Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Terence Fisher
THE CHARM OF EVIL: The Life and Films of Terence Fisher. Wheeler Winston Dixon. Scarecrow Press; 1991. Introduction by John Carpenter.

This is an exhaustive, superbly-researched look into the life and work of British director Terence Fisher, who helmed a great variety of films but is today best remembered for his work for Hammer Studios, including Horror of Dracula, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Gorgon, and many others. More a career study than a biography proper, there is still much of his personal life, with recollections from his widow and those who worked with Fisher. Dixon looks into Fisher's pre-Hammer work, interesting films such as Stolen Face and Portrait from Life, as well as such curiosities as Four-Sided Triangle and Blackout. While an obvious admirer of his subject, Dixon doesn't slavishly love everything the director did, [although one might wonder about his defense of such comparative drek as The Earth Dies Screaming.] Some might feel Fisher isn't worthy of such intensive scrutiny as Hitchcock, but Fisher's best films show a firm directorial hand and are both vivid and dramatic. The book is written in an academic style that isn't too off-putting, although Dixon betrays a certain prissiness at times. Some might eschew the somewhat tedious shot by shot analysis that Dixon occasionally goes in for and just look at the movies themselves. Basically, this is a well-done, scholarly and admirable labor of love.

Verdict: For Fisher fans this is the "reel" deal. ***1/2.

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