Film Review – SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (1960)

Film - Saturday Night And Sunday Morning - Into FilmSATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (UK, 1960) ****
      Distributor: British Lion Films (UK), Continental Distributing (USA); Production Company: Woodfall Film Productions; Release Date: 27 October 1960 (UK), 3 April 1961 (USA); Filming Dates: began 26 February 1960; Running Time: 89m; Colour: B&W; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Karel Reisz; Writer: Alan Sillitoe (based on the novel by Alan Sillitoe); Executive Producer: Harry Saltzman; Producer: Tony Richardson; Director of Photography: Freddie Francis; Music Composer: John Dankworth; Film Editor: Seth Holt; Art Director: Edward Marshall; Costumes: Sophie Devine, Barbara Gillett; Make-up: Harold Fletcher, Pearl Tipaldi; Sound: Chris Greenham, Peter Handford, Bob Jones.
      Cast: Albert Finney (Arthur Seaton), Shirley Anne Field (Doreen), Rachel Roberts (Brenda), Hylda Baker (Aunt Ada), Norman Rossington (Bert), Bryan Pringle (Jack), Robert Cawdron (Robboe), Edna Morris (Mrs. Bull), Elsie Wagstaff (Mrs. Seaton), Frank Pettitt (Mr. Seaton), Avis Bunnage (Blousy Woman), Colin Blakely (Loudmouth), Irene Richmond (Doreen’s Mother), Louise Dunn (Betty), Anne Blake (Civil Defence Officer), Peter Madden (Drunken Man), Cameron Hall (Mr. Bull), Alister Williamson (Policeman).
      Synopsis: A rebellious, hard-living factory worker juggles relationships with two women, one of whom is married to another man but pregnant with his child.
      Comment: Finney is an angry young factory worker rebelling against the conventions of life in post-war Britain. In doing so he indulges in an affair with Roberts, the wife of one of his work colleagues whilst being attracted to the young and naïve Field. Whilst a product of its time, spearheading the British New Wave in the early 1960s, it retains much of its power through Finney’s superb performance and those of a strong support cast including Roberts as the misled married woman. Sillitoe’s script is sharp, witty and socially aware and Reisz translates it well to the screen. Francis’ black and white cinematography wonderfully captures the industrial heart of Nottingham with its smoke billowing factories and terraced rows. The themes of generational gaps and the rebellious youth in post-war Britain are keenly observed in this ground-breaking drama right through to its ironic closing scene.

Film Review – DOWNTON ABBEY (2019)

Image result for downton abbey 2019DOWNTON ABBEY (UK, 2019) ***
      Distributor: Universal Pictures International (UPI) (UK), Focus Features (USA); Production Company: Carnival Film & Television / Focus Features / Perfect World Pictures; Release Date: 13 September 2019 (UK), 20 September 2019 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 September 2018; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: Digital (Digital Cinema Package DCP); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: PG – mild threat, language.
      Director: Michael Engler; Writer: Julian Fellowes (based on characters created by Julian Fellowes); Executive Producer: Nigel Marchant, Brian Percival; Producer: Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge; Director of Photography: Ben Smithard; Music Composer: John Lunn; Film Editor: Mark Day; Casting Director: Jill Trevellick; Production Designer: Donal Woods; Art Director: Mark Kebby; Set Decorator: Gina Cromwell; Costumes: Anna Robbins; Make-up: Elaine Browne; Sound: David Lascelles.
      Cast: Matthew Goode (Henry Talbot), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Talbot), Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates), Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley), Tuppence Middleton (Lucy Smith), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley), Imelda Staunton (Maud Bagshaw), Stephen Campbell Moore (Captain Chetwode), Geraldine James (Queen Mary), Allen Leech (Tom Branson), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith), Sophie McShera (Daisy Mason), Mark Addy (Mr. Bakewell), Kate Phillips (Princess Mary), Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Raquel Cassidy (Miss Baxter), Susan Lynch (Miss Lawton), Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Jim Carter (Mr. Carson), Penelope Wilton (Isobel Merton), Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates), Max Brown (Richard Ellis), Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore), David Haig (Mr Wilson), Kevin Doyle (Mr. Molesley), Perry Fitzpatrick (Chris Webster), Harry Hadden-Paton (Bertie Hexham), Simon Jones (King George V), Michael Fox (Andy Parker), Philippe Spall (Monsieur Courbet), James Cartwright (Tony Sellick), Douglas Reith (Lord Merton).
      Synopsis: An aristocratic family and their staff have to prepare for an unexpected visit from the King and Queen.
      Comment: Fans of the TV series, which ran for six seasons, will no doubt love this big-screen adaptation. Casual viewers may get lost in the abundance of characters, well played by the ensemble cast, and their carry over backstories. The story itself is slight, based around the tensions caused by the Royal visit to the household. There are nods at the Irish hatred toward the crown and the underground gay movement, but these are not fully explored. Instead, the writer and director focus on the inter-relationships between the main characters. Sumptuously designed, it’s all very civilised and often witty, but the lack of substance means this will only really have any lasting legacy with its sizeable fan base.

Book Review – THE SHAMELESS (2019) by Ace Atkins

THE SHAMELESS (2019) ***½
by Ace Atkins
This paperback edition published by Corsair, 2020, 446pp
First published in hardcover by Corsair, 2019
© Ace Atkins, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4721-5500-9
The Shameless (Quinn Colson Book 9) by [Atkins, Ace]      Blurb: Twenty years ago, teenager Brandon Taylor walked into the Big Woods north of Tibbehah County, Mississippi, and never returned. For former Army Ranger-turned-sheriff Quinn Colson, the Taylor case has a particular meaning. As a ten-year-old, Colson had been lost in those same woods and came back from them alive and a local legend. Years later, bones of a child are found in the woods, confirming for many the end to the Taylor story. As the case reopens, some point fingers to Quinn’s uncle, the former sheriff, who took his own life in a cloud of corruption and shame. Still, Quinn’s wife, Maggie, can’t believe it. As a childhood friend of the Taylor boy, she thinks there’s a darker conspiracy at work. Letters she receives from a mysterious inmate at a Tennessee state pen may hold the answers. With a heated election for governor on the horizon and the strengthening of a criminal syndicate’s death grip on the state, Quinn’s search for answers will upset the corruption that’s plagued his home since before he came back from Afghanistan. Greed, false piety, power, bigotry, and dirty deals make for a dangerous mix he knows all too well.
      Comment: Number 9 in the Sheriff Quinn Colson series takes Ace Atkins’ hero into a cold case that hits close to home. It’s a slow-burning story, built around two New York reporters arriving in Tibbehah County to investigate what really happened to a teenager who allegedly killed himself in the woods. Again the characters are rich and the dialogue superb. Those who have been with the series from the start and seen how it has developed will consider this book a crossroads in a story arc that has built throughout, with its cliffhanger ending and some major shifts for most of the characters. What it lacks in action (a hitherto pre-requisite of the series) it makes up for in plot progression. Quinn, newly married to Maggie is up against forces that would have him removed from office, sister Caddy takes up with a man affiliated to those forces, Fannie Hathcock looks to broaden her criminal empire and battle those who would oppose her, Boom struggles with alcoholism following events from the previous book, THE SINNERS. Many of these plot threads remain unresolved by the book’s conclusion, giving it the feel of a transitionary novel with its lack of closure potentially leaving readers unfulfilled. Casual readers would, therefore, be advised to start from the beginning with THE RANGER, to get acquainted with the core characters, their back-story and the setting. They will be rewarded with a series that has matured with each book and leaves you wanting more.

The Quinn Colson series:
The Ranger (2011) ***
The Lost Ones (2012) ***
The Broken Place (2013) ***
The Forsaken (2014) ***½
The Redeemers (2015) ****
The Innocents (2016) ***½
The Fallen (2017) ****
The Sinners (2018) ***½
The Shameless (2019) ***½

Film Review – SPRING AND PORT WINE (1970)

SPRING AND PORT WINE (UK, 1970) ***
      Distributor: Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors; Production Company: Memorial Enterprises; Release Date: 19 February 1970; Filming Dates: began 28 April 1969; Running Time: 101m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Peter Hammond; Writer: Bill Naughton (based on the stage play by Bill Naughton); Executive Producer: Roy Baird; Producer: Michael Medwin; Director of Photography: Norman Warwick; Music Composer: Douglas Gamley; Film Editor: Fergus McDonell; Casting Director: Miriam Brickman (uncredited); Production Designer: Reece Pemberton; Costumes: Elsa Fennell; Make-up: Bunty Phillips; Sound: Robin Gregory, Barry McCormick.
      Cast: James Mason (Rafe Crompton), Diana Coupland (Daisy Crompton), Hannah Gordon (Florence Crompton), Susan George (Hilda Crompton), Rodney Bewes (Harold Crompton), Len Jones (Wilfred Crompton), Keith Buckley (Arthur Gasket), Avril Elgar (Betsy-Jane Duckworth), Adrienne Posta (Betty Duckworth), Frank Windsor (Ned Duckworth), Arthur Lowe (Mr. Aspinall), Marjorie Rhodes (Mrs. Gasket), Bernard Bresslaw (Lorry Driver), Joseph Greig (Allan (T.V. Man)), Christopher Timothy (Joe (T.V. Man)), Ken Parry (Pawnbroker), Reginald Green (Bowler 1), Jack Howarth (Bowler 2), Bryan Pringle (Bowler 3), John Sharp (Bowler 4).
      Synopsis: A stern father and lenient mother try to deal with the ups and downs of their four children’s lives in working-class Bolton.
      Comment: Bill Naughton adapted his own stage play for the big screen with this battle of wills between the generations within a northern family. The location shooting in Bolton adds a level of authenticity to a script which comes across as a little over-preachy and with a finale that doesn’t feel real. However, a game cast delivers some witty dialogue and whilst Mason was miscast, he makes a good stab at his part of the stubborn family patriarch. Bewes also scores as the insolent son who doesn’t quite have the courage of his convictions and Coupland as the wife torn between loyalty to her husband and her kids. A time capsule caught slightly out of sync.

Film Review – CALLAN (1974)

CallanCALLAN (UK, 1974) ***½
      Distributor: EMI Distribution; Production Company: Magnum Films / Syn-Frank Enterprises; Release Date: 23 May 1974; Filming Dates: began 29 October 1973; Running Time: 106m; Colour: Eastmancolor; Sound Mix: Dolby (Dolby System®) | Mono (RCA Sound System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Don Sharp; Writer: James Mitchell (based on the novel “A Red File for Callan” by James Mitchell); Producer: Derek Horne; Associate Producer: Harry Benn; Director of Photography: Ernest Steward; Music Composer: Wilfred Josephs; Film Editor: Teddy Darvas; Casting Director: Lesley De Pettit; Art Director: John Clark; Set Decorator: Simon Holland; Costumes: Ray Beck; Make-up: Freddie Williamson; Sound: Derek Ball, Charles Crafford, John Poyner; Special Effects: John Richardson.
      Cast: Edward Woodward (David Callan), Eric Porter (Hunter), Carl Möhner (Schneider), Catherine Schell (Jenny), Peter Egan (Toby Meres), Russell Hunter (Lonely), Kenneth Griffith (Waterman), Michael Da Costa (The Greek), Veronica Lang (Liz, Hunter’s Secretary), Clifford Rose (Dr. Snell), David Prowse (Arthur), Don Henderson (George), Nadim Sawalha (Padilla), David Graham (Wireless operator), Yuri Borienko (Security porter), Peter Symonds (Smart security man), Raymond Bowers (Shabby security man), Joe Dunlop (Policeman), Mollie Maureen (Old lady in the Strand).
      Synopsis: David Callan, secret agent, is called back to the service after his retirement, to handle the assassination of a German businessman, but Callan refuses to co-operate until he finds out why this man is marked for death.
      Comment: Big screen adaptation on a low budget of James Mitchell’s assassin creation who wrestles with his own conscience. The story was originally written as an hour-long TV play entitled A Magnum for Schneider (1967), which later led to the TV series Callan (1967-72). Woodward reprises his role and delivers a believable performance in this anti-glamourous approach to the genre. Mitchell’s script is strong, padding out his original story initially into a novel and then a screenplay. There’s little in the way of action, save for a wonderful cat-and-mouse car chase. This is a spy thriller that plays on the main character’s self-conflictions as he gets to know his mark. Whilst largely downbeat there are occasional flashes of black humour. Fans of the series will find much to enjoy, whilst others may see this as an antidote to the proliferation of over-the-top spy movies.

Film Review – THE FAMILY WAY (1966)

Image result for the family way 1966THE FAMILY WAY (UK, 1966) ****
      Distributor: British Lion Film Corporation (UK), Warner Bros. (USA); Production Company: Boulting Brothers / Jambox; Release Date: 18 December 1966 (UK), 28 June 1967 (USA); Filming Dates: began 27 May 1966; Running Time: 115m; Colour: Eastmancolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: 12 – moderate sex references, language, violence.
     Director: Roy Boulting; Writer: Bill Naughton, Roy Boulting, Jeffrey Dell (based on the play “All in Good Time” by Bill Naughton); Producer: John Boulting, Roy Boulting; Director of Photography: Harry Waxman; Music Composer: Paul McCartney; Music Supervisor: George Martin; Film Editor: Ernest Hosler; Casting Director: Thelma Graves; Art Director: Alan Withy; Costumes: Bridget Sellers; Make-up: Trevor Crole-Rees; Sound: Christopher Lancaster.
      Cast: Hywel Bennett (Arthur Fitton), Hayley Mills (Jenny Piper), John Mills (Ezra Fitton), Marjorie Rhodes (Lucy Fitton), Avril Angers (Liz Piper), John Comer (Leslie Piper), Wilfred Pickles (Uncle Fred), Murray Head (Geoffrey Fitton), Barry Foster (Joe Thompson), Liz Fraser (Molly Thompson), Andy Bradford (Eddie), Thorley Walters (The Vicar), Colin Gordon (Mr. Hutton, the Travel Agent), Robin Parkinson (Mr. Phillips, his assistant), Lesley Daine (Dora), Ruth Trouncer (The Marriage Guidance Counsellor), Harry Locke (Mr. Stubbs, the Housing Officer), Maureen O’Reilly (Miss Hunt, his secretary), Michael Cadman (Len), Hazel Bainbridge (Mrs. Bell), Ruth Gower (Mrs. Pike), Diana Coupland (Mrs. Ross), Fanny Carby (Mrs. Stone), Helen Booth (Mrs. Lee), Margaret Lacey (Mrs. Harris).
      Synopsis: Married life is proving to be difficult for newlyweds Jenny (Hayley Mills) and Arthur (Hywel Bennett). With well-meaning, but interfering parents, nosey neighbours, and a town that thrives on gossip can their marriage last? With all these pressures it’s no wonder their personal life is suffering. Will there ever be any good news?
      Comment: Representative of its time where the communicative repression between the generations stemmed from a post-war Britain flowering in the cultural advances of the 1960s. The interplay between the characters is irresistibly accurate and Naughton’s dialogue is bitingly witty. John Mills excels as the working-class patriarch at odds with his more intellectual son, sensitively portrayed by Bennett. Rhodes gets all the best lines as Mills’ down-trodden wife with her own evaporated dreams. Makes great use of the Lancashire locations and though dated, the film encapsulates perfectly the tensions of the day.
      Notes: McCartney’s film scoring debut, which helped this film very much financially.

TV Review – THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (2019)

Image result for the war of the worlds bbcTHE WAR OF THE WORLDS (UK, 2019) **½
      Distributor: ITV Studios Global Entertainment; Production Company: Mammoth Screen / British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) / Creasun Media American; Release Date: 17, 24 November & 1 December 2019; Running Time: 3 x 60m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Stereo; Film Format: HD; Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Craig Viveiros; Writer: Peter Harness (based on the novel by H.G. Wells; Producer: Betsan Morris Evans; Executive Producer:Jamie Brown, Peter Harness, Minglu Ma, Preethi Mavahalli, Damien Timmer, Craig Viveiros; Director of Photography: James Friend; Music Composer: Russ Davies; Film Editor: Adam Bosman, Josh Mallalieu; Production Designer: Pat Campbell; Casting: Karen Lindsay-Stewart; Costumes: Howard Burden; Make-up: Amy Stewart; Sound: Jonathan Seale; Special Effects Supervisor: Chris Reynolds; Visual Effects Supervisor: Stephen Coren, Sally Goldberg, Ivor Middleton.
      Cast: Eleanor Tomlinson (Amy), Robert Carlyle (Ogilvy), Rafe Spall (George), Jonathan Aris (Priest), Rupert Graves (Frederick), Woody Norman (George Junior), Nicholas Le Prevost (Chamberlain), Susan Wooldridge (Mrs. Elphinstone), Taliyah Blair (Lillian), Reid Anderson (Stall Holder), Philip Gascoyne (Navy Officer), Charles De’Ath (Greaves), Joey Batey (Henderson), Sam Benjamin (Salesman), Freya Allan (Mary), Christopher Hatherall (Naval Lieutenant), Daniel Cerqueira (Stent), Aisling Jarrett-Gavin (Lucy), Bradley Cottrell (Newspaper Boy), Harry Melling (Artilleryman), Kieron Bimpson (Captain), Cokey Falkow (Army Officer), Milo Twomey (Sergeant Major), Michele Donockley (Red Planet Survivor).
      Synopsis: Set in Edwardian England, this new adaptation of H.G. Wells’ seminal tale – the first alien invasion story in literature – follows George (Spall) and his partner Amy (Tomlinson) as they attempt to defy society and start a life together. The War of the Worlds tells their story as they face the escalating terror of an alien invasion, fighting for their lives against an enemy beyond their comprehension.
      Comment: This adaptation of H.G.Wells’ classic novel plays loose with its source material and clumsily attempts to invent its own allegorical agenda with references to British colonialism. Rather than follow the novel’s linear narrative we jump between scenes set during the invasion and three years after into a post-apocalyptic landscape. The latter scenes only serve to slow the narrative and remove any fluidity and excitement that the invasion generates. Split across three hour-long episodes, the story feels overly stretched despite the occasional excitements and moments of tension. Tomlinson is good as the heroine who is conflicted between her bravery and responsibility to her unborn child. Spall is also okay as an everyman out of his depth. Carlyle, however, is wasted in a role that largely consigns him to the periphery of the action. What lets the production down is the writing, which is often stilted and provides a totally unsatisfying conclusion which clumsily attempts to be symbolic. Viveiros struggles to lift the material and settles for long moments of slow-motion action and introspection, which further dilute some of the set pieces. Technical attributes, however, are pretty good for the limited TV budget.

TV Review – BERGERAC: ALL FOR LOVE (1991)

BERGERAC: ALL FOR LOVE (UK, 1991) ***½
      Distributor: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) / Seven Network; Release Date: 26 December 1991; Running Time: 106m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Terry Marcel; Writer: John Milne; Producer: George Gallaccio; Director of Photography: John Walker; Music Composer: Ray Russell, Kevin Townend; Theme Music: George Fenton; Film Editor: Bernard Ashby; Production Designer: Merle Downie, Stephen Sharratt; Costumes: Jacky Levy; Make-up: Pauline Cox; Sound: Simon Wilson; Stunt Arranger: Rocky Taylor.
      Cast:John Nettles (Jim Bergerac), Terence Alexander (Hungerford), Deborah Grant (Deborah Bergerac), Simon Williams (Rupert Draper), Suzan Crowley (Cressida Draper), Bill Nighy (Barry), Roger Sloman (Inspector Deffand), John Telfer (Willy Pettit), Al Ashton (DC Ramsden), David Kershaw (Ben Lomas), Jane Downs (Petra Crowe-Smith), Peter Watts (Ronnie), Philip Glenister (Philip), Bruno Madinier (Pascal), Charmaine Parsons (Ellie), Catherine Rabett (Jane), Iain Rattray (Club Waiter), Malcolm Gerard (Dentist), Gordon Salkilld (Barman).
      Synopsis: After receiving a letter from Danielle ending their relationship, Jim Bergerac starts drinking again. To keep him out of trouble, Charlie takes him to Bath, where art dealer Rupert Draper will be buying a painting that Charlie was given as payment for a debt. Once in Bath, Jim falls for the charms of Rupert’s faithless wife, unaware that she is using him to take the rap for a murder, back in Jersey, where a body is found in the burnt-out remains of Rupert’s shop.
      Comment: The last of six feature-length Bergerac specials and the last ever episode of the series was broadcast at Christmas 1991. Series 9 had seen a major shift in the series with Bergerac operating as a private investigator. As a result the series lost much of its charm and the constant switches of locale between Jersey and France did not help. However, for this final feature-length special the noir-ish elements hinted at through the preceding season finally gelled into one of the series’s strongest episoides. Nettles gives his best performance in the title role, with Bergerac having drifted back in to alcoholism and being made the patsy for an insurance con.  Crowley makes a strong impression as the scheming femme fatale. Nighy is also on hand as a hired assassin who also falls under Crowley’s spell. The climax may feel a little contrived, but the episode delivers a compelling story and points to where the show could have gone had it not been cancelled.

TV Review – CRACKER (2006)

Image result for cracker a new terrorCRACKER (TV) (UK, 2006) ***½
      Distributor: Granada Television; Production Company: Granada Television / ITV Productions; Release Date: 1 October 2006; Running Time: 109m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: Super 16; Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Antonia Bird; Writer: Jimmy McGovern; Executive Producer: Andy Harries; Producer: John Chapman; Director of Photography: Florian Hoffmeister; Music Composer: Gillian Gilbert, Stephen Morris, Conboy Corker; Film Editor: Chris Barwell; Casting Director: Andy Pryor; Production Designer: Tom Bowyer; Art Director: Anna Pritchard; Costume Designer: Rhona Russell; Make-up: Jessica Taylor; Sound: Dennis Cartwright.
      Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Fitz), Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald), Anthony Flanagan (Kenny Archer), Nisha Nayar (DS Saffron Saleh), Richard Coyle (DI Walters), Rafe Spall (DS McAllister), Kieran O’Brien (Mark Fitzgerald), Andrea Lowe (Elaine Archer), Stefanie Wilmore (Katy Fitzgerald), Lisa Eichhorn (Jean Molloy), Demetri Goritsas (Harry Peters), Sara Roache (Chief Super), Matt Rippy (Molloy – American Comedian), Leo Gregory (Wallet Thief), Rosina Carbone (Maria Fitzgerald).
      Synopsis: Fitz returns to Manchester for his daughter’s wedding, but is soon involved in another murder investigation when an American comedian is killed, apparently without motive.
      Comment: Ten years after the last special (CRACKER: WHITE GHOST) was broadcast, Cracker returned along with its creator and chief writer, Jimmy McGovern. The result is an absorbing and heavily political portrait of a former soldier struggling to come to terms with PTSD. Faced with self-loathing and a hatred for Americans due to their perceived support of the IRA and their response to Nine-Eleven. There are echoes of McGovern’s masterpiece TO BE A SOMEBODY in this story’s portrayal of the soldier’s descent into murder in order to extract his own form of justice. Coltrane slips easily back into his role of psychologist Fitz, called in by the police to help track down the murderer. Flanagan is also excellent as the damaged soldier. Where this story falls short in comparison to the series is in its portrait of the detectives – who here are two-dimensional in characterisation and lacking in the dark humour of their earlier counterparts. On the whole, though, this is a satisfying conclusion to the series and significantly better than the last couple of stories – although the finale, which again resorts to genre convention, lacks the finesse seen across the rest of the story.

TV Review – CRACKER : WHITE GHOST (1996)

Image result for cracker white ghostCRACKER: WHITE GHOST (TV) (UK, 1996) **
      Distributor: ITV – Independent Television; Production Company: A&E Television Networks / Granada Television; Release Date: 28 October 1996; Running Time: 100m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Richard Standeven; Writer: Paul Abbott; Executive Producer: Sally Head, Delia Fine; Producer: Hilary Bevan Jones; Director of Photography: Dick Dodd; Music Composer: Rick Wentworth; Film Editor: Tony Cranstoun; Casting Director: Andrew Hall, Marilyn Johnson; Production Designer: Chris Wilkinson; Art Director: David Butterworth; Costume Designer: Tudor George; Make-up: Sue Milton, Anastasia Shirley; Sound: Nick Steer.
      Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Fitz), Ricky Tomlinson (D.C.I. Wise), Barnaby Kay (Dennis Philby), Freda Foh Shen (D.C.I. Janet Lee Cheung), Michael Pennington (Commander Gordon Ellison), Rene Liu (Su Lin Tang), Benedict Wong (Peter Yang), Glen Goei (Dr. Frank Sunny), David Bradley (Frank Carter), Pik Sen Lim (Wei Wei).
      Synopsis: A British businessman operating in Hong Kong has feelings of inferiority and turns to murder when he faces bankruptcy.
      Comment: The first post-series Cracker special suffers from its location transfer to Hong Kong. Whilst this adds a sense of international scale, the production lacks the gritty northern interplay between the cast and is based around a storyline that is pure genre formula. Fitz again too easily comes up with the right deductive answers and this is a problem for maintaining any level of authenticity or dramatic tension. Tomlinson’s appearance is a token gesture and largely played for comedic effect – devaluing the character. This would be the last appearance of Coltrane as Fitz for ten years, until 2006’s CRACKER, which saw the return of creator and scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern.