Archive for July 23, 2008


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2008 by dcairns

Freddie Jones, thespian genius, plays a rogue Scottish psychiatrist (R.D. Laing?) with the worst accent on record (Star Trek‘s James Doohan would laugh at it) who has seemingly invented a new form of therapy, based largely on burling the patient about in a swivel chair. The treatment relies on centrifugal force to bring hidden traumas out from the depths of the brain, where they lurk and fester, to the surface, where they can be drawn out through the skull by vigorous scalp massage.

THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF contains possibly Freddie Jones’ worst performance and possibly Roger Moore’s best performance. In a sad irony of fate, Jones’ performance is nevertheless BETTER than Moore’s performance. But it should be said: Moore is touching in some scenes and convincing in some scenes, and sometimes both at once. He does actually raise one eyebrow at a climactic moment, something he was ruthlessly parodied for doing on puppet sketch show Spitting Image: the Moore puppet would hoist one brow upwards, accompanied by the sound of a squeaking pulley, as if unseen stagehands were effecting this miracle of showmanship.

It’s unlikely that THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF ever really frightened anybody, but apparently the trailer did. Director Basil Dearden had a long but slightly unsatisfied career directing all kinds of material, but every now and then he would evince an astonishing talent for what Michael Powell would call The Composed Film, and Hitchcock christened Pure Cinema. The climax of DEAD OF NIGHT, where all the stories in the compendium crash together in a surreal nightmare mash-up, and the carnival scene of SARABAND FOR DEAD LOVERS both show this talent in full flow. Well, the climax of THE MAN WHO… is a bit like that, but not quite as good. Much of it can be seen in the trailer, including the glowing tinted lights and the astrological pool table. Heady stuff, I imagine, if you saw this trailer as a kid, and many did.

Those were the days when kids going to see Disney cartoons could be subjected to trailers for any old filth. I already blogged about my childhood encounter with GOODBYE EMMANUELLE, and my friend Robert’s viewing of trailers for TOMMY and  SHIVERS while on an innocuous visit to BAMBI? He didn’t venture back into a cinema for ten years.

The truly spooky thing about THE MAN WHO… is its onscreen-offscreen synchronicity. In the movie, Roger Moore survives a nasty car crash only to be persecuted by a malevolent doppelganger (also played, in an unforgiveable casting error, by Roger Moore. Two Moores is one-and-a-half Moores more than any decent film can sustain). In reality, Basil Dearden was killed on a stretch of road close to the film’s accident site, shortly after finishing it. While not quite as resonant as the tragic demise of F.W. Murnau, this incident does add a certain frisson of interest to Dearden’s final film.



Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2008 by dcairns

I got this email…

I work at Edinburgh College of Art, teaching in the film department (what FUN we have!). The department pays host to the Scottish Documentary Institute, the body for the promotion of documentary-making in Scotland. And, I guess they know I run a blog, although hearing it described as a “newsletter”, below, seems pleasantly quaint. Anyhow, I NEVER say no to a request to stick something on this blog, so I’m passing it on. Aspirant documentary producers could find this a great opportunity.


Interdoc, the training lab on international finance which helped Geoffrey Smith fund The English Surgeon (winner at Hotdocs and Silverdocs), is now taking applications for the 2008 edition.

Interdoc helps 12 ambitious producers with a feature doc in development strategise their finance plans, increasing their chances of successfully funding their documentaries.

The programme takes place over 8 days (2 x 4 days) in Edinburgh in September and October 2008 and is run by Initialize Films and Scottish Documentary Institute.

This is a very exciting opportunity for all Documentary makers based in the UK and we were hoping that you would be able to include some promotional material for this in your next newsletter.

The deadline for applications is the 1st of August so it would be fantastic if anything could go out in the next few days.

Many thanks for your help, its greatly appreciated.



Scottish Documentary Institute

ECA, 74 Lauriston Place



Tel: 01312216116

Couldn’t think how to illustrate this, so above is a still from Ida Lupino’s THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS. Scary, isn’t it? The Japanese say that if you see a ghost like that, partially occluded, it means the person concerned still has unfinished business on earth.

Whereas if you see a live person like that in a Hayley Mills movie, it just means I’ve pressed PAUSE as they’re coming through a door.