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Thread: Don't Look Now

  1. #1
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    Default Don't Look Now

    Another one of those "I am at my computer because I can't really sleep" threads, I'm afraid - I have got one of the Sky Movie channels on in the background (310, I think), which is showing that legendry 1973 classic Don't Look Now based on many of Daphne du Maurier's novels, although the film has become more famous than the book. Starring Donald Sutherland (with a very dodgy 1970s moustache) and Julie Christie (no moustache, thank goodness) as John and Laura Baxter, two bereaved parents who go to Italy to get away from it all, except that doesn't quite happen - getting away from it, rather than going to Italy. After the Children in Need marathon earlier, one needed a bit of calming down and a search on the EPG came up with the masterpiece, seeming to be the second half of a double bill with The Shining as the first half of it. I know that it has been briefly mentioned in past threads on here, but I thought that I would add my own prose here.

    The film is indeed very 1973 (even if Yours Truly wasn't around for another five years) - I don't think it could have been made the year before or the year after it. The film starts with the Baxter couple's daughter dressed like Little Red Riding Hood, cycling along and of course, it feels reminiscent of the PIFs of the time such as the Dark and Lonely Water one, with a unforgiving ripple of water just waiting to take whoever gets in contact with it in one fell swoop, or indeed Say No to Strangers ones as well - no coincidence that the Health and Safety Act was just one year away! The girl ends up drowning in a pond (again, reminiscent of the 1980s PIF about youngsters playing never ponds as observed in that other thread). Sutherland who plays the girl's father tries to revive her but is successful and goes to pieces. We see the projector slide of a stained glass window, being covered in blood a la a James Bond film opening title.

    Before very long, the Baxters go to Italy, and we see a Venice-alike canal with a gondola travelling along it, and one almost feels as these scenes are almost a parody of the Cornetto advert about to happen. Two elderly sisters want to contact with the dead - and their deceased daughter, and so on. Further into the film, we some sex scenes between Sutherland and Christie - at some point, she looks as if she is sniffing his socks or something. Various scenes show them liberally with literally nothing on as if they were in a nudist colony in Sweden or wherever, and Christie sans bra would have even made a Page Three model blush. I hope that Mary Whitehouse never got to view the film, it would have been a bad experience for her no doubt.

    When BBC 2 used to show it, usually late on a 1980s weekday night, (probably at weekends or post-Newsnight), I am certain that it was given a 18 certificate, although the Sky Movies gave the showing on now a 15 - of course, one point to make is that this was made nine years before the BBFC rationalised the new ratings such as 18, 15, PG and so on - was A for Adult the 1973 equivalent of an 18 certificate, post 1982? Channel 4 has it in the late 1990s, and ITV also had a go with it too. The film, apart from its general adult theme doesn't have violence and it has mild language, (mostly muttered by Sutherland towards the beginning when he "accidently" spills something and uses a four letter word staring with S, which makes me feel as he is adlibbing in just one take), the sexual scenes are the main reason why some classifications were between a 15 and an 18.

    The other main point I would also like to make about the film was that we saw the first ten minutes of it as part of our English Language lessons in Year 9 at school in the 1991-1992 academic year - of course, our otherwise liberal teacher (who also taught Drama) would not let us see the rest of the film until we were 15 (so perhaps the BBFC certificate was indeed 15, given a few edits here and there?) I have this feeling that he would have been within a whisker away from being banned from teaching had he allowed us to watch all the film in class. However, I do remember that a year or so later, the teacher allowed us to see some of the scenes later on in the film, including the sex scenes. Even though it was now Year 10, and into the territory of GCSE-land - the PSE lessons and the subject of sex education in Biology lessons, it was still apparent that most of the class was still immature (especially the boys - they thought it was a Carry On film when a theatre group visited for a Drama lesson to do a sex education themed play) and were not quite ready to view such an adult themed performance - I assume that we never got to see it in full until it appeared on late night TV a few years later, possibly Channel 4 in October 1998.

    Looking back, I was very surprised that our English teacher allowed us to view it in class as it was clearly and adult film - as pupils, we wouldn't have been allowed to have seen it at the local Odeon if we tried to go and buy tickets for the film, and I did feel in hindsight that showing the film was technically against his values for the job he was doing. We had to write a synopsis in class of the film based on the 10 minutes or so we did get to see, and I assume that it wasn't as detailed as what is on here! Some of the class had to finish it for homework, and when I told my sister about what we were writing about - do you know what she said? She said: "we had to watch the first ten minutes over and over again, and then had to write about it afterwards". Exactly what I had to do. She did indeed go to the same school and had the same teacher, although she did hers in the Drama lessons, and she was at the school eight or so years before I was.

    Overall, the film has very nostalgic values to it, mostly as it is filmed in England in 1973, (one feels as if one is entering a time capsule and arriving in that year for a couple of hours, before realising in the end that over 46 years worth of water has passed under the bridge), and as one can see with movie versions of sitcoms made around that time, not to mention low-budget Saturday morning CFF films, it does have a very much "there and then" feel about it. Despite the film being well-known, it does have a hint of B or even C-list feel to it - that in addition to it being on late night weekend BBC 2, one could have seen it on a 1980s Friday night after News at Ten in the Tyne Tees region or something - i.e. being shown when no one is really watching because people are in bed, or of course, shown in the middle of the night. Also, the 1970s nostalgia boom in the mid 1990s almost awakened interest for films from the early to mid 1970s including this one. Certainly 20 years ago when we were about to see the end of the 20th century or more specifically the second millennium, I did get a huge taste for things in the 1970s and 1980s such as PIFs and the like, and films like this would have also come under that same remit.

    No doubt that it is a dated film as it was made in 1973, (and it would have been even when it was shown in the 1980s BBC 2 showings), but at the same time, it is timeless and a literal time capsule of when it was originally filmed. Not surprising that the sex scenes between the two protagonists are the main reason why it was on at 2.30 am and not 2.30 pm - I think that Sutherland would have probably made a great Doctor Who as his acting persona would probably fit into that sort of criteria, and as we were close to Tom Baker territory, comparisons on how he looked back then would be more than apparent now.

    Did any of you ever see it back in the days of it being released? - how old were you when you first see it, and did it shock you when you did see it? Does anyone feel as if the graphic images of sexual content was too strong or was it justified? I assume that it was such a controversial thing in 1973, whereas if it had been made in 1983, 1993 or so on, most observers and commentators probably wouldn't even bat an eyelid on its cinema release.
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Don't Look Now

    That's one of my favorite films, but I was only five or six when it first came out. I like all the films Nicolas Roeg (r.i.p.) made, there's often some really brutal scene that's hard to watch but so memorable. I also rate his Walkabout and Man Who Fell To Earth highly. I think those three hold up very well.

    I guess a lot of those actual locations in Venice are underwater today.
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    Default Re: Don't Look Now

    Quote Originally Posted by beccabear67 View Post
    That's one of my favorite films, but I was only five or six when it first came out. I like all the films Nicolas Roeg (r.i.p.) made, there's often some really brutal scene that's hard to watch but so memorable. I also rate his Walkabout and Man Who Fell To Earth highly. I think those three hold up very well.

    I guess a lot of those actual locations in Venice are underwater today.
    Topical!...Venice is strangely experiencing some of the worst flooding in its history at the moment...weird to think of Venice flooding
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    Default Don't Look Now

    Quote Originally Posted by tex View Post
    Topical!...Venice is strangely experiencing some of the worst flooding in its history at the moment...weird to think of Venice flooding
    I should really start studying Venice ..

    Iím obsessed with water / sea / rivers and lakes etc so Venice sounds amazing .. .

    What on earth do they do about sewers / sewerage ??

    Where would I start learning about the place ?? Wiki ?

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    Default Re: Don't Look Now

    Quote Originally Posted by Zincubus View Post
    I should really start studying Venice ..

    I’m obsessed with water / sea / rivers and lakes etc so Venice sounds amazing .. .

    What on earth do they do about sewers / sewerage ??

    Where would I start learning about the place ?? Wiki ?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Yep, beautiful place...Did Rome, Florence and Venice a few years ago, add it to your bucket list!....now theres an idea for a new thread
    ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE NEXT HALF HOUR.

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    Default Re: Don't Look Now

    I recall watching the film as a child. But I could only appreciate the beauty of the film in later years. Donald Sutherland is a fantastic actor. I recall him been interviewed by Jonathan Ross. He related a really good joke which I cannot mention here.

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    Default Re: Don't Look Now

    I do sometimes get concerned when someone says that they saw an adult film as a child.
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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    Default Re: Don't Look Now

    Quote Originally Posted by George 1978 View Post
    I do sometimes get concerned when someone says that they saw an adult film as a child.
    Censorship is a waste of time these days, kids have access to any kind of material they may wish to see, innocence in children is fast becoming a thing of the past. It was difficult enough in the 70s/80s trying to stop kids seeing horror films and skin mags...now its become impossible.
    ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE NEXT HALF HOUR.

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    Default Re: Don't Look Now

    I don't know who the incumbent Mary Whitehouse is these days, but I am certain someone, probably either at Ofcom or the VLV gets excited about the puritan standards of our TV shows and films.

    By the way, what's a skin mag?
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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    Default Re: Don't Look Now

    Quote Originally Posted by Zincubus View Post
    I should really start studying Venice ..

    I’m obsessed with water / sea / rivers and lakes etc so Venice sounds amazing .. .

    What on earth do they do about sewers / sewerage ??

    Where would I start learning about the place ?? Wiki ?
    Italy, perhaps?

    Perhaps a course in learning Italian could be a good starting point.
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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