It seems strange to see a film that I worked on now appearing among a rich selection of StudioCanal DVDs under the collective name, ‘Vintage Classics’.
For sure, my particular favorites such as The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Lion in Winter, Villain and Poor Cow deserve their place as classics, but so do The Cruel Sea, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Whisky Galore, The Lavender Hill Mob, The Blue Lamp, Billy Liar and Brighton Rock and so many more. To view this collection is like looking into a history of filmmaking in the UK and that deserves to be celebrated.
Nicolas Roeg’s translation of Walter Tevis’ The Man Who Fell to Earth is pure cinema and David Bowie is the perfect lead. Roeg shows us that you don’t need superheroes with expensive visual effects to tell an engrossing story of a possible future.
There has seldom been a screen actor of the caliber of Peter O’Toole or an actress with the presence of Katherine Hepburn, both of whom give inspired performances in The Lion in Winter. A searing play that has been transformed into a film to give us all a front row seat.
Since I first saw the film with my father, who spent part of the war behind German lines in the North African Desert, I have had a soft spot for J. Lee Thompson’s Ice Cold in Alex. The film was photographed by Gilbert Taylor, who went on to shoot Dr. Strangelove for Stanley Kubrick, as well as Cul-de-sac, Repulsion and Macbeth for Roman Polanski. Ice Cold in Alex is another of his visual masterpieces that, having experienced similar filming conditions myself, I can appreciate even more today.
I was surprised to see Cross of Iron in this selection. For me, Sam Peckinpah is one of the all-time great masters of cinema and although I don’t think this is his best by any means, he did direct The Wild Bunch, Guns in the Afternoon and Major Dundee after all, but any film directed by him is worth more than a passing look.