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BEHIND THE SCENES - Ryan's Daughter

We asked Chris for a story about his experiences in film making, this scene came to mind. Major Doryan, Chris' character, first meets Rosy, played by Sarah Miles, in this bar scene. Rosy calms Doryan after an episode of shell shock and the energy between them explodes in a burst of passion. Doryan throws himself against Rosy pinning her to the wall in a passionate kiss.

The film was shot in sequence, so this was the first time Chris and Sarah worked together on the set. They played out the scene and David Lean, the director, asked for a retake. The actors replayed the scene through several more retakes, each time Lean came over to push Chris against Sarah. About the 4th retake, as Chris pushed Sarah against the wall, the glass in the picture hanging behind them shattered and glass fell from behind Sarah cutting Chris' hand as it fell to the floor. The picture was taken away and fitted with plexiglass. Lean continued to cut the scene, leaving Chris to wonder what could be missing in his performance. Some thirty takes later, Lean gave in and angrily yelled "print it".

In the remote location, rushes took several days to send to MGM for processing and get back to the set, and when Lean saw the scene on film, he found Chris to make an apology, telling him he saw where Chris was at with his performance, he couldn't see it until it was on film.

Chris was thought of as a minimalist actor, someone who understood the camera well and operated on nuance, the half caught glance. His acting style was diametrically opposed to Lean, who treated his actors like an Anglicized Hitchcock (today they are referred to as puppet masters), forcing them to conform strictly to his preconceived vision of the character's mold.