A Hundred Streets (2016)

vt 100 Streets; vt One Square Mile
UK / 93 minutes / color / Caudwell, One Square Mile, Umedia, West Fiction, Crossday, What’s the Story, Green Door, Vertigo Dir: Jim O’Hanlon Pr: Pippa Cross, Leon F. Butler, Idris Elba, Ros Hubbard Scr: Leon F. Butler Cine: Philipp Blaubach Cast: Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton, Charlie Creed-Miles, Franz Drameh, Kierston Wareing, Tom Cullen, Ken Stott, Ashley Thomas, Kola Bokinni, Jo Martin, Cherie Duah, Paul Hickey, Jordan A. Nash, Hope Kiernan.

Three tales of life in London, a mosaic of tales that touch each other tangentially or, at most, overlap in slight ways of which their protagonists are unaware.

Max Moore (Elba), once rugby captain of England, is overcompensating for his retirement from the arena by hitting the sauce and snorting the white stuff, not to mention serially cheating on ex-actress wife Emily (Arterton) with a series of floozies, in pairs if he can get them that way. Before the movie started he apparently added to his conquests the nanny of kids Evie (Kiernan) and Leo (Nash)—the last straw so far as Emily was concerned, because she’s booted him out of the house and taken up with an old flame, photographer Jake (Cullen).

Gemma Arterton as Emily and Tom Cullen as Jake.

More than that, through her onetime mentor Terence Harris (Stott) she’s managed to wangle a job back in the theater.

Terence provides the link between Continue reading

Medusa Touch, The (1978)

John Morlar has a gift for disaster!

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

Penny and the Pownall Case (1948)

UK / 47 minutes / bw / Highbury, GFD Dir: Slim Hand Pr: John Croydon Scr: W.E.C. Fairchild Cine: Walter Harvey Cast: Ralph Michael, Peggy Evans, Christopher Lee, Diana Dors, Frederick Piper, Olaf Pooley, Ethel Coleridge, Sam Costa, Dennis Vance, Shaun Noble, John Lorrell, Philip Saville, Peter Madren, Duncan Carse.

Penny & Pownall Case - 0 opener

Scotland Yard investigator Henry Pownall (Noble), on returning to the UK from the Continent with information on Gateway to Freedom, an organization dedicated to helping Nazi war criminals escape justice, is murdered en route from the airport to the Yard. In charge of the Gateway to Freedom investigation, and thus now of the murder case, is Detective Inspector Michael Carson (Michael), whose secretary Molly James (an almost unrecognizable Dors) shares a flat with Penny Justin (Evans), the model for the daily newspaper comic strip Penny, drawn by artist Jonathan Blair (Lee). The aim of the strip, as Penny explains to Blair’s cleaning lady, Mrs. Hodgson (Coleridge), is to show her always in danger of becoming naked, so that readers daren’t skip an episode in case they miss something.

Penny & Pownall Case - 1 Molly & her boss Supt Carson

Molly James (Diana Dors) and her boss Superintendent Michael Carson (Ralph Michael).

Penny has been rebuffing Blair’s suggestion that they go to Spain together next Friday for a couple of weeks, ostensibly to Continue reading

Committee, The (1968)

UK / 55 minutes / bw / Craytic, Planet Dir: Peter Sykes Pr: Max Steuer Scr: Max Steuer, Peter Sykes Cine: Ian Wilson Cast: Paul Jones, Tom Kempinski, Robert Lloyd, Pauline Munro, Jimmy Gardner, Arthur Brown.

Committee 1968 - 0 opener

After a Driver (Kempinski) pulls off the road to tinker with his car engine, the Hitchhiker (Jones) with whom he’s been traveling murders him by crunching the car’s hood down on his neck, decapitating him; the sole motive seems to be that the Driver was a monumental bore—he even, singing as he drove, managed to mangle a version of The Animals’ “We Gotta Get out of This Place.” You can’t get more boring than that.

All is not lost for the Driver, though; luckily the Hitchhiker is able to stitch the man’s head back on. The Driver’s a bit wobbly on his feet after the repair job, and seemingly somewhat miffed that the Hitchhiker doesn’t want to ride any further, but apart from that there appears to be little lasting damage.

Committee 1968 - 2 Sew a head back on Q Nae bother

Sewing a head back on? It’s no problem at all if you know how.

We cut, via a short sequence that’s reminiscent of the opening credits to a ’60s TV crime series, to something rather like Continue reading