1 Arrival and deal 1 Arrival and deal (2)

Hit-man Ennio Volpe arrives on the scene.

1 Arrival and deal (4) 1 Arrival and deal (9)

Volpe and Reynold Turot discuss wines …
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According to IMDB, ‘Destroying Angel’, also known as ‘Sleep Well, My Love’, was filmed in 1987, in Yugoslavia, and had a video premiere in Finland in 1990.

This charmless endeavour must have been one of the low points in Michael’s career. Despite being described – by some – as a romantic comedy, there is little to laugh at. The story revolves around 16 year-old Siska Turot, child of a rich but broken home, who – apparently without intending to – inflames her father Reynold’s passions during one of her three-weekly visits to his villa.

When her mother, Maria, comes to collect her, she catches them in bed. She takes the opportunity to blackmail her ex-husband for increasingly bigger hikes in her allowance, while encouraging Siska to continue this illicit liaison with Reynold: effectively prostituting her own child.

While the three of them are on holiday at the same hotel, Maria demands yet another pay-rise, and Reynold decides that he’s had enough. He hires an assassin, Ennio Volpe (played by Michael Gothard) to take her out.

Despite having an Italian name, Volpe seems to be Russian. The meeting between Volpe and Reynold Turot to discuss terms over a glass of wine is a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal film. Volpe, who fancies himself as a wine connoisseur, advises Reynold to stick to Communist wines, because capitalists lace their vintages with anti-freeze.

Meanwhile, Maria is trying to persuade her new lover, struggling novelist Tom Berto, to kill Reynold for her. Siska joins her voice to her mother’s, though she fails in her attempt to seduce the man she claims to want as her ‘new step-father.’

As it turns out, Siska is the ‘destroying angel’ after whom the film is titled. When she finds out about her father’s plan to kill her mother, she sees an opportunity to rid herself of both troublesome parents, tricking her father into becoming his own hitman’s second target, in place of the man he was also paying Volpe to shoot – Maria’s lover, Tom.

Tom then mistakes Volpe for Reynold, and makes a feeble attempt to kill him. Despite Siska’s pleas, Volpe then shoots Tom as well, for good measure, and departs, promising not to charge Siska for that bullet.

Not a happy story at first glance, but if the Director had handled it differently, it could have made a passable black comedy, perhaps along the lines of ‘Ruthless People.’

But for that, it would have needed a faster pace, and characters with whom one might empathise. As it is, the main players are one-dimensional: a weak and pathetic abuser, a libidinous, money-grabbing harpy, and her failed novelist boyfriend, who is a bit of a sap. Even Siska isn’t very sympathetically played.

The director Arne Mattsson did include a joke of his own; known internationally for his film "One Summer of Happiness" (1951), which aroused controversy because of its permissiveness, he gave this same title to the novel Tom Berto has just had rejected by his publisher, on account of its lack of sexual content.

Sadly, Mattsson also took the ‘permissive’ route with this film, which contains a lot of footage that was presumably intended to be erotic, but is actually just unpleasant; we are treated to a number of scenes documenting Reynold’s ongoing sexual abuse of his daughter Siska, as well as the unedifying sight of Siska’s appalling mother Maria seducing the bumbling Tom Berto, in the hope of persuading him to commit murder.

Even Volpe’s interaction with Siska is sexualised; Volpe puts the barrel of his gun in Siska’s mouth before agreeing to let her assist him by plunging the hotel into darkness, so he can kill her mother.

This may well be the worst film Michael ever appeared in, though – as ever – he does a professional job. Former girlfriend N.B. has said that he never watched the productions in which he appeared; in this case, that was probably a wise choice.

Michael was once again wearing octagonal-framed glasses, as first seen in "For Your Eyes Only."

Watch extracts from ‘Destroying Angel’ on Youtube, including Michael’s scenes.

IMDB entry
“Capital City” was a show about the lives and loves of a group of city bond traders working at fictional company, Shane Longman. It was shown in the UK, The Netherlands, Canada and elsewhere.

From the DVD cover notes:

“Originally broadcast in 1989, “Capital City” was a huge success, giving a realistic insight into the fast-paced life at an international bank. Set in the offices of London-based Shane Longman, the charismatic team of bankers are hired for their blend of style, intelligence and verve. They take risks, and thrive on the pressure of closing the deal.”

Michael Gothard appeared in episode 11: “Twelve Degrees Capricorn”, which was first broadcast in the UK on 5 December 1989.

Michael Gothard’s role in “Twelve Degrees Capricorn.”

“… Sirkka [Joanna Kanska] finds her own ultimately dangerous way of relieving the feelings of frustration she is currently feeling regarding her inability to read the financial market. After a particularly difficult day she unwinds by stopping off at a nearby bar that sells her current favourite tipple, ‘lemon vodka’.

Whilst there she is propositioned by Stefan [Michael Gothard], a Swiss Trade Commission representative and – enjoying what she considers another way of relieving the tedium of her trading existence – she arranges to sleep with him for money.

… however this initial thrill of Sirkka’s one night stand then turns sinister when Stefan locates where she works and continues to phone her.

… she breezes onto the trading floor, attempting to put these dalliances behind her, to the strains of saxophone laced confident incidental music ready for the day ahead. However with cards, flowers and ultimately a personal visit … Stefan initially proves a difficult person to dissuade.”

Full review from series fan, Sarah Tarrant, on TV Gold

Screencaps

£500 £500 (2)

Swiss Trade Commission representative, Stefan (Michael Gothard), watches as Sirkka Nieminen (Joanna Kanska)
sits alone in her favourite bar, drinking lemon vodka.

£500 (3) £500 (7)
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Watch clips featuring Michael Gothard as Stefan on Youtube.

IMDB entry
Zabo arrives (2) Zabo arrives (14)

Actor Michael Zabo (Michael Gothard) arrives at the home of film director Theo Steiner (Elliott Gould).

Zabo arrives (8) Zabo arrives (5)

He graciously greets Rosita (Eva Robin’s – birth name Roberto Coatti), a transsexual, who hopes to be the
subject of Steiner’s next film.

Zabo arrives (17) Zabo arrives (18)

Then Zabo sees Theo’s partner, Bella, and greets her too. When asked what Zabo is doing here, Bella replies
that he’s just afraid of being left out of Theo’s next film. In fact, all the guests are just bit part players in the
drama being played out between Theo and old friend Clem Da Silva (Tomas Milian.)
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Massacre Play is a drama, filmed in Italy, and directed by Damiano Damiani.

The exact release dates are unknown.

The film examines the relationship between successful film director Theo Steiner, and his boyhood friend Clem Da Silva. Clem feels that Theo’s success has come at the price of his own; that Theo has stolen some of his ideas.

Michael Gothard plays actor Michael Zabo, one of the pawns in the game being played out between these two giants of the cinema. He is one of many guests at Theo’s villa, and Theo uses him to play the role of Clem in a couple of scenes he sets up, in pursuit of his aim to make a film about his old friend, and to find out how Clem feels about his impending death.

Zabo is one of very few of Theo’s guests who is prepared to say what he really thinks of Theo’s ideas; perhaps that is why Theo chose him to play Clem.

Very little seems to have been written about this thought-provoking drama. Please leave links or references in comments.

Publicity still

Massacre Play publicity still

Michael’s character, Zabo, is wearing sunglasses in this publicity still, but in the film, he is not wearing them when he arrives at the villa - see screencap below.

Zabo arrives (18)

Review by Cranston Mcmillan.

“Damiano Damiani remains one of the most difficult Italian directors to categorise. He is comfortable at the helm of commercial exploitation such as Amityville 2, but would be better remembered as the key political movie-maker of his generation, with a string of socially aware dramas that puts the better known cinema of Rosi and Gavras to shame.

Massacre Play (The Killing Game) is a rather unknown entry in the Damiani canon, but is well worth the investment of a couple of hours purely for the amazing performances of the two leads. Milian is quite magnificent and Elliott Gould shows just how good an actor he is: they play two friends, both film directors who have taken very different paths. Wordy, intelligent but never boring and with a few little surprises along the way …

Not in Damiani's top league but all in all, very worthwhile.”

Watch Massacre Play on Youtube.

IMDB entry
Coroner (9) Coroner

George Lusk (Michael Gothard) first comes to the attention of Chief Insp. Frederick Abberline and Sgt. George
Godley at the Coroner’s Court. Lusk is in the company of journalist Benjamin Bates (Jonathan Moore) of The
Star, hearing testimony from Dr. Llewellyn (Michael Hughes) about the first of the Whitechapel murders.

Suspects arrive Suspects arrive (2)

Lusk helps stir up the crowd when two of the other suspects, Richard Mansfield and Robert James Lees, appear
in public.
Read more... )
Reviews

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: “A perfect whodunit.”

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “Jack the Ripper lashes the viewer with the insistent thrust of a Dickensian epic.”

SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER: “This carefully wrought, brightly scripted movie manages the near impossible.”

~~

Glenn Erickson on DVD Savant

… The story of Jack the Ripper continues to fascinate audiences. The famous 1888 London serial murder case was documented in detail, killing by bloody killing. Forensic evidence, including photographs of the murder sites and the victims, are a matter of public record. As the killer's identity was never discovered the case is still controversial, with scores of hypothetical solutions. Social reformers used the killings to bring attention to the horrible living conditions in crowded lower-class areas of the city. Author Jack London wrote scathing essays based on his observances of poverty and squalor in Whitechapel, the district where the Ripper killings took place …

The most satisfactory historical effort so far is this lavish two-part TV miniseries from Euston Films, Thames Television and Lorimar. It was produced for the centennial of the killings … and made news for its rare TV appearance by Michael Caine. Caine praised writer-producer-director David Wickes, for whom this was actually a second go at the story. Wickes had directed a previous English TV show on the same subject in 1973, that was applauded for sticking to the facts of the case.

The Jack the Ripper miniseries has its factual flaws and anachronisms but by and large is an exciting and complex large-scale recounting of the murders. The three-hour running time gives plenty of elbow room to sketch out political elements of the story usually omitted, such as the activities of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee …

Chief Scotland Yard Inspector Fred Abberline (Michael Caine) must climb back on the wagon when he's assigned the Whitechapel murder case, a horrific mutilation murder. Under the watchful eye of his superiors, Abberline and his partner Sgt. George Godley (Lewis Collins) engage the help of Robert Lees, a psychic (Ken Bones), prostitutes Kate Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly (Susan George & Lysette Anthony) and sketch artist Emma Prentiss (Jane Seymour), a previous sweetheart of Abberline's. As the murders mount so does the pressure to put an end to the case -- public uproar is turning ugly. Fred and George investigate the famous American actor Richard Mansfield (Armand Assante), who nightly transforms from Jekyll to Hyde before terrified audiences. But the only consistent clues that Abberline can put together point in a very sensitive direction --- to someone involved with the Royal Family ...

The dapper Fred Abberline must answer to closed-mouthed bureaucrats concerned that he'll get drunk and fumble the case. Out in the streets he's confronted by coarse working men, arrogant criminals and Marxist agitators. A nervy reporter (Jonathan Moore) openly fans the flames of scandal. Abberline is inundated with opportunists, gadflies and obstructionists. Adding to his troubles, the local police are anxious to discredit him as well.

Numerous actors serve as transparent red herrings, while Inspector Abberline pursues the case as best he can. Local police cynically "round up the usual suspects" to give the impression that they're doing something constructive. Fred's superiors remove bodies and clean up a murder site in an attempt to keep a lid on a case that can cost them their jobs. When a shoemaker's apron is found at a murder site, the police are forced to lock up leather workers to protect them from lynching by the Vigilante Committees ...

The presence of Michael Caine helped producer Wickes attract a superior cast. Armand Assante is properly suave as the high-toned actor. He's greatly aided by some anachronistic but startling makeup effects. Jane Seymour is on hand to offer a romantic possibility for Abberline, and Susan George and Lysette Anthony are women of the night terrified at the thought of becoming the Ripper's next prey. Cult actor Michael Gothard (Herostratus, The Devils, For Your Eyes Only) plays George Lusk, the rabble-rousing leader of the Whitechapel Vigilantes. I think Gothard has more dialogue here than in the rest of his filmography put together.1

Full review

1 A blatant exaggeration, but it makes a valid point about the under-use of Michael’s talent.

~~

At-A-Glance Film Reviews

In 1888, when the real life Jack the Ripper was caught, the court records were ordered to be vaulted for one hundred years and the details of the case kept confidential. This film claims to be based on these top secret Home Office files; the filmmakers believe their ending the correct solution to the mystery.

Accurate or not, this is an outstanding film, especially so given that it was made for television. The character portrayals are solid, as is the screenplay, but the acting -- top notch work from nearly everyone -- takes the spotlight. Michael Caine, who plays the lead detective on the case, won a well-deserved Golden Globe for his performance.

At-A-Glance Film Reviews

~~

Television Heaven

… Wickes wrote, directed and produced 'Jack The Ripper' for the Euston Films/Thames Television partnership, responsible for 'The Sweeney' over a decade earlier. It was made for television and was screened in two parts, the first on Tuesday 11th October 1988 and the second concluding instalment following a week later on October 18th. Each instalment began at 9pm but took a break at 10pm allowing transmission of ITN's 'News At Ten', often the custom for the ITV network …

The mini-series boasted extremely high production values for a British television programme and had an all-star cast. Playing the lead role of Inspector Frederick Abberline was Michael Caine, in his first acting role for British television for twenty years. Caine had spent most of the 1980s resident in America, so his casting represented a considerable coup for the production team. Playing his sidekick Sgt George Godley was former 'Professionals' star Lewis Collins.

Both Inspector Abberline and Sergeant Godley were real-life people, as indeed were most of the characters in this drama. And Abberline was without doubt at the centre of the Ripper investigation - but the drama takes liberties with his character. In fact, from the moment when we are introduced to Abberline as an alcoholic with crumbling respect from his fellow policemen the alarm bells start ringing and rightly so - for despite the wealth of research that went into this production it is at best a badly warped version of history and at worst 99% fiction …

Abberline then becomes suspicious of police surgeon Dr Rees Llewelyn (Michael Hughes) on account of him initially missing the victim's abdominal mutilations. Next he gets a visit from Queen Victoria's personal clairvoyant, Robert Lees (Ken Bones), who claims to have had visions of the killer, which leads to the detective paying attention to American actor Richard Mansfield (Armand Assante), then performing on the London stage in "Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde". Such is his convincing performance of playing a man who can be sane one moment and insane the next, Mansfield immediately becomes a top suspect! And just to confirm his theory, Abberline seeks advice from the Queen's surgeon Sir William Gull (Ray McAnally) who agrees that it is theoretically possible for a man to switch between sanity and insanity.

The next victim, Annie Chapman, is found in Hanbury Street and Abberline continues to quiz Dr Llewelyn who takes exception to being suspected. So Abberline suspects him even more. Then Lees is run over by a coach and informs Abberline about it. Not just any coach, but a black coach with a crest on its side. The Royal coach. Checking to see if the coach has been out lately, Godley by chance gets talking to coach driver John Nettley (George Sweeney) who tells him how clever he is and how he has been teaching himself medical and anatomical knowledge. Another suspect.

Meanwhile the public have been outraged by the murders and a vigilante committee has been set up by George Lusk (Michael Gothard), whilst in reality Lusk and his committee mainly acted as street patrollers and helped to set up reward money for the capture of the killer, in this production they are an unruly mob bent on revolution and overthrowing the police and the monarchy!

The Central News Agency receives a letter from a 'Jack The Ripper', claiming to be the killer. Abberline believes that it is genuine because it refers to cutting off the victim's ears, something that happened with the last murder but, on Abberline's instructions, was withheld from the press. Another piece of fiction because the extant photo of Chapman's body shows her ears intact! September 30th brings two more murders - Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes (Susan George). This time we see the killers in action. Yes, KILLERS because it is the work of two men - the driver of the royal coach and its mysterious passenger. Dr Llewelyn, Mr Lees and Mr Mansfield all start behaving more suspiciously and just to make matters worse George Lusk's mob make the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Charles Warren, decide to resign. And then Superintendent Arnold, Head of H Division, begins acting suspiciously too ...

… "Jack The Ripper" is nothing more than a dramatisation based on real-life events and should not be regarded as fact. Its plot failings are compensated for through good production values and its strong cast and is an enjoyable, if not classic, piece of British television that is perhaps more likely to satisfy those who know little about the Ripper crimes than those who are better informed, though until something better comes along Ripperologists will keep coming back to this one.

The original transmission of the opening episode broke into the top ten ratings for that week, being watched by 14.1 million viewers, an excellent achievement given its timeslot.

Full review

~~

Hal Erikson on Rotten Tomatoes

The TV movie Jack the Ripper endeavors to shed new light on one of the most notorious unsolved cases in history. The Ripper, of course, was the London serial killer who, in 1888, killed and disemboweled five prostitutes.

Michael Caine stars not as the Ripper but as a Scotland-Yard inspector who is assigned to the case. The trail of evidence leads Caine to some astonishing suspects--including at least one member of the Royal Family.

As the public clamors for an arrest in the case of the unsolved evisceration murders of five East End prostitutes, Abberline narrows down his list of suspects: the four most likely to have committed the murders, according to the inspector, are American-actor Richard Mansfield (Armand Assante), Queen Victoria's personal psychic (Ken Bones), a certain Dr. Acland (Richard Morant) and socialist-gadfly Lusk (Michael Gothard).

The British government is also pressuring Abberline to produce the killer. Unfortunately, if Abberline were to publicly release all the clues at his disposal, the revelation would probably rock the Empire to its foundations.

Rotten Tomatoes

~~

Digital Fix

… The production value reflects the fresh injection of cash with most of the money seemingly going into the sets and the period costumes - the global feel is not really that of a TV drama but rather a film though the plotting and script betrays its TV origin with unnecessary cliff-hangers cropping up regularly for US ad-breaks. The film was originally split into two parts to be shown on different nights and the DVD echoes that by not merging both parts together ...

The direction is generally quite good with most of the cast performing well... The general speed of the film does seem a little slow at times and would have been substantially edited were it a cinema release but the overall quality of the production makes it a good piece of well researched TV drama that stands up to repeated viewings and the test of time.

Full review
Jack the Ripper was a two-part TV dramatisation of the investigation of the infamous murders of London prostitutes. According to Television Heaven, the original transmission of the opening episode was among the top ten ratings for that week, being watched by 14.1 million viewers.

Four different endings were originally filmed, to keep the conclusion of the investigation a secret, until the show was broadcast.

The two one-and-a half-hour episodes were shown on 11 and 18 October 1988.

Michael Gothard played George Lusk, leader of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. In the film, Lusk is portrayed as a political rabble-rouser and Marxist revolutionary, and is one of the suspects.

In real life, the activities of Lusk’s organisation mainly consisted of putting up posters and offering reward money.

Casting

In correspondence, the Director, David Wickes says:


"On Ripper, I wrote Michael’s character George Lusk as a 19th century Marxist. One of Lusk’s lines (to Michael Caine) was 'You can’t even protect ordinary working people'.

Most actors would have used a sneering tone and left it at that. Not Michael Gothard. He took me aside on the set and said he wanted to speak the line as if it were something his character had repeated hundreds of times — a mantra for meetings and speeches ... 'ord’ry workin’ peep-ul!'

Brilliant. In one second, we knew that Lusk was a professional activist, a man of slogans and sayings instead of original thoughts. 'Great,' I said, 'Do it'.

Now, that’s what I call an actor.

... 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."

More details on Jack the Ripper from David Wickes Productions

Per Digital Fix: “Though they had originally started to film on video with a different cast (with Barry Foster in the lead), a vast sum of money was put up by CBS on the condition they made it into a much bigger production with US recognisable stars in it thus the inclusion of Michael Caine, Jane Seymour and Lewis Collins ...”

Per IMDB: “Michael Caine was persuaded to return to TV for the first time in nearly 20 years because of David Wickes's powerful script. Caine later described Wickes as "the nicest, fastest Director I've worked for, and the master of filming Victorian London."’

This was the second film in which Michael Gothard had worked opposite Michael Caine, the first being “The Last Valley” in 1971.

In 1979 he had worked with Lewis Collins on an episode of “The Professionals”: “Stopover.”

More recently, in 1982, he had worked with Lysette Anthony, who had played Rowena, his unwilling betrothed, in Ivanhoe.

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

Cast photo

Jack the Ripper cast

IMDB entry
YP YP (3)

When Marigold De La Hunt's friend Stephanie, and private detective Henry Brilliant, come looking for the missing
heiress, Strett (Michael Gothard) is expecting them. He thanks them for turning up.

YP (8) YP (7)

Henry (Chris Lemmon) and Stephanie (Nancy Cartwright) are kidnapped, but the villains, Strett and Mrs Van Der
Reuter (Elizabeth Spriggs) seem quite genial, chatting about the scenery.
Read more... )
Background

On ‘80’s Movies Rewind, Steve Alsberg reports: ‘The film was made because Colgate-Stone (the Producer) who was a capitol equipment leasor (fleets of planes, ships, etc.) had made a large amount of money on a deal in Denmark, and the Danish government required him to spend a portion of his gains in Denmark.

He knew James Clarke, the Writer/Director, socially, and Stone asked if he (Clark) had a script that could be adapted to use Denmark as a location, Clark said he did, and the rest is history.

Myself and my partner did the set construction for the picture including 6 weeks in Copenhagen.’

80’s Movies Rewind

Synopsis by Sandra Brennan

A bungling gumshoe tries hard to affect a hard-boiled demeanor, despite the fact that his latest assignment is to protect the bratty young heiress to a fortune in this lively spoof of detective movies.

Henry Brilliant, Private Eye, is no stranger to the ways of the wealthy as he too comes from a blue-blooded family, but he tries to ignore that to become the classic Chandleresque detective as he heads for Europe to follow the girl on her tour and keep her from being kidnapped by her stepmother, who is really after her husband's secret formula for controlling the weather.

NY Times

Michael Gothard plays Strett, one of the evil stepmother Maxine De La Hunt’s motley crew of henchmen, and evidently the best of the bunch as he survives longer than any of the others, as well as outliving his employer.

Former girlfriend N.B. recalls: ‘For the film "Yellow Pages" we went to Copenhagen in September 1984. That's where Michael was filming for several weeks. I was accompanying him, and met the people on the set, i.e. Chris Lemmon and Lea Thompson. Lemmon flew in only shortly. Copenhagen was the only place he went to for this film. The parts in the USA were made without him.’

The film is generally considered poor, but is reasonably diverting. However, Michael has little to do; he helps kidnap Marigold on behalf of her stepmother, looks menacing, and later chases Henry and Marigold on a roller-coaster in the Tivoli Gardens, where his character – as so often – dies a gruesome death.

Reviews

Sian Thatcher on 80’s Movies Rewind

This film had potential and a talented cast. It’s a shame the script is so poor and they couldn’t just choose a genre and stick with it.

80’s Movies Rewind

~~

TV guide

An unsubtle spoof of detective films, GOING UNDERCOVER features Chris Lemmon as Henry Brilliant, a handsome blueblood who turns his back on high society and struggles mightily to make a living as a hard-boiled private eye.

Wealthy Maxine De La Hunt (Jean Simmons) offers him a tidy sum to guard her high-spirited stepdaughter, Marigold (Lea Thompson), from possible kidnapping on a European tour.

Marigold continually gives Brilliant the slip and makes his life a living hell. Eventually, she is indeed kidnapped, the plot gets twisty, and the formula becomes escape, pursuit, evasion.

Aimed at the Brat Packer audience, GOING UNDERCOVER clumsily grafts elements of a college sex comedy onto the private eye genre. The result is bound to bore audiences of all ages.

Establishing the proper combination of thrills and laughter for a light-hearted suspense film is tricky. GOING UNDERCOVER fails to achieve the difficult balance that distinguished FOUL PLAY or CHARADE, for example, and emerges as neither suspenseful nor amusing. Only veteran Jean Simmons, as the stepmother, lends any finesse to these second-rate spy shenanigans.

TV Guide

~~

Joanna Berry in the Radio Times

This uneven comedy was made in 1984, but for some odd reason (because it was a clunker, perhaps?) remained unseen for four years. Back to the Future star Lea Thompson is the spoilt brat on a trip to Europe who is kept under surveillance by Chris Lemmon, a private eye so unskilled that she gets kidnapped right under his nose. Incredibly silly stuff …

Full review

~~

rsoonsa on IMDB

Completed in 1984 but not released until four years after, this English production offers little of value. Apparently designed to be a pastiche of the hard boiled detective category of cinema, the work features Chris Lemmon as Henry Brilliant, ineffective private investigator who finds difficulty in obtaining employment other than locating lost pets.

His luck appears to improve when wealthy Maxine de la Hunt (Jean Simmons) allegedly selects him directly from his advertisement in telephone yellow pages and offers Henry $2000 per week plus expenses to serve as bodyguard for her stepdaughter Marigold (Lea Thompson) during a European travel junket for co-eds ...

Dangerous adventures lack meaning to a viewer when a production fails to provide a sense of purpose, as in this instance. A motif of scientific espionage involving Marigold's father appears but its connection to the remainder of the storyline is put to bed by heavy cutting.

Originally titled YELLOW PAGES, released with that name in the United Kingdom and upon the Continent, this weak effort is known as GOING UNDERCOVER in the United States, where it ostensibly has acquired a minor cult following, although one wonders why, as there is minimal wit or imagination to be found in it.

Simmons, billed first, is as polished as ever, but Lemmon and Thompson are given the greatest amount of screen time with Lemmon rather charismatic when he is able to avoid the mugging that tarnished his father Jack's performances.

Direction is largely pedestrian with no apparent point of view. The majority of the film's drawbacks follow from the director's own script that bounces about in a generally fatuous manner amid themes of comedy, suspense, satire, et alia.

Full review on IMDB

~~

The Mysterious Traveler

A bumbling Los Angeles Private Investigator is hired to be the bodyguard of the bratty yet attractive daughter of a famous scientist as she takes a cultural tour of Europe. Soon he finds himself entangled in a Soviet plot to control the weather.

A simply hideous "comedy" spy thriller that is wretched on every possible level save one. When 80s films went bad, they went bad in gruelling ways and this film is as good...bad example as any.

Over-lit, cheap-looking, badly edited, sub-literate script and just boring, the film also poorly acted by a resigned cast incapable of doing anything with the material and a lead whose talent is extremely suspect.

It is truly depressing to see Simmons, Gothard and [Adam] West trapped in this thing. West must have had his name taken off the credits since his appearance was a complete surprise.

The only ... and I do mean ONLY bright spot is Lea Thompson as the bratty scientist's daughter. Though why coming out of RED DAWN and in the middle of the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy, she agreed to appear in this horror, I cannot say but whenever she is on the screen, the dreary proceedings perk up considerably. Sexy, radiant and surprisingly well dressed … it is obvious that she is a star and going places. Meanwhile it is equally obvious that Chris Lemmon - Jack's son - is not.

Further reviews on Amazon

Watch Going Undercover/Yellow Pages on Youtube.

IMDB entry
This quotation is kindly offered by Michael Gothard's former girlfriend N.B., from a letter he wrote to her on 23 March 1988.

Michael Gothard had worked with Michael Caine on "The Last Valley" in 1971; when Gothard wrote this letter, he had recently been reunited with Caine, to work on David Wickes' film, "Jack the Ripper."

"My reunion with M. Caine, after more years than both of us care to remember, went affably and smoothly, although the nervous director went an intense shade of pale when he tried to introduce us, and neither of us proffered our hands, and I said "we're old enemies."

You could have heard the proverbial pin crash to the floor for a couple of seconds in that studio, until Caine, ever the diplomat, said "we're always enemies in films."

Return of director to normal life, realising that he had not made the worst career move of his life in casting me. In fact, Caine and me had made our salutations a few minutes before."

Caine and Gothard in "The Last Valley" Caine and Gothard in "Jack the Ripper")

In "The Last Valley", Gothard had played Hansen, a mercenary, who rebels against his leader The Captain, played by Caine. In "Jack the Ripper", Gothard was to play political agitator George Lusk, who is a thorn in the side of Caine's Chief Inspector Abberline, and is also one of the suspects for the Ripper murders.
Angharad 24 was lucky enough to hear from Xavier, a friend of Michael’s, who got to know him pretty well during the late eighties.

Xavier and the others in his group – all now professional musicians – were about 20 years younger than Michael. Michael was very happy to find a younger generation so interested in jazz and blues, and they became friends. He seemed to enjoy the company of younger people, and they enjoyed his.

Michael was a really very nice bloke, who was generous and open most of the time. He was not at all egotistical; rather Xavier thought him self-effacing, and burdened by self-doubt, which probably had a detrimental effect on his career.

When they first met, Xavier had never heard of him, and was only told that he had been in films such as “For Your Eyes Only” and “The Devils” by the others. Michael never spoke much about his films, and didn’t name-drop, though he had acted with some of the best-known actors of the century. He did express frustration at being offered ‘hit-man’ roles, and hoped he would be given a chance to get out of them, but said, ‘nobody wanted me.’

Xavier felt sure that playing a part well meant more to Michael than money or fame.

He loved music and just wanted to learn more. He played saxophone and drums well, but even in music, Mike would have moments where he would say “Oh, I’m no good at this.” Xavier thought he was self-taught, because he would ask for help with reading difficult music.

The whole group loved “Some Like it Hot”, and Michael thought that Marilyn Monroe was a great actress.

He had around three different girlfriends in the years 1989 – 92. He said he wouldn’t have minded marriage but did not want children. Unfortunately, most of the girls he’d been with had wanted them. He liked children, but had no ‘paternal feelings.’

Once, a young female punk walked into the bar where they were meeting, and drank out of a bottle. Michael asked why women thought they had to dress up and behave like men to get liberated, and said these young women didn’t know they were born! His grandmother and mother had lived very hard lives, but they came through it and bettered themselves while retaining their femininity. “My mother always made sure that she dressed nicely and kept her appearance and femininity throughout” (or words to that effect). Nevertheless, Xavier thought Michael was definitely in favour of equality.

Michael had a fierce hatred of Thatcher. He was a champion of the working classes, and Xavier thinks he would have voted Labour.

Xavier and the others knew of Michael’s depression. He told them he could go for weeks on end just not wanting to join the rest of the world, and that at one time he’d had to drop out of a project in the early stages, because he just couldn’t force himself to go to the studio. He also said that making and listening to music soothed him.

Xavier was out of the country and hadn’t seen Michael for about a year when he heard of his death. The whole group were very upset.
‘Destroying Angel’, also known as ‘Sleep Well, My Love’, was filmed in 1987.

The film is set in Yugoslavia.

It received a video premiere in Finland in 1990.
FFWL (3) FFWL (10)

Sergei (Michael Gothard) waits in the pub, and is pleased to see his new friend Ernie (Joe Melia).

FFWL (18) FFWL (24)

Ernie introduces Sergei to his friends Terry (Dennis Waterman) and Arthur Daley (George Cole). Sergei negotiates
the purchase of some merchandise.
Read more... )
'Minder' was a very popular series in the 1980s, featuring the adventures of loveable cockney "businessman" Arthur Daley (George Cole) and his bodyguard or “minder’ Terry (Dennis Waterman).

In episode 5 of season 6, first broadcast on 2 October 1985, Michael Gothard was cast as Russian seaman, Sergei.

Michael gets a decent amount of screen-time in this 50 minute episode, and seems to have fun in the mostly comic role.

Season 6 was the last to feature Dennis Waterman. The consensus among fans of the show is that by this time, the series was running out of ideas, had lost its edge, and relied too much on guest stars; Michael Gothard and Rula Lenska appear in this episode.

This was the second time Michael had worked with Dennis Waterman; in “Up the Junction”, Michael played Terry, a friend of the hero, Pete, played by Waterman.

The episode was filmed in London, and some of the locations for the episode have been identified, by a fan known as nry, as being in and around Lot’s Road, SW10.

Plot synopsis from Minder.org

Arthur is reluctantly forced to give 'er indoors’ nephew Nigel – a scruffy punk who has a swastika tattooed on his forehead and is seemingly hopeless at everything he does, apart from sewing which he learned at detention centre – a job.

Arthur is also approached by Ernie, who has got to know some of the Russian seaman currently docked in London. Ernie’s new business partner, Russian sailor Sergei, is very keen on buying plenty of goods from Arthur in order to resell them back in Russia to turn a profit for himself.

Arthur gets Nigel to start sewing some motifs on the gear he wants to sell Sergei.

All seems to go to plan until Arthur is paid in roubles, which he soon discovers he is unable to exchange at the bank.

When Sergei decides to take a day out up west with Ernie, the attractive Natasha, the Russians ship’s bosun and political officer, tracks down Arthur and Terry, as she believes that Sergei is about to defect.

Worried that not helping may lead to difficulties with KGB, Arthur agrees to do his best to track down Sergei.

Meanwhile Chisholm, who has arrested Arthur’s nephew Nigel, finally catches up with Arthur, Terry and the Russians, arresting them all on the spot.

As soon as they have been arrested, they are quickly released under the instruction of DCI Norton, who wants to avoid a possible diplomatic incident.

Watch extracts, including Michael Gothard's scenes as Sergei on Youtube.

Minder.org website

IMDB entry
In this epic science fantasy drama, Michael Gothard was eventually cast as European Space Agency Director, Dr. Bukovsky.

Bukovsky appears in the first half of the film, directing investigations into three transparent caskets containing naked aliens, found on the burned-out remains of the joint US/European Shuttle, Churchill.

In trying to rescue a security guard who is having the lifeforce sucked out of him by a newly-awakened female alien, Bukovsky is also attacked, by “the most overwhelmingly feminine presence” he has ever experienced.

He is later involved in the astronaut Carlsen’s debrief, but - having been drained of some of his lifeforce, and distressed by the loss of control - he never really recovers.

Having announced the arrival of the alien spaceship in earth orbit, he suggests that - like the vampires of legend - these space vampires are bringing their earth with them,
Bukovsky isn’t seen again.

He is later said to have died “like the rest”, though in the absence of evidence, it is tempting to think that he might have just gone for a quiet smoke and a lie down!

The film divides opinion, with reviews ranging from the “so bad it’s good” variety to “flawed genius”, with Jungian and Freudian readings, and suggestions that this was a parable about AIDS.

The film won the 1985 Caixa de Catalunya for Best Special Effects (John Dykstra), and was nominated for the 1986 Saturn Awards for Best Horror Film, and Best Special Effects.


Casting

Michael’s friend Sean McCormick tells of how, when he last saw Michael, “he had just lost the lead role in the Toby Hooper film 'Space Vampires' [released as 'Life Force' on June 21, 1985] to American actor Steve Railsback, and it crushed him. I think it was one of the straws on the camel's back that started his six or seven year darkness.”

Former girlfriend, N.B remembers, “I think there was talk about Michael getting another part in that film Lifeforce. I am pretty sure he talked about the crooked ways in which people (actors) got shuffled about and got made redundant or put to minor roles than was originally foreseen. He was angry, but didn't want to do anything about it. He hated going to places where you could socialise with directors and producers. He wasn't that kind of a person who wanted to ingratiate himself in order to get a job.”

Per an uncredited contributor to IMDB, Anthony Hopkins and Terence Stamp were the original choices to play Colonel Caine. Michael Gothard screen-tested for the role, but after meeting Peter Firth, director Tobe Hooper decided to give Firth the role, and gave Michael the role of Dr. Bukovsky instead.

A.S., the daughter of one of Michael’s close friends, confirms that both roles were supposed to have been on the cards for Michael.

"I don't remember if Michael talked to me about it, or to my father while I was around, but I remember that Michael was supposed to get the role of either the Commander of the mission [a role that went to Steve Railsback] or Colonel Caine [eventually played by Peter Firth], but was shuffled into the less important role of Dr Bukovsky.

He didn't blame the other actors at all, but ‘the business’: the producers, and the fact that actors had to play the political game - 'prostitute themselves', as he put it - to get on. He hated that actors had to go to parties, and stitch other actors up. Michael would NOT play the game. He felt actors should be cast on their merits, but that now they had become pawns, and talent didn't count for much.

I'm only surprised he didn't pull out, but perhaps his contract made that impossible, otherwise he would have no hesitation in telling a producer where to go. I’m sure the disappointment over that film helped push him further away from acting."

~~

Michael had worked with Peter Firth before, on "Arthur of the Britons", where Firth guest-starred as Corin in "The Pupil."

Personal statement

In correspondence with Belsizepark, Mathilda May, who played the alien vampire girl, (and was supposedly embarrassed by the film), says of Michael Gothard: "I remember him as a lovely person; a gentleman ..."

Watch on Youtube

IMDB entry
In ‘Lytton’s Diary’, Peter Bowles plays a London gossip columnist, investigating the lives of the rich and powerful.

This episode, 'Daddy’s Girls', was broadcast on 16 January 1985.

Per. DVD talk: "Neville Lytton is now the gossip Diary Editor of The Daily News. He spends the day with his estranged wife, Catherine, and Laura, his girlfriend, is not amused. Meanwhile, on the work front, Lytton aims to find out if a merchant banker who disapproves of his daughter's relationship with a record producer, has something in his past that he is trying to hide."

Michael Gothard plays the record producer - and, as it turns out, drug dealer - Jake Cutler, who is seeing little rich girl Belinda Phillips. However, Lytton ends up investigating Belinda’s father, so Jake very soon disappears from the story.

The episode was directed by Peter Sasdy, who also directed Michael in 'The Sweet Scent of Death', and the two pilot episodes of ‘Arthur of the Britons,’ ('Arthur is Dead' and 'Daughter of the King').

Peter Sasdy said of Michael Gothard: ‘I thought of him as a very interesting actor, with strong personality and in the right part he’d always give a good performance.’

Peter Bowles, creator and star of ‘Lytton’s Diary’, had appeared with Michael as greasy chieftain Hecklar in ‘Rowena’ (‘Arthur of the Britons’ episode).

Screencaps

Lytton's Diary (3) Lytton's Diary (5)

There is a scene where Jake and Belinda attend a society party.
Read more... )

Series review on DVD talk

Watch extracts, including Michael Gothard's scenes as Jake Cutler on Youtube.

IMDB entry

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October 2013

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