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

Touch of Larceny, A (1959)

UK-US / 93 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Guy Hamilton Pr: Ivan Foxwell Scr: Roger MacDougall, Guy Hamilton, Ivan Foxwell Story: The Megstone Plot (1956) by Andrew Garve Cine: John Wilcox Cast: James Mason, Vera Miles, George Sanders, Harry Andrews, Robert Flemyng, Ernest Clark, Duncan Lamont, Percy Herbert, Junia Crawford, William Kendall, Peter Barkworth, MacDonald Parke, Mavis Villiers, Jimmy Lloyd, Barbara Hicks, William Mervyn, Dickie Owen, Basil Dignam, John Le Mesurier, Gordon Harris.

Touch of Larceny - 0 opener

In London, ex-submariner Commander Max Easton (Mason), known as “Rammer” Easton in his war-hero days, is now stuck in a seat-warming job at the Admiralty, where he idles his way through his so-called working hours before evening comes and he can practice his main hobby, seduction.

Touch of Larceny - 1 Max, as busy as he ever gets at the AdmiraltyMax (James Mason), as busy as he ever gets at the Admiralty.

One day at his squash club he runs into someone he recognizes, Charles Holland (Sanders), who during the war saved Max’s life at some stage and is now a high muck-a-muck in the diplomatic service; Charles also wallows in his inherited wealth, is a complete snob and prig, and is engaged to a beautiful US widow, Virginia Killain (Miles). On first sight of Virginia, Max is completely smitten, but she’s immune to his various wiles and Continue reading