Inter-racial marriage, dope smoking...that's the sex and drugs. No rock-n-roll I'm afraid, just Elvis Costello's grandpappy playing some cool jazz tunes on the old joanna. Richard Atenborough sheds no tears while ex-Rank glamour boys Keith Michel and Patrick McGoohan get together one more time to play the good and the bad.
McGoohan plays the scheming drummer trying to start his own band. He has become squeezed by his potential backers who insist he must get Marti Stevens as his singer. Unfortunately for him Marti has fallen for the hulking Paul Harris. This white chick / black guy relationship proceeds with absolutely no comment from anyone, a refreshing change from the Hollywood routine of forcing Poitier to have to justify such things! To be truthful it is difficult to see what Marti sees in the guy, who is a real chauvinist, but such is love! He is the leader of a popular band but he has insisted his wife ended her singing career when they married.
McGoohan's plan then is to split the couple up. His main weapon in this regard is Keith Michel playing a reformed dope fiend who, as an old friend, Harris has kept on as his manager. McGoohan passes Michel a bizarre-looking spliff in a quiet moment to try and get him hooked-up again. This forms part of McG's scheme to create the illusion to Harris that his wife is 'playing away' with Michel.
The plotting becomes quite complex, with the inclusion of some incredible tape-to-tape equipment owned by the rich, upper-crust, but groovy cat: Richard Attenborough. McGoohan performs some sound engineering work worthy of a Danger Man episode to set up his final proof to Harris that Marti is unfaithful.
Throughout all this Dave Brubeck and the dudes flesh out some jazz while everyone clicks fingers as they get hep! The film has become mainly famous because of the capture of these guys on celluloid.
Aside from McGoohan, my favourite aspect of the movie is the fact that it was 1961, Mississippi was yet to start burning, yet the movie is impressively colour blind. The portrayal of the marriage of Marti and Paul and the sub-plot involving Michel fretting over whether to marry his black songstress girlfriend all proceed without skin colour even being mentioned.
The final scene is the best of the whole film. Betsy Blair and McGoohan play out a powerfully cruel dismemberment of their life together while McGoohan makes your hair prickle as he rips his own personality to shreds and then stamps on it. While you are still shuddering at his dysfunctional alienation the movie fades out with him slaying his drum-kit, alone in the emptied warehouse-apartment.
All Night Long
All Night Long
This movie, based on William Shakespeare's Othello, is neatly positioned as a vehicle to showcase some of the best jazz musicians of the period, including Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus.
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April 12, 2019 at 06:12 AM