Euphoria #50: Cherry Ripe


We have reached Euphoria 50! Fifty examples of cinematic joy have been assembled, reaching a kind of critical mass. Things should now start getting better in the world — politics, the environment, men’s fashions, the selection of biscuits at your local ScotMid.


BAFTA-winning screenwriter and comedy turn Colin McLaren nominated THIS:

‘I’ve plumped for the seance scene from NIGHT OF THE DEMON (52 minutes in), or simply the rendition of CHERRY RIPE, as preceded by the line ‘Oh very well Maggie’. There’s Aleister Crowley’s mum beckoning us to join in. An insight into how Obsolete People keep warm.’

Our writer, Charles Bennett, wrote numerous Hitchcock films in the ’30s, and this scene shows a familiar Hitchcockian puckishness. The silly, matronly mother of the villain seems reminiscent of Bruno’s dear mom in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, actually.

Jacques Tourneur is one my favourite Hollywood directors (his dadwas no slouch either). He did stunning work on OUT OF THE PAST, a classic noir, and his Val Lewton suspensers are justly renowned. N/COTD follows in their shadowy footsteps…

a famous henge

This is Bennett’s comedy relief scene, and how odd it is! Gruff skeptic Dana Andrews dismisses the spiritualist as a fraud, but shouldn’t he at least be impressed by how incredibly good he is? Sense is not being made.

Wikipedia tells me something I don’t know:

‘The Song in Literature
The song Cherry Ripe is a recurring theme in John Buchan’s WWI spy novel Mr Standfast (1919). It identifies Mary Lamington, a young intelligence officer, who fall in love and vice versa with the hero of the novel general Richard Hannay.’

The Buchan reference is relevant due to Bennett’s work adapting THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS for Hitch. OK, it’s a slender thread of connection, and doesn’t actually mean anything, but what do you want on a cold Saturday night?

Oh, I’ve included the little post-seance moment so we can glimpse the splendid Niall McGinnis as Julian Karswell, our Aleister Crowley substitute.

More connections: Athene Seyler (superbname!) who plays Mrs. Karswell, turned up this very evening in the stunning QUEEN OF SPADES, with Anton Walbrook, which we were screening here at Shadowplay Heights — on a DVD which was a gift from a lady named Hitchcock. And Fiona just wafted by with a bowl of ripe cherries, which she intends to devour in bed.

It’s all unfolding like a dream!

he's got it in Spades

More on Tourneur, I should think, soon.

(and a full report on QUEEN OF SPADES)

7 Responses to “Euphoria #50: Cherry Ripe”

  1. Night/Curse of the Demon is the first production design credit for the indescribably great Ken Adam (aka. The Man Who Designed the 20th Century)

    Somebody should make a film of his life. It’s really something else.

  2. I know of his WWII pilot experience — he survived that, and then Kubrick drove him to a nervous breakdown.

    Fiona and I saw him talk at the film fest here. Hugely charismatic fellow. We both asked questions and were riveted by his eye contact.

  3. I love the fact that he hasn’t lost his German accent.

    He said that when Reagan came to office he asked to see the War Room. He was expecting to see what Ken had designed for Kubrick– which of course doesn’t exist but should.

    Insterestingly Adam won his Oscar for Barry Lyndon — which largely consisted of choosing existing locations to shoot in rather than building sets.

  4. Darryl McCarthy Says:

    A wonderful choice, not necessarily a moment of euphoria but one of the scenes from the movie that made the strongest impression on me, together with the whirlwind that rips through the children’s party. I wonder why Hollywood hasn’t come up with a 21st century remake, it’s wrecked just about every other post-war classic.

  5. Of course, the Academy gives design Oscars for films which look beautiful, not for the best designed or the ones with a lot of actual set builds. But Adam DID do a great job finding locations for BL, and steering Kubrick away from the Victoriana he was anachronistically drawn to. My costume designer, Ali, points out that Milena Canonera’s dresses are “a version” of historical garb, but a rather ’70s version. They’re beautiful, of course.
    Adam did more or less the same job on The Madness of King George, finding existing piles to film in — a good designer can make a huge contribution without actually designing anything.

    I know Colin gets very euphoric when he hears “Cherry Ripe”!

    Why no remake? It’s not well-known enough to constitute valuable intellectual real estate: the title/s alone wouldn’t draw in an audience. The Haunting only got done because Spielberg loved the original (and each man kills the thing he loves).

    You’d think, with the dearth of good ideas, a film with a great story would automatically be cherry-ripe for remaking, but the remakers are really looking for valuable NAMES that everybody’s heard of. C/NOTD is probably seriously hampered by having two titles!

  6. […] if the film itself is good, and I have hopes for this one. The writer is gifted word-engineer Colin McLaren and the director is Morag McKinnon, both friends of mine and long overdue for a feature […]

  7. […] balletomane Reginald Beckwith (who later returned to Tourneur’s fold, playing the medium Mr. Meekin NIGHT OF THE DEMON), who’s certainly “light on his feet”, as they say, but he […]

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