23 January 2010 | Bunuel1976
OMNIBUS: SCHALCKEN THE PAINTER (TV) (Leslie Megahey, 1979) ***
Nicely-handled period ghost story (by the renowned Irish author J. Sheridan LeFanu, of "Carmilla" fame) that is somewhat lengthy at 70 minutes; its backdrop of classical Dutch painting is, however, admirably evoked throughout in the subdued and tasteful quality of the photography that also extends to the occasional nudity on display which, given the subject matter, was inevitable. The two notable names within the cast each play principal roles: Maurice Denham – from NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957) – as Schalcken's mentor and John Justin – from the definitive 1940 version of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD – as the mysterious and wizened rich visitor who barters with the former for the hand of his niece (who is secretly in love with the titular figure). Incidentally, both painters truly existed and, apparently, the story was concocted as a means of explaining the sudden change in Schalcken's style of painting and especially the 'story' behind one particular canvas in which he depicts himself defending the honor of his beloved and about to strike at something vaguely visible with a sword!