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Jack Hartzman

One of my first and lasting memories of Jack would be his unique and personable telephone manner at work. One could always tell when he answered a call, as the office gradually went quieter as if waiting for the “bon mots”. During the first war in Iraq, one pitied the poor blighter on the other end of the phone who’s lame enquiry prompted the reply “we’re not a f***ing tabloid!”

In the last few years I am very pleased to say I got to know Jack quite well. His illness, initially diagnosed in 2010, meant it didn’t seem he had long. Thankfully it turned out to be much longer.

What brought us closer was our liking for the cinema. Jack had an amazing depth of knowledge of film and photography, especially the films of Billy Wilder and the cinematographers of the 1930s to 1950s. Jack was always searching for films he couldn’t get via the usual sources. My personal challenge was to come up with at least one or two of the rarities he was after. For each visit, I would bring along several films from my own collection - he would go through every item, with a disdainful “I can give it a try”. We would occasionally exchange - a French film for a British film - he was never a fan of British films. He didn’t waste much time debating - “crap” was evinced several times.

Jack was an immense character, sharp, astute and never the world’s most tolerant person, especially of Christmas. It was no surprise and typical of him he chose that day for his final sign-off. I feel highly privileged to have been his friend and will miss him. ■