Karel Reisz – Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966)

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One of the British cinema’s more memorable images in the 1960s was that of a man, dressed in a smouldering gorilla suit, speeding away from the camera on a motorbike.

This sequence was not in David Mercer’s original TV play, A Suitable Case for Treatment (1962), transmitted by the BBC as a Sunday Night Play. Now lost, it starred Ian Hendry as Morgan. In the play, Morgan neither dons a gorilla suit to gatecrash his ex-wife’s wedding nor ends up in a psychiatric hospital.

Mercer was a playwright of great intellect and integrity, who did much to shape British television drama in the 1960s. His frequent collaborator, director Don Taylor, considers him to be the first major English dramatist to emerge from television. His work had universality and dealt with serious intellectual, philosophical and political issues. It was conceived on a grand scale and written in a heightened, sometimes poetic, style. Continue reading

Karel Reisz – Who’ll stop the rain (1978)


Plot summary from DVD Verdict:
Ray Hicks (Nolte) is an ex-Marine who served in Vietnam first in combat and now as a merchant seaman, which allows him to come and go between Vietnam and the US. This provides him a unique opportunity to smuggle things from Southeast Asia to home, but he’s never done anything like the request from his journalist friend John Converse (Michael Moriarty, in another laid back but outstanding performance): bring 2 kilos of pure heroin from Vietnam and deliver it to his wife at home, and collect a cool 10 grand for his efforts. What seemed an easy way to make some quick cash just as quickly spirals out of control, as John Converse’s wife Marge (Tuesday Weld) is attacked by two thugs (Richard Masur and Ray Sharkey) who want to steal the heroin for themselves and their corrupt cop boss (Anthony Zerbe). Hicks shows up in time to thwart the attack, but now they’re on the run while John returns and is kidnapped to force Hicks’s hand. A mountaintop commune will provide the backdrop for the stunning confrontation. Continue reading

Karel Reisz – Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)


The sights and sounds of industrial Nottingham resonate with a grimy thud as Arthur Seaton works his tedious factory job. Through ale, women and practical jokes, he vents his frustrations against the “establishments” of work and marriage… until his reckless ways lead him to a night that changes his life. Forced to reevaluate his convictions, Arthur must decide exactly what he stands for. Continue reading

Karel Reisz – The Gambler (1974)


“James Caan as a New York college professor? Somehow it works in Karel Reisz’s interesting, mostly forgotten 1974 drama The Gambler. A quintessential ’70s film with its non-innocent protagonist swimming in a sea of sleaze and self-destructing when he should know better, The Gambler is one of cinema’s best depictions of a person’s addiction to gambling. That may seem like an inflated statement, but gambling addiction hasn’t really been a subject of film interest, at least not in the same vein as drugs or alcohol. And yet its milieu is tailor-made for drama, comedy, and tension. With that, The Gambler is a crime movie wrapped in an addiction movie wrapped in an existential void, during which, fittingly, Caan teaches his students about Dostoyevsky, one of our first existentialists (without knowing the word yet) who had a gambling problem himself. He even wrote a semi-autobiographical work about it called (again, fittingly), “The Gambler”. Like Dostoyevsky, Caan’s character, Axel, knows what he’s doing and can even discuss his psychology and madness in an offhand manner (as he does to his class) while still jonesing for his next win or lose. Continue reading