This outlaw got more than a horse
HAZARDS of filmgoing increase as the industry's prosperity dwindles. Even Cardinal Flume's appeal has not been able to elicit any hope of protection for Britain from the plans of a Danish producer to make in this country a pornographic film of the sex life of Our Lord.
Nor has Equity found it within its province to discourage members from taking part in such an exercise in blasphemy although, as Charles Pemberton pointed out in his letter to The Times, the actors' trade union did not hesitate to forbid its members to work in South Africa on account of apartheid.
Meanwhile, categories of censorship itself grow more and more flexible. Once upon a time, if people accused me (as they often do) of reviewing unsuitable movies, it seemed safe to shelter behind an "X" certificate as signalling a filM's unsuitability for the family. It is no longer possible to rely on "X" for a shield. Repeatedly an innocuous film is loaded with a more or less irrelevant scene calculated. if not in the old definition "to deprave and corrupt", at least to shock and to titillate. The resulting movie can go nut wearing an "AA" certificate — that is, allowed to anybody. over 14. A good instance is From Noon Till Three ("AA". London Pavilion), evidently intended as a lighthearted Western comedy which could amuse the whole family. Outlaw Graham Dorsey (the ubiquitous Charles Bronson) arrives with his gang, but without his horse, at the desert mansion of widow Amanda Starbuck (Jill Ireland). The gang are sent off for the after noon to raid a bank, but Dorsey stays behind ostensibly to try to borrow a horse. When Amanda refuses him the horse, he settles, by a singularly unseemly con-trick, for the lady. After a series of wildly impossible adventures, Amanda declares her love for the outlaw before the whole populace. In a flash Dorsey and Amanda become hero and heroine of a folk-romance and of a popular Western paperback. Amanda reigns as hostess of a frequented desert stately home. Dorsey, having changed clothes with an itinerant dentist, finds himself in danger of losing his identity for life.
The point is not developed as wittily as it might be, but the joke is funny. It could have been just as funny and more widely acceptable without such an explicitly perverse seduction scene to start it off.
Who's That Knocking at My Door? ("AA", Gate, Notting Hill) is what might be called a straight "double AA", the attempted candid drama of a young man's adolescence in New York's "Little Italy". Boy (Harvey Keitel) meets Girl (7ina Bethune) on a ferry and they tall in love, he film is primarily of interest as the first feature by Martin Scorsese who made "Taxi-Driver". The boy's Italian and Catholic background are palpable as he makes his clumsy attempt to explain the difference between the kind of girl one may marry and a "broad".
When the girl, on the other hand, confesses to her own youthful misfortune of having been raped, he eventually offers to forgive her with a catastrophic complacency any girl would find hard to forgive.
Even this straightforward "AA" movie is marred by an interpolated fantasy sequence which both un
balances the theme and takes the film much further into "X" country.
This is a minor movie, but there are truths in it, and in the street
scenes and busy flashes of the by and his companions more than a hint of Scorsese's incipient power and talent.
One movie which frankly flaunts its "X" certificate is Bob Raffelson's Stay Hungry shown at the Edinburgh Festival last week.
This picture opens innocently enough in the Deep South. In elegant Alabama Craig Blake (Jeff Bridges), heir of an aristocratic house, looks about amiably enough for something to do.
Persuaded to join a real-estate syndicate, his job is to buy the "Olympic Spa', a health club where the giant Jo Santo (Arnold Schwarienegger) is being trained for the "Mr Universe" contest, Between body-building and night club life. Craig takes up with the spa receptionist (Sally Field) and, much to the disapproval of William (Scatman Crothers) the old black family retainer, relaxes into a life of idle pleasure which soon irritates the members of the syndicate. With body-building, vehement exercises and karate getting more and more frenzied and the spa being sacked, proceedings get more unintelligibly frantic for Craig until a big society party turns into the chaos of a veritable orgy which transforms the face of the film from what had seemed innocent children's games. A single line accounts for the title, which has nothing to do with the Third World, The movie is a sad disappointment coining from Bob Raffelson, director of one of Jack Nicholson's best pictures, "Five Easy Pieces".
At the Screen on Islington Green Jack Nicholson can he seen today and tomorrow with Marlon Brando in Arthur Penn's handsome Western, Missouri Breaks.