Friday, 30 September 2011

Friday Night Film: Suns Of Easter Island

'Suns Of Easter Island’ is an strange one. Directed by Pierre Kast in 1974, it starts with a lecture on geomancy before settling into an almost hypnotically slow new age groove. The plot is minimal, but the atmosphere is fantastic. One by one, six people across the globe experience hallucinations of social unrest and glimpses of ancient stone heads, before waking up to realise that they now have a small disc permanently grafted to the palm of their right hand.

Driven my forces they don’t really understand, the six people (and a spare boyfriend) all make their way their way to Santiago (it means ‘whales vagina’ in Spanish) in Chile, the embarkation point for Easter Island, their ultimate destination.

Mystical Science

I've just had the strangest dream...


Easter Island is probably the most amazing film location on Earth: small (62 square miles) remote (2,000 miles from the next inhabited land mass), with three volcanoes (inactive), hundreds of caves, thousands of petroglyphs, very few buildings, hardly any trees and, of course, 887 moai, ornamental statuary between 900 and 300 years old.

Big Head
 When they arrive, now firmly and rather smugly established as a group, they wander around taking in the scenery, before convening in a cave where an ancient, almost unseen presence tells them their mission: every five hundred years, aliens come to Easter Island to commune with the chosen with a view to setting up a permanent bridge between themselves and humanity. The travellers make their way out and align themselves with a row of moai. The aliens arrive as dazzling balls of light and make contact, searching the human’s minds for a picture of life on Earth.

A happy band of travellers

 Sadly, the alien visitors are not impressed by the long stream of images of death, destruction and horror, however, and promptly fuck off for another 500 years, the ultimate cosmic ‘thanks, but no thanks’. They’ll be back…

He can wait
 'Suns Of Easter Island’ is a very cool little film if you can hack the somnolent pace and don’t mind the obvious influence of the Robert Charroux /Eric Von Danniken ‘Ancient Astronaut’ theories that were in vogue at the time. Most of all, the film looks great, and some of the shots of Easter Island are quite incredible. I’d love to go, but haven’t a hope in hell of convincing the family that, perhaps next Summer,
we should maybe go somewhere really different.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Diggin' the Dirk #3

Our Mother's House (1967)

Poet of the Week: Oliver Goldsmith

The Deserted Village

Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visits paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed:
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, where every sport could please,
How often have I loitered o'er your green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene;
How often have I paused on every charm,
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topped the neighbouring hill,
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whispering lovers made;
How often have I blessed the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play,
And all the village train, from labour free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree:
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old surveyed;
And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round;
And still as each repeated pleasure tired,
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired;
The dancing pair that simply sought renown
By holding out to tire each other down!
The swain mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place;
The bashful virgin's sidelong look of love,
The matron's glance that would those looks reprove:
These were thy charms, sweet village; sports like these,
With sweet succession, taught even toil to please;
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed,
These were thy charms—But all these charms are fled.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Richard Massingham was a familiar face to cinema goers of the nineteen forties, playing a bumbling idiot in a series of very British, very amusing Public Information Films. This is 'Handkerchief Drill' from 1949. Take note people behind me in queues, this message is still relevant today.

The Welfare Tache

Clement Attlee
1883 - 1967

Monday, 26 September 2011

I Like A Nice Au Pair

Some of the far from all star cast of 'Au Pair Girls'. Even John Le Mesurier gets to have a grope, albeit in a dream sequence. It says a lot about your film if Rosalie Crutchley is one of the sexiest things in it...

Smutty Music

'Au Pair Girls' has a catchy theme tune and, by Christ, they wring every bit of use out of it that they can. It was written by Roger Webb who had a long and distinguished career making library records and writing interesting music for somewhat mediocre films and television. Webb also provided a memorable score for the aforementioned 'Bartleby', so it wasn't all smut themes and 'George & Mildred' incidentals.

Au Pair Girls

Au pair is a brilliant term, isn't it? It immediately conjures up a dozen smutty punchlines - and 'Au Pair Girls' the movie uses every single one of them. The film follows the fortunes of four au pairs who arrive in the UK and immediately set out to show their tits to everyone and cop off.

There's a wide range of stereotypes on offer: a little Swede and a big Dane, both with an uninhibited approach to nudity and sex; a rather repressed German, and a Chinese lady who is skilled in the art of love but has sad eyes and a reflective nature.

They have no idea what they've got coming

Within minutes of arriving with their respective families they're causing havoc - the little Swede bouncing around in the shower in front of poor old Geoffrey Bayldon - the big Dane (played by UFO star Gabrielle Drake) driving Richard O'Sullivan wild with desire. The German girl goes from frump to fox in a nano-second but, after a unhappy one night stand with rock star Ricky Strange, has second thoughts about a promiscuous lifestyle. Nan, the Chinese girl, outdoes herself - seducing the immature son of the house on the first night, before packing her bags and moving on, like a sort of sexy Oriental Littlest Hobo.

It's a tasteful production from start to finish

Gabrielle Drake activates the 'phwoar' emotion

A lesson in love

He feels a right tit

In an ending that screams 'eighty minutes - that's long enough, isn't it?' the film abruptly sputters out with a nonsensical story so far trashing coda - the girls all leave their respective posts to go and live with a creepy sheik as hand maidens / sex slaves. It's quite an unpleasant thought. He's a really scary looking man.

Creepy Sheik
 Obviously written from the title down, 'Au Pair Girls' isn't all tits and bums, occasionally attempting an element of drama, and even injecting a fraction of poignancy into the otherwise knockabout proceedings. The ending undoes it all, of course, as the girls all sashay off to quite happily become, let's face it, prostitutes.

The film was directed by veteran jack of all trades, Val Guest. Val started out in the thirties working on Will Hay films, directed several Hammer films (including the first two 'Quatermass' adaptations), as well as a several episodes of TV shows like 'The Persuaders', 'Space 1999' and the 'Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense'. 'Au Pair Girls' is far from his finest hour, but worst was to come - he also wrote the scripts for 'Confessions Of A Window Cleaner' and Cannon and Ball vehicle 'The Boys In Blue' before, perhaps wisely, retiring.

Val Guest died in Palm Springs in 2006 aged 94, probably laughing and sitting on a stack of money, bless him.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Friday, 23 September 2011

Friday Night Film: Bartleby

'Bartleby' is an interesting film which has only recently re-emerged after forty years of (undeserved) obscurity. It tells of a languid and colourless young man who finds employment at a small accountant's office. At first he works conscientiously but, inexplicably, one day refuses to check a balance sheet when asked, simply saying that he would 'prefer not to'.

Within a short period of time Bartleby (who is living on the premises without permission) has withdrawn from work entirely, answering all reasonable requests with the same simple refusal: 'I prefer not to'. What is particularly odd is that Bartleby is not defiant in his resistance, he is almost entirely passive. When not staring blankly out of a window, he is walking the streets of the city, a meaningless figure in an enormous and unsympathetic landscape in which he has no part to play.

A recurring shot: little man in a big world...

...reduced to the status of an insect.





'Bartleby' is an oddly affecting film, melancholic and abstract. At the heart of the story, the title character remains unknowable: is he a depressive? A lunatic? Is his inaction a protest - or desperation? What else could have been done? I could go on - but I prefer not to.