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domenica 26 giugno 2011

Dissecting a society: social statements, ancient traditions and hidden desires of the flesh in Kim Ki Young’s cinema from reality to abstraction. Part 1 realism: Yang-san-do (Yangsan province, 1955), Goryeojang (1963).

“I tried to depict the truth, to reveal everything that lay hidden. Some may say it’s grotesque but I tried to show the facts and the truth anatomically” (Kim Ki Young)

In the last couple of years a new interest in Kim Ki Young movies sparkled from the restoration of his Ha-nyeo (The Housemaid, 1960). 
One of the most famous Korean films of all time. Kim Ki Young was a very successful director back in the 60’s both from a commercial point of view that in terms of critical response. In the 70’s with the decline of Korean film industry, he had to compromise his work, most of the times to agree with the producers’ wills and needs. By the 80’s his movies were loosing interest and then he was completely forgotten. In 1997 the 2nd Pusan film festival held a retrospective of his films to critically acclaim and since then, Young has been regarded as a master of Korean cinema, even if in restricted circles. Unfortunately just before to go back behind the camera in 1998, Young and his wife while sleeping,  died in a fire due to a short circuit of the electric plant of their house. After a ten years hiatus  from the Pusan festival, finally Young is getting the attention he deserves on a larger scale and while The Housemaid has been long discussed recently, most of his other less known movies are as powerful as unforgettable.

Yang-san-do (Yangsan  province, 1955)

Ok-ran and Soo-dong have been together since their childhood, their families promised a marriage even when they were just newborn. They deeply love each other, and their relationship made of mutual respect is growing with more passion every day since they reached the age of maturity. Moo-ryong is the spoiled son of master Kim, the landlord and ruler of the province. He’s back from Seoul where he was wasting more time with prostitutes than with studies. As soon as he sees the beautiful Ok-ran, he decides to possess her. He tries to rape her, but he’s stopped by Soo-dong that wound him on his left hand. In retaliation, master Kim’s servants arrest Soo-dong and cut his right finger, making impossible for him to hunt anymore, a speciality in which he excelled.
Soo-dong is thrown in jail, but escapes. Now for Ok-ran to marry him is impossible, and her mother decides to accept the offer of Moo-ryong that want to make the girl his official wife. But Ok-ran’s father is against this decision and arrange for his daughter and Soo-dong to escape.
Unfortunately the two are caught after a while, Soo-dong is thrown in a ravine and left for dead,  Ok-ran is brought back to the village. Trying to free his daughter, Ok-ran’s father kills one of the guards. Moo-ryong exploit the situation at his advantage and promises the girl to free her father if she will consent the marriage. Soo-dong is still alive and he’s rescued by his mother. But there’s nothing he can do to stop Moo-ryong and desperate he commits suicide. The wedding carriage of Moo-ryong and Ok-ran has to pass through Soo-dong’s grave and his mother stops them to beg Ok-ran to visit her former lover’s tomb.
Sadly at this point the only existing materials of the film are incomplete. The last portion with the ending is lost and it’s possible to reconstruct it only through Kim Ki Young’s original script and his confirmation of its existence before his death: Soo-dong’s mother stops the carriage, but Moo-ryong gives order to move her. All the villagers then sit down as an obscure presence was both forcing and begging them to do so. The guards beat the people but they start to react and rebel. Soo-dong’s mother stabs Ok-ran to death and send her to die on his son grave, she’s killed by Moo-ryong soon after. Then Ok-ran stands up again in general astonishment and Soo-dong’s grave opens and both of them ascend to heaven in a ray of light.
The second Kim Ki Young feature film was harshly criticized at the time of its release maybe for this final part called ridiculous and inconsistent. It’s interesting though that the very same themes so unpleasantly discussed are now the ones that make this film worth watching for film scholars, because there are in it all the signs of what Young’s cinema was going to be. The love scenes, for instance, with their strong emotional and erotic power and the surreal ending in a context anyway grounded in social realism.
The naivety if need be, it’s in the overacting  of some characters, specially Moo-ryong. This is a fairy tale showing the final stage of medieval domination of landlords over the villagers, with their imposition and rules, but it’s also an allegory of the tough Japanese oppression over Korea that lasted until the end of second world war.
This is not a masterpiece, but it’s in the list Kim Ki Young compiled of his films that he considered worth watching, a list that includes eleven titles out of thirty two he shot.  

Sequence from the film


Goryeojang is a tradition in a remote village. At the age of 70’s the old people leave the place and carried on the shoulders of their sons, go to die over the peak of a dominating mountain. A widow marries in a family of ten brothers. But when the shaman of the village, former stepmother of the ten brothers and sorceress living under a huge tree, tells that the son from her previous marriage Guryong, will kill all of them, the brothers turns him into a cripple. The widow leaves the family as she gets a piece of land as compensation. Twenty years later, Guryong loves Gannan, but marries a mute girl isntead, because she’s impaired like him. The mute is raped by the ten brothers and she dies in shame. Drought and famine descend over the village and the shaman predicts if Guryong will leave his mother on the mountain rain will come. Guryong doesn’t want to and doesn’t care since he has been smart enough to save food in great quantities due to his hard work. But then Gannan, that married a sick man, is accused of her husband’s murder. It’s a plot of the brothers again to force Guryong to do what the shaman predicted. He goes over the mountain and leaves his mother, but when he’s back, even if it’s finally raining, Gannan has been killed. So Guryong decides to get his revenge in the end and furiously slaughters most of the brothers, until one of them praying him to be spared, confesses that all the decisions they took, they did it under the influence of the shaman. Furious against the shaman and tired of all of her pointless predictions that brought misfortune upon everybody and were made only because she could get retribution by watching all the brothers die,  Guryong cuts her divination tree that falling kills the sorceress.
Primitive behaviours and ways of life shifting to modern times are the culminating themes of this amazing film that shocked Korean audiences back in the 60’s. The passage from primordiality to modernity is as dramatic as unwanted from the powers ruling the lower classes using ancestral fears and rituals to maintain their “status quo”. Economical interests and religion are strongly connected as they use each other, the first for his purposes of domination and the second to keep a position of relevance in the community. The rebellion of Guryong is the allegory for the modern industrial revolution over the older agricultural system and an metaphor for the uprising of the lower classes against the ancient feudal systems. More, is the final self-determination from a concept of spirituality, shamanism, that going back hundreds of years, have ruled the lives of people in the villages with superstition and violence.
Violence, refused by Guryong at the end when he spares some of the brothers; the death of the shaman is caused by fate, since Guryong rage turns against the symbol of her cult: the sacred tree. The falling of the tree stands for the fall of a whole system that can’t work anymore and must leave room to the evolution of mankind.
Beautifully shot in scope, the film is unfortunately incomplete. The third and sixth reels of the negative have been lost and only recently has been possible to reconstruct the missing parts, due to the discovery of the original reels of audio.
So the movie is presented with these huge portions where only the dialogue and sound effects are left while the screen is black. Not with this standing, this is a great film, that is well worth watching for the key themes mentioned. It is very interesting though, that the story shares so much in common with Narayama Bushiko made just five years earlier in Japan by Kinoshita Heinosuke and remade by Shoei Imamura twenty years later. There are comparisons to the two cultures to be made, an unexplored territory as prominent Korean film critic Lee Yeon Ho brilliantly pointed out in his introduction on Kim Ki Young’s movies.

 Sequence from the film

DVDs of the films discussed in the upcoming part two of the article.

Dissecting a society: social statements, ancient traditions and hidden desires of the flesh in  Kim Ki Young’s cinema from reality to abstraction.
Part 2 abstractionism: Chung-nyeo (The insect woman, 1972), Yuk-che-eui Yak-sok (Promise of the flesh, 1975), I-eo-do (I-eo Island, 1977).  COMING LATE JULY 2011

domenica 19 giugno 2011

Deconstruction of a marriage in Jack Clayton’s The Pumpkin Eater.

Jo (Anne Bancroft) lives in a barn with her second husband Giles, a violinist, and her many children she had with him and from her previous marriage. One day he brings home a friend, wannabe screenwriter . in Jake (Peter Finch). The two having a drink look at a windmill over a hill, just an excuse to hide their immediate and mutual attraction that culminates soon in a new marriage for Jo. Jake is successful and while their life style highly improves from almost starvation to richness, their marriage begins to fall apart. The man is unfaithful, he’s constantly cheating on Jo that one day leaving home, overwhelmed by the memories, has a nervous breakdown while wandering through the corridors of Harrods.
Things get better when Jo decides to go under psychiatric treatment. She starts to realize the many problems of her weird behaviour, her constant need to be a mother.
When her relationship with Jake is revamping, Jo is pregnant again, but this time to please her husband, that doesn’t want any newborn child, she has an abortion. Jo is ready for her new life, finally freed from the chains of motherhood she will enjoy her social status with her husband more. But happiness is short, when Mr. Conway (James Mason) a family friend, reveals her Jake is having an affair with his wife Beth and they are mad for each other.
Jo’s world falls completely apart when she discovers Beth is pregnant and she’s carrying Jake’s baby. The two have a violent fight and Jo leaves him to go back to Giles with whom she sleeps one night as an act of revenge against her husband. Jake, upset  by the revelation of her betrayal, doesn’t speak with her anymore. Jo refuges in the windmill over the hill, that they bought as a sign of their long lasting love. She’s there alone, until one morning all the kids show up with Jake. The usual noise, revives the silent house again and Jake offers a beer to Jo that smiling says yes.
Shot in 1964, The pumpkin eater was based on a novel by Penelope Mortimer and adapted for the screen by legendary playwriter Harold Pinter and photographed by Oswald Morris. The tech and cast crew were first choice and it’s all merit of director Jack Clayton, that assembled such talents all together to deliver one of his finest even if too long forgotten films. Clayton shocked Britain and British film industry in 1959 with his first opus Room at the top, the film that would have been the starting point of a new conception of cinema in UK and the primary source of inspiration for the Free cinema movement, and the whole Kitchen Sink style filmmaking of the following decade.
Clayton shot few films during his career, and surprising followed Room at the top with his wonderful adaptation of Henry James’ Turn of the screw, The innocents, a creepy psychological ghost story that is as unsurpassed as effective nowadays, as it was at the times of its release. The innocents was a complete departure from the style he create with RATT, it was a masterfully shot gothic film with an eerie atmosphere and an strong erotic tension.
Clayton went back to social and psychological drama with TPE, but with his style improved from the previous experience.
The film is a precursor well ahead of its times. Some themes faced here like abortion and sexual life in and outside the marriage were dangerous ground in 1964 and most of them would have been exploited in movies only after the 68 and the beginning of the sexual revolution.
Jo is a peculiar character; even if she’s a desirable woman with a strong drive to experience the pleasures of the senses, she is unable to enjoy a sex life without conceiving a baby: an hidden, unconscious, imposition probably due to a strong religious education that makes her to consider sex without conception, a sin. Jake is a self absorbed, superficial man, able to dig in the human soul and nature only when he puts them on paper. In his life he’s selfish, a child that never grew up, in constant need to be appreciated, as it’s suggested in a scene that his parents never accepted his will to become a writer and thought of it to be a mistake. Jake search for love and attention is the one of a child whose mother never really showed affection. Both Jo and Jake love each other in their own completely different ways, it’s a matter to find out a meeting point, a balance in their union. Reconciliation at the end is as sad as temporary, things will not be the same again.
But a marriage is made also of appearances, both of them need each other, Jake because at the end of the day can always go back to his family and feels comfortable; Jo instead needs a steady place around which she can built her daily life and routine.
This is a great film, a fine psychological study of two personalities that try hard to stay together, even if the empathy of the viewer shifts more towards Jo, because with her itchy nature, still she is more responsible and thoughtful.
Performances are amazing; Anne Bancroft was awarded with a Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival, a constant recurring point of Clayton’s career to be considered an excellent actors’ director, but unfortunately he shot only few films more. The critically savaged The Great Gatsby in 1974, was  very disappointing for him and in 1977 he suffered a stroke that left him speechless. He had to learn to speak again, and he succeeded going back behind the camera in 1983 with Something wicked this way comes the screen adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel. The troubled production and his still precarious health conditions led to a semi disaster. While Disney was trying to renovate its production slate shifting to a more mature audience, still the Studio didn’t want a too scary product, while Clayton was opting for his celebrated suspenseful style that worked so well in The Innocents. The result was an hybrid that was ignored by grew ups, thinking it was a kids’ film, and too scary for children that were flooding out of the theatres crying. The movie was a flop, and had tepid critical response. But in years has grown up the cult status it deserves, because even with all its flaws, it’s a great film that could have been a masterpiece. Clayton won back viewers and critics with The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne in 1987 and with the TV film Memento Mori in 1992, both based on celebrated novels. He passed away in 1995. Most of Clayton’s film are available on DVD and Blu Ray so I strongly recommend to buy them and discover his crafted filmmaking; an actor’s director could be stagey from a technical point view, but it’s not his case. His movies are beautifully shot, with long camera movements and sought after angles, cranes and tracking shots are used constantly and well edited together due to his previous  experience as a renown editor.
The Pumpkin Eater in available in US as part of Columbia Classics By Request (DVD-R), and UK in a properly pressed edition in the collection Classic British, the one reviewed here.
Film has been re-mastered from original elements and looks nice, even with some dirts here and there. Audio is strong and good, OAR was 1.66:1 and has been rendered 1.78:1, 16X9 enhanced. Unfortunately no extras of any kind in the mentioned editions, not even the trailer. Audio English only, in the UK edition with Eng. Subs.

“I think the whole voyage of making a film is like a big package. I’m fascinated by all of it”
(Jack Clayton)

Film mass is ended you may go in peace
The Vikar

Sequence from the film

domenica 12 giugno 2011

Cold war paranoia: Franklyn J. Schaffner’s The double man and John Huston’s The Kremlin letter.

East Berlin during the cold war, a general of the Red Army is meeting with another high ranking officer to discuss a plan to infiltrate undercover agents in the US. It’s a risky operation but the officer is sure he’s going to succeed. The general reminds him that the price to pay in case of fail is life. Cut to the Austrian mountains, a young guy while skiing falls to death in a gully. The boy was the son of Dan Slater (Yul Brynner), an executive director at CIA, who as soon as he has received the news leaves his post to attend the funeral in Europe. Being aware this could be possibly a trap, Slater wants to find out who eventually killed his son. The boy was attending an International school there, run by an old Slater’s friend and former spy Frank Weathly (Clive Revill). Everybody is claiming it was an accident and that the boy fell. But just before to leave to go back, Slater finds in his bag his son’s jacket with two holes in it: the boy has been stabbed with a ski pole and maybe pushed from a cliff. Slater decides to stay longer, while his boss is complaining and wants him to leave immediately, it could be the place of  a very possible set up.
It is indeed, since Slater has been followed and led on the tracks of the assassins by the very same Russian officer who has started his operation with Slater as his first target. The plan involves even Gina (Britt Ekland), a young and beautiful girl, in the dark about the whole plot.
Written by Frank Tarloff and Alfred Hayes from the Harry Maxfield’s novel Legacy of a spy, The double man is the typical example of the cold war paranoia of the sixties and was directed by the so little celebrated Franklin J. Schaffner in 1967, just an year before he was going to deliver one of his most accomplished work and one of the best Sci Fi film ever made The Planet of the Apes.
The double man has been often dismissed as predictable and kind of a missed opportunity. But without being a great film has his own points of merit and even with some flaws in most of the cases delivers the goods. There are some wrong production and script choices: the title and the prologue are too much of a giveaway of what the twist of the film is going to be, since the “Reds” plan is to exchange Slater with a body double, a Russian agent that has gone under plastic surgery and that looks exactly like him (both parts played by Brynner). In this case the title and the fact that in the prologue the plan is called “crazy” and “impossible”, suggest too much to the viewer, and when the revelation happens in the third act of the film, it comes unsurprising to an expert audience. Other problems are the music score and cinematography: too invasive and recurring the first sounding like a TV series “leit motif”, while the second fails to create the proper atmosphere with its anonymous colour palette and with a TV tone as well. But there is a lot of good stuff in here, mostly due to Schaffner’s tight direction, specially in the third act, with a long chase sequence that is worth watching, being engaging and full of suspense. There some turns in the script that are exciting and that could have been improved renouncing to an happy ending that looks like have been filmed more to please the producers than to be the functional closing of the story: in it Wheatley has to face Slater and his double without knowing who is the real one. After he has killed one of them, the viewer is in the dark about who has been shot, until the very last sequence. The double had a scratch on his face, caused by a fight with Gina, and after the shooting Brynner’s face is framed only from one side to keep the audience guessing until the last minute. This is a clever trick, and the movie dark tone would have gained more power, leaving the spectators with the doubt and skipping the mentioned happy end in favour of a puzzling one.
Not with this standing, the movie is still interesting, and Slater is an unsympathetic character and the audience really has difficulty to relate to him. This is an unconventional choice and the casting of Yul Brynner, with his iconic presence, is of great help and brings to Slater all the coldness and unemotional temperament of an high trained, cold blooded, spy. For this reason the end in which is suggested that Slater could have a possible future affair with Gina is as improbable as unconvincing. As the theme of the double is only suggested and could have been exploited with more efficiency. The author only scratched the surface of an intriguing premise: Slater and his double are only two sides of the same coin. Both of them have their own convictions and they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. They are very much look alike not only in the resemblance terms but also in the behaviour: the imperialist and the communist are exactly the same in their inhuman approach to life made only of violence.
Released for the first time in the US as part of The Warner Archive Collection (DVD-R), The double man has been available in Spain and Germany since a while, the German DVD is the one examined here, an official Warner edition. The movie has been re-mastered and there are just few dirts, here and there. Sound is good and the AR is 1.78:1 while the original OAR is supposed to be 1.85:1. But I noticed that the main titles are 1.66:1, the probable aspect ratio the movie has been filmed. In fact some takes, specially the close ups, denote a severe cropping of the faces that seems unnatural and unwanted. Overall quality is good, in line with other Warner’s catalogue titles.
This is not one of Schaffner’s best, but it is still worth watching, due to his excellent film skills that should be recognized more when in fact he has always been considered only not more than a craftsman. A director whose filmography includes: The best man, Papillon, Patton and the mentioned Planet of the Apes, would deserve a major recognition that has been reserved instead to much less talented filmmakers.

The Kremlin letter

At the peak of the Cold War, a group of undercover agents is sent to Russia to recover a compromising letter, in which the US government states he would be ready to come to terms with the Russian one, in order to destroy a nuclear plant in China.
Shot in 1970 and released the same year to critical dismiss, Letter to Kremlin is the case of  a big production with honest intentions gone wrong. In recent years due to the audience’s affection to the great Huston and the star crowded cast, there was a sort of revaluation of the movie that is unfortunately misleading the ones that approach this work for the first time. The script is full of confusing twists and characters are not fully developed with their semi obscure motivations that are thrown away in a few minutes showdown. The attempt to create a minimalist approach showing the daily life of undercover agents, succeeds only in part, making suffer the whole rhythm of the story that is too talky and with a lot of characters showing up just for few scenes, making no point. 
There are some engaging moments, and a bleak, sardonic atmosphere flits during the whole film, but it is not enough to save the day of the production and it’s not clear if this was intentional. The description of the underground Soviet night life is ridiculous, even if the point of the authors is clear: there’s no difference between it and the Western one. But the nightclubs with prostitutes and transvestites look so naïve that the film seems more a cheap grindhouse than a studio product. Not with this standing the last five minutes manage to deliver, with an unexpected and powerful punch in the face of the viewer that makes the whole show worth watching.
A rare case in which a fierce and daring touch is able to cover for the many previously mistakes, improving the subtext of the story making it what it was supposed to be from the beginning: a parable of human cruelty and its double crossing nature. While criticizing and attacking a way of life, the eastern one, our is no better. It is not a matter of capitalism versus communism, it’s the primordial wild beast in each one of us: that push to prevail over someone else, that mankind can’t get rid of.
Performances are ok, in some cases excellent, it is still nice to see such talented people assembled together even with poor result: Orson Welles, Richard Boone, George Sanders, Max Von Sydow and Bibi Andersson just to name few. Not all of them are  fully convincing, but they manage with their charisma to be at least interesting.
Production values are top notch, the movie was shot on location in Finland for Russia, with credible results and on stage in Rome, Italy.
Released for the first time on DVD in US by Twilight Time The Kremlin Letter is available on order in a 3000 units limited pressing with no extras but with a track featuring the isolated score. It has been made available by Fox in Spain at the same time of the US release in a regular edition with no extras, the one that has been examined here.
I believe the masters to be the same, since Twilight Time editions of officially licensed Fox catalogue titles are using materials provided by the studio. The film has been re-mastered and digitally cleaned looking and sounding excellent. The OAR is 2.35:1 and has been 16X9 enhanced.
I suggest this film to Huston’s completists and those who want a different, even if problematic, approach to a spy story. Could have been a great opportunity to overcome the typical double O seven storytelling, but sadly is only a missed one.

Film Mass is ended you may go in peace
The Vikar


domenica 5 giugno 2011

Different, colliding, social worlds in Joseph Losey’s Blind Date (aka Chance Meeting).

Jan (Hardy Kruger) is running in the streets of London, to get to his date on time. When he arrives at his lover’s apartment, since the door is open  he enters without hesitation. Calling for Jacqueline, Jan gets no answer, maybe the girl has gone out for few minutes. Waiting for her, Jan wanders around looking at the objects and many things in the flat, he finds an envelope with his name written on and a load of cash in it, smiling he hides it in his jacket. He puts on a record and sits comfortably on a couch listening at the loud music.
After few minutes, two cops show up and start to question him. The guy is an uncomfortable position since he doesn’t want to give away the name of his affair, and asks why he should answer all these questions. When two officers arrive, the situation worsen as the guy soon realizes the woman he was looking for, lies dead under the blankets on a couch and she has been murdered.
Jan starts to tell the police how he got to know  Jacqueline and the sort of relationship they had. She was an high class lady with a good taste for art and married to an abusive alcoholised husband. But things are not what Jan thought to be, as the police uncovers for him few facts: the woman was probably a prostitute with lot of boyfriends. Jan is shocked by the revelation as his world is falling apart, he has to face a terrible fact as well, the police suspects him to be the assassin. Shot in 1959 after the critically panned and BO disappointing The Gipsy and The Gentleman, Blind Date marked the return to success for Losey, a fame that lasted almost for his entire career, and was the starting point for the decade to follow in which he delivered his most ambitious and famous films like The Servant, The Accident, The Criminal etc. a string of hits that ultimately led him to gain the Palm D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971 for The Go Between.
As most of Losey works, this one is only apparently a genre film. Using popular storytelling Losey doesn’t loose his chance to criticize the contemporary society and its establishment in particular. The love affair between the young artist and the older high class woman is the excuse to point out all the differences between the classes still existing in the post war Britain of the 50’s. The gap between them is so huge that can defeat even the most powerful life driving feeling: love. Social status and appearance are more important, once obtained, that one’s own satisfaction and happiness; “You have the most successful class system in the world” Losey said to interviewer Andrew Sarris in 1961. His political convictions always led his life, he was blacklisted in the early 50’s and lived after then all his life in UK, where he continued to work until his death in 1984. He declared mordantly to Gene D. Phillips in an interview dated 1976: “In a way my being blacklisted was one of the best things ever happened to me because it forced me to go to Europe to continue my career as a filmmaker. Otherwise I might have stayed in Hollywood merely making money instead of making pictures I want to make”.
But Losey’s thematic is not only about social injustice but it’s a poetic, surrealistic at times, exploration of human solitude and self confined. The heroes and protagonists of his movies are always alienated from the society and live in  their own inaccessible world, from which they go out only to try to reach each other with an unavoidable failure all the times. In Blind Date both Jan and Jacqueline are lonely and live unhappy their separate lives. Two beings alone that are brought together by the desire of the flesh and for whom the few hours spent together have became the only chance to survive the greyness of daily life: for Jacqueline the recognition that her husband doesn’t love her anymore and for Jan the constant craving to reach that perfection in painting that wears out most of the artists.
Another theme common in Losey’s cinema, the consuming attempt of his characters to get what they really desire and that they are doomed not to achieve, because of their own limits and for those imposed by the modern way of life. So Blid Date pairs very well with the recently restored and critically rediscovered The Prowler, one of his earlier efforts shot in US in 1950, that I strongly recommend; another genre film that is both an exploration of greed and of the hidden pervert desires of a sick mind; in a hallucinatory context that makes it one of the most unusual film noir ever made.
Blind Date works more on a routine and commercial level, but there is an uncommon touch to depict its scandal situation, another distinctive sign of Losey’s cinema: the use of a  subtle eroticism. Even if showing anything to the audience, Jan and Jacqueline love encounters have a strong impact on the viewer’s mind because of Losey’s ability to create an erotic tension made by simple gestures, glances and movements. Then when it comes to deliver a solution to the crime story, the movie excels with an unexpected and clever twist, providing to criticize the establishment again, this time with an accuse to the powers ruling the society; since the name of a politician is involved the police wants to settle immediately with a cover up accusing Jan as the murder to avoid any press rumours that could damage the “big man”. Only a detective will stand at Jan’s defence, one of those that are not well seen by his own superiors, and didn’t study in fancy colleges and had his parents coming from the working class. Another political statement made by Losey and well hidden between the lines: only the working class has a proper integrity while the higher one is corrupted, its social status is made by compromising truthfulness to defend the very same status, even when has been proven wrong or guilty; on an higher level dog doesn’t eat dog. Acting is extremely good, apart from Kruger, (who sung the  main song of the soundtrack) Micheline Presle is both sexy and classy in the role of  Jacqueline and Stanley Baker shines as the proletarian Inspector Morgan; he and Losey will team again for The Criminal and Eva.
Available in UK by Renown Pictures, the film is for the first time available on DVD. It has been re-mastered and restored, even if more than a proper restoration a large use of DVNR has been applied rendering the image a little bit too soft. Blacks are inconsistent possibly due to the film materials used. The film is shown 1.33 4X3, while main and end titles are 1.66:1. It is probable that the movie has been shot FF and matted at 1.66 for theatrical exhibition, I didn’t notice any severe cropping of the frame. Audio is good and strong, no extras at all not even a trailer, no subtitles.
I strongly suggest to the audience to go back to Losey’s films, and watch them, specially the mentioned ones. He was highly regarded as one of the most important filmmakers of his times, but after his death has been a little neglected and forgotten. The re releases of Blind Date and The Prowler are the most welcome and give the opportunity to discover his minor works, that minors are not.

Film mass is ended you may go in peace
The Vikar