Tag Archives: The Comedians

A Week In Film #058: Crimble & custard & cutting the solstice mustard

Batman Returns
Burton overdoes the kooky gothic nonsense, which was just about forgivable in the first film, but come this, the sequel, well… Just about manages to overlook every canonical element of the Batman story, and squeezes in the Penguin and Catwoman as well as evil tycoon Max Schreck. Messy, mostly dull, not worth two hours of my life.

The Quiet American
A reasonably faithful adaptation of Graham Greene’s meditation on betrayal, loyalty and colonial wars. Michael Caine is Thomas Fowler, an amiable old British reporter bent into the ways of Indo-China, whilst dashing young American ‘advisor’ Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) tries his best to bend Vietnam into his own idea of democracy. Do Thi Hai Yen is spellbinding as Phoung, the woman they both love.

Director-for-hire Phillip Noyce (franchise crap like Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger as well as imaginative authored stuff such as Dead Calm and Rabbit-Proof Fence) keeps everything very tidy, coaxes good performances from everyone, and never lets the spectacle of action set-pieces overcome the meaning of the film.

The Comedians
More Greene adaptation, this time almost contemporaneous with the source material. Richard Burton is a cynical, weary hotelier trapped in Port-au-Prince during the reign of Papa Doc Duvalier and his Tonton Macoute; Liz Taylor is the diplomat’s wife with whom he is having a tawdry affair; Alec Guinness is a shady would-be arms dealer whose affability somehow inspires Brown to pick a side. Pretty decent, but with an almost predictably pale perspective. The ending is pointlessly upbeat.

The Molly Maguires
Martin Ritt’s impressive take on the industrial turmoil in the coalfields of Pennsylvania in the 1870s.

Sean Connery is powerful as a miner who leads a secret society sabotaging pits and assassinating bosses and cops when peaceful means don’t bring better conditions for the workers or their families, Richard Harris does well to give a rounded performance as the Pinkerton detective who infiltrates the Molly Maguires.