Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Spirit Of The Age

From the velour goldmine that is ‘Marc’, here’s Hawkwind with the quarky, strange and charming ‘Quark, Strangeness & Charm’.

This incarnation of the group was fairly new, so when Marc refers to them as his ‘best mates’, he may just mean that they shared a manager. Dave Brock of the band doesn't appear as he couldn’t stand Bolan and didn’t want to be anywhere near him, which tells its own story about just how friendly they all were.

The man with the strap on bird of prey is Robert Calvert, a poet and songwriter who was an important but intermittent presence in the band’s history. Calvert was frequently hired, frequently fired, but he lends a very contemporary edge and style to this appearance.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Man, It's...

Another track from that flared trousered force of nature, the mighty Mandingo. this is 'The Snake Pit', a great track from their second LP 'Sacrifice' that sounds like the incidental music for a 'Sweeney' special set in Zaire.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Open House

Never too afraid to spread my meagre talents ever thinner, I have joined up with the marvellous Dolly Dolly and the fabulous Glimmung on a brand new blog 'Mounds and Circles'. There is no specific, central theme, but content so far indicates that books, smut and jazz will feature heavily. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Fourth and Last

After the success of the two 'Sweeney' films, the lads got back together to make a fourth and last series in 1978.

Not much had changed, although the scripts were noticeably weaker and relied increasingly on broad humour and self-reflexive parody. Annoyingly, they also changed the iconic credit sequence for something altogether more disco, although it does end brilliantly. Happily, they didn't change the music, although some idiot decided to dub a load of sound effects over it.

They changed the end sequence, too, but I rather like this one. Same reflective music, but accompanied by shots of a presumably drunk Regan and Carter simply mooching around town with nothing to do but smoke and look pissed off. It's quite sweet.

We shall not see their like again. &, no, the forthcoming remake does not sound like a good idea.

Kipper Thai

The Thai 'Sweeney 2' poster, currently residing at the top of 'I want it - I want it NOW!' list.

Here Is The New

Smashing Onto the Big Screen

‘The Sweeney’ was one of the most popular and highest rated UK television shows of the 1970’s. Gritty and realistic (and often very funny), it broke from tradition by featuring policemen who were only too human: driven, hard living, tough, prejudiced - and apt to bend the rules to get the result they needed. The villains were equally unglamorous, vicious people as committed to their life of crime as the Flying Squad were determined to stopping them.

Such was its popularity that the producers paused the show between the third and fourth series to make two film spin offs, the imaginatively titled ‘Sweeney!’ and ‘Sweeney 2’. The films closely followed the TV formula (with the exception of some continuity errors), but were noticeably more graphic, with levels of violence and nudity they couldn’t have got away with on the small screen. They’re pretty good, ‘Sweeney 2’ in particular, which features a gang of violent ‘blaggers’ who rob banks to fund an idyllic lifestyle in Malta, only to slowly come undone when they stray onto the patch of the dogged and equally ruthless Jack Regan and his lads.  

Happily, you can get both films on one handy disc and, while you’re at it, why not treat yourself to the box set of the complete TV series? I mean, what else were you going to spend that thirty quid on, slag?

Sweeney 2


Saturday, 25 June 2011

F*** Me, It's Freddie

FMIF as MacNeil in the superb 'Sitting Target' (1972).

No Cage Can Hold His Lust

Oliver Reed was a pretty good actor before he decided being a clown was an easier option. His best performances have a sort of brutal sensitivity: he's vulnerable, and liable to smash your face in if you mention it. In 'Sitting Target' he takes this persona to the very edge.

Harry Lomart is a professional criminal who can endure any hardship inside as long as he has the backing of his much loved wife outside. When she tells him that she's leaving him, he breaks out of prison to kill her, her lover, and anyone else who gets in his way. At the end of his rampage, he simply lays down to die besides the body of the woman he loves, all passion spent, all point gone.

It's a pretty hard hitting film, and Reed is brilliant in it, a force of nature, a brute with a broken heart. Lomart is no cold, ruthless Jack Carter, he's full of rage and barely in control. That said, the net result is more or less the same. Revenge, eh?

Sitting Target

Friday, 24 June 2011

Revenger's Tragedy

'Get Carter' is positively Jacobean in its relentless drive towards tragedy, death, destruction: it's one of the grimmest and most nihilistic films ever made. The desire for revenge is, of course, a basic human tenet, although few people ever seriously act upon it, but Jack Carter is not most people: he's a dead eyed killer, a relentless destroyer who goes back to his native North East to avenge his brother's death, not out of love and grief, not even out of pride, but because it's what he does, the only thing approaching an emotional response he has. He later experiences a sense of shame at the life he is involved in, and the damage it causes, but it only hardens his resolve to wipe out those he feels responsible. 

It's a great film, but don't expect to feel good as you're watching it. Everything about it is depressing, from the sheer pointless brutality of Carter's quest to the dirty new concrete and nicotine coloured plaster of the mise en scene. I couldn't say it was a favourite film, but it's certainly one I think about quite a lot.  

Get Carter

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Many Moods Of Arnold Noyes

Peter Wyngarde turned up in 'The Baron' too, specifically in an episode called 'The Legions Of Ammak' where he plays a ham actor impersonating a Middle Eastern potentate as well as the actual Middle Eastern potentate. As always, he gives a hugely enjoyable performance and lifts a slightly dull episode to a completely different level.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

F*** Me, It's Freddie

FMIF as The Landlord, in 'So Dark The Night', a 1967 episode of ITC action thriller 'The Baron'.

The Baron

'The Baron' was one of the numerous ITC action and adventure series that dominated the ITV schedules during the sixties and seventies. It starred American b-movie actor Steve Forrest (Dana Andrews' brother) as Texan antique dealer / international agent John Mannering, 'The Baron'. One of the better series in the ITC canon, it benefits from good scripts by TV geniuses Terry Nation, Dennis Spooner and Brian Clemens, as well as any number of interesting guest stars from Edward Woodward to Bernard Lee to Peter Wyngarde (don't worry, we'll come back to that) and well, you'll never guess...