In 1999 Quentin Tarantino returned with his third installment of his QT Film Fest proudly screening the prints of his favourite movies. Just as in the previous two micro reviews, we’ll look at one of his crime genre inclusions and one of his Italian Horror choices. Still no Dario Argento though.
The Quiller Memorandum – 1966
Director Michael Anderson
Starring George Segal, Alec Guinness, Max von Sydow & Inge Lindt
The Quiller Memorandum is a very different kind of spy movie. If you’re looking for 007 type action then this movie isn’t for you. For a start, our hero of the hour is ‘Quiller’ played in a subtle yet believable way by the then rising star of Hollywood, George Segal. Segal had already appeared in ‘Ship of Fools’, ‘King Rat’ (for which he won rave reviews) and the now classic ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’, so the time was ripe for Segal to take the lead in an international picture, filmed both at Pinewood and on location in Germany.
The film centers upon ‘Quiller’ a special agent assigned to continue a dangerous mission with two British spies having already been killed by the Neo-Nazi group they were trying to infiltrate.No gadgets, no guns, just a contact in Germany and some sleuthing to do. Segal plays it very natural and when asked upon an on-set interview about how he approached playing ‘Quiller’ he claimed to be utilizing a lot of his own characteristics in the role.
The crazy German Neo-Nazi gang are led by the ever excellent Max Von Sydow who gets chance to have some very tense interplay with the ‘Quiller’ character. Segal’s love interest is portrayed by the extremely beautiful Inge Lindt who plays a school teacher who may be able to help Quiller on his dangerous quest. Compared to a 007 movie ‘The Quiller Memorandum’ may seem small in scope and a let down for those expecting gun fights every ten minutes, but for those seeking to enjoy a tight, well written script and some top class acting, then The Quiller Memorandum is definitely for you.
The current DVD/Blu-Ray release has a crisp remastered transfer and a few on-set interviews.I’m not surprised why Quentin Tarantino chose this classic, released at the tail end of 1966, at the 1967 BAFTA Awards the film had nominations in the best Art Direction, Film Editing and Screenplay categories, but didn’t win, shame, some industry recognition might have helped the movie re-coup some of its budget, which sadly, it didn’t.
If spy movies in general are your thing, give this movie a look, I’d be surprised if many of you were disappointed.
Torso – 1974
Director Sergio Martino
Starring Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda & John Richardson
By the time he shot ‘Torso’, director Sergio Martino had already been at the helm of such celebrated Italian Giallo films as ‘The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh from 1971, and the following years strangely titled ‘Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key’ (amongst others), and so it came time to Direct a now considered classic of the Giallo (slasher) genre, 1973s ‘Torso’.
The premise is really very basic, a deranged serial killer is strangling female students at the University of Perugia, and American exchange student Jane and her friends think getting out of dodge might just be the ticket. The friends decide to kick back at one of the girl’s uncle’s villa in the countryside unfortunately the loon with the scarf decides to follow them, turning the country hideaway into an isolated death trap.
Unlike the Fulci directed movies Quentin Tarantino had presented at his two previous Festivals, director of ‘Torso’ Sergio Martino keeps things a lot less surreal, making for a more straight ahead Giallo murder mystery movie.
Who is the crazed killer who enjoys strangling young ladies with scarfs, will the American exchange student and friends survive in the isolated country location, and will the police find out who the killer is before the girls have to sort the job out for themselves?
So many questions, all gloriously answered in this excellent Italian Giallo / Horror movie.
I’m giving it the thumbs up.
Reviews by Andrew James Barclay