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The Vengeance of She (1968)
Trashy but with an ethereal beauty...
!!!THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS!!!
This is one of the few well-known Hammer films I had never seen, until a few days ago. I had very low expectations and so, sat down to watch this with no preconceived ideas of real enjoyment; just of ticking another Hammer film off on my head as "seen".
The Vengeance of She is oddly enjoyable if totally trashy. The script goes in a vaguely similar line to the original 1965 She. It has minimal characterisation, has no inner continuity and the actions and deeds of some of the characters are totally anachronistic (e.g an Arab who seems steeped in Western magick rites and philosophy).
By the end I found myself totally disinterested if Carol (Olinka Berova) is the reincarnation of Ayesha or not. I was unmoved by the loss/love of Killikrates (John Richardson)and his dilemma of being immortal without his soul-mate. The actual events lost momentum for me even before reaching the Lost City.
So why watch this film? There is an ethereal beauty to this film. Other reviewers have mentioned the beauty of the lovely Ms Berova and she is stunning, so that is enough said about that. But the ethereal beauty is beyond just her looks alone.
The film has some wonderful images: Berova walking down a long winding road in a white fur coat, the desert sequence, the entry to Kuma, etc. The music score by Mario Nascimbene, including the song title (sung by Bob Fields), uses a haunting but very simple melody heard throughout the film in various guises. For the scenes set in the "modern world" it is played as a jazz miniature with solo saxophone. In Kuma, it becomes a chant with an ostinato figure derived from the main melody. I find this very effective.
The ethereality of these features combine to produce something unexpected. This film has stayed with me. Shallow, disjointed and incongruous as the whole thing is, there seems to be something of a 60s acid trip side-effect from this film that I cannot explain. The notions of exoticism; love unrequited or lost; beauty and decay; and glamorous adventure that are not really explicit (due to ineptitude in narrative and performances) in this film are what will now stay with me.
Perhaps in five years time or more, I will have a notion to return to this film... and be totally disappointed, wondering where the effect of this film, that stayed with me in the following days, actually came from. Yet, it is there and for this I give it a tentative recommendation and a very over-generous rating.
The Ghost Train (1941)
Ted Holmes is alive and well and living on DVD!!
This film is one of those nostalgia things with me and I never REALLY expect anyone else to "get it" but am pleased when I recommend it and somebody DOES enjoy it. My late father HATED Arthur Askey but this film was one he really enjoyed and his consistent enthusiasm for "The Ghost Train" and "Old Ted 'Olmes" transferred to me as a child. Years later, I watch it every now and again, enjoying the familiarity. I always wonder if it will not be quite the same but I am never disappointed in it. There is much to enjoy. The sequence on the train is truly inspired when Askey and Murdoch proceed to annoy the arrogant male passenger. Then the whole section in the station is amazing with so much going on you have to keep up. Yes, it is dated and full of wartime Britishness in accents and plot (based on the original play by Arnold Ridley of Dad's Army fame!) but full of wonderful character performances - including Kathleen Harrison as a dotty spinster. The atmosphere is truly as near sinister as an Arthur Askey vehicle could get. This is available cheap as chips in the UK on DVD so treat yourself. It is a perfect Saturday/Sunday morning or any day lazy afternoon lightweight piece of entertainment. I Thank You....
OLD MOVIES CAN BE GOOD MOVIES!