Crime, Drama | USA, 1966 | 15 | 25th September 2017 (UK) | Powerhouse Films | Dir.Arthur Penn | Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Angie Dickinson, James Fox, Robert Duvall | Buy:[Blu-ray]
Arthur Penn apparently didn’t much like it – and I have to say that I see his point.
The film’s sprawling opening, which almost seems to introduce us to practically the whole town here, is meticulously and expertly directed and as well acted as you expect. James Fox, bizarrely cast here in my opinion, even manages to pull a very decent Texan accent indeed. There’s really nothing to suggest here that The Chase would somehow manage to not even close to hitting the heights suggested by its opening 45 minutes or so.
Arthur Penn then proceeds to get into a complete tangle. He allows this to collapse into a muddle of social commentary and melodrama where the only saving grace is the unchecked lunacy of the lynch mob ending and a party scene where the late Clifton James (who is typically great here) and others decide to have a fake gunfight.
These scenes stand out as being really quite bizarre but not in a good way.
It’s just that they’re surrounded by an almost bombing of the senses with social messages that they don’t stand out in the way they perhaps should have done. Perhaps Penn would have been much better advised to have made The Chase into something more wholly surreal and unhinged, like the aforemetioned scenes, because the to-ing and fro-ing of relationships in the second half of this becomes very boring very quickly.
Penn does seem very keen to focus very closely on the clash between traditional small town values and attitudes versus social ‘advances’ but he just approaches it from too many angles. The result is a film that feels half-finished, even at this lengthy a running time, and one that leaves half of its cast completely adrift. An interesting misfire though.
• Audio commentary with film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman
• Step Back and Let Him Go: Arthur Penn on ‘The Chase’ (1996): previously unseen interview footage from Paul Joyce’s documentary Marlon Brando: The Wild One
• Cut to ‘The Chase’ (2017): a new interview with renowned actor James Fox, conducted by Richard Ayoade
• Matthew Penn on ‘The Chase’ (2017): a new interview with director Arthur Penn’s son
• Super 8 version: original cut-down home cinema presentation
• Isolated Score track
• Original theatrical trailer and Image gallery
• Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Christina Newland, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film
See no Evil
Mystery, Thriller | UK, 1971 | 15 |25th September 207 (UK)| Powerhouse Films | Dir.Richard Fleischer | Mia Farrow, Dorothy Alison, Paul Nicholas, Diane Grayson | Buy: [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
See No Evil on paper is a potentially great pot boiler thriller. Sarah (Farrow) is a young woman who has lost her eyesight and is learning to cope with her new life with blindness while staying at her uncle’s home in England. A sociopath venture up to the home and Fleischer does exactly what one would want from a premise like this. No overbearing music that spoils the moment or jump scares. Instead there’s a slow and lingering sense of dread.
Fleischer lets small details – glass on the kitchen tiles, a wrist chain on the floor – give the sense of something having gone wrong with the vulnerability of Sarah, having to use her hands to travel around, leaving the viewer with immediate fear for her. Punctured with a subplot about an old suitor Steve (Norman Eshley) trying to rekindle their romance, it actually helps build up the concern when finally the events that have taken place are shown in a matter-of-fact way, a camera pan to the left or the frame being pulled back revealing the horror of what’s happened. The perfect way to make a thriller.
Sadly See No Evil while a technical gem for a thriller dwindles in interest after this. While the presentation is perfect, including its natural photography for rural English countryside and wasteland, the story doesn’t build up well enough even for a simple pot boiler under ninety minutes. Briefly there’s a concern that it’s going to become anti-gypsy in attitude, which does turn out to just be a plot twist based on the characters’ prejudices thankfully, but it doesn’t help that the killer when they’re revealed is merely a McGuffin than someone compelling visually or in performance. The film seems far more interesting in equestrian content in fact that the thrills at points, obsessed with horses and riding them even if it leads to an escape by way of one. While its short length is perfect for a sharp, creepy narrative the plot needed more meat on its bone to make the ending better.
• Blind Terror: the alternative UK cut
• Norman Eshley on ‘See No Evil’ (2017): a new interview with the British actor
• The Two Versions: a detailed comparison of the differences between the US and UK cuts
• Alternative Italian title sequence
• Original theatrical trailer and Image galleries
• Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Chris Fujiwara, an interview with Richard Fleischer, and an overview of contemporary critical responses