Monday, 15 October 2012

Halloween Movie 4. Night of the Eagle (1962)

Based on the novel Conjure Wife by US author Fritz Leiber, this relatively low-budget British film is notable for strong central performances, some good dialogue, and a plot that holds us rather well. (One major theme is the idea of sexual exploitation of vulnerable young women by older men in positions of power.) The black and white starkness of many scenes gives NotE a 'classic' feel, and the setting - a British university - is well evoked.

Leiber's basic premise is very simple - magic is real, and women are often witches who use spells to advance their menfolk's careers. When psychology professor Norman Taylor (Peter Wyngarde) discovers that his wife Tansy (Janet Blair) has been putting magical protective items around their home, he sternly reminds her that - as a social scientist - he can have no truck with such superstition. But when he dispenses with the 'trash' his life takes a turn for the worse. Director Sidney Hayers handles Taylor's descent from modernity into a kind of medieval netherworld of terror with great aplomb, not least in this scene, where much is conveyed without a single word being spoken.

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