Can you judge a film by it’s cover? Yeah course you can in this case! Flicking through a few movie titles on a search for something different I stumbled across the intriguing title of Cul-De-Sac. What grabbed me in was the minimalist artwork from the cover of The Criterion Collection release and then the hook, line and sinker, Donald Pleasence. Oh I do love a good Donald performance and this film highlights his quirky style to the fullest.
Then I saw the original poster artwork from Jan Lenica and that settled it, this film was going to be awesome no matter what and you know what dude, it’s absolutely fabulous. Two hours of just beautifully made tension, comedy, banter and wonder. All from three main characters and one real setting, a 15th century castle called Lindisfarne.
A quick glance at the plot summary.
“Two wounded gangsters on the run find refuge in the secluded castle of a feeble man and his wife in search of help, however, under the point of a gun nothing is what it seems…”
What aspired was a thoroughly absorbing film which I just could not keep my peepers off. Not what I was expecting from the synopsis and all the more fun because of it.
Donald Pleasence plays George an eccentric middle aged gentleman who has sold his business and purchased a castle as a retreat for himself and his young beautiful, saucy flirtatious French wife Teresa played by Francoise Dorleac. This castle is situated out on a causeway which gets surrounded by the tides making it an ideal secluded hideaway. Life is spent painting and making mead wine and eating eggs, hundreds of eggs. Teresa makes atomic strength vodka, plays records and entertains a few friends if you know what I mean!
What comes to turn things upside down is the arrival of two men caught driving along the causeway by the incoming tides in a truly delightful filmed opening sequence. Injured and “driving” the car is Albie played by Jack MacGowran and looking out for him is his partner, the hulkish Richard played with such passion by Hart To Hart’s Max, the wonderful talent of Lionel Stander.
They are on the run from a job gone sour and stumble across this hideaway. Waiting to get picked up from their gangster employer they take over the castle until they get rescued. The beauty is Richard’s character, he catches you off guard as this brutish hulk with his gravelly voice and giant size but under that frame is an almost innocent sweet nature which he turns off and on, hot and cold.
If you haven’t seen it before I thoroughly recommend you tracking it down as it’s a real joy, the situations and character building with the unconventional way the story develops and plays out is masterful. Directed by Roman Polanski and co written by himself and Gerard Brach. If you have seen it, what did you think?
Sad Fact – After enjoying the alluring beauty and fun performance by Françoise Dorléac it was so sad to read she died in a car chase at the young age of 25. Her sister Catherine Deneuve went on to be a big star and I notice that the two sisters starred in a 1967 film together called The Young Girls Of Rochefort. It sounds like a fun film and be nice to see more Françoise Dorléac. Any recommendations, please let me know.
By the way that quirky jazz record Teresa puts on the turntable is by Polish composer Krzysztof Komeda who scores the soundtrack. Here is that record to play us out.
Love film, relax, eat, drink and be entertained by the art of film. Love Wolfie x