Showing posts with label Donald Pleasence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Donald Pleasence. Show all posts

5 August 2013

Australian cult classic Wake in Fright To Get The Masters of Cinema Release In UK.

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Eureka! Entertainment are delighted to announce the theatrical and home video releases of Ted Kotcheff's cult classic Wake in Fright (1971) as part of The Masters of Cinema Series, a fascinating rediscovery of a key work of the "Australian New Wave" and so-called "Ozploitation" movement, which was nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or at the 1971 Cannes film festival.

Neglected for decades, Wake in Fright was expertly restored in 2009 by Australia's National Film and Sound Archive and hand-selected by legendary film director Martin Scorsese to screen at Cannes once more. Wake in Fright's reputation as a brutally haunting, psychologically gripping one-off has been growing exponentially since, and we are proud to be able to bring this seminal shocker to audiences in the UK and Ireland.

Wake in Fright's theatrical run will be co-ordinated by Eureka! Entertainment with screenings in selected cinemas nationwide in early 2014, following a première at the Film4 FrightFest fantasy and horror film festival in London, August 22–26, 2013.

Blu-ray/DVD releases will follow, in very special editions with a raft of special features to be announced nearer the release date, as part of Eureka! Entertainment's award-winning The Masters of Cinema Series.

Wake in Fright is based on the 1961 novel by Kenneth Cook and stars Gary Bond and Donald Pleasance. It was first released under the title Outback, describing the film's arid, sweltering, wasteland setting of Bundanyabba ("The Yabba"), an earthy mining town where schoolteacher John Grant (Gary Bond) descends into a living hell when he is stranded on his way to meet his girlfriend in Sydney. Struggling to escape a men-gone-wild nihilistic world of binge drinking, habitual gambling, and senseless violence, Grant plunges headlong towards his own destruction, joined for the ride by alcoholic doctor "Doc" Tydon (masterfully played by Donald Pleasance).

Ron Benson, head of Eureka! Entertainment, comments: “This once-feared-lost Australian cult classic is a hugely welcome rediscovery, a film that is at once both grimly horrific and frightfully compelling.”

"Have a drink, mate? Have a fight, mate? Have a taste of dust and sweat, mate? There's nothing else out here."

3 October 2012

Hell is a City DVD Review

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Hammer productions: The great British production company proudly flaunting one of the most impressive CV’s in the history of cinema, but also guilty of more than a few woeful endeavors  got it pretty spot-on in their 1960 Brit-Noir Hell is a City. Adapted from the Maurice Procter book and written and directed by Val Guest , Hell is a City marked one of Hammer’s deviations from horror during the 60’s, a move meant to widen revenue in a trying time against the American market. Thankfully, the film is a solid stand-alone that does a great job at internalizing the Noir genre to a murky industrial Manchester.

The film follows Harry Martineau (Stanley Baker), a tough, dedicated, but world-weary police inspector with a troubled home life. When Don Starling (John Crawford) escapes from prison Harry heads to Manchester to head him off, expecting the jewel thief and murderer to attempt to pick up the jewels he stashed before getting arrested. In order to make good his escape, Starling needs money so plans the robbery of a local bookmaker (Donald Pleasence), but the heist goes wrong and all of a sudden Starling’s escape spirals into a mess of murder and blackmail with Martineau hot on his trail.

In the typical Noir fashion, things don’t really go as planned, and the film’s narrative feeds off a sense of disorder and mishaps. Martineau’s home life is plagued by his failing marriage, so he stays out, wandering the dimly lit streets like a true Noir hero. The dialogue is snappy and charming, the action is, for the time, brutal, most interestingly is how the noir framework fits onto the British scene, certainly a quainter and more sullied setting than the war-torn streets of San Fran or New York. The dark horizon of Manchester, punctuated by factory vents and smoke,  makes an ideal setting, pushing the whole events of the film into some context, making the events seems small and insignificant (dare we say commonplace) in the face of the vast mechanical city.

Stanley Baker and John Crawford are on top form as disillusioned copper and desperate thief respectively. One can’t help but find a slight Heat undertone to their relationship, especially from Martineau who seems to use his job as a means of keeping his personal issues at bay. Crawford captures the brutal nature of a genuine bad ‘un, usually found in the annals of 50’s and 60’s detective films, the likes of which rarely find screen-time nowadays.

The action has a swift pace, the plot is intriguing if sometimes convoluted with characters, and the roof-top finale gives a fantastic last indicator of how ahead of the curve this film actually is, even if it is a little short. The last poignant scenes really reinstate the sense of noir that seems to dissipate half way through the film; exploring the lonely nature of the dedicated cop. Special features consist only of an alternate ending that does little for the film. This particular ending sees Harry and his wife make up and leaves the film on a significantly more hopeful note than the one chosen. The more uplifting ending, at risk of sounding like a cynic, unravels the grimy and almost perpetual feeling of entrapment in, not just Manchester, but life for Martineau.

A fantastic example of sturdy British “cops and robbers” fun, Hell is a City garnered two BAFTA nominations for Best Screenplay and Most Promising Newcomer for Billie Whitelaw. It’s a highly recommendable Brit-Noir, with some stellar talent, which fans of Film Noir and British thriller will really enjoy.

Scott Clark


DVD Re-Release Date: 8th October 2012(UK)
Directed By: Val Guest
Cast: Stanley Baker, John Crawford, Donald Pleasence, Maxine Audley
Buy Hell Is A City: On DVD