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It's a wonderful, jazzy world!
mark.waltz2 December 2020
Warning: Spoilers
There will be three camps of people who watch this and choose to analyze it. Those who have seen Shakespeare's "Othello" and are curious to see how it has been updated, those who have no interest in seeing "Othello", and those like me who have not yet seen any variation of that play (one of the few Shakespeare's I have not viewed) and plan to. Then there is another camp, students of jazz who find out about this in their research and decide to spend 90 minutes at a London jam session and chill out as the action unfolds in the same setting.

The world of music through an all night party becomes the setting for the scheming of several members of the jazz community who scheme against long time friend Paul Harris and his wife Marti Stevens, a retired band singer they desperately want to go on tour with them, knowing that this would lead to the end of their marriage. Patrick McGoohan and Richard Attenborough bring out their best calculating schemers to make it appear through altered tapes that Stevens is cheating on Harris, and this could easily backfire on them, leading to tragedy.

Don't let the single setting keep you from getting into this combination of classic Shakespeare and gloomy melodrama, greatly enlivened by some terrific music and a few numbers sung by Stevens. The cast also includes "Marty's" Betsy Blair in another terrific characterization as a married woman trapped by unhappiness but in denial of how miserable she is. I know now that I'll be revisiting this as soon as I see Shakespeare's play. This is one of the first variations outside of musical theater to bring the Bard to a modern audience, and it's an instant classic.
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Forgotten Classic?
gavin694229 August 2013
The film, based on Othello, is neatly positioned as a vehicle to showcase some of the best Jazz musicians of the period -- including Dave Brubeck and Charlie Mingus.

What is most interesting about this film is how it handles racial relations. That was an important part of "Othello", but really defined the 1960s. I love how 1963 was the year of the "I Have a Dream" speech, but already in England films like this had blacks and whites mingling without any sort of trouble. How much more mature they were...

The film was released by The Criterion Collection in January 2011, and it deserved to be. Criterion has done a great job of finding lost classics and cleaning them up -- the beautiful black and white cinematography deserves to be seen, and the jazz soundtrack deserves to be heard.
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Torpid Modernization of Othello.
rmax3048234 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I kind of looked forward to this -- Patrick McGoohan, Charlie Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Billy Shakespeare. How could it go wrong?

But it's pretty slow and ultimately unbelievable. When I see a band manager being taunted by a drummer, McGoohan, and becoming enraged while stoned, instead of flinging himself on the couch with three bags of Doritos, there's something wrong. With dialog like, "Do you agree with Margolis that jazz is nothing more than regressive narcissism?", I shiver all over.

I couldn't even get hep to the music. It's noisy and represents the most banal form of West Coast jazz. And while the saxophonist could keep up, the trumpeter had no idea of what the hell Dave Brubeck was up to at the piano with his fancy 5/4 time.

Brubeck can't act either, though he's not pressed too hard in that regard -- one or two lines. McGoohan CAN act but he's playing a fast-talking hustler and con man here and that's not his strong suit -- not his FORTE, so to speak. He's best at slow, sly, deliberate lines delivered in a clipped voice with odd hesitations as if there are all kinds of wheels turning behind that utterance. Richard Attenborough can act too, but he doesn't put much effort into his role here. There is, after all, nothing to put much effort into.

One notable property of this film. If it had been made in the USA, it would have been all about the happy marriage of a black man and a white woman. Racial epithets would have been hurled around. Charlie Mingus, author of "Beneath the Underdog," would have torn off his clothes on the bandstand and run around naked, shouting, "Oogoo Boogoo MAU MAU." But in this British movie, nothing is made of the mixed marriage. Nothing is made of race at all. Refreshing in a 1962 movie.

It's not bad, in the sense that it's not insulting. It doesn't treat the audience as a horde of unkempt morons. It's just that it's so much less than engrossing.
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All Night Long is a compelling jazz-flavored "Othello" with Paul Harris in the leading role
tavm17 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Continuing my reviews of people of color in films in chronological order for Black History Month, we're now at 1962 when in England, a jazz-flavored version of Othello in modern times is made with Paul Harris playing musician Aurelius Rex who's married to retired singer Delia Lane (Marti Stevens). Maria Velasco, as Benny, is another person of such race who's also in an interracial relationship with recovering drug musician/band manager Cass Michaels (Keith Michell). Others of the non-white variety include jazz players Charles Mingus on bass and Barry Morgan on bongos and Geoffrey Holder is somewhere there too. Anyway, Rod Hamilton (Richard Attenborough) has thrown a party to celebrate the marriage of Rex and Delia on their first anniversary. The party atmosphere is celebratory with the music playing throughout but a drummer named Johnny Cousin (Patrick McGoohan) who's in the audience is so hell bent on getting Delia for his new band that he does various forms of blackmail to get his way. It's not until his wife Emily (Betsy Blair) reveals something that Johnny gets caught. All I'll say now is All Night Long is highly recommended for both the drama and the music that dominates throughout. P.S. It was a treat to also see Dave Brubeck on the piano.
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Hissin' Cousin
writers_reign17 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
God knows over they years we've had some pretty pathetic actors in English movies - Maxwell Reed, Alan Lake, Michael Gough, Richard Todd, John Gregson, Keiron Moore, Richard Pascoe, Laurence Harvey, I could go on but you get the picture and I'm here to tell you that in this movie Patrick McGoohan makes all of the above look like Michael Redgrave and Donald Wolfit the epitome of subtlety. From his very first appearance all he needs is a sign on his back saying 'I'm the heavy here, Iago, get it?' It's cringe-making to watch and a Master Class in ham. Come back Arthur Mullard all is forgiven. On the plus side we do get to hear some tasty music from the likes of Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus and Eng. Lit. students can have fun with the links to Othello - Keith Michell, as the Cassio figure is actually called Cass and McGoohan's wife Emily (Iago's wife was Emilia).
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this has been rather over hyped
christopher-underwood24 January 2012
I must say from the outset, that if you are a jazz fan of the period and want to see the likes of Dave Brubeck, Johnny Dankworth, Tubby Hayes or Charles Mingus, for however short a moment, then obviously this is a must. But, others beware, this has been rather over hyped. The rain soaked noirish undeveloped London Docklands warehouses, spoken of at such length, appear in a single (effective, yes) shot at the very end. As for the story, despite its alleged Shakespearian origins is a real stinker and completely spoils what might have been a decent film because the music, whilst not terrific, is still listen able (except for the first of the songs!). McGoohan is effective in the central role and Attenborough scampers ably to keep up.
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The Party from Hell
sol12186 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
(There are Spoilers) It at first looked like it was going to be a groovy and wonderful evening when jazz lover Rodney Hamilton, Richard Attenborough, invited the who's who of the London jazz community to his spacious East London loft to celebrate legendary black jazz pianist Aurellius Rex, Paul Harris, and his white wife singing sensation Delia Lane, Marti Stevens, first wedding anniversary.

At the party jazz drummer boy Johnnie Cousin, Patrick McGoohan,tries to talk Delia into joining his new jazz band, as its lead singer, in order to get the some 25,000 pound sterling he needs to finance it. Delia who has since retired from show business to spend all her time with her husband Aurelius rejects Jonnie's offer that has top London music agent Lou Berger, Bernard Braden, drop Johnnie as a client. Trying to get Delia to join his band, and thus save his floundering career, Johnnie tries to start up trouble between the two love birds, Aurelius & Delia, by adding jazz saxophonist- and good friends of both Aurelius and Delia- Cass Michaels, Keith Mitchell,into the mix.

As we've seen already Cass's relationship with Delia is both professional and purely platonic with him having a study girlfriend Benny, Maria Velasco, of his own who's ,like Aurelius, also black. This goes to show how liberal and uninhibited for the early 1960's both Cass and Delia are! Johnnie seeing an opening in breaking up the interracial couple uses Cass, whom he gets both drunk and high on pot, as a battering-ram to break them apart.

To his credit Aurelius at first doesn't fall for Johnnie's sneaky and underhanded tactics but being the determined and manipulating creep that he is Johnnie goes a step farther with his state-of-the-art, for 1962, tape recording equipment that leaves no doubt, in Aurelius' mind, to his wife's infidelity.

****SPOILERS****This also leads Aurelius to completely crack up and not only attack a shocked and surprised Delia, almost strangling her, but knock Cass down a fifteen foot balcony, in Rodney's loft, almost breaking both his neck and back! It's only when Johnnie's wife Emily, Besty Blair, who had no idea what her crazy husband was planning came clean with what a lying and conniving rat he is, and alway was, that Aurelius came to his senses but not after all the damage was already done.

Even though he was the villain in the movie Johnnie Cousin got away almost Scott/free in his instigating Aurelius to commit a number of violent acts that would, in real life, have but him behind bars for at least five years. It's true Johnnie lost his dream of becoming a big time band leader with his wife Emily, whom he more or less kicked out of his life, leaving him. The ending seemed a bit far fetched, or feel good, in Delia coming back to her uncontrollably violent husband Aurelius without as much as having him get help-or anger management- for his manic depression that was very obvious in the movie. He could very well lose it in the future, if he ever again becomes suspicious of Delia, and end up finishing what he started in ringing her neck! As for Cass he's left lying on the floor unable to move with his career as a saxophone player in doubt and even the apology from a tearful Aurelius doesn't seem to be enough to get him back on his feet again.
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Iago A Go-Go
Lejink24 April 2021
I came to this little-known British movie after watching another film director Basil Deardon had made not long before called "Sapphire" which as its main theme addressed the issue of interracial relationships in today's England. Here, he returns to this territory as he not only transposes the main plot elements of Shakespeare's "Othello" to the then present day but also imaginatively sets it in the jazz world of the time.

I'm no jazz-buff but readily appreciate that for those who are, the presence of big names like Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck and Johnny Dankworth In the cast will make this film a draw almost for that reason alone. Actually they none of them are on screen for long and only get a few cursory lines and some brief musical interludes between them, so that they don't affect the action elsewhere, but I guess they add a flavour of authenticity to proceedings.

That action revolves around Patrick McGoohan's conniving and devious drummer Johnny, whose only way to forward his career is to co-opt retired singer Marti Stevens into joining his band. To do this he has to remove the two men he sees are in his way, Stevens' former musical accompanist, trumpeter Keith Michell and her new husband, black band-leader Paul Harris.

It all kicks off at a swinging first wedding anniversary party for Harris and Stevens hosted by promoter Richard Attenborough, the guest-list of which includes big-shot record company executive Bernard Braden as Johnny gets to work spinning his web even if it means innocent people's lives will be destroyed.

Deardon daringly posits two mixed-race relationships in the film and laudably does so in a natural and unobstrusive way. The movie itself is very set-bound with the camera rooted in Attenborough's massive apartment, contributing to the theatricality of the piece. McGoohan dominates as the twitchy, scheming Johnny and certainly impresses with his drumming skills, but there's good support for him provided by Michell, Stevens and particularly Harris, who you could easily imagine portraying the tragic Moor in the original "Othello". Betsy Blair also contributes a brief, but telling performance as Johnny's overlooked wife. Interestingly, the tragedy of the original play is given a more Hollywood-style ending, which particularly to those of us familiar with the original, seems a bit of a cop-out, although I can perhaps understand Deardon's reluctance to openly vilify Harris's character, under the circumstances.

Like I said though, the music didn't move me much and the hep-cat jive talk of this cloistered world rather grated after a while, but all in all this was an interesting and provocative modern-day take on the Bard, with a good cast, solid direction and the additional ingredient of some contemporary jazz music for those who really care for it.
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The jazz alone is worth the price of admission
MOscarbradley12 September 2018
"All Night Long" takes "Othello" and transposes it to a jazz setting in contemporary London, or at least the London of the early sixties. It's a great idea, has a terrific cast and how could any jazz aficianado not like any movie that features this much jazz and a cast that includes Charlie Mingus, Johnny Dankworth and Dave Brubeck all playing themselves but there is a but... In place of Shakespeare we get jive and nothing dates as badly as the kind of hip dialogue that jazz musicians are reputed to have used back then. Cool just isn't cool anymore.

On the plus side, it's a Basil Dearden picture so as well as great jazz, and lots of it, we also get intelligence. Dearden knows the pedigree he has here and treats it with due respect and Patrick McGoohan is superb as the Iago figure. Others in the cast include Richard Attenborough, Betsy Blair, Keith Michell and in the Othello/Desdemona roles, Paul Harris and Marti Stevens. Unfortunately Harris and Stevens are the weakest things about the film; their lack of acting experience shows.

It is, however, a brilliant looking picture. Producer Michael Relph designed it along with Art Director Ray Sim and Edward Scaife supplied the superb black and white cinematography and, as I said, the jazz is terrific. However, it wasn't really successful and is among the least revived of all the Dearden/Relph movies but it's certainly worth seeking out and if you love jazz it is simply unmissable.
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Some terrific music and visuals and some clunky plot twists
secondtake21 June 2015
All Night Long (1962)

If you love jazz, you might want to check out this low budget, offbeat film about the fringes of the jazz scene as the Bob era was devolving into smaller commercial and (frankly) white audiences. It's set in Mod England, but the idea is quite American—the music, above all, but also the script and production.

If you liked the television series "The Prisoner" you might also like checking out that show's star, Patrick McGoohan, who stars here. And then, if you appreciate very loose adaptations of Shakespeare (like the nearly concurrent "West Side Story") you might see the strains of Othello at work here.

I liked it, but I know that it's largely just a curiosity, as a movie. Well, it's been deemed an "important" film by Criterion, which has released one of their spiffy (gorgeous) versions on DVD, and I think that's accurate, even if the dramatics (and a couple of plot tricks using a tape recorder) are sometimes strained. The whole enterprise feels like an art film, with a weird layer of pretension that I suppose comes from the Shakespearean overlay.

As for the jazz? Well, Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck should be enough for you. Great stuff that you just wish lasted longer. What else? There is a liberal acceptance of the mixing of cultures and races that's great (and you have to remember how weird this was in movies back then)—the two leads beyond McGoohan are a mixed-race couple. And then there is the set itself, a single spacious club with a stairway at one end, where the camera moves with crisp authority.

Like lots of director Basil Dearden's movies, this one is different and fascinating and not quite as brilliant or insightful as it needs to be. But yeah, watch it. It's a subculture classic, for sure. With great music.
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For he's a jolly bad Othello.
ianlouisiana25 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Charlie Mingus pretended to hate everybody who wasn't black.. He must have had a field day pretending to hate nearly everybody in this appallingly corny retread of "Othello".Actually I believe he truly did hate Dave Brubeck:their scene together must have been the stuff of nightmares both for the director and for Mr Brubeck who looks throughout as if something very unpleasant has been placed on his piano stool. Richard Attenborough breezes through the movie as if he is on the way to somewhere more important.Patrick Mc goohan utterly fails to convince both as a jazz drummer and as a cut-price Iago,and if he leaves this one out of his CV I wouldn't blame him a bit. I suspect the makers,obviously keen to cash in on what they saw as the popularity of jazz failed to make the distinction between what was then referred to as "modern Jazz" and the sort of jolly English bastardisation of New Orleans music that was nibbbling away at the bottom of the charts at the time. Perhaps they should have cast it with Acker Bilk instead of Dave Brubeck.Charlie Mingus would have loved that. The only excuse for watching "All night long" now is that it gives you a chance to see really cool guys like Tubby Hayes in Italian suits looking absolutely the DB. A picture printed at the time in the "Melody Maker" showed Mr Mingus dressed up like a city gent,with a natty bowler and an umbrella. No wonder he hated Whitey.
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Interesting jazz soap-opera...
dwpollar17 November 2007
1st watched 11/17/2007, 6 out of 10(Dir-Basil Dearden): Interesting jazz soap-opera played out with many actual jazz superstars of the day is amazingly watchable despite the lack of acting talent on-hand. According to my cable on-demand info, the story is a re-telling of Shakespeare's Othello(a story that I'm not familiar with I'm sorry to say) and is played out effectively by everyone involved. The setting is a 1-year anniversary for a hot couple in the jazz world(Rex and Odelia) at a rich man's swank hideout that he uses exclusively for parties of this type. The rich man is played by Richard Attenborough, who is always good in his acting stints and this one is no exception. Everything appears peachy as the couple enters the scene, but there is a hint of scandal as his drummer schemes to start his own band trying to lure away his new wife to be a vocalist in it, although she doesn't appear initially to be that interested. The tangled web is weaved thicker and thicker as the night goes on as the believable antagonist plots everyone against each other for his own gain. This role is played very well by Patrick McGoohan as we can see the evil lurking behind his eyes and it is revealed increasingly as the film goes on. Behind all this is some of the hottest jazz musicians playing original tunes providing a very unique background to the storyline as individuals move in and out of the jam session providing them a break from the drama and being kind of an exit door for the characters in the play. All in all this is a very satisfying unique movie experience that is played out well and provides good background music as well. It is definitely, cool baby!!
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masonfisk22 October 2020
Shakespeare's Othello meets London's jazz age of the 1960's in this 1962 feature. Featuring many jazz luminaries of the time, including Charles Mingus & Dave Brubeck as members of a band assembled to celebrate a recent wedding between a black man who is a music producer & his wife, a white singer. Enter Patrick McGoohan (Secret Agent/The Prisoner himself) a drummer who's looking to start his own band. Will he be able to bag the wife to front his new outfit? So begins a faithful retelling of the classic tale of jealousy & race which to be frank is translated quite well to the new milieu but the predictability of the story-line soon supersedes any drama or tension mounted for the film (the bloodless ending also doesn't help). Very few filmmakers can graft a classic work of fiction onto a different set of genre parameters (Akira Kurasawa's reworking of Macbeth/King Lear into Throne of Blood/Ran is the pinnacle of this type of venture) & get away w/it (Tim Blake Nelson's O from the late 90's starring Julia Stiles, Mehki Phifer & Josh Hartnett managed a better feat by transposing Othello to high school) but if you're interested in watching some top musicians at their peak of their powers then I would say, give it a shot. Also starring Richard Attenborough as the host of the soiree.
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Jazz Othello
LCShackley10 April 2009
I had never heard of this film, so I didn't know what to expect. I figured that anything featuring Attenborough and McGoohan had to be good...and I was right.

The film begins with preparations for a big jazz party honoring Rex and Delia's first anniversary. When they walk through the door, we get a big surprise: Rex is black and Delia is white. (Mixed-race couples were rare on screen in 1962, although they're now "de rigeur" in British TV and film.) When McGoohan's character started his scheming, it finally dawned on me that I was watching OTHELLO in a warehouse!

The screenwriters did a decent job of condensing Shakespeare's play into 90 minutes and bringing it up to date, but they chose to change the ending, which may disappoint die-hard fans of the Bard.

What makes this movie stand out is the cast of supporting characters: great jazz players of the early 1960s. The three headliners are Dave Brubeck (playing "Unsquare Dance"), bassist Charles Mingus, and sax player/bandleader Johnny Dankworth. But there are many second- tier players who contribute to the swinging atmosphere.

This film would be of interest to students of Shakespeare, or lovers of jazz. And if you like the idea of a "jazz summit" in a film, also check out A SONG IS BORN, a Danny Kaye comedy from 1948. The jazzers outshine the actors in that one; in ALL NIGHT LONG, it's a dead heat.
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Othello Jam Session
higherall76 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
There has been talk recently of Idris Elba being the first Black to be seriously considered to play the role of James Bond. When I heard of this, I thought to myself, 'Why bother?', there must be more original and inventive roles for an actor of Elba's stature to play without having to don the persona of some popular white hero. There are plenty of figures from Black History worth fictionalizing from Jomo Kenyatta to Bob Gibson to Isaac Hayes even.

But then I saw Paul Harris' performance in this film! I was riveted by the suave, stylish way he carried himself and it was no stretch at all to see him as 007 with a License to Kill. I thought after awhile, I would begin to see cracks and flaws in his portrayal of Othello in Jazz Country, but no such moments arrived. Here was a guy like our teacher at Foch Junior High who taught us Shop, and Mister Singleton, who taught our Gym classes and paddled us when we got out of line. There was this sense of unstated manly authority similar to what I have seen in the performances of Marlon Brando, and yet he wasn't aping Brando. No, if anything, he was channeling Duke Ellington with a no nonsense attitude and without the solicitous smile and amiable ever willing to please manner.

This reminds me of a story I told you about Doctor Peoples in an earlier review. I will not bore you by recounting it. But here's another way to get at what I'm talking about. There are times when brassy white men will barge into a room and demand 'Who's in charge here?' But I am sure you have had the experience where you walk into a room and your eyes immediately fix on one person because you sense and know they are the one in charge. That's what I take away from Paul Harris' portrayal of Aurelius Rex in ALL NIGHT LONG. This is personal presence altitude acting such as I have seen in films like THE GODFATHER and GANDHI, but without the production values or trappings of grandeur.

I spoke of this at length because it is rarer to see a Black Male actor dominate the atmosphere in a film not through anything he says or does, but simply by being there. I don't believe this is something that can be learned or taught, in my humble opinion. Some people exude authority as their innate gift, while others preen and posture and dramatize to show that they have it. You can reference Brando about this, as well as Rex Ingram, William Marshall and Toshiro Mifune.

I found it amazing and wonderful to watch Patrick McGoohan as Johnny Cousin hammer away at the strength and dignity of Aurelius Rex and meeting nothing but a brick wall of sanity. Unfortunately, through the wonders of technology, he finally breaks through a chink in the armor of Rex's manly reserve and it's downhill into Othello land after that. There's a metaphor in all this, but I think it best you draw your own conclusions.

It's great to see Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck in a film together, and I kind of wish the synergy between the ensembles of musicians and actors were more artfully developed with the musicians sharing anecdotes from their personal lives since they are essentially playing themselves. This would have made for a fascinating fusion of fantasy and reality. Marti Stevens as Delia Lane beautifully demonstrates how in awe she is of Rex, and having Richard Attenborough as Rod Hamilton, Keith Mitchell as Cass Michaels, Betsy Blair as Emily, the wife of Johnny Cousin and Maria Velasco as Benny, the girl friend of Cass Michaels; the cast seems to be working outside of formulaic Hollywood conventions. But you will discover this for yourself.

The reason I spent time recognizing and crediting Paul Harris is because I have seen him in bit parts in other films and always felt he would make a strong male lead given a suitable opportunity. I think this film is evidence of that. I think he might have developed a career comparable to Marlon Brando, or at the very least Lorne Greene but for extenuating circumstances.

But I don't have to go into all that.
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Brubeck & Mingus On Film
theognis-8082121 September 2021
A rare opportunity to see these two greats in action. Excellent design by producer Michael Relph and cinematography by Edward Scaife. And an auspicious debut by Paul Harris as Othello, excellent work by Patrick McGoohan as Iago and rarely seen Marti Stevens as Desdemona. Major contributions from blacklisted Paul Jarrico for writing and Betsy Blair from "Marty" fame earn a welcome payday in pounds, not dollars. Thanks again, Mr. Shakespeare!
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Surprisingly good, but borderline bizzare
mollytinkers23 September 2021
About 20 to 30 minutes into the film, I felt like I was watching a play--a familiar play, at that. Thanks to IMDb, I learned it's inspired by Shakespeare's Othello. I haven't read it in 40 years, but at least that mystery was solved.

The mystery that's not solved for me is the actual genesis of this project. Whose idea was it to fashion a script loosely based on Othello against the backdrop of the late 1960s British jazz scene? The producer? The script's co-authors? Honestly, that's a head-scratcher, in my book.

As far as the music, it's never truly "featured" in this film. It's either used as a transition from one scene to the next or as a background element. Make no mistake: what performances we do get are high-end, time capsule-like delights; but they are often interrupted with storyline.

If you're a diehard fan of the jazz artists featured in this film or of some members of the cast, like Betsy Blair, Richard Attenborough, or Patrick McGoohan, you'll probably like this movie. And if you are into older movies that test the boundaries regarding interracial relationships, this one may interest you. It's good but definitely an oddity.
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Not as good as the first time I saw it
insomnia8 June 2002
The first time I saw this film was when it came out in 1961. I didn't care then one iota that it was a modern day 'take' on Shakespeare's play: "Othello" What

grabbed me then was that it featured jazz musicians like Mingus, Brubeck, and Tubby Hayes, in a feature film. On a second viewing recently on late night T.V., I now believe the producers of this film should have left Shakespearian drama to Shakespearian actors. Though it was terrific to see and hear musicians like

Hayes and Brubeck (man! those pearly whites he flashes at every available

opportunity!), I think it was a shame that a man like Charles Mingus (a musical genius and bass player without peer), was not featured more often.
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Interesting Film
cescfabulous17 March 2021
Patrick McGoohan is superb, great jazz and a decent film
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Groovy hep catfight
Moor-Larkin30 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Inter-racial marriage, dope smoking...that's the sex and drugs. No rock-n-roll I'm afraid, just Elvis Costello's grandpappy playing some cool jazz tunes on the old joanna. Richard Atenborough sheds no tears while ex-Rank glamour boys Keith Michel and Patrick McGoohan get together one more time to play the good and the bad.

McGoohan plays the scheming drummer trying to start his own band. He has become squeezed by his potential backers who insist he must get Marti Stevens as his singer. Unfortunately for him Marti has fallen for the hulking Paul Harris. This white chick / black guy relationship proceeds with absolutely no comment from anyone, a refreshing change from the Hollywood routine of forcing Poitier to have to justify such things! To be truthful it is difficult to see what Marti sees in the guy, who is a real chauvinist, but such is love! He is the leader of a popular band but he has insisted his wife ended her singing career when they married.

McGoohan's plan then is to split the couple up. His main weapon in this regard is Keith Michel playing a reformed dope fiend who, as an old friend, Harris has kept on as his manager. McGoohan passes Michel a bizarre-looking spliff in a quiet moment to try and get him hooked-up again. This forms part of McG's scheme to create the illusion to Harris that his wife is 'playing away' with Michel.

The plotting becomes quite complex, with the inclusion of some incredible tape-to-tape equipment owned by the rich, upper-crust, but groovy cat: Richard Attenborough. McGoohan performs some sound engineering work worthy of a Danger Man episode to set up his final proof to Harris that Marti is unfaithful.

Throughout all this Dave Brubeck and the dudes flesh out some jazz while everyone clicks fingers as they get hep! The film has become mainly famous because of the capture of these guys on celluloid.

Aside from McGoohan, my favourite aspect of the movie is the fact that it was 1961, Mississippi was yet to start burning, yet the movie is impressively colour blind. The portrayal of the marriage of Marti and Paul and the sub-plot involving Michel fretting over whether to marry his black songstress girlfriend all proceed without skin colour even being mentioned.

The final scene is the best of the whole film. Betsy Blair and McGoohan play out a powerfully cruel dismemberment of their life together while McGoohan makes your hair prickle as he rips his own personality to shreds and then stamps on it. While you are still shuddering at his dysfunctional alienation the movie fades out with him slaying his drum-kit, alone in the emptied warehouse-apartment.
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Groovy Inter-Racial Jazz Drama
ZenVortex24 December 2008
For lovers of jazz and racial harmony, this groovy British movie has it all. Some of the best jazz musicians of the era. Blacks and whites getting along just fine. And a fascinating performance by Patrick McGoohan -- who plays a scheming drummer hell-bent on splitting up an inter-racial marriage in order to form his own band.

The movie is set in the docklands area of London with a plot loosely based on Shakespeare's "Othello". The acting and direction are generally good with noirish cinematography. But the main attraction is the jazz -- with such luminaries as Dave Brubeck, Johnny Dankworth, Tubby Hayes, and Charlie Mingus happily jamming throughout the movie.

Paul Harris delivers an impressive performance as an African-American band leader with a stage presence similar to Morgan Freeman. The rest of the cast are natural and convincing, especially the lovely Maria Velasco, who is in another inter-racial relationship. But the movie belongs to McGoohan, whose deeply flawed character, insanely brilliant drumming (not dubbed!), and maniacal scheming are a wonder to behold.

This minor classic is available as a high-quality German all-region DVD (Die Heisse Nacht) with an English sound track.
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Classic -- I must find a copy!
johnhenrik17 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
OK, maybe it's not perfect, but, this movie is so pleasingly NON-Hollywood. There are two mixed-race couples and it's never mentioned even once, WOW!. Then we get to witness two pot smoking musicians, with no COPS waiting in the wings to destroy their lives. Most of these musicians are good actors. There are no ridiculously stupid idiot characters, who could never make it in the real world, no bombs, guns being fired, car chases, stupid macho heroes defying all of the laws of physics, totalitarian law enforcers killing 'evil-doers' to protect the national security. The movie follows an outdated plot (even if this was made 46 years ago), but it flows and there's never a boring moment. There are some great jazz tunes and jams going on throughout most of the movie. And, of course, the movie had to made in England, since Hollywood has been, and still is, so scared of going outside of their own collection of simplistic formulas. Therefore, I must have this film.
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An interesting period piece - especially for jazz lovers
Roger-394 November 2000
This is an interesting period piece, especially for jazz lovers and those who remember the early sixties. The plot is fairly silly, but entertaining enough to hold the attention. It tells the story of jealousy and scheming amongst a number of jazz musicians at a party held in a London warehouse.

The acting is fairly good, but what makes it especially interesting is the fact that the action takes place against the back drop of a continuous jam session featuring solos by musicians such as Dave Brubeck and Tubby Hayes.
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poor to fair
ddliner6 December 2008
It's really unfortunate, but ultimately this is not a very good movie. The screenplay is downright awful, the lip synching is brutal, and although some of the actors try their best, they're obviously fighting a losing cause. Maybe if the director had maintained more control, he might have reigned in some of the the actor's ego (and perhaps the same could be said for his own ego), and then he might have allowed a whole lot more more screen time to the truly fabulous jazz musicians who were featured only intermittently throughout this movie. In fact, the only thing that saves this movie from being a complete clunker is the presence of the jazz musicians.
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How come I hadn't heard before about this film?
prisamata12 September 2002
Just imagine: That Shakespearian bigger-than-life plot line, a sixties touch of psychoanalysis, a movie set entirely inside a party of swingers, great interludes featuring amazing jazz performances from some great artists such as Charlie Mingus(music scenes that also explain story line and characters), a slight bit of over-acting in colorful black and white, good filmmaking, interracial couples and drug taking in a 1961 movie, love, hate and, of course, jealousy. Who could possible miss out on these ingredients?

Just beautiful.
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