The Paul McCartney Project

Filming of “No More Lonely Nights” promotional video

Tuesday, April 10, 1984 • Posted in “A day in the life

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From Club Sandwich N°44, Spring 1987:

One song; several versions; two videos. (Not to mention a feature film.) Yes, as well as being the star song in Broad Street, ‘No More Lonely Nights’ became a no. 2 hit in both Britain and America, generating one video for its original ballad form and another for the quite different disco version.

First we go to Bermondsey, Tommy Steele’s home patch in London’s dockland, for the ballad video. One Paul McCartney, a projectionist in ‘municipal’ brown coat, picks up a whistling kettle and fills his mug as the number he’s just dialled rings unanswered – not for the first time, you suspect. Completing the cheery scene, a mouse nibbles at his leftovers and is chased by the cinema cat. The poor fellow switches his coat for a leather jacket, revealing an exotic print shirt as worn by that chap in Broad Street, and takes his mug upstairs to the roof, whistling a rather good tune.

Once on the roof, the tune becomes a fully-fledged song and our lonely friend a jolly good singer. Old Father Thames and the lights of Tower Bridge make a poignant backdrop to his emotions when suddenly we’re whisked to a very different river. Some Victorians named Linda, Ringo and Barbara are boating peacefully when – what’s this? – they’re swept towards a weir and plunge over.

Back to our projectionist, as chrysanthemum starshell fireworks form shooting stars in the sky behind him. Now he’s driving along the river, walking past painted tarts, running up the stairs of the Old Justice pub, knocking on a door. A futuristic band materialize on stage in black-and-white feline make-up. Back on the cinema roof, ‘Broad Street’ lights up in blue neon. Paul peers through a skylight onto ‘Ballroom Dancing’ and a deuce of a fight.

Then dusk, the sky reddening behind Tower Bridge. Lights go out all over. A Dickensian, sidewhiskered Paul dodges a bearded ruffian; more painted ladies. Back in the present, a mysterious blue light is lifted from a tape box. Upstairs in the Old Justice, the door opens. Paul: “A box.” Old Jim (Sir Ralph Richardson): “A big blue one?” There’s that Victorian Linda, last seen plunging to a watery doom, using an ancient camera.

Fade out on Dave Gilmour’s languid guitar solo. More starshells. Back in the projectionist’s room, the finished reel clicks round and round on the projector and the phone rings unanswered.

Shot near St. Saviour’s Dock, this is one production Alan Crowder, normally Club Sandwich’s number one mole, could tell us little about. When asked early on to cross two planks over an 80-foot drop, he decided they must be remaking Hitchcock’s Vertigo and went home with the vapours (the well-known vocal group). Luckily director Keith McMillan was happy to tell all.

Keith has done work for Paul since 1979, directing promotional videos for ‘Pipes Of Peace‘, ‘Waterfalls’, ‘Coming Up‘, ‘Back To The Egg’ and ‘Ebony And Ivory‘. More recently, he and Paul co-directed a video for Linda’s ‘Seaside Woman’ remix, intercutting Oscar Grillo’s award-winning animation with new footage.

“We wanted to get a rooftop with a wall for the Broad Street neon and a view of London in the background. The old warehouse we used is now full of confidential files. We had to build a lift up the side of the building, so that no-one would have access to the files inside. The shoot lasted from 6pm to 2am.” How did he achieve the ‘lights out’ effect at dusk?

“We used a paintbox, which is a kind of electronic drawing board, to black the lights out on each frame. (See ‘Pretty Little Head’ video story in CS43.) This was the first time it was used in a promotional video.”

As Keith explains, his purpose with the ‘No More Lonely Nights’ video was twofold: “My brief was to take tempting bits from the movie without taking away from the song.” Mission accomplished.

Last updated on May 4, 2020

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