Poor Edgar! Having recently suffered fifteen minutes of Uli Lommel's THE RAVEN before consigning it to the "unwatchable" can I decided to treat myself to a copy of the more recent version, of which I had heard a few good things and eagerly anticipated, rather than wait for a rental copy to arrive. It would be wrong to criticise the film for being historically inaccurate with regards to Edgar Allan Poe himself or to his last sad days in this world because this is, after all, a work of fiction but for the record almost the first thing we are told is that Poe was discovered dying on a park bench when actually he was discovered drunk in a tavern wearing clothes that were, oddly, not his own. There seems to have been no effort here to put the "real" Poe into the story and instead we have here, as played by John Cusack (an actor I usually admire) somebody who shouts a lot and has a beard. The plot, such as it is, has Poe combining with the Baltimore police to hunt down a killer who is disposing of his victims in ways described by the author in his tales - in the film we actually see a newspaper headline referring to a "Serial Killer" and I wonder if the term was actually known in 1849. When Edgar finally confronts the killer the term "greatest fan" is used which also sounds rather anachronistic and other examples abound in the lazy script by Ben Livingstone (his first) and Hannah Shakespeare (obviously no relation to you-know-who) which bears a striking resemblance to the main elements of Matthew Pearl's two excellent novels "The Dante Club" and "The Poe Shadow". The direction by McTiegue is all over the place. But wait! The photography Danny Ruhlmann is excellent and the costumes by Carlo Pogglioli are first class. Very disappointing.
080 THE NIGHT VISITOR (1971) Directed by Laslo Benedek.***
Somewhere out in windswept, snowbound Ingmarbergmanland somebody is commiting murders by strangulation, axe and poison and the main suspect is that dour Swede Oscar Persson. Oscar swears he is innocent and that the real murderer is that other dour Swede Max Von Sydow who he swears was hiding in the bedroom closet wearing only his underwear - a discovery made while Oscar was trying to kill an overtalkative parrot. His wife, played by dour Norwegian Liv Ullman doesn't believe him, mainly because Max has been locked up in the local fortress-like Lunatic Asylum for years. Local detective, Trevor Howard, has trouble believing anybody. This is absolutely the best film I've ever seen where Max Von Sydow runs through the snow in his underwear - Ingmar never made him do that. Read what I've written again and tell me honestly that you don't want to see this film! Quoth the Parrot "nevermore". An American/Swedish co-production filmed in Denmark with an Swedish, Norwegian and British cast, Produced by actor Mel Ferrer with a Hungarian director. What a crazy world......!!!