He went from bus driver to movie man

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As a child in England, Michael Dryhurst’s dream was to drive a bus.

“I wanted to be a bus driver,” says Dryhurst, 84, of Hot Springs Village. “When I was old enough, I bought my first vehicle. It was a double-decker bus. I had a double-decker bus before I had a car. Everyone right?”

However, Dryhurst’s family was in show business and he realized that a movie set would provide a better future than any driver’s seat.

Dryhurst began as a “clapper loader”, loading film into camera magazines and smashing the clapboard to create the sound filmmakers used to synchronize sounds and images into a picture.

“Now it’s called a second assistant cameraman,” he says.

Over the years, Dryhurst rose through the ranks to become a director and producer, working on films such as “Never Say Never Again”, https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/may/01/he-switched -gears-from -bus-driver-to-filmmaker/”Hudson Hawk” and “Superman”.

“Making a movie was an assembly line streak back then, and if you were lucky enough to work in the studio system, like I was when I came into the industry, you understood what the the sound department, you understood what the editing department did, the makeup, the hair, the art department…so it was a learning-on-the-job film school.”

Throughout his career, he’s learned which of the movie greats were nice — like Ava Gardner and Omar Sharif — and which were haughty.

“Ava was the funniest, most humorous woman I’ve ever worked with, with no air or grace,” he says. “She was co-managed with Omar, who was a lovely guy.”

The list of other stars he has worked with is long, including Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Peter Finch, Orson Welles, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve and Bruce Willis.

“Shelley Winters was a pain in the you-know-what, but she had a wonderful sense of humor and she was great fun,” he says. “But these are just ordinary people, just doing their job.”

In his late twenties, Dryhurst decided to leave England for the United States, where the film industry was booming.

He says his work on the 1967 spy film “The Naked Runner” with Frank Sinatra catapulted him into higher demand.

“I think it was my breakthrough film,” he says. “I was then offered all kinds of films. I was one of five or ten people who got offers and that kept me going, but all the time my goal was to come here.”

Once in Los Angeles, he found a British grocery store that sold good tea and embarked on a six-year journey to American citizenship.

All these years later, Dryhurst doesn’t watch the movies he worked on, though he can’t quite say why.

“I was going to say because I know them inside out, but the movies that I like, I know them inside out,” he says. “And some of them are worth rewatching. ‘Excalibur’ was a visual feast.”

Dryhurst has worked on several other films with “Excalibur” director John Boorman. It was with Boorman that he produced “Hope and Glory”, for which they received a Golden Globe.

“It’s useful as a bookend,” he said, lifting the heavy orb from among a set of books on a shelf in his house.

Dryhurst drew on personal experience for “Hope and Glory.” He was not quite 3 when the Blitz started, but says he has vivid memories of aerial bombardments around his childhood home in London.

“War was normal for me, and for millions of children like me all over Europe,” he says. “All we ever knew was the air raid sirens, the bombs dropping, the smell of cordite if you come out immediately after a raid.”

Dryhurst attended boarding school, like all other children from middle- and upper-class families.

“My dad was a writer/producer. In 1955 he went bankrupt and hadn’t paid my tuition for three years,” says Dryhurst. “Next thing I know I got kicked out of school and the next day I was standing in front of a camera with a clapperboard saying, ’22, get one. Bang. I was in the film industry. I was 17.”

Dryhurst and his wife, Karen, moved from California to Ireland for several years before moving to Arkansas. Karen is a retired production accountant who worked on “Schindler’s List”, https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/may/01/he-switched-gears-from-bus-driver- to-movie-man/ “Steel Magnolias” and others.

Dryhurst ended his film career and moved on to self-published authorship.

His book, “Check the Gate! Movie-Making in the Amazon While Dodging Alligators in Hollywood,” is an action story about a movie producer hired to work on a movie in the Amazon, but has a run-in with a local cartel. drug. .

“One of the things this strange person who was my relative once said to me was, ‘If you ever write, make sure you’re writing about something you know,'” Dryhurst says, referring to his father – his mother was an on-screen extra. when she met her father on a movie set. “What do I know? Movies.

He has written 14 other books – on buses and mass transit systems – over the past decade.

Dryhurst sold his double-decker bus before moving to the United States.

“I couldn’t bring her here,” he said, adding dryly, “and even if I could, I couldn’t get in the cabin again.”

If you know of an interesting story about an Arkansan 70 or older, please call (501) 425-7228 or email:

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Michael Dryhurst, 84, is originally from London but now lives in Hot Springs Village. Dryhurst started working on movie sets at age 17 and has been involved with big names in cinema all over the world. “There’s nothing wrong with standing next to Frank Sinatra, having a conversation, like the time we were filming in Copenhagen,” says Dryhurst. (Special at the Democrat-Gazette)
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