Film Review – RANSOM (1974)

RANSOM (UK, 1974) ***
      Distributor: British Lion Film Corporation (UK), Twentieth Century Fox (USA); Production Company: Lion International / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation / Rwaley Film & Theatre; Release Date: 27 February 1975 (UK), 16 April 1975 (USA); Filming Dates: began 14 January 1974; Running Time: 94m; Colour: Eastmancolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Caspar Wrede; Writer: Paul Wheeler; Producer: Peter Rawley; Director of Photography: Sven Nykvist; Music Composer: Jerry Goldsmith; Film Editor: Eric Boyd-Perkins; Casting Director: Lesley De Pettit; Art Director: Sven Wickman; Costumes: Ada Skolmen; Make-up: Stuart Freeborn; Sound: John Bramall, Ken Scrivener; Special Effects: Roy Whybrow.
      Cast: Sean Connery (Tahlvik), Ian McShane (Petrie), Jeffry Wickham (Barnes), Isabel Dean (Mrs. Palmer), John Quentin (Shepherd), Robert Harris (Palmer), James Maxwell (Bernhard), William Fox (Ferris), Harry Landis (Lookout Pilot), Norman Bristow (Denver), John Cording (Bert), Christopher Ellison (Pete), Richard Hampton (Joe), Preston Lockwood (Hislop), Karen Maxwell (Eva), Colin Prockter (Mike), Malcolm Rennie (Terry), Knut Wigert (Polson), Knut M. Hansson (Matson), Frimann Falck Clausen (Schmidt), Kaare Kroppan (Donner), Alf Malland (Police Inspector), Brita Rogde (Air Hostess), Sven Aune (Co-Pilot), Per Tofte (British Embassy Driver).
      Synopsis: A gang of hijackers led by McShane seize a British plane as it is landing in Scandinavia.
      Comment: Hostage thriller is a little drawn out by diving straight into the scenario, thereby allowing little room for character development or motivation. Whilst the complex nature of the story unfolds as it progresses, it somehow lacks the suspense of its ticking-clock premise. Connery is as effective as ever in the lead role of the Scandinavian police chief at odds with his government’s approach to the situation, whilst trying to figure ways to delay McShane and his terrorists. Its matter-of-fact approach at least prevents the story from descending into cliche melodrama and characterisations. Effective location photography adds to the sense of realism in this efficient, if not wholly satisfying, suspenser.
       Notes: Initial US release version ran 88m. Aka: THE TERRORISTS.

TV Review – BERGERAC: TREASURE HUNT (1987)

Image result for bergerac treasure huntBERGERAC: TREASURE HUNT (UK, 1987) ***
      Distributor: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) / Seven Network; Release Date: 26 December 1987; Running Time: 90m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Robert Tronson; Writer: Rod Beacham; Producer: Jonathan Alwyn; Director of Photography: Kevin Rowley; Music Composer: Ray Russell; Theme Music: George Fenton; Film Editor: Bernard Ashby; Production Designer: Phil Roberson; Costumes: Barrie Sedwell; Make-up: Di Roberts; Sound: Simon Wilson; Visual Effects: Robert Thomas; Stunt Arranger: Gareth Milne.
      Cast: John Nettles (Jim Bergerac), Terence Alexander (Hungerford), Liza Goddard (Philippa Vale), James Maxwell (Raymond Charteris), Peter Jeffrey (Rockwell), Lynette Davies (Miranda Bassett), David Horovitch (Simeon Fox), John Grillo (Cyril Clavering), Sean Arnold (Crozier), Louise Jameson (Susan Young), Greg Hicks (Gregory Ormond), Carol Harrison (Tina Bragg), Michael Melia (Inspector Petch), Rosemary Frankau (Museum Curator), Nancy Mansfield (Peggy Masters), Geoffrey Leesley (DC Terry Wilson), Jolyon Baker (DC Barry Goddard), Steve Paget (Sgt. Grieve), David Beckett (Vincent), Chris Donat (Security Assistant), Stuart Saunders (Sir Roger Carfax), John Cassady (Leao), John Crocker (Shop Keeper), Marilyn Le Conte (Desk Clerk), Penny Smith (Waitress at Garden Party), Theresa Fresson (Waitress at Cafe), Christopher Dunne (Chaplain), Dorothea Alexander (Lady with Dog), Gareth Milne (Tony Bragg).
      Synopsis: Tony Bragg, suspected fence in a huge diamond heist is pushed to his death from his London flat. Bragg had visited Jersey some while earlier and Scotland Yard asks for Jim’s help. Then Philippa Vale arrives on the island with Bragg’s associate Ormond, who is also killed.
      Comment: The second of six feature-length Bergerac specials (this one broadcast on Boxing Day 1987 just ahead of series 6). Unlike “Fires in the Fall” this episode sticks to the series formula and notably that which makes the Bergerac/Philippa Vale episodes so popular. Whilst the story is not as strong as the three previous standard episodes (“Ice Maiden”, “Return of the Ice Maiden” and “SPARTA”), this does at least progress the relationship between Nettles’ dedicated detective and Goddard’s charming and witty jewel thief. Their chemistry and Goddard’s note-perfect delivery shines through. The plot is convoluted, but not especially engaging and Jeffrey is wasted in a role that gives him little to do until the finale. Some of the humour is also a little laboured, despite the writer/director team having reunited from the previous episodes. The denouement is poor, but there is a neat coda, which suggests we’ll see Goddard’s Philippa again.