited The Inheritance (1963), directed by Euan Lloyd and made by Highway Productions. This is a featurette about
a visit to Berlin by two actors, Albert Finney and Elke Sommer, who were two of the stars in The Victors, a feature film of 1963.
The Victors, directed by Carl Foreman, follows a group of American
soldiers through Europe during World War II, ending up in Berlin; Albert Finney appears as a Russian
soldier and Elke Sommer as 'Helga'. The poster for The Victors claimed: 'The six most exciting women in the world ... in the most explosive entertainment ever made!'. In the 1960s, Terry Trench was made a duke of Redonda by his friend the poet John Gawsworth, King Juan I
of Redonda, along with many others so honoured. Wikipedia: Kingdom of Redonda Between 1952 and 1963, Terry Trench's work had been insecure but varied: a mixture of corporate-funded and
state-funded work, in Britain and abroad, documentary and fiction, as director and as editor. In 1963,
Trench joined Derek Stewart Productions, and he worked there until shortly before his death.
For the films mentioned below, Trench acted as associate producer and/or editor, and occasionally as director or scriptwriter.
One of Terry Trench's colleagues at Derek Stewart Productions, Gerry Fallon, recalled that Trench had
'an inbuilt sense of justice, honour and honesty, and he tried to combine all these things in his approach
to film making.' As editor, Trench also worked with the composers James Harpham and Elisabeth Lutyens.
James Harpham, composer and jazz pianist, recalled 'how nice Terry was to work for, and always introduced
everyone to each other, including the visiting plumber'. During these years, Trench also occasionally acted as an adviser on films made by other producers, including
The Mad Twenties (1965), an English adaptation by Leslie Mallory of a French documentary about the 1920s, Les Années Folles.
Derek Stewart Productions mainly made films for corporate sponsors, and one of the biggest sponsors
was British Petroleum. BFI ScreenOnline: British Petroleum films
and BP Video Library: 'A history of film in BP' Terry Trench worked on about nineteen films sponsored by British Petroleum, many of which are documentaries aimed at
marketing a product or training a workforce. On the other hand, a series of films sponsored by BP about hovercraft
(then a new invention) was aimed at a general audience. Gerard Bryant recalled that Terry Trench: ‘hated any hint of
advertising to creep into his films, and he would
never pander to sponsors. He [Trench] maintained that in the long run the sponsors would thank him - and many of them did.'
Watch the first nine minutes of the film on YouTube: Bungala Boys.
In 1963, Trench directed New Look at London, an 8-minute colour documentary about London, filmed by cameraman Mark McDonald entirely from a helicopter flying along the Thames, and with commentator Geoffrey Sumner. This film was produced by British Movietonews, to be shown in cinemas as a newsreel.
Terry Trench edited The Inheritance (1963), directed by Euan Lloyd and made by Highway Productions. This is a featurette about a visit to Berlin by two actors, Albert Finney and Elke Sommer, who were two of the stars in The Victors, a feature film of 1963. The Victors, directed by Carl Foreman, follows a group of American soldiers through Europe during World War II, ending up in Berlin; Albert Finney appears as a Russian soldier and Elke Sommer as 'Helga'. The poster for The Victors claimed: 'The six most exciting women in the world ... in the most explosive entertainment ever made!'.
In the 1960s, Terry Trench was made a duke of Redonda by his friend the poet John Gawsworth, King Juan I of Redonda, along with many others so honoured. Wikipedia: Kingdom of Redonda
Between 1952 and 1963, Terry Trench's work had been insecure but varied: a mixture of corporate-funded and state-funded work, in Britain and abroad, documentary and fiction, as director and as editor. In 1963, Trench joined Derek Stewart Productions, and he worked there until shortly before his death. For the films mentioned below, Trench acted as associate producer and/or editor, and occasionally as director or scriptwriter.
One of Terry Trench's colleagues at Derek Stewart Productions, Gerry Fallon, recalled that Trench had 'an inbuilt sense of justice, honour and honesty, and he tried to combine all these things in his approach to film making.' As editor, Trench also worked with the composers James Harpham and Elisabeth Lutyens. James Harpham, composer and jazz pianist, recalled 'how nice Terry was to work for, and always introduced everyone to each other, including the visiting plumber'.
During these years, Trench also occasionally acted as an adviser on films made by other producers, including The Mad Twenties (1965), an English adaptation by Leslie Mallory of a French documentary about the 1920s, Les Années Folles.
Derek Stewart Productions mainly made films for corporate sponsors, and one of the biggest sponsors was British Petroleum. BFI ScreenOnline: British Petroleum films and BP Video Library: 'A history of film in BP'
Terry Trench worked on about nineteen films sponsored by British Petroleum, many of which are documentaries aimed at marketing a product or training a workforce. On the other hand, a series of films sponsored by BP about hovercraft (then a new invention) was aimed at a general audience.
Gerard Bryant recalled that Terry Trench: ‘hated any hint of advertising to creep into his films, and he would never pander to sponsors. He [Trench] maintained that in the long run the sponsors would thank him - and many of them did.'
The first BP-sponsored films that Trench worked on were Longlife (1963) and One Oil on the Farm (1963), both written and directed by Derek Stewart, produced by Terry Trench, and photographed by Harold Case. Watch the whole of Longlife on BP Video Library.
Terry Trench edited The Hidden Power (?date), which was directed by Derek Stewart and photographed by Harold Case. This black-and-white film concerns the manufacture and use of oil. Watch the whole of The Hidden Power on BP Video Library.
Terry Trench was associate producer for Service to Industry (?date), which was directed by Derek Stewart, photographed by Harold Case, and edited by Paul Shortall. The film explains the lubrication-related products and services that can be provided by BP. Watch the whole of Service to Industry on BP Video Library.
Independent Assessment (1964) was directed by Derek Stewart, with associate producer Terry Trench, photographed by Rene Boeniger, edited by Jeanine Bradlaugh, with music by Leslie Williams.
By Hydrofoil to London (1964), about two hydrofoils travelling from the Netherlands to London, credits Terry Trench as associate producer. The music is by James Harpham. Watch the whole of By Hydrofoil to London on BP Video Library.
800 Mile Voyage (1964), about a hovercraft journey from Glasgow to London, was directed by Gerard Bryant, with associate producer Terry Trench, edited by Jeanine Bradlaugh, with music by Charles Zwar. Watch the whole of 800 Mile Voyage on BP Video Library.
Hovercraft in Holland (1964), about a demonstration of the Vickers VA-2 hovercraft, was directed by Gerard Bryant, with associate producer Terry Trench, and photography by Harold Case. Watch the whole of Hovercraft in Holland on BP Video Library.
Another BP-sponsored film in 1965 was Southend Story.
Condor 1 (1965), about a 140-seater commercial hovercraft, was directed by Gerard Bryant, with associate producer Terry Trench and music by Elisabeth Lutyens. Watch the whole of Condor 1 on BP Video Library.
The Ship and the Engineer (1965), about the work on an engineer on a pleasure cruiser with an oil-fired engine, was directed by Derek Stewart, with associate producer Terry Trench, photographed by Harold Case, edited by Jeanine Bradlaugh, with music by Leslie Williams. Watch the whole of The Ship and the Engineer on BP Video Library.
The Dawn of an Industry (1966), about the development of hovercraft, for which Terry Trench wrote the script and was associate producer, won first prize in Belgrade in 1967. It was directed by Gerard Bryant and Derek Stewart, photographed by Harold Case, edited by Jeanine Bradlaugh, with music by Albert Elms. Watch the whole of The Dawn of an Industry on BP Video Library.
Rolling Bearings and their Lubrication No.1: Taking the Load and Rolling Bearings and their Lubrication No.2: Prevention - Not Cure (both 1966) were directed by Robin Cantelon, with Terry Trench as associate producer. Watch the whole of Taking the Load and Prevention - Not Cure on BP Video Library.
Another BP-sponsored hovercraft film, Hovershow '66 (1966), credits Gerard Bryant, Harold Case, Leslie Mallory and Terry Trench. Watch the whole of Hovershow '66 on BP Video Library.
Hovercraft in the Canadian Arctic (1966) was a Derek Stewart Production made in collaboration with Crawley Films Ltd, Canada. The only credits are Terry Trench as associate producer, sound editor John Scott, and assistant editor Ben Harrison. Watch the whole of Hovercraft in the Canadian Arctic on BP Video Library.
Trench was again associate producer for Hovercraft N4 (1968), directed by Gerard Bryant. Watch the whole of Hovercraft N4 on BP Video Library.
Terry Trench was one of the credits for Allegro (1968 or 1970?), along with Derek Stewart, Jeanine Bradlaugh, Harold Case, Roger Davies, Bill Marshall, Brian Stevens, and Elisabeth Lutyens. This technicolor film concerns the use of car oil. Watch the whole of Allegro on BP Video Library.
Other films for Derek Stewart Productions
What to Eat (1963), a documentary for domestic science teachers about nutrition, was sponsored by Bovril. It was directed by Gerard Bryant, with associate producer Terry Trench, photographed by Harold Case, edited by Julian Cooper, with music by Freddie Phillips.
Terry Trench worked on a number of documentaries for doctors and medical students (sponsored by pharmaceutical or other related companies). Multiple Injuries - Examination and the Essentials of Treatment (1963), which won the BMA Gold Award in 1964, was sponsored by Smith and Nephew. It was directed by Derek Stewart, with associate producer Terry Trench, photographed by Elmer Crossey, and edited by Jeanine Bradlaugh.
Development of Endotracheal Anaesthesia (1964) consists of Sir Ivan Magill being interviewed by Dr Cyril Scurr, and was the fourth in the BMA's series Medical History in the Making and was sponsored by the British Oxygen Company. It was directed by Derek Stewart, with associate producer Terry Trench, photographed by Harold Case, and edited by Jeanine Bradlaugh. Watch the whole of Development of Endotracheal Anaesthesia on YouTube.
Another sponsor was the National Federation of Building Trades Employers (NFBTE). Man is a Builder (1964) informed school leavers about careers in building. It was directed by Derek Stewart, edited by Terry Trench, with a script by Leslie Mallory and music by James Harpham.
The Right Knight (1965), a partly animated allegorical film about contracts in the building industry, was directed by Derek Stewart, with associate producer Terry Trench, animation by Peter Sachs, and a script by Leslie Mallory. It was sponsored by Bovis. 'The sponsor meant this to be a provocative film and this it certainly is. There are those who will say that the medieval battle scenes could have been dispensed with but the fact remains that they form an attractive aperitif that will assist the viewer to swallow the hard facts that follow.' (The Times, 17 May 1965)
Derek Stewart Productions made a few films for television, including Any Old Thing (1965), made for ATV, in which antique shop owners talk about their business. It was directed by Derek Stewart, with associate producer Terry Trench, with a script by Leslie Mallory.
Frontier: The Hovercraft (1965) was a documentary made for television.
An Introduction to Acute Inflammation (1966) was sponsored by JR Geigy. It was directed by Derek Stewart, with associate producer Terry Trench, and edited by Julian Cooper, with animation by Robert Lumley
The Yorkshire Film Archive holds a film (probably 1967) called Counter Revolution, made by Derek Stewart Productions, with associate producer Terry Trench, written and directed by Gerard Bryant, and photographed by Harold Case. Counter Revolution listing on Yorkshire Film Archive, held at York St John University. The film shows the workings of the Grattan mail order company.
Another NFBTE-sponsored film was Together We Build (1969), directed by Gerard Bryant with Terry Trench as Associate Producer. According to The Times (28 July 1969): 'There is a human quality in the film which immediately communicates itself to the viewer'.
The Corporation of London sponsored Barbican (1969), about the Barbican development of arts facilities and housing in the City of London. This film won an SFTA nomination, and was shown on general release in cinemas as a support film. It directed by Robin Cantelon, with associate producer Terry Trench, photographed by Harold Case, edited by Jeanine Bradlaugh, with music by Elisabeth Lutyens. Watch the whole film on YouTube: Barbican.
Barbican's director, Robin Cantelon recalled: 'A piece of string occasionally making do for a trouser-belt, the aroma of pipe tobacco, the importance of the cricket score, and a nice sense of the ridiculous. The idiosyncrasies of Terry Trench linger kindly in the mind. The list of his credits is both long and distinguished and people will rightly say how dedicated he was to his profession.'
Pain at Night (1970) was directed by Derek Stewart, with Terry Trench as both editor and associate producer, and photographed by Harold Case. It was sponsored by Merck Sharp and Dohme.
Soft Tissue Injury (1970) was also sponsored by Merck Sharp and Dohme. It was directed by Derek Stewart, edited by Terry Trench, and photographed by Harold Case.
The Build Up (1970) is a management training film about avoiding strikes, sponsored by the National Federation of Building Trades Employers. It takes the form of a story, in which failure of communication is one of the main causes of a strike. The film was written and directed by Gerard Bryant, with Terry Trench as both editor and associate producer, and photographed by Harold Case.
Gerard Bryant recalled that, during the making of The Build Up, 'Terry objected strongly' to one particular line 'on the grounds that the film should maintain complete impartiality between management and labour. However, the producer and myself insisted on the line being retained, as we both felt it was completely in character and right in context. Terry gave in, but he didn't like it one little bit. I have told the story at length, because I feel it is a good example of his fairness and integrity as a film maker.'
After the closure of the Crown Film Unit, the Central Office of Information commissioned films from independent producers. Materials for the Engineer (1970) was sponsored by the COI and the Department for the Environment, and gives information about materials such as glass fibre board, titanium alloys and yttrium iron garnet. The film was directed by Derek Stewart, with associate producer Terry Trench, photographed by Harold Case.
In 1971, Trench edited Project Horizon (1971), on which he worked with director Gerard Bryant for the last time, and which included music by James Harpham. It is a documentary about the design and building of a tobacco factory in Nottingham, and was sponsored by John Player, Bovis and Arup.
General Practice and the Future (1972) was sponsored by Geigy Pharmaceuticals. It was directed by David Eady, edited by Terry Trench, and photographed by Harold Case.
Terry Trench's final film was Clean Beaches (1973), which shows the effect of oil spillages on beaches, sponsored by BP. It was directed by Derek Stewart, edited by Terry Trench, and photographed by Harold Case, with a script by Frank Harvey. Watch the whole of Clean Beaches on BP Video Library.
Terry Trench: a shaper of films
Terry Trench saw himself as a 'shaper' of films. Gerard Bryant recalled Trench as having 'impeccable taste, a sure sense of balance and economy of expression', and that the 'first thing he did on receiving a commentary was to remove most of the adjectives'. He added that Trench 'would argue quietly and reasonably with directors over their pet shots and sequences: the fact that they had probably taken weeks to shoot didn't interest him. The shape of the film was the thing. If they didn't contribute they were out.'
Trench himself wrote that his job was 'to see that the final result is as good a film as can be made from everything photographed by the unit under its director.' He considered that an editor's principal asset was a 'fresh mind': 'Perhaps the most essential flair which editors try to retain is the ability to judge any section of film as if seeing it for the first time'.
He argued that it was with non-fiction films that 'the comparative freshness of the editor can prove most helpful', because unless the film had been made for an audience of experts, the probability was that it would be seen by some eyes as 'ignorant technically' as the editor's own, and that if the final film was clear to the editor then it would probably be clear to the audience. He wrote that: 'Most audiences see a film only once and no editor should be pleased with any film which, however ingenious, is not clearly understood and does not make its emotional impact first time.'
Trench also wrote about the 'tough but stimulating' challenge of the occasional film where material had not been shot to a script and the editor was given the 'widest discretion'.
It was the overall shape of a film, however, that was of the greatest importance. Terry Trench wrote: 'Unless a non-fictional film is to become a mere illustrated catalogue, it must have a seemingly "natural" shape thrust upon it: a beginning, a middle and an end, a sense of people, occasional intentional surprises and a climax.'
Terry Trench died in January 1975. His forty-year career as a film maker coincided with a period of great interest and change in the industry. His first credited work was Two Fathers (1944), a wartime propaganda film made by a state-funded film unit. His final film was Clean Beaches (1973), a colour educational film sponsored by a commercial company. However, in the opinion of Gerard Bryant, whatever the film, Terry Trench's work always had 'style, clarity and above all, complete integrity.'
Cally Trench, 2012 (updated 2014, 2017, 2018)
Terry Trench's partial filmography on the BFI website: Terry Trench
Photographs: unknown photographers.
Many thanks to Markku Salmi for very welcome information about ten films that Terry Trench worked on in the 1930s and 1940s, and also about other later films.
Thank you to Naomi Wanner, Senior Collection Reference Officer at Film Australia Collection, for information about Native Dances of Papua and New Guinea (1957).
Thank you also to Megan McCooley, Moving Image Archivist at Yorkshire Film Archive for clarifying the likely date of Counter Revolution.
Bryant, Gerard; Fallon Gerry; Telford Joe; Cantelon Robin. (April 1975). 'Style, Clarity and Complete Integrity'. In Film and Television Technician. London: ACTT. p.3
Densham, Denny. (June 1948). 'Voices of Malaya'. In Colonial Cinema. London: Colonial Film Unit. Vol.VI No.2 pp.38-43.
Forman, Denis. (April 1, 1952). 'Further Notes'. In Anstey, Edgar; Alwyn, William; Dalrymple, Ian; Beveridge, James; Forman, Denis, 'The Living Story'. Sight and Sound. London: BFI. Vol.21 No.4. p.184
Leacock, Philip. (1987). 'BECTU History Project - Interview No. 25', Interview with Stephen Peet. British Entertainment History Project. https://historyproject.org.uk/interview/philip-leacock [accessed 11/11/18]
The Times. (July 28, 1969). London. Issue 57623. p.18
Trench,Terry. (July 1956). 'How I Work - No.4: The Editor'. In Imagery. London: The Film Producers Guild. Vol.8 No.1.
Walford, Michael, 'British Cinema and Society: Chronology 1939–1951'. In Kinoeye. http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/michaelwalford/entry/british_cinema_and/ [accessed 24/5/18]
Wright, Basil. (January-March 1952). 'Basil Wright'. In 'Documentary: The Sulky Fire'. Sight and Sound. London: BFI. Vol.21. No.3 p.128
Reviews and appraisals in Monthly Film Bulletin: