TV and Movies

SHARPE’S REVENGE has Sharpe preparing to return home to a life of ease with Jane after the British forces fight what looks to be the last battle of the Napoleonic War. However an arrogant superior officer and a scheme by the French spymaster Ducos have Sharpe forced to hunt across France to find proof he didn’t steal Napoleon’s backup treasure (“It now belongs to our ally, the new French king!”) while Jane in London squanders his money to support her new lover, Alexis Denisof (best known from Buffy and Angel). A good one as Sharpe finally finds true love and prepares for peace, not knowing Waterloo lies ahead. “How do you divide the cheese, by merit or by rank?”
DOCTOR WHO: The Time Meddler has the Doctor, Vicki and new companion Steven arrive in 1066 on the coast of England and discover a monastery which, despite the loud chanting, contains only one monk. Who has modern technology. And is working to help the Vikings invade. As it turns out, this was the first of what’s now a staple, the historical adventure that throws in SF as well—I won’t go into detail, but I will say the third-episode cliffhanger is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It surprises me the Monk never turned up again. “Television? Yes, I’m familiar with the medium.”

THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET (1985) is John Sayles’ SF film in which mute ET Joe Morton escapes slavery, crash-lands his ship in Harlem, then wanders around interacting with the locals, trying to build a life or simply listening to people talk (like the lead in the play The Foreigner, he’s a figure around whom everyone feels free to say what’s on their mind). Despite weaknesses (when ET slavecatchers John Sayles and David Straitharn go into action, it’s like a bad music video), this is an excellent one. “I knew we shouldn’t have gone into business with you people—you just don’t see the big picture.”
One of my birthday presents via gift certificate was a Hammer Horror collection (thanks Joyce!)—THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL (1960) stars Paul Massie as a scientist whose efforts to plumb the depths of the human mind transform him into a smirking hedonist. As such, he becomes protégé to Jekyll’s debauched friend Christoper Lee and rival with Lee for Jekyll’s adulterous wife Dawn Adams. Written by Wolf Mankiewicz (with several witty lines that would have fit perfectly into his All About Eve), this has good actors and good ideas (Hyde pursuing the less-than-pure Mrs. Jekyll for instance) but doesn’t use them well (which The Hammer Story blames on Mankieiwicz and director Terence Fisher pulling in different directions). Oliver Reed plays as a rake getting slapped around by Hyde. “I forgot that even the most honest of women have to be wooed with dishonest words.”
CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964) stars Ronald Howard as one of the archeological team digging up a mummy despite the usual Ominous Warnings, and Fred Clark as the American huckster who turns the wrapped body into a nightclub entertainment; Terence Morgan plays a gentleman with a hidden agenda who takes an overly friendly interest in Howard’s woman (while it was obvious he had a secret, I didn’t peg what it was). More fun than most of Universal’s Mummy films, though muddled in the endgame—why does the Mummy suddenly spare Howard, for instance? “The one pain I can no longer bear is the pain of life everlasting!”

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  1. Pingback: Time-Travel TV and Hammer Movies | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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