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The Prisoner (1967)
A keen conflagration of the 'equal' society.
A keen conflagration of the 'equal' society; variable in narrative quality from episode to episode; an exercise in naturalism - "The Prisoner" is a gloriously brazen series by the EMMY award-winning, publicity allergic actor Patrick McGoohan and the writer George Markstein. The series commences with an unnamed government official - once stated emphatically as being John Drake, McGoohan's character from the spy-series 'prequel', "Danger Man" - resigning from his job and being abducted, by unidentified protagonists, to 'The Village'. In this malignant prison, built in an eclectic Italianate architectural style, numbered prisoners and the rhetoric of Conservative Britain are found in abundance. Here, the eponymous prisoner, now Number 6, is pressed to give the reason for his resignation. Starting as a 'thinking man's' segment of the 60's action/adventure series canon ("The Saint", "Man in a Suitcase" etc.), the 17 episode series comments on the demand for conformity in the outside world that allows ease of control (possibly via consumerism) amongst its members by faceless leaders. Costing an average of £75,000 an episode, the series ranges from the experimental (one show uses in part the language of postmodernism, via the pastiche and parody of spy-thrillers), psychoanalysis, expressionistic lighting and hard-headed violence. Concluding with an abstract episode, the show provoked anger against A.T.V. - McGoohan once stated, "If things go wrong - I'm the only one to shoulder the blame" - and self-perpetuating fan-based theories.
Get Carter (1971)
Inevitable flecks of Postmodernism and disturbing ambivilence
Over 30 years after the film's initial release, "Get Carter" has garnered both inevitable flecks of Postmodernism (Due in part to Caine's presence) and the distinction of maintaining a disturbing ambivilence. Caine appears as the eponymous London villainin this slick and efficient comment on polymophous immorality - from then first-time director, Hodges ("Flash Gordon" and the later Caine vehicle, "Pulp") who exacts murderous revenge on the inhabitants of Newcastle responsible for the death of brother; and uncovers a web of pornography and proficient deceit, matching its literary cousin "The Big Sleep". Caine was both astute in his choice of director and in supplying a suitably suppressed performance, as the homoerotic killer who, like all iconic British screen gangsters, is intensely narcissistic and therefore never inward-looking. The package presented is of emotional duality and dupiciousness as dark humour and perverse sex compete with ribald comedy and brotherly love. A rare example of a film that presents succint characterisations(From a mostly excellent: including Ian Hendry as the patently immoral Eric Paice and John Osbourne in the role of the sickeningly unctious Kinnear), "Get Carter" confidently smashes the comforts of perfuctory nationhood, engendered in War-time film-making, as Carter becomes further embroyled in his autonymous killing spree. Problems with the film are thankfully few, but probably include a slight yielding to an episodic quality for the murders featured - potentially opening the film to accustaions of popularisation - damaging or perhaps even heighteng the film's moral posture.
A light-weight and enjoyable, though thankfully never obsequious documentary
Said Cushing in a 1966 interview ''You have to have a great ego to want to play 'Hamlet' all the time and I just haven't got that ego'' - and this light-weight, enjoyable and thankfully never enjoayable feature-length documentary, on his life, proves such a sentiment. Cushing, avuncular and self-effacing, is interviewed by an occassionallly annoying Vosburgh in this description of his career from his days on stage in England, through 1940's Hollywood, his successes on tv, Hammer and his meditations on the after-life. Thankfully Cushing effortlesses rises above the very cinematic forays that made him internationally famous (Including Hammer productions that he appeared in during the 60's and 70' that became anacronystic with time - but never quite fashionably ironic) and showcases his life in an excellent anacdotal fashion.
Shadow of the Noose (1989)
A competent, albeit pretentious, costume crime-drama
Written by Richard Cooper, this competently made, albeit pretentious Edwardian court-room drama series, from the late 1980's, charts eight true-life cases taken by one of Britain's most successful and show-man-like barristers : Edward Marshall-Hall. Commencing with Marshall-Hall's defence of a German prostitute, charged with the murder of an elderly pimp, the series shows, via this instance, the proficient Hyde ("Jumanji" / "Titanic" / "The Mummy") replicating the dramatic court-room hyperbole, social magnetism and integrity, that enthralled the public, arguably via the then burgeoning popular press - and made the barrister a celebrity. With eyes glazed and arms waving, Hyde rants, in said episode, "I almost dare you to find a guilty verdict". In a career, that spanned to the 1920's, for which the barrister used early forensic evidence, Marshall-Hall accepted briefs for an ensemble of clients (that included aristocratic homosexuals, suspected spies and nearly Crippen), therefore allowing for a range, of mainly unknown actors - including the then ill-famed David Rintoul and Peter Capaldi - to contribute. Yet, this seemingly polished BBC production, lacks the character-driven intensity of its' counterpart - Jeremy Brett's 'Sherlock Holmes' series - and relies on its' status as a costume drama and systemic 'realism', as illustrated by the usage of unknown actors - leaving the show seeming contrived.