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  Loving Memory They'll Welcome Any Body
Year: 1971
Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Rosamund Greenwood, David Pugh, Roy Evans
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: On his way home from collecting groceries, a young man (David Pugh) is cycling along a rural Yorkshire road when suddenly a car lunges around the corner and crashes straight into him, killing him instantly. The two occupants of the vehicle get out to survey the damage, a middle-aged brother (Roy Evans) and sister (Rosamund Greenwood) who take one look at the corpse in the road and pick it up, then put it on the back seat of their car. Leaving the broken bicycle at the verge, they head off home, where they have conflicting ideas about what to do with the body...

This sounds like the start of a horror movie, or alternatively a black comedy very much in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry, but for the writer and director of this short feature - barely an hour long - it was the source of an unusual drama, notably quiet in the narrative it found with these three people. That was understandable in the case of the dead body, but we never hear the brother speak, and when the sister witters away to the new arrival in their home, it's in a tiny voice that can just be heard over the thickly laid on ambient noise the soundtrack employed for atmospheric purposes.

That director, not best known for his soft, muted touch, was Tony Scott, here billed as his full name Anthony Scott, with his first film, made as he was emerging from his education in his craft and perhaps pointing to the direction he might have gone in had the lure of Hollywood not brought him around to the blockbusters he became famous for. Yet even here, you could see the care and attention brought to bear on the visuals was very obvious, and although there is an explosion, it was not used for the same reasons as the ones you'd get in his later, popcorn action flicks. Mind you, it is there, so it could be a more spectacular form of cinema was preying on his mind at this early stage.

Anyway, this was black and white photography courtesy in part by legendary cameraman Chris Menges all the way, and its lonely Yorkshire Moors setting was almost a character in itself, filmed in tasteful monochrome which rendered the macabre subject matter almost classical in its style. It was a simple enough story, where both brother and sister bring the body home, but while she washes and dresses the cadaver in the clothes of her now-deceased other brother who died after a long period of suffering from wounds in the Second World War, her still living sibling sets about building a coffin with which to bury the unfortunate boy in, somewhere it will never be found.

The fact that he will probably succeed in this endeavour, and the mystery of what happened to the young man will never be solved by anyone but us watching, and therefore powerless to intervene, carried a soulful and dejected charge, but if there wasn't much more to the film than that, was this enough to sustain the interest? The answer to that was a qualified yes, as though there was a awful lot of the little lady bringing her new visitor cups of tea he will never drink and chattering away to him, identifying him with her previous loss, this was about strange enough to keep you watching, even if after that first few minutes there were no real surprises: you had the measure of what was going on. There was always the novelty of trying to catch the supposedly dead body breathing - Pugh stayed very still, but nevertheless you could notice his chest rising and falling occasionally. A brief bit of sabotage enlivened the film, but the prevailing mood was quiet and uneasy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Tony Scott  (1944 - 2012)

British-born director Tony Scott was the brother of director Ridley Scott and worked closely with him in their production company for film and television, both having made their names in the advertising business before moving onto glossy features for cinema. He shocked Hollywood by committing suicide by jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles for reasons that were never disclosed.

His first high profile film was vampire story The Hunger, but it was with his second, Top Gun, that he really arrived and became much sought after for his highly polished style with Beverly Hills Cop II following soon after. He hit a blip with his next two films, the flops Revenge and Days of Thunder, but found his feet once again in The Last Boy Scout, Quentin Tarantino's True Romance (often judged his best work), submarine thriller Crimson Tide, The Fan, spy suspenser Enemy of the State, Spy Game, and then a run of movies starring Denzel Washington including Man on Fire, Deja Vu and Unstoppable.

 
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