There’s a brief BBC 1 logo, and the promise of a Susan Sarandon film by Susan Isaacs – I’m assuming Compromising Positions.
Then, that’s overwritten by a recording from the Movie Channel, Miller’s Crossing. I remember liking this, but I haven’t watched it since it came out.
I really like Jon Polito in this. He usually plays weaselly characters like this, but he’s so good to watch. In the opening scene he’s walking a fine line between deference and anger very well.
Albert Finney plays the mob boss Leo.
Gabriel Byrne plays Tom Regan, his advisor. We learn he’s got some gambling debts.
The real star of the film, of course, is the hat. It’s a thread that runs through the movie. I sometimes wonder if the Coens put in things like this not because it’s representative of deep psychological themes, but because critics love stuff like that. I’m very cynical.
Marcia Gay Harden plays Verna, who wins Tom’s hat during a drunken poker game that Tom can’t even remember.
Steve Buscemi is unsurprisingly great as a fast-talker.
John Turturro plays Verna’s brother Bernie, who’s in trouble, but Leo is protecting him for Verna. This is the main driver for the plot.
Leo is attacked in his home, but he deals robustly with the intruders. It’s a surprisingly violent scene – almost comic at some points.
Tom falls out of Leo’s favour when he tells him he’s been sleeping with Verna – who’s Leo’s girlfriend. So Johnny Caspar (Polito) who’s power is rising, gets him to bump off Bernie. But Tom lets Bernie go, pretending he’s killed him.
Longtime Coen Brothers associate Sam Raimi makes a brief appearance.
As does Frances McDormand, star of their first movie, and also married to Joel Coen.
This is an excellent movie, but it does fall into that category of movies about bad people that I can’t entirely love. But it’s really worth watching, and it’s one of the Coens’ best. Although that category is also quite large.
I should make a special mention of Carter Burwell’s score for this, which would be pastiched mercilessly by the advertising industry for years after to sell us various brands of Irish beer.
After this, The Late Show with a special episode looking at the work of Michael Powell to coincide with his book, Million Dollar Movie. Weirdly, when I looked up the publication date for the book, it’s listed as 1995, but this is definitely from 1992.
There’s a nice clip from This Is Your Life, with Powell and Robert Helpmann, where Powell describes J Arthur Rank’s reaction to The Red Shoes. “He thought he’d lost all his money.”
Christopher Challis says “He didn’t suffer fools gladly” – a phrase which always makes me nervous.
Nice to see Kathleen Byron, who was so striking in Black Narcissus.
Cyril Cusack talks about how Powell worked with actors.
There’s some great 8mm footage from Powell’s French home featuring various actors of the time, like Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins.
Martin Scorsese talks about the things Powell was doing in his films, here he’s looking at Tales of Hoffmann.
Noreen Ackland talks about the arguments Powell had with producer Alexander Korda over Tales of Hoffmann.
Thelma Schoonmaker talks about the problems Powell had raising money after he split from Korda.
Leo Marks, writer of Peeping Tom, talks about reading the script of the film to Powell.
Powell used his own son, Columba, in the scenes of the young Mark in the movie.
More 8mm footage, this time of Powell and Schoonmaker’s wedding.
(Incidentally, I’ve already looked at this film
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th September 1992 – 23:15
After this, there’s a trailer for a repeat of this programme, followed by a Michael Powell double bill.
There’s weather from Peter Cockroft. He’s telling us all about Hurricane Charlie.
Then, there’s a look ahead to the weekend on the Open University.
There’s a whole OU programme, Lessons from Kerala, narrated by Lesley Judd. BBC Two – 25th September 1992 – 00:00
Then, BBC2 closes down with Reg Sanders wishing us a very good night. The tape stops right here.