Archive for Virgin Witch

Film Directors Lying in the Fireplace #1

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2015 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2015-02-18-00h08m03s37

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.

 

Cracking Cheese

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2008 by dcairns

No, not the Fritz Lang movie.

This CLASH BY NIGHT is a British “B” picture from 1964. And by “B” I really mean “W”, or possibly “Y”.

I didn’t get much out of it except enjoying greatly the above shot, from right at the beginning. The guy in the foreground has just lost a heap of money on a dog race. The guy on the right is Stanley Meadows, playing a gangster here just as he did in Cammell and Roeg’s seminal PERFORMANCE six years later. And he’s equally impressive here — a cool, crisp, naturally frightening actor who was terribly underused by British cinema. Plus he looks great in motorcycle goggles (his cunning disguise).

And I loved this shot — Peter Sallis (Wallace from WALLACE AND GROMIT) in the role of halfwitted lunatic “Victor Lush”, threatens everybody with a lit match in a paraffin-soaked barn.

That’s basically the plot — a coach full of of prisoners and their guards are imprisoned in said barn while a gang boss makes his getaway. Since all the jailbirds are required to do is sit put until dawn, there’s not much suspense – -except that it’s Guy Fawkes’ Night and fireworks are flying hither and yon.

The transporter full of hardened stereotypes put me in mind of CON AIR, and made me wonder if there’s another variation to be pulled on this appealing set-up. Apart from that, the film boasts an appearance by what appears to be future cheesemeister Ray Austen (VIRGIN WITCH) as the world’s most inept sexual predator. “My husband will be home shortly,” says Jennifer Jayne, whereupon he rips her blouse and is promptly socked to death by the returning hubby. Which is all just by way of illustrating that our appallingly stiff middle-class hero is AN INNOCENT MAN UNJUSTLY CONVICTED. Which turns out to have no bearing on anything, really.

CLASH BY NIGHT has an ability to just barely hold the attention by delivering unnecessary flashbacks, improbable coincidences, pathetic cop-outs and other narrative blunders at a rapid-fire pace. If it were any better it wouldn’t really be any fun. Sadly, the only major character who DOESN’T get a flashback is the religious zealot who’s been arrested for “trying to take brotherly love a bit too far.” Even in the wake of VICTIM (1961) this film didn’t feel able to go any deeper into THAT. Given the portrayal of Sallis’ character — is he insane? Is he mentally handicapped? Do they know there’s a difference? — it’s unlikely the results would have been terribly illuminating.

Oh, and there’s some quite fun X-rated cursing, or “pervasive language” as the MPAA would say. The actors can barely conceal their glee at being allowed to say big grown-up words like “bastard”. My Dad once told me that he and his friends used to read Mickey Spillane “for the swearing”, so they’d have dug this.