AGE OF CONSENT
1969, Sony Repertory, 103 min, Australia, Dir: Michael Powell

James Mason is at his crotchety, hard-drinking best as Rabelaisian artist Bradley Morrison, sojourning on a remote isle off the Great Barrier Reef to try to jumpstart his dried-up muse. He finds inspiration unexpectedly in the form of nubile free spirit Cora Ryan (a delightful, gorgeous Helen Mirren in one of her earliest roles), an outspoken teenager living with her alcoholic harridan of an aunt (Neva Carr-Glynn). With a great turn by Jack MacGowran (CUL-DE-SAC, FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS) as Mason’s ne’er-do-well friend and Harold Hopkins as Mirren’s smitten, wanna-be beau. Mason’s character was based on painter Norman Lindsay, famous for his sumptuous paintings of voluptuous nudes in natural settings.


The Fearless Vampire Killers
1967, Warner Brothers, 108 min, Dir: Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s expertly balanced blend of humor and horror looks even better today than when it was released nearly 40 years ago. Phenomenal character actor Jack McGowran is perfectly cast as the ancient, screw-loose Professor Abronsius who, with his harebrained sidekick, Alfred (Polanski, doing double duty) is on the hunt for vampires in the snowy Carpathian mountains. Their pursuit shifts into high gear once Alfred’s admired-from-afar love interest, the inn-keeper’s daughter (Sharon Tate), is kidnapped by the undead Count von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne). With the beautiful, deeply rich color cinematography of Douglas Slocombe and a memorable score by brilliant Krzysztof Komeda.


CUL-DE-SAC
1966, MGM Repertory, 111 min, Dir: Roman Polanski

One of director Roman Polanski’s most fascinating and criminally underrated films of the 1960s, CUL-DE-SAC is by turns a surreal black comedy, existential arthouse drama and twisted thriller set in an isolated mansion cut off from the mainland, where a hen-pecked husband (Donald Pleasence) and his domineering French wife (the lovely Francoise Dorleac) are surprised by two fleeing criminals (Lionel Stander and Jack MacGowran).


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