Posts Tagged ‘Horro’

The Boy with Green Hair (1948)

Dir: Joseph Losey | Wri: Baz Barzman | Cast: Pat O’Brian, Robert Ryan, Barbara Hale, Dean Stockwell | US Fantasy Drama 82’

This unique film begins with a scene set in a police station at night worthy of Edward Hopper, immediately followed by the surprise of seeing a smiling young Robert Ryan in Technicolor in a brown suit in the prologue and epilogue.

Wedded to a very specific moment both in the history of the world and of Hollywood, the film that emerged represents the competing input of several specific individuals; of whom one of the most decisive is probably the least mentioned: Betsy Beaton (1914-1977), author of the original short story published in the 29 December 1946 edition of ‘This Week’ magazine; who got $10,000 less for the film rights than Eden Ahbez for his twee hit song ‘Nature Boy’. (What the film is really about is summed up in a throwaway remark made by one of the kids, “How’d you like to have your sister marry somebody with green hair?”.)

Director Joseph Losey had made only one more feature film in colour before he and fellow blacklistee Ben Barzman worked again on another pacifist fantasy (this time in very stark black & white) about child victims of war, ‘The Damned’ (1961) – Barzman’s draft of which Losey discarded – which remains one of Losey’s most underrated films.

The fate of both films at the hands of the studios that originally produced them provide a fascinating footnote to the Cold War they eloquently bookend. @Richard Chatten

 

Night of the Eagle (1962) *** Talking Pictures

Dir: Sidney Hayers  Wri: Fritz Leiber Jnr | Cast: Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair, Margaret Johnston, Anthony Nicholls, Kathleen Byron | UK Horror, 90′

Two years earlier Anglo Amalgamated had realised the horrific potential of modern technology in Peeping Tom. This smart British shocker shows how telephones and tape recorders. as well as tarot cards. are employed by a twentieth century witch to cast spells (aided naturally by a cat) in a terrific Freudian version of ‘Bewitched’, played for chills rather than laughs (just as director Sidney Hayers’ early use of zooms and a hand-held camera anticipates the much clumsier later use of these devices by other directors).

Having already portrayed an evil spirit in Jack Clayton’s The Innocents (1961), a pre-Jason King Peter Wyngarde is here beset by them himself; and, like any average man, is bewildered and embarrassed when he investigates the contents of his wife’s handbag (her bedside reading is ‘The Rites and Practises of Black Magic’). Meanwhile a bunch of very average men are oblivious of the office politics seething behind their backs amongst a poisonous coven of spitefully ambitious faculty wives (including a tart little cameo from the wonderful Kathleen Byron).

Based upon A.Merritt’s 1932 novel ‘Burn Witch Burn! (its US release title), the triumvirate that adapted it include the venerable fantasy writers Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, with one sequence of a THING attempting noisily to gain entry worthy of ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, but with a spool of magnetic tape instead of a pagan relic working its malign magic. 

The perpetrator wears an enormous fur collar creating the impression of a bird of prey that’s had a stroke, and also adding another layer to the traditional superstition that physical disability was the price paid for striking a pact with the devil. Richard Chatten.

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