Quick post regards what I’ve been up to. By weird coincidence (its funny how these things happen) I’ve watched two films that share the word ‘Night’ in their titles: Night and the City, an outstanding film noir set in postwar London starring Richard Widmark and Night of the Eagle, a really effective horror film starring Peter Wyngarde. Both films really were very impressive (Night of the Eagle evoking -yes there’s THAT word ‘Night’ again- the classic Night of the Demon– so much so it’s sent me to the shelf for my copy of that film for a timely re-watch). Although I’d heard of Night and the City a few years ago I hadn’t gotten around to buying the Blu-ray until now (nothing like a sale price to finally swing it), but I don’t believe I’d ever heard of Night of the Eagle before, so that film (another catch on Talking Pictures) proved to be a very welcome surprise. Its just a pity that film hasn’t been released on Blu-ray over here; again, one has to wonder how many of these genuinely great old films fall through the cracks, never get a disc release and seldom get aired on mainstream channels.
I can’t say I ever really warmed to Richard Widmark; I don’t really know why, but I suppose with any actor, part of the process is one of chemistry and empathy. There are actors which, as a viewer, one can instantly strike a rapport with and subsequently enjoy any film they feature in, but at the same time the opposite can be true. In the case of Night and the City, the coolness I feel towards Widmark as an actor likely worked in the films favour, as his character, the hustler/chancer/selfish rogue Harry Fabian is pretty much a contemptible character anyway, so far as me as a viewer was concerned, half of Widmark’s work was done. Perfect casting maybe. To be fair to Widmark, an interview with him from 2002 that accompanies the film on this BFI disc was a bit of an eye-opener for me, gaining me new appreciation for the man and, who knows, maybe his work too. An opportunity for future re-evaluation then.
As for Night of the Eagle– what a cracking horror movie. Soon as I noticed that the screenplay featured the work of Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont I guessed that I would be in for a treat. Its a finely wrought script that balances reason with the inexplicable and the film confidently suggests more than it shows (and to be honest, even when it ‘shows’ it does so surprisingly well). The cast, too, are uniformly excellent, I think; Peter Wyngarde is very good but I was particularly impressed by Janet Blair, who played his wife. Yet again, however, I find myself chagrined by being greatly impressed by an actress only to find her subsequent career destined for ill- in Blair’s case, one removed from film pretty much entirely, instead languishing in television guest-star spots.
Real-world issues have impacted my blog-writing over the past few days but I’m hoping to get proper reviews posted for these two, but if not, hopefully these brief notes will suffice until I can.