Return from the Ashes (1965)

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After her return from the death camps, does her unscrupulous husband want to love her . . . or kill her?
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UK, US / 107 minutes / bw / Mirisch, UA Dir & Pr: J. Lee Thompson Scr: Julius Epstein Story: Le Retour des Cendres (1961) by Hubert Monteilhet Cine: Christopher Challis Cast: Maximilian Schell, Samantha Eggar, Ingrid Thulin, Herbert Lom, Talitha Pol, Vladek Sheybal, Jacques Cey, Jacques Brunius, Eugene Keeley.

Return from the Ashes - 0a

Occupying the same sort of territory as The THIRD MAN (1949), this is the first of—to date—three screen adaptations of Monteilhet’s novel. The other two are:

The latter is covered here.

Return from the Ashes - 0b

It’s the winter of the liberation of France from the loathed Nazi occupation. Aboard a train bound for Paris, a disobedient small boy, Robert (Keeley), opens the door and falls out into the night and presumably his doom. All of the passengers in the compartment are distraught, save one. The woman in the corner (Thulin) seems completely unmoved by events. The others are prepared to be critical of her until they notice the numbers tattooed on her forearm; she’s a Jewish survivor of the concentration camps, and her seeming imperturbability is born not from heartlessness but from traumatic alienation and the crude reconstructive surgery that’s been done on her face.

Arriving in Paris, she books herself into a cheap hotel under the name Julia Robert, even though, as the desk clerk (Cey) points out, according to her papers her name is Michele Wolff-Pilgrin. She tells him she wishes to hide under an assumed name for a while . . .

Return from the Ashes - 1 The Michele we first meet bears the scars of her ordeals

 The Michele we first meet (Ingrid Thulin) bears the scars of her ordeals.

Soon, in a prolonged flashback, we learn her story—and that the face she now bears is not the one she had a few years ago, before the torment of the camps and a clumsy reconstruction job after injury.

A widow, by the latter half of the 1930s she was working as a successful X-ray clinician in a Paris hospital. From her late husband she inherited a stepdaughter, Fabienne, whom she rarely saw, just shuffling her around from one English boarding school to another.

One night at her local chess club Michele ran into the impoverished would-be professional chess player Stanislas “Stan” Pilgrin (Schell), who took her for three games of chess to the tune of ninety francs. Later that night, even though she recognized he was a scoundrel, she 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

Blood (2012)

UK / 92 minutes / color / Momentum, BBC, BFI, IM Global, Quickfire, Lipsync, Neal Street/Red Dir: Nick Murphy Pr: Pippa Harris, Nicola Shindler, Nick Laws Scr: Bill Gallagher Story: Conviction (2004; TV serial) by Bill Gallagher Cine: George Richmond Cast: Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Brian Cox, Mark Strong, Ben Crompton, Naomi Battrick, Zoë Tapper, Natasha Little, Sandra Voe, Jasper Britton, Adrian Edmondson, Danny McEvoy, Elizabeth Lowe, Patrick Hurd-Wood, Stuart McQuarrie, Claire Harris.

Blood - 0 use as opening scene-setter

In a northern English town (unnamed, but in fact West Kirby, Wirral) Lenny Fairburn (Cox) used to run the local police force, and with a fist of iron. Even though he retired long ago, his senile dementia still brings him occasionally into the “office” where he puzzles as to why his desk is now occupied by his replacement, Daniel Telphen (Britton), and brags about the old days when he and his fellows beat confessions out of suspects—or, better, took them out the local islands (Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre Island, all reachable by causeway at low tide) and so terrified them that “they’d confess to shagging their own mothers”.

Blood - 5 Lenny (Cox) struggling with his dementia

Lenny (Brian Cox), struggling with his dementia.

Lenny’s two unalike sons, Joe (Bettany) and Chrissie (Graham), are still on the force, and show little nostalgia for the time when they were working under their dad.

When 12-year-old Angela Drinkle is found dead of multiple stab wounds in a local playground, tensions immediately run high at the police station; everyone, most especially Joe, recalls how, years ago, a rapist had to be released from custody because Joe botched some evidence, and that rapist promptly murdered a woman.

Blood - 1 the murder scene

The original crime scene.

Soon the cops have an ideal suspect for Angela’s murder Continue reading