Censorship Row Over John Gielgud Film Featuring Tight Trousers And Orgy

By Stuart Black Last edited 33 months ago
Censorship Row Over John Gielgud Film Featuring Tight Trousers And Orgy
"The climactic final scene of Trouser Bar. Yes, it's an orgy but it's all done in the best possible taste," according to the film's producer.

A new film of the only script ever written by late actor John Gielgud — an erotic London-set fantasy with the evocative title Trouser Bar — may never be screened, according to its producer David McGillivray.

A row between the filmmakers and the Sir John Gielgud Charitable Trust means the film, which recently finished shooting near King’s Cross, will probably now have to “stay on the shelf”.

The script for Trouser Bar was written in 1976 by the openly gay Gielgud for his friend Peter de Rome, but never made during Gielgud's lifetime. Its saucy story involves customers in an old fashioned men's boutique trying on the wares then having a bit of sly rumpo with the shop assistants. Meanwhile passersby peer through the windows — with these parts being played in the new film by the unlikely triumvirate of Julian Clary, Nigel Havers and Barry Cryer.

“It’s an erotic fantasy inspired by the films of the 70s,” McGillivray told Londonist. “Sir John Gielgud was obsessed with men in tight trousers, so it was inevitable that if he wrote anything it would be this... He had a grand life and a wonderful sense of humour and these people [Clary, Havers and Cryer] were happy to be part of the film. I’m just sorry that the Trust don’t see the joke.”

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"Sir John would have creamed his corduroy jeans at this close-up," asserts Trouser Bar producer David McGillivray.
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McGillivray with actor Nigel Havers.
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The undressed set of Trouser Bar - a TV repair shop in Caledonian Road near King's Cross.
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The finished set - ready for action.
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Brian Robinson who features in the film and who also helped reignite interest in the work of Peter de Rome, the director for whom Gielgud originally wrote his script.
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With the film seemingly blocked, McGillivray is now working on a documentary called Inside Leg: The Making of Trouser Bar.
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Actor Hans Berlin with cameraman Bouncer Munro.

McGillivray explains that he originally approached de Rome to direct the film in 2012 as a tribute to Gielgud, but with de Rome in retirement, McGillivray then decided to produce it himself. He contacted the Trust but was surprised when its representative Ian Bradshaw said the estate did not approve, later labelling the project as "inappropriate". Production on the film continued nonetheless, with a TV repair shop in Caledonian Road serving as the primary location for the Trouser Bar of the title.

Though the film is now nearly finished with just some final editing left, the Trust, which owns copyright, has threatened to take legal action should McGillivray ever try to release the film. “We don’t really know where to go from here,” says the producer, adding of the Trust: “They're trying to preserve an image of Sir John Gielgud that never existed. He was very out to his friends and loved discussing the attractive men he’d seen around the world in tight trousers. As someone else recently said on our Facebook page: he wrote it so how can it be inappropriate?”

Although Gielgud is best known today for his Shakespearean stage roles and Oscar-winning turn in Arthur, he did also feature in the Roman porn extravaganza Caligula.  

Sir John was a great fan of pornography both gay and straight and in his letters he wrote about visiting erotic cinemas. He was very much an adventurer and liked hanging out with people like Andy Warhol and would have seen pornography at parties held by Peter de Rome.

McGillivray confesses: “There’s not a great deal of plot in Trouser Bar and I would never try to claim it was a masterpiece". But he is happy with the nearly finished product: "I think of it as an art movie — it won’t be shown anywhere but film festivals and art galleries" and he adds "I think if they [The Trust] were to see it, they’d see it's quite beautiful and a fitting tribute to Sir John".

McGillivray is currently working on a documentary called Inside Leg: The Making of Trouser Bar about the controversy surrounding the project.

Last Updated 05 November 2015