Captain Jack

Captain Jack Phelan was the organizer and coordinator for all my shoots in Ireland. Jack was ex-Irish Army and was a terrific human being. Jack had only one eye and it was quite a hoot riding with him at high speed on narrow Irish roads at night.

Jack could, and would, get anything done, from getting permission to film in any pub, to finding John and Yoko’s house on the Cliffs of Moher. He also got the great actor, Cyril Cusack to work with us, although Cusack hated Hal Riney’s script. Jack also worked for a while on BARRY LYNDON until Kubrick fled for his life and went back to England. The story was that Kubrick feared reprisals from the IRA, although he had been filming in Ireland. The best Kubrick story was his visiting a location where the crew had built an extremely long dolly track out of wood, perhaps a quarter mile, and Kubrick looked through the viewfinder for a minute or two and told Jack to have them move it a few feet to the right.

Jack equated filmmaking with his time in the military and the need for frontline action and proper logistics. He was apt, especially in the need to follow orders, something outsiders don’t understand. You have an objective, and finite resources to reach that objective.

…but the ‘house in Ireland’…where they could ‘look at their scrapbook of madness’ was the magical place that Jack took us. When Yoko saw the pictures, she said that was ‘perfect.’

I lost touch with Jack after several decades of working with him and he’s gone now, but I’ll never forget him.