Twins of Evil

Lovely, charming, fetching, comely sisters lately of Venice, gone to live (their parents are dead) with their Puritan uncle Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing) in the shadow of Karnstein Castle and Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas).

Weil is a witchburner, Karnstein a killer of young women. Each is in service to a pride that is equated with vampirism, only a stake through the heart or decapitation will mend it.

An exhaustively treated analysis of the witch superstition (it omits the drive for money) as a form of pleasure like a libertine’s gone mad with raging lust, truly “you can’t tell them apart” but for a look of innocence and fear in the eyes of one (lovely and charming, that) and a mocking challenge in the other’s (fetching, comely) that make damnation seem a pleasure.

By the most ingenious and clever of scenic constructions, both are destroyed, yet one lives redeemed. The critics thought it was a come-on and a lot of spooky hooey, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.”


Treasure Island

With Welles, who co-authored the screenplay as O.W. Jeeves (the other name is Wolf Mankowitz).

The virtues of Haskin’s masterpiece are unassailable (pace Lindsay Anderson), this version elides the problem with a certain difficult trick or rather maneuver almost indefinably setting down the entire film from the boy’s perspective who narrates it as a man. As a stylistic point this is quite correct, the adventure is so much the more adventurous, even fantastical, for bluntly running against the understanding of a small boy, who now grown has a further sense of the cold-blooded murderer Long John Silver, whose name is gruesomely explained by grace of Mankowitz & Welles, who do not practice expurgation as a sovereign rule, owing to the rare angle of attack or simultaneously close and distant viewpoint.

Captain Flint’s buried treasure, assembled from the monies of all the world, “and for number, I’m sure they were like autumn leaves”, belayed by Ben Gunn for “a piece of cheese”.

To Halliwell’s Film Guide, “spiritless and characterless”, the captain is also a parrot.


Dirty Mary Crazy Larry

The idea is a robbery for the big time, Daytona and all that.

Mackendrick in Southern California for Don’t Make Waves is as accurate as Hough upstate in the farming communities, he finds perspectives early on, before the action starts, akin to Wayne Thiebaud’s angled views of landscape or cityscape.

“Just like Europe,” says Mary on parole, “no toilet paper.”

Critics thought little. “So bereft of emotion and so full of physical movement... a very small point to be made by such a noisy picture” (Vincent Canby, New York Times). Variety dismissed it.

“The locations are quite pretty and the car stunts are handled with a certain verve” (Time Out Film Guide, otherwise also dismissive).

Halliwell’s Film Guide wishes “the characters were not so disagreeable.”

Guy Hamilton has the precedence still in Live and Let Die the previous year.


Brass Target

The same material is dealt with factually in Delbert Mann’s The Last Days of Patton. The metaphorical expression here is Nazi gold, the reserves of the Reichsbank, elegantly stated at 250 million dollars’ worth.

Gen. Patton orders it seized, other elements in the U.S. command steal it, killing dozens of GIs in so doing. The Soviets taunt Patton, he looks down on their firing squads but “the Americans are thieves”, he promises to find every gold bar and shove them all up a general’s “Commie ass”.

Hence, he is eliminated. Critics had no idea what the point could possibly be. Vincent Canby of the New York Times described the director as “a man of ideas, all of them poor.” Variety considered those involved as “hamstrung by the material at hand.” Time Out Film Guide sums up the critics’ case, “pretty thin”, after swallowing a very red herring.

“Interminably complex”, says Halliwell’s Film Guide, “and talkative”.

Lucky Luciano is in the running at Great Meadow. The O.S.S. investigating officer is Sicilian.

The hit man, “best in the business”, has a Swiss cover, “binding up the wounds of a ravaged world.”

Hough practically cites The Stranger (dir. Orson Welles) in the bell tower scene. The concluding Alpine sequence achieves a very oneiric realism.


The Incubus

This is an ideal drive-in movie north of the 49th parallel, something to mush your sled team to and snuggle in with on a long, long winter night. It’s really quite charming in its way, like all the films John Cassavetes acted in as a later sideline to his directorial work, with minor themes delicately examined or posited. The rather grisly material blossoms into a phrase developed by Ken Russell in Salome’s Last Dance, and an understatement of Mickey Spillane’s Vengeance Is Mine, with John Ireland also braving the supernatural elements.