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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England • 11

The Guardiani
London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
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ARTS GUARDIAN Thursday July 2 1981 11 3 CINEMA Derek Malcolm reviews John BoomaiT; Exealibuv, Clash OS The Titans, S.O.B. and the other new ilms A YOU would expect something at least spectacular and beautiful from a serious filmmaker trying to turn' Malory's Morte d'Arthur not into an art movie but a popular epic. And that you certainly get from John Boormans Kxcalibur (Warner End, AA). The Irish forests which surround Tintagel really look spectral, the mists and the mud do not appear simulated and the knights, awkwardly encased in their clumsy armour, ride and fight within a universe which almost gives off a scent of mythical prehistory. The search for the Grail is conducted in a world that seems both intensely real and properly mysterious.

But if that were all Boor-man had achieved, the film would still have missed its mark and, like Polanski's otherwise admirable Tess, have seemed like a splendid but somehow uninvolving pageant. What Boorman has managed is a kind of conspiracy between him and those members of. his audience capable of surrendering to his particular, and sometimes quite eccentric vision. His Merlin is a mediator between us, a Joker in the pack who often stumbles like we do, through a period of time when magic is ending and man's own consciousness taking over. That the process should be funny as well as moving will only surprise those who haven't read Malory or who can't take Boorman's more quirky, contemporary humour.

It is true that Exca-libur's screenplay (by Boor-man and Rospo Pallenberg) constantly walks a tightrope between portentousness and banality. Have we conquered Evil says Arthur at the Round Table, where is it There's no good without it," replies Merlin, It's where you least expect." One half hopes Arthur will take a quick look under the table, or in his pants. But if he did it would be all of a piece with Boorman's conception, which is to overturn expectations and rally surprised reactions to his cause. It doesn't always work. Some lines are rather ponderously meaningful." Looking at the cake's like looking at the future.

Until you've tasted it, what do you know? When you've tasted it, it's too late." And why. when we have so many fresh, unfamiliar faces to look at among the cast (a risk worth taking even if it means some awkwardness of expression), do we have to hear good old Wagner and bad old Orff on the soundtrack instead of some more of Trevor Jones' original music There could be other complaints. Yet the film works, and works well if anyone is prepared to go anything like halfway to meet it. I don't personally like Nicol Williamson as Merlin (goodness, as Mae West said, has S.O.B. Julie Andrews, bares her bosom for the first time on screen.

I tactfully looked away for fear of suddenly going blind. Actually, Mrs Edwards is extremely good (when did she ever give a less than totally professional performance?) as the wholesome movie queen forced to become soft porn sex goddess by her director husband (Richard Mulligan) as he tarts up Night Wind, his limping epic, for the benefit of a public who have given the first version a resounding raspberry. The film is a properly bitchy fairy-tale on Hollywood manners (a great deal more astringent than Ten) in which people say things like, You look like 180 lb. of condemn- I veal" to each other and appear to mean it. I haven't seen a Blake Nigel Terry as Arthur in Excalibur, Pegasus in Clash of the Titans, Richard Mulligan in Italy and Malta; and opticals.

stop-motion and miniatures proving distinctly more important than script, acting and characterisation. I didn't even recognise Freda Jackson and Flora Robson as two of the Three Crones, but Burgess Meredith as Amnion is distinct and Judi Bowker discreet as Andromeda, occasionally seen tastefully in the nude not that this camp Perseus would notice. Children of all ages will come out happy enough, I would imagine. Dingy colour, a pretty rotten script and the two-hour length -were my main complaints. But it was fun while three-quarters of it lasted.

Goodness knows what children of all ages will think of S.O.B. (Leicester Square Theatre, AA) since it is the Blake Edwards movie, in which our favourite nanny. Edwards movie I've liked so much in years, though, I admit it does go on too long, and doesn't hold much water as a cautionary tale, since Night Wind, even in its final boobed version, wouldn't cut much ice in the land in which Deep Throat and The Devil In Miss Jones are now on a cut-price double The best sequence is an hilarious orgy at the director's a 1 i beachhouse which has the poor fellow rising from his bed, surveying the Sodom around him and frantically planning the sexually liberated epic as his friends conduct their own private version on every available floor space. This is a classic of its kind and alone worth the price of admission. Otherwise I much admired William Holden, Robert Preston and Larry dable.

But then Boorman has always been a law unto himself, a film-maker who cheerfully goes for broke. Excalibur may not be to everybody's taste, but taste it you can and sense some of the extraordinary completeness of Malory the way his world begins more and more to provide lessons for our own. If Boorman's almost prankish humour manages to invest myth with a surprising contemporary relevance, the whole point about Clash Of The Titans (Empire, A) is that it is played completely straight. You can of course laugh at this Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhau-sen version of the Perseus legend (particularly since Harry Hamlin as Perseus, the son of Larry Olivier's, Zeus, looks like a Stud magazine centrefold) but it would be Hagman as the director's three doubting pickled in their own variitp and on his bqoze but determined, come what may not 6 lose his financial This is.

Hollywood as we know and' love it, unaba- shedly bereft of a single redeeming virtue except perhaps a sort of salivatory charm. It is quite clear that Edwards knows exactly what he is talking about, and relishes the opportunity so to do. S.O.B. is his best film since Breakfast At Tiffany's. Condorman (Odeon, Marble Arch) has Michael Crawford, sporting a perfectly vile American accent, as a dotty young man who.

writes comic books and emulates his heroes' feats in real life. This entails jumping from the Eiffel Tower as a latterday birdman, falling in love with a beautiful KGB spy (Barbara Carrera) and rushing round Europe after her for the benefit of the CIA. The whole farrago is desperately limp and pedestrian, with Crawford delivering one of his damper performances owing to the lack of a halfway decent script and even Oliver Reed as. a KGB ace looking grimly noncommital. Charles Jarrott directs as if the many stunts, explosions and car chases ara his only hope.

In Eyes Of A Stranger (X), a just-about-efficent horror thriller at the Warner West end, a young girl rendered 'blind and mute from a violent attack in early childhood is menaced alone in her home by a homicidal rapist. There is a long sequence during which, having strangled her pet dog, the man gloatingly baits his prey. She eventually kills him with a kitchen knife, and miraculously finds her sight and speech has returned. This appallingly tasteless film just the thing, don't you think, for the Year of. the Disabled? is nothing more nor less than a commercial pot-boiler and goes one step further than the group of films strongly objected to last year by various women's groups up and down the country.

It makes no effective point whatsoever unless it really expects us to believe in the therapeutic effect of a second attempted rape on the disabled victim of a first attack. While I do not believe in censorship, we do happen to have a Board of Film Censors, considered to be one of the strictest in Europe, which' generally busies itself snipping naughty bits and pieces out of flaccid sex films. Presumably it looked at this, but surely not hard enough. And presumably the company (Columbia-. EMI-Warners) also looked at it before attempting to.

make money out of it. But again, not hard enough. I suggest one or the other thinks again. The best thing the rest of us can do is simply to stay away. Oaa AKIfKMS SWANSEA Odeon TROWBRIDGE Europa YORK Odeon DETAILS CORRECT ATTIME OF GOING TO PRESS oooooooooooooooeooooooo The man who painted the Panther pink and taught you to count to'lO' how unzips Hollywood in S.O.B.

of 'i tt itSTm ft MkKMtKMlrfiEi John Dexter's production Thomas Dekker's THE SHOEMAKERS' HOLIDAY THE ELTON JOHN TAPES At the age of thirty-three, Elton John has achieved a staggering 21 million album sales. Here is the text of the Radio One interview with Andy Peebles, in which he looked back over his meteoric career. Read Elton's comments on music, money, his private life, the price of fame, and his dual role as rock superstar and chairman of a football club. "Hugely enjoyable" nothing to do with it he is just an acquired taste). But Nigel Terry's Arthur, Nicholas Clay's Lancelot, Paul Geoffrey's Perceval and Helen Mirren's Morgana are memorably unlike the sort of people you expect to stalk films of this kind.

It is, though, a director's rather than actor's film, and Excalibur's chief virtue is that it addresses a slightly worn epic form and comes up not with dignified sword and sorcery but something powerful, audacious and fresh. It isn't seamless but, warts and all, it is a true original which continually refuses to fall down the usual waterholes. That, at a time when most film-makers are relying on technology or feeble fun-games to pull in reluctant audiences, is surely commen 0 it KlKElw reran (IrvingWardle.The Times) (John Barber. Daily Telegraph) 55 THEATRE 0 1-928 5933 Oxford Street 437 8819 a film by LUIS BUNUEL PHANTOM JKLIBERTYx -THE OBSERVER 'HTsfunniest -THETIMES IS I 1 4 sari virtually impossible to laugh with it. Here, in all its one-dimensional glory, is Fifties' moviemaking rushing headlong into the Eighties, with Harry-hausen's clever Pegasus, Dio-skilos.

Medusa and Kraken augmented by a charming mechanical owl straight out of a Star Wars See Three PO stereotype. Desmond Davis directs, achieving surprisingly little with his cloud walking gods, even though Olivier is at last allowed to use his natural speaking voice again and Maggie Smith (Thetis), Clare Bloom (Hera) and Sian Phillips (Cassiopeia) do their best. Ursula Andress as Aphrodite merely has to pout. The whole thing is a triumph of artifice over art, with Frank White presiding over separate art departments in England, Spain. BBC PUBLICATIONS NATIONAL FILM THEATRE South Bank, London SE1 Box Office: 01-928 32323 JOHN BOORMAN, Director of Dafverance, Point Blank, ExcaBbur, will give a GUARDIAN LECTURE at the NFT Saturday, July 4, at 3.00 p.m.

Tickets available at 1.50 Membership from 50p. "Wonderful play memorable evening a play by a Londoner about Londoners' (Michael Coveley, Financial Times) a "A very skilful mix of sex, money and class" a (Michael Billington, Guardian) JST 2 "A love affair with London excellent nerformances. Well worth seeina" OS! onu 2.00 from booksellers NATIONAL 01-9282252 Credit Cards MP ooooooooooooooooooooooo JULIE ANDREWS WILLIAM HOLDBnI BLAKE EDWARDS'SQB. aa hoixferofoppeorenw RICHARD MULLK3AN-STUART MARGOUN LARRY HAGMAN ROBERT VAUGHN MARISA BERENSON ROBERT WEBBER SHELLEY WINTERS ROBERT PRESTON LORETTA SWIT- MUSIC BY HENRY MANCINI PRODUCED BY BLAKE EDWARDS ADAMS WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY BLAKE EDWARDS ACADEMY! JEAN COCTEAU'S superb Les Infants Tterribles French dialogue English subtitles Directed by JEAN-PIERRE MELVILLE ALSO BLACKPOOL Odeon IQRJMAR BRIGHTON FROM SUNDAY BATH Gemini BIRMINGHAM Gaumont BISHOP AUCKLAND Odeon BRADFORD Odeon BRISTOL Odeon CARDIFF Odeon CHESTERFIELD Odeon WORTHING Odeon Odeon PLYMOUTH Drake Sun28thJuneTwoVfeeksOnly ting. rUW1 feature LAST THREE DAYS HALLE'S ATLANTIC CITY RAFELSON'S KINS OF MARVIN GARDENS FROM SUNDAY JULY 5 BRUSATI'S CttEf VEHCE COCTEAU'S ORPHEE NORTHALLERTON Lyric NOTTINGHAM Odeon PORTSMOUTH Odeon RICHMOND Zetland SHEFFIELD Gaumont STOCKTON Odeon SOUTHAMPTON Odeon SUNDERLAND Odeon HUDDERSFIELDCIasiIc HULL Cecil JERSEY Odeon LEEDS Odeon LIVERPOOL Odeon MANCHESTER Odeon MIDDLESBROUGH Odeon NEWCASTLE Odeon CHIPPENHAM Studio DARLINGTON Odeon DERBY Odeon DONCASTER Gaumont EXETER Odeon GUERNSEY Gaumont HARROGATE Odeon HARTLEPOOL Odeon TELEPHONE: 01-737 2121 11 i.

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