Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cahiers du Cinema III: Village of The Damned

A film called "The Midwich Cukoos" is only going to attract Bill Oddie and trainspotters in their weird, sellotape-spectacled version of rehab.

So the not-at-all-spooky-sounding Wolf Rilla was right to rename his reverential cinematic version of John Wyndham's "Help! Our kid's a alien!" novel "Village of the Damned" in order to pull in the Hammer House of Horror crowd, despite what Mrs Boyo rightly noted as its dearth of Mediaeval eschatology.

I showed the film to Mrs B the other night, partly to aid her research into my hinterland ("There's a whole monograph there," she says) and as a cautionary tale about letting our daughter Arianrhod spend so much time talking to bees.

Mrs Boyo seemed to agree with my view that the central thesis of the film ("Blondes are not to be trusted") had held up well over the intervening 48 years. I was pleased that it had retained its pace and tension, revealed much about the dynamics of 1950s village life in England, and included the Greatest Living Dai-aspora Welshmen Peter "Grouty" Vaughan as "fainting deferential policemen No.1".

It was only while discussing Grouty's powerful performance with motor-muddle celebrity blogger Scaryduck over a vat of pig lager that the main plot flaw in the film occured to me.

Silken suave gentleman scholar and poignantly punctual suicide George Sanders concentrates on the image of a brick wall, so that the telepathic pre-teens cannot read his mind and see he's planted a bomb in their midst.

A masterly sequence in the film shows their short-trousered mental efforts to blast the image away, brick by brick, until they reveal the bomb - too late.

In my Fostered epiphany, I realised that Sanders was tragically too old and genteel to recall his own pre-adolescent state. Otherwise he would have ditched his brick wall in favour of the one image guaranteed to distract his charges - Big Knockers.

It's true. If he'd thought of a pair of giant love jugs, the kids would have been transfixed. The boys would have thought "Mmmm, big ones", thereby setting their mental coordinates for the next 60 years.
The girls would have thought "So that's it. Sod deportment, cooking and bridge, if I want one of these apemen to do my bidding all I need is some hankies until Eva Herzigová invents the Wonderbra."

The whelps would have still been pondering the mysteries of the mammary as George's sturdy, English bomb blew their pointy heads to all corners of Watford. He could have sauntered out of the school and celebrated by making normal babies with Barbara Shelley.

And, who knows, the real Sanders might have decided not to leave us in that Catalonian hotel room in 1972, but rather to live on and stop John Carpenter's remake.

And all for want of a D-cup.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Another cult British film that I've never seen. I’ve never seen The Italian Job either. I’m a disgrace to the blogging community. I shouldn’t even be here.

Peter Vaughan was a terrific actor though. But born in Shropshire, Boyo - he's ours, you theivin' rascal.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Thinking about A to avoid thinking about B is a paradox that was well known to the Romans. They thought it was impossible, although Roman girls were not that well endowed in the knockers department. I am truly delighted that Grouty is a Welshman. Chalk up another point to the Red Dragon.

No Good Boyo said...

Ha, take that, Gadjo - the Gorilla has spoken! Grouty's as Welsh as a coracle full of slatey leeks in a black hat.

You could suggest a UK film season to Romanian TV. That way you can catch up with all the stuff that provides 45% of the subject matter and 95% of the figures of speech used by British males aged 35-50.

GB - the Romans thought too hard. Once they moved to Turkey and became Byzantine the paradox was solved. All the women over there look like they're modelling Zeppelins.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Don't let this proselytising Welshifier fool you, Bananas. Vaughnie's English. Wikipedia* says it, and I believe it.

* (Man shalt believe the inerrancy of these texts else anything, even Welshness, becomes justifiable.)

Alistair Coleman said...

Thank you for the mention. Funnily enough, I am thinking of Big Knockers right now.

No Good Boyo said...

Gadjo, I wasn't suggesting that Gorilla Bananas is necessarily right, but rather that he is a gorilla and therefore worth agreeing with.

Scary, one definition of an intellectual is someone who can hear the William Tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger.

Mine is someone who can think of small knockers.

anacarlo said...

I've been wracking my brains as to where i'ed seen Boris Johnson before and now it has all come back to me in a scary Henley-Cuckoo type of way, I'll try concentrating on an image of a brick wall next time i'm letting his tyres down

Gadjo Dilo said...

Well said, anacarlo! Johnson reminds me of that ghastly blond kid on the Kinder bars, 30 years later, using his Kinder bar modelling fortune to finance his rascist mayor ambitions.

Yes, respect to the Gorilla: beneath his rough, furry exterior he's agreeableness itself.

No Good Boyo said...

Henley's just down the road from us, and is more Stepford than Midwich. Bozza is definitely Not Of This Earth, though. I think he escaped from Quatermass's Pit when no one was looking. Watch out for any plans he has for redeveloping the East End Tube lines.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I vividly remember the book, never seen the movie. You knockers idea could be sound, but Sanders was probably a leg man instead of a knockers man (I am not sure that detail is covered in the book).

It will be difficult to build up a mental image of a pair of legs covering the whole... er... screen. Unless it is a multitude of legs. You know, it may be not a bad idea.

No Good Boyo said...

Snoop, Sanders was a gent therefore a leg man by definition. He must nonetheless have gone through the pre-adolescent knocker-fixation that the rest of us remain in. It would have saved his fictional life.

Gadjo Dilo said...

George Sanders definitely looks like a gent, and appropriately took The Gentleman's Way Out when he simply couldn't be arsed any more. Apparently he liked to described himself as more as a cad, though as he was married to Gábor sisters Zsa Zsa and Magda (15 failed marriages between them) one wonders if he was more cadded against than cadding.

Re your earlier comment, Boyo, nobody would be happier than me if Romanian TV presented a season of UK films and plays. Unfortunately, they seem to have ignored Michael Powell, Carol Reid, Lindsay Anderson, etc, and skipped on to the harder stuff: e.g. Cluj National Opera House has a stage version of Trainspotting in its repertoire(!)