Archive for the ‘Lois Maxwell’ Tag

The Haunting (1963)   1 comment

The Haunting poster

Based on The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and written for the screen by Nelson Gidding (Andromeda Strain, Odds Against Tomorrow), The Haunting tells the story of a disparate group brought together in a long unoccupied New England mansion by Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) to discover whether or not spooks reside there. The actual house was Ettington Hall in Warwickshire, England and is now the Ettington Park Hotel, for those who dare to stay there.

Anyway, the house has seen its share of mysterious deaths and weird occupants over the years and the locals won’t go near it.


“We don’t stay. We go back to our cottage near Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Markway’s archaeologist/parapsychologist wants to prove places can retain the spirits of people and their actions and proposes an experiment. He and a hand-picked group of people with histories of psychic ability will inhabit the manse, study its original owners, the late and somewhat sadistic Hugh Crain and family, and report any ghostly happenings, thus justifying Markway’s career choice to his conservative family and possibly securing him a government grant.


“I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”

Markway’s serious and academic demeanor lends the expedition gravitas and makes the coming events seem that much more real. Julie Harris as the put upon Eleanor Lance gives a terrific performance. Her character narrates the film and her interior dialogue delves into her thoughts without being overly expository. Claire Bloom as Theo, the clairvoyant, gives a layered performance which could easily have descended to mere snarkiness, but shows some real vulnerability and empathy. Russ Tamblyn, as Luke, a playboy related to the wealthy owner of the house, goes along to protect the house from damage, both physical and moral. The owners hold little stock in Markway’s spiritual phenomena. Tamblyn surprised me with the humor, subtlety, and credibility of his acting.


“Colonel Mustard?”

Together this motley crew of paranormal researchers begin what they think will be a painless week in a great house. Needless to say, Hill House holds many secrets and, as Eleanor points out, “This house—you have to watch it every minute.”

The Haunting’s main attraction, its cinematography by Davis Boulton (Brighton Rock, Night Train to Munich) gives the house a sinister quality. Gorgeous angles and ominous shadows abound and the direction, by the always fantastic Robert Wise, fills each scene with a sense of doom. After each frightening encounter, the director cuts to an odd angled shot of Hill House’s exterior, letting the viewer know the house is always watching.


“Gotcha!”

I love The Haunting. It’s one of my favorite films of any kind and you can’t beat it for atmosphere. If you’re looking for a literate, atmosperic haunted house film done in beautiful black and white, pop some corn and watch The Haunting.

Haunting exterior
Boo!

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): This Never Happened to the Other Fellow   Leave a comment

So here’s the thing, I love Sean. Sean is Bond. I didn’t grow up in the 80s or 90s with Dalton, Brosnan, Craig, and Dench and Moore is a poor man’s excuse for Bond. All ruffled tuxedo and ruffled demeanor. Moore is to Connery what New Coke is to Coke; sweeter and more generic. He’s the supermarket Kola you find when you’re looking for the real thing.

Naturally I thought I’d write about Sean for this favorite Bond series. I thought about Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, and Dr. No immediately. Then I realized something. I don’t own a single Bond film.* Why is that? I thought about it and realized that for me, the entire series lacks depth. Bond plays baccarat, cracks wise with arch-villains, beds a bevy of beauties, and foils the world domination plots of many while maintaining his poise and retaining his boutonniere. He never loses his cool because he isn’t a real guy. Let’s face it. It’s hard to get excited about a cardboard cutout, even a really attractive one. Without depth and some vulnerability, all the ski chases and 11th hour bomb defusing came to naught. Bond seemed less superhuman, and more subhuman.

Then it hit me. Lazenby. The odd man out. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The answer to many a Bond trivia question. Lazenby fit the bill. George Lazenby’s tall, dashing, Australian male model looks paired with his smart ass demeanor made him the perfect…er, replacement for Connery back in 1969 and his film, the perfect vehicle. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service we see Bond fight, ski, seduce, crack wise and even fall in love all set to a gorgeous John Barry score.

What appeals to me most about this film is the humanity it allows Bond to show. He still indulges in his usual Bondian vices, but something touches him. That something is the love of the beautiful Contessa Teresa diVicenzo played by Diana Rigg at the height of her 60’s Emma Peeliness. At first, Bond thinks of Tracy, as he calls her, as a curiosity. She’s a depressed jet-setter who finds the globe-trotting and endless parties soul-crushingly empty. After having a fling with Tracy, Bond finds himself summoned to the home of Marc-Ange Draco, Tracy’s father, the head of an international crime syndicate, and all around mensch. He wants Bond to marry Tracy to settle her down and give her something to live for. Bond refuses until Draco hints he can help with the capture of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. This, by the way, is another reason I like this film so much. Blofeld is by far the best Bond villain. I hear he even changes the litter box. I digress. Bond agrees without actually agreeing to make a deal with Draco and we’re off.

I won’t recap the entire film. It’s a long Bond (insert off-color joke here), but most of its 2 hour and 20 minute running time moves the plot forward and shows George Lazenby in a most flattering light. He does dashing quite well and looks equally at home in a tuxedo or on skis. When he finally succumbs and falls for Tracy, you believe it. His voice even changes tone when  he speaks to her. There’s a gratuitous ‘falling in love’ sequence where I swear you can hear Roberta Flack for a second but no matter. You believe the love story and get caught up in the lovers’ dreams of a future together. This makes the ending and Bond’s comment to Tracy that “we have all the time in the world” that much more poignant.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Stats

James Bond=George Lazenby
Tracy=Diana Rigg
Draco=Gabriele Ferzetti
Blofeld=Telly Savalas!
Moneypenny=Lois Maxwell
M=Bernard Lee
Q=Desmond Llewelyn
Director=Peter Hunt
Music=John Barry

Scenes in Portugal and the Swiss Alps-check
Ski chases-check
Casino scene-check
Breaking the fourth wall-check
Weird allergy clinic eating scene-check
Frightening cos-play polar bear on skates scene-check
Lazenby’s Australian accent slipping through in spots-check
Isolated criminal lair which later gets blown up-check
Pumping by Bond (A Benetton Company)-check
Cool snow making machine death-check (Coen brothers took note)
Kilt wearing Bond-check
Bobsled chase-check!!!!!
Heartbreaking ending-*sob* check

Kerry’s Stats

Ist Bond Film-Goldfinger
Favorite Bond-Sean, natch
Favorite Bond Girl-Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman
How I discovered Bond_age_ -I noticed them on my TL and asked to join in. Now I’m hooked.

I wrote this piece for the James Bond Social Media Project favorite Bond series. Follow his blog about all things Bond. It’s well-written, entertaining, and informative. He’s @007hertzrumble on Twitter.

ohmss japanese

*I do now.

 

 

 

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