The Colour Of Mana

Crowden in da house.

POW!

Loitering within tent.

POOM!

Jer.

KABOOM!

Stills from THE FINAL PROGRAMME, an amazing pop-sci-fi sextravaganza scripted, directed and designed by the enormous Robert Fuest. Here we see dashing, pill-popping Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Jerry Cornelius (bottom) played by Jon Finch (who deserves rediscovery for being sexy and brilliant here) in search of mad scientists Graham Crowden (also to be seen maddening up Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis trilogy), Basil Henson and George Coulouris (the only member of the cast in CITIZEN KANE who aged something like his character. More on Prophetic Cinema, and the noble Mr. Crowden, soon).

For a while Fuest was a bright-yet-unrecognised light of British Cinema, but he had the bad luck to come along during the collapse in American funding at the start of the seventies. Initially encouraged, then royally shafted, by what Michael Reeves called “those ponces at A.I.P.”, Fuest combined eye-popping visual flair, a traditionally English love for the eccentric and unruly, and a gleeful sadism. In other words, he was a Michael Powell for the rock ‘n’ roll era.

While Michael Reeves was destroyed by depression, recreational drugs, and psychiatry, Fuest was trashed by the film business itself: THE DEVIL’S RAIN was ludicrously recut by the A.I.P. and the industry in the U.K. imploded, leaving Fuest to mostly stifle in TV work, with only one other feature credit in 1982, an intriguing-sounding softcore drama, APHRODITE.

But before that happened, we get not only the above movie, on which more later, but also the two DR PHIBES comedy-horrors with Vincent Price (a third, PHIBES TRIUMPHANT, was stymied by Fuest’s inability to come up with any more elaborately nasty murders), a sombre, skilled and stylish WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and this location-set, brightly daylit psycho-thriller, AND SOON THE DARKNESS (an odd debut for a former production designer since it requires no sets!):

I like the whispery female VO that comes in partway thru, as if someone’s been watching Godard…

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8 Responses to “The Colour Of Mana”

  1. Oh I’m SO glad you’re hip to Fuest — especially “The Final Programme” which was released stateside as “The Last Days of Man on Earth.” Together with the “Phibes” films he emerges as a kind of punk Franju.

  2. Punk Franju is good!

    Somebody needs to do a decent book/docu on Fuest while he’s still with us. If a publisher won’t accept a book on him, how about maybe something on twenty neglected film wizards?

    RF is now retired from film and TV, seemingly, but he still paints. Would love to see what images he’s been crafting! Didn’t Tashlin say something about his own painting like, ‘If somebody says to me “I don’t like that shade of yellw,” I can say to them, “Screw you,”‘ ?

  3. When it said “Newcomer Michele Dotrice” I thought “Newcomer? She was in Mary Poppins ten years before!” Then I realised it was the actress from Some Mothers do ‘Ave ‘Em and it was Karen Dotrice in Mary Poppins. But they look pretty similar don’t you think? They must be related surely.

  4. They do look a bit alike…

    …imdb…

    Yes, they’re sisters. Karen is now married to the President of Programming for Playboy Entertainment.

    Michelle’s great, really horrifying in BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW.

  5. Ah thanks for the legwork. I’m going to rent those films, that trailer looks exciting. Great blog by the way.

  6. I don’t know if you’ll be able to rent anything yet, but AND SOON… is coming out on DVD in the UK…soon. The PHIBES films are out if you fancy.

    If you think of one, nominate some Euphoric Cinema and I’ll post it. Glad you’re enjoying this place!

  7. I really do want to but I’m having trouble as I watch so many dark and depressing films (so my friends and family say). I’m sure there must be something in the recesses of my mind. Maybe the end of the Apu Trilogy which is very happy but then maybe it makes me happy because I enjoy a good cry, and also because there has been so much sadness for the previous three films that it’s a blessed relief. Anyway I’ll give it some thought (and go through Aguirre, Wrath of God with a fine-toothed comb – I’m sure there were a few heart-warming moments there!)

  8. Heh.
    My pal Chris, who loves his existential dread and angst, has nominated a few things that might be called The Cinematic Sublime: a crane shot from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, for instance. So as long as it gives you pleasure, don’t feel it has to be a Happy Scene!

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