Archive for Steven Geray

Essays in Darkness

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on February 20, 2019 by dcairns

Got my copy of SO DARK THE NIGHT from Arrow. I wrote an essay for this one, and am delighted to be included in the package along with Farran Smith Nehme & Glenn Kenny (commentary track) and Imogen Sara Smith (video presentation). There was a delay in publication with this one so I’d completely forgotten what I’d written: I was relieved to find it not too shoddy. Peter Bogdanovich’s interview with Joseph H. Lewis was a great help, as was finding out a little about the credited screenwriters.

It’s a fine, offbeat noir and I recommend it. Funnily enough, I was just watching noir pixie Steven Geray in I LOVE TROUBLE (1948), an enjoyable Chandler knock-off helmed by S. Sylvan Simon and written by TV’s Roy Huggins (The Fugitive, The Rockford Files) where he was more typically cast as a louche club owner. If you’re used to seeing him do that kind of thing, Geray’s multiple departures from type in SO DARK will *astound* you.

So Dark The Night [Blu-ray]

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robot eht taerg

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on October 1, 2015 by dcairns

TOBOR-THE-GREAT-2

TOBOR THE GREAT sounded like it was going to be fun —

Me: “His name is ‘robot’ backwards!”

Fiona: “I love that he’s called ‘the Great’!”

— but turned out to be Republic Pictures’ answer to THE INVISIBLE BOY — not good.

(I’ve never even made it far enough into THE INVISIBLE BOY for Robby the Robot to show up — the only reason for watching.)

TOBOR, enjoyably clunky in design, becomes kind of a bore because he doesn’t talk. However, he responds to telepathic summons, which leads to an Exciting Climax.

The lovable old scientist and his Spunky Grandson Gadge (!) are being held hostage by Russian spy Stephen Geray and his henchmen. Loveable O.S. is being forced to divulge/jot down his Secret Formula — the bad guys actually tear open his spunky G.’s shirt and threaten to blowtorch the youngster! The spunky G. starts concentrating hard, summoning Tobor with the power of his mind!

Tobor hears, and comes lumbering cross-country to the rescue!

I like this because it’s an emotive fantasy — it taps into the Power of Prayer, a moving dream for any lad who has determined by Actual Experiment that you can pray until your frontal lobes rot off but GOD AIN’T COMING. Tobor is better than God — he actually answers your prayers, and then smashes the bullies’ faces in which his huge steel pincers. This is what we want from a deity. We don’t tend to get it.

Pinky on Parade

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , on September 17, 2011 by dcairns

Lionel “Pinky” Atwill displays his enantiodromic approach to acting.

Interest in Thorold Dickinson seems to be on a continual rise, which is a good thing in my book. Now we have his first feature as solo director available, THE HIGH COMMAND. Produced  by Fanfare Films, a fly-by-night outfit who ceased trading after their single movie, it’s a military mystery/courtroom drama starring Lionel “Pinky” Atwill as a general with a shady past, Lucie Mannheim (THE 39 STEPS) as the rich wife of pathologically jealous Steven Geray, and a young, skinny James Mason as a dashing officer who romances her. It all comes to a head when a sleazy British military doctor is murdered, and the events take place in a West African colony on the Gold Coast.

Despite a meagre budget, Dickinson insisted on grabbing some authentic location shots, and he folds them into the studio stuff with cunning, if transparent artifice. His background as an editor reveals itself with jokey use of sound and snazzy transitions, and if the plot is a somewhat contrived affair (last-minute re-writes were required to appease the censor, who objected to anything showing British officers in a bad light), it’s consistently entertaining.

Otto (PEEPING TOM) Heller’s cinematography produces some striking moments, and even the sequence where documentary shots of a firelit native ceremony is intercut with studio closeups of the Brit stars is reasonable effective. The trouble is, of course, that the location material has unavoidable rough edges, which nobody would dream of replicating in the studio material, so a certain clash of styles is inevitable. One appreciates the effort, though, and Dickinson’s foreign travel opened his eyes to the realities of colonial life, which fed into the film’s lightly satiric attitude.

In particular, Graham Greene’s review singled out a scene where a colossal gust of wind blasts through the colonial club while the national anthem is being played, and nobody can close a window or suppress a billowing tablecloth as everybody’s too bust standing to attention. My Dad reports than in the ‘forties, during his film-going youth, the national anthem was played at the end of every programme at the local Odeon, and there’d be a stampede by the audience to get out before it started, otherwise you’d be stuck standing to attention for the full six verses. It’s fascinating: everybody knew it would be disrespectful not to stand, but it was considered perfectly respectful to elbow your way out of the auditorium at high speed to avoid standing.

These Britons are crazy.

Buy THE HIGH COMMAND here: The High Command [DVD]