Medusa Touch, The (1978)

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John Morlar has a gift for disaster!
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UK, France / 109 minutes / color / Coatesgold, ITC Dir: Jack Gold Pr: Anne V. Coates, Jack Gold Scr: John Briley Story: The Medusa Touch (1973) by Peter Van Greenaway Cine: Arthur Ibbetson Cast: Richard Burton, Lino Ventura, Lee Remick, Harry Andrews, Alan Badel, Marie-Christine Barrault, Jeremy Brett, Michael Hordern, Gordon Jackson, Derek Jacobi, Robert Lang, Michael Byrne, John Normington, Robert Flemyng, Philip Stone, Malcolm Tierney, Norman Bird, Jennifer Jayne, Avril Elgar, James Hazeldine, Wendy Gifford, Shaw Taylor, Gordon Honeycombe, Adam Bridges, Joseph Clark.

I read the Peter Van Greenaway novel upon which this is based—one of the odder of his oddball, semi-fantasticated Inspector Cherry detective novels—quite a few years before I had a chance to watch the movie, but even so I know my viewing was affected by memories of the book. Now that many more years have passed, I was better able to enjoy the movie on its own terms.

Van Greenaway wasn’t the most fluent of writers and one had to work quite hard to read what were billed as thrillers, but I tackled several and became rather fond of them: they certainly had a greater intellectual heft than the vast majority of the crime and thriller novels with which they shared a bookshop shelf. The Medusa Touch was the one I enjoyed the most. In the movie adaptation Inspector Francis Cherry of the Yard is replaced by a French cop called Brunel, improbably working in London on some kind of exchange deal between the Yard and the Sûreté. However, as Brunel was played by Lino Ventura there are no grumbles from anyone among the extensive Noirish staff.

Brunel (Lino Ventura) begins his investigation . . .

. . . aided by the loyal Sergeant Duff (Michael Byrne).

The movie opens with successful novelist John Morlar (Burton) being beaten to death by an unidentifiable figure wielding a handy statuette. Or not quite to death, as investigating Inspector Brunel (Ventura) and his English sidekick Sergeant Duff (Byrne) discover while snooping around Morlar’s apartment. Even though the man’s brains have apparently been spilled out on the carpet and the paramedics have declared him dead, he suddenly Continue reading

Third Time Lucky (1949)

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Will his gambling addiction be the death of him?

 

UK / 86 minutes / bw / Alliance Anglofilm, GFD Dir: Gordon Parry Pr: Mario Zampi Scr: Gerald Butler Story: They Cracked her Glass Slipper (1941) by Gerald Butler Cine: Cedric Williams Cast: Glynis Johns, Dermot Walsh, Charles Goldner, Harcourt Williams, Yvonne Owen, Helen Haye, Edna Kaye, John Stuart, Sebastian Cabot, Ballard Berkeley, Harold Berens, Millicent Wolf, Marianne Deeming, Bruce Walker, Michael Hordern, Charles Rolfe.

Third Time Lucky - 0 opener

We start in a hospital, where young office receptionist Joan Burns (Johns) is taken by a grim-faced police escort to an office where a police inspector (Stuart) interviews her about a crime that has recently been committed. Where did she get the gun? Why did she fire it? Was it her who fired it? At first she refuses—or is perhaps too shell-shocked—to respond, but eventually the words start flowing and we enter the first of two extended flashbacks that between them constitute almost the entirety of the movie . . .

Third Time Lucky - 1 Lucky commandeers Joan's cab, C Rolfe as driver

Lucky (Dermot Walsh) commandeers Joan’s cab, The driver is played by Charles Rolfe.

Some whole ago, Joan had just caught a taxi when a young man, sprinting from a dog track, jumped aboard, claiming to be a cop. He instructed the driver (Rolfe) to do his best to escape a pursuing cab. The pursuers successfully lost, the man Continue reading

Highly Dangerous (1950)

UK / 89 minutes / bw / Two Cities, GFD, Rank Dir: Roy Ward Baker Pr: Antony Darnborough Scr: Eric Ambler Cine: Reginald Wyer Cast: Margaret Lockwood, Dane Clark, Bill Casey, Marius Goring, Naunton Wayne, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Eugene Deckers, Olaf Pooley, Gladys Henson, Paul Hardtmuth, Michael Hordern, Eric Pohlmann, Joan Haythorne, Anton Diffring, Anthony Newley, Ewen Solon, Michael Rittermann, Lance Secretan.

Highly Dangerous - closer

Entomologist Frances Gray (Lockwood) is asked by her boss Rawlins (Hordern) and Mr. Hedgerley (Wayne) from the Secretariat of the Imperial General Staff if she could go to an obscure Iron Curtain country to investigate the possibility that a scientist called Kassen has succeeded in breeding insecticide-resistant fruitflies that could be used as vectors for germ warfare against the West.

Highly Dangerous - 1 Mr Hedgerley recruits

Mr Hedgerley (Naunton Wayne), Frances’s recruiter.

She refuses point-blank: she’s just about to go on her hols to Torquay. Hedgerley hitches a lift from her to the station, and en route she plays the night episode of the radio serial Frank Conway, Secret Agent. It is her duty to do so nightly, so that she can tell the story to Continue reading