lunchtime_obooze

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Reviews

The New Avengers: Emily
(1977)
Episode 12, Season 2

Perhaps not as bad as people suggest?
OK...this episode was never going to win any awards and we have the right to expect better from Dennis Spooner but, just after viewing it, I don't think that it's as bad as people have been suggesting.

The plot would be classed as weak in any other series but it's just the sort of quirky story that The Avengers used to do so well. There are some good comic moments (Purdey in the car wash, the exasperation of the police radio operative forced to describe the car wearing a hat) and the action sequences aren't too bad.

I don't think it's true that the trio are made to seem like idiots - in fact, I think that they did their best with a pretty poor effort. But the Canadian episodes, because of the absence of Brian Clemens, simply didn't have the same tightness as the others. I still reckon this episode is better than, for example, The Gladiators or, looking back at the UK, Gnaws or Trap. The biggest shame of Emily is that it was the final episode and a poor way to go out.

The Man Who Haunted Himself
(1970)

A good psychological thriller with an excellent lead performance
Anyone who ever suggests that Roger Moore can't act should be made to watch this film.

What could have been a rather humdrum thriller is enlivened by a lead performance which demonstrates the mental collapse of a man who is watching his life fall apart.

A series of strange incidents build to a tense and frightening climax where Moore really shows his skill. Combine that with a taut script, inventive direction (particularly in the fast-moving final scene) and a haunting score and you have a pretty good film.

One slightly odd note - a year after filming, the director Basil Dearden was himself killed in a car accident near the spot where the fictional crash which begins this film took place.

The Jigsaw Man
(1983)

A waste of talent and celluloid
It's very hard to know what to write about this.

Take a seasoned director of taut spy thrillers (Terence Young, responsible for Dr No and From Russia With Love) and pair him with an experienced second-unit chief (Peter Hunt).

Take three of the most talented actors of modern times (Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine and Charles Gray).

Take a roman a clef about Kim Philby and a fictional return to Britain post-defection and make it in 1983 when spy thrillers were still relevant in a Cold War context.

You'd think you'd have a pretty good film. Sadly, you don't.

This film is terrible. A lumpen script and corny story is weighed down by an unsympathetic lead (is Michael Caine a goodie or a baddie?), wild overacting from Laurence Olivier (who was far too old to play a spy chief) and confusing plot points (Charles Gray's character has a wig...only Gray has a perfect head of hair and looks ridiculous with his bald cap on).

Young clearly slept through the film instead of directing it and the script/plot is very hard to follow. I saw it last night for the second time and it's almost like both versions were cut but in different places...

I'm pretty convinced that a third watching wouldn't help. For those who haven't seen it, don't even bother with the first watching. Truly truly awful.

Corruption
(1968)

Hysterically and unintentionally funny
This gets five out of ten for making me laugh, at times uncontrollably.

Peter Cushing plays a brilliant doctor obsessed by his model wife/girlfriend. We witness his slow descent into depravity as he resorts to killing young women in order to be able to continue to treat his paramour whose beauty has been destroyed in a freak accident.

There are some very well done scenes, mostly the ones where we see Cushing as killer, a role he plays well yet is clearly not comfortable with. Sue Lloyd as the woman plays vanity well, but shrieking madness (or, for that matter, running across rock pools) is really not her thing. Anthony Booth cameos in his usual inadequate and irritating fashion, and a wide-eyed but static Kate O'Mara adds support. No acting honours for the gang of thugs or Cushing's medical sidekick...albeit that he gets possibly the funniest line in the entire film, getting to display his knowledge of railway timetables.

Much of the film smacks of amateurs being given a budget to film, and occasionally what must have seemed to them like a bright new idea for camera angles merely renders the viewer dizzy.

By far the worst aspect of the film is the music. It's mostly innocuous (though inappropriate) but during the climactic scenes is distracting and totally removes any tension from the events on screen.

All in all, wildly funny, but easily one of the worst wastes of filmstock ever. I'd be very surprised if you get a chance to see it (apparently it's only been shown on TV once, in 1977) but it's worth seeing as an example of just how bad things can get. It will make you laugh though.

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