Last Sunday, November 18th, I was privileged to attend the day long celebrations of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG’s 50th Anniversary held at Pinewood Studios, outside of London. The film was released on December 16, 1968 so next month is indeed 50 Years!
The entire Sunday was extremely well organized and a delight from start to finish. The day commenced with a “welcome" from the convention organizers “Bondstars” who put these sorts of events together, primarily in their case, for James Bond anniversaries. Of course because of the Bond-Chitty connection, it made sense for them to produce this event as well. As we had our early morning coffee and breakfasts, we were serenaded by the warbling piano/vocal demos produced by my father and uncle over 50 years ago.
Next on the docket was a 45 minute walking tour around the grounds of Pinewood Studios. To be able to do this was a rare privilege indeed. Pinewood is no Universal Studios with regular tours being given to the public. I for one, had never been to Pinewood Studios prior to this last Sunday. Of course I’d known of the studio since I was a small boy. Indeed the place always loomed large in my imagination. I knew that Chitty had been filmed there and then when I was about 7, my father shipped off to London for the filming of THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE — also primarily shot at Pinewood.
Advertised as “Scrumptious Gardens” (at least for that Sunday) we walked around the uniquely beautiful grounds (You’ll never see a movie studio with this kind of landscaping!). We saw where Truly Scrumptious sang, “Lovely Lonely Man” and eight years later Cinderella sang, “I Can’t Forget the Melody” from Slipper. (At least I think I found the spots in the gardens – It was a little hard to tell. Things do change. I found myself wishing that I could watch those film sequences on my iPhone, right there, to match things up. But there just wasn’t the time to do that kind of comparison.) What was funny was that when you moved a few feet from one iconic location, you suddenly realized that you were also on the set of another iconic film — Often times a James Bond film (also shot at Pinewood). Countless films really.
All around the studio were framed movie posters for films currently or imminently to be released. Two Sherman Brothers related films had posters up: CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (which of course features several classic WINNIE THE POOH/SHERMAN BROTHERS songs + a few new songs and a memorable cameo by my uncle RICHARD) and MARY POPPINS RETURNS (which doesn’t feature more than a snippet of any one Sherman Brothers song, but still the franchise will forever be linked to the Sherman legacy and the vice versa).
At the conclusion of the walking tour, the guests got to take photos with a beautiful Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (car) replica built and owned by musician/music director ROB ALDERTON. Participants in the day got to speak with him as well.
In the second installment of this blog Robbie talks about how the Sherman Brothers first were invited to work on Chitty, Cubby Broccoli and the different interview panels of the day.