"Cracking World War II Thriller"
Oh yes, Richard Marquand's really rather good adaptation of Ken Follett's novel is getting a dual format release from the BFI.
Donald Sutherland is Faber, codename The Needle. He's a German spy hiding in plain sight in England. We first meet him in 194o when his landlady (The Ash Tree's Barbara Ewing) discovers him on his portable radio in his room and pays for it with her life. At the same time we are also introduced to newlyweds David (Christopher Cazenove who had trouble with werewolves in Hammer House of Horror) and Lucy (Kate Nelligan, who had played rather a different Lucy in John Badham's DRACULA two years previously).
While Faber is making good his escape, David & Lucy are driving off into a future of married bliss, which lasts about five minutes before they swerve to avoid a lorry, the car crashes and David no longer has legs.
Four years later. Faber has uncovered a plot to deceive the German forces and has the photos to prove it. A U boat is waiting to pick him up off the coast of Scotland. He makes his way there but ends up stranded on gloomy, craggy, generally awful Storm Island. Which just happens to be where embittered, angry alcoholic David has made his home with his son and an increasingly sexually frustrated Lucy.
That's the first act of this great British thriller. The rest details the developing (and entirely believable) relationship between Faber and Lucy. Sutherland and Nelligan evince a passionate chemistry that boosts the film immensely and the climax is a terrific game of cat and mouse that's up there with the best slasher film finales.
Miklos Rozsa contributes the kind of rousing dramatic score he'd been writing for over 40 years by now. Fans of all things British will enjoy spotting Ian Bannen, David Hayman, John Bennett (dubbed, as is Barbara Ewing), Sam Kydd, Rik Mayall and an impossibly young Bill Nighy. There are plenty of names familiar to BritHorror fans on the crew as well.
The BFI's disc is Richard Marquand's preferred cut, but you do get the alternate ending on the disc as well. I can quite understand why he doesn't think it's as good. There's also a commentary track from Julie Kirgo, Nick Redman and Jon Burlingame, a Donald Sutherland audio Guardian interview from 1987, and three wartime propaganda short subjects. Plus you get the usual BFI booklet with new writing on the film.
Richard Marquand's film of Ken Follett's EYE OF THE NEEDLE is out from the BFI on dual format on
Monday 24th September 2018