A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe

Major Cabot meets Joe Thanks at gunpoint

Supposedly the last western Sergio Leone worked on, 1975’s A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (aka Un genio, due compari, un pollo) has a ramshackle spaghetti western charm and an opening section which strongly recalls the beginning of Once Upon a Time in the West – it’s operatic, dramatic, largely silent and at the end of it there’s a plot reversal designed to shock and delight. It’s this section that was supposedly directed by Leone himself. With spanking wide vistas of Monument Valley and close-ups so vivid you can see sweat droplets forming, that must almost certainly be true. Damiano Damiani did the rest of it, poor guy, and the story here … Read more

The Hard Way

John Connor with rifle

1980’s The Hard Way sounds like the answer to several questions in a quiz with a special round on esoteric movie trivia. What’s the only film that Patrick McGoohan and Lee Van Cleef starred in together? What’s the only screen acting performance of the novelist Edna O’Brien? Michael Dryhurst has directed only one film – what is it called? Other interesting factoids for collectors of arcana include that the director John Boorman is The Hard Way‘s executive producer and that much of it is filmed in Wicklow, Ireland, where Boorman lived at the time. And that Henri Decaë is the cinematographer, the monster talent who did so much work with Jean-Pierre Melville. The … Read more

In My Mind

Patrick McGoohan and Chris Rodley in 1984

In My Mind is a close relative of one of those Nick Broomfield documentaries where, instead of making a film about his original subject, Broomfield tells the story of how he tried, but failed, to get his man or woman (see Tracking Down Maggie, about failing to get an interview with Margaret Thatcher, or Kurt and Courtney, in which he chased Courtney Love, to her increasing irritation). The person in question here is Patrick McGoohan and the film-maker is Chris Rodley, who in 1983 was sent to LA by Britain’s Channel 4 to film some interviews with McGoohan for an upcoming documentary about the cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner, which Channel 4 … Read more

Danger Man aka Secret Agent

Still from Season 1 episode 1

Is Danger Man one TV series or two? It has two entries on the IMDb. There’s this one, for the original series, which ran 1960-1962, and this one for its second coming, 1964-1967, when the show in some places (the USA for example) went by the name Secret Agent and had a snappier theme tune (High Wire, played on a muscular harpsichord). In its native UK it was always Danger Man. There is an argument for treating them as different entitities but in essence they are the same thing, united by the presence of Patrick McGoohan as John Drake, dry spy extraordinaire – no guns, no girls, no gadgets, initially at least. Along … Read more

Catch My Soul

Desdemona and Othello

What a strange beast Catch My Soul is. A rock musical released in 1974 to widespread indifference, if not jeers, it was directed by Patrick McGoohan, produced by Jack Good, starred Richie Havens and was an adaptation of the play Othello by William Shakespeare. There’s so much talent in here and yet… pfft. Thumbnail sketches of the above. McGoohan was the creator/co-writer/co-director/star of the 1960s cult TV series The Prisoner. Good had created “youth TV” in the UK, producing shows like Six-Five Special and Oh Boy!, before taking off for the US and reproducing the success with Shindig!. Havens was the charismatic singer-songwriter who had catapulted himself to fame after electrifying the Woodstock … Read more