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Cul-de-Sac

UK 1966
produced by
Gene Gutowski, Michael Klinger, Tony Tenser, Sam Waynberg (executive) for Compton Films, Tekli British Productions
directed by Roman Polanski
starring Donald Pleasence, Francoise Dorléac, Lionel Stander, Jack MacGowran, Iain Quarrier, Geoffrey Sumner, Renee Houston, Robert Dorning, Marie Kean, William Franklyn, Jacqueline Bisset, Trevor Delaney
written by Gérard Brach, Roman Polanski, music by Krzysztof Komeda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A heist (we never learn what kind of heist) has obviously gone wrong for gangsters Albert (Jack MacGowran) and Richard (Lionel Stander), leaving both of them injured. But despite their car having broken down, they have managed to make a getaway and now seek abode in a castle on some peninsula that turns into a regular island during tide. From there, Richard desperately tries to phone their boss Katelbach while Albert is slowly dieing.

Problem is, the castle is not uninhabited, there is millionaire-turned-artist George (Donald Pleasence) and his wife Theresa (Francoise Dorléac), and while Albert finally dies for good, Richard plays his cat-and-mouse game with them, in which he takes more and more joy since George is way too much of a coward to put up any opposition, and even his wife gets more and more fed up with him.

Things take a turn however when George and Theresa receive unannounced visitors, Philip (Robert Dorning) and Marion (Marie Kean), their son Nicholas (Trevor Delaney), and their friends Cecil (William Franklyn) and Jackie (Jacqueline Bisset). Theresa immediately seizes the opportunity and introduces Richard as their butler, letting him do low menial jobs of all sorts, however, neither she nor George manage to really take full advantage of the situation despite the fact that Cecil has brought a loaded gun (solely for hunting purposes). Then though George explodes when young Nicholas rather accidently fires the gun and breaks one of the castles priceless painted glasses - but unfortunately George directs his anger at the wrong persons and throws Philip and Marion and company out - which means they are once more alone with Richard, who soon enough thinks it's payback time ...

Then however Richard learns that Katelbach won't be coming or sending help and he's all on his own - so he wants to acquire George's car. However, Theresa has since stolen Richard's gun and handed it over to George - who eventually gets in such a worked up state that he actually shoots Richard. But Richard, with his dieing breath, is still able to fetch his machinegun from his broken down car and prepares to shoot his hosts - when he finally falls over dead and when the machinegun goes off all it does is perforating George's car and blowing it up.

Killing Richard however has driven George totally over the edge, and when Cecil comes back - to fetch his gun of all things - he actively throws Theresa out and forces her to leave with Cecil.

The last image sees George sitting on a rock near the castle, whimpering, while the tide is coming back ...

 

Quite simply put, a great movie: A rather unlikely marriage of a gritty thriller in the Desperate Hours (1955, William Wyler) mold and absurd drama à la Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, handled by Roman Polanski who in the mid-1960's was at the height of his game and who seems to instinctively know how to make perfect use of the (limited but pittoresque) locations. Add to this a great cast (with the always dependable Donald Pleasence giving probably his finest performance) and a perfect score by Krzysztof Komeda and you've got one great movie.

Definitely recommended !!!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD