George Groves The Movie Sound Pioneer

The Story of the Oscar-Winning Soundman from St Helens, England

The Story of the Oscar-Winning Soundman from St Helens, England

Part 16 - George Groves – "Quote…Unquote"

George Groves' recollections of the actors and directors that he worked with within the Warner Brothers Sound Department

PART 16 - GEORGE GROVES’ MEMORIES – ”QUOTE…UNQUOTE”

George Groves' recollections of the actors and directors that he worked with in the Warner Brothers Sound Department
Alfred Hitchcock
George On Working With Director Alfred Hitchcock:
 I look back on my association with Alfred Hitchcock as one of the great privileges of my tenure of office at Warner Brothers. He’s an absolute delight. He's one of the directors that knew what he wanted, knew how to get it and got it with the minimum of fuss and was courteous and gentlemanly to everybody concerned. I really loved Alfred Hitchcock. He’s probably the greatest teller of English stories that I’ve ever encountered. I can’t repeat some of them on the tape but they’re funny and if I told them they would not be anywhere near as funny as Alfred Hitchcock told them. He's a great director.  
George Groves and Al Jolson
With Al Jolson On The Set Of 'The Singing Fool' (1928):
 Jolson was a very kindly man, as well as a great artist. I remember a little incident on the set. In the hospital scene there were a number of afflicted children. One little chap had a diseased bone in his hip. Jolson turned to the mother and said quietly: ”Take him to my doctor. Tell him to do whatever is necessary and charge the cost to me". There was no staging about it, just a little aside on the spur of the moment. That was Jolson. Jolie I thought was a wonderful, wonderful man. He was a greater entertainer off the stage than on, in my observations.  
Frank Capra
Describing Director Frank Capra's Attitude To Production:
 He knew just what he wanted...As far as production crews are concerned, a director who knows what he wants and knows how to get it, then everybody enjoys themselves. They’re wonderful to work with. The great directors that can do this don’t abuse the staff unnecessarily. Some directors pick on the little fella because he can’t fight back. They are not the Frank Capra type.  
Doris Day
How Whispering Doris Day Caused Sound Problems:
 She was very pretty, very beautiful and sang quite well…As she matured she became more difficult somewhat and decided to talk as everything she was saying had to be kept secret. She’d talk very, very low all the time. I don’t know if she thought it sounded more sexy or what. She got to talking so low that the man on the end of the boom couldn’t even hear what she was saying. He could see her lips moving but couldn't hear it. So I had to give the boom man headphones.  
Raoul Walsh
George's Thoughts On "Man's Director" Raoul Walsh:
 Raoul Walsh was a man’s director. He’s a western man from way back. When he said action he wants action and gets it...He had a habit of rolling his own cigarettes in brown rice paper. After rehearsing a scene he would invariably walk to the back of the camera and turn away from the scene and roll a cigarette while it was being played and say "Cut, print it". Now how he could tell whether it was good, bad or indifferent I don't know, but this was quite a habit...I was very fond of Raoul. He and I were good friends.  
Judy Garland
George On Judy Garland In 'A Star Is Born' (1954):
 It was a wonderful experience to pre-record her numbers and she was a love to work with…Our experience with her was a joy. She seemed to be very, very happy with what she heard from the recordings and they were good. In shooting some of the numbers Mr. Warner would go down on the stage and hug her and thank her because everything was going off great. She was being a very good girl, she really was... She was on time and loved the performance of the crew and everybody.  
Frank Sinatra
His Thoughts On Working With Frank Sinatra:
 As far as Frank personally is concerned, I always found him very engaging and very charming. Very business-like on a scoring session. He didn’t like to over-rehearse to the point where a number got stale before it was recorded...My personal experience with him was a very enjoyable experience.…In the shows that he worked, we had people like Bing Crosby and Sammy Davies Jnr. So they were pretty talented people working with him all the time and it made for fun. There was a lot of fun on the scoring stage actually.  
Errol Flynn
How Getting Errol Flynn To Loop A Line Of Dialogue Got George In Trouble:
 I took it upon myself to call Errol. After he’d done the looping job he demanded salary for all the time he’d been off salary. He was having a big battle with Jack Warner about the fact that he was off salary in between pictures. Well Warner he could have killed me. He said: "Who gave you authority to call Flynn in". I said: ”We’ve called guys in before when we needed them to loop." He said: ”Didn’t you know that he was off salary and now he’s suing us for seven months salary? This looping is costing me $5000 a word". He was mad. Mad, mad, mad. So I called Errol Flynn. I said: ”Errol, I just got the word from Jack Warner what it's costing him if you go through with this thing. Incidentally, I think it's going to cost me my job." He said: "If that’s the case George. I’ll forget it". And he cancelled it, cancelled his demand.  
Jack Warner
How George Felt When Jack Warner Retired in 1967:
 I’d been with Colonel Warner for a long, long time and I felt that he was more like a father to me than a boss because I always had a wonderful feeling of support from him...Mr. Warner had a great deal of faith in my judgement…he’d back me up whenever it came to a decision. One thing I could always rely upon and that was 100% backing from Mr. Warner...My relationships with him were marvellous.  
George On Working With Director Alfred Hitchcock:
Alfred Hitchcock
 I look back on my association with Alfred Hitchcock as one of the great privileges of my tenure of office at Warner Brothers. He’s an absolute delight. He's one of the directors that knew what he wanted, knew how to get it and got it with the minimum of fuss and was courteous and gentlemanly to everybody concerned. I really loved Alfred Hitchcock. He’s probably the greatest teller of English stories that I’ve ever encountered. I can’t repeat some of them on the tape but they’re funny and if I told them they would not be anywhere near as funny as Alfred Hitchcock told them...he's a great director.  
With Al Jolson On The Set Of The Singing Fool in 1928:
George Groves and Al Jolson
 Jolson was a very kindly man, as well as a great artist. I remember a little incident on the set. In the hospital scene there were a number of afflicted children. One little chap had a diseased bone in his hip. Jolson turned to the mother and said quietly: “Take him to my doctor. Tell him to do whatever is necessary and charge the cost to me". There was no staging about it, just a little aside on the spur of the moment. That was Jolson. Jolie I thought was a wonderful, wonderful man. He was a greater entertainer off the stage than on, in my observations.  
Describing Director Frank Capra's Attitude To Production:
Frank Capra
 He knew just what he wanted...As far as production crews are concerned, a director who knows what he wants and knows how to get it, then everybody enjoys themselves. They’re wonderful to work with. The great directors that can do this don’t abuse the staff unnecessarily. Some directors pick on the little fella because he can’t fight back. They are not the Frank Capra type.  
How Whispering Doris Day Caused Sound Problems:
Doris Day
 She was very pretty, very beautiful and sang quite well…As she matured she became more difficult somewhat and decided to talk as everything she was saying had to be kept secret. She’d talk very, very low all the time. I don’t know if she thought it sounded more sexy or what. She got to talking so low that the man on the end of the boom couldn’t even hear what she was saying. He could see her lips moving but couldn't hear it. So I had to give the boom man headphones.  
George's Thoughts On "Man's Director" Raoul Walsh:
Raoul Walsh
 Raoul Walsh was a man’s director. He’s a western man from way back. When he said action he wants action and gets it...He had a habit of rolling his own cigarettes in brown rice paper. After rehearsing a scene he would invariably walk to the back of the camera and turn away from the scene and roll a cigarette while it was being played and say: "Cut, print it". Now how he could tell whether it was good, bad or indifferent I don't know, but this was quite a habit...I was very fond of Raoul. He and I were good friends.  
George On Working With Judy Garland In A Star Is Born:
Judy Garland
 It was a wonderful experience to pre-record her numbers and she was a love to work with…Our experience with her was a joy. She seemed to be very, very happy with what she heard from the recordings and they were good. In shooting some of the numbers Mr. Warner would go down on the stage and hug her and thank her because everything was going off great. She was being a very good girl, she really was... She was on time and loved the performance of the crew and everybody.  
George’s Thoughts On His Relationship With Frank Sinatra:
Frank Sinatra
 As far as Frank personally is concerned, I always found him very engaging and very charming. Very business-like on a scoring session. He didn’t like to over-rehearse to the point where a number got stale before it was recorded...My personal experience with him was a very enjoyable experience.…In the shows that he worked, we had people like Bing Crosby and Sammy Davies Jnr. So they were pretty talented people working with him all the time and it made for fun. There was a lot of fun on the scoring stage actually.  
How Getting Errol Flynn To Loop Dialogue Got George In Trouble:
Errol Flynn
 I took it upon myself to call Errol. After he’d done the looping job he demanded salary for all the time he’d been off salary. He was having a big battle with Jack Warner about the fact that he was off salary in between pictures. Well Warner he could have killed me. He said: "Who gave you authority to call Flynn in". I said: ”We’ve called guys in before when we needed them to loop." He said: ”Didn’t you know that he was off salary and now he’s suing us for seven months salary? This looping is costing me $5000 a word". He was mad. Mad, mad, mad. So I called Errol Flynn. I said: ”Errol, I just got the word from Jack Warner what it's costing him if you go through with this thing. Incidentally, I think it's going to cost me my job." He said: "If that’s the case George. I’ll forget it". And he cancelled it, cancelled his demand.  
How George Felt When Jack Warner Retired in 1967:
Jack Warner
 I’d been with Colonel Warner for a long, long time and I felt that he was more like a father to me than a boss because I always had a wonderful feeling of support from him...Mr. Warner had a great deal of faith in my judgement…he’d back me up whenever it came to a decision. One thing I could always rely upon and that was 100% backing from Mr. Warner...My relationships with him were marvellous.