One fun thing about this joint — from MY point of view anyhow — is that I can see in my Blog Stats exactly what kind of web searches people use to find the site. Yes, I am looking into your dark hearts as you navigate the murky waters of the web and come into dock in my cyber-harbour.
As a result, I have become aware that two of the personages I’ve mentioned in passing have attracted quite a lot of notice. They are ’60s British character star Murray Melvin, and Greek mythological character Medusa.
So, whopping great whore that I am, I thought I’d prepare a special blog posting about Murray Melvin and Medusa. Oh, and I’ll throw in this random mention of ST TRINIAN’S head girl Gemma Arterton too, since so many of you seem to find her so damn interesting.*
Medusa was head girl of the Gorgons. She had snakes for hair.
Murray Melvin has hair for hair. He starred in A TASTE OF HONEY and pops up in Ken Russell’s epic film maudit THE DEVILS, and Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON (the litmus test film that hardcore Kubrickians admire most, and that nobody else likes all that much).
Medusa had a petrifying gaze.
Murray Melvin is a petrifying gay.
Actually, I have no private information about Mr. Melvin’s sexuality at all, so I take that back. He was cast as gay in A TASTE OF HONEY and it kind of stuck. He played highly repressed characters in THE DEVILS and BARRY LYNDON, and is a sort of Poster Boy for British Sexual Ambivalence (B.S.A.). I find it interesting (and definitely regrettable) that British cinema has made so little use of him since the swinging ‘sixties and ‘seventies. My theory is that Melvin’s camp quality is out of fashion in a world that either wishes to ignore homosexuality, or is eager to present images of gay men that don’t fit the camp stereotype. But some gay men ARE camp, if you want to use that word, and Melvin is an excellent actor, so where’s the problem?
It reminds me of the way Hollywood discovered racial sensitivity in the ‘forties and slowly phased out most most of the actors who’d made a living playing “comedy negroes” and servants. Replacing them with…virtually nothing. There’s an argument that flawed representation is better than NO representation.
The possibility also arises that M.M. was acting camp in films because the roles demanded it, and could just as easily play Dead Butch. It would be slightly surprising to me, but it’s still possible. In which case his recent disuse by our national cinema is even sillier.
The last time I saw M.M. at the cinema was way back in Scots director Bill Douglas’ COMRADES, which also featured Barbara Windsor and Robert Stephens, who likewise should have been in far more movies.
Harry Hamlin Perseus lopped off Medusa’s serpentine head, her stare maintained its terrible power after death. Still going strong in his seventies, Murray Melvin likewise maintains his momentous powers of dramaturgical dazzlement.
*”Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” ~ Johnny Rotten.