Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bargain Bin at The Warehouse

The Warehouse has a marvellously eclectic range of DVDs for sale. Most of them, as you’d expect, are the top-runners in the scene, and go at the top price. But alongside these they sell, particularly in their bargain bins, dozens of DVDs that you’d never find in a hundred years anywhere else. (Well, I expect you wouldn’t have found them over the last hundred years, anyway, given the age of the DVD as a piece of technology.)
When I get a half hour to spare, I like to fish amongst the randomly-binned DVDs to see if I can turn anything interesting up. The other day I came across the following:
The Lady Vanishes, one of Hitchcock’s most delightful suspense pieces, with a marvellous cast, and Hitchcock’s black humour that predates the classic Cary Grant/Hitchcock combinations. I've seen this at least three times previously, so haven't watched this particular copy yet; just added it to my growing Hitchcock on DVD collection.
The Dresser, with Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney – I’m yet to watch this, but I suspect that the performances will be top-notch.
The Vicious Circle (also known as The Circle) with John Mills. This is a murder mystery/suspense thriller piece, written by Francis Durbridge, who relies on adding something out of left field in almost every scene in order to keep the thing humming along. It’s absurd, but fairly watchable, though John Mills never quite looks at home as a Harley St specialist. Wilfred Hyde White, as always, plays Wilfred Hyde White.
And lastly, Timelock (also known as Time Lock), which was made in 1957. The packaging for this is a bit of a failure under the Fair Trades Act: it lists Sean Connery in large letters, as though he was the star. In fact, he has something like three or four lines somewhere in the middle of the piece, is a relatively unimportant character, and makes little real impression. That’s no mean feat, given the nature of this movie. It’s directed by Gerald Thomas, who went on to direct some thirty or more Carry On movies. His direction is bland in the extreme, and in a piece where tension is required, he manages to elicit almost none. His cast, taking their cue from the director, play the whole thing in such an off-hand way that you have to wonder whether they’d all decided the thing wasn’t worth the candle, and they’d get it over and done with as quickly as possible. As an amateur reviewer on IMDB says, even the child who gets stuck in a time vault at the bank and is the cause of all the fuss is awful: he has no acting ability whatsoever. Fortunately he has very little to do, and he does most of it early in the piece, and is then seen no more until the end, when he has to play virtually dead.

The piece is set in Canada, by the way. The only shot in the movie that actually shows Canada is the opening one; the remainder was shot in England, with some US actors involved.
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