I, A Movie Star…?

While I am at it, posting entries about rowing films and rowing characters in films, I almost ended up as a ‘sculling extra’ in a Swedish police film, Polis, polis, potatismos (1993; Eng. title Murder at the Savoy).

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö are probably the most famous Swedish crime writers outside of Sweden, that is, before Henning Mankell had his debut as a crime writer with his police inspector Kurt Wallander. Sjöwall and Wahlöö, a married couple, wrote several books about Martin Beck, a police inspector in Stockholm.

In one of their books, a prominent industrialist is killed at the Hotel Savoy restaurant in Malmö (my old home town). Beck is called down from Stockholm to help the local police to solve the murder. The book is called Polis, polis, potatismos (1970), which is a title based on a Swedish children’s rhyme: ‘polis, polis, potatisgris’ – ‘police, police, potato pig’ – but the book title is changed to ‘police, police, mashed potatoes’, called out by a 3-year old boy, who sees some policemen, who have stopped at a hot dog stand, having a hot dog with mashed potatoes.

In the beginning of the 1990s, a Swedish film company (with the help of a German company) began to film the Martin Beck books, with the famous Swedish actor Gösta Ekman in the lead role (see picture). When it was time to film Murder at the Savoy, the film team when to Malmö to shot some scenes at Hotel Savoy and in and around town.

So, one dreary morning when I had been out sculling in the rain before work, the phone rang at the club house. I was the only one there, so I picked up the phone. It was a person from the film team who needed a sculler to pass under one of the town’s bridges, where Ekman/Beck was standing with one of his detectives. Could I be there in 25 minutes to do the scene?, the fellow from the film team asked. Well, no, I said, as I had to attend a very important meeting at the publishing company where I was working at the time. Just then another member, a teenage boy, showed up. I told the fellow at the other end of the line that I had someone that would be there in 25 minutes.

Although it would be fun to be in the movie, which was released in 1993 (and it is not very good, I am sorry to say), the sculler had to scull back and forth eight times in the rain, because the director was not happy with the actors’ performances on the bridge. I guess that is the life of a movie extra…

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