Category Archives: 1968

The Indian Spirit Guide (1968, Roy Ward Baker)

The Indian Spirit Guide is an odd amalgam of two plot lines; at least by the end of the episode. Until the end, Robert Bloch’s teleplay juxtaposes them perfectly with just the right amount of interweaving.

Julie Harris plays a wealthy widow romanced by her “paranormal investigator,” played by Tom Adams (who’s a delightful sleaze). He’s dating Harris’s secretary (Tracy Reed) and charged with rooting out the fakes among the mediums Harris visits. Harris wants to contact her dead husband.

Reed’s in on it with Adams–alone with Marne Maitland, who’s great as another coconspirator–and she gets upset when Adams starts romancing Harris.

Director Baker does a solid job, especially with the talking heads; Kenneth Talbot’s photography is great. Guide looks good. It sounds good. Harris gives an excellent performance. Catherine Lacey’s awesome.

The episode needs a proper ending. Bloch (and Ward) try to get away without. They fail.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Roy Ward Baker; written by Robert Bloch; director of photography, Kenneth Talbot; music by Basil Kirchin; produced by Anthony Hinds; released by Independent Television.

Starring Julie Harris (Leona Gillings), Tom Adams (Jerry Crown), Tracy Reed (Joyce), Catherine Lacey (Miss Sarah Prinn), Marne Maitland (Edward Chardur) and Julian Sherrier (Bright Arrow).


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Shame (1968, Ingmar Bergman)

Shame has three or four sections. Director Bergman doesn’t draw a lot of attention to the transition between the first parts, he hides it in the narrative. Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow are a married couple living on an island following a war. Not much information about the war, but they’re concert violinists turned farmers. Their problems are relatively trivial–von Sydow’s unsuited for their new life–and their bickering, while not exactly cute, reveals their tenderness and partnership.

Bergman moves Shame from this domestic drama territory into what should feel more familiar–von Sydow and Ullmann are suspected of being collaborators. Bergman is precise with everything related to the context of the war. He moves the war–its machines, its soldiers–through the existing setting. Through fantastic photography from Sven Nykvist and editing from Ulla Ryghe, great sound design, the war, which can’t surprise von Sydow and Ullmann, can’t surprise the viewer either. Except to recognize the lack of reaction. Bergman doesn’t desensitize, he encompasses the viewer in the despair.

And then Shame changes again. Because the viewer’s already submerged, the change isn’t jarring. It’s almost tranquil, even as the film’s action becomes more and more perilous, the relationship between von Sydow and Ullmann becoming poisonous just to observe. Everyone is trapped, viewer included.

The film hinges on the performances, of course. von Sydow and Ullmann are both extraordinary. He gets better material second half, she first.

Shame’s exceptional. Bergman’s conciseness, Ullmann and von Sydow; so great.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman; director of photography, Sven Nykvist; edited by Ulla Ryghe; production designer, R.A. Lundgren; produced by Lars-Owe Carlberg; released by AB Svensk Filmindustri.

Starring Liv Ullmann (Eva Rosenberg), Max von Sydow (Jan Rosenberg), Sigge Fürst (Filip), Gunnar Björnstrand (Jacobi), Birgitta Valberg (Mrs. Jacobi), Gösta Prüzelius (the vicar) and Hans Alfredson (Fredrik).


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Jane Brown’s Body (1968, Alan Gibson)

Jane Brown’s Body uses resurrection science to explore a melodrama. Anthony Skene’s teleplay isn’t bad, it’s just a little obvious in its plotting. But there’s a definite, subconscious patriarchy thing playing out and it makes for an interesting time.

Stefanie Powers has lost her memory (after being brought back from the dead). The doctor–Alan MacNaughton–isn’t a mad scientist, but a busy doctor who cares for Powers even though he isn’t good at it. Jane is strange because of MacNaughton and wife Sarah Lawson’s sincerity. Even though Lawson isn’t in it enough.

But then Powers has a suitor–David Buck as her tutor. And he’s more a stalker, something Skene doesn’t take any responsibility for.

Powers is great in the lead. Her performance is calculated but very well-calculated. Buck’s a good creep, MacNaughton’s got a nice complex role.

Jane has many problems, but its qualities mostly outweigh them.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Alan Gibson; teleplay by Anthony Skene, based on a story by Cornell Woolwich; director of photography, Arthur Lavis; music by Bob Leaper; produced by Anthony Hinds; released by Independent Television.

Starring Stefanie Powers (Jane Brown), David Buck (Paul Amory), Alan MacNaughton (Dr. Ian Denholt) and Sarah Lawson (Pamela Denholt).


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Eve (1968, Robert Stevens)

For all of its problems, Eve rarely feels stagy. Director Stevens makes the most of his location shooting, whether it’s town or country, and there are enough scenes out doors to make up for the utter lack of establishing shots. It’s for television, it’s on a budget.

It’s also got a rather poorly conceived narrative. Writers Michael Ashe and Paul Wheeler seem like they’re trying to keep Eve interesting–it’s about listless young man Dennis Waterman falling in love with a mannequin. Murder and madness ensue. Carol Lynley plays the mannequin in his imagination and Ashe, Wheeler and possibly Stevens make the odd choice of keeping her quiet.

Waterman’s in need of an imaginary friend due to the Swinging Sixties going on around him; he just wants classy romance. And Lynley is fully capable of the performance, she just doesn’t get the chance.

At least Michael Gough has some fun.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Stevens; teleplay by Michael Ashe and Paul Wheeler, based on a story by John Collier; director of photography, Arthur Lavis; edited by Inman Hunter; music by Harry Robertson; produced by Anthony Hinds; aired by Independent Television.

Starring Carol Lynley (Eve), Dennis Waterman (Albert Baker), Michael Gough (Royal), Angela Lovell (Jennifer), Hermione Baddeley (Mrs. Kass), Peter Howell (Mr. Miller), Errol John (George Esmond), Barry Fantoni (Kim) and Barry Linehan (The Detective).


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