TV Review – CRACKER: BROTHERLY LOVE (1995)

Image result for cracker brotherly loveCRACKER: BROTHERLY LOVE (TV) (UK, 1995) ****½
      Distributor: ITV – Independent Television; Production Company: A&E Television Networks / Granada Television; Release Date: 22 & 29 October 1995; Running Time: 150m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Roy Battersby; Writer: Jimmy McGovern; Executive Producer: Sally Head; Producer: Hilary Bevan Jones; Director of Photography: Dick Dodd; Music Composer: Rick Wentworth; Film Editor: Edward Mansell; Casting Director: Marilyn Johnson; Production Designer: Stephen Fineren; Art Director: Bill Crutcher; Costume Designer: Tudor George; Make-up: Sue Milton; Sound: Phil Smith.
      Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Fitz), Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald), Geraldine Somerville (D.S. Penhaligon), Lorcan Cranitch (D.S. Beck), Ricky Tomlinson (D.C.I. Wise), David Calder (Michael Harvey), Clive Russell (Danny Fitzgerald), Mark Lambert (David Harvey), Brid Brennan (Maggie Harvey), Robert Cavanah (D.C. Temple), Polly Hemingway (Denise Fletcher), Ruth Sheen (Jean McIlvanney), Ron Donachie (Barney), Edward Peel (Chief Superintendent), Paul Copley (Pathologist), Isobel Middleton (Catriona Bilborough), Kieran O’Brien (Mark), Tess Thomson (Katie).
      Synopsis: A prostitute is found raped and murdered, opening old wounds at the station. Beck returns to work after a breakdown, and tensions rise between him and Penhaligon. With the main suspect under lock and key, the police are stunned to uncover two more brutal murders in the space of a few days, and whilst suffering the distraction of becoming a father again, Fitz has to cope with a complex case, the tormented Penhaligon, and a far from recovered Jimmy Beck.
      Comment: The first story of the third series of Cracker sees McGovern bring to a head a number of threads carried forward from earlier stories against the backdrop of the hunt for a serial rapist. The script is top-notch and expertly builds tension through its exploration of themes of Catholicism, prostitution, guilt, retribution and redemption. In fact, so much is packed into the story that McGovern does well to keep all the plates spinning right to the shocking conclusion. The cast is first-rate – notably Brennan as the wronged wife and Cranitch as the guilt-ridden detective who is gradually becoming psychologically unravelled. Coltrane continues to live and breathe his flawed psychologist hero whose professional expertise is at odds with the mess of his family life, now with a new addition. This would be McGovern’s last contribution to the series until its one-off revival eleven years later and the series never got this good again.

TV Review – CRACKER: MEN SHOULD WEEP (1994)

Image result for cracker men should weepCRACKER: MEN SHOULD WEEP (TV) (UK, 1994) ****
      Distributor: ITV – Independent Television; Production Company: A&E Television Networks / Granada Television; Release Date: 21, 28 November & 5 December 1994; Running Time: 149m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Jean Stewart; Writer: Jimmy McGovern; Executive Producer: Sally Head; Producer: Paul Abbott; Director of Photography: Ivan Strasburg; Music Composer: David Ferguson; Film Editor: Tony Cranstoun; Casting Director: Gail Stevens; Production Designer: Stephen Fineren; Art Director: Nick Wilkinson; Sound: Phil Smith.
      Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Fitz), Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald), Geraldine Somerville (D.S. Penhaligon), Lorcan Cranitch (D.S. Beck), Ricky Tomlinson (D.C.I. Wise), Graham Aggrey (Floyd Malcolm), Colin Tierney (Harriman), Alexander Newland (Marvin Malcolm), Julie Saunders (Bev Malcolm), Rachel Davies (Mrs Malcolm), Ludmilla Vuli (Trish), John McArdle (Tom Carter), Marian McLoughlin (Catherine Carter), Wil Johnson (Skelton), Isobel Middleton (Catriona Bilborough),Kieran O’Brien (Mark), Tess Thomson (Katie).
      Synopsis: Floyd Malcolm, a black taxi driver, lashes out at white men who disrespect him by raping their wives and destroying the evidence, and strikes at the heart of Fitz’s personal life when Penhaligon is raped.
      Comment: Jimmy McGovern returns to script the final story of the second series of Cracker and it is an absorbing drama. The central story of a serial rapist fuelled by racial insecurity is well-written. The drama also has a twist which brings matters closer to home as Penhaligon (Somerville) becomes a victim – only to realise her attacker is not the man the police are hunting down. Performances are top-notch as usual and the drama only loses its shape in its final act, when genre conventions threaten to de-rail it. Fortunately, the direction and acting are so strong it just about makes it through as we are left on a cliff-hanger ending.

TV Review – CRACKER: THE BIG CRUNCH (1994)

Cracker (UK) - 02x04 The Big Crunch (1)CRACKER: THE BIG CRUNCH (TV) (UK, 1994) ***½
Distributor: ITV – Independent Television; Production Company: A&E Television Networks / Granada Television; Release Date: 31 October, 7 & 14 November 1994; Running Time: 147m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Julian Jarrold; Writer: Ted Whitehead; Executive Producer: Sally Head; Producer: Paul Abbott; Director of Photography: Ivan Strasburg; Music Composer: David Ferguson; Film Editor: Oral Norrie Ottey; Casting Director: Gail Stevens; Production Designer: Claire Kenny; Art Director: Chris Coldwell; Sound: Chris Coldwell.
Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Fitz), Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald), Geraldine Somerville (D.S. Penhaligon), Lorcan Cranitch (D.S. Beck), Ricky Tomlinson (D.C.I. Wise), Jim Carter (Kenneth Trant), Cherith Mellor (Norma Trant), Maureen O’Brien (Virginia Trant), Samantha Morton (Joanna Barnes), James Fleet (Michael Trant), Darren Tighe (Dean Saunders), Roger Sloman (Mr Barnes), Ellie Haddington (Mrs Barnes), Colin Tierney (Harriman), Kieran O’Brien (Mark), Emma Cunniffe (Sarah Jennings), Nicholas Blane (Father O’Ryan), Tess Thomson (Katie).
Synopsis: A young girl missing for several days is discovered naked, covered in strange symbols and quoting the Bible. The trail leads to a fringe Christian sect and its charismatic leader, Kenneth Trant.
Comment: Fifth story in the Cracker series is the first not to be written by Jimmy McGovern. The setting switches from the inner-city working-class to middle-class suburbia. The story’s focus on religious hypocrisy is a little heavy-handed with its denouement seeming contrived and unconvincing. The strengths of the production lie in the performances of its strong cast, notably Morton as the young girl besotted with Carter’s sect leader. Coltrane is as captivating as ever as Fitz, whose verbal sparring with Tomlinson’s chief of detectives is one of the highlights.

Film Review – THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977)

Image result for THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT 1977THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (UK/USA, 1977) **½
      Distributor: Brent Walker PLC (UK), American International Pictures (AIP) (USA); Production Company: American International Pictures (AIP) / Amicus Productions; Release Date: 22 June 1977 (USA), 27 August 1977 (UK); Filming Dates: began 24 Jan 1977; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: U.
      Director: Kevin Connor; Writer: Patrick Tilley (based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs); Executive Producer: Samuel Z. Arkoff; Producer: John Dark; Director of Photography: Alan Hume; Music Composer: John Scott; Film Editor: John Ireland, Barry Peters; Production Designer: Maurice Carter; Art Director: Bert Davey, Fernando González; Set Decorator: Simon Wakefield; Costumes: ; Make-up: Robin Grantham; Sound: George Stephenson; Special Effects: Ian Wingrove, John Richardson; Visual Effects: Charles Staffell.
      Cast: Patrick Wayne (Ben McBride), Doug McClure (Bowen Tyler), Sarah Douglas (Charly), Dana Gillespie (Ajor), Thorley Walters (Norfolk), Shane Rimmer (Hogan), Tony Britton (Captain Lawton), John Hallam (Chung-Sha), David Prowse (Executioner), Milton Reid (Sabbala), Kiran Shah (Bolum), Richard LeParmentier (Lt. Whitby), Jimmy Ray (Lt. Graham), Tony McHale (Telegraphist).
      Synopsis: Major Ben McBride organises a mission to the Antarctic wastes to search for his friend (McClure) who has been missing in the region for several years.
      Comment: Okay sequel to THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1974) lacks the creative energy of the original but remains a mildly entertaining diversion. Wayne is rather wooden in the lead role, but Douglas and Walters compensate. McClure reprises his role from the first film in a guest slot. Effects are limited due to the lack of budget, but Connor gets as much excitement as he can from a rather flat script and stages some good action sequences and monster set-pieces.

Film Review – THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1974)

Image result for the land that time forgot 1975THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (UK/USA, 1975) ***
      Distributor: British Lion Film Corporation (UK), American International Pictures (AIP) (USA); Production Company: Amicus Productions / Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. / Land Associates / Lion International; Release Date: 29 November 1974 (UK), 13 August 1975 (USA); Filming Dates: February 1974 – 18 April 1974; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: U.
      Director: Kevin Connor; Writer: James Cawthorn, Michael Moorcock (based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs); Executive Producer: Robert H. Greenberg; Producer: John Dark, Max Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky; Associate Producer: John Peverall; Director of Photography: Alan Hume; Music Composer: Douglas Gamley; Film Editor: John Ireland; Casting Director: ; Production Designer: Maurice Carter; Art Director: Bert Davey; Costumes: Julie Harris; Make-up: Tom Smith; Sound: Don Sharpe, George Stephenson; Special Effects: Derek Meddings; Visual Effects: Charles Staffell.
      Cast: Doug McClure (Bowen Tyler), John McEnery (Captain Von Schoenvorts), Susan Penhaligon (Lisa Clayton), Keith Barron (Bradley), Anthony Ainley (Dietz), Godfrey James (Borg), Bobby Parr (Ahm), Declan Mulholland (Olson), Colin Farrell (Whiteley), Ben Howard (Benson), Roy Holder (Plesser), Andrew McCulloch (Sinclair), Ron Pember (Jones), Grahame Mallard (Deusett), Andrew Lodge (Reuther), Brian Hall (Schwartz), Stanley McGeagh (Hiller), Peter Sproule (Hindle), Steve James (First Sto-Lu).
      Synopsis: During World War I, a German U-boat sinks a British ship and takes the survivors on board. After it takes a wrong turn, the submarine takes them to the unknown land of Caprona, where they find dinosaurs and neanderthals.
      Comment: This low-budget fantasy-adventure is great fun and its charm and energy help you forget the variable special effects. McClure enjoys himself as the square-jawed hero and has good support from a game British cast, including Penhaligon as a biologist and McClure’s love interest. Action scenes are well directed and the monster work as good as it could be for the budget. Themes around evolution add a layer of intelligence, but this is still primary juvenile entertainment.
      Notes: McEnery was dubbed by Anton Diffring. Followed by THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977) and remade in 2009.