The Man With the Codfish Eyes

British actor Donald Pleasence has played his fair share of nutters and villains through the years from infamous grave robber William Hare in The Flesh and the Fiends (1960) to Blofeld, James Bond’s nemesis, in You Only Live Twice (1967) to the dangerous religious fanatic in Will Penny (1968) to the insane scientist of The Mutations aka The Freakmaker (1974). At the same time, he has also specialized in playing cold, analytical authority figures who, while on the side of good, is often more unsettling than comforting as in his iconic role as Dr. Loomis in Halloween (1978) and four of its sequels. His portrayal of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, the most notorious murderer of the Edwardian Age, in Dr. Crippen (1963), however, doesn’t really fit into either category and displays yet another side of the Pleasence persona – a quiet, unassertive enigma, a blank slate for us to fill in the details. The eyes, which reveal nothing, seem to look right through you. 

Donald Pleasence as arch villain Blofeld in the James Bond adventure YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967).
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Roman Polanski’s Lost Film

A Day at the Beach DVDThe headline is referencing the past, not the present, for A DAY AT THE BEACH, a film that Roman Polanski scripted and co-produced with his partner Gene Gutowski for their short-lived production company, Cadre Films, in 1969 finally surfaced on DVD in 2007 via Odeon Entertainment’s “The Best of British Collection” series in the U.K. and then in the U.S. in 2008, courtesy of Code Red, which specializes in re-releasing cult and lesser known genre films like Rituals (1977) and Group Marriage (1973).  For more than thirty five years, the film was considered lost after being shelved by Paramount following an unsuccessful limited release in Europe. But a serviceable print was discovered and preserved and any self-professed fan of Polanski’s films will want to check it out if they haven’t already.  It may not be “the lost Roman Polanski masterpiece” that the Code Red DVD cover promises but it is much more than a curiosity piece and quite compelling if you are in the mood for a bitter, bleak and harrowing character study.    Continue reading