Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Quatermass II (1955)

After the success of the first serial, the BBC stumped up for more location filming and better sets and special effects. The camera work is also a little less static and is a much more cinematic affair. The humour present in the first series is pretty much missing, making Quatermass II a far more sober affair.

After the death of Reginald Tate, John Robinson takes up the titular role but, unfortunately, isn't a patch on Tate and his delivery is stilted and lacking warmth and enthusiasm, at least until later episodes. He's also got this weird habit of looking upwards while delivering his lines. In fact, Quatermass is outshone by his assistant Dr. Pugh, played by Welsh actor Hugh Griffith.

A few other notes:
  • The title music is brilliant!
  • At one point a tramp (played by Steptoe & Son's Wilfrid Brambell) asks Quatermass "You're a funny fellow with stones, aren't you?". Well, Kneale does seem to have a bit of a stone fetish: meteorites, stone walls, standing stones!
  • The zombie soldiers are, unintentionally, hilarious!
  • There's a healthy distrust of government and bureaucracy.
  • Some lovely miniature sets.
  • Quatermass's daughter seems to have had a whole bucket full of "received pronunciation" poured down her throat.
  • The spacesuits, although still quite ragged, are much better this time around and look less like welder's gear.
  • There's a rather nice illustration of Newton's 3rd law of motion in the 6th episode!
Overall, a much more cinematic affair than the original series with a thrilling plot but handicapped by a leaden Quatermass.

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