Category Archives: Film

“TUT”— The Child Ruler



The Child Ruler

Amos Lassen

Egypt’s young Pharaoh Tutankhamun was elevated to leadership status before his tenth birthday and then lived only a decade or so longer. Nonetheless, Tut has come to define Egypt as much as the pyramids and the Nile. It is impossible to deny both the legacy and the popularity of Tut. Now we have a fine miniseries that explores the young Pharaoh’s life. The show is rich in superficial detail but shallow in dramatic depth, looking the part but feeling rather forced in that it’s been molded to fit into the modern world of historical drama with power manipulation, sex, and violence with only, it seems, the costumes and backgrounds changing to suit the time period in question.


We go back to 1332 B.C.E when Egypt is the most powerful nation in the world, and her ruler has been poisoned. Before Pharaoh Akhenaten (Silas Carson) dies, he appoints his young son Tutankhamun (Kaizer Akhtar) ruler of the land and demands he marry his sister Ankhesenamun (Sibylla Deen) to maintain the family’s pure bloodline. A decade passes and we see that Tutankhamun (Avan Jogia) is a leader of the people who endeavors to break away from the status quo and finds himself pulled in several different directions by those closest to him, including his most trusted advisor, Grand Vizier Ay (Ben Kingsley), his military General Horemheb (Nonso Anozie), and the High Priest Amun (Alexander Siddig). The nation is at war with a Syrian tribe called The Mitanni, and the Pharaoh falls in love with a young girl named Suhad (Kylie Bunbury) who is half Mitanni and half Egyptian. Meanwhile, Ankhesenamun becomes romantically involved with Ka (Peter Gadiot), Tutankhamun’s best friend. This is our intrigue.


Visually “Tut” is a feast for the eyes— it is a meticulous attempt and has taken care of every detail but unfortunately the beauty here is only on the surface. Despite its flaws the miniseries is entertaining with intense battle scenes and are excellently performed in their graphic violence.


Avan Jogia is fine as Tut even though he never really brings much humanity to the part. He doesn’t command the screen but he does display enough of the naiveté and break from his elders and he does create an interesting character. He provides a fairly routine portrait of a young leader caught between his closest allies.



The extras are on the second disc two and they include:



  • The Costumes— Costume Designer Carlo Poggioli shares some insight into the wardrobe authenticity and its construction. The cast talks up the quality, too.
  • History Revealed—A look at blending historical accuracy and manufactured drama and the real life discovery of Tot’s tomb and his reign with acclaimed UCLA Egyptologist Kara Cooney.
  • Unmasking the Legend: The Making of Tut: A look at casting and performances, core story details, character specifics, crafting battle scenes, shooting in authentic locations, costumes, and more. A few bits and pieces repeat from the previous supplements.

“JACO”— A Revolutionary Bassist



A Revolutionary Bassist

Amos Lassen


“Jaco” is the fully authorized story of one of the most revolutionary bassists in music history, Jaco Pastorius and it looks at his life, music and ongoing influence on the music world. The film incorporates interviews with many from the music world including Sting, Joni Mitchell, Flea, Jerry Jemmott, Bootsy Collins, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana. There are never-before-seen photos and films from the Pastorius family archive. We see the story behind Jaco’s life and music, both as a solo artist and member of Weather Report and become privy to the tragic arc of his demise and early death and the enduring influence and inspiration of his artistry and genius.


This is a two DVD set with the second disc containing many interviews and it is here that we learn of Jaco’s incredible contributions to music, how he changed the instrument as well as musical boundaries, and also Jaco the person.


The film “(captures) the essence of what made Jaco Pastorius such an influential artist. Not many musicians fundamentally change their instrument, and even fewer still who transcend their instrument altogether. Jaco Pastorius did both. In 1976, Jaco’s melodic “singing” bass style redefined the role of the bass in modern music. Almost overnight, Jaco was considered to be “the future of modern music,” alongside popular visionaries like David Bowie, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Bryan Ferry, Lou Reed, and Herbie Hancock.


Driven only by his own desire to create the music he wanted to hear, Jaco transformed himself from, into an international sensation and he did so without any formal musical training. Jaco led his fans towards the music inside him. He was known for defiantly jumping off amplifiers, heaving his bass through the air, and refusing to be just a “sideman,” while breaking down the barriers between audiences and genres.


It is now over 25 years since his violent and untimely death. His story teaches the world about true musicianship, family, and the indestructible power of the human spirit.

“WAKE UP AND KILL”— Luciano Lutring: Armed Robber

wake up and kill


Luciano Lutring: Armed Robber

Amos Lassen

During the 1960s, Luciano Lutring committed more than one hundred armed robberies in Italy and on the French Riviera. The media referred to him as the ‘machine gun soloist’, a name he’d earned as he kept his weapon in a violin case. To the public he was a romantic figure, one who only targeted the wealthy, stealing more than 35 billion lire during his criminal career.

“Wake Up and Kill” was the first feature to tell Lutring’s story and they actually began to do so just months after his arrest. Robert Hoffmann is Lutring and he has just the right amount of charisma and youthful exuberance. The film was directed by

Carlo Lizzani and it is true-crime drama that paved the way for others to follow. It is a fast paced film with good characterization and it certainly rises above the regular Italian crime movie. The film tells the story of a petty hoodlum who pulls jewelry store heists, in broad daylight by smashing up the shop windows. A smart and dedicated cop, Gian Maria Volonte, is determined to catch him. To do so, he intends to focus on the gangster’s girl friend. There are good action sequences, car chases, an Ennio Morricone score, and all around it is an exciting movie.

This is one of director Carlo Lizzani’s early films and it laid the foundation for what he did later. I had never heard of Lutring before seeing this film. Lutring stole jewels in broad daylight by smashing shop windows with a hammer and grabbing what he could. As his fame rose and his reputation set in, he became increasingly violent, carrying a sub-machine gun in a violin case.

Lizzani draws us into a sexy world of crime where every robbery lacks sophistication but sets the pulse racing. We meet sexy club singer Yvonne (Lisa Gastoni) on Lutring’s arm before she realized what she had gotten herself into. Led by the determined Inspector Moroni (Gian Maria Volonte), the police are always one step behind Lutring’s crime-spree. Lizzani mainly portrays Lutring in a sympathetic light, being sexed-up by the media and blamed for crimes he didn’t commit. For the crimes he does commit, Lizzani delivers a couple of well-handled and realistic set pieces, usually in broad daylight but this is a long movie and at times it drags.

Special Extras Include:

* Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative

* High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentations of two versions of the film: the original full-length Italian release, and the shortened English-language cut

* Italian and English soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono sound on the respective versions of the film

* Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian version

* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English cut

* Theatrical trailer

* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist

* Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Robert Curti, author of Italian Crime Filmography, 1968-1980


what have you done to solange

“What Have You Done to Solange?”

A Giallo Classic

Amos Lassen

Director Massimo Dallamano brings us his giallo classic “What Have You Done to Solange?” about a sexually sadistic killer who preys on the girls of St. Mary’s school. Student Elizabeth witnessed one of the murders, but her hazy recollections of a knife-wielding figure in black did not help the police’s investigations. Why does the killer choose these young women?


The murder of a London schoolgirl leads to unsavory revelations about the students of an exclusive high school in this sleazy, well-crafted Italian-West German co-production.. Italian gym teacher Enrico Rossini (Fabio Testi) is married to fellow teacher Herta (Karin Baal), and both work at St. Mary’s Catholic School for Girls. Enrico is also engaged in an intense, flirtatious affair with a student, Elizabeth Eccles (Cristina Galbo), and while taking a boat ride with her on the Thames, she claims to see the flash of a knife from shore. He dismisses her fears, but the next day the body of young Hilda, another St. Mary’s student, is found on the shore. Enrico goes to look at the body, and though all the teachers are interrogated by the police, he’s singled out for suspicion by Inspector Barth (Joachim Fuchsberger). Of course, he was reluctant to admit that he was near the crime scene because he fears that his relationship with Elizabeth will be discovered so Enrico begins investigating on his own. A second student (Pilar Castel) is murdered, and then Elizabeth falls victim to the vicious killer immediately after admitting that she may have seen the killer, who was dressed in “a long black habit” like a priest. Ironically, Elizabeth’s death, and the discovery that she was still a virgin, brings Enrico and Herta closer together, and she helps him track down rumors that the three girls were part of a clique who participated in lesbian experimentation and wild sex parties with older men. The group included a girl named Solange (Camille Keaton), to whom something terrible happened. With lust, murder, schoolgirls, nudity and a general atmosphere of perversity make this nasty thriller a favorite of giallo fans.


While the title of the film is “What Have You Done to Solange?”, the character, Solange, isn’t even mentioned for 71 minutes of this film, and then doesn’t materialize until sometime after that. While we wait for Solange to appear so that we may learn of her fate, we are treated to many characters and but not enough action.


This film is based on a novel by Edgar Wallace, who is believed by many to be the father of the giallo, and exhibits all of the typical positive and negative traits that can make or break a film in this genre. On one hand, the movie is visually slick visual style— there are several murders, and while they aren’t overly violent or graphic, at least one will bring about a cringe . Giallo films are notorious for adding sex into the mix, and there are several gratuitous scenes of barely-clad schoolgirls on the campus. On the other hand, there are moments where the film moves along at a snail’s pace, and the viewer isn’t given a great deal of new information especially during the second half. As with many gialli, there aren’t enough clear-cut suspects here and in this it differs from American mystery films that challenge us to guess the killer’s identity based on clues given. In some Italian films, no clues whatsoever are given.) When the killer was finally revealed, I had to watch some of the film again just to understand what happened.

solange4 Once the secret is revealed, it is quite shocking, even by today’s standards. The film is well made and the ending is intriguing, but this can only be recommended for hardcore fans that have already seen all of the classics.


 The extras on the DVD include:

* Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative

* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations

* Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio

* Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

* Brand new audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman

* What Have You Done to Decency? A conversation with Karin Baal – the actress shares her thoughts on Dallamano’s classic giallo in this brand new interview

* First Action Hero – a newly edited 2006 interview with actor and former stuntman Fabio Testi, including a look at his role in Solange

* Old-School Producer – a newly edited 2006 interview with producer Fulvio Lucisano

* Innocence Lost: Solange and the “Schoolgirls in Peril” Trilogy – a brand new visual essay by Michael Mackenzie, exploring the themes of Solange and its two semi-sequels

* Original theatrical trailer

* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Malleus

* Collector’s booklet featuring a new article on the giallo scores of Ennio Morricone by Howard Hughes, alongside a Camille Keaton career retrospective from Art Ettinger, comprising interview excerpts with the Solange actress, all illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

“BRIDGEND”— Sara and Her Dad, Dave

bridgend poster


Sara and Her Dad, Dave

Amos Lassen

 Jeppe Rønde’s “Bridgend” follows Sara (Hannah Murray) and her dad, Dave (Steven Waddington) as they arrive to a small village in Bridgend County. The village is haunted by suicides amongst its young inhabitants, and Sara falls dangerously in love with one of the teenagers, Jamie while Dave as the town’s new policeman tries to stop the mysterious chain of suicides. What we see is an uncompromising story centered on the relationship between vulnerable teenagers and their parents who are left in the dark. The film is based on a mysterious suicide cluster that took place in Bridgend County, a small former coal-mining province in Wales. Between December 2007 and January 2012 seventy-nine suicides were officially committed in the area. Most of the victims were teenagers who hung themselves and left no suicide notes. Filmmaker Jeppe Rønde followed the teenagers from the area for six years and wrote the script based on their life stories.


Seeking to rid herself of her outsider status, Sara befriends a clique of rowdy teenagers whose cultish and wild behaviors take them into the forest where they strip and baptize themselves in inexplicably ritualistic bonding celebrations of their peers’ suicides. Although initially shocked and repulsed by this, Sara slowly gets pulled in and falls for Jamie (Josh O’Connor), a potentially dangerous member of the group. The unrelenting darkness that has mysteriously engulfed her peers begins to overtake Sara’s world view and unravel not only her close relationship with her father but her own sanity as well.   


The film does not try to provide answers to these unspeakable tragedies. Rather this is a dramatic investigation of the mysterious suicide incidents through the lenses of intergenerational conflict, teenage lust and adolescence. We never know if Sara’s desire to spent time with the “gang”comes merely from an adolescent desire for inclusion or the allure of the alpha-male Thomas (Scott Arthur) and Jamie (Josh O’Connor) (or both), but either way she finds herself aligning more with them than her outsider father. Her father is not happy about this, and she soon becomes more of a stranger in her own home than she is amongst the kids who continue to refer to her as “the new girl.”

Murray’s performance is mesmerizing but the focus of the film lies more on the cumulative effect of the suicides and their mysterious instigation than any of the people themselves. The film becomes more of a character study of the town than of anyone who inhabits it.

“THE MARQUISE OF O”— Eric Rohmer’s One Location

the marquise of o“The Marquise of O” (“Die Marquise von O…”)

Eric Rohmer’s One Location

Amos Lassen

Eric Rohmner’s “The Marquise Of O Rohmer” is filmed entirely in one place— a house occupied by a German family that, after the film begins, has moved down a notch economically due to German military defeat to the Russians. During the battle, there was a rape attempt on the widowed Marquise (Edith Clever). She is stopped by a valiant Russian soldier dressed in white (Bruno Ganz), and now, months later, she is pregnant. Her family, refuses to believe her innocence and throws her out of the house. I must say that I really have no idea what the movie is about—I found it to be a puzzlement.

The young widow who had sworn faithfulness to her late husband finds herself pregnant and her parents (Edda Seippel and Peter Lühr) cannot accept her innocence: Father stops a family squabble by firing a pistol into the air and then has to fan the fainting Mother as the Marquise takes her leave. Rohmer mixes ascetic formalism and emotional flares yet everything remains dark and unclear.

“CASA GRANDE”— Social Strata in Brazil

casa poster


Social Strata in Brazil

Amos Lassen

Writer/ Director Fellipe Barbosa’s “Casa Grande” is a gripping and fascinating look Brazil’s social strata, and one privileged and wealthy family’s fall from grace. It explores issues of class privilege among Rio’s decadent elite and a teenage boy’s struggle to escape his overprotective parents as they sink into bankruptcy.

casa grande poster?

 Jean (Thales Cavalcanti) is a prep school senior from a wealthy family who, while contemplating college, would rather spend time with his equally wealthy friends.  His father Hugo, (Marcello Novaes), however, is hiding a big secret: his hedge-fund company has slowly begun to go under, and symptoms of their financial downfall become more apparent within their previously affluent lifestyle.  Servants are fired; Jean’s mother, Sonia (Suzanna Pires) takes a job selling cosmetics; Jean falls out with several of his classmates when their parents complain that the dying hedge fund is responsible for their lost fortunes.  As Jean’s tuition goes unpaid and he worries about his prospects for college, he meets and begins a relationship with Luiza (Bruna Amara), a girl from the lower classes and mixed racially. As his family’s wealth slides away, he sees for the first time in his life that money is merely superficial yet his father still desperately clings to it.

casa grande

We watch the social structures of class; race and expectations come crashing down as we see the family being taken apart as it struggles to maintain their lifestyle in an affluent Rio neighborhood. Most of the focus is on Jean who at first is unaware that his father is deeply in debt. There are some scenes that act as signifiers of caste, though at times the script turns overly didactic. With a strong ensemble cast whose interplay captures the hierarchy of master and servant, “Casa Grande” is an outstanding film .

The film begins with Hugo coming out of his pool in the evening and going into his impressive home and turning off the lights. He and Sonia, his wife, seem to have it all—- two children, Jean and Nathalie (Alice Melo), plus live-in housekeeper Rita (Clarissa Pinheiro), maid Noemia (Marilia Coelho) and driver/handyman Severino (Gentil Cordeiro). They are very comfortable in their privileged cocoon, , culturally identifying as European, with Mom and Dad shifting into French when they don’t want the kids to understand. Hugo had been the manager of

a hedge fund, but his company went bust and he’s been disguising the state of their finances. Jean has a good relationship with the servants, flirtatious with the inappropriately sexual Rita and filial with older Severino, so when Hugo fires the chauffeur, he tells Jean that Severino’s on vacation. Riding a bus to school each day isn’t a bad thing, since it exposes him to other people like and they like each other.

casa grande3

Sonia begins to comprehend just how badly off they are and joins a friend as a kind of Avon lady, but Hugo’s basically in denial, despite growing ostracism from friends whose money he blew. Tuition has become a problem, and with Brazil’s newly instituted affirmative-action system, Jean is concerned about his place in college.

I understand that the story is semi-autobiographical and Barbosa’s strength is in how he captures the dynamics of class inside and outside the home. Jean’s informality with the hired help is natural given their role in raising him, just as it’s logical in a class-bound society for him to use Rita as an outlet for his adolescent randiness. For Hugo and Sonia, of course, the distinctions are more rigid, and empathy isn’t an emotion one exchanges freely with racially diverse servants whose personal lives are of no interest.


Newcomer Thales Cavalcanti as the conflicted and hormonally volatile Jean turns in a wonderful performance. At times, Barbosa’s political view comes through his characters, primarily during classroom discourse and at a social event in which Luiza furiously informs Hugo, “Quotas are meant to correct a historic debt towards blacks… quotas are approved federally and you lost that one.”. Jean recognizes the problem might not just be under his roof, but what’s connected to the roof itself.




“CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART— A Small-Town Murder, A High Profile Crime

captivated poster

“Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart”

A Small-Town Murder, A High Profile Crime

Amos Lassen

The trial of Pamela Smart was the first televised court case and it rattled the consciousness of this country. We might actually consider the case to be the beginning of reality television. The trial dealt with sex, drugs, betrayal, and murder and it inspired 20 years of television shows, books, plays, and movies, including “To Die For” starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Gus Van Sant.


In 1990, 21-year-old Pamela Smart was arrested for plotting the murder of her husband, which was committed by three teens, one of whom Smart had an affair with.  “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart” examines the media circus around the case and how it likely influenced public opinion of Pamela Smart.

In theory, we are told that the criminal justice system is based around the presumption of innocence, until proven guilty in the court of law.  However, that does not make a very good news story.  What makes a compelling story is one about a widow who seduces an impressionable teenager to commit a murder for her.  It sounds like a plot for film noir.  Even though Pamela Smart was far from an innocent person, at the very least she was guilty of having a relationship with a minor, the film makes it quite apparent that the media painted a picture of her, which likely influenced the result of her trial.


Using captivated breaks down Pamela Smart’s trial and the help of a private audio log by “Juror #13,” (one of only three jurors to believe that Pamela Smart was not guilty).  To keep with film’s theme of the media circus around the case, the film places TVs playing the trial in a number of different locations, including the opening shot of the TV on a stage. The film is a very captivating examination of the media influence on this famous case.

In 1990 in a small New England town Pamela Smart, an attractive blond sexpot teacher who was having an affair with one of her students, was  accused of plotting her husband’s murder. Filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar focuses on how the intense media coverage completely manipulated the case that sealed Pamela’s fate.


The three teenage boys and another (as an accomplice) responsible for actually killing Smart’s husband and were cajoled by the authorities into ‘plea bargaining’ where, if they gave evidence at Pamela Smart’s trial, they would only be charged with 2nd Degree murder.  Smart however, (who was not present when the actual deed was done) was charged with first-degree murder. The teens would end up serving a fixed time sentence before being freed, where she would face life imprisonment without parole and this is just one of the many disturbing facts that Zagar’s documentary uncovered.

One of the worse ones that we learned about at the trial was about Cecilia Pierce, Smart’s teenage intern, had been pressured to being a witness and had been fitted with a ‘wire’.  The tapes that she made whilst talking to Smart were almost completely unintelligible but the Prosecution had them greatly enhanced without the involvement of a licensed audiologist that was offered by the defense. This was very probably another way to insure Smart’s guilt yet it made Pierce into a media star who received $100,000 for her life story.


Two days before the Trial even started Smart’s story was turned into TV movie starring Helen Hunt with the local newspaper reporter playing himself.  Despite this and the daily deluge of coverage by a hostile media that had already convicted Smart in newsprint and on air, the trial judge refused to sequester the jury who went home every night to absorb this constant and ceaseless onslaught of news. Never before had the media been so instrumental in shaping how the American public learned about a small-town murder case, and they had them calling for Smart’s blood.


After a speedy 18-day trial, Smart was convicted and was taken to the Bedford Correctional Facility in New York for being an accomplice to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and witness tampering. She will never ever be released save for a personal pardon from the governor of Massachusetts. Each of the young men involved in the case received lesser sentences, two have already been released and the other two are up for parole in 2015.  A second movie about the case, “To Die For, was made but it was the earlier TV film that had the most effect. One of the teenagers who had accompanied the murderers that fatal night was set to reconfirm his original statement that the Police had suppressed as it had supported Smart’s claims of innocence, but he reneged on this and all he could remember was every word of was the fictional television movie version of the things.


Director Zagar tries his best to get beyond the travesty of justice that he present here and in effect puts the media on trial for its coverage. What we actually has done is add just more speculation and opinion. 

“REBEL SCUM”— The Bible Belt and Rock Music”

rebel scum poster

“Rebel Scum”

The Bible and Rock Music

Amos Lassen

“Rebel Scum” chronicles two years in the life of Knoxville white trash punk band The Dirty Works. With its focus on self-destructive front man Christopher Scum, we get a chance to see something “of the seedy underworld where mental illness, addition, violence and family dysfunction fuel creative vision”. It is akin to watching God and man going to it.

Watching the film expands the boundaries of traditional rock documentaries in a manner that is not always comfortable, but is always fascinating. One of the characters that does not speak but that is always involved is the Bible Belt of the southern United States. The basic themes of the documentary include mental illness, addiction, relationships, family dysfunction, and the struggle for artistic expression.

 Christopher Scum, shares his continuous drive to create art despite the barriers imposed by society and his own self-destructive tendencies. What we see here is something between comedy and tragedy as the film moves forward.

The film also takes a look at other Knoxville-based artists like Disobedients, and The Cornbred Blues Band, as well as musicians/producers Carl Snow, and Vadim, and poet Rus Harper as well as Dropsonic from Atlanta, and Asheville-based Monsters of Japan. The film has been two years in the making and it al began with filming Dropsonic on tour. Director, Video Rahim, of Worldstorm Arts Lab, from Atlanta, caught an opening performance of The Dirty Works at that concert and thought there was a story to be told. Francis Percarpio, Producer and Owner of WorldStorm Arts Lab, later saw the footage and independently found a way to bring The Dirty Works story to film. After spending time on the festival circuit early this year and most recently received the Audience Choice award at the Y’Allywood Film Festival in September.

rebel ad Since the completion of the film, Christopher Scum was involved in a major car accident and over three quarters of his body was badly burned. His long-time girlfriend, Donna Renee Bailey, also featured prominently in the doc, did not survive the crash. This is certainly not a film for everyone but for those who get to see will be surprised at what it has to say.

“BOOM”— One of the Best Worst Movies of All Time



One of the Best Worst Movies of All Time

Amos Lassen

To really understand and appreciate “Boom!”, we should get a little background of how the film came to be. Tennessee Williams wrote it based on his “famous” bomb, “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore”. It was first produced on Broadway in 1963 with Hermione Baddeley as Flora Goforth in a very Kabuki-style production that ran for 69 performances. Less than a year, it was revived later with Tallulah Bankhead as Flora and Tab Hunter as Christopher Flanders and it closed after 5 performances. Even though it is considered to be a failure, it was one of Williams’ favorite pieces and he continued to work on it until his death. The problem with the play was that Flora who is dying has been portrayed on the stage by a much older women while the male lead, Chris Flanders, the poet, has been played by a much younger man. The film “Boom!” gets it just right with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the lead roles.


Basically it is about Flora Goforth (Taylor), a wealthy woman who has been married many times, each time to notable person. Now, no longer married, she’s dictating her memoirs to her secretary on a secluded island in Italy (The title of the film refers to the sound of crashing of waves against the rocks below Flora’s house). Along comes Christopher Flanders (Burton), a poet known around the area as the “Angel of Death”, who has the uncanny knack of calling on women just before they die.


As the film ages it becomes pure camp and a cult film that only few have seen. The role of The Witch Of Capri (played by a woman on stage) was given to a dry, catty Noel Coward. The jewels worn by Taylor throughout the film are all her own, including the famous Krupp Diamond. The bizarre (but fun) “Kabuki” costume she wears when meeting The Witch for dinner was also her own. For those who love Tennessee Williams (whose poetic lines are heard throughout the film) and Taylor and Burton, this is just right for them.


If you’re a fan of Williams or The Burton’s, you will not be disappointed. The poetry and tone of Williams’ writing will not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Watching the film again last night, I realized that it takes us into the world of the aging gay desire that is disguised as a heterosexual struggle against getting older and the fact that youth flees much too soon. Taylor’s role is really that of an aging rich gay man who is trying to hang on to youth and those attracted by great beauty. After all, Flora’s nickname is Sissy. Burton’s role is that of the hustler who is all that is left for the old queen to attract. Taylor was too young for the part and Burton was too old but even with that the story of a struggle of great wealth against the inevitable moves from strangeness to a compelling and moving ending. There is in a lot of subversive humor in Taylor’s performance that she comes across as quite funny at times. Her vocal range dances from the shrill to the silly to the grand dame and in the last 30 minutes of the film she does some of her finest acting. Burton is rather cool and distant at first but builds his Angel of Death into a truly fine character study.


The cinematography is gorgeous, and the stunning sun washed bone toned opulent glamour of the sets. The spare and haunting score by John Barry is perfect. I always come back to the film because it is profound. The Goforth Sardinian estate is architecturally fabulous and viewers are mesmerized by it. Taylor dresses the part and she acts the part. She’s pretentiously, deliberately over dramatic, arrogant, bitchy, lonely, vulnerable and terrified. It really does not matter what the film is about and there is some perverse pleasure in watching it.