Armchair Theatre: A Magnum for Schneider (TV) (1967; UK; B&W; 55m) **** pr. Leonard White; d. Bill Bain; w. James Mitchell; m. Robert Farnon. Cast: Edward Woodward, Joseph Fürst, Ronald Radd, Peter Bowles, Francesca Tu, Russell Hunter, Helen Ford, Martin Wyldeck, John Scarborough, Ivor Dean. This Armachair Theatre presentation was the first adventure of David Callan (Woodward), top agent for the S.I.S. Forcibly “retired” several years earlier because he had lost his nerve. Callan is called back into service to handle the assassination of Schneider, a German businessman who may be more than he seems. Confined to studio sets, despite the limitation so its production this remains a fascinating piece of television driven by Woodward’s brilliant performance and Mitchell’s sharp script – adding depth and a cynical humour to an unsympathetic character. Hunter is Callan’s unkempt underworld contact, Lonely. The TV series Callan was picked up later the same year and ran for four series from 1967-1972. Mitchell later novelised the story as “A Red File for Callan” and this in itself was later filmed for theatrical release as Callan in 1974. 
Wicker Man, The (1973; UK; Eastmancolor; 95m) ****½ d. Robin Hardy; w. Anthony Shaffer; ph. Harry Waxman; m. Paul Giovanni. Cast: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsay Kemp, Russell Waters, Aubrey Morris, Irene Sunters, Walter Carr, Ian Campbell, Leslie Blackater, Roy Boyd, Peter Brewis, Barbara Rafferty. A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed. Stranger still are the rites that take place there. Chilling and disturbing thriller shot on a low budget and dominated by religious symbolism. Woodward’s portrayal of the Christian policeman horrified by the pagan society he enters is superb. Lee is also excellent as the island’s lord of the manor, whose family are responsible for the islanders’ livelihoods. The final shots are amongst the most memorable in screen history. Heavily edited from 99m to 87m on release to fill B-feature slots, the film has since been restored to a 95m version, something close to its original length. Remade in 2006. Followed by a “spiritual sequel”, THE WICKER TREE (2011).