Monday, December 03, 2007

Honourable mention: The Magic Christian

This 1969 movie, directed by Joseph McGrath – based upon the novel by Terry Southern – is not the standard film you would expect to find upon the pages of this blog. An antiestablishment movie that, with a satirical eye, looks into the heart of society, typified in the need to fulfil greed, and finds Western society wanting.

The story centres around Sir Guy Grand (Peter Sellers) who adopts a vagrant named Youngman (Ringo Starr) and teaches him the family business. The family business is to test the limits of society by seeing just what people will do for money – and could actually be seen as a chilling warning for reality TV and the cult of fake celebrity that now permeates modern culture.

Grand either buys his way into the most outlandish behaviour or plays the cruellest of practical jokes on the elitists, the racists and the snobs of London. In many respects Grand is a wonderful portrayal of the Trickster, feeding folks’ base desires (by offering money) and leading them into sublime and comic situations.

The reason for the honourable mention is the appearance of Christopher Lee as a waiter on board the Magic Christian – a luxury cruise ship… ish. Lee brings a woman’s order into her cabin and then stands above her menacingly. When she dismisses him he leans in with fangs extended, causing her to run panicked out of the cabin.

By the time that all Hell has broken loose upon the ship (in the most psychedelic of ways) we see Lee striding down a ship’s corridor, fully caped, heading for the bridge and the Captain. Of course he isn’t a vampire, just another cog in one of Grand’s practical jokes, but the sight of Lee in full Dracula mode is enough for me to offer this a mention.

It just goes to show that vampires can appear anywhere.

The imdb page is here.

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