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arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / Re: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)

* Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)Mark Leeper
+- Re: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)T987654321
`- Re: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)Jerry Brown

Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)


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Subject: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)
From: (Mark Leeper)
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 by: Mark Leeper - Fri, 8 Jul 2022 13:42 UTC

I was at my last Toronto International Film Festival--likely to
remain my last Toronto International Film Festival ever for a
variety of reasons. In any case, you run into all sorts of film
fans not just from Toronto but from all over the world. I was
making notes on the last film I had seen and the man sitting next
to me asked me about what films what films the TIFF were featuring.
Then he asked what films I had liked and then generally what my
favorite film of all time was. That was a good way to get a lot of
information about me and my interests. But I think that he was
expecting me to give him some general popularity film, maybe a
Spielberg film. Without even taking a breath I gave him QUATERMASS
AND THE PIT. My new friend was English (if I am correct about
accents), and English fans seem to think that QUATERMASS AND THE
PIT is almost unknown in the colonies.

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT is something of a legend in Britain. The
three Quatermass plays were written for and played on the BBC.
Quatermass (which, by the way, is a familiar name in Wales) was the
head of the British rocket group. Each play has Quatermass facing
down an alien that represents a threat to humanity, with Quatermass
first having to get some understanding of what kind of threat we
face. By the time the series was broadcasting the third play,
churches and were changing their schedules because people were home
watching Quatermass.

Director Roy Ward Baker is able to give a deep and frightening
atmosphere to this film that is not often found in an urban setting.

Writer Nigel Kneale skillfully blended several story touches to tie
this project with then-current news items, e.g., they are doing
work in an underground tunnel at the same time similar things were
being done in the real world. One way to see how good the writing
is on this film is how much is it relevant to today. My
observation is that it is extremely relevant.

And I like the kind of science fiction reasoning when (for example)
Colonel Breen and Quatermass discuss the possibility of ancient
visits by doomed Martians is what people are interested in science
fiction for.

One goof in either the writing or the art design is that what
Quatermass calls a pentacle is not a pentacle. It might be a
hex-something, but not a penta-something.

It is surprising that nobody figures out that a skull encased in a
metal shell would be something very strange. It's Quatermass who
asks the telling question, what has been protecting the skull? For
that matter, it is odd that the surrounding rocks formed a sort of
a chamber where fossils would be discovered, especially since there
are not too many flat vertical walls in nature. A bigger goof is
that apparently the sinews of the skeleton have not disintegrated
or been torn by the rocks.

Two examples of good art design: The statue of some alien in the
lab is visually very similar to one of the workers. This will be
subtly significant later in the story. There are also many strange
curves on the found device which compares impressively against the
object's shape in the original television version. Hammer's set
designer also creates a set that is actually nearly believable.

If you want a good embodiment of confirmation bias, just listen to
Colonel Breen as more information is discovered. He remains in
total denial. Interestingly, Andrew Keir's Quatermass is on the
fence as to whether the fossils found are significant. The real
hero of the film is Miss Judd.

It is a good touch that as the archive reader goes through the
Latin text, he has to stop and go back and pick up a word from the
previous page because sentence structure and word order is
different in Latin than in English.

I cannot prove, but genuinely believe, that I discovered that the
scene on the "mind-reading" visual analyzer was borrowed by Baker
from the early Hammer science fiction film FOUR-SIDED TRIANGLE. I
had never noticed it until many years later but I definitely heard
people citing it after I mentioned it in an article.

(This is the one science fiction idea in the film that does not
ring true; it is very unlikely that in such a short time one could
develop a "visual analyzer".)

The "alien playback" scene is the one scene that really could use
much better special effects. It seems very amateurish-looking. If
the film is ever remade this should be where the additional effort
is put. Another scene with flawed special effects is the scene in
which we first see the telekinetic effects. It has a heavy use of
wire work which is not quite believable. However, this aspect is
clearly one that would look better in a film made today.

Barbara Shelley (who plays Miss Judd) was one of Hammer films most
favored actresses, although this was her last Hammer film, and
(except for one film) her last feature film. (She basically did a
lot of television work for the next twenty years.)

Julian Glover (who plays Colonel Breen) had a very long career,
showing up in many later fantasy films, including films in the
"Indiana Jones" series, the "Harry Potter" series, and THE GAME OF
THRONES, and is still acting.

Bee Duffell (who plays the lab assistant) was actually in a
surprising number of Hammer horror and science fiction films. Her
suicide in Fahrenheit 451 is one of that film's memorable touches.
She was also in A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, along with nine (!) other
actors from QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. Since Baker directed both
films, he may have just decided to use many actors he was already
familiar with.

Duncan Lamont (who plays Sladden, the driller, in an iconic
performance) played the monster in THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT and has
been in many films for Hammer and other studios.

Mark R. Leeper

Re: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)


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Subject: Re: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)
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 by: T987654321 - Fri, 8 Jul 2022 17:11 UTC

Movie shows that good writingand acting can overcome a lack of cash.

Re: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)


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From: (Jerry Brown)
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Subject: Re: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)
Date: Sat, 09 Jul 2022 06:39:21 +0100
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 by: Jerry Brown - Sat, 9 Jul 2022 05:39 UTC

On Fri, 8 Jul 2022 06:42:53 -0700 (PDT), Mark Leeper
<> wrote:

>Quatermass (which, by the way, is a familiar name in Wales)

Isle of Man actually. Kneale said that there were several Quatermasses
in the phone book.

Jerry Brown

A cat may look at a king
(but probably won't bother)

arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / Re: Quatermass and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (film comments)


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