Title: Herostratus
Medium: Film
Genre: Experimental drama
Filmed: 1964
Location: London
First shown: June 1967
Character: Max, a young poet
Role: Starring role. Max sells the chance to film his suicide to an advertising executive.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): Max survives, traumatised by having accidentally caused someone else’s death.
Link to entries on this archive

Title: The Machine Stops
Medium: TV: part of the BBC series – Out of the Unknown
Genre: Science fiction
Filmed: 1966
Location: UK
First shown: 6 October 1966
Character: Kuno, a young man living in a future society, underground.
Role: Starring role. Kuno, tries to escape the tyranny of the Machine by going out unprotected onto the surface of the Earth.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): Kuno dies, along with his mother Vashti, and their whole underground civilisation, when the Machine breaks down, because no one knows how to repair it.
Link to entries on this archive

Title: The Excavation
Medium: Television: part of the BBC series – Thirty Minute Theatre
Genres: Crime, psychological drama
Filmed: 1966
Location: UK, but set in the USA
First shown: 31 October 1966
Character: Grady, an ex-convict
Role: Starring role. Grady and his partner have perjured themselves at a murder trial; they are questioned by a wealthy civil rights lawyer, trying to get the truth.
Character’s fate: Unknown: the episode has been lost.1
Link to entry on this archive

Title: The Further Adventures of the Musketeers
Medium: TV serial, in 16 parts
Genres: Historical drama, swashbuckler
Filmed: 1966/7
Location: UK, but set in France
First shown: May – September 1967
Character: Mordaunt, formerly John Francis de Winter
Role: Mordaunt is the son of Milady de Winter: an enemy of the Musketeers, who was executed many years before. He appears in 10 episodes.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): According to Brian Blessed, who played Athos, Mordaunt was killed by the Musketeers: details unknown. The series still exists in the BBC Archive, but is not yet available.1
Link to entry on this archive

Title: Up the Junction
Medium: Film
Genres: Drama, slice of life
Filmed: 1967
Location: London
First shown: 13 March 1968
Character: Terry: a young Londoner
Role: Terry is a friend of the hero. He is upset when his girlfriend Rube has an abortion, but nevertheless gets engaged to her.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): Terry is killed, when his motorbike hits a lorry.
Link to entries on this archive
Read more... )
Please add anything you know, links to reviews, photos or personal memories in a comment, and let me know whether and how you wish to be credited.

Many thanks.
We had been looking forward to planting the tree for Michael ever since last year, when we had joined Oliver Tobias in dedicating the Wellingtonia to him.

The account of that event is here.

On this November day, it started out grey, but turned into a lovely sunny day by the time we arrived, and the park was beautiful, still in its autumn colours.

Woodchester 18 November 2011
Read more... )
Woodchester 18 November 2011
This is an account of the visit to Woodchester National Trust Park, where the early episodes of “Arthur of the Britons” were filmed in Summer 1972.

The event was organised by a fan of Oliver Tobias, Wendy Van Der Veen and this visit took place on Sunday 29 August. It was attended by Oliver Tobias, his brother Benedict Freitag, and a small group of fans of “Arthur of the Britons.”

We wanted to see where Arthur’s village had been sited, and to dedicate a tree to the late Michael Gothard, who starred as Kai in the series, alongside Oliver.
Read more... )
The BFI brought out three films in which Michael Gothard had major roles, “Herostratus”, “The Devils” and “La Valleé.” The booklets that accompany and “Herostratus” (released 24/08/2009) and “La Valleé” (released 08/06/2009) both include sections about him, but while the notes in the “La Valleé” booklet include some material specifically related to his role in that film, the notes for "Herostratus” are basically the same.

These notes show a disappointing reliance on online sources, one of whom – Curtis Harrington – actively disliked Michael Gothard. A quotation from Harrington is even used to provide the title: “An interesting type.”

At best, this phrase, culled from a highly personal attack that Harrington launched on Gothard some years after his death, damns a very talented and unique actor – not a ‘type’ – with faint praise, and tends to discourage the reader from looking more closely at his work.

It is tempting to think that the reason this quotation was used, was that it was easy to find. It’s true that there was not much information about Michael Gothard available at the time the booklet on “Herostratus” was written, but a little research in a library reveals that John Glen, the Director of “For Your Eyes Only”, described him as “a captivating actor”1, and that Louis M. Heyward, the Executive Producer of “Scream and Scream Again” said: "I felt that Michael Gothard was going to be the biggest thing that ever happened. He had that insane look and that drive, and he was wonderful … He had a lot of class and a lot of style.”2

Either of these quotations could have more aptly supplied a title for Michael Gothard's mini-biography. Instead, Harrington’s quotation sets the tone for an article which is not only negative, but misleading.

Firstly, the statement that, “Michael Gothard’s choice of television and film roles illustrated the dark side of the 1960s and 70s” warrants scrutiny. The word “choice” assumes that at the start of his career, Michael had the pick of television and film roles - which seems unlikely – rather than having to take what was offered.

Secondly, even if he did, indeed, choose the roles he took on between 1967 and 1979, from among many, it cannot be said that all or even most of them illustrated the "darker side" of those times. An argument could be made for his roles in “Herostratus”, “Up the Junction”, “More”, “The Storyteller”, “The Excavation”, “La Vallée”, “Nine Bean Rows”, “Games People Play”, “Run for Your Money”, and “Stopover”, but even some of those are debatable, and not all of them are extant.

As for the rest: “The Machine Stops” is set in the future; “The Further Adventures of the Musketeers”, “Michael Kohlhaas”, “The Last Valley”, “The Devils”, “Arthur of the Britons”, “The Three and Four Musketeers”, and “Warrior Queen” are all set in the past. “Les Fleurs du Mal” is an escapist spy/crime drama, “Scream and Scream Again”, a horror/science fiction, “When the Spirit Moves You”, a supernatural comedy, “Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?” a thriller, and “Warlords of Atlantis” a fantasy adventure. It is hard to see how his role in any of these could illustrate the darker side of the 1960s and 70s.

The notes go on to describe Michael as having a “deep, hard voice.” In his work that post-dates “Up the Junction”, his voice was deep, but “hard” is not how most people would describe it. David Wickes, who directed him in “Jack the Ripper” and “Frankenstein”, spoke of “his soft, husky voice” which “was electrifying … he knew how to use it to maximum effect.”

The notes go further into the realms of fantasy when they state that Gothard was “usually cast in historical actioners, European arthouse or mind-bending genre movies, more often than not torn apart or committing the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide.”

It’s true that he was often cast in historical pieces: a total of twelve productions. Under the heading “European Arthouse” there seem to be only three films, “Herostratus”, “La Valleé”, and a non-speaking appearance in “More.” Mind-bending genre movies? Again, perhaps “Herostratus” is one of those, along with “Scream and Scream Again”, and “Lifeforce.”

However,this only constitutes seventeen productions: less than half of Michael Gothard’s forty-two roles. This doesn’t fulfill the description, “usually cast.”

But it is the final assertion in the sentence – that his characters are “more often than not torn apart or committing the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide’” – which is the most damaging, and the most lacking in substance. It is complete fabrication.

Even if one assumes that by “torn apart”, the writer means “conflicted”, rather than literally “torn apart” (which never happens), this statement has no basis in fact. Most of Michael’s characters show no sign of being conflicted, and certainly not to the extent of being “torn apart.” Many of them – Kuno, John, Weber, Hansen, Father Barré, Albie, Volthan, Gaspard, Locque, Terry Marvin, Karl Portillo, Strett, Stefan, Xaros – are unusually single-minded.

Of his 42 known film and TV roles, only six of them, Max (“Herostratus”), Ivan (“Games People Play”), Olivier (“La Valleé”), Kai (“Arthur of the Britons”), Felton (The “Musketeers” films) Athelstane (“Ivanhoe”) and Sergei (“From Fulham With Love”) ever suffer significant internal conflict. Only in Max and Olivier is it a basic character trait, rather than something arising from circumstances, and Olivier’s conflict is not a bad thing, but the result of intellectual curiosity and a refreshing capacity to step back from his sociological context.

As for the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide’: in “Herostratus”, Michael’s character, Max, intends to commit suicide, but changes his mind, then accidentally kills someone else. In “Scream and Scream Again”, as the artificially-created vampire, Keith, he jumps into a bath of acid to avoid capture, presumably because he has been programmed to do so, rather than from an actual desire to kill himself.

There is no other instance in his entire known canon of film and TV work, of a character Michael Gothard played committing suicide.

Even if, being charitable, we count all six of the conflicted characters, and add in Keith the vampire as a suicide, this makes a total of seven roles out of forty-two: one sixth does not constitute “more often than not.”

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the writer made these claims in a misguided attempt to make things seem neat and tidy - by telling the rather tired story of an actor and his roles becoming one and the same thing - rather than making the effort to find out the truth.

Another less important inaccuracy, is the claim that Michael Gothard appeared in “Vampyre.” He did not. It was intended that he should appear, but the project fell through, and was eventually resurrected without him.

Towards the end of the article, the writer describes Michael Gothard “momentarily acting opposite Marlon Brando” as if that were his finest hour, when it was more like Brando’s worst. In fact, Gothard was brought in as a possible replacement for Brando, whom John Glen thought unreliable, and in the end, Brando got terrible notices for the film.

Finally, the article says of Michael Gothard: “Overpowered by depression, he hanged himself at home in Hampstead, aged 53 and alone.”

We know that Michael Gothard had suffered from depression for most of his life, on and off, but his suicide was unexpected. Some friends suspect that prescription medication may have precipitated his suicide, but the truth of what was going on in his mind will probably never be known, so to claim, as fact, that he was “overpowered by depression” is pure speculation.

Naturally he was “alone” at the time when he killed himself – few people take their own lives in company. But the tacit implication of “aged 53 and alone” is that he was “alone” in his life, and this is completely wrong.

A lifelong musician, he often met up with fellow musicians for jamming sessions. He dated many beautiful women, and was an avid letter-writer, keeping in touch with old friends and girlfriends. While he seems – as far as the creators of this archive have been able to discover – to have had no contact with his father, and little with his mother, he did have close friends whom he regarded as family.

The writer of the notes in the BFI booklet could not have known all this at the time they wrote the article, so - presumably because Michael Gothard’s social life was not plastered all over the tabloids every day - they have made the mistake of interpreting his whole life in the light of his final act, and suggesting that he was living a solitary and miserable existence. This is both misleading, and insulting to him and to his friends. It would have been better to be honest, and simply say, “Little is known of his private life”, but that wouldn’t have fitted in with story the writer wanted to tell.

~~

1 "For My Eyes Only: My Life with James Bond”, by John Glen. (2001)
2 Interview with Louis M. Heyward by Gary A. Smith, in “Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976.” (2006)
Houston Chronicle: “Nobody’s ever done a Frankenstein like this one and nobody’s ever done a better one.”

Wall Street Journal: “None of the previous Frankenstein films was as frightening as this.”

Rick Kogan in the Chicago Tribune, 11 June 1993

Monstrous Dignity
Tnt's Adaptation Of `Frankenstein' Is One Of The Best

… the latest version of "Frankenstein" is … certainly one of the best screen translations of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel …

The story is told in flashback from the point at which Frankenstein has tracked his creation across 1,000 miles of frozen wilderness and is taken aboard an ice-locked boat.

The incredulous sea captain listens as the doctor spins his tale of the monster's escape from the laboratory and how, after the two became separated, each has an idyllic summer, Frankenstein in the sumptuous country house of his betrothed, the monster at the cottage of a kindly old blind man (John Mills) who teaches him the joys of nature and wood-chopping, as well as a few words.

Danger intrudes, forcing the creature deeper into the forest and eventually back into Frankenstein's world …

Directed, written and produced by David Wickes, who sharpened his sense for horror by directing ABC's "Jekyll & Hyde" and CBS' "Jack the Ripper," this "Frankenstein" holds fairly firmly to Shelley's original, thus giving us much who-gets-to-play-God? meat upon which to chew ...

Full review

Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide

Filmed in Eastern Europe, this direct-to-cable adaptation of Mary Shelley's iconographic monster tale features Patrick Bergin as Victor Frankenstein, a medical genius obsessed with the secret of creating life, who uses a bizarre cloning apparatus to grow a complete human being (Randy Quaid) from his own cellular material …

… production values are admirably high and performances are superb throughout …

Full review

dtucker86

There have been so many versions of this story made that it would almost seem superflous to make another, yet this is the best version that I have seen because it is the most faithful to Mary Shelly's book. I saw the classic 1931 version where Karloff was the monster and he would have been proud of Quaid's performance …

He does a remarkable job of making the monster both scary and pitiful as society treats him so badly.

This is a great film and with the exception of Karloff's version, it is the best Frankenstein that I have ever seen.

elsbed-1

I really enjoyed this movie, far, far more than the over the top Kenneth Branagh version. Randy Quaid is fabulous as the monster. I particularly loved the monster in this film, as he was very sweet and childlike until he had negative experiences with humans. His expressions were very poignant and heartfelt. Also, the concept of Frankenstein feeling his monster's pain was original and interesting. Definitely impressive for a made-for-tv movie!

Jonathon Dabell

Forgotten version of the Mary Shelley novel - it doesn't deserve to have fallen into obscurity (but it has).

Director David Wickes was responsible for the horrible David Essex vanity project Silver Dream Racer. With this in mind, you could be forgiven for expecting this 1992 made-for-TV update of the oft-filmed Frankenstein story to be a somewhat trite affair. Surprisingly, this is a pretty good version of the tale. Indeed, it is actually better than the high profile Kenneth Branagh version that was released around 18 months later …

Wickes is extremely faithful to his source novel, more so than virtually all film-makers who have gone before him. He cuts out occasional bits of Mary Shelley's narrative, and makes the odd change here and there, but on the whole this is as close to Shelley's story as a film version has ever been.

Bergin is a revelation as Dr. Frankenstein. Usually a solid but unspectacular character actor, here he gives one of his best-ever performances as the ambitious scientist. On paper, Quaid sounds a terrible choice for the part of the monster … but in actual fact he is superb as the monster, registering anguish and pity from beneath layers of heavy make-up. At two hours, the film is paced well and moves briskly without sacrificing character or plot development …

It seems surprising that this film has faded into obscurity, for it is very well-made and admirably faithful to its source book. If you are fortunate enough to find, it is well worth viewing.

More IMDB reviews
This obituary was published on 18 February, 1993, on page 29 of 'The Stage and Television Today.'

"Michael Gothard, who died aged 53 on December 2, was an actor of great strength and individuality.

He played many major roles, but will be best remembered for many television and film appearances.

On television, he played second lead in Arthur of the Britons and Jack the Ripper. In film he was the Prosecutor in Ken Russell’s The Devils and the villain in For Your Eyes Only.

He had recently finished working in Frankenstein for director David Wickes."
This obituary was published on 8 January, 1993, on page 40 of 'Screen International.'

"Michael Gothard, who died aged 53 on December 2, was an actor of great strength and individuality.

He will probably be best remembered in the TV series Arthur of the Britons and David Wickes' Jack the Ripper; and in films as the prosecutor in Ken Russell’s The Devils and the villain in For Your Eyes Only."
Ice (3) Ice (18)

A party of seamen from a ship trapped in the Arctic ice witnesses a furious chase – two men on sleds drawn by
teams of huskies, the one in pursuit of the other. They wonder how the men got here, because the nearest
town, Arkangel, is 1000 miles away.

Ice (5) Ice (8)

Apparently both man are intent on killing each other. The one being pursued loses control of his sled, and the
Captain (Roger Bizley) orders his crew to fire on the pursuer.

Ice (10) Ice (11)

The Bosun (Michael Gothard) and the others scare him off, then go to see whether his intended victim is still alive.
Read more... )
Ice breaks (43) Ice breaks (45)

The Bosun’s last words to his crew - and Michael Gothard's last words on film - are, “Come on, Lads! Look
lively! We’re going home!”
Described in the Chicago Tribune as "A classic the whole family can watch: big entertainment, big production values, a lot of interesting moral story lines to deal with,” this version of ‘Frankenstein’ was based more closely on the original version of Mary Shelley’s classic horror story than previous efforts, and was said to have had a budget of about $4.5 million – high for a typical network movie at time.

Michael Gothard was cast as the Bosun of a ship trapped in Arctic ice. He and the rest of the crew are out walking on the ice, presumably hunting for food, when they see two combatants on sleds, chasing each other across the frozen waste.

Dr Victor Frankenstein is thrown from his sled and taken on board, where he tells the tale of how he created the monster which now pursues him, to the ship’s Captain.

Michael’s character, the Bosun, is the Captain’s right hand man, on whom the Captain relies for information, and to keep his motley crew in line.

Astonishingly, the scenes of ice and snow in which Michael features were filmed at Pinewood Studios.

Near the end of the Pinewood shoot, Patrick Bergin, who played Dr Frankenstein, sustained a broken arm when falling from a sled, and filming of his last scenes was delayed.

Director, David Wickes, had made use of Michael Gothard’s talents before, on 'Jack the Ripper.’

In correspondence, David Wickes says:

"Frankenstein was largely shot in Poland. It was the first mainstream movie to be shot there after the Iron Curtain came down . . . a wild place in those days. Ted Turner must have thought I was bonkers.

Anyway, before I cast each actor, I warned them about the problems — bad roads, worse food, you name it. (Ask Stephen Spielberg who followed us in with Schindler’s List !)

Most of the actors and crew just gulped and blinked — but Michael was different. He listened to all my warnings, then he smiled his famous smile and said 'Great ! Can’t wait !'

... Michael had a screen presence unlike that of any other actor with whom I have worked. He could frighten an audience with a glance. His soft, husky voice was electrifying and he knew how to use it to maximum effect.

Each time I welcomed Michael to the set, I knew that we were about to get something special in the can. There are very few actors in that category."

The stunt arranger on ‘Frankenstein’, Peter Brayham, would also have been well known to Michael, from ‘Arthur of the Britons’, ‘Stopover’, and 'Jack the Ripper.’

‘Frankenstein’ received good reviews, but was not released in the UK until 29 December 1992 – nearly a month after Michael’s death.
When released in the US in June 1993, it gained the highest ever audience ratings for TNT in the USA (72% cable audience share) and received 3 ACE nominations and 1 ACE Award.

More details on ‘Frankenstein’ from David Wickes Productions

Frankenstein is now available on DVD from WB Shop

IMDB entry
Michael’s death was registered in the London Borough of Camden.
He died on Wednesday 2nd December 1992.

He was described as “Actor and Therapist.”

An inquest, held on the 5th January 1993, concluded:
“Cause of death is Hanging
Took his own life on account of his illness.”

An article in the Hampstead and Highgate local paper said that “the inquest was told that he had been receiving treatment for depression.”
This report by Jeff Kaye was printed in the Chicago Tribune on 15 Jan 1993, after the film’s UK premier on 29 January 1992, but before its US premiere, which wasn’t until June 1993. Michael Gothard appeared as the Bosun in this film, and his scenes were filmed at Pinewood, as described in the report.

Tnt Goes Back To The Source For `Frankenstein'

Harsh winds are stirring up such a thick cloud of snow across this patch of frozen tundra that it's difficult to see the team of huskies pulling the oversized sled in the distance.

The dogs yelp with enthusiasm as they race past a snowdrift and circle back toward their starting point.

It's a mighty surprising scene for the unprepared observer.

The surprise has nothing to do with the fact that this is all taking place just outside London on a warmish autumn day. This is, after all, Pinewood Studios, one of the most famous movie lots in the world. Here, creating a realistic arctic setting, should be a snap. Next to the tundra is a hulking soundstage marked "007" where some of James Bond's most amazing feats have been filmed.

What's remarkable about this icy milieu is that it has been painstakingly constructed, in the name of strict authenticity, to film the opening sequence of a new movie about Frankenstein.

Frankenstein on a dog sled in the Arctic Circle? It's a weird idea that probably would have been deemed utterly preposterous and tossed in the trash if not for the person who thought of it. That person was Mary Shelley, whose 1818 novel "Frankenstein" begins with a disfigured creature and its creator locked in a deadly chase across the great white North.

Boris Karloff and the legion of square-headed descendants who have played Frankenstein's monster in countless films may have provided hours of thrilling entertainment with their versions of the creature. But what really wound up hideously disfigured in those movies was Shelley's novel.

Now comes Turner Network Television to set things right.

The cable channel is producing what it claims to be the most true-to-the-original-story version of Frankenstein ever filmed, with Randy Quaid as the monster (no, his name is not Frankenstein) and Patrick Bergin as his creator (his name is Frankenstein)

...

The notion of filming the original Frankenstein story began with writer-director-producer David Wickes … "I read the story like everyone else when I was at school," says the British filmmaker, as he sits near a pack of baying huskies on the arctic set. "I was fascinated by it and loved it, and it remained an image forever." He saw all the Frankenstein movies and always believed that they "didn't live up to what I had read."


Wickes finally decided to pursue his idea for the film after a dinner party at which the table talk centered on genetic engineering and the possibility of choosing not only a baby's sex but also its level of intelligence.

"I said, `Well, it's like the Frankenstein story,' and someone at the table said, `You mean the monster with the bolts through the neck?' And I thought, hey, now's the time" to shoot the original version.

An obvious question arises. If the original story is so good, why hadn't anyone filmed it?

"When I started to transpose the novel to movie script, I realized how difficult it was," he says. "A novel is a very different thing from a movie. There are long, introspective thoughts, exhaustively discussed, dismembered and examined under microscopic intensity. You cannot do that in a picture. A picture has to have events and images, dialogue and relationships."

TNT executives not only believed the transformation was possible, but found the idea irresistible …

Full article
Roger Ebert in Chicago Sun-Times: August 24, 1992

"Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" makes a voyage of its own, back through time to the 1930s and 1940s, when costume dramas were made with energy and style. Something seems to have gotten lost in the years between. This movie takes one of history's great stories and treats it in such a lackluster manner that Columbus' voyage seems as endless to us as it did to his crew.
Read more... )
~~

Grann-Bach from Denmark

… This flick is simply put one of the best arguments for why you should not base viewing choices upon the cast alone. There are *amazing* actors in this, and they are utterly wasted.

Full review
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus (3)

King Ferdinand (Tom Selleck) and Queen Isabella (Rachel Ward) receive Cristobal Colon and hear his request for
their support for his plan to reach the Indies by a westerly route.

Christopher Columbus (6) Christopher Columbus (7)

Meanwhile, the Inquisitor’s Spy (Michael Gothard) lurks in the background, taking mental note of what is said.
Read more... )
John Glen’s “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery” was one of two films about Columbus to be released in the same year, the other being Ridley Scott’s “1492: Conquest of Paradise.” In Glen’s film, Michael Gothard was cast as the Inquisitor’s spy, his scenes apparently being filmed in the UK and Spain.

Michael had worked for the film’s producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind on “The Three/Four Musketeers” (1973), and John Glen had directed him as the villain, Emile Locque in “For Your Eyes Only” (1981).

In correspondence, John Glen had this to say:

‘I cast Michael Gothard in "For Your Eyes Only" and he contributed many ideas on this, my first effort as a Bond director … I remember him as a very pleasant person as well as a fine actor …

When Marlon Brando was cast in "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" I decided I would need a back up in the event Marlon decided not to turn up on the set. I thought of Michael to play his assistant. He would take Marlon's lines and I would shoot in such a way that I could isolate him and continue to shoot the scene with the other actors.

In fact, this happened on day one, much to Tom Selleck's displeasure. Fortunately Marlon decided to turn up on day 2 and I was able to complete the scene. Marlon was a very nice man and I think Tom Selleck's disappointment prompted him to co-operate ... or perhaps it was the thought of losing his lines to Michael Gothard. In any event it worked.

I was shocked to hear of Michael's untimely death.’

There is further detail on this incident in “From Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Brando, Hopper, Beatty, and Nicholson,” by Robert Sellers.

“When Glen began shooting Marlon's scenes there was an immediate problem. The great man didn't turn up. ‘I was anticipating trouble. When you're a director you have to box a little clever sometimes and I'd cast a very good actor called Michael Gothard as Brando's assistant, the idea being that if Marlon didn't turn up any time I would put Gothard in. And sure enough, on the first day, Marlon was a no-show, so I put Michael in and he took Marlon's lines.'

Marlon's invisibility on the set that first day caused ructions amongst the cast, notably with Tom Selleck, who approached Glen that evening.

'John,' he said, 'I admire your work, but really the only reason I did this film was because Marlon Brando was going to be in it. Now he's not turned up and he's not gonna play the thing, I'm not going to do it anymore, I'm off.'

A bit taken aback, Glen replied, 'I appreciate your honesty, Tom, and wish you all the best.' Obviously word filtered back to Marlon that Selleck had walked out and that another actor was delivering his dialogue. 'Because Brando turned up the next day,' says Glen. 'Actors being actors, they hate to lose their lines, and I just re-shot that section. Naturally Tom Selleck re-appeared, too.'"

The film had various release dates in 1992: 20 August in Germany, 21 August in the USA, and 11 September in the UK.

The reviews for “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery” were less than complimentary. One can only hope that Michael Gothard took some comfort in the fact that the critics’ scathing comments were reserved for Marlon Brando, Tom Selleck, George Corraface and Director, John Glen.

As Brando received the worst notices, it seems a shame that Gothard wasn’t given all his lines, but then, Brando was supposed to be the star.

IMDB entry
"The Devils" was shown on Sky at 1.50 am on Wednesday 8 May 1991.

The Daily Express called it "Controversial and stunning."
First sight (2) First sight (3)

Hired killer Xaros (Michael Gothard) is already keeping watch on Jake Bonner's flat when his employer, Omar (Gamil Ratib)
comes to visit the archaeology student to try to get a look at one of Jake's finds.

First sight (5) Meetings (9)

Jake (Jeff Fahey) pretends that the small model serpent he has found is of no significance.
Omar and Xaros then discuss how to proceed.

Read more... )
“The Serpent of Death”, also known as “Out of Time”, is an archaeological thriller, filmed in Greece and Egypt in 1989.

The US video premiere was 6 December 1990, and it was released under various titles in West Germany, Portugal, Egypt, Greece, and Finland.

The role of Xaros gave Michael Gothard another opportunity to travel to exotic places, but he must have been less than delighted to be playing yet another hit-man, especially one with so few redeeming qualities.

Plot

Jake Bonner (Jeff Fahey), the supposed hero of the film, is an unscrupulous archaeology student, who thinks nothing of damaging historical sites and relics. He finds a sculpted head of Alexander at the bottom of the sea, breaks it open, just to see what’s inside, and finds a small carved snake, which he believes is a clue that will lead him to a hidden and forgotten hoard of Alexander’s treasure.

Omar (Gamil Ratib), a dealer in antiquities, for whom Jake does occasional identification work, hears about this, and decides to get the treasure for himself, with the help of cold-blooded hired killer, Xaros (Michael Gothard).

Xaros mistakenly kills Jake’s friend and colleague, Donald, strangling him with a string of beads – his trademark method of killing. When Omar expresses surprise at seeing Jake alive, when he thought he was dead, Xaros, unphased, simply says ‘Someone is.’

Omar and Xaros pursue Jake, and a girl he has recently met, Rene (Camilla More), from Greece, to, and across, Egypt.

Xaros kills a number of people who get in their way, including the henchmen of millionaire Stavros, who is also interested in Alexander’s legacy. Xaros even threatens a little girl who happens to live with one of Rene’s friends, to get information.

Xaros kills an old expert to whom Jake has taken his carved snakes for examination, and his assistant, but the clues Xaros brings back to Omar are fakes. Omar is annoyed, but Xaros just shrugs, and says he isn’t in the resurrection business.

Eventually Omar and Xaros catch Rene on her own, steal the genuine relics from her, and set off after the treasure; this time with Jake and Rene in pursuit.

Thinking to find the treasure himself now he has the clues, Xaros leaves his employer, Omar, dying on the road.

Jake and Rene find Xaros’ car crashed into some abandoned World War II tanks. He seems to be dead. They wait until dawn before going to check, but Xaros has more patience, and Jake falls into his trap, and loses a fight with him.

Xaros thanks Jake for supplying him with both a vehicle, and a woman. But while Xaros is trying to rape Rene, she throws a snake – left in a bag the back of the truck by her zoologist friend – into his face, and he is fatally bitten.

With three minutes to live, Xaros shoots out their tyres, but – while still trying to kill them – steps on a landmine, and is blown up.

This may be the most ridiculous death any of Michael’s characters has suffered.

All the killing is pointless in the end, because Nikos, the disaffected son of the millionaire Stavros, kills himself and consigns both his own body, and the treasure, to the sea.

Review in TV Guide
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Watch extracts, including Michael Gothard’s scenes as Xaros on Youtube.

IMDB entry

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michael_gothard

October 2013

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