THE VIRAL VAULT:
Where old classics get new viewings! Where flops can be reborn as hits! And undiscovered gems get a fresh presentation.
THIS WEEK: MOVIE VIRAL welcomes PAUL ROWLANDS, who recently had a look at THE LIMEY (1999). It is an interesting film in its visuals, atmospherics and character reflections. But it serves also as a pulp thriller. Above all: a reminder of the majesty, menace and magic of TERENCE STAMP.
As a kid, I suffered allergies (most of which are now gone, thankfully) and THE STAMP COLLECTION was a real comfort. Stamp was a true pioneer in allergy / food research, as well as a real life adventurer, who became very interested in Indian spiritualism, long before it was fashionable.
As a young leading man, he was one of the most hypnotic and enigmatic snapshot faces you could find to personify an era (especially in his scenes with JULIE CHRISTIE). He excelled at playing both good guys and bad. And is of course the only villain to EVER truly challenge SUPERMAN (ZOD!).
Now.. KNEEL before..THE LIMEY.
Fire away, Paul!..
THE LIMEY was written by Lem Dobbs, who also wrote KAFKA (1991) and HAYWIRE (2011), which Soderbergh directed. Dobbs sent the script to Robert Aldrich.
His script was influenced by GET CARTER (1971) and the BBC TV series Out (1978). Soderbergh was more influenced by POINT BLANK (1967). Peter Fonda was Dobbs’ casting idea, and Soderbergh considered Ryan O’Neal.
Ann-Margret’s scenes as Fonda’s ex-wife were deleted. Dobbs felt the scenes essential, but Soderbergh disagreed. The flashback sequences, featuring Terence Stamp and Carol White, are from the Ken Loach film POOR COW (1967).
(Editor’s Note: That same, archival footaghe insert to narrative technique would be used for AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER (2002), with clips of a young SIR MICHAEL CAINE used to match flashback narrative in an older character’s story. A lot of people didn’t know that. 😉 )
THE LIMEY opens with The Who’s The Seeker. Terence Stamp’s brother Chris co-managed the band from 1964 to 1975. Luis Guzman also appears in Soderbergh’s OUT OF SIGHT (1998) and TRAFFIC (2000).
Put simply: this is well worth watching. Nostalgic yet urgent; thrilling yet reflective; kitchen sink meets high stakes crime and a testament to the talents involved. It is not always an easy movie to watch and it will challenge you. But the experience is most rewarding. See also: I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD (Mike Hodges; 2003: Clive Owen, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Charlotte Rampling)
PAUL ROWLANDS is owner of and chief writer at MONEY INTO LIGHT: a respected source of film essays, reviews and articles, as well as interviews with directors, writers, actors and people involved in film.