Agitato

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“I think that if I live to be a hundred,” said William Hartnell, “a little of the magic of Dr Who will still cling to me.” Poor guy never even saw seventy.

Mark Gatiss’s excellent TV play An Adventure in Space and Time, dealing with Hartnell’s years in the TARDIS, was the best thing about the Dr Who fiftieth anniversary, and probably served to get a lot of people interested in Hartnell. My interest takes this form.

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14 Responses to “Agitato”

  1. David Boxwell Says:

    I have seen the Harlow/Hartnell APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME (46) and it’s riveting. Austerity Britain was never so vicious!

  2. I first saw this film on Television Wales and the West (TWW) in the early 60s when ex-film director John Baxter was programme controller. He ran many little seen British films of his own as well as others that have now disappeared (WELCOME MR.WASHINGTON). THE AGITATOR was one of them and I have it on VHS from US TV. Hartnell was a very underappreciated actor and I did look forward to “An Adventure in Space and Time.” But despite the premise and cast, I found it sadly lacking in vitality. Perhaps my closeness to the era and seeing the original broadcasts may be the reason? Anyway, the conservative tone you note echoes that of CHANCE OF A LIFETIME when hesitation existed over the viability of Atlee’s “Brave New World” at a time when the Tories were re-evaluating their positions, and austerity-weary audiences welcomed SPRING IN PARK LANE.

    Yet the Hartnell film we all want to see is the Georges Simenon adaptation directed by Lance Comfort, TEMPTATION HARBOUR so-starring Robert Newton and Simone Simion. It does exist. A copy is in the National Film Archive and it was last shown at the National Film Theatre but I’ve heard that legal issues with the Simenon Estate may be the reason the film has not been re-released. Any light that you and other may want to shed will be very welcome.

  3. Oh good, I have Appointment with Crime. Lovely stodgy title. I’ll take a look.

    My friend Guy Budziak is very keen to see Temptation Harbour so I’ve been watching out for it. I don’t even need a release, I’d settle for a bootleg or download. I just want to see it! Newton is always entertaining and the contrast with Hartnell’s different form of intensity could be bracing.

  4. I would settle for a bootleg too. Several years ago some people got into the Archive and found the copy heavily spliced so they could not utilize it. By the time, it ran at the NFT it was in pristine condition but still remains unreleased. I first saw APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME on TWW. It co-starred Joyce Howard who later relocated to America in a role completely different from her title role as MRS. FITZHERBERT with Peter Graves as “Prinny”.

  5. Having seen Temptation Harbour at the NFT, I recommend it. Newton doesn’t overact! Also has Simone Simon.

  6. A Newton without overacting seems both poignant and inconceivable. I am a big fan of Simone. The whole thing sounds irresistible.

  7. Been wanting to see TEMPTATION HARBOUR for years and years. They did a series on British Noir a few years back at NYC’s Film Forum and tried to get the copy the BFI had in storage, that’s when they discovered it was in dire need of restoration. Well, that’s been done, and the film was shown in Folkestone last year, where much of the location shooting was done. http://www.localrags.co.uk/index.php/News/2013/10/8/long-lost-film-shot-in-folkestone-shown-in-local-cinema/

  8. David Boxwell Says:

    APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME: Herbert Lom and Alan Wheatley will set your video monitor aflame!

  9. Especially the scene where Alan Wheatley offers to calm Herbert Lom down with a “little drinkie.” Mary Morris’s role in THE AGITATOR also needs some recognition – a British actress with a high degree of intelligence who went on to play the doctor in A FOR ANDROMEDA, a slightly deranged version in the BBC TV production of THE PHSYICISTS by Durrenmart and Cleopatra in the final part of the SPREAD OF THE EAGLE trilogy that really needs a DVD release like AN AGE OF KINGS in which she also appears

  10. She’s good in The Agitator too.

  11. So who’s going to try for the bootleg we’ll all interested in?

  12. Christopher Sharrett Says:

    I would certainly try for a bootleg if I had the skills and the proper machine! I have Tony Williams to thank for informing me about Appointment with Crime (was he ever more vicious?) and other Hartnell. It is unfortunate that Adventures in Time and Space, intended at least in part as a Hartnell tribute, captured none of his sinister qualities.

  13. Oh, I’ve kept my eyes open. If it’s in the BFI, it would be pretty hard to get at. We need the ghost of Donald Westlake to plot the heist.

  14. Thanks Chris. Yes, I agree about ADVENTURES IN TIME AND SPACE. Despite the cast, it turned out anemic. David, since I ran TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING yesterday night, if we teamed up with William Smith, getting into the BFI should be easy.

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