Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 10:57 UK

Russell returns to seaside roots

Ken Russell
Mr Russell directed controversial films The Devils and Women in Love

Film director Ken Russell is returning to the Kent seaside town that launched his film career 45 years ago.

Russell will introduce an open air screening of French Dressing, which he shot in Herne Bay in 1963, as part of the town's annual festival.

The film tells the story of a failing seaside town which tries to revamp its image by inviting a beautiful French celebrity to open a film festival.

Locals who played extras are expected to attend the screening on Friday.

Actors James Booth and Roy Kinnear starred in the movie which also featured the town's old pier, bandstand and promenade.

Mr Russell said: "It'll be fun to see the place after an absence of 45 years. I wonder if it's changed?

'Ideal location'

"I heard the pier isn't there any more, or not all of it, just the beginning and end. That's sad."

He added: "That was the first feature film I was offered so naturally I took it. Herne Bay seemed the ideal location. They had a long pier for a start.

"I had all the help in the world. They [the residents] were a great bunch and all entered into the spirit of the thing."

Mr Russell said he was looking forward to the screening as his copy of the film, which is not available on DVD, was lost when his Hampshire cottage burnt down in 2006.

Michelle Moubarak, Canterbury City Council creative development officer, said filming caused quite a stir in the town and dozens of people played extras.

French Dressing will be screened in Memorial Park, Herne Bay, at 2100 BST on Friday.

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