Number one in an occasional series: Ray Austen in CLASH BY NIGHT (1964).
This fairly silly suspenser from Dublin-born B-movie plodder Montgomery Tully (auteur of some of my favourite silly scenes, and I still haven’t even watched BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH) is a hostage drama set during a jailbreak by prisoners being transported in a bus. Sort of like CON AIR meets SPEED, only earlier and a lot cheaper than either. Standout performance is by Stanley Meadows, later in PERFORMANCE, a really compelling and menacing actor who should have had a much bigger career. He’s dead now. You’re too late.
Hamilton turns up, bizarrely, in a flashback. Just as in CON AIR, the filmmakers feel the need to have a sympathetic criminal who got banged up for defending his wife. And the bloke he’s defended her from is Ray Austen, who turned up at the house and tried to rape her. Just like that — the nerve of some people. It’s kind of bizarre, like that’s the sort of thing that’s always happening, in the filmmakers’ minds at least. And maybe it is, but I doubt that reflects conditions in the wider world.
How Austen, soon to become a prolific TV director and the man responsible for VIRGIN WITCH (so don’t blame me), found himself playing this visiting district assailant is a mystery — did he mention it in a memoir of interview? I feel almost sure he wouldn’t. Anyhow, he gets punched out and dies in the fireplace. End of.
If any readers are in possession of more images of film directors lying in the fireplace, please send them to me, because otherwise I don’t know how I’m going to continue this thing.