Tuesday, July 6, 2010

1963 - THESE ARE THE DAMNED, British science fiction with social commentary

Hammer Studios made fairly interesting films at times.  These Are The Damned filmed in the early 1960's is a strong as any film they produced. This film has a very good cast, an interesting premise and strong direction from blacklisted 1950's director Joseph Losey. 

The plot involves a middle aged American on vacation in England who gets himself involved with the sister of the leader of a "teddy boys" gang, sort of a British version of the Hell's angles.  The film takes a hard 90 degree pivot and turns into a science fiction story about the fear of nuclear war.  The plot then involves the British government selectively breeding radioactive children for survival after nuclear annihilation.

The 1960's was an era of paranoia about nuclear war but the depressing nature of the subject usually made for pretty downbeat films like, Fail Safe or On The BeachThese Are The Damned has more of a focus on ordinary people and is more of a small scale film as is typical for a modestly budgeted Hammer film.

The acting by the entire cast is at a very high level.  American MacDonald Carey who will probably be remembered for playing Dr. Horton on the long running soap opera Days Of Our Lives, gives a strong performance as a middle aged insurance executive disillusioned with his life.  Carey  gets involved with a barely out of her teenage years  Shirley Anne Field who was usually cast as a British teenage sexpot and is also pretty good.  Oliver Reed is  in the film and does his usual creepy misanthrope performing thing, but he does it well. 

This intelligently made film about the paranoia of nuclear war is worthy of a lot of respect.

96 minutes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great film, very bleak - one of Hammer's best, I think.