Bleak and dismal tale of multiple murder
QITTING through 10 Iington Place ("X," Columbia) is inevitably a bleak and dismal experience. Again it brings up all the questions of the cinema's value as a recording instrument.
Ever since the Russians defined cutting, or "montage," as a principal element in film art, it has been clear that objective truth in actuality is not to be found in the cinema — as it may be in live television.
For the timing of life and film is not synonymous, and the record—however would-be documentary -must be selective.
This is not to call into question the truth or accuracy of "10 Killington Place"-only to point out that this careful reconstruction of the hideous crimes of John Reginald Christie, for which Timothy Evans was hanged, is bound to be selective.
Indeed, this account of the man's slow-planned murders of women in his squalid lodginghouse — filmed on the actual premises — could, I suppose, have been much more sensational.
The playing, the lighting, is deliberately subdued to show that this is a near-documentary account. One of the questions always seems to me to be why people want to watch the records of old crimes. but it is an idle one, since they do.
Of course, the factor that distinguished this grisly chapter of crime history from others In our time was the miscarriage of British justice whereby the wrong man was hanged, and only pardoned, exhumed and reburied 12 years later.
Richard Attenborough is a strange choice, by the actor himself and by the producers, for the seemingly irredeemable Christie, though Mr. Attenborough is evidently going through that stage of essays in versatile acting which a few great stars like Paul Muni and Bette Davis have brought off on the screen hut which in a way is anti-film acting.
John Hurt's performance, on the other hand, is brilliant as the chattersome but illiterate Evans, illuminating the poor, feeble mind that Christie was able to brainwash and bamboozle into confessing to the murder of his own wife and baby.
This illumination, I suppose, must be accepted as the justification of this exercise in screen criminology. But I still find it difficult to understand why people would want to watch it.
Barbara Loden is the American actress-wife of the celebrated director Elia Kazan. She is blonde, petite, intelligent. It is easy to understand that she enjoyed a stage success in the States in the Marilyn Monroe part in Arthur Miller's "After the Fall".
What is more startling is that she should have scored such an immediate and unanimous success with her first movie. Wanda ('AA' Academy One) is a real solo-piece, written, directed and in the main part acted by Miss Loden, and honoured both at Venice and at the London Film Festival.
In some ways it is almost a home-movie, shot in cinemaverite style on location in the Pennsylvania mining district. In its simplicity and directness of style is seems the very antithesis of Mr. Kazan's often ornate and lavish works. It is also surprising that Miss T.oden, whose husband is presumably of Greek immigrant origin, should you have chosen to make her story about an American girl of Polish immigrant, mining-class background.
Wanda (Barbara Loden) is a feckless, not ill intentioned drifter, incapable of coping with the difficulties of everyday life, Dropping out of one situation into another she drifts into a partnership in petty crime with her male equivalent (Michael Higgins).
Miss Loden's success, besides that of her own and Higgin's perfect performances, seems due to the intimacy and sym
pathy of her identification with the main character so that the picture all the time is concerned with, and concerns the spectator in the person, the individuals rather than the problem, which is a relief from the too frequent social tract or problem picture.
Stephen Dwosk in's oddly titled Times For (in 16mm.) has also collected some festival awards at Mannheim and San Francisco and will be given two showings to members only of the New Cinema Club at The Place. Although the photography is ingenious, eighty minutes of gyring and gimbling bodies become intolerably boring. I find it difficult to accept any of the more highfaulting interpretations or to see it as more than another contestant in the Most Erotic Film stakes.