Archive for The Trygon Factor

The Trygon Empire

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , on April 3, 2019 by dcairns

Oh good, I thought, almost as soon as THE TRYGON FACTOR started, this is a right load of rubbish. I shall be able to say witty and amusing things about it. Unfortunately, between then and now I started writing a novel, and now I can’t remember very much about it at all.

It’s based on an Edgar Wallace “shocker” and is a German-British co-production, and it obviously arrived at a time when the old “krimi” (many if not all of them based on Wallace books) were starting to look a bit old hat (starting??) and so needed spicing up, it was thought, with nudie ladies and blood. So you have this fundamentally naive and innocent worldview in this one, suddenly exploded with an exploitative bathtub murder. Yeah, I remember that bit.

She’s got one of those new uplift towels.

The movie feels like it could be comfortable being The Avengers TV show, only the story is at root rather mundane — nuns in a convent are secretly engaged in stolen gem smuggling — OK, it’s amusing that they’re nuns, but smuggling is so drab. Wallace used the idea of a charitable institution dedicated to reform doubling as a criminal enterprise on more than one occasion…

Stewart Granger is… affable, I suppose. And ridiculously tan. Kind of hilarious the number of Germans they have in the English countryside. One of these is the fascinated Brigitte Horney, who was in the Nazi MUNCHAUSEN. You could pair this with ZETA ONE as encompassing James Robertson Justice’s late-life sexual crisis.

There IS, early on, some really nifty camera operating, very tight movements choreographed between actor and cam. And some of the goofy sixties imagery is fun.

The interiors tend to be swank and groovy, which is peculiar because the views out of the windows are village shops and stuff. It does give the film a welcome dream-like quality. I feel like my disconnected memories of fragmented scenes and jarring tonal shifts are much like the experience of actually watching it. I’m not watching it again to see if I’m right.

“In 1928, it was estimated that one in four books being read in the UK had come from Wallace’s pen.” And yet this was a period in which we had John Dickson Carr, who is at least amusing and can write dialogue (after his stroke he could write nothing else, and his locked room mysteries devolved into bad radio scripts of the “This gun, which I am holding in my hand, is loaded” variety). Edgar Wallace couldn’t write dialogue to save his life, his plots generally have one idea apiece, are stodgy and mundane in their outcomes, lacking in any real suspense, and the social attitudes are all wearily conventional (Carr’s people are always getting plastered, his detectives are mad eccentrics, and the plots are bananas, which is something).

Depiction of people with learning difficulties… not enlightened.

You couldn’t turn Wallace’s diamond racket into a sexy spy thriller, because the tepidity is ingrained and refuses to die. You had to really poison those lukewarm waters, which I think is why we then got… the giallo.

THE TRYGON FACTOR stars Allan Quartermain; Nancy / Euryale / Alice / Nurse / Charlotte; Miss Knagg; Zarin Katharina II; Captain George Spratt; & Sir Lancelot Spratt.