Eclipse Series 25 - Basil Dearden's London Underground (Criterion) (Disc 1 of 4): Sapphire (1959)
After mastering the mix of comedy, suspense, and horror that helped define the golden age of British cinema, Basil Dearden (along with his producing partner Michael Relph) left the legendary Ealing Studios and struck out on his own. In the late fifties and early sixties, he created a series of gripping, groundbreaking, even controversial films that dealt with racism, homophobia, and the lingering effects of World War II, noir-tinged dramas that burrowed into corners of London rarely seen on-screen. This set of elegantly crafted films brings this quintessential figure of British cinema out of the shadows.
Sapphire: A beautiful female college student is found dead in a public park; the police soon discover that her murder may have been racially motivated. Basil Dearden's bold, direct police procedural, starring Nigel Patrick as the detective in charge of the investigation, is a devastating look at the way bigotry crosses class divides, and a snapshot of the increasingly interracial culture of England in the late fifties.
Eclipse Series 25 - Basil Dearden's London Underground (Criterion) (Disc 2 of 4): The League of Gentlemen (1960)
Bitter about being forced into retirement, a colonel (wittily embodied by Jack Hawkins) ropes a cadre of former British army men into aiding him in a one-million-pound bank robbery - a risky, multitiered plan that involves infiltrating a military compound. A delightful cast of British all-stars, including Richard Attenborough, Bryan Forbes, and Roger Livesey, brings to life this precisely calibrated caper, which was immensely popular and influenced countless Hollywood heist films.
Eclipse Series 25 - Basil Dearden's London Underground (Criterion) (Disc 3 of 4): Victim (1961)
An extraordinary performance by Dirk Bogarde grounds this intense, sobering indictment of early-sixties social intolerance and sexual puritanism. Bogarde plays Melville Farr, a married barrister who is one of a large group of closeted London men who become targets of a blackmailer. Basil Dearden's unmistakably political taboo buster was one of the first films to address homophobia head-on, a cry of protest against British laws forbidding homosexuality.
Eclipse Series 25 - Basil Dearden's London Underground (Criterion) (Disc 4 of 4): All Night Long (1962)
Othello is translated to the world of sixties London jazz clubs in Basil Dearden's smoky and sensational All Night Long. Over the course of one eventful evening, the anniversary celebration of the musical and romantic partners Aurelius Rex (Paul Harris) and Delia Lane (Marti Stevens), a jealous, ambitious drummer, Johnny Cousin (Patrick McGoohan), attempts to tear the interracial couple apart. This daring psychodrama also features on-screen appearances by jazz legends Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Tubby Hayes, and Johnny Dankworth.