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Take Five: All Night Long (1961 or 62, depending on the source) - Laura Wise

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January 9th, 2014

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07:08 am - Take Five: All Night Long (1961 or 62, depending on the source)
Off to a profoundly busy day, but I first have to record a most amazing film I watched last night -- All Night Long, a 1962 Basil Dearden modern-day adaptation of Othello set in the London jazz world, with Patrick McGoohan as the adaptation's version of Iago.

(I actually hadn't planned to Netflix this right now, but some months ago I had gone on a McGoohan queuing spree after starting with a hopeless request for Doctor Syn, as you do, and through the vagaries of scheduling I got the DVD a couple of days ago.)

Anyway, it's amazing. Not good, necessarily, but amazing.

The time and place is one rainy night after-hours in a London "warehouse" owned by rich playboy Richard Attenborough (!), who saunters anxiously through the film in a bowtie. (The warehouse is derelict below and a vision of mid-century modern cool above, with a party level and then a spiral staircase to a posh private suite.) The party is being given for bandleader Aurelius Rex (played by Paul Harris) and his wife Delia (played by chanteuse Marti Stevens, who gets a couple of great 50s-cool numbers). This, like Othello's central pairing, is an interracial marriage, but that fact doesn't have the weight of Shakepeare, since the Cassio figure (played by Keith Michell) is a white man involved with a black woman: it's an almost integrated world here, especially in the background where real-life famous jazz players appear as themselves and jam throughout the show.

Yes, the first person we see is Charles Mingus. Dave Brubeck shows up and plays a solo, as does John Dankworth. (Dialogue as Dankworth arrives: "Nice to see you, Johnny. So sorry Cleo [a reference to his singer-wife Cleo Laine] couldn't make it.") It's just... wow.

The vibe is very much the first wave of London mod, by the way, the last wave of "grown-up" elegance before rock-and-roll took over. But there are also sort of hilarious missteps, including the wrong people calling other people "cats" and deploying other jazz slang, and the Cassio-is-DRUNK subplot is Cass-is-HIGH.

And as I said, Patrick McGoohan, playing American not quite seamlessly, is the conniving jazz drummer Johnny Cousins, who is Iago in this disastrous evening. It's his story more so than Rex's, and the ending of the film is different from Shakespeare's. It's just... that word I've repeated five times already. ;)

Link: the theatrical trailer.

And link because I can't think of a better way to start today, -- "Take Five," the Dave Brubeck instrumental which may be a bit of a cliche but which I love beyond the telling.

What cool new discoveries have you made lately? May you have many more. :)

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:January 9th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
It's been awhile since I've seen it, but yes, it's amazing.

Yay Patrick McGoohan! (Despite his slightly dicey American accent.)

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Date:January 9th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC)
McGoohan was really frightening in this one, I thought! Yet still cool underneath it all. :)

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Date:January 9th, 2014 10:34 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a fun film.
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Date:January 9th, 2014 10:42 pm (UTC)
It's actually rather grim and serious on the screen, but everything else is just so...amazing. :)

Cheers, Stevie!
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Date:January 10th, 2014 10:45 am (UTC)
a hopeless request for Doctor Syn

I think I saw that in the cinema when I was little and was very scared by it. It's one of those things that remain hopelessly unavailable.

A jazz world Othello sounds like an amazing concept!
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Date:January 10th, 2014 04:23 pm (UTC)
I only vaguely remember Dr Syn from a childhood viewing, but I thought it was scary too! Wish it would somehow become available...

I think you might find this movie fascinating, K -- but you should probably wait until the memory of the Lester-Kinnear Othello isn't QUITE so fresh. ;)


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