Sunday, May 30, 2010

Movies You Haven't Seen But Should: Quatermass And The Pit


Quatermass and the Pit is a 1967 British science-fiction / horror film, produced by Hammer Film Productions and based on the 1958 BBC Television serial of the same name. It was adapted by the writer Nigel Kneale from his own original television script, and directed by Roy Ward Baker. The film was designed by Bernard Robinson and scored by Tristram Cary. In the United States, it was released under the title Five Million Years to Earth.

The film was a sequel to two previous Hammer adaptations of Kneale's BBC serials: The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and Quatermass 2 (1957). It was the first Quatermass production to be made in colour, and starred Scottish actor Andrew Keir as Professor Bernard Quatermass, replacing the American Brian Donlevy, who had starred in the previous two films.

In contrast to Donlevy, Keir's performance as Quatermass has been very well-received down the years, and the film is generally felt to be the most faithful of the three cinematic adaptations, although it was not as commercially successful as its predecessors. Nigel Kneale's script is in particular extremely close to his original television version, with whole scenes and chunks of dialogue remaining essentially untouched.

Other actors included Julian Glover as the army officer Colonel Breen, James Donald as the archeologist Roney, and Barbara Shelley as Roney's assistant Miss Judd. Also appearing in a small role as the drill operator Sladden was actor Duncan Lamont, who in 1953 had played the major part of astronaut Victor Caroon in the original Quatermass television serial, The Quatermass Experiment. Gareth Thomas, later to appear in popular 1970s television series Children of the Stones and Blake's 7, makes a brief, non-speaking appearance in the opening scenes as a workman on the London Underground.

Quatermass and the Pit was the last Quatermass movie to be produced by Hammer, although after its release Kneale did pitch a storyline to the company for a further film written directly for the cinema. While it was not produced by Hammer, the storyline eventually formed the basis of the character's 1979 swansong television serial Quatermass, screened on the ITV network.

Andrew Keir returned to play the character of Quatermass again in the 1996 radio serial The Quatermass Memoirs for BBC Radio 3, becoming one of only two actors – Brian Donlevy being the other – to play the role for a second time.


Minister of Defense: You realise what you're implying? That we owe our human condition here to the intervention of insects?

1 comment:

Brett said...

This is definitely a film more people should see. The work of Nigel Kneale is in need of a drastic reappraisal: