t’s only been an hour or so since I heard the news that Bill Collins has died, and all I can think of is the first stanza of the WH Auden poem Stop All The Clocks made famous by the 1994 movie Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
I suspect Bill, the 84-year-old beloved and much respected film reviewer and TV presenter who was known to all as ‘Mr Movies’, would get a real kick out of this.
Afterall, generations of budding movie buffs, like myself, sat glued to the television every Sunday night as Bill not only presented the Sunday night movie (and the Sunday night movie was totally a thing back then), but also gave us insights into the story, the actors, actresses, directors and sometimes even movie making history itself.
For you younger readers who only know a world that has the internet at your fingertips, the importance of Bill Collins and his movie knowledge cannot be overstated.
Bill was the movie internet for us. For me.
He was the knower of all things movies and it was lying in front of the telly listening to his passionate words that a seed was born.
He, along with my movie loving mother, lit the fire within me when it came to wanting to write about the movies. It’s a fire that still rages today, as you can see, and I am lucky that I have the opportunity to write about something I love so much.
Even back then, to my young eyes, he was an old man with glasses. Always well dressed in a suit and colourful tie, he seemed to be the eternal gentle man. Softly spoken but with eyes and a kind face that would light up once he started talking about the movies.
And talk about the movies he did. His knowledge was formidable, and he was still presenting Foxtel’s Golden Years of Hollywood.
According to news sources currently reporting on his death, Collins’ favourite film was the 1940 classic Gone with the Wind. I often tell people I am named after Scarlet O’Hara’s sister, Sue-Ellen. I’m not, but it’s a fun story to tell. And now, I have this extra lovely connection with my Mr Movies.
And Mr Movies will be sorely missed by those of us who sat wide eyed and enthralled when we were children and absorbed this man’s love of the movies and of great story telling.
To you Sir, I say “thank you.”
For everything. I have no doubt your beloved movie people, who have long since passed, will be waiting to welcome you home.