Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Girl From Missouri, 1934 – ★★★½

Enjoyable Jean Harlow film in which she’s plays a gold-digger with a veneer of innocence, backed up by sparky comedienne Patsy Kelly.

Points to note: this is after the Hollywood Code was enforced to make films ‘decent’, although a joke or two still creeps in, and Harlow spends a fair amount of time in not that many clothes; older men like Lewis Stone and Lionel Barrymore always have a weakness for blondes; and there is always an exit from a window in the cover of darkness.

Franchot Tone is the love interest, and he and Harlow would team again to good effect in ‘Bombshell’. But this is very much her show and although it isn’t her best film, she is always worth watching and if you take a look, you might see why she was one of MGM’s hot properties of the 1930s.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Pure imagination: Anthony Newley’s screen work

As well as being an unusually gifted singer and songwriter (his vocal style influenced the young David Bowie, and his lyrics graced the theme for ‘Goldfinger’, and the songs in ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’), Anthony Newley (1931-1999) was also an actor from childhood, gracing both big and small screen with interesting performances.

On the stage he could definitely be described as ‘larger than life’, perhaps a hangover from the days when he had to compete with his arch-diva wife of eight years, Joan Collins. His later years might have veered towards the cabaret and lounge lizard variety, but in those early days he was well worth watching, and even in later years there were occasional flashes of what might have been.

  1. The Strange World of Gurney Slade
  2. Sweet November
  3. Idol on Parade
  4. Oliver Twist  As the Artful Dodger.
  5. Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?  For sheer, and literal, cheek!
  6. Mr. Quilp
  7. Jazz Boat
  8. Doctor Dolittle
  9. The Small World of Sammy Lee
  10. The Guinea Pig

…plus 5 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel is a much loved fable where vices like greed, vanity, and pride are punished while virtue is rewarded in the tale of Charlie Bucket, a boy of impossible purity, who never does a bad thing.

The story of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory has been filmed twice, first in the classic 1972 version starring Gene Wilder, and then in 2005 with Johnny Depp.  Both were successful,  but perhaps the earlier version has the edge because of its Bricusse-Newley score.

A song from that score, ‘Pure Imagination’, appears in this new stage musical (although its creators only get a tiny footnote in the programme), and sits awkwardly alongside new songs by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, which verge on the forgettable (except for ‘Vidiots’, ‘Don’t Ya Pinch Me, Charlie’ and ‘Strike That! Reverse It!’).

As Wonka, Alex Jennings is no singer but clearly relishes the mix of camp and cruelty in the character,  as he springs and sashays around in pink jacket, green trousers and top hat, looking rather like Dr Seuss’ cat.

A dance sequence from Charlie’s grandparents in a stretched-out act one reminded me of the inventors in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, while a creepy sweet seller is reminiscent of the Childcatcher of the same production.   I missed the ‘Candyman’ of the earlier version.

As for the children,  young Scot Rhys Lambert’s accent occasionally distracts, but he carries his solo songs well.  The other lucky golden ticket winners each have a showpiece set within the Bucket family’s ancient TV, and with Violet now a reality star rapper, Mike a sociopathic gamer, and Veruca an awful dancer (as Wonka waspishly remarks later, ‘her posture’s awful’), there’s been a bit of updating.

The Oompa Loompas are fun, with good puppet work,  the second half has snippets of technical brilliance (the glass elevator, the squirrels, the bits of magic), but perhaps the high point is Charlie’s flying paper plane.  Grandpa Joe (Barry James) is very good,  and there’s a couple of cleverly creepy appearances from Wonka before we join him in his factory.

Fun, fresh, but ultimately soulless and lacking emotional involvement, this production is too long at two and a half hours, and parts are better than the whole, but it remains enjoyable.

My thanks to
for providing the tickets.

Disco Pigs, 2001 – ★★★★

Returning to this a couple of days after seeing Enda Walsh’s latest stage play, Ballyturk (also starring Cillian Murphy), I can see parallels in the weirdness of the writing and in the intensity of the relationship between Pig (Murphy) and Runt (Elaine Cassidy).

Dark, dangerous and desperate, this also has hints of sweetness in the quiet calmness of Runt. This was one of Murphy’s breakthrough performances, which he also played in the stage play. Surreal and strange, he lifts the play to something much more interesting than your basic ‘Romeo and Juliet’ teenage romance.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Review: Joan Baez (Royal Festival Hall)

This week has seen the only 2014 tour dates in the UK of folk balladeer Joan Baez, someone I have admired for a long time but never seen live until last night.  The famous voice might have deepened and lost a bit of its power, but with her accompanists (Dirk Powell on guitars and squeezebox, her son Gabe Harris on percussion, and singer Grace Stumberg) she still manages to weave a powerful piece of magic with songs such as ‘Farewell, Angelina’, ‘Handsome Molly’, ‘God is God’, ‘Imagine’, ‘Catch the Wind’, ‘La Llorona’, ‘Joe Hill’, ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’, and others.

Baez has always been involved in political causes, and these were mentioned in passing, along with her participation at the legendary Woodstock festival (‘hundreds of years ago’).  The passage of time, too, was noted in her song about her relationship with Bob Dylan, ‘Diamonds and Rust’, where ‘ten years ago’ has now become ‘fifty years ago’.  A solo rendition of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ was quietly touching, as was a duet with Stumberg (‘Just The Way You Are’).  In the true folk tradition ‘Lily of the West’ and ‘The House Carpenter’ were welcome guests, while ‘Give Me Cornbread When I’m Hungry’ picked up the pace a little, and ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ gave new life to a song which can sometimes be described as over-familiar.

‘Forever Young’ and ‘Gracias a la Vida’ closed a pleasing set, which had been friendly, intimate, and truly enjoyable.

Review: Ballyturk (National Theatre)

There has been decidedly mixed press about this new play by Enda Walsh, which has come to England following runs in Dublin and Cork.   Hard to catagorise in any particular box, this can be classed as anything from black comedy to theatre of the absurd, to a frenetic physical showcase capped by a philosophical close, to ‘filling a room with words’.

A cast of three bring this play to the stage, under Walsh’s direction, and clearly every scene is closely choreographed, whether to the pulsing beats of ABC’s ‘The Look of Love’ or the smooth dialogue of the game of ‘Ballyturk’, where two men only called ‘1’ and ‘2’ create a day in the life of a town which only appears to exist in their head, from the local bully boy to the snipey lady shopkeeper (“I’ll not be out-bittered by a lemon”).  Despite the Daily Mail asserting these two are brothers, there is no evidence to say whether they are brothers, strangers, father and son, or lovers.  The conjecture is purely that of an audience who can make what they like of this set up.

Cillian Murphy plays ‘1’, and those who have seen him in both ‘Peaky Blinders’ on television, and in the films he has been part of (androgynously beautiful in ‘Breakfast at Pluto’, strangely vulnerable in ‘Disco Pigs’ – also directed by Walsh, tough in ‘Perrier’s Bounty’) know they show his range, which is built on here.  He’s a livewire of activity, whether bounding up on to the curiously placed wooden furniture, working himself up into epileptic fits, or simply getting on with the minutae of life with a force which leaves him drenched in sweat for most of the production.  He’s wickedly funny, too, and towards the end, quite heartbreaking, when he gets a chance to break from the repetitive existence he has shared with ‘2’ (dancing and drawing).

Mikel Murfi plays ‘2’.  He’s not an actor I was familiar with, but on looking him up he was born as Michael Murphy, and rebranded himself early on, having made many stage appearances, a lot of collaboration with Walsh, and the occasional film (‘The Commitments’, ‘The Butcher Boy’).  He is also a physical dynamo, and with quirky looks contained in an elastic face, he can switch from one emotion to another in a second, well showcased as he changes from one ‘Ballyturk’ character to another in a moment.

Into this bizarre existence, where the occasional disembodied voice comes through the walls, and ‘1’ and ‘2’ are – what – trapped? imprisoned? cocooned? – comes a louche visitor, known only as ‘3’, with cigarette in hand and, in a long existential monologue, a taste of what is available outdoors, from the disappointment of life to the things we all take for granted (sun, clouds, trees).

He is a challenge to the other two, and whether demanding tea and biscuits (which leads to an amusing biscuit jenga game, done in such a laid-back way it is almost imperceptible), singing an old classic, ‘Time After Time’ (with a microphone that appears from up high, for no reason) or quietly staring out ‘1’, he is a dynamic force coming into the partnership we have witnessed so far.

‘3’ is played by Stephen Rea, and his character is so quiet and nonchalant he exudes real danger and an unsettling vibe to the piece.  I hadn’t seen him on stage before but have been long familiar with his film work, and he hasn’t lost any of that power he’s brought to the screen in the past.

The ending, to me, was one open to interpretation, of what is beyond the wall which had parted to allow ‘3’ to join the party.  If ‘1’ and ‘2’ had always been able to leave, why hadn’t they?  If they were always destined to be trapped, why was the opportunity presented now, and what would it lead to?  Was the ‘death’ that ‘3’ spoke of really a reintroduction back into the real life, and the inevitable mortality that involved?  And just who was ‘3’, anyway?

As we left the National another audience member had clearly endured enough during the 90 minutes, dismissing this play as “a load of bloody rubbish!”.  The audience reaction generally was mixed, I thought, some enthuastically applauding, others muted and quiet.  I found ‘Ballyturk’ interesting, infuriating, funny, charming, and touching,  I might be biased as a fan of both Rea and Murphy, but they don’t disappoint, and this play is a challenge for sure, but a worthwhile one.

May We Borrow Your Husband?, 1986 – ★★★★

Watched on Saturday September 20, 2014.

A stellar performance from Dirk Bogarde as observant writer William Harris lifts this literary drama which doesn’t go in quite the direction you think it will.

Interior decorators Stephen (Francis Matthews) and Tony (David Yelland) may put on the camp a bit thickly but quickly they move on from simply being nightmare neighbours to something more dangerous when naive young couple Peter and Poopie (Simon Shepherd and Charlotte Attenborough) arrive on their honeymoon.

Quietly devastating and also wickedly funny, this is one of Bogarde’s best late roles as someone given to quoting the sexy poetry of the Earl of Rochester to the new bride while not sharing his wisdom as to the reality of her marriage.

This is a real dramatic treat and is available to view at the BFI Mediatheque.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

There Is Another Sun, 1951 – ★★★½

An unjustly neglected British film from Butcher’s film Service, set partly at the long-gone Walthamstow speedway. It’s known as ‘Wall of Death’ in the US but I prefer the original title.

It is a piece of low-budget grit with a bit of a gay vibe to modern eyes, as upcoming prizefighter Laurence Harvey idolises the motorbike racer from the wrong side of the tracks (Maxwell Reed), turning a blind eye to his sleazy ways.

It starts in a fairground where the crowds are jaded and the characters shady, including Hermoine Baddeley (Harvey’s partner off-screen at the time) and Nosher Powell.

Both Harvey and Reed are perhaps best known these days from revelations and gossip about their lives off the screen, but put that aside and Harvey comes off better as a screen performer – Reed, with a hint of Irish brogue, eyeshadow and bizarre eyebrows, looks faintly ridiculous today and is the least convincing biker since Jimmy Hanley in ‘The Black Rider’.

The ‘boy’ racer needs money to start biking again and will stop at nothing to get it – but will his devoted admirer help him right to the end? Unpleasant characters and situations abound and although Susan Shaw is the nominal female lead and romantic interest she’s too much of a drip to be interesting.

Predicable fare, perhaps, but Lewis Gilbert does a good job in soaking up the atmosphere of the fairground, the smoky club, and the racetrack.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Dog Day Afternoon, 1975 – ★★★★★

This is probably Al Pacino’s best screen role.

This is probably Sidney Lumet’s greatest film (and that’s against some stiff competition, the man was responsible for some great titles).

Sonny Wortzik (Pacino) decides to rob a bank to get money for his boyfriend’s sex change operation. With him is the quiet but dangerous Sal (the much-missed John Cazale), and together they take hostages within the bank, but during the stand-off which follows develop a strange community camaderie with them.

It’s a true story, remarkably, and played very well by all, keeping the tension going, and with quite a downbeat and shocking ending. Charles Durning plays the negotiating policeman, and Chris Sarandon the boyfriend in transition to becoming a woman.

I think what is special about this film is that it is so unusual in its subject matter, and that it draws the characters out to such an extent that you feel for Sonny’s predicament, and feel some sympathy for Sal (who in real life was a young man of 18, not a contemporary in age of Sonny).

It’s also to the benefit of the film that Lumet allowed his actors a degree of improvision which makes the situation feel all the more realistic. Basically, the film is fabulous and five-star.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Sun Valley Serenade, 1941 – ★★★

An odd combination, this one, with the Glenn Miller Orchestra alongside Olympic skater turned film star Sonja Henie. She plays a refugee who arrives to the USA at the invitation of band member Ted Scott (John Payne) – he’s expecting a juvenile and gets little hottie Henje instead.

Miller himself appears as a fictional band leader with many of his real band – there’s also a chance to see specialties The Nicholas Brothers and Dorothy Dandridge appear during numbers.

There isn’t an awful lot of plot, there are the usual hokey misunderstandings and the presence of one of those secluded log cabins out in the middle of nowhere. Lynn Bari plays Payne’s singing sweetheart, while Milton Berle plays the band’s agent. Numbers include ‘In The Mood’, ‘It Happened in Sun Valley’ and ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Looking For Richard, 1996 – ★★★★

Al Pacino’s first filmed brush with Shakespeare was this part adaptation of Richard III, and part documentary on the significance of Shakespeare’s live and works.

He himself plays Richard (and in the few scenes he chooses to play, is impressive). Other excellent readings come from (surprisingly) Alec Baldwin as Clarence, Kevin Spacey as Buckingham, and Estelle Parsons as Queen Margaret. Winona Ryder plays Lady Anne (but I think her voice was dubbed by Kate Burton?).

The scenes from the play are done in costume and in a straightforward manner. The choices are good – introspective points and high drama for each character.

The documentary bits take two routes – interviews with leading Shakespearians such as John Gielgud and Kenneth Branagh; and Al’s own journey to Shakespeare country in Stratford-upon-Avon, to Shakespeare’s house and beyond.

What comes across is true devotion to the subject, and infectious interest from what was (at the time) an unexpected source. Very good piece of work and well worth your time – when is Al Pacino going to play Richard III on screen for real?

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Hamlet, 1921 – ★★★½

A truly peculiar adaptation of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, starring Denmark’s top actress of the time, Asta Nielsen.

Hamlet is a melancholy Dane indeed in this film from the classic age of silent drama in Germany. But the twist is that he is a she, a princess forced to masquerade as a prince in order to keep the continuity and harmony of the monarchy. Only her mother, Gertrude, knows the truth that her murderous stepfather, Polonius, Ophelia, and even the devoted Horatio do not.

This plot point aside, all of Shakespeare’s intended twists and turns are present – the murder of a king, the feigning of madness, the drowning of Ophelia, the duel between Hamlet and Laertes. Making Hamlet a woman just adds a extra frisson to an already well-known saga.

When Frances de La Tour played Hamlet on stage, she played him as a man, and so did Sarah Bernhardt – I believe that Nielsen’s portrayal of the princess living a half-life is unique, and while it doesn’t quite come off, it does make for an interesting take on this great play.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Book review: With Umbrella, Scotch and Cigarettes – an unauthorised guide to The Avengers series 1

I well remember my first viewing of a series 1 episode of ‘The Avengers’, in fact the only one in existence at that point, which was 1993.  Channel 4 showed this episode, called ‘The Frighteners’, and my perception of the series as being around Steed with his bowler hat and umbrella, with a lady sidekick who wore leather and displayed some keen karate moves, was dispelled completely.  Also shaken, and just a bit stirred, was my perception of Ian Hendry, the actor who had died a decade earlier and who I only really knew from his guest appearances in ‘Jemima Shore Investigates’ and ‘Brookside’.  Here, as the main man in ‘The Avengers’, as Dr Keel, was this young, vital, and rather attractive chappie.  And thus was my interest piqued.

Sadly, since that day twenty-one years ago only an episode and a half from the first series have come to light, both in 2001 (‘Girl on the Trapeze’, which did not feature the character of Steed at all; and the first act of the opening episode, ‘Hot Snow’, which gave us the answers to the questions “Why is the show called ‘The Avengers’ at all?” and “What is ‘hot snow’ anyway?”).  They are good enough to leave the question ‘if only’, regretfully hanging in the air, and in some ways the missing Series 1 episodes are only just behind ‘Doctor Who’ in the holy grail of archive television’s ‘most wanted’ titles.

Fast forward to 2014, and this book has been released, written by Richard McGinlay and Alan Hayes, both devoted enthusiasts of the series, who previously collaborated (with Alys Hayes) on a sister book, ‘The Strange Case of the Missing Episodes’.  This time ‘With Umbrella, Scotch and Cigarettes’ (what a great title!) looks at production, transmission of and reception to the twenty-six episodes taped as Series 1, and as such is brim-full of facts, figures, opinion, insight, and line drawings (one has to go to books like Dave Rogers’ ‘The Complete Avengers’ to see still photographs from the show, even if one or two of those were mistakenly identified as belonging to episodes where no archive exists).

Those of us who eagerly purchased the Optimum DVD release of ‘The Avengers’ series 2 just to get the surviving series 1 episodes as extra (and the wonderful accompanying book of John Cura telesnaps from the missing episodes) are aware of the work which has gone into restoring many of the episodes from still photographs and from-script narrations.  More on this particular activity can be found at The Avengers Declassified, where Hayes goes into detail of the work he and Jaz Wiseman put into bringing 14 of the missing episodes back to life.  (A minor quibble on this might be that one has to purchase the whole of ‘The Avengers’ series on disc to get to see all of them, but a true fan would not begrudge the expense).

So Hayes has proved his credentials before this book made it to press, along with fellow fan McGinlay, and together they have produced a piece of work that will make any fan of ‘The Avengers’, however casual, hungry for more.  Those missing episodes are brought to life using a system of sectioning for the chapters – from ‘production brief’ and ‘field report’ to ‘matters arising’ and ‘mentioned in dispatches’ (where contemporary sources such as interviews and articles are discussed).  The sections on the stars themselves are interesting, but peripheral – Hendry fans can refer to the engrossing book ‘Send in the clowns: the yo-yo life of Ian Hendry‘, by Gabriel Hershman, to gain more insight on ‘the original Avenger’, while Patrick Macnee has written his own autobiographies which touch on his long association with the character of Steed throughout ‘The Avengers’ and its successor ‘The New Avengers’.

If you are at all interested in the genesis of a series which many simply associate with Steed and Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), or Tara King (Linda Thorson), this book should make you look again,  If you watch one of the surviving episodes, with the John Dankworth score, you can almost smell the cigarette smoke and feel the smog of a city in conflict, where the doctor and the stranger who is slightly aside of and above the law start by ‘avenging’ the murder of a girl who has simply been in the wrong place and the wrong time, and then put themselves in various dangerous situations throughout the series. The same feeling comes across as you read this book.

The character of Dr Keel was written specifically as a vehicle for Ian Hendry when his previous TV outing, ‘Police Surgeon’, was cancelled (a series which has fared even worse, with only one surviving episode) – when he left to try his luck on the big screen it must have seemed as if the big time was calling, and while it never did, the body of work he left behind does prove there was a gifted actor who was simply passed by (see ‘The Lotus Eaters’, made for TV in the 1970s, for proof of that).

This book brings us back to a time when ‘The Avengers’ was a very different series, with Steed as second fiddle and a far grittier style than that we saw in the Gale-Peel-King days.  Both styles have their place, but it is a real shame that we cannot properly assess the contribution of the Dr Keel years.  So hooray for this book, which fills the gap in an entertaining and informative way.  Highly recommended, and available from  Incidentally, an ad at the end of the book hints at a similar venture in planning for the missing episodes of ‘Police Surgeon’ – they have an interested buyer-to-be right here.

Tonight at 8.30, 1991 – ★★★½

‘Tonight at 8.30’ is a set of one-act plays by Noël Coward, traditionally presented on the stage in sets of three, numbering nine in total.

In 1991 Joan Collins and her ad hoc company presented eight of the nine playlets (omitting ‘We Were Dancing’), with fairly successful results. Joanie appeared in all eight, with various guests appearing in individual plays.

In ‘Still Life’ (which when expanded by Coward became ‘Brief Encounter’), Alec – a slightly miscast John Alderton, and Laura – a rather glamourous Jane Asher, play through their doomed romance in the railway waiting room. Norman Rossington is no substitute for Stanley Holloway as Albert, and his flirting with Myrtle (Collins) is a bit unconvincing. Still, this is good fun.

‘Shadow Play’ has Collins playing Vicky, who fears she is to be deserted by her beau (Simon Williams), leading her to uneasy dreams. Williams at this point was still well-remembered for his role in ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ and he plays the toff to the hilt.

‘Ways and Means’ has a couple plagued by a burglar – Collins and John Standing are the couple, and their friends include Miriam Margoyles, Sian Phillips and Tony Slattery. Not all are suited to the clipped Coward style.

‘Fumed Oak’, one of two plays here to team Collins with her former husband, Anthony Newley, is my favourite of the set. It’s a bleak little comedy which also boasts a knowing performance from the great Joan Sims.

In ‘Family Album’, Coward throws family secrets into a sizzling pot when a group gather together. Alderton reappears, this time as the butler, while Bonnie Langford, Dominic Jephcott and Denis Quilley try valiantly against the odds to make this work. Collins, however, is out of her depth.

‘The Astonished Heart’ (later expanded and filmed with Coward himself in the lead) is about infidelity, and this time a third appearance from Alderton is too much – as the ‘old friend’ Collins is awful as well. My least favourite of the group.

Collins and Newley reappear in ‘Red Peppers’, a musical comedy about a battling music hall act who are married in real life. A total delight, which also features Reg Varney and Henry McGee.

Finally, ‘Hands Across The Sea’ is about mores, manners, and unwanted guests (in this case, Bernard Cribbins and Miriam Margoyles). It’s funny enough to stand up to repeat viewings, and in this case Collins is well cast, alongside John Nettles.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

Reverse Hitchcock #7: Psycho, 1960 – ★★★★

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

From the staccato violins of the opening score, to the glorious seediness of the black and white photography, this film immediately engages from the opening post-credit sequence of a purring Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) lying on a bed in her underwear, clearly in the post-coital bliss of an extramarital affair. Hitch’s camera is voyeuristic as the couple kiss, cuddle, and break off their sexual intimacy.

Marion made a big mistake when she gave into temptation and ran away, and this is underscored by the scene where she pauses when packing, makes her fateful decision to take what isn’t hers, and leaves the room which is framed by images of safety (parents, a baby, those who can protect her?).

Things escalate with voiceovers, Leigh’s close-ups, the music, the driving rain, and the heightening tension of the situation – frankly, when she arrives at a friendly sign, we are relieved that she has found a refuge … at Bates Motel.

This might well have been Janet Leigh’s best role, and certainly her best remembered, and yet, it is still shocking when, at the 45 minute mark in the film, she is dispatched in a scene which is chilling and horrific, yet simple in its execution – you see everything, and nothing.

It is all suggestion, and suggestive – it is possibly the most erotic murder sequence committed to film, and that final shot is stunning – compare this with the final shot of Barbara Leigh-Hunt’s dating agency owner in ‘Frenzy’ to make an interesting comparison between Hitch’s ways of showing violent death.

Then there’s cinema’s silkiest villain, the literally two-faced Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Perkins was never better, and was forever associated with this role which has even given its name to a particular ‘type’.

The preppy, polite young man who just wants to please, with the overbearing, loud-mouthed mother … and the stuffed birds … he’s oddly unnerving, but you can’t put your finger on why. You certainly wouldn’t want to spend a night in his establishment unless you were desperate.

Populated by smaller, character parts, which are brief, but memorable (including Martin Balsam’s detective, who is interesting to compare with Alec McCowen’s policeman in ‘Frenzy’), this film showcases the gift for blending the scares and the comedy for which this director was rightly renowned.

It starts as an ordinary, almost mundane, crime film, but builds into something far more, starting from the scene with the policeman in dark glasses, and building to the climax of that famous shower sequence.

I know many of you have rated this the full five stars, and it is certainly one of Hitch’s most memorable and accomplished films – it also represents a watershed in cinema and the birth of sophisticated hype around cinema releases.

For me it isn’t quite perfect, but this time round I am awarding it half a star more, to put it into the ‘almost perfect’ bracket.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

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