|Index||8 reviews in total|
While a bit of Inspector Morse comes through, Thaw pulls it off with a
working class persona. We get to follow him through his investigation,
and this is the most appealing type of mystery for me. Thaw's Harry
Barnett is as tenacious as is his Morse (created by novelist Colin
Dexter). Harry is driven mostly by two forces, his attempt to disprove
his involvement in a disappearance of a woman and his lifelong
relationship with a wealthy former politician, Alan Dysart. But the
more questions he asks, the more questions arise about his longtime
friend. The connection between the very beginning of the film and its
ending works, provides an added twist (there is one right before the
end as well), and brought the (film) story full circle, including the
exchange of an important gift between two main characters (Barnett and
Dysart), bound together through life experiences. You will not be
As an author of mystery novels and an observer of the two industries (print & film), the media are so different that I often discount the "it did not follow the book" criticisms. Most viewers of the film never have nor ever will read the novel. We writers need to bank the movie checks and move on to the next book.
Having been dismayed by many tawdry TV rewrites of perfectly good
books, I can understand why the "Into the Blue" author and many readers
would be apoplectic after watching this. Instead of gasping at the
thrills and chills in this TV movie, those who read the book first will
merely gasp in surprise at how well over half of anything to do with it
has been radically altered for this film, including the most major
characters and plot twists.
That any major changes should occur is not a surprise, however. Indeed, one wonders just why the producers chose to film this book of all things. There was just no way 400 pages of dense, hard paragraphs and exhaustive backstory (all in tiny font) could've made a film of 110 or so minutes. Despite having some compelling drama and ideas, frankly the book can afford to lose perhaps 100 pages.
Even so, by the standards of adaptations, this film's condensations and rewriting are savage. I read the book second, then revisited the film. Thus for me, it's rather a hoot how the film broadcasts right from the start how it's spared nothing in its rewriting. In the first five minutes, Harry Barnett shows someone a portrait of Alan Dysart's wife, a small but important (and alive) supporting character in the book. Harry reports that she died of cancer 2 years ago, then moves on without another word. That's that for wifey!
But the film gives us a decent enough TV movie thriller. Its technique is plain, typical for TV movies, but offers attractive sets, location shootings, and cinematography. The book has its share of melodrama, but the film really ups the thriller factor, which gets clichéd but still fun.
The altered story also retains much of what worked best in the book's drama: Harry Barnett's central quest, and an interesting friendship with the vivid, yet inscrutable Alan Dysart.
True, the film is clichéd in how it sets up Harry's private investigation of Heather Mallender's disappearance. The usual "innocent man must launch his own private investigation to clear his name, while the authorities hassle him and do nothing useful." But it keeps the device of Harry obtaining photos Heather has shot, and using them to retrace her own investigative journey from the past. The film gets great cinematic fun out of this -- Harry will give us a close-up view of a photo of a building; then the shot pans up to show the actual building, proving that he's on the right track.
Alan too remains compelling: a well-fed and well-groomed man of power (love the suspenders) who's generous, supportive, yet ambiguous. (The film errs a little by making him ambiguous from the start.) Forever helping Harry out of trouble, Alan provides one of the most gripping dramatic moments when Harry declines to do him a major favor. Alan stops and glares at him, and complains to Harry for the first time. "It's the only favor I've ever asked of you." Immediately he departs in defeat. We feel the pain and guilt such an accurate criticism must've made to Harry.
Unfortunately, the film glosses over their surprising drama at story's end.
Zora Labrooy, friend of Heather and secretary to a shifty psychologist, provides another strong character and relationship for Harry. Despite rewrites, her essential elements are largely the same. The investigation pushes her to become an ally and assistant to Harry. Besides its own ambiguity, this friendship is made interesting by an increased, constant tension and fragility. They're never sure they can trust or find a real use for each other.
Also of note is John Thaw, who provides the right dramatic gravitas whenever required. It's also fun to see him convincingly play a cockney man of modest background, in contrast to his famous role of cultured Inspector Morse.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert Goddard is a fantastic author, specialising in twisty and turny British historical thrillers. I was psyched when I saw that "Into the Blue' had been adapted for the small screen, being one of the finest book in a 'trilogy' of sorts. Harry Barnett is highly engaging character, and John Thaw portrays him well, warts and all. The only deterrent to the TV version is that it's far too short. It would have, in this writers opinion, worked better as a mini-series, as the movie leaves out whole scenes from the book and loses the feeling of helplessness that Harry Barnett feels to his plight. On the whole, "Into the Blue" is disappointing, not living up to a really good book. Check out the follow-ups, "Into the Sun" and "Never go Back".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Into the Blue is the story of Harry Barnett (John Thaw), an easy-going
failure who lives on Rhodes as the caretaker of a house belonging to
his good friend, the wealthy Allan Dysart (Matthew Marsh). They've
known each other for years. One night Harry meets Heather Mallender
(Abigail Cruttenden) on the beach. He takes her back to the house. They
spend two or three days together...then she disappears. The Rhodes
police think Harry might of killed her. Dysart shows up and gets him
out of jail. Harry immediately leaves for London to find out more about
Heather. Among the things he finds is that her sister died mysteriously
and that Dysart had employed her. It's not long before unpleasant
things begin to happen to Harry.
Into the Blue is a lumbering mystery, filled with camera shots peeking threateningly from the bushes and around the sides of trees, with the occasional heavy breathing we can hear off camera, with an ominous score filled with musical clichés and with obviously suspicious characters lurking after Harry. It also has several people who are efficiently converted into corpses. That's not a bad thing, especially as we realize all the corpses when they could move on their own had some kind of relationship with Allan Dysart
John Thaw, as great a television actor as he was, looks too old for the part. He was 55 and could have passed in bad light for 65. His bed scene with Cruttenden could have been a young woman in bed not just with a man old enough to be her father, but her grandfather. And Thaw not just looks ten years older than Dysart, his employer, friend, protector, rich businessman, former politician and widower, which would be appropriate to the plot, Thaw could pass for 20 years older. This isn't just being picky, it's one of the factors that disrupts the story and turns Into the Blue from a clunky but intriguing mystery into a clunky, intriguing mystery which primarily is a vehicle for Thaw.
But, oh, what potential. As old as Thaw looks he is still a hugely engaging, likable, and intelligent actor. The storyline is clever, with a puzzle that would have fascinated Inspector Morse. The final realization of the motivation for the murders is carefully disguised and so is the killer. The conclusion is melodramatic but it works. The skill of the other actors generally is first rate. I like complex, murderous mysteries with plots that play more or less fair with the viewer and that show some restraint. I like John Thaw. That's enough for me to enjoy Into the Blue and watch it more than once. Give it a try. Even with its weaknesses you might enjoy it, too.
One of the things I admire about Thaw is that as comfortable an acting life as he could have had after Morse took off, he kept taking roles every year or so that offered different challenges. Some of them, like Monsignor Renard, were, in my opinion, well made. Some, like Goodnight Mr. Tom, were close to being mawkish (again, just opinion), and some, like A Year in Provence, were a delight. Part of the success of the latter, I think, is that it gave Thaw an equally good actress to play off of. Lindsay Duncan was just as effective and charming as Thaw.
When a woman he has just met disappears on the island of Rhodes,
Harry's innocence is doubted. But as he begins to examine the woman's
past he realizes his closest friend could be involved in murder.
Robert Goddard is a solid and reliable British writer of clever and complex mysteries. However this adaptation of his novel Into The Blue as a vehicle for John Thaw is disastrous from word go. Embarrassingly miscast, Thaw struggles with accent and intent as he blunders from one scene to another, and he is horribly betrayed by a great clunking script and ghastly supporting actors - Ba is particularly awful as Harry's reluctant sidekick.
Find Goddard's original novel and avoid this turkey at all costs.
Compared to what we get on American tv, it was good. England seems to
understand that there can be suspense without having to have calm, cool main
characters and it is supposed to be believed that this is
I came into John Thaw's work very indirectly, Inspector Morse would air on ETV as one of the Mystery segments. Of course, he was good.
It would take me a while or two to realize that Into The Blue was not the same character, but still the story was fun.
Being handed the abandoned baby, the death in the canoe and then the body found on the shore like that all at the beginning, and seeing how they all connected was a good attention-getting story.
He got a pretty good ally in Zhora there for a while too.
I know nothing about the book, of course, so it was all the first time I had seen the story.
I had no problems with it.
Robert Goddard's splendidly crafted novel brought to the small screen. But Goddard must have been heartbroken to see how his work was changed for television production. John Thaw seems to struggle with a role for which he is completely miscast; and with the whole tenor of the plot changed for compression into a two hour format, this must be one of the more disappointing television adaptations of recent times.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this on TV about a year ago, and I liked it. That Christmas, I
got the book by Robert Goddard, and I couldn't put it down. It is a
brilliant book, and I've also got Sight Unseen, which I'm looking
forward to starting. It is a fresh change from reading Agatha Christie,
who coincidentally is my favourite author.
That said, the TV adaptation, while very different to the book, is pretty solid. John Thaw does his best, with a difficult accent, but looks uncomfortable sometimes. I hate criticising Thaw's acting, because he was one of Britain's finest actors. The letdown however, was the script, it was very clunky, and I didn't like some of the plot changes, like Heather getting killed. The ending was very disappointing, as I didn't understand it. They also missed really important things about Alan Dysart, played by Matthew Marsh, like his hidden homosexuality.
However, I liked some of the scenes, such as when Harry first discovers that Heather is missing, and the big house being set on fire, after Peter Kingdom (Miles Anderson) was murdered. Most of the acting is good, the music is suitably ominous and Greece looks beautiful. Another thing that bothered me was this, who killed Peter Kingdom, because that wasn't made obvious.
In conclusion, it isn't Thaw's best, but you may like it! 7/10. Bethany Cox
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|