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Members of Clarence River University of the Third Age’s Classic Films group toasted Bernard Hides (centre) at his final film presentation at the Old Kirk in Yamba. Image: Geoff Helisma

Farewell to Hollywood

Geoff Helisma |

Over the past three and a half years, members of Clarence River U3A’s ‘Classic Film’ group have enjoyed learning some of the secrets about how a film came to ‘look’ a certain way.

The man who revealed these ‘secrets’, production designer Bernard Hides, hosted the last of his classic film screenings at Yamba Museum’s Old Kirk building on Tuesday June 11, showing My Fair Lady.

It was both a joyous and sad event – joyous because it was a celebration of the man and the passion he shared with each film’s audience; sad because it was the last Classic Film screening due to Bernard’s failing health.

Bernard enjoyed a distinguished career, from his humble beginning in 1958 as an assistant in the ABC’s Sydney art department,to designing sets for films and TV series in the USA from 1990 to 2007, after which he retired in Yamba.

As a member of the US-based Art Directors Guild, he has a vote towards deciding the Oscar for ‘Best Production Design’ (the development of the overall look, atmosphere and emotion in a film) at the Academy Awards.

CRU3A president, Laura O’Brien, said, “Bernard engages his audience and holds them spellbound.

“We are so lucky to have had such a talented and charismatic person share his experience and knowledge with us.

“It was a sad night, but a very fond farewell.

“It started in early 2016 and at the U3A Classic Films Christmas party we all dressed as film characters and we presented Bernard with a statuette called ‘The Yoscar’ – our version of the Oscars.

“We’ve seen classic films from different genres; Bernard told us how the sets were designed and the production’s features.

“And he told us anecdotes about the people with whom he worked.

“We are all so grateful for what he has bought to U3A, our Classic Film group in particular.”

Come interval during the screening of My Fair Lady, Laura had a surprise for Bernard – she presented him with a ‘wish jar’ containing best wishes from each of those who have enjoyed his presentations.

A chuffed Bernard Hides said he’d “just finished reading them” when the Independent caught up with him.

“I was surprised by the gift they gave me,” he said.

“Everybody wrote something about how they’d enjoyed the films.

“One said: ‘happy second retirement’,” he chuckled.

“They are such a lovely group of people.

“I was quite emotional [reading the wishes].”

Note: keep an eye out for the forthcoming edition of Scene Magazine (distributed from June 26) for a feature story on the life and times of Bernard Hides.

From Hollywood to Gilbert and Sullivan

Clarence River U3A has started a new group, ‘Pitter Patter, a Gilbert and Sullivan Celebration’, following the Classic Film group’s final screening.

CRU3A’s president, Laura O’Brien, said the new group’s modus operandi will be similar to the former Classic Film group, screening films based on the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.

“We have presenters, most of whom are Lower Clarence Community Choir and CRU3A members,” she said.

“Every six weeks someone will present a film based on a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and give a brief synopsis.

“At intermission we have supper then resume watching the film.

“At the end we have a sing-along with some of the songs from the operetta.”

For more information or to join CRU3A, contact Laura O’Brien on 6646 9020.