Photojournalist Jack Nicholson isn’t having a great time in Saharan Africa, sees an opportunity and grabs it, stealing the identity of his suddenly deceased hotel neighbor, the only other white guy in town. Jack’s abandoned wife Jenny Runacre (The Final Programme, Jarman’s Jubilee) investigates, while Jack faithfully follows the dead guy’s appointment book, even after learning that he was an arms dealer, and meets the same fate as the guy he’s impersonating, though he gets to hang out with Maria Schneider along the way.
Maria, Jack, Gaudi:
Thought I’d seen this a long time ago, but maybe I’ve confused it with The Conformist again. MA: “Actually, the entire story takes place in a short period of one day, from early morning until some time before sunset” – that’s not true, it’s set in four countries and we see a UK newspaper article about Jack’s death in Africa, and we see Jack’s appointments spread across a week in the book. Maybe he meant as the film was originally written. The fourth movie I’ve seen in the last few years to play in the 1975 competition at Cannes. Argh, the execution footage in this wasn’t faked.
Maybe Hitch has always wanted to be this explicit, and the times/censors just haven’t allowed it. This is his sweariest, nudiest, grimiest movie, starring nobody, about a woman-strangling sex maniac who frames his buddy for his crimes. Double featuring with Gun Crazy – this one is less naturalistic, or maybe people in Britain just talk like this.
Our guy Jon Finch (Polanski’s Macbeth the year before) is washed up and broke, tries to get cash from his ex (Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Lady Macbeth in a different production) right as she’s serial-killed, so Finch becomes the prime suspect. He’s caught but escapes, and the noble cops keep following leads even after his arrest, so justice is eventually served. Hitch’s particulars have changed, but the structure is standard. Some attempts at levity worked for me (Bob dumping a body in a potato truck, then getting taken for a potatoey ride while searching for an incriminating pin he dropped), and some did not (the lead detective’s wife serving trendy foreign cuisine to her crestfallen husband).
Necktie Killer Bob (Barry Foster of Twisted Nerve) and victim Barbara Leigh-Hunt:
Our guy Finch is also friendly with next victim Anna Massey (Peeping Tom):
The rare female non-victim with her cop hubby and Sgt Speerman:
Mostly I experienced flashbacks of reading this for the first time in one high school’s English class, or performing it in another high school’s drama class. This preceded Lean’s Oliver Twist, which also opens with strikingly-shot whipping-wind outdoor scenes.
Beat out The Ghost and Mrs. Muir for a cinematography oscar, pretty impressive. Standout acting by Bernard Miles (who’d do a Nicholas Nickleby film the next year) as Pip’s decent brother in law, and Finlay Currie (just off I Know Where I’m Going!) as the convict/benefactor… I liked Young Pip better than Adult Pip, surprisingly.
Our first-ever T/F guest viewer agreed with Katy that the movie was sad and hard to watch. Seals, dolphins and swans, rescued and released by British + Irish orgs. Some delightful seal/swan antics, less-direct wounded animal shots than Bird Island. Per Paste, “a story of slow, tiring disaster.”
Opens with a series of insanely awesome process shots as Oliver’s doomed mother trudges through a rainstorm. Oliver grows up in the orphanarium, asks if he can please sir have some more, plays a “mute” following funeral processions, while behind the scenes there’s a scandal-drama involving an amulet that proves he’s from a wealthy family. I took notes on character names and plot details, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find an Oliver Twist synopsis whenever I need. Besides the nice cinematography, it’s just a parade of good performances, actors well-suited to their roles – until Alec Guinness appears as the giant-honkered Jew-monster Fagin. Villain Bill Sykes steals the kid, and after a rooftop chase scene, justice is served.
Something like the eighth filmed adaptation of Oliver Twist, and the last until the 60’s musical version. The kid grew up to direct/produce Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers episodes. Robert Newton, who played Sykes, went on to create the most influential pirate characters in the movies. Oliver’s kindly rich grandpa Henry Stephenson was the kindly neighbor in Cukor’s Little Women. I’m glad to see that even at the time Guinness’s portrayal was considered unacceptable by some – it sure didn’t hurt his career. Kay Walsh maybe overdoes her part, but that didn’t stop her from getting a Hitchcock picture next. Dodger Anthony Newley became a singer/songwriter who’d influence Bowie.
Hey, I remember this one, it had some bright colors in it. Not like Bridgerton-bright, but pretty nice. According to the ol’ blog, I watched another adaptation of this with Katy 13 years earlier, which neither of us remembers.
Cowritten with Simon Blackwell (Veep, Breeders) and Charles Dickens (Scrooged, Oliver & Company). Dev Patel starred, Ben Whishaw the villain, Hugh Laurie and Benedict Wong were in there somewhere.
Thought it’d be fun to watch an apocalypse movie during an actual apocalypse, but it was not. Early scenes set up a couple families with typical problems (Jimmy’s girl Ruth tells him she’s knocked up) while global news stories play out casually on background televisions and title cards ominously tell us the population of Sheffield. Then – nuclear war!
Jimmy likes birds, and his brother dies in the blast along with the finches. The families are separated and never reunite in the chaos. The movie flashes forward in regular intervals, family members dying of illness and starvation, finally ten years later, Ruth blind and ravaged by fallout. In other news, the producers bought the rights to Johnny B. Goode, and they’re damn sure gonna play it.
Our miserable-looking guy must be Sean Harris, villain of the last two Missions: Impossible. The miserable old man is his uncle, Alun Armstrong, a Dickens miniseries regular currently appearing in a Martin Freeman show called Breeders which is annoyingly not about the careers and home lives of the Deal sisters. These two speak in unsubtitled British, when they speak at all.
Sean has trauma… and a Babadook picture-book of his trauma… and he carries around a satchel with a trauma-spider inside. I guess Sean finally stands up for himself, pushes his uncle aside and frees the local kid that Uncle had imprisoned. That brief burst of energy comes at the tail end of a long movie of people walking in a horrified daze through their miserable lives. Holness is Garth Marenghi, and having successfully proven he can make very serious things, I hope he dials it back a bit, or combines his talents a la his costar Richard Ayoade.
Albert Finney is a would-be comedian and general smartass, places an ad in the paper announcing himself as a private eye and immediately gets in over his head. It’s a good premise, because at no point is Finney an actual detective – when he finds a gun at a crime scene, he keeps playing with it and shows it off to everyone he sees.
Finney’s brother William (Frank Finlay, one of Lester’s Musketeers) is the type of serious businessman who also knows how to dispose of a dead body, and the brother’s girl who used to be Finney’s girl is his Charlie Bubbles costar Billie Whitelaw. Clues lead to an occult bookstore lead to a heroin trade. There’s a hot library girl, some racism, and some unusually good dialogue.