HUSTLING is an engrossing telefilm from 1975, with that gritty shot on the streets of New York look (like TAXI DRIVER or DOG DAY AFTERNOON) as investigative journalist Lee starts to delve into the lives of prostitutes revealing the damaged women they are. Jill Clayburgh is terrific as hard-boiled Wanda and does not play for sympathy, but Lee's probing brings up all the things she had forgotten... and we soon discover just who is profiting from the hotels and pick-up joints used by the girls. Lee looks terrific here, the cast is good and as directed by Joseph Sargent its highly engrossing. A superior telefilm then...
THE LETTER - another superior telefilm, this '82 remake of Wyler's 1940 classic where Bette Davis delivered one of her major peformances as Leslie Crosbie who starts the film shooting her lover. It's Maugham's war-horse, first played by Jeanne Eagels in 1929 (I have now got a copy of that version to see too!). Lee steps into the role here and is convincing as usual as the duplicitious wife on trial for murder. Good solid cast too: Jack Thompson as the (very dense) husband, Ronald Pickup as as the barrister (who is also now an ex-lover of Leslie's), and Christopher Cazenove as the policeman, Ian McShane as the murdered lover and good old Wilfred Hyde-White as the judge. The ending is slightly changed too....its updated to Malaya 1939 and looks nicely period, and uses some of Max Steiner's original score, and is produced by Kip Gowans, Remick's husband. It certainly stands comparison with Wyler and Davis's version but this at least is freed from 1940's morality!
THE GIFT OF LOVE - A CHRISTMAS STORY. I should have kept this one for the holiday season! Its a 1983 glutinously sentimental story mainly in soft focus about a family facing hard times and the intervention perhaps of family ghosts... Lee is wonderfully attractive and fascinating as usual as the disillusioned wife whose mother Angela Lansbury dies after two scenes, but returns as Lee dreams most of the following with a visit to her old family home where mother and father and spinster aunt are all present. Its nicely resolved with her children and husband, and expertly put together by old hand Delbert Mann (MARTY, SEPARATE TABLES etc). Perhaps one would feel better disposed towards it at Christmastime... as one would towards Loretta Young's CHRISTMAS EVE, they are superior telemovies though.
THE MEDUSA TOUCH is intriguing to see now, this 1978 film by Jack Gold with a terrific cast. One thing about Sir Lew Grade's movies, they did put together fascinating international casts! Here we have Richard Burton, Lee Remick and French Lino Ventura heading, with reliables Harry Andrews, Alan Badel, Michael Hordern, Derek Jacobi and Gordon Jackson. Oddly, Burton who everyone talks about is hardly in the film, his few scenes could probably have been done in a day, whereas Remick and Ventura have the bigger roles. Burton is effective as the man who thinks he has a gift for making disasters happen, while his psychiatrist Remick and the French detective try to prevent his latest one - a cathedral collapsing with all the British establishment including The Queen inside! The special effects are a bit cheesy here as the cathedral collapses, but the plane crashing into a tower block is effectively done and has a new symbolism now. Its the kind of movie I did not bother with back then, but definitely worth seeing now!