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« BFI brings cult 60s classic Bronco Bullfrog back to the big screen | Main | Cult Clip: Die Screaming Marianne (1970) »

DVD Review: Die Screaming Marianne (1970)


On paper, it's the film that has it all - a decent plot, a hip cast, Peter Walker directing, Susan George as a go go dancer and a swinging London setting (at least for part of the film). But sadly, Die Screaming Marianne doesn't quite reach the heights you hope for. Although it's certainly an interesting way of spending 99 minutes.

Filmed in 1970, just as swinging London was fading away, it still features names associated with that era - Barry 'Mulberry Bush' Evans, model Judy Huxtable and of course, the previously-mentioned Susan George. George is the Marianne in the title. Or Marianne 'The Hips' McDonald to give her the full name. Those hips being the tools for making a living as a dancer as she constantly moves around Europe, staying one step of the people who have it in for her...her family.

Marianne is the daughter of a corrupt judge (Leo Genn), who is living in exile in Portugal with her rather nasty sister Hildegarde (Judy Huxtable). The judge divorced Marianne's mother, who later died, leaving both her cash and some dirt on father in a vault for Marianne. Which is why the father and sister want her dead...but not before she's given them the code to the vault.

After one lucky escape on mainland Europe, Marianne escapes with passing driver Sebastian (Christopher Sandford), starting a fling with him in London which leads to a rushed marriage ceremony. But doubts arise about him at the altar - and she 'accidentally' marries the best man Eli (Barry Evans). Just as well - Sebastian is as crooked as the judge and Hildegard, who he happens to be on very friendly terms with.

With no marriage and his bride-to-be living with the best man, Sebastian heads to Portugal, where he is charged with bringing Marianne and Eli to the judge's Euro hideaway. After an attempt on Eli's life, the pair decide to go...which is when the intrigue really begins.

The judge wants the code to the vault, but doesn't want his daughter harmed. Hildegard wants Marianne dead, Sebastian just wants the money - and the married couple just want to stay alive. But in the end, only two do survive - and one of those is experiencing a slow and painful death.

It's an interesting idea for a story, but a mix of high expectation and low budget leaves a final product that doesn't really deliver. Maybe you expect more of the cast, perhaps more substance to the tale or more likely, with Pete Walker as director, you expect something a little more shocking. Either way, it comes up short. Indeed, Walker himself, on the newly-recorded interview for the disc, says it's 'not one of his best' adding that it does have 'some interesting moments', which I tend to agree with. It also has enough suspense in the latter half to keep you entertained, even if the plot gets a little messy.

But for all that, Die Screaming Marianne does have a charm. From Susan George's go go dancing on the titles to the streets of early 70s London, the modernist-style apartment in the Algarve and Judy Huxtable's hipness, it's certainly good on the eye. The story isn't bad either. Yes, as I mentioned, it does get a little confusing towards the end and for me and there are moments when the plot goes down the odd dead end, but it will keep you drawn in until the end. Even if, at the end, you ask yourself 'is that it?'

Fans of the era will enjoy it, Pete Walker fans should also give it a go, especially with a new commentary and that interview added in for this release. But if you've never picked up a Pete Walker film, there are better starting places. Like Frightmare, which is also getting the reissue treatment and will be reviewed on these very pages soon.

Find out more at the Amazon website


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