Sunday, 17 April 2011

Jazz and Jealousy. . .

I do love a movie with a good jazz score. I think of Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows with that great score by Miles Davis, Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder with music composed and played by Duke Ellington and his orchestra, and Elmer Berstein's score for Preminger's The Man With the Golden Arm.

So I was looking forward this afternoon to watching Basil Dearden's 1962 movie All Night Long. My DVD is part of Criterion's Eclipse Series #25: Basil Deardon's London Underground, a set of four movies by this British director. It's a retelling of Othello set among jazz musicians as a party is held for the first year anniversary of married couple Delia and Rex. He's the leader of a successful jazz band; she's a former singer who gave up her career for marriage. Johnny Cousin is the Iago in this film; a jealous drummer who wants a band of his own with Delia as its star, and who tries to break the couple up by feeding Rex's jealousy. You know the story; the ending won't quite be the same. It was all a bit melodramatic (thunderclaps at portentous moments) and the acting isn't terribly good. The party seems quite devoid of guests except for the main characters (no budget for extras, I suppose) and there's an awful lot of going in and out of rooms whenever Deardon needs some quiet for two characters to talk. Still, the music is terrific and the musicians include Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus and Tubby Hayes with enough camera time on them to let them rip. Their scenes are definitely the best bits of the movie.

I haven't given up on this set or Deardon though. I quite enjoyed Victim, a 1961 film about homophobia in England starring Dirk Bogarde, and next up will be 1960's The League of Gentlemen, a heist movie starring Richard Attenborough and Roger Livesey which looks like fun. 1959's Sapphire, about a murder that stirs up racial unrest, rounds out the set.

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