Connect with us

Movies

Dr Jekyll And Sister Hyde (Hammer 1971 with Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick)

Published

on

UK / Hammer / 1971

Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Brian Clemens

Cast: Ralph Bates, Martine Beswick, Gerald Sim, Lewis Fiander, Susan Broderick, Dorothy Alison, Ivor Dean, Paul Whitsun Jones

The Avengers creator (and coproducer with Albert Fennell) Brian Clemens rang some highly entertaining changes on the Robert Louis Stevenson classic The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for this stylish Hammer shocker whose heady ingredients include, noted Village Voice, “transvestite overtones, lesbian overtones and bi-sexual overtones” while still remaining (relatively) faithful to the thrust of the original.

Victorian doctor Ralph Bates is seeking the elixir of eternal life and becomes convinced that the answer lies in female hormones. He obtains these for his experiments from the corpses of young women and when he samples the resulting potion he is transformed into a young and beautiful lady – Martine Beswick. His reaction to this extraordinary metamorphosis is a blend of loathing and fascination but he determines to carry on his innovative line of scientific research. To this end he hires the notorious grave-robbers Burke and Hare – Ivor Dean and Tony Calvin – to provide him with a regular supply of fresh corpses. But when they are apprehended, Bates is forced to turn to murdering prostitutes to further his aims. And his situation becomes even more complicated and fraught when he begins an affair with Susan Broderick, who lives above his apartment. Bates becomes increasingly dominated by the murderous Beswick, who kills for him and even conducts an affair with Broderick’s brother Lewis Fiander. Finally the police, with the help of Bates’ friend and colleague Gerald Sim, start to suspect him. While his dual identity at first saves him, Bates finally falls to his death when the police chase him onto a rooftop…

On paper the concept of revising Jekyll and Hyde as a sex-change shocker must have seemed fraught with problems and likely to result in disaster. In the event, however, Clemens’ witty, creative screenplay managed ingeniously to bring Burke and Hare and even Jack the Ripper into the story without straining it at the seams and, happily, played the drama straight and refused opportunities to guy it. Director Roy Ward Baker, although not a Gothic stylist in the tradition of Hammer auteur Terence Fisher, nonetheless made an excellent job and, noted Monthly Film Bulletin, “manages the whole thing superbly… Baker and his cameraman Norman Warwick have done a lot to make the film visually attractive” and, similarly, production designer Robert Jones was equally deserving of praise of the atmospheric Grand Guignol look of the production which, as usual with Hammer, belied its relatively low budget.

“As with Hammer pix, production values and performances are of a high standard”, enthused Variety, “Hammer’s casting chief Jimmy Liggatt has engaged solid first-rate established players like Gerald Sim and Dorothy Alison and talented newcomers who give added credence to the whole. Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick, strong, attractive personalities, bear a strange resemblance to each other making the transitions entirely believable. They are admirable”. Monthly Film Bulletin was in agreement, noting “Bates is infinitely better at being Henry Jekyll than he was at being Baron Frankenstein” (in 1970’s Horror of Frankenstein) “and the transformation sequences are stunning, with Bates appearing momentarily emasculated before being transformed into is seductive alter ego, Martine Beswick” and concluded: “It’s surprising, when one considers the symbolic power of sexual transformation in most mythologies, that it has been taboo in the cinema for so long… the film remains a welcome reminder that Hammer can still be highly enterprising myth-makers.” Variety called it “an above average horror pic… Baker has set a good pace, built tension nicely and played it straight so that all seems credible. He tops chills and gruesome murders with quite a lot of subtle fun.”

Advertisement












Movies

California Split (Columbia 1974, Elliott Gould, George Segal)

Published

on

By

California Split

California Split is a movie about the adventures of two card players, and it stars two of 70s-era Hollywood’s most prolific male actors. Elliot Gould (M*A*S*H, 1970) plays Charlie Waters, a small-time card player who has the charisma and moxie of someone who’s way better at the tables than he actually is. Alongside him is George Segal (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, 1966) who plays Bill Denny, a magazine writer who moonlights as a casual player. Charlie and Bill meet in a California poker parlour game that turns heated over a dealt card hitting the floor, raising concerns of cheating. Despite this, the game continues, and one of them wins. This leads to the two players getting mugged by one of the game’s sore losers, giving them an experience that’s worth bonding over. The two become fast friends and this starts them off on a poker adventure that will test and reveal their true spirit.

In a 1974 review, Roger Ebert called California Split a “magnificently funny, cynical film”, which is probably the best way to describe the succeeding events following Bill and Charlie’s meet up. Regarded by many to be one of the best poker movies ever made, California Split is a quirky but ultimately realistic and darkly comedic look into the life and mind of card players. Despite this, you don’t really need to know a thing about poker beforehand in order to enjoy the movie. It’s a classic American adventure movie that has inspired countless other road trip movies and casino films.

From start to finish, California Split follows Bill and Charlie through the race tracks, seedy bars, private poker parties, Vegas’ second-rate casinos, treating bruises with hot shaving cream, waking up to massive hangovers, and even another mugging in which their instincts are put to the test. The result is less of a movie with careful exposition, and more of what feels like an inside look into the hilariously nightmarish world of America’s casino scene. The Telegraph calls the film one of Robert Altman’s best out of his extensive catalogue. It is brilliantly pieced together by his signature subtle visual prose, realistically overlapping dialogue, and the bravely understated introductions of his many quirky characters, California Split is one of the 70s’ definite must-see adventures. Such was the film’s realism that PartyPoker state that legendary player Thomas Austin Preston Jr. aka ‘Amarilo Slim’ had a small part. In his time Slim was known as one of the greatest ever poker players, winning 4 WSOP bracelets, and would have been an inspiration for the two main characters.

California Split is definitely a treat not just for card players, but for anyone who likes well-crafted movies about friendship and the makings of the American Dream.

main stars
George Segal, Elliot Gould Ann Prentis, Gwen Welsh, Edward Walsh, Joseph Walsh, Bert Remsen

crew details
Director: Robert Altman
Producer: Joseph Walsh, Robert Altman
Director of Photography: Paul Lohmann
Editor: O. Nicholas Brown, Lou Lombardo
Composer: Phyllis Shotwell
Screenwriters: Joseph Walsh
Production Designer: Leon Ericksen

Video:

Continue Reading

Movies

Green Berets, The (1968, John Wayne, David Janssen)

Published

on

By

Green Berets

In January 1968, the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive, and in May the Paris Peace Talks began, while at the same time in America, the anti-Vietnam War protests were growing. Which was obviously the right time to release John Wayne’s gung-ho film lauding the exploits of America’s elite covert special forces group, the Green Berets.

Wayne, who co-directed, stars as Col Mike Kirby, with David Janssen as reporter George Beckworth, who tags along with the team. Beckworth is both the audience’s PoV to the expertise of the group as well as the original questioning liberal journalist soon convinced of the correctness of America’s role in the conflict through the two major set pieces: a desperate firefight to retain a crucial position, with requisite evidence of “Charlie”‘s brutality, followed by the infiltration into the north and the abduction of a top Viet Cong official, using the honey-trap of Lin (top model Irene Tsu). And, of course, there is a young South Vietnamese orphan, Hamchunk (Craig Jue), who Wayne “adopts” and, in one of cinema’s most famous endings, walks with him into the sunset with the immortal line, “You’re what this war’s all about, kid”.

At the time of release, the film was roundly derided but with hindsight, it should be seen as a piece of curious American cinematic history. During WWI and WWII, all the protagonists were churning out feature films containing propaganda, some of which (Went the Day Well, The Bells Go Down, Back to Bataan – starring Wayne – and San Demetrio London to name just four), are rightly regarded as classics. Hollywood was never going to produce such films during the traumatic Asian conflict and it was only in the post-war years that movies such as Apocalypse Now , Platoon and The Deer Hunter could examine a war that changed a country.

USA / 1968

Directors: John Wayne, Ray Kellogg
Writer: James Lee Barrett

Cast: John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton, Aldo Ray, Bruce Cabot, Raymond St Jacques

Continue Reading

Movies

City Slickers (1991, Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern)

Published

on

By

City Slickers

Gags fly thicker than bullets in a Leone movie in comedy western City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal (on whose story the screenplay was based), Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby as Mitch, Phil and Ed, three urban buddies who seek to exorcise their mid-life crises by spending their annual two-week holiday on a cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado. At the dude ranch, they team up with an assortment of other holidaymakers, including Bonnie (Helen Slater), under the guidance of leathery trail boss Curly (Jack Palance).

When the drive starts, the city slickers are inept drovers – Mitch sets off a stampede with his portable coffee grinder – but gradually Curly begins to teach them how to appreciate life and to believe in old western values. But when Curly dies suddenly, Phil and Ed intend to abort the mission. However, Mitch insists that they continue with the drive and, as they progress, he realises the value of his marriage and family. Womaniser Ed admits he really loves his wife and newly-divorced Phil starts a relationship with Bonnie. Finally Mitch leads the group as they successfully help the cattle to ford a raging river and deliver the herd to the Colorado ranch.

“I call this my ‘coming of middle age movie’, said Crystal, who passed his plot notes to Mandel and Ganz, who “supplied me with a very funny script that remained faithful to the storyline”. The sharply observed, often moving screenplay gives the film genuine realism, making it more than simply a comic, gag-filled western in the tradition of, say, Paleface . The characters are credible and driving direction by Ron Underwood never loses sight of the key characters or abandons them in favour of a smart joke. Palance creates a character who brilliantly and believably embodies the beliefs and behaviour of the old west and, as a result, was rightly rewarded with the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor.

USA / 1991

Director: Ron Underwood
Writers: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandell, from a story by Billy Crystal

Cast: Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, Jack Palance, Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, Josh Mostel, David Paynter, Tracey Walter

Continue Reading

More to View