Saturday, 18 April 2015

Friday, 17 April 2015

What If...?

If you're in St Helens town centre tomorrow there'll be no escaping Other Ways of Telling, the performance theatre group I am involved with, as we'll be performing our new free to view street theatre piece What If...? in Church Street at 12 noon, 1:30pm and 3pm

Ahead of the election next month we'll be imagining a world where democracy is being dead and buried thanks to the Rev Have-it-all and Big Business (played by me), where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and we'll be asking 'are you happy' with that?

Wish us luck! We've really worked hard at this rather last minute show, with 4 hour rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday and a stonking 6 hour rehearsal period today. I am truly knackered!

If you can't make tomorrow, we'll also be performing it at Liverpool's Unity Theatre on the evening of 5th May - see the theatre box office for details.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Out On Blue Six : Lisa Loeb

End Transmission

It Just Doesn't Add Up, Part 2

OK, let's break down the Tory pledges shall we?

And this is the party they tell us the electorate most trust on matters of the economy and fixing the deficit??

They've got their own deficit in their promises!

Let's face it, this is one massive I.O.U that will never be fulfilled. The funding will be thrown at the new Trident and the bankers whilst they all turn a blind eye to the tax loopholes their mates are skipping through.

Check out the Labour manifesto. Say what you will about them, but everything is effectively costed and there for all to see. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Vampires (1979)

Vampires is a really sweet Play For Today from 1979 which centres around three impressionable and imaginative Liverpool children and the effects a late night Hammer horror Dracula movie has on them.

11 year old Stu and 9 year old Davey are the brothers who, along with their best friend Dingo, watch Christopher Lee do his thing whilst their mother is out on the tiles securing a new 'uncle' for her two boys on a sea of booze and flirty charm. The following day, Stu's mind is full of Dracula and he skips school to cadge some pocket money off a previous 'uncle', chip shop owner Georgie (Hi-de-Hi's Paul Shane, possibly the most familiar face in the play) and goes to the local joke shop to but some toy fangs to scare his younger brother. But Davey has big news;  he and Dingo have seen a real life vampire down at the cemetery and the trio go off to investigate. The unwitting figure of their suspicions is played by John G Heller who appeared in the Clint Eastwood comic war film Kelly Heroes nine years earlier. 

This was Liverpudlian scriptwriter Dixie Williams sole writing credit as he tragically committed suicide the following year. His wonderfully evocative depiction of North Country children, their preoccupations and imagination is somewhat reminiscent of the writing of Barry 'Kes' Hines, so it's not surprising that one further Williams script Shooting Stars was later taken up and adapted by Hines for Channel 4 in 1990, directed by John Goldschmidt, the director of this Play For Today. Likes Hines' work, Williams doesn't shy away from the hard realities of life - the desperate desire the brother's mother has for a stable man in her life to provide for her and her two boys, their tragically prematurely deceased father who has placed them in such position, and the fatal heart attack Stu's teacher suffers in the middle of school assembly - but in the main he is more interested in the whimsical, borne of imaginations running riot, in the very real and perhaps more daunting and strange world around the boys. 

Goldschmidt delivers a very entertaining and nicely, flatly shot, constructed 50 minutes populated by the very natural talents of Peter and Paul Moran playing Stu and Davey and Tommy White as Dingo. What immediately strikes you about this casting is it's almost unheard of today; nowadays the production would cast from stage school and lose some of the realism and authenticity along the way. It's telling that neither the Morans or White appeared on TV again, whereas today I would imagine the stage school kids would use Vampires as a step towards bigger roles in a soap or a CBBC series. Indeed Goldschmidt (and TV at the time) isn't interested in professional faces, preferring to cast unknowns and inexperienced performers and give working men's club comedians like Shane and Bert Edgar (who plays the joke shop owner) key roles. In a blog entry from 2012 when Vampires received a festival screening, the director discusses the differences between making films in 1979 and making films today.

Vampires remains languishing in the vaults of the BBC, but there is a complete and good quality recording available to view on VeeHD.

To get the BBC to consider repeating some of these classic plays please sign the petition I started here

Wordless Wednesday : Jolly Hockey Sticks

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Out On Blue Six : Percy Sledge, RIP

God rest Percy Sledge, RIP

End Transmission

It Just Doesn't Add Up

Another day, another stupid promise from the Tories who seem to live on Cloud 9 when it comes to budgets and the economy. 

Today saw Spameron announce the manifesto, rolling out and extending the Right to Buy programme launched by Maggie Thatcher in the 80s.

Great. At a time when public housing is thin on the ground, they want to sell these houses to tenants! And they've no way of funding the scheme.

Speaking of which, please consider signing this petition which demands the Tories tell us before the election just where they intend to make £21bn in welfare cuts. Because this is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The party of the working people? Don't make me laugh.

Sign here

Last Night's Tele : Code of a Killer

Code of a Killer is the kind of ITV drama the channel can do in their sleep. It's just a shame therefore that they weren't more wide awake to do justice to the real life story the scientific breakthrough that would revolutionise police work the world over.

The drama tells the story of Dr Alec Jeffreys, the inventor of DNA profiling, meeting with DCS David Baker, a detective struggling to solve two linked murders in 1980s Leicestershire. Baker’s case has hit a brick wall: two teenage girls were raped and murdered in the same small town, three years apart, but the evidence, and suspects, are proving thin on the ground. As his tireless investigation comes to naught, we have the parallel storyline featuring Jeffreys equally tireless effort to make his theories on DNA stand up to scientific scrutiny.

As with a lot of these ITV crime dramas, there is an impeccable cast on display. John Simm, an actor I really like, plays Jeffreys, a bearded academic married to both Anna Madeley and his work, and not always in that order. I admire Simm's attempts to evade typecasting and broaden his range which has ostensibly occurred ever since he hung up his leather jacket in Life On Mars (a show which casts its shadow over the proceedings here with the recent history setting and Robert Glenister - brother of Phil aka Gene Hunt - playing a top brass copper) Since then he's portrayed the completely off his trolley incarnation of The Master in Doctor Who and a eyepatch wearing militiaman in The Devil's Whore, all a world away from his more traditional underplayed, contained screen persona. The role of Jeffreys affords him another change of pace as a bearded distracted and somewhat mannered scientist. Bit it doesn't always work to convince us and I think the reason for that is the script which offers him little to do except repeatedly explain the nature of the DNA code and genetic fingerprinting for the characters on the screen and the viewers at home. David Threlfall, whom Simm starred with back in the 90s in a rather lovely but largely forgotten sitcom entitled Men of the World, is on safer ground (familiar too given he played a copper in the recent, excellent BBC series What Remains) as DCS Baker, delivering a methodical and lugubrious character study which suggests a man who personally grieves for the victims he tries to get justice for.

Unlike a lot of these real life crime dramas that ITV make, Code of a Killer was NOT written by Jeff Pope, but by Michael Crompton instead who turns in a somewhat soggy, cliche ridden script that repeatedly hammers viewers over the head with the poor work/life ratio that Jeffreys has. In one wonderfully refreshing moment he pulls the rug from under our feet; Jeffreys receives a phone call from his wife, who we see sat at home in her coat, a suitcase by her side. "I'm leaving" she says...only for her to add "And you best be too" as it is revealed Jeffreys is simply late home for their family holiday and not, as we initially expected and suspected, about to lose his wife because of his obsessive research. Sadly this is the only time Crompton's script pulls this trick and it isn't long before we're back to the hoary old cliches which a dramatisation of a groundbreaking event in policing really does not deserve.

Despite the occasional flaw in the all too familiar script, Code of a Killer remains watchable thanks to the cast involved (along with Threlfall, Simm, Glenister and Madeley there's Inbetweeners star Lydia Rose Bewley, Lorcan Cranitch and Andrew Tiernan), the real circumstances it is depicting and some quality direction from James Strong, who maintains a sensitive touch, mindful of the victim's families, whilst still keeping a suspenseful pace for the sake of drama.  The period look of the 80s is also beautifully and authentically brought to the proceedings too.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Go Green? and The Homeless Period

As we approach the General Election next month I have had cause to contact the political candidates standing in my area (St Helens South and Whiston) on two linked issues that are effecting or are likely to effect the NHS; the threat of TTIP and the BMA's fear that post election, patients may be charged for basic services.

I sent the round robin letter, drafted by 38 Degrees, to John Beirne the UKIP candidate, Brian Spencer the Liberal Democrat candidate, Marie Rimmer the Labour candidate, James Chan the Green Party candidate and Gillian Keegan the Conservative candidate.

The first letter concerning TTIP was sent exactly one month ago, the second one was sent last week. On each occasion only one candidate has bothered to reply to me was James Chan of the Green Party. Not only did he reassure me in each reply that, as both a prospective politician and as an A+E doctor, that he will do all he can to protect the NHS, but he also replied promptly on each occasion - within days in fact - whilst UKIP, Labour, Lib Dem and the Tories remain silent to the concerns of their constituents.

Is it any wonder people are getting pissed off with the Big Three parties when they can't even be arsed to communicate with us? What's frustrating is that St Helens has always been a Labour town (my dad can recall a teacher at his school informing the class that 'a pig in a red rosette' would get elected in St Helens) and they are clearly blase and arrogant that their election to office is a done deal, despite Marie Rimmer, a three time St Helens council leader, awaiting trial in Scotland for assault. I am naturally a born and bred Labour supporter but I have for decades now been disenchanted with their lack of traditional socialism at the core of their party's aims and intentions. I *think* that I do want to see Ed Miliband at Number 10 (anyone but the Tories! And a half hearted Labour is better than no Labour at all) but I don't really want to give my vote to someone like Marie Rimmer, with her less than illustrious past and her lazy attitude towards the people of St Helens.

Right now, I'm thinking James Chan has my vote and I will be popping down to the hustings event at St Helens Parish Church at 7:30 this Friday

Also, did you know homeless shelters do not have an allowance to buy sanitary care for women and yet they do have one to purchase condoms for men? Please take a moment to watch this video and then, please sign the petition to get homeless women access to sanitary care products

Sign it here


Sunday, 12 April 2015

RIP Viv Nicholson

Viv Nicholson, the former liquorice factory worker who at 25 became a household name overnight for winning £152,000 on the pools in 1961, has died aged 79.

Announcing she would 'Spend! Spend! Spend!' the winnings - £3.5m in today's money - rocketed Nicholson to notoriety and her life formed the basis of the classic Play For Today penned by Jack Rosenthal entitled Spend Spend Spend and a West End musical in 1999. She also became the face of The Smiths song Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now when the above photograph was used as the single's cover art.

Unfortunately, money didn't make Viv happy and her life was beset by tragedy; her husband Keith, the miner whose numbers came up for the legendary win, died in a car crash in 1965, leaving Viv with a huge tax bill that left her bankrupt. Struggling with alcoholism and the psychological effects that came from the pools win, Viv moved to Malta but was later deported following a fight with a policeman. On her return to England she eked out a living singing Big Spender in a Manchester strip club. She married a further three times, but lost her second husband to another car crash and her third to a drug overdose. In 2009 she developed dementia and lost her battle with the condition yesterday, April 11th. 


Violent Playground (1958)

Violent Playground is a 1958 Basil Dearden film clearly influenced by the rock and roll social issue films from the States such as Blackboard Jungle. The film focuses on a Liverpool street gang led by Johnny Murphy (David McCallum) who come under suspicion by Stanley Baker's local Juvenile Liaison Officer Sergeant Truman for a spate of arson across the city, but his investigation is somewhat complicated by his growing romantic feelings for Johnny's sister (Anne Heywood)

In his seminal book Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Stanley Cohen investigates the way in which the media and the establishment are able to define a group as a threat to societal values and interests, leading to the titular 'moral panic' that marginalises and vilifies such groups in the popular imagination. He did this by specifically looking at the screaming headlines that occurred as a result of the Bank Holiday fights between the Mods and Rockers, defined as riotous unnatural behaviour at the time but actually the cost and nature of damages that fateful weekend are on record as being little different to previous Bank Holidays. The political powers and mass media whipped up a frenzy concerning dangerous youths and, in Violent Playground, it's clear to see the start of this in one particularly unintentionally hilarious scene which depicts rock and roll music as a negative, somewhat satanic influence upon McCallum and his fellow Teds. Stumbling upon them dancing to their dansette record player, Baker is silently horrified to see them writhe wildly about before dissolving into a trance like state as they approach him with menace. It's utterly ridiculous - Baker's reaction is as if he's seen some Black Mass in which McCallum is simultaneously fucking and stabbing a pig rather than cutting a rug in the most embarrassing of fashions. Watching it now from a 21st century perspective it's odd to see rock and roll music portrayed as evil, whilst Baker's 'nice guy' cop offers up the marital advice of "Why don't you wallop her?"

Cringeworthy moments aside, Violent Playground still has much fun to offer as well as providing key roles for Chinese and black actors, a rarity at the time and further proof of Dearden's progressive style in British cinema. Unfortunately, despite filming extensively around Liverpool, Dearden doesn't seem as interested in depicting genuine Liverpudlians on screen and only a young Freddie Starr as one of Johnny's admiring acolytes delivers an authentic scouse accent in the whole production. It's a film full of familiar faces, headed up by Stanley Baker delivering a reliable if somewhat dull performance (I think Baker was always better suited to toughs on the wrong side of the law - except for his star turn as a Manchester detective in the excellent Hell Is A City) and his relationship with Heywood is somewhat anemic, struggling with some truly cliched dialogue - even for 1958. Peter Cushing also pops up as the parish priest but he offers a strange softly spoken monotonous delivery that makes you long for McCallum to turn into a vampire just to give him the chance to wield a crucifix in his direction and liven his role up a bit. 

Violent Playground isn't one of Dearden's best and it failed to make McCallum Britain's answer to James Dean or Brando, but a below average Dearden is better than others firing on all cylinders. It does have some suitably tense moments particularly in its climactic (though rather drawn out) finale which features him holding the pupils of Scotland Road Primary (in reality a school in London!) hostage with a tommy gun. It gains personal interest for anyone familiar with Liverpool - such as myself - and affords us a chance to compare and contrast the cityscape then and now and feel strangely nostalgic for the likes of Gerard Gardens, now long demolished.

Gerard Gardens in Violent Playground

And in 1987, just prior to demolition - note the graffiti

Robin Redbreast (1970)

Robin Redbreast gained the accolade of being the first Play For Today to get a repeat, just months after its initial broadcast. It's second and last screening on TV occurred in the February of 1971, yet it's deeply surreal and eerie narrative had firmly ingrained itself on many a TV lover's conscious and it's impact can still be clearly felt on many of a certain generation, either in idle chat down the pub -  'Anyone remember Robin Redbreast?', 'Yeah, what the bloody hell was that about?' -  or in the works of that delightfully devilish quartet, The League of Gentlemen. It's writer, John Bowen, can take pride in creating a uniquely singular and disturbing TV event that is hard to shake off. 

Warning: This Blog Post Contains...

Anna Cropper stars as Norah Palmer (a character who had previously appeared in Bowen's novel The Birdcage) a 35 year old distinctly middle class television script editor who has recently broke up with her lover. In an attempt to rebuild her life, she opts for that then modern fad for 'getting your shit together in the country', and takes up residence in an old cottage. 

The village is typical in its folk horror tropes and the full array of odd and sinister locals are on display, including the learned, bespectacled and much admired Fisher (Bernard Hepton) the stout housekeeper Mrs Vigo (Freda Bamford) and Rob (Andrew Bradford) also known as Robin, whose attractiveness and half naked karate practice immediately catches Norah's eye. 

She arranges a dinner date at her cottage with home one evening, but is dismayed to find he is dull and has poor social skills as befits his far from worldly character. Seduction is most definitely off the menu until she is frightened by a screaming bird in the chimney (just one of the many unwanted animal intruders the cottage is beset with) Comfort from Rob turns to sex, and Norah - whose dutch chap mysteriously vanishes for the night - falls pregnant. She begins to suspect that the villagers have arranged for this to happen, fearing she is their broodmare she returns to London, and her fey, urbane friends (Julian Holloway and Amanda Walker - playing the kind of characters still likely to appear in LoG alumni Shearsmith and Pemberton Inside Number 9) intent on having an abortion, but ultimately finds she cannot go through with it. 

When she returns to the cottage, she is prevented by the locals from leaving before Easter Sunday, which they consider crucially important. Her car is sabotaged and her phone disconnected and she becomes convinced that she is going to be sacrificed in some Pagan ritual on that date. But the twist is that a woman's blood is no good for the land and the villagers plan is to sacrifice Rob. Indeed they have nurtured him, treated him like a king and pampered him all his life precisely for this fate, dismembered by axe, his blood used to enrich the soil and the next harvest - as in the Pagan legends of John Barleycorn, Robin of the Dale, Robin Hood and The Golden Bow. The villagers go on to explain to Norah that they want her child to be the 'new' Robin. She refuses and is finally allowed to leave the village, because no one would ever believe her tale. When she glances back, she sees that the locals have all been transformed into their pagan equivalents with Fisher resplendent in antlers as Herne the Hunter.

Fans of folk horror will love Bowen's tale, which treads a similar path to the more well known and celebrated productions like The Wicker Man. But Robin Redbreast stands apart from that illustrious contemporary in some clever and satisfying variations on the genre's themes. Take for example how open and blase the villagers are with Norah about what is going on; when she notices that a drainpipe has been pulled away from her house Fisher clearly and matter of factly states “I should say it was somebody on your roof”. He even goes on to more or less admit that her car has been deliberately sabotaged when he says  “One would be bound to notice. To crack the rotor from the outside, as it were. With scissors, say.” This is not your typical villager conspiracy thriller, they're actively challenging Norah to join the dots at each turn, but Norah proves unable to do so for whatever reason and remains struck with fear at the red herrings instead, unable to see the bigger picture. 

Sight too is a big metaphor within Bowen's tale and director James MacTaggart delights in some atmospheric visual motifs playing upon such a theme; be it a marble stone Norah finds and likens to an eye, Hepton's round spectacles, the eyes of dead animals or the truth of the conspiracy Norah cannot 'see' until that final moment even though they are in plain sight all around her. 

Robin Redbreast has been released on the BFI label to DVD but many other classic Play For Today's remain languishing in the BBC vaults.

To get the BBC to consider repeating some of these classic plays please sign the petition I started here

Silent Sunday : Lovely Rita, Meter Maid

Saturday, 11 April 2015

All Night Long (1962)

Firstly before we start, let's just take a moment to acknowledge how beautiful this poster is. 

Isn't it just a thing of design brilliance?

Director Basil Dearden delivers a Noirish curio in All Night Long, an entertaining update of Shakespeare's Othello set in the London jazz scene of the early '60s. In reworking the Bard, the scriptwriting team of Nel King and 'Peter Achilles' - the pseudonym for blacklisted exiled American Paul Jarrico -  shift some of the focus from the titular character of the Moor, depicted here as jazz band leader Aurelius Rex (Paul Harris) and onto his duplicitous, malevolent drummer Johnny Cousin played to slimy, jittery perfection by the great Patrick McGoohan. 

The action takes place almost exclusively in the converted dockland warehouse pad of a titled music patron played by Richard Attenborough (who seems three decades ahead of the yuppie trend for London's Docklands warehouse conversions) who is busy preparing a surprise first year anniversary party for Rex and his bride, Delia (Marti Stevens) Milling around the pad, setting up their instruments and helping themselves to a drink is a truly eclectic and diverse cast which includes real jazz greats like Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Johnny Dankworth ("Sorry Cleo couldn't make it!"), Johnny Scott and Tubby Hayes as well as the likes of Bernard Braden as a recording studio money man, Keith Michell as Cass, the Cassio role naturally, Harry Towb, Betsy Blair and in a brief uncredited role, future Ken Loach favourite Carol White. 

McGoohan's Johnny stalks around the proceedings dripping poison in everyone's ear as he attempts to manipulate the evening's events to propel himself into the big time, smuggling away Delia from the group and her marriage to be his singer. The plot stays pretty close to Shakespeare (until the end, at least) and neatly embraces the contemporary using such props as doctored tape recordings and cigarette cases as plot devices used to further Johnny's web of lies. Race and more specifically racial politics is alluded to in the mature way one would expect from Dearden who was also responsible for Sapphire and Flame In The Streets and one doesn't have to imagine how rare the film's progressive use of mixed-race couples was for early '60s cinema.

The dated hipster dialogue may appear occasionally contrived or just plain cringeworthy to some but I think it lends to the retro appeal now inherent in the production, and at least its delivered relatively well by the assembled cast. Certainly, Attenborough may have been a little too long in the tooth to truly convince in his role but he serves as a strong and reassuring ballast and master of ceremonies for the more unknown and inexperienced actors around him.  

It's fair to say the film belongs to the powerhouse McGoohan, who plays his own drums here (and I couldn't help but think of the intro to The Prisoner every time Dearden showed the darkening storm clouds and had thunder claps fill the air) but Paul Harris' dignified and hurt Rex is also worthy of strong praise. 

Wisely, the real-life musicians aren't expected to act all that much in terms of the drama that occurs around them and Dearden uses them primarily as credible background decoration, before shifting them to the foreground to do what they do best and enliven the proceedings with their musical talent.

Ginger & Rosa (2012)

Ginger & Rosa is a strange one. It's premise of a young girl and CND supporter troubled by her closest friend's betrayal and the possibility of nuclear destruction during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is one that instantly draws me in and yet I must admit to feeling somewhat detached and kept at arms length by the Sylvia Plath like mannered, middle class angst on display here, depicted by a group of Americans pretending to be British. This, combined with the early 60s set design and costumes and the jazz music on the soundtrack, slots Ginger & Rosa neatly into what I'd call the angst chic category.

Directed by Sally 'Orlando' Potter, Ginger & Rosa features a stunning performance from the young American actress Elle Fanning, playing Ginger. I believe she was just 13/14 at the time of the shoot, which makes her open, skillful portrayal here, complete with a more or less convincing English accent, all the more impressive. The other half of the titular duo, Rosa, is played by Australian actress, Alice Englert who is in fact Jane Campion's daughter and making her cinema debut here. The pair play firm friends who have been inseparable all their life, ever since their mothers (Christina Hendricks and Jodhi May) gave birth to them side by side in fact. But when Rosa starts to notice Ginger's caddish pacifist father played by Alessandro Nivola, (another American actor adopting an English accent) in a sexual way, the irrevocable fault lines start to show in both the girls friendship and Ginger's mental health, leading her to channel her hurt into campaigning for CND.

I worship Christina Hendricks, but though she looks as beautiful as always here (be still my beating cock) she isn't especially convincing in the role of a woman who sacrificed her talent for painting to bring up Ginger and dote upon and bake for Roland, her shit of a husband who genuinely seems to think fucking his daughter's best friend is somehow a protest against the petite bourgeoisie constraints society enforce upon us. Her accent doesn't convince either; falling into the same trap many US actors do when picked to play a Brit, she essentially delivers her dialogue in clipped, RP manner which occasionally veers dangerously close to Van Dyke territory (look out for a scene which she says 'boil an egg') 

Ginger & Rosa is a rather short film, running at around 80 minutes, but still very little seems to happen in it. Indeed most of the action really occurs in the final 10 minutes lending it a suitably apt explosive climax for a film in which the threat posed by the Bomb looms large. It's a shame Potter didn't feel the need to open up some of the other characters to create something more interesting and even handed. Jodhi May is a great actress but reduced to walk on status here as Rosa's mother, whilst Rosa herself - a very interesting character - is barely explored, which is frustrating given her pivotal impact on the storyline and surely there would be some mileage in looking at just why she fell for Roland and what makes her tick? It's as if Potter simply found Ginger or Fanning's performance the only thing of real interest. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the message or central question that Potter poses to the audience; is Ginger's passionate idealism and radical protest a symptom of her emotional pain, of mental distress or is she in fact wholly sane and simply depressed because of the prospect of impending annihilation? Overall this is an intelligent teenage movie that largely just about sidesteps any accusations of precociousness or pretension though I feel I would have enjoyed it more were I actually a teenager myself.

I would love to have Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt as my gay godfathers though! But they have to leave Annette Bening at home - she was a bit annoying and overall superfluous to the proceedings.

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Trap (1966)

It may be a bit of hoary old melodrama set in the rugged wilds of nineteenth century Canada, but I've always had huge affection for The Trap, a somewhat overlooked and largely forgotten mid 60s Anglo/Canadian production starring Oliver Reed as the lusty fur trapper Jean La Bete and Rita Tushingham as the mute young girl he buys to become his bride, Evie. I think it was seeing it with my Dad one evening back in the 80s or early 90s that did it, and of course, I defy anyone here in the UK not to be familiar with its rousing, stirring theme tune from the great Ron Goodwin, shared below - the BBC use it as their theme for the London Marathon coverage every year.

The dramatic and savage story centres around the constant battle for survival by man against nature and his personal loneliness. As the gregarious Le Bete, Reed arrives into a small coastal trading port with money to spend on wine, women and song. Women especially being on his agenda - he wants a bride to take back to his hunting shack in the mountains and lakes of British Columbia. However, he's too late for the yearly auction of women convicts from across the border in America and, thanks to a duplicitous evil stepmother, he purchases the traumatised Eve (Tushingham) who has been mute ever since she saw her real family massacred by Indians.

This was Reed's big break away from the Hammer horror films he had learned his trade on and he grabs the role with great relish and enthusiasm, making every inch of this physical, uncultured giant palpable. It is of course in stark contrast to his leading lady, the timid Tushingham whom he christens 'little rabbit' and whom naturally loathes him at first but, somewhat inevitably, learns to love both him and the rugged way of life he introduces her to. Tushingham was just 23 at the time and fresh from Richard Lester's The Knack, which couldn't have been more different. She gives a wonderfully expressive and physical performance as befits a role which affords her not one line of dialogue across the 100 minute duration.

The Trap is a good old fashioned ripping yarn shot on location on the lakes and in the forest of British Columbia, it is strikingly beautiful and, even if on occasion Reed and Tushingham are clearly taking potshots at National Geographic footage, director Sidney Hayers captures an impressive and authentic air to the proceedings enlivened by superb playing from its young assured leads and that superb Goodwin score.