Archive for November, 2007

An all action Alistair MacLean double-bill

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Now here is an interesting contrast of films. Two films based on popular Alistair MacLean novels, made within two years of each other, both starring upcoming actors in the lead roles with some well known supporting casts, and both helmed by lesser known directors. The difference comes therefore in the writing – Fear is the Key was scripted by Robert Carrington, while Eight Bells Toll is adapted for the screen by MacLean himself. Both films follow a similar pattern with the adaption, basing the script strongly on the book with some trimming for time, however MacLean shows infinitely more talent in doing this than Carrington, who leaves Fear is the Key with a mess of storylines, that is almost incomprehensible, and completely loses the Nihlistic tones of the book. Fortunately the film is saved by one of the best car chase sequences in cinema.

I have to admit to surprise over this result, many other writers have trouble cutting their works for the screen, getting rather too attached to the storylines. Hammer’s Quatermass and the Pit (1967) is a perfect example, with Nigel Kneale attempting to cram his 3 hour teleplay into a 90 minute film, leaving it overly rushed and chaotic.

Both of these films have been released with little flair but good looking prints in R2 land, and are now fully reviewed:

Eight Bells Toll (1971)

Fear is the Key (1972)

Chase a Crooked Shadow

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Optimum UK have a very mixed record on their DVD releases, with many titles being simple re-issues of existing discs, frequently changing release dates and a complete lack of publicity for many of their releases. However, every so often there is a gem, and the new British Thrillers collection released on Monday contains two. Fear is the Key (1972), an Alistair MacLean adventure film (review coming soon), and this film Chase a Crooked Shadow (1957), a two rather little known titles and completely unavailable on DVD before, they both get good looking (if barebones) prints.

The film is enjoyable, and very reminiscent of the Hammer thrillers of the early 1960s and comes recommended to fans of this time.

Check out the full review: Chase a Crooked Shadow