Film Review – INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)

Image result for invasion of the body snatchers 1978INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (USA, 1978) ***½
      Distributor: United Artists; Production Company: Solofilm; Release Date: 22 December 1978 (USA); 22 March 1979 (UK); Filming Dates: 19 February 1978 – 29 April 1978; Running Time: 115m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Stereo (Dolby Stereo); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – contains one scene of strong gory violence and moderate horror.
      Director: Philip Kaufman; Writer: W.D. Richter (based on the novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney); Producer: Robert H. Solo; Director of Photography: Michael Chapman; Music Composer: Denny Zeitlin; Film Editor: Douglas Stewart; Casting Director: Mary Goldberg; Production Designer: Charles Rosen; Set Decorator: Doug von Koss; Costumes: Aggie Guerard Rodgers; Make-up: Thomas R. Burman, Edouard F. Henriques, Bob Westmoreland; Sound: Ben Burtt, Bonnie Koehler, John Nutt, Steve Powell, Art Rochester; Special Effects: Russel Hessey, Dell Rheaume.
       Cast: Donald Sutherland (Matthew Bennell), Brooke Adams (Elizabeth Driscoll), Jeff Goldblum (Jack Bellicec), Veronica Cartwright (Nancy Bellicec), Leonard Nimoy (Dr. David Kibner), Art Hindle (Dr. Geoffrey Howell), Lelia Goldoni (Katherine Hendley), Kevin McCarthy (Running Man), Don Siegel (Taxi Driver), Tom Luddy (Ted Hendley), Stan Ritchie (Stan), David Fisher (Mr. Gianni), Tom Dahlgren (Detective), Garry Goodrow (Dr. Boccardo), Jerry Walter (Restaurant Owner), Maurice Argent (Chef), Sam Conti (Street Barker), Wood Moy (Mr. Tong), R. Wong (Mrs. Tong), Rose Kaufman (Outraged Woman), Joe Bellan (Harry), Sam Hiona (Policeman #1), Lee McVeigh (Policeman #2), Al Nalbandian (Rodent Man), Lee Mines (School Teacher). Uncredited: Michael Chapman (Health Dept. Floor Cleaner), Robert Duvall (Priest on Swing), Anthony Garibaldi (Student), Kevin Harris (Dr. of pods), Philip Kaufman (City Official on Phone (voice)), Misty (Harry’s Boxer Dog), Al Perez (PG&E Man), Jeff Scheftel (Pod Person at Party).
      Synopsis: In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion.
      Comment: Well-made remake of the 1956 Don Siegel classic. Sutherland is excellent as the public health inspector caught up in the paranoia. He is well supported by a strong cast, which includes a young Goldblum and pre-ALIEN Cartwright. Nimoy is also effective as a psychologist with an ego. Zeitlin provides an eerie electronic score, whilst Chapman’s largely night-time photography makes inventive use of the locations. Tension builds throughout and it is only in its final act that the production becomes more formulaic. There is, however,  a closing scene that is guaranteed to live long in the memory.
      Notes: Second adaptation of the novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney. Previously filmed in 1956 and remade in 1993 as BODY SNATCHERS and 2007 as THE INVASION. Watch out for cameos by the original film star and director Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel as well as Robert Duvall and director Philip Kaufman.

Film Review – PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971)

Image result for play misty for me 1971PLAY MISTY FOR ME (USA, 1971) ****
      Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 20 October 1971 (USA), 28 January 1972 (UK); Filming Dates: 14 September 1970 – October 1970; Running Time: 102m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – strong violence.
       Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Jo Heims, Dean Riesner (from a story by Jo Heims); Executive Producer: Jennings Lang; Producer: Robert Daley; Associate Producer: Bob Larson; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Dee Barton; Film Editor: Carl Pingitore; Art Director: Alexander Golitzen; Set Decorator: Ralph S. Hurst; Costumes: Helen Colvig, Brad Whitney; Make-up: Jack Freeman; Sound: Robert L. Hoyt, Robert Martin, Waldon O. Watson.
       Cast: Clint Eastwood (Dave), Jessica Walter (Evelyn), Donna Mills (Tobie), John Larch (Sgt. McCallum), Jack Ging (Frank), Irene Hervey (Madge), James McEachin (Al Monte), Clarice Taylor (Birdie), Don Siegel (Murphy), Duke Everts (Jay Jay), George Fargo (Man), Mervin W. Frates (Locksmith), Tim Frawley (Deputy Sheriff), Otis Kadani (Policeman), Britt Lind (Anjelica), Paul E. Lippman (2nd Man), Jack Kosslyn (Cab Driver), Ginna Patterson (Madalyn), Malcolm Moran (Man in Window).
      Synopsis: A brief fling between a male disc jockey and an obsessed female fan takes a frightening, and perhaps even deadly turn when another woman enters the picture.
      Comment: Slick, effective psychological thriller with an un-nerving performance from Walter as the obsessive fan who stalks Eastwood after having become his lover. Eastwood directs confidently and elicits strong performances from a talented cast. Riesner rewrote Heims’ original script, which included relocating to Carmel from San Francisco. It is a lean script with a taut narrative. The film only slows in an unnecessary detour to the Monterey Jazz Festival, indulging Eastwood’s love of music. The locations are sumptuously photographed by Surtees and Barton’s score, whilst sounding a little dated, adds an element of class. A major inspiration for 1987’s more celebrated FATAL ATTRACTION.
     Notes: Eastwood’s directorial debut. The first scene he shot was his former director Don Siegel’s cameo as a bartender. The concert scenes were filmed live at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Songs: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” music and lyrics by Ewan McColl, sung by Roberta Flack, produced by Joel Dorn for Atlantic Records; “Hand Jive,” music and lyrics by David Lanz and E. Lightborn; “Misty” composed and performed by Erroll Garner, by arrangement with Octave Music Publishing Corp.; “Squeeze Me” by Duke Ellington.

Film Review – VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1961)

Image result for voyage to the bottom of the sea 1961VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (USA, 1961) ***
      Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox; Production Company: Irwin Allen Productions (as Windsor Productions); Release Date: 12 July 1961; Filming Dates: 25 January 1961 – April 1961; Running Time: 105m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: U.
      Director: Irwin Allen; Writer: Irwin Allen, Charles Bennett (based on a story by Irwin Allen); Producer: Irwin Allen; Director of Photography: Winton C. Hoch; Music Composer: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter; Film Editor: George Boemler; Production Designer: ; Art Director: Herman A. Blumenthal, Jack Martin Smith; Set Decorator: Walter M. Scott, John Sturtevant; Costumes: Paul Zastupnevich; Make-up: Ben Nye; Sound: Alfred Bruzlin, Warren B. Delaplain; Special Effects: Johnny Borgese (uncredited); Visual Effects: L.B. Abbott.
      Cast: Walter Pidgeon (Adm. Harriman Nelson), Joan Fontaine (Dr. Susan Hiller), Barbara Eden (Lt Cathy Connors), Peter Lorre (Comm. Lucius Emery), Robert Sterling (Capt. Lee Crane), Michael Ansara (Miguel Alvarez), Frankie Avalon (Lt (j.g.) Danny Romano), Regis Toomey (Dr. Jamieson), John Litel (Vice-Adm. B.J. Crawford), Howard McNear (Congressman Llewellyn Parker), Henry Daniell (Dr. Zucco), Skip Ward (Crew member), Mark Slade (Seaman Jimmy ‘Red’ Smith), Charles Tannen (CPO Gleason), Del Monroe (Seaman Kowski), Anthony Monaco (Cookie), Michael Ford (Crew member), Robert Easton (Sparks), Jonathan Gilmore (Seaman George Young).
      Synopsis: An Admiral takes a brand new atomic submarine through its paces. When the Van Allen radiation belt catches fire, the admiral must find a way to beat the heat or watch the world go up in smoke.
      Comment: Enjoyable bit of nonsense which became one of its producer’s most successful ventures. Pidgeon is a few levels above the material and his dignified performance keeps you believing in the fantastical events that are unfolding. The topic of global catastrophe triggered by man’s ability to pollute the planet has gained in significance over the years with the debates on global warming.  As such much of this tale will resonate with modern audiences. The script, however, lacks sufficient depth to make the most of these potential messages. There is kids adventure stuff too with one of the underwater sequences involving struggles with a giant octopus. The film was successful enough for Allen to transition it toTV.
      Notes: Song: “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” music and lyrics by Russell Faith. Followed by a TV series (1964-8). This story was remade as an episode of the TV series “The Sky’s on Fire” (season 2, episode 18) broadcast on 23 January 1966.

Book Review – COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1965) by Chester Himes

COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1965) ****
by Chester Himes
First published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1965
This edition: published by Penguin Books, 2011, 224pp.
ISBN: 978-0-141-19645-9

Blurb: A preacher called Deke O’Malley’s been selling false hope: the promise of a glorious new life in Africa for just $1,000 a family. But when thieves with machine guns steal the proceeds – and send one man’s brain matter flying – the con is up. Now Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed mean to bring the good people of Harlem back their $87,000, however many corpses they have to climb over to get it.

This is the sixth book in Chester Himes’ series about Harlem detectives Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson. It is perhaps the best known of his novels in that it was adapted for the big screen in 1970 and was one of the major instigators of the Blaxploitation genre of filmmaking that dominated cinemas through the mid-1970s. The novel is a quirky, sometimes absurd, but always entertaining story of the search for stolen loot right through to its ironic twist ending. Himes wonderfully captures the cornucopia of characters and misfits that inhabit the streets of Harlem, all looking to improve their lot in life. The book comments on the way society will feed off and steal from itself in order to survive – from the charlatan preacher Deke O’Malley to the sexy Iris. Himes outlines the Harlem criminals’ trait in feeding, like vultures, off of the vulnerable in their own society, embodied by the widowed Mabel who is taken in by O’Malley’s preachings and meets a tragic demise herself. The McGuffin is a bale of cotton in which is hidden $87,000 taken by O’Malley from 87 families looking to return to their roots via his “Back to Africa” initiative, which is really a scam. When the money is lost during the getaway the search begins and Grave Digger and Coffin Ed use all their street-smart methods to get it back. The book is representative of the Harlem of 1965 and brings alive the poverty (represented by the homeless Uncle Bud) and survival instincts of its inhabitants. The writing is sometimes idiosyncratic but is of a style Himes perfected over his series of novels about life in Harlem and is perfectly suited to the characters and stories he portrays.

Film Review – DIRTY HARRY (1971)

Image result for dirty harry 1971DIRTY HARRY (USA, 1971) ****½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (US), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 21 December 1971 (USA), 30 March 1972 (UK); Filming Dates: 20 April 1971 – 18 June 1971; Running Time: 102m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 15- contains strong violence.
       Director: Don Siegel; Writer: Harry Julian Fink & Rita M. Fink, and Dean Riesner (based on a story by Harry Julian Fink & Rita M. Fink); Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Don Siegel; Associate Producer: Carl Pingitore; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Carl Pingitore; Casting Director: ; Art Director: Dale Hennesy; Set Decorator: Robert De Vestel; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Gordon Bau; Sound: William Randall.
       Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry), Harry Guardino (Bressler), Reni Santoni (Chico), John Vernon (The Mayor), Andrew Robinson (Killer), John Larch (Chief), John Mitchum (De Giorgio), Mae Mercer (Mrs. Russell), Lyn Edgington (Norma), Ruth Kobart (Bus Driver), Woodrow Parfrey (Mr. Jaffe), Josef Sommer (Rothko), William Paterson (Bannerman), James Nolan (Liquor Proprietor), Maurice Argent (Sid Kleinman), Jo de Winter (Miss Willis), Craig Kelly (Sgt. Reineke).
       Synopsis: When a mad man calling himself ‘the Scorpio Killer’ menaces the city, tough as nails San Francisco Police Inspector Harry Callahan is assigned to track down and ferret out the crazed psychopath.
      Comment: Classic renegade cop movie was highly Influential and redefined the crime genre for a new generation. Siegel directs an efficient and effective crime thriller in which Eastwood established the blueprint for all maverick cop characters that followed. Much maligned by liberal critics at the time for its approach, it has since grown significantly in reputation for its lean script and Eastwood’s career-defining performance. Robinson is also excellent as the psychotic serial killer. The cat-and-mouse nature of the plot is well realised and leads to a tense finale. The screenplay contains much quotable dialogue and adds depth to the characters as well as addressing its broader message. There is a dynamite jazz-rock music score from Schifrin, which adds significantly to the movie’s style.
      Notes: Serial killer Scorpio was loosely based on the Zodiac killer, who used to taunt police and media with notes about his crimes, in one of which he threatened to hijack a school bus full of children. This was Josef Sommer’s first film. The first of five movies starring Eastwood as Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan. Followed by MAGNUM FORCE (1973), THE ENFORCER (1976), SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and THE DEAD POOL (1988).

Film Review – FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966)

Image result for fantastic voyage 1966FANTASTIC VOYAGE (USA, 1966) ***½
      Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox; Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox; Release Date: 24 August 1966 (USA), 14 October 1966 (UK); Filming Dates: 25 January – mid June 1965; Running Time: 100m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: U.
      Director: Richard Fleischer; Writer: Harry Kleiner (screenplay), David Duncan (adaptation) (based on a story by Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby); Producer: Saul David; Director of Photography: Ernest Laszlo; Music Composer: Leonard Rosenman; Film Editor: William B. Murphy; Art Director: Dale Hennesy, Jack Martin Smith; Set Decorator: Stuart A. Reiss, Walter M. Scott; Costumes: Bruce Walkup, Truman Eli, Ollie Hughes (all uncredited); Make-up: Ben Nye; Sound: David Dockendorf, Bernard Freericks; Special Effects: Johnny Borgese, Greg C. Jensen (both uncredited); Visual Effects: L.B. Abbott, Art Cruickshank, Emil Kosa Jr.
      Cast: Stephen Boyd (Grant), Raquel Welch (Cora), Edmond O’Brien (General Carter), Donald Pleasence (Dr. Michaels), Arthur O’Connell (Col. Donald Reid), William Redfield (Capt. Bill Owens), Arthur Kennedy (Dr. Duval), Jean Del Val (Jan Benes), Barry Coe (Communications Aide), Ken Scott (Secret Service), Shelby Grant (Nurse), James Brolin (Technician), Brendan Fitzgerald (Wireless Operator). Uncredited: Brendon Boone (Military Policeman), Kenneth MacDonald (Henry – Heart Monitoring), Christopher Riordan (Young Scientist).
      Synopsis: A diplomat is nearly assassinated. In order to save him, a submarine is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into his bloodstream with a small crew. Problems arise almost as soon as they enter the bloodstream.
      Comment: Imaginative sci-fi memorable for its superb production design and photographic effects, which deservedly won Academy Awards. The script is solid, even if the dialogue is a little hokey at times, and provides the requisite set-pieces, helping build tension in the story. The concept of miniaturisation is fanciful, but once you get past that element there is much to enjoy in the fantasy it creates. Boyd makes for a likeable square-jawed hero and Welch adds glamour to the mix.  Capably directed by Fleischer and with an eerily discordant score from Rosenman.
      Notes: The picture marked the first major screen role for actress Raquel Welch. Won Oscars for Art Direction-Set Decoration (Jack Martin Smith, Dale Hennesy, Walter M. Scott and Stuart A. Reiss) and Special Effects (Art Cruickshank). Novelised by Isaac Asimov. Followed by an animated TV series in 1968.

Film Review – REGAN (1974)

Image result for regan 1974REGAN (TV) (UK, 1974) ****
      Distributor: Thames Television; Production Company: Armchair Cinema / Euston Films / Thames Television; Release Date: 4 June 1974; Filming Dates: 6 February 1974 – 5 March 1974; Running Time: 77m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Tom Clegg; Writer: Ian Kennedy Martin; Executive Producer: Lloyd Shirley, George Taylor; Producer: Ted Childs; Associate Producer: Mary Morgan; Director of Photography: John Keeling; Music Composer: Cy Payne (as Mark Duvall); Film Editor: Chris Burt; Casting Director: Lesley De Pettit; Art Director: Jack Robinson; Costumes: Jo Osmond, David Murphy; Make-up: Michael Morris; Sound: Tony Dawe.
      Cast: John Thaw (Det. Insp. Jack Regan), Dennis Waterman (Det. Sgt. George Carter), Lee Montague (Arthur Dale), Garfield Morgan (Det. Chief Insp. Frank Haskins), David Daker (Tusser), Janet Key (Kate Regan), Maureen Lipman (Annie), Morris Perry (Det. Chief Supt. Maynon), Stephen Yardley (Det. Insp. Laker), Barry Jackson (Morton), Miquel Brown (Miriam), Peter Blythe (Peter), Carl Rigg (Det. Sgt. Kent), Michael Da Costa (South), Ron Pember (Landlord), Jonathan Elsom (Interviewer), Betty Woolfe (Mrs. Berry), Seymour Matthews (Doctor), Don Henderson (Strip-Club Heavy), Nancy Gabrielle (Johno’s Wife), Del Baker (Det. Sgt. Cowley).
      Synopsis: A flying squad officer is led a merry dance by gangsters from a London pub and, although he survives a brutal beating ‘get rid of this filth,’ he subsequently dies. Enter John Thaw’s vengeful and unconventional copper Regan.
      Comment: Smart cop thriller for the ITV Armchair Cinema series acted as a pilot for the TV series The Sweeney (1975-8). Thaw is immediately into his stride as DI Regan and Waterman provides good support as Carter, his more thoughtful DS. The plot concerning rival gangs manoeuvering to remove a common problem is nothing new but is written and filmed in a gritty style that was to prove hugely influential on the small screen. Echoes of cinematic greats such as DIRTY HARRY, THE FRENCH CONNECTION and GET CARTER (all 1971) abound with witty and urban dialogue and tough action scenes.

Film Review – SWEENEY 2 (1978)

Image result for sweeney 2 1978SWEENEY 2 (UK, 1978) ***
      Distributor: EMI Distribution; Production Company: Euston Films; Release Date: April 1978; Filming Dates: Novcmber 1977 – December 1977; Running Time: 104m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Tom Clegg; Writer: Troy Kennedy-Martin (based on “The Sweeney” created by Ian Kennedy Martin); Executive Producer: Lloyd Shirley, George Taylor; Producer: Ted Childs; Associate Producer: ; Director of Photography: Dusty Miller; Music Composer: Tony Hatch; Film Editor: Chris Burt; Casting Director: Marilyn Johnson; Art Director: William Alexander; Costumes: David Murphy; Make-up: Eddie Knight; Sound: Derek Rye, Hugh Strain, Ian Toynton; Special Effects: Arthur Beavis.
      Cast: John Thaw (Det. Insp. Jack Regan), Dennis Waterman (Det. Sgt. George Carter), Denholm Elliott (Jupp), Ken Hutchison (Hill), Anna Gaël (Mrs. Hill), Barry Stanton (Big John), John Flanagan (Willard), David Casey (Goodyear), Derrick O’Connor (Llewellyn), John Alkin (Det. Sgt. Tom Daniels), James Warrior (Det. Con. Jellyneck), Guy Standeven (Logan – Bank Manager), Brian Gwaspari (White), Frederick Treves (McKyle), Johnny Shannon (Harry – Villain), Clifford Kershaw (Gloria’s Father), Toby Salaman (Doctor), Nigel Hawthorne (Dilke), Lewis Fiander (Gorran), Anna Nygh (Shirley Hicks), Michael J. Jackson (Soames), Lynn Dearth (Mrs. White), Fiona Mollison (Mrs. Haughton), Sarah Atkinson (Mrs. Mead), John Lyons (Mead), Brian Hall (Haughton), Matthew Scurfield (Jefferson), Gareth Milne (Bank Teller), Sebastian Witkin (Skateboarder), Hubert Rees (Bank Manager), George Innes (Pete Beale), Roddy McMillan (Collie), Michael O’Hagan (Doyle), Arthur Cox (Detective), Georgina Hale (Switchboard Girl), Patrick Malahide (Major Conway), Max Mason (SPG Constable), Frank Coda (Commissionaire), Yvon Doval (Mr. Mahmoun), Jim McManus (Barman), John Vine (PC), David Gillies (PC), Seretta Wilson (Girl), Diana Weston (Air Hostess), George Mikell (Superintendent), Marc Zuber (Andy), Joe Zammit-Cardona (Customs Official), Leon Lissek (Cardona Alexandros), Marilyn Finlay (School Teacher), Seymour Matthews (Harry – Fingerprint Man), Stefan Gryff (Nino), Michael Scholes (Boy in Bed), Danny Rae (Taxi Driver), Rosario Serrano (Mrs. Konstantikis), Eamonn Jones (Barman), Alan Ross (Fiddler).
      Synopsis: Second cinematic spin-off from the popular 70’s police series. Regan & Carter head a Flying Squad investigation into a series of bank raids by a team of well-armed villains who are flying in from the continent
      Comment: This follow-up to the first big-screen outing for Thaw and Waterman in SWEENEY! (1977) is a tough and violent story of the pursuit of a gang of bank robbers who are funding a residential development in Malta. The story stretches its running time and contains a lot of padding – including a bomb threat segment in a hotel that has no other reason to be in the story. That said it works slightly better than the first film as it is more closely linked to the style and characters of the TV series. Thaw and Waterman have established a strong rapport and there is a “fly-on-the-wall” documentary feel to the way the story is filmed, adding to the levels of authenticity. However, there is less in the way of character progression and the whole thing amounts to little more than an extended, albeit enjoyable, episode of the series.
      Notes: As seen through Denholm Elliott’s character, The Sweeney was not afraid to face the fact that there are such things as bent officers. The character was based on a real-life former head of the Flying Squad, who had been convicted at the Old Bailey on corruption charges in 1977.

Film Review – THE BEGUILED (1971)

Image result for the beguiled 1971THE BEGUILED (USA, 1971) ****
      Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 31 March 1971 (USA), July 1971 (UK); Filming Dates: 9 April 1970; Running Time: 105m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – moderate language, sex and violence.
      Director: Don Siegel; Writer: John B. Sherry, Grimes Grice (based on the novel “The Painted Devil” by Thomas Cullinan); Executive Producer: Jennings Lang; Producer: Don Siegel; Associate Producer: Claude Traverse; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Carl Pingitore; Casting Director: Robert J. LaSanka; Production Designer: Ted Haworth; Art Director: Alexander Golitzen; Set Decorator: John P. Austin; Costumes: Helen Colvig; Make-up: Bud Westmore; Sound: John L. Mack, Waldon O. Watson.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (John McBurney), Geraldine Page (Martha), Elizabeth Hartman (Edwina), Jo Ann Harris (Carol), Darleen Carr (Doris), Mae Mercer (Hallie), Pamelyn Ferdin (Amy), Melody Thomas Scott (Abigail), Peggy Drier (Lizzie), Patricia Mattick (Janie), Charlie Briggs (1st Confederate Captain), George Dunn (Sam Jefferson), Charles G. Martin (2nd Confederate Captain), Matt Clark (Scrogins), Patrick Culliton (Miles Farnswoth), Buddy Van Horn (Soldier).
      Synopsis: During the Civil War a wounded Union soldier who has been taken in at a Southern girls’ school. The girls become curious and then sensuous. But when jealousy sparks, the anger is ultimately focused on the soldier.
      Comment: This is a haunting tale in which Eastwood plays against type in an unsympathetic role. Themes of sexual repression and sodomy are well-handled by Siegel, never crossing the line into exploitation. Page is excellent as the headmistress with her own secrets. The production is handsomely mounted and beautifully photographed by Surtees. The sexual tension builds throughout the story as Eastwood manipulates the naivety of his saviours. He gives his best screen performance to date as a result.
      Notes: Remade in 2017.

Film Review – SWEENEY! (1977)

Related imageSWEENEY! (UK, 1977) ***
      Distributor: EMI Distribution; Production Company: Euston Films; Release Date: 20 January 1977; Filming Dates: April 1976 – May 1976; Running Time: 97m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: ; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: David Wickes; Writer: Ranald Graham (based on The Sweeney created by Ian Kennedy Martin); Executive Producer: Lloyd Shirley, George Taylor; Producer: Ted Childs; Director of Photography: Dusty Miller; Music Composer: Denis King; Film Editor: Chris Burt; Casting Director: Marilyn Johnson; Art Director: William Alexander; Set Decorator: ; Costumes: David Murphy; Make-up: Michael Morris; Sound: Tony Dawe, Clive Smith; Special Effects: Arthur Beavis.
      Cast: John Thaw (D.I. Jack Regan), Dennis Waterman (D.S. George Carter), Barry Foster (Elliott McQueen), Ian Bannen (Charles Baker), Colin Welland (Frank Chadwick), Diane Keen (Bianca Hamilton), Michael Coles (Johnson), Joe Melia (Ronnie Brent), Brian Glover (Mac), Lynda Bellingham (Janice Wyatt), Morris Perry (Flying Squad Cdr. Maynon), Paul Angelis (Secret Serviceman), Nick Brimble (D.S. Burtonshaw), John Alkin (D.S. Tom Daniels), Bernard Kay (Matthews), Antony Scott (Johnson’s Henchman), Antony Brown (Murder Inquiry Supt.), John Oxley (Chadwick’s Deputy Editor), Peggy Aitchison (Carter’s Neighbour), Hal Jeayes (Manservant), Sally Osborne (Sally), John Kane (Special Branch Sgt.), Chris Dillinger (Johnson’s Henchman), Peter Childs (Murder Inquiry Insp.), Alan Mitchell (Detective Insp.), Leonard Kavanagh (Pathologist), Anthony Woodruff (Coroner), Michael Latimer (P.P.S.), Matthew Long (Traffic Police Sgt.), Joyce Grant (McQueen’s Secretary), Johnny Shannon (Scotland Yard Duty Sgt.), David Corti (Young Boy), Susan Valentine (Chadwick’s Secretary (as Susan Skipper)), Nadim Sawalha (Chairman of the Oil Producers’ Conference).
      Synopsis: Hard-bitten Flying Squad officer Jack Regan gets embroiled in a deadly political plot when an old friend asks him to investigate the death of his girlfriend.
      Comment: Typical of its time in its political incorrectness, violent action and seeking out corruption in the higher echelons of government. Thaw and Waterman more than adequately carry forward their small-screen portrayals. Foster and Keen are impressive in the supporting cast. Whilst the plot is an interesting play on the Profumo affair of the early 1960s it somehow fails to deliver satisfactorily. The action scenes are well-directed and the crew of the TV series all play their part. The shocking finale is well-executed and played out.
      Notes: Based on the TV series The Sweeney (1974-8) and followed by SWEENEY 2 (1978) and an updated adaptation in 2012.