Friday, 16 December 2011
Film Choice: Night of the Eagle
The film to be updated is the 1962 Horror Film Night of the Eagle, which is not a Hammer Horror film but was created by Independent Artists.
Directed by: Sidney Hayers
Produced by: Samuel Z. Arkoff, Albert Fennell
Written by: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, George Baxt
Based on the novel: Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber
Starring: Peter Wyngarde
Music by: William Alwyn
Cinematography: Reginald Wyer
Credits of note are Producer Albert Fennell who went on to produce the TV the Avengers and writer Richard Matheson who wrote I am Legend.
The story centres on upon the lives of two college academics - Norman Taylor and Lindsey Carr - have experience contrasting fortunes in terms of their career with Taylor being extremely successful and Carr not so. It soon becomes apparent that it is actually the two academic's wives that are behind the success, using witchcraft to shape the fortunes of their husbands. Norman Taylor doesn't believe in any witchcraft and so forces his wife, Tansy, to destroy all her work. This leads to a sudden downturn in his fortunes, which leads him to suspect the wife of his rival, Flora Carr, as being behind the bad luck.
Supernatural, witchcraft and disbelief - Norman Taylor is a firm disbeliever in voodoo and magic and refutes it in the films opening scene, however, all the events that follow force him to challenge his views.
Role of women - both Flora and Tansy see their role as making sure their husbands are successful and go to any means to do this. The whole film revolves around two competitive couples. One of the first scenes in a game of bridge played between the Carr and Taylor husband and wives. What is interesting is that while the men have the status it is the women who have the power.
Jealousy and status - at the heart of the story is about people competing to be successful in life but in a way that requires other to do worse. This theme could be placed in many different contexts.
The film did moderately well on its release, partly in contrast to the blood red shocks of Hammer, this was more a psychological horror and was much more restrained, partly due to the black and white presentation.
Film critic David Quinlin wrote that it was 'a genuinely frightening witchcraft chiller' and the New York Times described it as 'admirable'.