Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Saturday Night Out - more early '60s dramas

SATURDAY NIGHT OUT from 1964 turns out to be a delightful variant on that old standby - the (mis)adventures of sailors on shore leave. It turns out to be a great London film too (see London label) capturing that early '60s vibe nicely (I moved here in 1964 myself, when 18). We see the Soho of the time, the clip joints and more ritzy establishments where scams are also rife. Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis in gleaming black and white, it assembles a nice cast too - some unheard of since (John Bonney, Inigo Jackson), others like Francesca Annis at the start of their careers. Produced by the Compton group usually associated the expolitation and European erotica but they also produced Polanski's British films and the equally interesting THE PLEASURE GIRLS (1965 label).

Here we have 5 sailors and a passenger alighting in London on their Saturday night out. The most interesting story is businessman Bernard Lee meeting suave conman Derek Bond in a Mayfair bar and soon he is set up as Bond's ladyfriend lush exotic Erika Remberg arrives and pretends to mistake him for someone else. Events pan out nicely but Lee manages to put one over on his blackmailers. Harry (Inigo Jackson) is less lucky, being taken to the cleaners in a Soho dive presided over by boxer Freddie Mills as 2 "hostesses" Caroline Mortimer and Vera Day mechanically part Harry from his wallet. Harry's naive pal Jamey (Colin Campbell, from THE LEATHER BOYS) fares better with the shy Jane (Francesca Annis) and their adventures include taking drunk Patricia Hayes home and getting a room for the night. 
Will our young lovers get together before the end as he has to get back to his ship to collect his things before they make a go of it in Scotland? We also get old timers David Lodge with a brassy blonde (Margaret Nolan) in every port, and Irishman Nigel Green who wants to drink a lot. There is also Australian Lee (John Bonney) who meets the very annoying vegan anarchist hippie Heather Sears - less of her role would have been nice. It all adds up to a fascinating package, fitting in pop group The Searchers too, and is like an early '60s remake of the 1950 POOL OF LONDON, and fits in nicely with those other early '60s dramas reviewed here: A PLACE TO GO, WEST 11, THE LEATHER BOYS. THE SYSTEM, FOUR IN THE MORNING etc, as per labels. SATURDAY NIGHT OUT has been too long unseen but now has a nice dvd release with informative booklet, like THE MARK below.

80,000 SUSPECTS - another of Val Guest's topical thrillers (like THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE) this 1963 drama sees the city of Bath coping with an outbreak of smallpox, as we centre on a group of professional people coping with the outbreak and their own relationships. Doctor Richard Johnson and nurse Claire Bloom are celebrating New Year despite their failing marriage, after his affair with Yolande Donlan (Mrs Guest, so good in Guest's EXPRESSO BONGO in 1959), the unfaithful wife of a medical colleague Michael Goodliffe. Wanda Godsell is brought to the hospital with the symptoms of smallpox got from her son, a sailor on leave. 
The city medical team headed by Basil Dignam try to contain the disease by finding all the contacts. Bloom also falls ill, but she - the good wife - recovers, aided by priest Cyril Cusack. The faithless wife however has run away with an old flame and also falls victim and has to isolate herself from the others .... it is all a very British drama, lacking the punch of the recent CONTAGION, but Bloom shines here, and would be teamed with Johnson again in that year's superior THE HAUNTING. Dependables Kay Walsh, Norman Bird, Ursula Howells lend good support, with good Scope and black and white photography. Bath is seen as a working city here not the heritage site it is now.

THE MARK, 1961, has never popped up anywhere here in the last 40 years or more, good therefore to see it on dvd with an informative booklet. It is also a good example of American studios financing films made in Europe.

A man who served prison time for intent to molest a child tries to build a new life with the help of a sympathetic psychiatrist.

This was actually filmed in Ireland, though set in England, and is a very topical subject now, featuring a child molester released back into the community, but will he re-offend or is he “cured”? Can nice Maria Schell trust him with her young daughter? He is the surprise casting of Stuart Whitman, quietly effective here in contrast to his usual contract fare at 20th Century Fox, like THE COMMANCHEROS. Rod Steiger too goes to town on the role of his psychiatrist, a role he attacks with relish. The good supporting cast includes Brenda De Banzie, Donald Wolfit, Donald Houston, Paul Rogers. We see Whitman after his 3 years in prison settle in a new town with a new position and fall in love with Schell. Things are fine until a child is molested and beaten in the town and the police pick him up for questioning. He has an alibi but a reporter who covered his former trial recognizes him,… can he re-gain the trust he has earned? Whitman earned an Academy Award nomination for best actor, but ironically lost to Maximilian Schell, the brother of Maria, his co-star here. Directed by Guy Green it is a good example of those black and white Cinemascope 20th Century Fox films of the time. Green of course photographed Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS and the photography here is exemplary too. A downbeat drama that repays viewing and is surprisingly topical now with lots of child abuse stories in the media. 

Soon: more '60s stuff like TWO LEFT FEET and 1970's rarity THE BREAKING OF BUMBO, plus a Stephen Boyd double-feature THE THIRD SECRET and THE INSPECTOR (aka LISA), and more French and Italian features.

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