Listen up, here’s the plan…

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Over the years, at Shadowplay, I have occasionally devoted a full week to a filmmaker I wanted to get to grips with — off the top of my head, I can think of Frank Borzage, Joseph Losey, Otto Preminger, Anthony Mann and Rene Clement. Plus I did a week on American period movies of the¬†seventies and supernatural blaxploitation movies.

From my point of view, those weeks certainly expanded my knowledge and motivated me, in a pleasurable way, to see a bunch of stuff I’d failed to catch up with. But maybe a sense of satiety set in, which meant I haven’t watched many Borzage, Preminger or Losey films since, and I still have quite a few to see. There aren’t that many Mann or Clement films left, but I’d like to catch up with the odd one or two, and revisit things like PLEIN SOLEIL in the light of my greater appreciation of the filmmaker.

So, I think I’m going to revisit each filmmaker, one a week, and devote a post to some interesting work previously missed. I just ran THE CRIMINAL (above), which I always knew I’d love, and somehow never previously got around to. It has all Losey’s best qualities and few of his worst and it’s scripted by Alun Owen of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT fame. So expect that one this week…

Now I just need something to call this series. THROWBACK THURSDAYS seems too obvious, and it would have to make way for The Forgotten every fortnight. Suggestions?

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14 Responses to “Listen up, here’s the plan…”

  1. How about “The Return of the Repressed”?

    Like The Servant, The Criminal is highlighted by a Cleo Laine song.

    In the U.S. it was entitled The Concrete Jungle.

  2. Simon Fraser Says:

    Flashback Friday?

  3. Losey’s The Criminal is top draw Losey for me. Perhaps the best prison drama in all of British cinema? So Brechtian. And so brilliantly crafted.

  4. “Second Helping Saturdays”

  5. chris schneider Says:

    You can always call it “The Past Recaptured” — or “Out of the Past,” if you’re in more of a Tourneur mood.

    Love that CRIMINAL song — though the pedant in me wants to assert that, while Laine performed it, the song was actually “by” John Dankworth (music) and Owen (words).

  6. Stanley Bake was as important to Losey as Dirk Bogarde. The Criminal, Eve and Accident are all key films.

  7. Warmed-Over Wednesdays?

    Yeah, The Criminal is totally major and I’m thrilled to have finally seen it. Would happily sit down and watch it again right away — and may do so.

  8. decaying celluloid?

  9. Matt Lloyd Says:

    My one memory of The Criminal is that the gang meet up on a children’s roundabout. Now I see from your pic that that’s a false memory. Guess I’ll have to watch it again. Really wish they met on a roundabout.

  10. I tend mistakenly to assume you are the same age as me, Young Master Cairns, and that The Criminal will have entered your consciousness in your pre-adolescent years along with Hell Drivers (which pops up regularly on TCM) and Val Guest’s Hell is a City, not mention Dearden’s astonishing Violent Playground, all graced by the magnificent presence of Stanley Baker, an aggressive, menacing and beautiful icon who emerged from the Rhondda Valley as if from a newly-unearthed legend in The Mabinongion, with something sinister but irresistible lurking at the back of his gaze. He was yet another 1950s film star I was in love with at a tender, impressionable age. There is a scene in The Criminal – the disc sits on the shelf a few inches away from me as I write this, although I haven’t re-watched it for a couple of years – in which, as I recall, Baker is violently attacked in his cell. What struck me – again, tas I recall – was that he played the scene’s aftermath as if he were trying to regain psychic equilibrium after a sexual assault. I remain convinced that, intuitively or deliberatey, Baker and Losey knew *exactly* what they were doing.

    Talk of Cleo Laine and her husband reminds me of another fascinating film of the era, All Night Long (1962), with Patrick McGoohan and a bucketload of terrific jazz musicians, including Brubeck and Mingus, in a peculiar version of Othello. It doesn’t hold up terribly well, but remains an intriguing period piece.

  11. There are so many hints thrown around about homosexual relationships and activity in the prison scenes that it’s quite possible to assume all the men are shacking up together — there are certainly some non-stereotypical types (as well as Murray Melvin, whose presence clarifies everything). More on this later.

  12. Breathless with anticipation!

  13. Have enjoyed reading the Shadowplay posts for several years. In terms of your treatment of particular directors I was particularly interested in your coverage of the work of Cy Endfield a few years ago. Apologies for the plug but I hope that some contributors/readers might be interested in my new book, ‘The Many Lives of Cy Endfield: film Noir, the Blacklist and Zulu’, forthcoming in August from University of Wisconsin Press. There is new material, in particular, on The Sound of Fury and Hell Drivers. best regards, Brian Neve.

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