Posts Tagged ‘Talking Pictures TV’

The Death of Adolf Hitler (1973) Sunday Night Theatre ITV

The very simplicity of this television production works in its favour as it graphically portrays the claustrophobic environment in which Hitler spent his final days; although the depiction of him sleeping in his uniform smacks of dramatic license.

Frank Finlay’s portrayal of the Fuhrer – while as usual inadequately portraying the prematurely aged, grey-haired, shambling husk of a man he had descended to by this stage in the war – doesn’t fall into the usual trap of showing him as sympathetically as most other portrayals usually are; although there’s a lapse when Goebbels is described as “one of Hitler’s oldest friends”, since Hitler hadn’t had any close friends since he purged Ernst Rohm.

This production provides a colder-eyed look at Hitler than usual and it’s portrayal of a self-centred bully prone to temper tantrums is far nearer the mark; although David Irving would certainly take exception to Hitler personally telling a secretary that “in 1941, I personally ordered the extermination of all inferior races’.

In supporting roles Caroline Mortimer emerges both as more substantial and culpable Eva Braun than the real thing ever was, depicted yelling “Kill the Jews!”, Ed Devereaux is memorably cast as an oleaginous Martin Bormann while Myvanwy Jenn makes a brief but vivid impression as a shrill Hanna Reitsch. @RichardChatten


The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Directors Irving Pichel, Ernest B Schoedsack US Horror | Cast: Fay Wray, Joel McCrea, Leslie Banks

Based on: “The Most Dangerous Game”; 1924 story in Collier’s; by Richard Connell

Talking Pictures’ screening was prefaced with the usual disclaimer about outdated dialogue and offensive racial stereotypes, but the British should take umbrage at seeing yet again an English accent and a vocabulary equated with evil (although Count Zaroff actually describes his kinfolk as “we Cossacks”, and he has a henchman called Ivan who provides the film’s scariest moment when he smiles in greeting).

The visceral contents of Zaroff’s trophy room were cut from postCode reissues while he lascivious designs on comely brunette Fay Wray (“Kill then love. When you have known that you have known ecstasy” he gloats) is another sure sign that the film hails from the preCode era. @RichardChatten

The Quiller Memorandum (1966) TPTV

Dir: Michael Anderson | Cast: George Segal, Alex Guinness, Max Von Sydow, Sent Berger, George Sanders, Robert Flemyng, Philip Madoc | Uk Drama 106′

Adapted from Adam Hall’s novel ‘The Berlin Memorandum’, this was the only spy film written by Harold Pinter; a sad loss, since he and the genre – with their ambiguous motivations and outright deceptions, complicated here by the fact that almost everybody around him is speaking amongst themselves in a foreign language – were made for each other.

The dialogue scenes between spymasters George Sanders and Robert Flemyng in Whitehall are pure Pinter. While back in Berlin the second most Pinteresque scenes are those where our disarmingly offbeat hero is interrogated by knuckle-cracking neo-Nazi Max von Sydow. Alec Guinness puts in a sinister appearance in the mammoth Olympiastadion at Charlottenburg. Truly the stuff of nightmares.

Senta Berger is the heroine. Meester Quiller!! (She is currently shooting her latest film in Bavaria). While the final scene is a wonderfully Hitchcockian denouement, all the more shocking for taking place in glorious morning sunshine to an appropriately wistful accompaniment from John Barry’s score sung by the mellow Matt Munro. ¬©Richard Chatten.


The October Man (1947) Talking Pictures TPTV

Dir: Roy Ward Baker | Wri: Eric Ambler | Cast: John Mills, Joan Greenwood, Edward Chapman, Kay Walsh, Joyce Carey | UK Drama 85′

John Mills has the good fortune to attract the interest of throaty-voiced enchantress Joan Greenwood (like Alec Guinness in ‘The Man in the White Suit’, also playing an industrial chemist, but one far less assailed by doubts and far less appreciative of her) in this atmospheric psycho-drama vividly designed by Alex Vetchinsky, gothically lit by Erwin Hillier, personally produced by Eric Ambler from his novel and marking an auspicious directorial debut for Roy Baker. ¬©Richard Chatten


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