Monday, March 30, 2009

3/28/09: Inadmissible Evidence (1968)

As a longtime Anglophile, I feel it's only fitting to have at least one full week of my project devoted strictly to British movies. I'm sure there will be more to follow, but this week will comprise English films dating back to the 1960s. First up is Nicol Williamson in a screen adaptation of the Tony-nominated play Inadmissible Evidence, written by John Osborne in 1964. I had read several places that the movie was basically a filmed stage play. Not even close. In fact, it seems singularly cinematic, as if they'd gone to quite a lot of trouble to "open up" the play: There are flashbacks, outdoor scenes, interior monologues, etc.

The story, such as it is, concerns itself with Bill Maitland (Williamson), a despicable divorce attorney who's bored with his family, ignores his clients, insults his friends, cheats on his wife, even cheats on his mistress. He dislikes everybody, especially himself, and his world is crumbling all around him as the people closest to him begin to shut him out. The film doesn't tell us everything we would like to know about the man, leaving certain details deliberately obscure (the editing of the film sometimes verges on the experimental), but there's no doubt that Maitland has painted himself into a corner, with little or nothing left to contribute to society. The movie is a tour-de-force by Williamson, whose amazing talent I first encountered in an outstanding episode of Columbo back in the 1970; I later had the honor of seeing him perform in Paul Rudnick's I Hate Hamlet in 1991. He's just smashing here; I just wish the movie were as memorable as he is. Featuring the smoldering Gillian Hills as a nymphomaniacal receptionist. Rating: 3/5.

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