Harry Nadler Photo Album
assembled by Tony Edwards, 2004


In Memoriam

Harry Nadler

hn[1].jpg (26140 bytes)This is not the page I would like to see here.  My dear friend Harry died suddenly on March 1st, 2002, and I have written this little remembrance as a tribute to a great film enthusiast, and a good friend for over 37 years.


                     -- Bill Burns, Webmaster,
                                       email me at [email protected]



I met Harry in the summer of 1964 when I was sixteen and still in school; I'd been reading science fiction for five or six years then. The open market in Salford had a used bookstall, run, strangely enough, by our milkman. Mixed in with the general fiction I would occasionally find copies of the American edition of Astounding, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and lesser magazines. Seeing my interest, the stall's proprietor gave me Harry's name and address ("another chap who likes this stuff"). We didn't have phones in those days, so I wrote Harry a letter. I still have the letter he wrote back, inviting me to a meeting of the Delta Science Fiction Film Group, and mentioning a magazine that he and Chuck Partington produced.

Harry and Chuck were boyhood friends, having grown up in the same area of Salford. I'm not sure how their interest in SF developed, but they had attended Eastercons in 1963 and 1964 and were already involved in amateur movie-making. At the 1963 Eastercon in Peterborough, the Best Costume prize was won by Harry, for what was described as "a very nasty-looking mutant". With Tony Edwards and other Manchester fans, Harry and Chuck had also organized the Delta Science Fiction Film Group (the DSFFG), which met initially over a chip shop in Kersal, then moved to more spacious premises in Manchester. The group had been commissioned by the 1965 British Worldcon committee to produce some short films to be shown at the convention, and met three times a week - two evening meetings for planning and socializing, and a Sunday shoot on location or in the clubroom.

Harry and Chuck were also co-editors of the fanzine Alien, which had reached its 10th issue by this time. Attracted by Alien's content and intrigued by its curious orthography, I saw a way to get involved, and became chief proofreader and production assistant, also helping with the hand-cranked Gestetner duplicator and the collating. A bi-monthly (!), the fanzine was produced in Harry's bedroom at his mother's house; Harry took over the house after he married and lived there his entire life.

The movie-making progressed, too. I went with the group to the 1965 Birmingham Eastercon, where we filmed Harry Harrison as an inept weapons instructor - his part in Breathworld, one of the films being made for the Worldcon. Always a keen film fan, Harry was generally found running the projectors at conventions, when the film program was still an important event (in the days before video and DVD, a convention was one of the few places you could see classic SF films in Britain). Very much low-key, Harry was tireless in his support of fandom, and was on the committee of the Buxton and Chester Mancons in the late 60s. A printer by trade, he also did much of the printing of convention books and badges for late 60s Eastercons.

The amateur films, Castle of Terrors, and Breathworld, were completed on time, and although I couldn't attend I heard that they were well-received at the Worldcon in August of 1965. The group also sponsored an amateur film competition at successive Eastercons, which resulted in quite a few movies reaching a wider audience. Meanwhile, on the print scene, production of Alien was suspended while Chuck and Harry's new magazine was in preparation - Alien Worlds. The first issue had a full-colour cover by Eddie Jones, stories by Harry Harrison, Ken Bulmer and Ramsey Campbell, book reviews by Ken Slater, an article on Flash Gordon by Allan Asherman, and advance stills from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The magazine was produced entirely in-house, from the typesetting to the printing and collation. Poor distribution and resulting financial difficulties resulted in Alien Worlds being a one-shot.

But Harry's main interest was always the fantastic film, and his next venture was a film magazine, L'Incroyable Cinema, first published in 1969. Again produced entirely in-house, the magazine was a literate look at fantastic films and was well-received, running for five issues over the next several years. Harry drifted away from SF Fandom, attending conventions only intermittently, but remained in close touch with the Liverpool Group and the Knights of St. Fantony, of which he was a member. He continued to organize local film society meetings, eventually forming the Society of Fantastic Films. In 1990 the Society put on the first Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester, which has grown to be a very well-respected annual festival. Harry's role as program director gave the Festival an eclectic and wide-ranging selection of guests, old and new films, and two film competitions, amateur and professional.

Although I moved to New York in 1971, Harry and I kept in touch (although we often joked about whose turn it was to send the letter that year), and I saw him every year on our regular trips to England for Eastercon. When we met after a year, each time it was as if it was only a few days separation. I was looking forward to seeing him in just a few weeks, and had exchanged emails with him just the day before he died.

Harry contributed a tremendous amount to British SF fandom in the 60s and 70s; this remembrance has hit only the highlights from my personal knowledge. Never one to be in the spotlight, in the days when conventions were run by a committee of only three or four people Harry just did what had to be done and thought nothing of it. I had the privilege of working with him again on the two most recent film Festivals, and despite his earlier heart attack and doctor's warnings to avoid stress, he was right there running the program, taking care of guests, and getting things done, careless of his own well-being to make the convention a success.

Harry was a dear friend, and I'll miss him greatly.

                                  -- Bill Burns, New York, March 4th, 2002.

Simon Scott shares these memories of Harry:

I met Harry quite a few years ago myself, although I didn't know it until I met him again a few years later at The Society of Fantastic Films. My local heaven of all things film was The Monton Princess Cinema in Monton, Eccles. Little did I know that the lunatic who converted an old Ford Capri into Frankenstein's car from Death Race 2000, to publicize the cinema he had just taken over, would be such a good friend in the future. The fact that I still remember this little stunt of Harry's is a tribute to the impact that he had on many lives. Hell, people in Monton still remember the crowds gathered round that tatty old Capri, wondering how the cinema had persuaded the film company to let them have it. Yes, I was THAT young and naive. The Saturday afternoon matinees he put on were a massive part of my life and I will remember them always. Indeed, they are the reason that I have always preferred the older films of the fantastic - who could fail to feel the pull of the next Flash Gordon installment?

I always told Harry that, even though 99.99% of those who went to those matinees never loved film as much as he did, there was one young lad, sitting slack-jawed in wonder at the screen, who was well and truly hooked . . . and I still remember myself sitting there! When we all trooped down to Stockport, at last year's Festival, to see King Kong on the big screen, I told Harry afterwards, that for 90 minutes, I was that ten year old boy again, and saw a look in his eyes that revealed that he had always been a ten year old boy at heart.

If the memories and influence on other's lives makes a man, then Harry was a giant in my life. I will never forget him.

All the best, and see you at this year's Festival. I know Harry will be there, sitting at the back, in the dark and laughing. Harry, say Hey to Bela, Boris, Lon and the gang!

Harry's nephew Nicholas writes:

Thank you very much for your tribute to my uncle.

I think that my Uncle Harry would be very pleased with what you have said about him; you have summed up his love of films brilliantly!

I remember when I used to go to his house and watch cartoons in the kitchen on his projector. It was fascinating for me to watch something so simple such as a cartoon, but for my uncle it was so very much more - he loved everything to do with film and moving image, and using his projector to keep me quiet was what he loved to do.

He was a great man and deeply loved by all, and I hope that you carry on the work which he started, as your piece about my uncle enlightened me tremendously. I never knew that he had accomplished so much for the Manchester sci-fi film industry. It's fascinating to know, and without you I would not have known half of the things he had done for amateur film making.

I only ever saw one of his films and that was of his trip to New York where he had edited his footage and incorporated the song New York, New York into it, Obviously not very impressive by his standards, compared to his past film making ventures, but it was something that I will remember him by.

Harry's good friend Jonathan Cowie writes:

I first properly met Harry with Charles (Partington) at a Novacon in 1982. At the time I was studying a Masters at Salford University and they gave me a lift back to Manchester. It was in the car that they told me about the MaD SF group. Overcoming my initial disquiet as to the initials, it transpired it stood for Manchester and District. Consequently I spent a number of evenings throughout my study year with the MaD SF crowd in Manchester's Crown and Anchor where I was made to feel most welcome. (Sometimes we met up with members of the BaD group (Bolton and District) down the devil's highway -- the A666 -- but we wont explore that history.)

Though many people today know of Harry's enthusiasm for Fantastic Films, they may not realise that Harry shared with Charles an absolute passion for SF in its written form. Indeed Harry and Charles were among the movers of three 1970s Eastercons (the UK national book and film convention). Yet despite moving in exalted fan circles they never lost touch of their grass roots and this can be seen reflected in today's Festival of Fantastic Films which is one of the most friendliest of conventions around. But I remember one occasion (again in a car) when Harry firmly sided with Charles almost threatening me with physical violence. Harry actually stopped the car! 'If we want to print a commemorative booklet of Ken Bulmer for your convention Jonathan then we will do so and there is nothing you can do to stop us... We are doing this for Ken.' And so one of the early BECCONs got a rather nice souvenir. I mention this, not only to illustrate Harry's generosity but also the strength of his enthusiasm for the genre. Indeed he his known, and respected, by numerous SF authors as well as, of course, SF and horror film directors.

Harry (with Charles) also played a pivotal role in a project I am still running: the Science Fact and Fiction Concatenation. In the beginning we were a paper semi-prozine, but in the very beginning we were a rough-'n-ready fanzine. Charles and Harry got us going by printing free of charge the first edition launched at the 1997 UK national SF Eastercon. 'Don't worry Jon, we have plenty of scrap paper to use up...' Later, when we were a little more colourful and glossy, Harry helped us in another way with his Festival of Fantastic Films colleagues by enabling distribution of the final paper edition at the 1997 Fest. This complemented distribution at that year's Eurocon (Dublin) and at the Romanian annual SF camp as well to an H.G. Wells gathering in Timisoara. I mention this last as this was typical of much of what Harry often did - he provided a key piece to a jigsaw and played an integral part in a far bigger picture. He, though, would never admit this. This was not false modesty. It seemed to me he naturally assumed that if people loved something (and Harry loved SF) then obviously you did your bit without thinking about it. Harry did his bit time and time again with enthusiasm.

Anyway, I seem to have gotten away with myself...

Though I drifted away from Manchester and so saw little of Harry in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was recommended to approach the Festival of Fantastic Films to sponsor as fan guests two Romanian SF buffs shortly after the fall of communism. (The Fest was something Harry had started with a few friends after I left Manchester.) So I duly checked out the Festival and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Indeed so enjoyable that I have been to every one since then! Harry and his team were ready to listen to our Romanian proposal and so a venture, that effectively formalised what came to be the Anglo-Romanian SF Exchange, was borne. Though Harry may not acknowledge it, if it was not for his support back then we would not have been encouraged to go on to build such a strong bridge with fellow SF buffs in Eastern Europe. There is a much mis-used term for people like Harry -- Secret Master of Fandom (SMOF). The fundamental thing about true and real SMOFs is that such people are both 'secret' and 'masters of fandom'. (If someone has a reputation for being a SMOF, then by definition s/he is not.) Harry was a real SMOF. A quiet mover (but not a shaker). People remember authors. Big name fans are also remembered by fans. Harry was neither. You had to be at the very heart of British SF to know of him. (After all, if you read a tribute booklet to an SF author, how would you know that Harry was behind its publication unless you know who worked at the Print Centre Manchester?) Yet a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that he must have made literally hundreds of thousands of people-contacts through the SF events he organised (the Eastercons of the 1970s and the Fantastic Film Festivals of the 1990s to date) and SF publications he printed.

Harry, you shared so much enjoyment with so many that news of your departure will resonate far and wide. Manchester for me has just become a decidedly emptier place.

Jonathan Cowie, April 2002

Another good friend, Tony Williams, sends these thoughts:

I first met Harry Nadler in 1970 when he invited to his home in Salford. We remained very good friends for the following 32 years. Even when I moved to the United States in 1984, I always kept in touch with him during my regular visits to Manchester. I last saw him in May 2000 on my last visit where he met up with us in Chorlton after finishing work in Withington Hospital. This year, we had hoped to visit Manchester again but the hospitalization of my mother prevented another meeting although we had kept in email contact over the years. Ironically, I learned of his demise on an answerphone message on our return home on March 16. Even if we had intended to visit Manchester, our flight departed for England on March 1!

Harry was a dedicated promoter of science fiction and fantasy who belonged to a very talented group of people it was my privilege to know in Manchester such as Charles Partington, David Britton, and Mike Butterworth. This group of people, especially Harry, keep my head firmly on the ground to the existence of other important values in society. During the darkest time of unemployment and dead-end Manpower Service jobs I endured during the early 1980s, Harry was a constant source of support to me. I owe much to his friendship, as well as that of Chuck, and I was sorry when their attempts at finally getting the financial freedom to pursue their own interests collapsed when major companies ceased calling on the services of independents to supply computer games.

During the 1970s and beyond the monthly pub meetings of science fiction devotees - where the subject was never discussed - formed a very welcome area of support and stimulation. As you all know, Harry edited several issues of L'INCROYABLE CINEMA which LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS Iowa-based editor Richard Klemensen has cited as an inspiration for his own dedicated work in the field. I was honored to contribute something to SCARY DREAMS which Harry also began in the 1980s. Unfortunately, I was never able to attend the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films since it clashed with my teaching schedule but kept fully in touch with its progress through the Web.

The often repeated remark "They don't make them like that anymore" is, in many cases, not mundane. It applies fully to Harry who was a remarkable individual in many ways. His dedication and sincerity to his chosen interests were in a class of their own. I very rarely saw him get angry. In the times when he faced difficult times and the obstacles of running a small business in the rapacious era of Thatcherism and beyond he confronted the difficulties with good humor. Harry was an inspiration to us all in many ways. Although never really recognized outside his close circle of many friends and the world of conventions, he was in a class of his own. His humanity and enthusiasm impressed me to continue my own personal struggle. Although I won in certain ways, I look back with admiration on a sterling individual whose great personality and efforts towards promoting fields he sincerely believed in were second to none.I will miss you Harry very much. But I will also fondly remember your presence over the years and the great example you set to us all.

Tony Williams,
Professor/Area Head of Film Studies,
Department of English,
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale,
Il. 62901-4503.


This does not read very impressively. But how can one do justice to Harry in mere words, in an obituary none of us ever wanted to write? We all hoped Harry would be with us in Manchester for many, many, many years. Those of us who knew Harry were very fortunate. Hopefully, we can pass on his legacy to others.