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The Long Ships

One step too bad.
Although as 'old' as 20 when I saw this film I still was, still am, a sucker for action and adventure. I can forgive a lot and often find that re-watching old films, often made on wobbly budgets, continually enlightening. I find that films that I was dismissive of, on first viewing, now stand stronger in the light of more recent 'works'. I occasionally re-watch 'The Long Ships' in hope, as it should be the sort of film I love. It is not.

I rate Cardiff as one of the top cinematographers, but not necessarily as a director. I like colour and light.(e.g. 'Tremors'rather than 'things' in two thirds darkness). There is colour and light in 'The Longships' so it is not that which turns me off. It does not have the excuse of a low budget. I enjoyed Widmark in The Alamo, Warlock and The Law and Jake Wade, Russ Tamblyn in Seven Brothers and West Side Story. I had not seen much of Sydney Potier as I recall, A Man Is Ten Feet Tall (Edge of a City). The cast were experienced, as a whole. The second unit and fight arranging are a bit wobbly but often were and are. Even Sidney Potier said "To say it was disastrous is a compliment"

It works against the problem that I had read the book, something like 500 pages, from which The Longships takes a side story of about a page and a half and couple of incidents. The Film could be much shorter if it was just a 'romp'. The problem is that it is patched together, much like current UK Government policy, a few ostentatious high spots stuck together with 'spin'. They had the means and makings of a much better film, not just something that gets away with it because it is 'fun'. So why did they not make a better film. In the older 'Halliwells' film guides the late Leslie Halliwell frequently questioned the motives for making certain such films. These comments are now edited out of more recent editions since Halliwells untimely death.(Strangely the same has happened to details of other persons untimely deaths, removed from the pages of the 'Guides')

Allen's (Warwick Avilla) films, like those produced by Lew Grade and Columbia often involved filming in the then Soviet bloc and featured casts of overtly 'Left Wing' affiliations (Why did Peter Finch 'just happen' to be on the set of The First Men on the Moon and play {uncredited) the 'Process Server'?). If you are a seeker of truth check some of these out. You may find it more fun than 'The DaVinci Code' or The Long Ships'.

Something of Value

A great book let down by a film
The film is of average Hollywood standard for the day (and I am a Hollywood fan)which is to say; quite good. To do Robert Ruark's novel justice would require about six hours, which I agree is impractical, but 3hr epic length (rare at that time)would have helped. The levels of violence , now commonplace on screen, could not then be screened.

I try to keep my comments on this database, which is about (or should be)the art/science/entertainment of the cinema, apolitical. It is, however, perhaps relevant to suggest that the novel and film of 'Some thing of Value' be considered in the light of Ruark's 1962 novel 'Uhuru' which revisits basically the same characters (the names change)after Kenyan independence. The events may not have applied so fully in Kenya but looked at as a prophecy of the tragedy that has happened and continues to happen in independent Zimbabwe it was remarkably prophetic.

Campbell's Kingdom

Attempt at an English 'Western' which does not .gell'
This film scores best in it's fine sense of location, which is to be applauded as the post war industry made the effort to escape from Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.Where it falls down is the residual ambiance, among the actors, that they are still in 'Titfield Thunderbolt' country.(OK. So that was filmed in Somerset). Nice in light comedy, Bogarde never really convinced in action roles and though Baker may have convinced some (Himself maybe) that he was tough, one feels that a Broderick Crawford or Richard Boone, possibly even James Mason, (if thinly sliced) would have eaten them both on toast, .

Watch for the 'two shot' when Bogarde confronts Baker in the saloon and the bottle of 'Canada Club' whisky on the table jumps on and off its tray.


A quality series, apparently never re-shown;
Every episode of this series featured top rank actors. It covered assorted aspects of spying and dirty tricks. The directors and writers were also prominent e.g. Hugh Williams. The episode 'The Frantic Rebel' featured Jill Bennet, Stanley Baxter, Donal Donelly, Roger Livesy and other well known names. The director was none less than Michael Powell. The ethos of the artists in the varied areas of production of the series was predominantly left wing yet plots demonstrated the methods of the K.G.B. Concurrent with the Kennedy assassination, was this, like the 'The Manchurian Candidate' a 'water muddying' exercise. The series vanished. Frank Sinatra allegedly sat on the performing rights of The Manchurian Candidate for 25 years!

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