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Up Periscope Yellow: The Making of The "Beatles" "Yellow Submarine" Paperback – 1 Oct 2003
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Al Brodax was the producer of and with Erich Segal and others a co-author of the screenplay for The Beatles 'Yellow Submarine'. In this book he recalls a frenzied, madcap escapade that came to be reflected in an enduring piece of screen history. In addition to John, Ringo, Paul and George, and Al, the "cast" included more than a dozen animators, platoons of inkers, background artists, soundmen, cameramen, and various essential expediters. Recruited from the U.S., Europe, Australia and all over the U.K., they produced, aside from the film, more than a dozen pregnancies and one or two marriages. This story has been culled by the author from a rich jumble of late-night, early-morning scribblings during production. His generously illustrated book is a special gift to fans of the Beatles, of 'Yellow Submarine' and of spirited, flavourful writing about movies.
Top customer reviews
"We do not consider Up Periscope Yellow by Al Brodax to be either a fair or an accurate book. We would also like to protest on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, like the late George Dunning. As far as the truth can be reconstructed about how the Yellow Submarine film was made, Dr. Bob Hieronimus did it in his book, Inside The Yellow Submarine."
Signers to this statement as of August 31, 2004 are:
Heinz Edelmann, Art Director
Bob Balser, Animation Director
Jack Stokes, Animation Director
Charlie Jenkins, Special Sequences Director
Jack Mendelsohn, one of the Screenplay writers
Lee Minoff, original story and one of the Screenplay writers
Roger McGough, uncredited Screenplay writer
Max Wilk, author of the novelized version of Yellow Submarine
In addition, several co-creators sent their own personally worded statements.
Sir George Martin, Musical Director, said: "I am completely sympathetic to the points that [Edelmann] make[s] about 'Yellow Submarine'. My experience on the film happily was not the same as Heinz Edelmann or the marvelous people at TVC. My main liaison was with George Dunning who I found to be inspirational. I am convinced that George's genius was the principal reason for the enormous success of the film, and he made it into the icon that it became."
John Coates, Production Supervisor, and head of TV Cartoons and Norman Kauffman, Assistant to Animation Director, said as a quote from TVC, "Al Brodax's book is part pure fiction, but at 78 his memory is obviously no longer reliable."
Heinz Edelmann, Art Director, added: "Part of this book is pure fiction, and we are not really amused by all of this. It is connected only in the most tenuous sense to the reality of the production."
Bob Balser, Animation Director added: "Hooray! All we can say is that You Are So Right!!! And thank you for defending us all."
John Clive, Voice of John Lennon, said: "I would like to add my reaction to the comments by Al Brodax. First, I would like to defend the reputation of the director, George Dunning, who cannot defend himself. One only has to look at the film to see how nonsensical these observations are. The film was innovative and influential, look at some of the animation that came after to see Yellow Submarine at work. George Dunning worked closely with the actors who did the Beatles voices for the film, encouraging us at every turn to be as real to the spirit of the Beatles as we could. We didn't need much encouragement. We were all very proud of the Beatles and wanted to celebrate their originality as closely as we could. But George Dunning stood by us when Al Brodax tried to make us become more American, more transatlantic. He felt that the voices would not be understood in America."
Other animators and artists are expected to be added soon.
After interviewing Al Brodax repeatedly over the years for the research into my own book, Inside The Yellow Submarine, I already knew he was a terrific story-teller -- charming even, and that comes through in this book. Until the late 1990s, Brodax was spinning some of the best Yellow Submarine anecdotes out there. That stopped when I published my interviews with over two dozen of the other Yellow Submarine crew members who unanimously revealed many of his best stories as complete fabrications.
But even though filled with inaccuracies, his book, Up Periscope Yellow, will still be entertaining to the novice. I?m just glad that my book came out first, since, as a result, he has corrected some of his earlier tall tales. Unfortunately, however, almost everyone who had anything critical to say about Brodax in my book, is portrayed as sinister and untrustworthy in Up Periscope Yellow.
This book suffers from a strangely fluctuating chronology in the story-line, discrepancies from one page to the next, and non-existent character development: many of the main players in the Yellow Submarine project are not even named. Brodax should have consulted any of the valuable Beatles reference books in order to avoid blatant errors or fabrications that are easily dismissed with a fact check.
There are many occasions on which everyone DOES agree with Brodax, however, and the book is well written, this I readily admit. But if you do buy this book, you must realize that significant historical alterations have been made, like his story about the kidnapping of the film, something that earlier he vehemently denied ever happened.
I really do like Al Brodax; I'm just obsessed when it comes to an accurate history of the Yellow Submarine. This book has no bibliography, no reference section, no documents that account for what he is saying is true. There are no records of any interviews he conducted with any of the hundreds of others who worked on the project, and all we have to rely on is the author's credibility which even he admits is questionable on several pages throughout his own book.
Soon I will be posting a complete analysis of the discrepancies in Up Periscope Yellow on our website at 21stCenturyRadio.com. In the meantime, if you want a well-told story of a chutzpah-filled producer in the 1960s, Al Brodax gives it to you. Just remember that it is not based on factual history. If you want a book that serves justice to those who created the Yellow Submarine masterpiece, order my book instead: Inside the Yellow Submarine: The Making of the Beatles Animated Classic.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As one of the animators on YELLOW SUBMARINE, I would say that the year I spent working on the film was perhaps the single most exciting period of my nearly 50 year career in the animation business; made even more memorable by the fact that I became engaged during production to Diana, my wife of 35 years, who worked on the "LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS" sequence .
And now, over 30 years after the film was first released, two new books (INSIDE THE YELLOW SUBMARINE and UP PERISCOPE YELLOW) have been published; each describing for the first time the whole astonishing behind-the-scenes story of how the film was made. The struggle to produce anything resembling a final script while production surged inexorably on past the writers towards an impossible deadline, the creative arguments, the personality clashes, the budgetary nightmares, the physical kidnapping of the film - with the whole thing being propelled by the sheer exhilaration of knowing that we were all taking part in an astonishing revolution in animated films - all these elements are well recounted in both books.
Whilst INSIDE THE YELLOW SUBMARINE tells the story of the production from the point of view of the directors and the creative team, Al Brodax's new book, UP PERISCOPE YELLOW tells it from the producer's perspective. As might be expected, the accounts differ markedly. Conflict between movie directors and producers is as old as Hollywood itself, but its roots go far back past the Renaissance, when artists and their patrons continually argued over differing visions of art and its monetary worth. Animating frantically below decks, the artists on YELLOW SUBMARINE were seldom party to the ongoing dramas up on the bridge; but our favourite pub, the nearby Dog and Duck, was an extremely efficient rumour mill. All of us were well aware that the odyssey of the YELLOW SUBMARINE, thrilling though it was, was by no means smooth sailing!
It is rare that the story of the making of a film as ground-breaking as YELLOW SUBMARINE has been told from the point of view of both the directors and the producer, so we are extremely fortunate that each side has now published its memoirs - even if it is more than three decades after the event! Al Brodax's UP PERISCOPE YELLOW is exceptionally well written, telling his version in a fast-moving, stream-of-consciousness style which vividly portrays the producer's role as the meat in the sandwich between the hard-nosed studio deal-makers and the creative spirits of the film industry. My main criticism is that it could have been improved with more pictures and, most important of all, an index.
The debate about who said what and who did what on YELLOW SUBMARINE seems set to continue for quite some time. But there is one undeniable fact in all of this - if Al Brodax hadn't stuck his neck out as producer and taken a chance on producing an animated feature all those years ago, the phenomenon that was the YELLOW SUBMARINE would never have set sail on its fantastic voyage. For that we all owe him a vote of thanks.
If you've read other reviews here, you'll know UP PERISCOPE YELLOW is a first person account by the producer, Al Brodax; and INSIDE THE YELLOW SUBMARINE (see my review of this excellent book also) by Dr. Bob Hieronumus, Ph.D., is an anthology of keen insight and probing interviews with a number of core artists whose creative genius built and sailed the Sub into our Collective Consciousness forever.
Each book is written from a different perspective. Until more volumes from Al and Dr. Bob (and even we the crew) are forthcoming, these two vital books will serve as comprehensive 'bookends' for your Yellow Submarine reference shelf.
UP PERSICOPE YELLOW recaptures those wild, zany, chaotic, heart-racing days of creative frenzy during the Sub's construction. Moreover, Al Brodax's account begins BEFORE the Sub was even a yellow and orange gleam in any of the crew's eyes. As well as providing a fascinating and hilarious back story of what led to the concept of the movie itself, he accompanies you through the whole process of production from the producer's perspective.
Whether your cinematic interest is animation or live action, this lightning narrative zaps you through high-flying moves, fancy footwork and the 'thinking on your feet' involved in producing a unique feature film; from initial concept to the megastress of rights negotiation, sales, budgets, deadlines, navigating minefields of egos; and out of the chaos, delivering a finished film--even to tweaking the projector controls at the Grand Premiere, with an additionally hilarious account of how to 'imprint' a missing copyright notice on the film emulsion when it's in the projector ready to roll! (You have to read the book to find this one!)
Al's swashbuckling talent with hyperbole lends a 'you are there' breathless excitement and zany hilarity to his recapturing of those 'London '60's Days' on Yellow Submarine.
The book shows a sensitive side, revealing his personal angst, agonies, ecstasies and sorrow involved during the film's production (tragic, early death of a vital and cherished work associate). This will surprise many who believe the stereotype of flinty, unfeeling, humorless producers. Brodax shares his full emotions in this book.
As an aside, we crew were very cramped for desk space at TVC. Fellow animator Tom Halley and I were stationed at animation desks in a small office, which contained a third desk (with phone) that was 'time-shared' by Al Brodax, Abe Goodman and various TVC management personnel. It was a unique perspective as a humble Y.Sub. deckhand-animator,(think: Jack Lemmon's Ensign Pulver in the movie, 'Mister Roberts') occupying a desk beside the officers on the bridge, trying to block out the chaos and concentrate on drawing. It was also a great place to observe firsthand what was involved minute by minute, day by day in the management and production of a classic film. This book gets you even closer, on a wider, 'before, during and after production' timeline.
Another aspect of being a fly at the animation desk on the ceiling syndrome: next door to our small office was an anteroom-more like a broom cupboard, where Jack Stokes and Bob Balser assembled their storyboards, running the sound track with 'workprint' film on a Movieola (editing machine) forward and backward for weeks on end. By the end of production we knew most of the songs forward and backward.
And, by the end of this excellent first-person account by the producer of Yellow Submarine, you'll know what's involved in a production, which itself seemed to be going forward and backward--at the same time--with all the hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth that involved.
A great cinema history book by LIMELIGHT PUBLISHERS; a great write by AL BRODAX; a great read for YOU.