Saturday, 31 January 2009


It seems only right that the first production by Hammer Films should have starred horror icon Bela Lugosi. The film, however, is a far cry from the more familiar titles from that studios Golden Age in the Fifties and Sixties. Although the apalling quality print available on DVD seems to have been trimmed of a prologue and epilogue featuring an enquiry into the fate of the infamous ship it would seem to me that the film wasn't much shakes to start with. Stiffly directed by Denison Clift and and even more stiffly acted in the way of many British films of the period. The film's one saving grace is Bela Lugosi - cast against type for this period of his career - is as enjoyable as always despite being criminally under used. Rating **

FORBIDDEN is another disappointment. Thought to have been a "lost film" for many years the films has, for me at least, several points of interest. Firstly it was filmed on location in Blackpool, the town where I was concieved (a purely personal interest, it must be admitted) although, unfortunately, very little is made of the opportunity to exploit the seedy seaside fairground atmosphere. Secindly the films features an early performance by the ever excellent Kenneth Griffith as a low-life spiv. Griffith was a fine actor who in later years became a superior and passionate maker of historical documentaries. Through my work I got to meet Griffith several times at his home in Islington, London and found him a fascinating person. I recommend his autobiography to all readers of this blog. The film's other plus is an early performance by the beautiful Hazel Court. The film itself is a sub-Hitchcock "wrong man" plot and director George King (more famous for his work with Tod Slaughter) makes little of the material despite a nice final twist which has the villain (Griffith) saving the life of the hero as they fight on Blackpool's famous tower. Rating **

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

True, THE MYSTERY OF THE MARIE CELESTE isn't a very good film. As you mentioned, the awful print available on DVD doesn't help matters. The sound, in particular, is abyssmal on the DVD I own -- as well as the VHS copy I had in the past. However, perversely, I have a soft spot in my heart for the movie. Of course, there's Bela Lugosi who I think is great in it; I love his speech about when he was "shanghaied". Everybody else in the movie, as you said, appear to be made entirely of wood. The mere subject matter concerning anything at all nautical is always a plus with me. I very much like the dark and forboding port as well as the shipboard sets and the on deck scenes with the ocean clearly seen. Combining all these elements I enjoy the film, I think, IN SPITE OF the director and the entire cast (excepting Bela, of course, who is a treat as usual). It certainly would be nice to have somebody find a complete, uncut print is good shape someday.