Monday, 28 February 2011

Woman in the Moon (1929)

It’s common knowledge that Fritz Lang was by far the most important early pioneer of the science fiction film, but when most people think of Lang and science fiction they almost certainly think of his 1927 masterpiece Metropolis. This was not however his only science fiction movie, and it was arguably not his most influential. That title belongs to his 1929 production Woman in the Moon (Frau im Mond).

The backstory behind this move is as interesting as the movie itself. In the early 20s Hermann Oberth had published a book outlining a scientifically plausible plan for using rocketry to reach the Moon. Lang read the book and was mightily impressed. Impressed enough to want to make a feature film utilising Oberth’s ideas, and Woman in the Moon was the result.

UFA Studios thought it would be a great publicity coup for the film if they spent part of their advertising budget funding Oberth’s researches. Which they did. This was the beginning of serious research into rocketry in Germany. One of Oberth’s students who was involved in the project was a young man named Werner von Braun. Many years later von Braun was to design the Saturn V rocket that took the first US astronauts to the Moon. So it could be argued that Fritz Lang played a crucial early role in the Apollo program to put men on the moon!

The film itself falls into three parts The first part is typical Langian intrigue and paranoia, with the idealistic scientist Dr Helius being manipulated by a sinister cabal of businessmen and financiers who want to use his lunar exploration program for their own commercial ends (driven by rumours of vast gold deposits on the Moon).

The second part involves the actual journey to the Moon, and it’s this second part that qualifies Woman in the Moon as the first science fiction movie to deal with hard science and the first to deal with a realistic and scientifically plausible method of space travel. Dr Helius has designed a three-stage liquid-fueled launch vehicle which is pretty much an early prototype of the actual Saturn V rocket used in the US space program. Escape velocities, the overlapping gravitational fields of the Earth and the Moon, the problems of weightlessness, the need for retro rockets to allow a soft landing on the lunar surface - it’s all there and it’s more realistic than most 1950s space travel movies. Lang even came up with a ingenious solution for weightlessness - the ceilings and floors of the spacecraft are covered in leather straps allowing the astronauts to manoeuvre themselves about inside during periods of weightlessness.

The third part of the movie abandons hard science and becomes a rather far-fetched but exciting adventure melodrama.

It sounds like an uneasy mixture but despite a rather lengthy running time it’s an entertaining movie with major plot elements that ended up being recycled in countless science fiction movies. Land co-wrote the screenplay with his wife Thea von Harbou, based on her novel of the same name. Hermann Oberth was also involved in the writing of the parts of the screenplay dealing with the lunar voyage itself.

Willy Fritsch makes an engaging hero as Dr Helius, ably supported by Gustav von Wangenheim as his not-so-heroic astronaut colleague Hans Windegger and Gerda Maurus as female astronaut Friede Velten (the woman in the moon of the title).

There are some spectacular special effects involving models, animations and some impressive sets. The movie veers between a very realistic and a very stylised and artificial look, a combination that probably only a German film-maker of this era could have pulled off successfully.

The Eureka Region 2 DVD includes a brief but fascinating documentary, and is apparently vastly superior to the Kino Region 1 DVD.

A strange movie in its way, and despite some dark moments one of Lang’s more emotionally warm films. A must for any science fiction movie fan. This, rather than Metropolis, is where movie science fiction really begins.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Teenagers from Outer Space (1959)

Teenagers from Outer Space was the second of only two feature films made by Tom Graeff, a low-budget film-maker who always seems to get compared to Ed Wood.

Which is not entirely surprising. Like Wood’s films Teenagers from Outer Space is a spectacularly bad movie that was clearly made with love and enthusiasm, and like Ed Wood’s movies it’s outrageously entertaining. Graeff’s own life was even more troubled than Wood’s - after completing his second feature Graeff suffered a mental breakdown from which he never recovered, and he eventually committed suicide at the age of 41. Graeff had also made the mistake of losing control of the copyright of the film so he made no money out of it although it did quite well on the drive-in circuit.

Graeff was actual not totally devoid of talent. He wrote, directed and edited Teenagers from Outer Space as well as doing the cinematography and playing a supporting role as an actor. Despite the zero budget, a considerable general hokeyness and some excruciatingly bad acting there are occasional moments that do show some real flair, and Graeff did have a gift for coming up with interesting special effects that cost nothing. I like the way he only bothers with the top of the flying saucer, since presumably the rest of the spacecraft has buried itself in the ground, thus saving even more money.

It’s an alien invasion movie, and despite the movie poster it sadly isn’t about thrill-crazed space kids, although it does indeed include the promised ray-gun rampage. A flying saucer lands not far from a small town. It’s a scout ship, its mission being to find a suitable planet for raising vast herds of gargans. These monstrous creatures grow to enormous size and are intended to provide a massive reserve food supply for an alien civilisation. The gargans look just like lobsters, which is very handy since it allows the film-maker to use lobsters for all the monster shots.

There’s a falling-out among the aliens, with a member of the expedition with the somewhat surprising name (for an alien) of Derek rebelling against the idea of overrunning an inhabited planet with the fearsome gargans. Derek is something of a rebel already, being unhappy with a totalitarian society that treats people like mere cogs in a machine. Derek deserts from the scouting party and heads off to the nearby town. One of the other aliens, named Thor, sets off in pursuit.

Derek encounters a nice teenaged girl. Betty Morgan lives with her grandfather, and they’re looking for someone to rent a room in their home. They decide Derek would be perfect. But Derek is not destined to enjoy peaceful small-town life for long. Thor is on his trail, and is leaving behind his own trail - a trail of skeletons, the victims of his deadly focussing disintegrator ray-gun.

The movie is an odd mix. Most of the time it seems to be a goofy good-natured teen drive-in movie, but it has an extraordinarily high body count. In fact in its own way weird way it ranks as one of the most violent alien invasion movies of its era. And the nature of Thor’s violence - casual but utterly ruthless - has the potential to be just a tad disturbing.

Mostly though this is bizarre silly fun. It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite bad actor from this movie - they’re all so memorably awful, but each in his or her own distinctive way.

The copy I watched was a public domain download copy, but it was quite watchable. I imagine you could pick this one up on DVD for an absurdly low price if you shopped around.

If movies like Plan 9 from Outer Space are your idea of movie fun then you’ll definitely want to add this one to your collection.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Special Mission Lady Chaplin (1966)

Any 1960s eurospy movie is a treat, and Special Mission Lady Chaplin is a particularly good example of the breed.

The inspiration for the plot was the real-life accidental loss of the American nuclear submarine USS Thresher in 1963.

For the purposes of the movie the Thresher is turned into a ballistic missile submarine armed with Polaris missiles. The sinking of the submarine causes concern enough, but when it appears that the wreck has somehow been moved then it’s time to send in secret agent Dick Malloy (played by Ken Clark). Suspicion centres on a wealthy businessman who operates a deep-sea salvage operation, but it also appears that the mysterious and glamorous Lady Arabella Chaplin may be mixed up in the affair in some way. Lady Chaplin runs a prestigious fashion house.

So the basic elements for a good fun eurospy thriller are now assembled - deep-sea diving, a missing nuclear submarine armed with atomic missiles, fashion models, duelling scorpions and the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Of course the important thing is to make the plot as complicated and obscure as possible. If the viewer starts to focus on what’s actually happening rather than on the style then the whole point of the eurospy genre is lost. Special Mission Lady Chaplin has a plot that makes just enough sense to keep the viewer interested without bothering with tedious details like logic.

It’s also important to have lots of stuff happening, and that’s where this movie stands out. The action is non-stop and it’s quite impressively executed.

The fashion model angle provides the other essential ingredient - glamorous women. With former Bond girl Daniela Bianchi as Lady Chaplin and with Helga Liné in the cast as well there’s no shortage of female eye candy.

Ken Clark was one of many American actors who didn’t quite make it in Hollywood and headed off to Europe where square-jawed blonde hunky American actors were always in demand for spaghetti westerns, sword and sandal epics, crime flicks and of course eurospy movies. Acting ability was not a major requirement as long as you looked the part. Ken Clark does a fine job within those parameters. He doesn’t attempt too much actual acting but he manages to look heroic, sexy and cool.

There’s no sleaze here. It’s all good clean fun, with no graphic violence or nudity. While it’s obviously a low-budget movie compared to the Bond films this is no ultra-cheap exploitation flick and the producers were claiming aiming at getting the widest possible distribution. As eurospy movies go it’s a reasonably lavish production.

It’s also not a spy spoof movie as such. While it doesn’t take itself too seriously it still functions as a good exciting spy action film. The tone is in fact pretty close to that of the 60s Bond movies.

And if you want to get my attention early in a film, then nuns with submachine guns will always do the trick.

The Dorado Films DVD doesn’t give us the film in its correct aspect ratio (although it is at least widescreen it’s not in the Techniscope ratio and the image is slightly compressed) and it’s unfortunately dubbed but as any eurospy enthusiast will attest getting such a movie in a relatively decent and complete print is exciting enough.

Despite some slight reservations about the DVD this is a terrific movie so I have no hesitation in recommending this one.

Monday, 21 February 2011

David F. Friedman passes away

The death of David F. Friedman is sad news for all cult movie fans. Truly one of the giants of the exploitation movie business. His autobiography, A Youth in Babylon, is essential reading for any cult movie fan.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Cat People (1982)

Paul Schrader’s 1982 Cat People is a film I’ve always had problems with. I saw it years ago and hated it. I saw it again a few years back, and still hated it. But on a third viewing I’m finally starting to appreciate it.

This time I tried really hard not to think of it as a remake of the brilliant 1942 Cat People (interestingly enough director Paul Schrader’s biggest regret about this film is that he didn’t change the title). Trying to see it as an entirely different movie only vaguely inspired by the original seems to have done the trick.

Although it retains some of the themes of the original the plot in fact is radically different. A young woman (Irena, played by Nastassja Kinski) arrives in New Orleans to be re-united with her brother whom she hasn’t seen since she was a very small child. Her brother Paul (Malcolm MacDowell) is a preacher, and he’s a little odd although very friendly. Very friendly indeed. The next day he disappears without explanation and is gone for days. Irena finds herself drawn to the zoo, and especially to a black leopard there. Zoo curator Oliver Yates takes a liking to her and offers her a job.

She soon discovers that she and her brother share a strange secret. They could have sex safely with each other, but not with anyone else. They are lycanthropes of a peculiar sort, cat people, and sexually they must confine themselves to their own kind. But Irena is already starting to fall in love with Oliver, and he is well and truly obsessed with her. And Paul has re-appeared, and the police are asking awkward questions, and in general it’s pretty clear that Irena’s life is about to get very complicated indeed.

Many people would no doubt take the view that any work of art should be able to stand on its own merits and that director’s commentary tracks on DVD are therefore unnecessary since if the director has to explain what his intentions were then he has clearly failed. That might be true in an ideal world, and it might be true for people much cleverer than myself, but I find that there are some cases where the director’s commentary tracks is absolutely essential to a proper appreciation of the movie. For me this is one of those cases.

Finding out that Paul Shrader was brought up in a strict religious household and did not get to see any movies at all until he went to college is one of the keys to the movies. This is a horror movie made by someone almost uniquely uninfluenced by the great tradition of horror movies. The movies Schrader discovered at college were European art-house movies, so when he came to make a horror film it wasn’t older horror films that inspired him, it was the movies of people like Bertolucci and Antonioni.

So when it came to making a horror movie it’s not that Schrader was embarrassed by the idea of doing such a movie. He simply didn’t know how to. So he took the script Universal had given him and used it to make the sort of movie he did know how to make. The result was not a horror film so much as an art film about sex, myth and obsession. Schrader says that when making the movie he decided that when the audience expected violence he’d give them sex, and when they expected sex he’d give them violence.

The movie is preoccupied by the nature of myth in general, but Schrader was also consciously basing the movie on Dante’s 13th century La Vita Nuova. Zoo curator Oliver is an all-American Dante, and the exotic mysterious Irena is Beatrice. Oliver has had little experience with women and hopelessly idealises Irena. The ending of the movie makes sense once you understand that Irena is Beatrice and that Oliver’s actions are close to being a form of worship.

I also often find that the commentary track help because it allows me to watch the movie again without following the story, seeing it purely as a visual spectacle. And Schrader, heavily under the influence of production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, clearly intended the movie to be seen in that way. The themes of the movie are explored through visual rather than verbal means, and Schrader also approached it as a kind of exercise in style. Josef von Sternberg had described his 1934 masterpiece The Scarlet Empress as a "relentless excursion into style" and that to some extent seems to be what Shrader had in mind. It was also an exercise in the use of colour.

Visually the movie benefits from having been made in the pre-CGI age. The extensive use of matte paintings gives it a wonderfully artificial dreamlike feel, and there are images that seem to be pure dream imagery, like the huge leopard statues at the zoo. Combined with Giorgio Moroder’s score the movie ends up having a unique and very European feel.

Malcolm McDowell is as disturbing as you’d expect but Kinski is very much the star of this film. Her performance is extraordinary, and may well be the best of her career.

I’m still not entirely persuaded that the plot of this 1982 version really works but it’s a bizarre hallucinatory kind of experience that makes it a movie not quite like any other.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Sinner: Diary of a Nymphomaniac (1973)

It’s been a long wait for Mondo Macabro’s much-anticipated Jess Franco releases, and we’re still waiting for Lorna the Exorcist. Sinner: Diary of a Nymphomaniac (Le journal intime d'une nymphomane) has however finally seen the light of day. So was it worth the wait? I think the answer is a qualified yes.

This is not first-rank Franco, but it’s fairly good second-rank Franco.

It’s a murder story, but not exactly a murder mystery. The movie opens with the murder, which is in fact a suicide made to look like murder. That’s certainly no spoiler since we know all the facts about the supposed crime within the first five minutes of the film. Franco isn’t interested in giving us a mystery. What he wants to do is lead us back through the events that led a young woman to take such a drastic step.

The young woman in question is a hooker named Linda Vargas. She picks up a middle-aged businessman type in a bar, and once they’re naked in bed together she slits her throat.

Linda had arrived in the city as a fresh-faced innocent young country girl full of illusions, illusions which were quickly and savagely shattered when she was raped at a fairground. She never really recovers. She’s left with a sense of emptiness, which she fills with drugs and sex. But mostly sex. Sex with women at first, but later she develops a taste for sex with men as well. It doesn’t fill the emptiness, but it helps more than anything else that is available to her. She has complicated and not entirely successful affairs with two women, one of them a wealthy countess, the other a very exotic exotic dancer. She’s not really a full-time prostitute but when she needs money she has no other viable way of making a living.

She finds some hope when she encounters a kindly doctor (Howard Vernon) who helps her kick her drug habit but then comes the final betrayal that pushes her over the edge.

The main extra included is an extended talk by some guy called Stephen Thrower who apparently used to be in some famous band I’ve never heard of. He knows his Franco movies though, and that’s what counts. His contention that Sinner was inspired by Citizen Kane is by no means as outlandish as it sounds, given that Franco worked with Orson Welles and has always admired his work (and Welles’ final movie F for Fake is as trippy and outrageous as anything Franco has ever done).

It does follow the basic Citizen Kane structure. We start with a death, and then the movie itself is a search for answers about the person’s life. In this case the search is conducted by the wife of the man accused of Linda’s murder and she discovers things about her husband’s life as well as Linda’s. And it follows the Citizen Kane structure as well in that we see Linda’s life through the eyes of several different people who knew her, each of whom sheds light on a different aspect of her troubled life.

It’s a surprisingly compassionate movie. We learn to know Linda and to care about her. It’s more of a conventional tragedy than you generally expect from Uncle Jess.

The amount of nudity in this movie is truly prodigious, but it’s typical of Franco that while it has enough sexual content and nudity to have satisfied the raincoat brigade he’s also taken the opportunity to construct an interesting and provocative, and strangely touching, movie. And also to give us a bit of a homage to Welles.

The picture quality is top-notch. The extras aren’t overly exciting. Apart from the interview with Stephen Thrower there’s an interview with a sound editor who worked on many of Franco’s movies. He has some amusing anecdotes about Howard Vernon who was apparently enormous fun to work with.

Sinner doesn’t have the full-blown free-wheeling trippiness of Franco’s best movies but it’s certainly worth a look.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Christine (1983)

What’s interesting about John Carpenter is that having kicked off the slasher movie boom of the 80s with Halloween he lost interest in the genre so quickly and so completely.

In fact Carpenter went back to making what were in many ways very traditional horror movies. His next feature after Halloween was The Fog, which is very old-fashioned gothic horror. Maybe that’s why I have a soft pot for Carpenter. His output has been uneven but he clearly sees himself as being part of a horror movie tradition, and he understands that tradition extremely well, and he respects it.

You could say the same thing about his science fiction movies. The influence of the George Lucas style of science fiction on Carpenter’s work has been virtually nil. There was an older tradition of sci-fi movies, and Carpenter belongs to that tradition.

Carpenter’s 1983 movie Christine sums up his approach. It’s a classic sci-fi/horror drive-in movie. Drive-ins may have already been dying by that time but you can’t help feeling that this is a movie that would work best in a drive-in.

The plot is pretty dodgy (not surprising since it’s based on a Stephen King novel and Kind is not renowned for his subtlety) but a great traditional sci-fi/horror movie actually benefits from a plot that is fairly basic.

Arnie Cunningham is a late-70s uber-nerd. The only thing that makes him unusual is that instead of being obsessed by typical nerd interests he is obsessed by cars. Which beings him into unsurprisingly conflict with the kinds of high school kids who normally spend their time studying car maintenance at high school. Arnie’s life is a succession of humiliations until he meets Christine. Christine is a 1957 Plymouth Fury. Her tail-finned glory is difficult to recognise in the rustbucket that Arnie and his friend find slowly decaying by the side of the road, but Arnie can see it. Arnie knows he can bring her back to life.

And he does. The trouble is, Christine is just a little bit too much alive for a car. And she’s very jealous and possessive. And sensitive. This has already caused the deaths of her previous owner and numerous other people who have aroused Christine’s ire. Owning Christine is not like owning a car. It’s a love affair. A dangerous love affair. But Arnie is besotted.

Pretty soon Arnie is no longer the school’s biggest nerd. In fact the hottest girl at school is dating him. But how is Christine going to feel about this?

As I indicated earlier the whole thing has a slightly old-fashioned feel to it that I rather like. It’s a popcorn movie that doesn’t try to to be anything else. You get the feeling that Carpenter sees no need whatever to apologise for making a straightforward horror movie.

The acting is passable for the sort of movie this is. The special effects are OK. It’s not a movie that is going to redefine your ideas of cinema or give you any deep insights into the human condition. But it’s fun.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Alley Cats (1966)

The Alley Cats is a very early Radley Metzger film, but any Metzger film is most certainly worth a look. No American film-maker has ever had a more thoroughly European aesthetic sensibility, and no-one has ever made erotic movies with as much style, as much care and attention and as much sheer joie de vivre as Metzger.

This being a 1966 movie the erotic elements are very tame indeed by later standards, but Metzger’s approach remained basically the same even in his later hardcore films. He made movies about people that focused on their sexuality. His movies are stylish, witty, adventurous often very funny and always give the impression that Metzger cares abut his characters as people, not as collections of body parts.

Metzger’s movies always focused on the rich. He had no interest in the struggles of day-to-day existence. His interest was in how people functioned as sexual and emotional beings, not in how they earned their living. And Metzger’s movies celebrate beauty - not just the beauty of the nude body, but everything beautiful - clothes, luxury apartments, furniture, art, everything. If your idea of a fun movie is a squalid kitchen-sink drama then don’t bother with Radley Metzger. If you can enjoy beauty and sensuality without guilt (something so few people seem to be able to do these days), then he’s your man.

On to the plot. Leslie and Logan are lovers. Logan, in bed with another woman, confides to her his suspicions that Leslie may be playing around on him. Which she is. Leslie is also finding herself drawn into the orbit of the beautiful lesbian Irena. Leslie doesn’t really know which man she ants, or whether it’s even a man that she wants.

It’s the kind of high-class bed-hopping you expect in 60s Metzger movies.

It sounds like you have the ingredients for any one of hundreds of more or less interchangeable softcore romps made between about 1960 and the present day. But with Metzger it’s not the ingredients that matter. Like a master chef he can whip up a delicious concoction from virtually nothing. But you get more than just a soufflé. You also get a movie about real people with real emotions. The fact that Metzger can make you care about people whose lives seem to be essentially empty is simply another proof of his artistry.

Anne Arthur, in her only film role, is luminously beautiful and vulnerable as Leslie. Karin Field (a more familiar face to eurocult fans) is delightful as always. Sabrina Koch is excellent as Irena. If you’re expecting a standard sexploitation lesbian predator then you’re clearly not familiar with Metzger’s film-making. She’s a complex and sympathetic character. Charlie Hickman as Logan is cheerfully immoral.

For a movie by someone whose name is synonymous with classy erotica you ma be surprised by just how little nudity and sex the film contains. Almost none in fact.

Metzger’s movies have had a tough time of it on DVD. The releases of his early movies by First Run Features have been much criticised, and with some justice. Metzger is the kind of film-maker whose films really need top-notch DVD presentations but unfortunately it’s yet to happen. If and when it does happen he may finally get the kind of recognition he deserves.

The DVD extras include some slightly spicier alternate scenes that suggest that the movie probably existed in a number of different versions, some with a good deal more nudity than others.

If you’ve never sampled the delights of Radley Metzger then I’d suggest that early films such as The Alley Cats and Camille 2000 are not a bad place to start. If you want to dive into something much raunchier then Score might be a better choice, although it represents the very hard end of the softcore spectrum. After those movies you’ll be ready to tackle his most complex and intriguing film, The Lickerish Quartet, one of the unacknowledged masterpieces of European art cinema. And if such things don't offend you then don't neglect his hardcore movies such as the superb The Opening of Misty Beethoven (possibly the wittiest film adaptation ever of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion).

Despite my reservations abut the DVD quality The Alley Cats is still a movie I highly recommend.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Immoral Mr Teas (1959)

Russ Meyer had several claims to fame as a film-maker. He was one of the outstanding combat cameramen of World War 2. He made some of the most legendary outrageous (and innovative) camp classics of postwar cinema, such as Faster, Pusscycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. He directed the movie that made X-rated movies mainstream (Vixen). And he invented the nudie-cutie.

The nudie-cutie was a fascinating product of its times. The US Supreme Court had ruled that nudity was not in itself obscene. This opened the door to exploitation film-makers, but they still had to tread warily. They could get away with nudity, but not with sex. So the trick was to find a way to make movies that included lots of totally non-sexual nudity.

There were two ways of solving this problem. The first was the nudist camp movie. The problem with these was that people could only take so much volleyball. Even nude volleyball. The nudie-cutie on the other hand combined skin with comedy and relied on finding amusing and ingenious excuses for the display of naked female flesh.

Meyer was probably the person best qualified to invent this genre. He’d been a very successful photographer for magazines such as Playboy. These being the glory days of cheesecake photography when the erotic frisson of such photos depended more on the skill of the photographer than on the explicitness of the images Meyer had had plenty of practice in finding ways to make nude photography interesting, glamorous and imaginative. He applied the same aesthetic to the nudie movie. And since Meyer had (as he was to demonstrate many times later in his career) a knack for visual humour and for corny but genuinely musing gags it’s not surprising that his first foray into the nudie-cutie genre, The Immoral Mr Teas, went on to make him a truckload of money.

The plot of the film is about as minimalist as you can get. The mild-mannered Mr Teas is so obsessed by the pretty women who seem to be everywhere about him that he can’t help undressing them with his eyes. In fact his obsession has gone so far that they really do appear to him to be naked. This neatly sets up the excuse for the nudity.

The movie starts off rather sedately, with the emphasis being more on the gags than on the skin, and by the halfway point you might well be wondering what all the fuss was about. The pace certainly picks up though, and the second half has enough unclothed female pulchritude to satisfy even someone as obsessed as Mr Teas.

In the 1950s American audiences had flocked to art-house cinemas to see European movies like And God Created Woman. A tantalisingly brief glimpse of Brigitte Bardot’s bare bottom was enough to guarantee a very healthy box-office. There was certainly no doubt about what American audiences wanted to see, and the nudie-cutie became a very profitable genre indeed.

But apart from the copious amounts of nudity, is The Immoral Mr Teas worth seeing for anything other than its historical value? I think it is. Meyer was already a very accomplished cinematographer and there is nothing crude or amateurish about this production. He hadn’t yet developed his distinctive and revolutionary approach to film editing but the movie still manages to be reasonably entertaining. It might not seem to have too much in common with Meyer’s later masterpieces but as with all his movies it’s obvious that it’s been made by someone with a genuine flair for making movies, someone who is considerably more than a mere hack.

It’s not great cinematic art, but it’s good-natured harmless fun. And it does mark the feature film debut of one of America’s most interesting film-making talents (his earlier lost movie French Peep Show was just a burlesque movie, more or less just a filmed burlesque show, so I think it’s reasonable to describe The Immoral Mr Teas as his first real movie.