Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Totally confusing

I watched "The Quare Fellow" (1962) a film adaptation of Brendan Behan's play...adapted and directed by Arthur Dreifus in the most amateurish way possible.  I actually wondered if it was his first film so I looking him up on and found this --

German-born choreographer Arthur Dreifuss emigrated to the U.S. in 1928, starting work as a theatrical producer in New York. He went to Hollywood, first as a dance director in the 1930s, then, from 1940, turning out a steady stream of B-movies for Sam Katzman at Monogram Studios. He is best known for 'Quare Fellow' (1963), based on a play by Brendan Behan.

He did a lot of "B" movies in the 30's and 40's...and I can see why he never moved beyond them; he had the storytelling ability of a lump of coal...and this was a story that needed an Irish poet.  A new prison warden (guard) finds his views changing as the execution of a condemned man (the quare fellow, Irish slang for a man about to be hanged) approaches.  He meets the man's wife, learns information that might save the man's life and nearly destroys his career and reputation in trying to do something about it.

I've read the play and it's a very strong piece, but you'd never know that from this adaptation.  The movie is lumpy and badly staged, with a minimal sense of rhythm.  I mean, there's even a fight sequence that's so inept, my jaw dropped.  Fortunately, he had Patrick McGoohan as his lead, and the man was excellent.  Not so, Sylvia Syms, who couldn't even cry convincingly with her back turned.

The main saving grace was a half-hour bit about Brendan Behan's Dublin in the extras folder.  It added to my knowledge about the Irish way of life in the middle 60's.

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