Tag Archives: Suzy Kendall

Assault (1971)

assault1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Schoolgirls attacked by rapist.

One day after school Tessa (Lesley Ann-Down), a teen who attends a local British high school in rural England, decides to cut through the nearby woods as a shortcut on her way home. As she treks through the forest an unseen assailant attacks her, which leaves her in a catatonic state. A few days later, despite the warnings, another female student goes into the woods and is later found murdered. The police inspectors (Frank Finley, James Cosmo) have idea who it could be and are unable to come-up with any leads, which frustrates the local teacher Julie West (Suzy Kendall). She decides it’s up to her to nab the culprit, so she uses herself and some of her students as bait to lure the killer out. She drives into the woods in a station wagon, but then the car gets stuck. While she tries to back it out she gets a glimpse of the perpetrator’s face as he deposits another of his victims, but when she describes to everybody what he looks like, saying he has the face of the devil, everyone thinks she’s gone mad.

This is another one of those British thrillers where in an attempt to gain more interest in the film the studio would release it under different titles. In the US the film was known as ‘In the Devil’s Garden’ to take advantage of the possession craze that was occurring after the release of The Exorcist and then a few years later it got re-released under the title ‘Satan’s Playthings’ and billed as a provocative story with erotic overtones. In either case the plot, which is based on the novel ‘The Ravine’ by Kendal Young, comes-off more like a cop drama/mystery than a horror flick.

That’s not to say it’s bad as director Sidney Hayers throws in some good touches. The attack on the girl is well handled using a hand-held camera that makes it seem unrehearsed and sudden. For a British thriller it’s even kind of racy. Normally films from England are quite timid about showing nudity, blood, or violence, but this thing does push-the-envelope a bit, far more than I was expecting, while still remaining ‘tasteful’ enough not to come under the ire of the British censors. The pounding music score helps create an urgent mood and grabs your attention at the start though it gets overplayed by the end and resembles a score heard on a cop TV-show.

The acting is good, but seeing Down looking so young and appearing much different from what we’re used to seeing her now kinda threw me off as you’d almost think she’s a completely different person. Kendall, who became a British scream queen for all the horror movies and thrillers that she was in, is quite appealing and I loved seeing her in glasses, which gives her a certain sexy look. The male actors are okay, but there’s more of them than are necessary and I think this was only done to create more suspects to choose from though their 70’s haircuts complete with long sideburns gives the film a very dated quality.

I was able to guess who the culprit was with about 20-minutes to go. It’s not that hard to figure out and the film gives-off a few too many clues to the point that it would be hard for someone not to know who it is. The story itself is standard. Not much thrills or chills though the electrocution via a cable that the victim touches while climbing up an electrical tower is admirably realistic and probably the most impressive part of the movie.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: February 11, 1971

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Sidney Hayers

Studio: J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors

Available: DVD, Blu-ray

30 is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia (1968)

30 is a dangerous age

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Life crisis at 30.

Rupert Street (Dudley Moore) is a struggling pianist and composer who with only six weeks until his thirtieth birthday feels that his life has been a failure. He sets out to change that by setting some very lofty goals, which is to write a musical and have it produced as well as getting married even though he has yet to find a girlfriend.

The film, which was directed by Joseph McGrath is filled with the wonderfully drool British humor that manages to be both lightly satirical and imaginative all at the same time. The rampant cutaways in which a character will be talking about something and then it cuts to show them doing what they are imagining or discussing lends a nice surreal quality. The banter that Moore has with a Registrar (Frank Thornton) where he tries to get a marriage license before even having picked out a woman is the high point of the film and a perfect example of the wacky humor of that era from that region of the world that balances being both subtle and over-the-top that I wish more American movies would be better able to replicate.

The supporting cast helps a lot and is full of comic pros. The elderly Eddie Foy Jr. is a scene stealer as Rupert’s best friend and so is Duncan Macrae, whose last film this was, as Rupert’s boss. Patricia Routledge is great as his kooky landlady and Suzy Kendall is highly attractive as his fiancée. There is also an amusing parody of 1940’s detective movies featuring John Bird as a self-styled film noir-like private eye.

Unfortunately the script, which was co-written by Moore, suffers from too much of loose structure. The jokes are poorly paced and many times the comic bits go on longer than they should. There is also an intermixing of musical numbers that features Moore at the piano, which does not work well with the rest of the film. Yes, Moore was also an excellent pianist, but this was no place to be showing it off and these segments only help to bog the film down as a whole. The ending, which features Moore having to witness the desecration of his musical by an overzealous director who has a different ‘vision’ for it is priceless, but in-between there are a lot of lulls and the film would’ve been helped immensely by having a tighter script and a more structured, plot driven story.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: March 4, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Joseph McGrath

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS