Archive for September 4th, 2009



by Sam Juliano

      In a delicious stroke of supreme irony Big Apple movie buffs were treated to a hugely entertaining and informative post-film discussion of one of the most notoriously ‘bad’ films of all-time, the 1948 British crime drama No Orchids For Miss Blandish on Thursday evening at the Film Forum.  The film’s American producer, British-born Richard Gordon was on hand to relate how the film’s sordid content somehow managed to slip by Blighty censors, causing a firestorm of protests in both cultural and political circles upon it’s release, and to share sometimes hysterical anecdotes and memories about the film’s reception statewide, which included an admission that several hundred people were given bogus tickets to stand in front of  Times Square’s Globe Theatre to make it seem like a crowd was forming, only to have them later exit through a back door.  During a terrific slide-show before the film began, moderated by the Film Forum’s enterprising program director, Bruce Goldstein, the sold-out audience were often in stitches as they read the over-the-top reactions of daily newspapers and governments official who declared the film ‘un-British’  and an assault on morals.  Goldstein gave an overview of the film’s initial five-week run at the Globe and introduced the prolifically astute 84 year-old Gordon and one of the film’s major stars, Richard Nelson, who flew in from London to be on hand.  The theatre actor Nelson later related that he took the assignment after being rejected for a stage play and another film, which happened to be Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn.  Nelson imitated Hitchcock’s signature accent and the iconic director’s curt dismissal of him: “Oh no, they sent you again!”
     Gordon, who surprised the audience by declaring that this was the first un-cut showing of the film on a paying public screen since it’s opening 60 years ago, quipped just before the lights went out: “I hope we will still be friends after the movie ends.”  Despite his advanced age Gordon has delivered commentaries on two Criterion DVD releases he produced: The Haunted Strangler and Fiend Without A Face and contributed to both the disc releases of Devil Doll and Corridors of Blood, which he also produced. (more…)

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Comrades (no 26)

comrades 1

(UK 1986 180m) DVD2

We raise the watchword ‘liberty’

p  Simon Relph  d/w  Bill Douglas  ph  Gale Tattersall  ed  Mick Audsley  m  Hans Werner Henze, David Graham  art  Michael Pickwoad

Robin Soans (George Loveless), William Gammara (James Loveless), Stephen Bateman (Old Tom Stanfield), Phil Davis (Young Stanfield), Jeremy Flynn (Brine), Keith Allen (James Hammett), Alex Norton (Lanternist/Sgt. Bell/Diorama showman/Laughing Cavalier, etc), Michael Clark (sailor), Arthur Dignam (Fop), James Fox (Norfolk), John Hargreaves (convict), Vanessa Redgrave (Mrs Carlyle), Robert Stephens (Frampton), Barbara Windsor (Mrs Wetham), Imelda Staunton (Betsy Loveless), Murray Melvin (clerk), Michael Hordern (Mr Pitt), Freddie Jones (vicar), Katy Behean (Sarah Loveless), Sandra Voe (Diana Stanfield), Joanna David (Mrs Frampton),

If ever there was a forgotten figure in British cinema, it’s Bill Douglas.  He’s virtually ignored even in the UK, let alone in the US, where even the most confident of cineastes will look at you with a blank expression upon hearing his name.  He only made four feature films, the first three of which – My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home – became known as his ‘trilogy’, and were based on his own childhood in a dilapidated Scottish mining village.  They were certainly amongst the bleakest films in existence, and also among the most truthful, and while they were undoubtedly a milestone in British cinema, their successor, Comrades, was arguably better still.  Yet it, unlike the trilogy, it was virtually impossible to see prior to the belated DVD release in July 2009, even ignored by its Film Four makers for many years.

            The film relates the famous tale of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the six farm labourers from a Dorset village in the 1830s who tried to start up a primitive union to look after their interests in response to the bosses’ refusals to pay them a decent wage.  In response, the bosses arranged to have them arrested and transported to Australia.  While their families and a few noble members of the ruling class fought against the injustice, they were packed off to a different life in Botany Bay. (more…)

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