Thursday, May 7, 2009

I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname

(1967, UK, 97m)
d/p Michael Winner sc Peter Draper ph Otto Heller ed Bernard Gribble ad Seamus Flannery m Francis Lai cast Oliver Reed, Carol White, Orson Welles, Norman Rodway, Harvey Hall, Ann Lynn, Wendy Craig, Lyn Ashley, Harry Andrews, Michael Hordern, Marianne Faithfull, Frank Finlay, Edward Fox

Brooding Oliver Reed is a director of commercials with a semi-ex-wife, a clutch of dolly-bird mistresses and a violent disgust for the dishonesty and superficiality of his profession. His plan for a clean slate leads only backwards, to his uni chum’s literary rag, a school reunion (weak proto-If…) and a flagship commercial (for Super8 cameras, no less) with which he determines to “tell the truth”. This is, charitably, a spout of inarticulate rage; more accurately, supreme (holocaustploitation) tastelessness. Ditto the film as a whole, its smug self-knowingness overflowing with ham-fisted irony, and contempt for all concerned. Welles enjoys coasting as the Mephistophelian boss, Reed is woefully unequal to his dramatic climax and the fundamental misogyny is best demonstrated either by the gratuitous disposal of Carol White, or by Marianne Faithfull’s ghastly haircut.

© Time Out Film Guide

postscript: I just got to see Don Levy's rare and strange (and interesting but, frankly, not entirely successful) Herostratus. It was made in '64-65 but not screened til '67 and then only in a week-long engagement to inaugurate the ICA. Fascinating to wonder who saw it then - Roeg maybe; Cammell surely; Mike Hodges maybe; and Michael Winner without a doubt. Turns out he ripped it off to a shameful degree, tho both to serve himself (Ollie Reed marching to the adman's office, axe on shoulder) and to ridicule (the above-mentioned holocaustploitation). Basically, a fat greedy bastard having his cake and eating it - watch out or he'll have yours too!

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