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sexual inadequacy (he is still a virgin in his mid-30s) being imbri- cated with his desire to predict the exact moment of his demise. Amusing use is made of the sexual connotations of fish, which Nightingale initially insists he is not fond of, but later devours greedily. This is simultaneously the most fascinating and frustrat- ing episode, its potential thematic richness ill-served by director Alan Cooke, who appears to be aim- ing for a comic tone never quite achieved. Brett’s performance oc- casionally recalls Gustav von Wangenheim’s Hutter in Murnau’s NOSFERATU (1922), and though this is an apt choice, given the German setting, a more restrained actor might have better suggested the screenplay’s complexities. This is the only episode Muller person- ally adapted for the novelization, and it comes across far more impressively on the page. The cred- ited editor on this segment is David Mingay, later the co-director of RUDE BOY (1980).


Like “Countess Ilona” and “The Werewolf Reunion,” the fifth episode, “Lady Sybil” (51m 42s), has a 1976 copyright, and seems to have been produced earlier than the other segments. One noteworthy thing about these three episodes is that they contain no mention of death being a punish- ment for failing to impress the Club of the Damned’s members— perhaps this aspect was conceived at a later date. “Lady Sybil” boasts what is surely the finest cast in this series. Cathleen Nesbitt (who had recently ap- peared in Hitchcock’s FAMILY PLOT) stars as Sybil Manners, a forbidding widow who domi- nates her two middle-aged sons, Geoffrey (Denholm Elliott) and Edward (John Osborne, author of LOOK BACK IN ANGER), but is ter- rified of a mysterious phantom haunting her estate. Also in the cast are HAROLD AND MAUDE


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author Colin Higgins and Leslie French (perhaps best remem- bered for his role as Chevally in Visconti’s THE LEOPARD). Like “Mr. Nightingale,” this is a tale of split identity (though there is some clever misdirection concern- ing exactly whose identity is split) which hints at but ultimately re- jects a supernatural explanation. As so often in this series, there is an emphasis on the family as a source of horror, with masculine attempts to resist “the intolerable tyranny of women and children” inevitably leading to insanity. This theme is again explored in Episode 6, “Viktoria” (49m 11s), the only segment helmed by a di- rector of auteurist interest, Peter Sasdy. It is also the only one not written by Robert Muller, the screenwriter being Sue Lake, who was credited as “script associate” on the three 1976 episodes. Ap- propriately, this is also the only tale with a female narrator. The plot involves a young girl, Viktoria (Mia Nadasi), whose invalid mother, Elizabeth (Mia Nadasi, who also plays Viktoria as an adult in the framing scenes), is murdered by her father, Paul Strickland (Lewis Flander). Fol- lowing this event, the household’s nanny, Kati (Susan Richard), gives Viktoria a doll which the girl be- comes obsessed with. Strickland marries a woman named Theresa (Catherine Schell), whom he ne- glects—preferring to spend time with a male friend for whom he has barely acknowledged desires— and is subsequently murdered by the possessed doll. Like Dracula in Sasdy’s TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (1969), Viktoria’s doll is both the figure upon which all the familial/sexual tensions accumulate, and the means of their resolution (via a form of de- struction seen as eminently desir- able), the disposal of the patriarch leaving the way clear for Viktoria to be raised by two women—


Theresa and the governess Mar- garet (Judy Cornwell)—whose re- lationship is overtly homoerotic. Pushing against the restraints of the Gothic, Lake and Sasdy ren- der the vengeful females (both human and supernatural) sympa- thetic, taking an almost gleeful joy in patriarchy’s overthrow by a female conspiracy.


The seventh episode bears the onscreen title “Night of the Mari- onettes” (49m 38s), though the novelized version is more elo- quently called HEIRS, OR THE WORKSHOP OF FILTHY CRE- ATION. Gordon Jackson plays Howard Lawrence, a Byron spe- cialist who visits the Villa Diodati for research purposes. While stay- ing at a nearby inn, he witnesses a puppet show which tells a highly sexualized version of the Franken- stein story, and realizes Mary Shelley must have based her novel on this narrative, which has been passed down from genera- tion to generation of puppeteers. But strange goings on at the inn suggest the truth may be even more sinister. Although Alan Cooke, director of the extremely flawed “Mr. Nightingale,” was be- hind the camera, this is among the most visually sophisticated episodes, the lengthy puppet show being a particular highlight. Kathleen Byron, best known for her collaborations with Michael Powell, plays Lawrence’s wife Elspeth, and there are numerous echoes of Powell’s THE RED SHOES (1948).


The final episode, “Dorabella” (52m 3s), is another highlight. Philip Hambleton (David Robb) tells the Club of the Damned about how his friend Walter van Lamont (Jeremy Clyde) fell in love with a woman, the eponymous Dorabella (Ania Marson), who turned out to be a vampire. The vampire’s name is taken from a character in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte,” and Muller wittily has her


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