Page 6, 25th June 1971

25th June 1971
Page 6
Page 6, 25th June 1971 — CHARMING CHEKHOVIANA

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Organisations: New Cinema Club


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THOSE in search of a change from current cinema stereotypes are once again advised to go out into the highways and byways to seek unusual variety: a Russian film in Bloomsbury, an American Indian film in Kentish Town, a Swedish film in Tottenham Court Road, and an Anglo-Danish one at Victoria.

A more conventional new offering. Trog ("AA," Rialto), is pseudo science-fiction with Joan Crawford heading medical research into the troglodytes. "Trog" may provide the evolutionists with their miming link, but seems below Miss Crawford's level as a costar.

Much the most attractive new picture is the Russian Chekliov's Love. This enchanting piece of "Chekhoviana" was shown to the Press by the New Cinema Club.

So far only four showings have been arranged for it in London — two in July, two in September — at The Place, 17 Duke's Road, W.C.1, but it seems sure to get a run.

"Lika" might be called background to the original stage production of "The Seagull" which. we are told, flopped at the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre in 1895, then triumphed at the Moscow Art Theatre for its jubilee.

The film is a deliciously stylised period piece presenting conversations between the principal characters i n Chekhov% life: his family, his writer friend and his sister's friend, Lika (Marina Vlady), linked by partings and arrivals at decorative railway stations.

I am not enough of a Chelchovian to recognise the story's deviations from known fact; and following the story needs either some knowledge of Russian or intense concentration on sub-titles. But I found it of rare elegance and charm, with such illuminating reflections and evocations of

the endlessly interesting Chekhov that I think "Lika, Chckhov's Love" well worth looking out for.

Harry Monter ("AA," Berkeley. Tottenham Court Road) is decidedly different from the expected Swedish film. The author-director Kjell Grede is here dealing with the

problems of an adolescent hero, Harry (Jan Nielsen), as tenderly, objectively and recognisably as he dealt with the kindergarten age in the delightful "Hugo a n d Josephine."

Harry is a sensitive young man at one of the difficult ages, trying to sort out his first tentative romances at the same time as he longs to help individuals and causes. These include an elderly, lonely

drop-out, both Harry's grandmothers, and above all his father and mother, the caprices and hazards of whose relations are beyond his youthful grasp.

The strains and pressures on the boy are developed with humour and humanity and Jan Neilsen's performance is perfect. All the characters are believably ordinary people, and Grede makes their problems absorbing.

One of Those Things ("X." New Victoria) is more what most people expect from a Scandinavian film, with the prescribed dosage of sex and a whiff of drugs without which it would be just as good. What distinguishes it is the novel set-up: an Anglo-Danish film, written, produced and directed by Danes (Erik Balling and Anders Bodelsen) in Denmark, but with British stars or rather some of our best players who are just not stars.

That fine actor Roy Dotrice, who has done such high quality work on television, plays Vinter, the automobile executive who, borrowing a car after a party, knocks over a man and kills him. Subse•

quently Suzanne 1Judy Geeson). owner of the car, blackmails Vinter into giving her a job and tries to wreck both his career and his marriage.

It's not an edifying story and certainly not a family film. But it is well made and consistently

entertaining, thanks largely to the excellent performance of all three principals — Dotrice, Geeson, and Zena Walker as the wife.

James Ivory's Bombay 'talkie was given a premiere at the National Film Theatre to open their Ivory season, but will be shown later to the wider public at the Venus Cinema, N.W.I, in July when I shall hope to review it.

Admirers of Ivory's "Shakespeare Wallah" and "the Guru" will be glad to recognise many of the same players, and also interested to find Jennifer Kendal (sister of Felicity) as the English novelist whose visit disrupts both the private life of the star (Shashi Kapoor) and the professional making of a "Bombay Talkie."

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