aq wednesday

8

Moses the Lawgiver (1974)

When I tell you that this is a FIVE HOUR made for TV movie that chronicles the Exodus story in the Bible, you might think that this might be the most pain I’ve ever endured for Anthony Quayle.  No, that dubious honor belongs to 72 Hours in Munich, a 97 minute made for TV movie that chronicles the assassination of Israeli athletes at the Olympics. The surprising thing is that Moses the Lawgiver is actually not terrible.  If that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, I will also tell you that if you happened to have stumbled onto this post because you’ve been assigned the Exodus story as part of a school assignment or something, you could do worse than to watch Moses the Lawgiver.  Besides Anthony Quayle, the film also features Burt Lancaster and Irene Papas, has a screenplay by Anthony Burgess and music by Ennio Morricone (though a little Morricone goes a long way with me and FIVE HOURS is officially a FUCK TON of Morricone.)

Young Moses is ably played by William Lancaster, Burt’s son, and Elder Moses is of course played by Burt.  I’ve never been the biggest Lancaster fan with the exception of From Here to Eternity and The Killers.  Lancaster’s performance here is fine, apart from some trouble with the fake beards they’ve given him and really shouldn’t looking good in a fake beard, be one of the top requirements for playing Moses? He’s a pleasantly chill Moses, hanging out in tents petting lambs instead of striking beardy prophetic poses.  (Moses poses?)    Quayle is wearing his own beard, though sadly they’ve given him a god-awful wig.  On the list of the top three worst hair pieces Quayle ever had on his head this comes in between Saraband for Dead Lovers and Damn the Defiant.  Fortunately as his character, Aaron, ages, he’s allowed his own hair. It’s really pleasing to see Quayle having so much screen time, and playing lots with Lancaster, Marina Berti who plays Aaron’s wife and Ingrid Thulin who plays his sister.

Like Scorcese’s film of Last Temptation of Christ, Moses the Lawgiver gives a grittier Holy Land than the typical Hollywood offering.  It’s a lot of people wandering around in the desert, (the film was shot in Morocco and Israel) not bathing, sleeping in tents, wearing loads of fur and rags and arguing among themselves.  If that isn’t your cup of tea than you should avoid this movie like one of the ten plagues. As you all probably know from the number of Lawrence of Arabia posts on my blog that is TOTALLY my cup of tea.

Burgess’ script focuses on the struggle of Moses and Aaron to accept the burden God has placed on them, sort of a Last Temptation of Moses, spin on Exodus. Moses is the brains and Aaron is his press secretary, deflecting the constant “but isn’t Moses batshit crazy and possibly a little slow in the head?” with “yes, but miracles.” And to be honest, if Quayle were coming at me with the Team Yahweh rhetoric I would be powerless to resist.  I’d be signing up like the rest of them, hoping that I could avoid the smiting, the plagues and the punishment wandering in the wilderness for a shot at the promised land, enemies conveniently vanquished in a forty second montage in the final episode.  Aaron is just that good at his job.  Well, except for the time he gets to run the whole show while Moses is up Mount Ararat indefinitely.  Yes, Moses is stone tablet smashing mad, but he reserves his worst disappoint for Aaron:  “What the shit, Aaron?  You had one job!  Remember, the whole “no other gods before me” thing which was literally the only talking point we’ve had for like a year and you just went ahead and made a golden calf?!!” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

Moses the Lawgiver is now on youtube, and there is an unrestored region 2 disc as well as a Mexican region 1 disc that works without the spanish subs.

Anthony Quayle plays Adam Strange, an “independent detective” who works loosely with Scotland Yard.  Not quite a “consulting detective” but he does have a pretty sweet chemistry set in his flat/laboratory/club house to further the Holmesian allusion. All the episodes or “reports” are given random numbers which makes it really hard to figure out which episode goes first when you are trying to burn them into your media system.  According to my husband.  ANYWAY, Adam Strange used to work for Scotland Yard as a detective, but now he freelances with his hip young helpers…

Evelyn MacLean, artist, model and gal Friday, seen here in one of her signature “Oopsie, I forgot to wear anything on my legs” ensembles. Has confused, slightly incestuous daddy/daughter relationship with Adam and confused, slightly incestuous big brother/little sister relationship with Ham.  Yes, that’s right.  I said “Ham."  I’m talking about Hamlyn "Ham” Gynt who is supposed to be from Minnesota, works part time at the British Museum, is a medical doctor, drives a vintage motorcycle, and can frequently be seen wearing goggles.

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Ham has a pretty handsy/slashy relationship with Adam Strange, whom he assists in some vague, unofficial capacity. 

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What is Personal Space? Adam/Ham edition 1/1 million.

Now that we’ve introduced the principal characters, we need to talk about the setting: London in the swingin’ sixties. You can tell because they have NIGHT CLUBs. 

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As you can see avocado green plays an important part in this show.  Not only is Strange’s apartment mostly avocado, but so is the hallway, and most of Scotland yard and the occasional villain hideout. 

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This is Evelyn’s kitchen.  Good lord it’s so cute I just want to take it to the park and push it on the swings.

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These are Adam Strange’s glasses.  They are very important to me. 

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Note Agatha Cristie novel in background.

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IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT

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Other stuff about Adam Strange: he drives a taxi cab, to better elude the bad guys, I guess.  Occasionally one of the bad guys will try to hail him.  It’s pretty High-lar.  Speaking of transportation, here is Adam on a boat in a blue anorak.  Tony Quayle was a real-life yacht owner.  I wonder if that’s his personal anorak.

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Quayle’s eyebrow is vital to the success of the show.  It helps him with acting and stuff. 

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Well, that’s about it for now.  Here’s the final shot of the first episode.  Our threesome walking down the stairs in a confused/incestuous manner.  This is how they walk everywhere.  (I’m not joking).  Also, thinking about giving the Boy, the nickname, “Buzz.” What do you think?

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Mesada: Big sloppy wet kiss to Israel that ends with gum lacerations because of Israel’s braces. 

This 80s miniseries about the siege of Mesada in the Roman era  stars Peter O'Toole, Anthony Quayle and David Warner as the Romans and Some Other Actors as the Zealots.  With this much screen time and star power devoted to the Roman side of the story, it’s difficult not to sympathize with the Imperial power a little bit, especially when the head Roman is played by O'Toole in full melt down mode, drinking his way into oblivion with his weird little death masque of his wife that he keeps in a miniature theater and his Jewish slave girlfriend who just bitchfaces her way through the whole siege.  Quayle walks into this mess and tries to fix everything with trigonometry and integrity.  Then David Warner rolls up in a sedan chair and is camp while camping.  Great fun. 

But of course the Zealots are the real heroes and they’re naturally pissed off about having Romans settling on their land and giving everyone the boot and so they fight a tough, dirty campaign, refusing to play by the Roman Rulez..  Hard to watch this without a giant flashing “irony” sign in the room cause there might be some simplistic parallels between the Zealots and the *cough* Palestinians, *cough.*