We've been away for a few days, so without any further ado I return to the important business of listing films in no particular order.
Ninth Night: Quatermass and the Pit
I'd rather have the 1950s TV series, but that would be cheating. It was the best thing the BBC did before giving me a job.
The 1960s Hammer film doesn't have the relentless build-up of the original, but also skips its occasional preachiness.
The ending, with Quatermass and his female assistant unable to speak across the space between them in the ruins of London, is one of the most powerful in postwar British cinema, genre movie or no genre movie.
It's all up on YouTube, but here's the section that includes the cleansing of the Martian hives (at '1"30):
Key quotation: Minister: "Do you know what you're implying? That we owe our human condition to the intervention of insects!"
Tenth Night: Night of the Generals
This is a fine example of the early 70s international production, in which the actors of Europe united to ham it up in languages they didn't understand for some Italian director like Visconti.
These films were always epics of miscasting, and Night of the Generals doesn't disappoint with Omar Sharif as a German intelligence officer.
The film sustains remarkable dramatic tension throughout, even though it's clear who done it from the moment you set eyes on the bat-kicking insanity that is Peter O'Toole's General Tanz.
Indeed, it makes Visconti's The Damned look like a monkey waving a ribbon in the rain.
Here's Pete, mad as a badger:
Key quotation: Gen Tanz: "Are you wearing perfume?"
Major Grau: "'I occasionally wear a light after-shave, sir."
Eleventh Night: Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse
Luvvie alert: I first saw this film at Kinotsentr in Moscow while a student, in a presentation by the magnificent critic Naum Kleiman. It has stayed with me ever since.
It entered Lang's personal mythology in a story that Goebbels banned it on release in 1933, then invited Fritz to come and work for him at the Propaganda Ministry. Lang said he'd sleep on it, promptly packed his bags and fled with his family to Paris. Not true, but I'm happy to print the legend.
It's Fritz Lang's second talkie after M, and he uses sound to original effect. The visuals are still eerie, in particular the car chase with a spectral Mabuse as a literal backseat driver.
It wasn't Lang's conscious intention to comment on the Nazis, as far as I can tell, but Mabuse's control over the doctor serves as a prophetic warning against those who gamble on Fascism.
Key quotation: Dr Mabuse whispering stuff.
Twelfth Night: The Wicker Man
Let's start off as we begin to end, with altruistic criticism:
It's not as good as its fans claim. The Britt Ekland body double is the acme of embarrassment in a sex scene that features the first use of a wall as a contraceptive barrier. No version of the film is entirely adequate, although the 1980s BBC cut come closest in restoring cut scenes without the clumsy occassional voiceover and the pre-credits mainland passage.
Having said that, I love this film more than any pig. Every phrase uttered by Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle is a gem. The music is glorious, and there is something genuinely touching about the way the pagans are so comfortable in their skins.
It is the sort of movie that yields something new with each viewing. I'd seen it several time before I noticed the sly acknowledgement in the opening credits to Lord Summerisle for his cooperation in the making of the film.
Truly, the sacrifice had been reverenced.
Sioba Siencyn maintains that this song is based on the Welsh druidic classic "O Bren Braf". Judge for yourselves:
Key quotation: Lord Summerisle, as Christian copper fumes at the sight of bare-ass dancing ladies: "Good afternoon, Sergeant Howie. I trust the sight of the young people refreshes you."
I hope you enjoyed my selection. AS Ordovicius named four, so shall I name the same. Those chosen to come up with their own list of twelve cracking fillums are:
They will receive the summons shortly.