New Movies

MAN OF LA MANCHA (United Artists) could have been just another boring, routine eight songs, a dance and a love story musical, but it’s nor, for several reasons.

The story for one, again about man’s mistaken illusions, the subject the cinema seems to tackle best, and most often. This time an eccentric, ageing Spanish aristocrat, who believes he’s Don Quixote, a noble knight. Peter O’Toole, who I believe to be the most gifted actor now working in films, is amazing, made up to look about seventy, as he mounts charges against windmills, woos the innkeeper’s daughter, Sophia Loren, and inspires affection in his loyal Spanish (American accented) servant, played by James Coco. There are several other flaws as well, like badly dubbed singing voices, but well, it is a commercially made musical after all.

Particular praise should go to the soft, mellow colour in which the film was made, which heightens the atmosphere of the slowly ailing, illogical insanity of the main character, and, Arthur Hiller’s stagey, basic direction which helps O’Toole to mould yet another brilliant performance.

NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND (Laurie Marsh Group). Scripted by Gordon Honeycombe from his novel, this rather charming little British film about a couple who meet in wintry Jersey, fall in love, and who then are prematurely separated by the man’s death which the girl cannot, and refuses to believe, imagining the man still to be with her, makes for two intriguing contrasts, romantic and macabre. Susan Hampshire and Michael Petrovich act simply and beautifully and Fred Burnley’s direction succeeds admirably in capturing the two widely opposing elements of romanticism and the macabre, through the spectacular use he makes of the sight and sounds of the sea and scenery. I must praise the exquisite colour photography (Eastman Colour) which ensures the film works so well visually.

Another film which I found to be absorbing, sensitive and made with great dedication, which has generally been poorly reviewed, and underpublicised by its distributors.

WHEN THE LEGENDS DIE (Fox Rank Distributors). Stuart Miller’s debut as a director (he previously worked as William Whyler’s assistant) uses the American rodeo scene — the modern filmic symbol for the death of the traditional American life-style, to illustrate very poignantly how a young Indian from the reserve (Frederic Forest) another debut, is almost destroyed by the conflict between the rodeo life-style and the modern colour fridge syndrome, and finally rejects them both. The conflict is perpetuated by Richard Widmark as an alcoholic ex-rodeo star who cannot believe his way of life is dying, and has dreams of building the young Indian into a big star.

The film has romantic gestures to both the old Indian and white ways of life, loves its characters and I think shows the relationship between the American white man and the Indian, far more realistically than Arthur Penn’s terrible Little Big Man. It’s a pity this new distribution company didn’t publicise When The Legends Die a little more.

because compared to Penn’s film, it’s so sensitive, realistic and worthwhile.

SNOOPY COME HOME (Fox Rank). The second feature length cartoon, based on Charles Schulz’s well-loved comic strip is witty, inventive, thoughtful in places and visually entertaining.

JEREMIAH JOHNSON (Columbia-Warner). Well, you can’t say they don’t make those good clean All-American outdoor adventures any more, because Sydney (they don’t shoot directors) Pollack has come up with one, and what a bore it is too. Robert Redford, over-exposed to the cold, and these days to the film camera too, is set loose in a frozen Northern Carolina of the early eighteen hundreds, where he comes across just about every bearded, cliché ridden bear-trapping character you can imagine. He marries an Indian girl, adopts a wayward little boy/and naturally his happy little family is massacred by a tribe of marauding Indians, who Redford then kills off single handed, of course.

This film should have stopped after the beautiful opening shots of the snow-covered scenery, and had a good think.

Return Of The Biograph Review

Hello dears. As I said in my brief note in the last edition of this ‘Times’ of the other world, I thought that there was a good chance that I would be able to carry on with my Biograph Review. Well, everything went according to my little plan, and here we are with a sparkling new feature on the Bio.

No thanks either to Mr Wheelan, the cinema’s manager. Luckily for me my friends at the ‘Times’ and the ‘Observer’ have helped me overcome the problem of obtaining the forthcoming programme. Thank you boys, I’ll settle up with you later, at my place. I sincerely hope that Mr Wheelan turns a colour when he sees this, serves him right for being such a big meanie.

Before I commence with my review, I must unfortunately offer fans of the Bio a word of warning. Recently our ‘friends in blue’ have been visiting our little Bio and making a considerable nuisance of themselves. Goodness knows why, I’ve never seen anything going on there that would startle me. Mind you, I have occasionally been given a turn by the size of some people, however they manage to sit down in those little wooden seats I just don’t know. To be serious though, I suppose the ‘guardians of the law’ have nothing better to do. Maybe now that the weather has become chilly, the criminals aren’t committing so many robberies, or else ‘lily law’ is feeling the cold a little too much and wants an excuse for a warm up. Anyway dears, take care. Better to be safe than sorry I always say, so keep a watchful eye open even if you are totally captivated by the delights showing.

Back to the silver screen. On 2nd November for three days, Marlon Brando and Richard Boone star in Night Of The Following Day. Lovely actors, both of these men, and they perform well together in this moving film. Support is our own Kenneth Williams, ably assisted by Phil Silvers, in Follow That Camel. It sounds rather rude but Ken should make it interesting enough to watch.

Sunday 5th November, for one day only, has Burt Lancaster, being ever so hulky, in a western called The Scalphunters. He shares the credits with super Shelley ‘Bloody Momma’ Winters. The naughty and puzzling My Wife’s Husband completes the bill. French comedy star Fernandel and Clair Maurier are the principal actors. A good laugh if you like a bit of the continentals. It’s also Bonfire Night this Sunday, but if you ask me, it is a lot safer to be in a cinema than taking part in the Gay Fawkes celebrations. I like a good bang like anybody else, but I feel a lot better about it if I know that the fireworks are only in responsible hands.

The shocking, but thought-provoking Soldier Blue is the major attraction for three days on Monday 6th November. The beautiful Candice Bergen and luscious Peter Strauss star in this violent saga from the ‘old west’. Second feature is Charro, which is one of those forgettable movies made by Elvis Presley. But his hips are still a treat.

The truly underrated Downhill Racer, starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman is one half of the programme on Thursday 9th November. That Robert Redford, ooh! It’s a skiing epic with a moral or two. Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis are together in The Out Of Towners, which is also being shown. I haven’t seen this before but it sounds fun.

Sunday fare on 12th November is Operation Kid Brother, starring Neil Connery. It’s nothing very special, but the support feature, Trunk To Cairo is much more interesting. Two recently deceased movie stars, Audie Murphy and George Sanders are in the leading roles. The film is an exciting thriller.

The double bill of the fortnight is on Monday 13th November, when Carnal Knowledge and Catch 22 are being shown. The former stars sexy Jack Nicholson and the latter, Orson Welles. A very generous programme this, if not a little exhausting.

Well, my lovelies, that is what’s in store for you during the next couple of weeks at the Bio. Mind you heed what I mentioned earlier. I’ll let you know when things get back to ‘normal’. And I hope that none of you, including Mr Wheelan, think I have been too malicious with my words.

Before I go, thanks for all your letters, some of you are ever so kind. I might take some of you up on your offers too, but I’m rather busy still with the person I spent my recent holiday with. Love you all though.

Wasted Talent

THE CANDIDATE, starring Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Don Porter. Written by Jeremy Lamer. Directed by Michael Ritchie. Released by Columbia—Warner. Cert ‘A’.

‘The Candidate’ is a factually drawn account of the choice and subsequent processing and marketing of a candidate for the American Senate, a young democrat, liberal lawyer, champion of the oppressed, striving for social reform, all within the structured system of course. Released during election year in the US, it uses mass appeal star Robert Redford to show the American people that Politics is really just another branch of show biz/big business. The film is a masterpiece of clarity, and also contains some beautiful subtle satire aimed at the TV industry and more particularly at Republicans and the Republican candidate running against Redford, gorgeously played by Don Porter.

Despite its brilliance, this is not an easily watchable film; it’s very very American and definitely over long (110 minutes). Michael Ritchie hasn’t employed his superb style of fast cutting to such an extent as in his other recent film “Prime Cut”. This is an original, completely new style of cinema, and with a great deal of luck it might persuade the American public to ignore the election altogether, or at least vote the Democrats back, which I think it’s supposed to do.