The horn.

Sexy musical instruments from Sidney Gilliat’s ENDLESS NIGHT, a weird Agatha Christie adaptation from the early ’70s. These shots function as cutaways during a passionate shagging scene, and each gets its own little nod (well, crashing paroxysm) from Bernard Herrman’s insanely overwrought score.

Of course there are a thousand reasons why this scene is vulgar and ludicrous, but several reasons why it makes sense and is appropriate, too. And those reasons win. In that way it’s a bit Ken Russell-like.

I would show you some of the hot action that appears between each of the instrument shots, but that would be an absolutely massive plot spoiler, and the film is well worth seeking out and enjoying. Gilliat, having co-authored THE LADY VANISHES for Hitchcock, had clearly been paying attention to Hitch’s oversees adventures, and this is one of the few films I can think of with VERTIGO’s vaulting ambition to break new ground in the realm of the romantic thriller. There are plenty of VERTIGO rip-offs out there, from Jonathan Demme’s partly-successful LAST EMBRACE, to Brian DePalma’s… well, there are too many DePalmas to mention, but let OBSESSION stand for the best of them. But the difference between borrowing from VERTIGO and emulating it is like the difference between calling yourself Christian and actually trying to be like Christ.

Anyhow, Gilliat’s film doesn’t really approach VERTIGO’s greatness at all, but it does set out to be as daring visually, and that’s a rare thing. Gilliat and his partner Faank Launder had these moments of wild ambition thorughout their lengthy careers, but only intermittently. I SEE A DARK STRANGER is the other strongest one.

They also had their smutty moments. From the somewhat-inappropriate teen rudery of the ST TRINIANS series (which tapered to a grotesque conclusion with the softcore misery of WILDCATS OF ST TRINIANS), to the desert island suggestiveness of THE BLUE LAGOON, they were, along with Val Guest and Terence Fisher, at the forefront of the battle to get sex onto British screens. More on these erotic pioneers later.

10 Responses to “The horn.”

  1. Superb. I’ll definitely watch this again next week (too much scribbling to do). Might pair it up with something again, but not sure what. No moth-ladies this time.

  2. The obvious match is Twisted Nerve…

  3. True, which I have skulking about somewhere on my HDD. Hmm, how much Hywel can I take?

  4. British sexploitation boasts two great lost topless scenes: Green’s in Peeping Tom, which was there at the premier of the film but hasn’t been seen since and now appears to be lost, and Hazel Court’s in The Man Who Could Cheat Death, which seems to exist only in stills (which I haven’t seen, damnit). Not quite in the same league as Arletty’s lost shower scene in Le Jour se Leve, but still.

    Pamela has a fine website:

  5. I have a very old issue of “Motion” with a still of Pamela Green topless in Peeping Tom

  6. In the words of Sir Ian McKellen, “Put it up on the internet!”

  7. I’ll send you a jpeg.

  8. What’s your email address?

  9. I’ll email you!

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