Journey into Fear (1975)

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An all-star cast in an Eric Ambler adaptation!
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vt Burn Out
Canada / 95 minutes / color / New World, IFD Dir: Daniel Mann Pr & Scr: Trevor Wallace Story: Journey into Fear (1940) by Eric Ambler Cine: Harry Waxman Cast: Sam Waterston, Zero Mostel, Yvette Mimieux, Scott Marlowe, Ian McShane, Joseph Wiseman, Shelley Winters, Stanley Holloway, Donald Pleasence, Vincent Price, Alicia Ammon, Michael Collins.

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Ambler’s novel was earlier and far more famously filmed as Journey into Fear (1943) dir Norman Foster (plus uncredited directorial assistance from Orson Welles), with Joseph Cotten, Dolores del Rio, Orson Welles, Ruth Warrick, Jack Moss and Agnes Moorehead. (Also, in 1956 the TV series Climax! made an hour-long episode out of the novel, and in 1966 a single episode was produced, “Seller’s Market,” of an intended TV series, Journey into Fear, using the character of Dr. Howard Graham and some of the novel’s ideas.)

This 1975 remake shifts the time to the present—i.e., the mid-1970s—and now, rather than an engineer who’s learned Nazi armaments secrets, our hero, Howard Graham (Waterston), is a geologist who’s discovered, somewhere in the mountains neat the Turkey/Iran border, something (it’s never specified what) of use to oil companies. For some reason this makes him a target for international terrorists.

We first meet him as he and his driver are careering down a mountain dirt-track, their brakes having failed (we assume they’ve been cut). The driver shoves Howard out of the vehicle and moments later flies off a cliff.

Howard makes his way to civilization, where he catches a train to Istanbul. Aboard that train there’s another attempt to kill him. Two men in the guise of Greek Orthodox priests spot where he’s sitting, sneak into the next compartment Continue reading

Witness for the Prosecution (1982 TVM)

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A very good remake of a classic movie!
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UK, US / 102 minutes / color / United Artists Dir: Alan Gibson Pr: Norman Rosemont Scr: John Gay Story: “Traitor’s Hands” (1925 Flynn’s Weekly) and Witness for the Prosecution (1953 play), both by Agatha Christie, and the screenplay for Witness for the Prosecution (1957) by Billy Wilder, Harry Kurnitz and Larry Marcus Cine: Arthur Ibbetson Cast: Ralph Richardson, Deborah Kerr, Beau Bridges, Donald Pleasence, Wendy Hiller, Diana Rigg, David Langton, Richard Vernon, Peter Sallis, Michael Gough, Frank Mills, Michael Nightingale, Peter Copley, Patricia Leslie, Primi Townsend.

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Christie’s play has been filmed several times. The most famous adaptation is quite clearly Billy Wilder’s 1957 movie Witness for the Prosection, featuring Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Tyron Power and, in what’s effectively an unorthodox version of the femme fatale role, Marlene Dietrich.

Because of the fame of the Wilder adaptation, it’s easy to think it must have been the first. Not so. As far as I can gather, the first movie adaptation was Continue reading

Suspect (1960)

vt The Risk
UK / 78 minutes / bw / Charter, British Lion Dir & Pr: Roy Boulting, John Boulting Scr: Nigel Balchin, Jeffrey Dell, Roy Boulting Story: A Sort of Traitors (1949) by Nigel Balchin Cine: Max Greene Cast: Tony Britton, Virginia Maskell, Peter Cushing, Ian Bannen, Raymond Huntley, Thorley Walters, Donald Pleasence, Spike Milligan, Kenneth Griffith, Robert Bruce, Anthony Booth, Basil Dignam, Brian Oulton, Sam Kydd, Bruce Wightman, Ian Wilson, Murray Melvin, Geoffrey Bayldon, Andre Charise.

Suspect 1960 - 1 Lucy defends Arthur from mischievous chimp Phillips

Scientist Lucy Byrne (Virginia Maskell) protects dimwitted janitor Arthur (Spike Milligan) from skittish chimp Phillips (Phillips).

At the Haughton Research Laboratory in London, a team of scientists under Professor Sewell (Cushing) is coming close to developing a strain of superbugs that could eliminate lethal diseases by preying upon the germs that cause them. Sewell is keen to publish the research, but he’s suddenly called to the office of the Minister of Defence, Sir George Gatting (finely portrayed by Huntley, who had a real genius for playing seedy characters hiding under a veneer of respectability), and told he must keep the work secret in the interests of national security: those bugs could be turned against the UK by a hostile power. Although he’s resentful and tries to make waves by, for example, writing to the President of the Royal Society, Sewell concurs. Gatting sets a special agent of the security services, Prince (Walters), to work with sidekick Slater (Kydd) on making sure the scientists do indeed keep their peace. Prince soon recruits Dr. Frederick Shole (Griffith, in fine fettle), Sewell’s right-hand man, to be his mole within the lab.

Suspect 1960 - 2 Sewell, Shole, Marriott being sciency

Professor Sewell (Peter Cushing), Frederick Shole (Kenneth Griffith) and Bob Marriott (Tony Britton): Ooo, aren’t we sciency?

A hothead junior member of Sewell’s team, Bob Marriott (Britton), has difficulty toeing the official line. Through his assistant Lucy Byrne (Maskell) he meets Continue reading