Sunday, 16 August 2009

CALLAN (1974)

Edward Woodward is highly regarded for his performance in THE WICKER MAN and his even better one in BREAKER MORANT. There was also the hit television series THE EQUALIZER but to most people my age he will always be David Callan the down at heel secret agent in the late 60s tv hit CALLAN. The show was a response to the more realistic spy stories of Len Deighton and John LeCarre. The character made on to the big screen in 1974 with this adaption of the show's pilot which was called A MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER. Essentially it is a pretty faithful version of the original with Woodward and Russell Hunter (superb as the eternally smelly Lonely) although some diehard fans were upset by a rather inappropriate score which replaced the evocative mood music of the original. I've seen the film at least four times and always enjoy it. The story is good, the use of London locations is exellent and the cast outstanding. As well as Woodward and Hunter there is Carl Mohner, Catherine Schell, Eric Porter, Peter Egan, Kenneth Griffith, Michael DaCosta and Dave Prowse. Director Don Sharp keeps things moving. The character of Callan was more complex than the usual tv hero and this transposes well to the screen. The original show appeared briefly on DVD and now commands silly money which makes it ripe for a re-issue. Woodward and Hunter reunited for a one-off tv sequel in 1981's THE WET JOB with fair results. Rating ***

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