HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Shortcut
Stray
   
 
Newest Articles
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
   
 
  80,000 Suspects Contagious And Outrageous
Year: 1963
Director: Val Guest
Stars: Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Yolande Donlan, Cyril Cusack, Michael Goodliffe, Mervyn Johns, Kay Walsh, Norman Bird, Basil Dignam, Arthur Christiansen, Ray Barrett, Andrew Crawford, Jill Curzon, Vanda Godsell, Ursula Howells
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dr Steven Monks (Richard Johnson) and his wife Julie (Claire Bloom) are attending a New Year’s celebration in their home city of Bath, where they have jobs at the local hospital, or at least Steven does, for Julie has given up her nursing position recently on her husband’s insistence and this is causing some barely acknowledged friction between them. But a lot of that is down to the guilt he feels about his behaviour, for he has been unfaithful to her with Ruth Preston (Yolande Donlan) who is the wife of his colleague Dr Clifford Preston (Michael Goodliffe), and she manages to get him alone at the party where she jumps into the Roman baths away from the crowd. She is tipsy, and Steven knows he must get her home…

Which is all very well, but not perhaps what we settled down with 80,000 Suspects to watch, which was ostensibly a thriller about an epidemic in a small British city, filmed on location in Bath during the winter for extra chilly atmosphere. Although its writer, director and producer Val Guest had made a film the previous year, this was really a companion piece to his science fiction semi-classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire the year before that, which also corralled a group of worried Brits into managing a crisis. As many have pointed out, a smallpox outbreak in 1963 would be unlikely since everyone would have had their vaccinations and unless there was some new, mutant strain that was at least one thing the human race was safe from.

But smallpox it was, and besides it offered the chance for Guest to orchestrate plenty of well-deployed panic management as the public are lined up in their droves to have their innoculations, all to nip this spreading disease in the bud. The possibility that this might grow to apocalyptic proportions might have crossed the mind of other filmmakers, but here he appeared to have faith in the mechanics of containing a danger to the population, and the authorities operated with the utmost professionalism, which left the tension to be centred on a different drama, the marriage under pressure thanks to the antics of the flighty Ruth (Donlan was Guest’s wife at the time, and would more or less retire from the screen after this).

The problem there was the epidemic aspect was a lot more interesting than whether the doctor and his wife would get their marriage back on track, yet that was what took up much of the running time, tied in with the outbreak when Julie falls victim to the disease and Steven frets over whether she will survive or not, and if she doesn’t should he own up to sleeping with Ruth? It’s the sort of thing more at home in an episode of General Hospital than it was in a supposed thriller, and though this was one of those great-looking British films of this era that used the very distinctive Cinemascope widescreen frame in black and white, it wasn’t quite enough when the events playing out before us were difficult to engage with: basically we were asked to forget about the 80,000 and concentrate on two.

Sure, they were two vitally important to the containment of the contagion, but Guest’s screenplay was not providing the dependable cast with enough of interest to do; not that it was a bad idea as a whole, it was just that Johnson had to be short and bad tempered with everyone by way of personality, not the best person you’d want to spend the best part of two hours with, and Bloom spent most of the movie lying in bed with spots drawn on her face. Cyril Cusack added a religious dimension as a priest Steven feels the need to confide in, since he won’t be wanting to do so with his wife, nor Ruth for that matter, but again it was hard to care when there was a life or death situation unfolding outwith the hospital walls for you were more inclined to ask them to put aside the concerns of their personal lives until the danger was passed. That’s not to say Guest didn’t conjure up striking scenes every so often: the crucial to the plot car crash in the snow and fog was a strong sequence, for one, but dragging the largely absent Ruth into the plot for the conclusion was contrived rather than organic. Not bad, but you saw too well where it was going amiss. Music by Stanley Black.

[The British Film is the banner Network have released this under, with a clean print and a gallery as extra. There are also subtitles, which you don't often get with these releases.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2586 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Val Guest  (1912 - 2006)

British writer, director and producer, best known for his science fiction films, who started on the stage, graduated to film scriptwriting (Will Hay comedies such as Oh! Mr Porter are among his credits) in the 1930s, and before long was directing in the 1940s. He will be best remembered for a string of innovative, intelligent science fiction movies starting with The Quatermass Xperiment, then sequel Quatermass II, The Abominable Snowman and minor classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire.

He also made Frankie Howerd comedy The Runaway Bus, Cliff Richard musical Expresso Bongo, some of Casino Royale, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, 1970s sex comedies Au Pair Girls and Confessions of a Window Cleaner, and his last film, the Cannon and Ball-starring The Boys in Blue.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: