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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Nigel Kneale's �Quatermass� BBC Television serials in the early 1950s spawned a brief film series produced over an eleven-year period; Hammer�s 1967 version of the last serial from 1958, �Quatermass and the Pit�, given an �X� certificate by the British Board of Film Censors, was the third and (until 1979's �The Quatermass Conclusion�) last of the features. As with previous chapters in the Kneale saga, the film begins with a baffling scientific discovery. This time it's an alien space ship, still alive after 5,000,000 years, discovered during an excavation for a new underground railway extension at Hobbs End, London. The craft is able to cause psychic disturbances in individuals genetically connected to the machine; it also prompts them to see dead Martians as ghostly entities nearby. In time, conclusions drawn from these events leads Quatermass to shocking conclusions about the origins of the human race.

    Andrew Keir superbly plays Professor Bernard Quatermass, convinced all along that the object uncovered is neither an unexploded bomb from World War Two, as the bomb disposal unit thinks it is, nor a German propaganda weapon from the same period, as know-it-all Colonel Breen (Julian Glover) believes it to be. Dr Matthew Roney (James Donald) and his assistant, Barbara Judd (the gorgeous Barbara Shelley) help Quatermass to prove just what the thing in the pit really is and what the dead locust like creatures found in a sealed compartment within it, really are. But Breen, the Prime Minster and the Ministry of Defence don�t believe them and open up the excavation to the general public, television and the lot as all hell soon breaks loose when the Martian space ship comes alive and starts to destroy London and all those who genetically don�t share the Martian inheritance.

    One of the most startling and ambitious science fiction films of the 1960s, �Quatermass and the Pit� calls into question the historical, philosophical, and theological basis of the history of mankind and suggests a troubling alternate history of how human intelligence developed and where psychic powers such as telekinesis�the ability to move objects without touching them...originally came from, as well as the origins of the beast and the dreamer in all of us�the ability to create and destroy�the power to love and to hate�to cherish and to kill anyone who isn�t like us and doesn�t share our beliefs. Kneale�s script is superb, as in this example where Professor Quatermass is called in to 10, Downing Street, to give his interpretation of the thing in the pit and its origins:

    PRIME MINISTER: �You�ve been busy hinting at Mars�.

    COLONEL BREEN: �Mars is dead�nothing there but a few scraps of lichen�.

    QUATERMASS: �Five million years ago, it may have been very different. Suppose at that time, there were living beings on it�beings with advanced techniques that enabled then to visit the earth at a time when the most highly evolved form of life here�our own ancestors�were merely a form of pliocene ape. They may have wanted to form a colony, when their own world was doomed, but couldn�t endure our atmosphere. So they experimented�the man apes found inside the missile were abnormal.�

    COLONEL BREEN (sneering): �Oh, and the insects were responsible!�

    QUATERMASS: �There�s clearly some connection. My guess is that they were ape mutations being brought back for release on Earth�.

    COLONEL BREEN: �And you really believe that this was possible�that apes were systematically taken from this planet to another and��

    QUATERMASS: ��altered, by selective breeding, atomic surgery, methods we can�t guess�and then returned with new faculties instilled in them�higher intelligence�and perhaps something else�.

    FIRST SECRETARY: �In effect, a colonisation�.

    QUATERMASS: �Only a colonisation by proxy, but better than leaving nothing at all behind�.

    FIRST SECRETARY: �But surely, it would have had to have been carried out on a huge scale!�

    QUATERMASS: �Yes, if I�m right�if I�m right�what we�ve come upon is a single instance. Probably an accident�a landing that went wrong and they all died. The Thames valley was swamp then�.

    Kneale�s script demonstrates that, as far as anything is, we are the Martians now.

    Director Roy Ward Baker knew what to do when he got a good script, and that's certainly what Nigel Kneale brought to the table with his literate and intelligent screenplay. While the excellence of the special effects betray the film's low budget, Arthur Grant's camerawork and Kenneth Ryan's art direction give �Quatermass and the Pit� a remarkably strong look and lend it a clean, well-structured visual style that's the right match for the performances and script.

    I had seen the 1958 - 1959 three hour BBC Television version in six half hour episodes when I was eleven, going on twelve and, as the feature film was just over half that length, I went to see it in February, 1968, with some trepidation, thinking that it may not be as good as the BBC version. But I was pleasantly surprised. It was just as good as the serial had been, with the script cleverly edited down by Kneale himself for the film version in a way that left nothing of any importance out and kept the story�s highlights.

    Here is a link to the original theatrical trailer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zoz9MN0-Y4

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Australia IlllIIllllIIii's Avatar
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    I haven't seen any of the Quatermass films, but I wonder if the surname "Quatermass" is some kind of pun or metaphor, such as "Sir Toby Belch" or "Lady Sneerwell".

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    According to an interview with Nigel Kneale I once read, he said he got the name out of the London telephone book in 1953, at which time there were three or four Quatermass's in it. But that there weren't any the last time he looked about 1979.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: England harryfielder's Avatar
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    I was there...MGM....Elstree.......Fun..

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    You had great telekinetic powers in that, Harry. You only had to stare at someone and rocks started flying at 'em! That would be a handy power to have in real life in case someone started mugging you in the street. They wouldn't know what hit 'em!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by IlllIIllllIIii View Post
    I haven't seen any of the Quatermass films, but I wonder if the surname "Quatermass" is some kind of pun or metaphor, such as "Sir Toby Belch" or "Lady Sneerwell".
    I've got you in my book now Barcode - see my thread on well known films you've never seen in general film chat. Well, at least you've seen Citizen Kane - I hope !.
    I remember watching Quatermass & The Pit originally on one of the old BBC2 Horror Double bills, late on a Saturday night. I believe it was paired with the 50's classic It Came From Outer Space. The year was 1979. As the film arrived at one of its most exciting moments - the discovery of the alien creatures by Andrew Keir, my sister rings on the front doorbell after a night out ! - not only did it scare the hell out of me, but I had to get up and let her in !.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: England harryfielder's Avatar
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    QUATERMASS AND THE PIT……MGM Studios

    Director:
    Roy Ward Baker

    Writer:
    Nigel Kneale (original story and screenplay)

    Genre:
    Sci-Fi | Horror

    Cast
    James Donald ... Dr. Mathew Roney
    Andrew Keir ... Prof. Bernard Quatermass
    Barbara Shelley ... Barbara Judd
    Julian Glover ... Colonel Breen
    Duncan Lamont ... Sladden
    Bryan Marshall ... Captain Potter
    Peter Copley ... Howell
    Edwin Richfield ... Minister
    Grant Taylor ... Police Sergeant Ellis
    Maurice Good ... Sergeant Cleghorn
    Robert Morris ... Jerry Watson
    Sheila Steafel ... Journalist
    Hugh Futcher ... Sapper West
    Hugh Morton ... Elderly Journalist
    Thomas Heathcote ... Vicar

    My first horror film.. I was to work with this director many more times.



    I got a call from Central Casting to go to MGM Studios in Borehamwood, Herts to do a few days on this film movie. I was used as as a workman digging out some Underground holes in a tube station (studio).After some time one of the other extras finds some odd things and digging comes to a stop. A couple of days later I'm back on the film as a possessed man. All we had to do was walk around the tube station as if we were Zombies..
    My wife said ''No change there then''.......Aitch,,

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: Australia IlllIIllllIIii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snorky View Post
    I've got you in my book now Barcode - see my thread on well known films you've never seen in general film chat..
    Yes, thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by snorky View Post
    ...at least you've seen Citizen Kane - I hope !....
    Yes, I've done that one but there's lots of 1940s British ones that TV stations refuse to show.

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  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    A terrified soldier, who has just seen a ghost inside the hull, is dragged out of there in a terrible state.


  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: New Zealand Anthony McKay's Avatar
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    Here is a list of possible extras I put together after going though some documents I have:

    COLONEL BREEN’S OFFICE
    Simon Breet/Brelt? – Orderly Officer
    Kenneth Ives – Adjutent
    INTERIOR NICKLIN INSTITUTE
    David Crane – Attendant
    STREET SCENE
    Leslie Southwick – Journalist
    INTERIOR TUNNEL
    Brian Watson - Journalist
    Peter Bourne -2nd Electrician
    Stunts – Peter Pocock – Electrician’s Mate
    PUB
    Stunts – George Fisher – Pub Customer
    HOT CHESTNUT STALL
    Stunts –
    George Fisher – Pub Customer
    Paddy Ryan – Hot Chestnut Man
    VARIOUS STREETS
    Stunts - Peter Diamond – Clerkly Man

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Thanks, Anthony. I often wondered who those small parts were played by.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: Scotland Gerald Lovell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony McKay View Post
    Here is a list of possible extras I put together after going though some documents I have:

    COLONEL BREEN�S OFFICE
    Simon Breet/Brelt? � Orderly Officer
    Kenneth Ives � Adjutent
    INTERIOR NICKLIN INSTITUTE
    David Crane � Attendant
    STREET SCENE
    Leslie Southwick � Journalist
    INTERIOR TUNNEL
    Brian Watson - Journalist
    Peter Bourne -2nd Electrician
    Stunts � Peter Pocock � Electrician�s Mate
    PUB
    Stunts � George Fisher � Pub Customer
    HOT CHESTNUT STALL
    Stunts �
    George Fisher � Pub Customer
    Paddy Ryan � Hot Chestnut Man
    VARIOUS STREETS
    Stunts - Peter Diamond � Clerkly Man
    Yes, thank you for that. I have quite a long list of uncredited cast for the film, but there are a few there not on it.
    I think the first name is Simon Brent.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    ABC Film Review, November, 1967.


  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    There's a 2015 photo of Barbara Shelley on the mid-issue blog of CinemaRetro at the moment

    http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php...f-Big-Ben.html

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Thanks, Rick. Forty years on, but still recognisable as the 1967 Hammer star.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: UK Nick Cooper's Avatar
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    I've got the US Pressbook and a stack of lobby cards (UK, US & French) - will try to post images tomorrow.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    I've got the complete British Front-of-House set (I've uploaded four of the eight stills from it above) which I paid a lot for some years ago. Sets from Hammer films tend to fetch high prices. I suppose the American and French lobby sets had different scenes to the British Front-of-House set.

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