Reflections on a variety of films and topics - Seven Samurai, It's a Wonderful Life, Don Quixote, We're no angels, War for the planet of the apes, Dunkirk, The African Queen, Babette's Feast, Dances with Wolves, The Prisoner (1967), Inherit the wind, humour in drama, nature of regret, the influence of multimedia, memoirs of a teacher of French.
Please scroll down or find on the right links to articles, pages of reflections on films, books, TV series (including "The Wild Bunch", "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", "Papillon" (1973), "Public Eye", "Existentialism in society today", "Seven Samurai", "It's a Wonderful Life", "Don Quixote", "We're No Angels", "The African Queen", "Babette's Feast", "War for the Planet of the Apes", "Dunkirk", “Dances With Wolves”, “Inherit The Wind” and “The Prisoner”), and occasional pieces of flash fiction. These are additions to similar pages which may be found at www.stuartfernie.org .
A link to my YouTube channel with video presentations of a number of my pages.
Having retired from teaching fairly recently, I thought I’d write my memoirs, “What have I done?”, and present them online. Please find links to the various chapters on the right, though chunks of the text (but perhaps not all) may also appear below. If you suffer from insomnia, this may help!
Click on the arrows to access links to 2016 and then December.
I can be contacted through the comments sections or at email@example.com
Starring William Holden,
Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan et al.
A video presentation of this material is available here.
“The Wild Bunch” opens
with a raid by our “heroes” on a railroad office, the purpose of which is to
relieve the railroad company of a consignment of silver, but the carefully
planned robbery goes horribly wrong.
A group of undisciplined,
greedy and reckless bounty hunters hired by the railroad company and led by a
former compadre of our robbers, opens fire on them but our group uses a passing
parade (ironically composed of members of the temperance movement) to cover
their exit. As shots are exchanged between the determined and organised robbers
and the less than competent and hot-headed bounty hunters, instigators and
innocents alike are mown down by wild gunfire with a complete disregard for the
lives of passing townsfolk and any collateral damage either side might inflict.
Using imagery vaguely reminiscent
of that used at the start of Clouzot’s existential action/drama “The Wages of
Fear” in which cockroaches are linked and taunted by a young boy, these opening
scenes are interspersed with shots of a few scorpions being attacked by a horde
of red ants while being watched by a group of amused children. Dangerous
creatures willing and able to assert themselves and cause death in order to
survive are attacked and overwhelmed by a mass of individually inferior red
ants working together to bring down the ostensibly superior and more powerful
This may be viewed as a
metaphor for the fate of our band of anti-heroes as our simple but highly
dangerous band of thieves encounters opposition in the shape of the railroad
company and its bounty hunters, the army, and the Mexican militia led by
General Mapache, representing business, governmental order and amoral political
The metaphor does not,
however, end there. The children who view this grisly assault and who are all
amused by it, place burning hay over the entire assembly, sealing the fates of
all concerned. It might be suggested that these children represent the youthful
audience delighted by the embattled antics of these proud, noble and menacing
creatures now held up as mere figures of entertainment who are consigned to the
flames of Hell and the ashes of oblivion.
Thus, the stage is set
and in the opening minutes the underpinning moral principle for the entire film
is established – there is no morality. There is no “right”, “wrong” or
“justice”. There are only “sides” doing what they feel they have to do in order
to survive and prosper. No side respects morality, humanity or even legality –
their actions are based on their determination to succeed in accordance with
their own perspective.
All are willing to cause
collateral damage to innocents, cause death and destruction and trample on
human rights in order to see their task through or to defend their viewpoint.
There are, however, major
differences between our “Bunch” and these other factions. The railroad bounty
hunters, the army and Mapache’s men are united by the desire for payment,
self-advancement and self-interest while Pike Bishop’s cohort appears bound,
however loosely, by comradeship and friendship. This does not prevent them from
disagreeing and bickering to the point of mocking and threatening one another,
but the underpinning principle of loyalty always allows them to forgive
transgressions and retain respect for one another. Pike and Deke maintain
admiration and regard for one another despite Pike apparently running out on
Deke and the fact that Deke now leads the bounty hunters chasing them down.
Each knows and understands that the other did what he had to do in order to
survive, though each feels guilt at letting the other down, reflecting an
ongoing, if conflicted, allegiance between the two.
While we may not approve
of the Bunch’s murderous and robbing ways, they have our support as they face
even less principled and more inhuman groups opposed to them. These groups are
well financed, armed and supported as they represent power and order which they
seek to impose and expand. Our anti-heroes persist in trying to survive in
their own way but they apply certain limits (“We don’t hang people”, they
insist) and at least demonstrate humanity toward one another. There is no
denying their courage and determination as they refuse, almost Quixotically, to
yield to the others’ overwhelming force and instead set out to take on the
challenge of facing seemingly unbeatable odds.
Much has been made of
director Sam Peckinpah’s enthusiasm for the theme of the passing of the Old
West and its ways in several films, and that theme is undeniably revisited here.
The introduction of the motor car, the machine gun, improved communications systems
and the very fact that commerce, government and political opportunists have
organised themselves to put pressure on our small band of rebellious
desperadoes all attest to that.
However, the broader
themes of ageing, the awareness of time running out and the resultant desire to
give value to one’s life are also visited.
There are frequent
references to physical problems in simply moving about, the need to make one
last big score and recollections of the past, all associated with ageing,
reflection and an awareness their time is coming to an end. Of course, they
quickly realise that they have nothing in their lives but action, survival and
one another. It is perhaps fitting, then, that in the end they opt to face
insurmountable odds to try to gain the freedom of Angel, one of their own, who
has been held by Mapache and is being tortured by him. In so doing, they choose
to defend the one principle by which they have tried to live – loyalty to one’s
compadres, and perhaps they hope to compensate for any previous failures, even
if they were understandable, to live up to their code.
The willingness to risk
everything for a friend is indicative of the strength of the bond between these
men. There are times when they share their inner feelings and fears. They bicker
but reconcile due to profound respect and mutual affection. They recount tales
of shared experience and they end up laughing with one another, both because
they enjoy one another’s company and as a means of defusing a situation,
suggesting an underlying bond that will prevail over any disagreement. These
are all signs of a solid, almost marriage-like relationship. They have formed a
fraternity which overrides all other relationships, even those with women who
are appreciated but with whom they find it difficult to communicate and have a
satisfying and emotionally rounded relationship.
Children are seen
frequently in the film and apart from being regarded as a source of
responsibility and pride, they may be viewed as a reminder of the cycle of life
and the fact that their outlook and actions will be influenced both directly
and indirectly by the actions and attitudes of those around them as they grow
up. Significantly, it is a child, dressed in uniform and wielding a rifle, who
fires on Pike in the final battle and brings about his end.
Sam Peckinpah’s highly
engaging script and direction were punctuated by graphic violence, gore (strong
for its time) and celebrated slow-motion sequences. His declared purpose in
using slow-motion was to emphasise the horror and bloody consequences of such
violence, but I can’t help but wonder if, especially in the final extended
battle and given our mitigated affiliation with Pike and co, there was not a feeling
of satisfaction in the audience as Mapache and his men get their just desserts,
dying as they lived, by violence.
Unsurprisingly, Pike and his
friends also die violent deaths at the hands of those they are willing to kill,
leaving Deke and Sykes as the sole survivors of the group. Sykes recognises the
futility of focusing on the past and, invoking their common bond of fraternity
and spirit, invites Deke to join him in the action and mayhem of the Mexican
Revolution. Laughing together, they head off to continue to ply their trade
with Pike, Dutch and the others living on as happy and revered memories. Life
goes on and, as they say, it is for the living.
I approached this film
with some trepidation given its reputation for glorifying violence, but I found
it far more engaging, touching and thought-provoking than I anticipated. Yes,
the violence is there but it serves a poetic purpose (though the success of the
way it is presented is, I suppose, open to debate). The whole is delivered,
rather like the characters themselves, with great spirit and gusto, yet tinged
with wistfulness and regret.
There are strong
performances from all concerned but especially from the lead actors who manage
to convey determination, reflection, regret and affection, fleshing out the
thoughtful script and carrying their roles to a higher emotional plain.
Ernest Borgnine gives
excellent support as the strong and devoted Dutch while William Holden is
superb as the weary but still driven Pike.
My thanks for taking the
time to read this page. I hope you found it of some value.
Starring Humphrey Bogart,
Walter Huston and Tim Holt
A video presentation of this material is available here.
“The Treasure of the
Sierra Madre” opens in oil-rich Tampico in Mexico in the 1920s, a place and
time which attracted many due to the lure of readily available natural
resources and the presence of enterprising businessmen all too willing to seek
their fortunes by plundering these resources.
Unfortunately for Fred
Dobbs and Bob Curtin, by the time of their arrival the major oil field had all
but dried up and we witness Dobbs forced to beg in the streets in order to
Dobbs (and by extension, Curtin) are reduced
to the level of beggars and have thus, apparently, reached the bottom of the
barrel. They may be viewed as desperate, worthless and unworthy of respect. But
they have not resorted to criminality. They may lack money and social standing
but they retain a modicum of self-respect as they remain honest and seek work
in order to get by. Indeed, within the fraternity of the impoverished there is
evidence of human compassion, understanding and sympathy despite, or perhaps exactly
because of, their shared hard times.
Dobbs is approached to buy
a lottery ticket by a young Mexican lad. He is initially unpleasant to him and
gruffly rejects the boy’s sales pitch. However, the boy accepts Dobbs’ rough
treatment of him and persists in his attempt to make even a small sale,
indicating his desperation. After reflection, Dobbs buys a lowly part-share in
the lottery ticket almost as a way of helping the boy survive, suggesting
Dobbs’ fundamental humanity despite his situation, frustration and anger.
Dobbs and Curtin consider
themselves the dregs of society and are grateful to receive offers of work from
Pat McCormick. However, Mr McCormick represents a section of society which is
without scruples and is willing to take advantage of Dobbs and Curtin’s
situation, desperation and willingness to work. He scams them (along with
several others) of their pay, showing no remorse or compassion and is willing
to advance self-interest at the expense of others. Dobbs and Curtin may have
hit an all-time low, but they would not sink to these depths.
Eventually, they catch up
with McCormick and demand what is theirs. There is a vicious fight and when
Dobbs and Curtin emerge the victors, they take their spoils. However, they take
only what was due to them. Anything more would have been theft and that is
clearly against their honest natures.
Next, they meet Howard
who offers an alternative to financial struggle and dependence on others for
survival. He is a gold-digger and he presents a less traditional and less
society-dependent way of getting by – seeking gold. He embodies spirit, hope
and determination while readily recognising the awful consequences on men of
seeking and finding gold – a lack of trust in others and increased selfishness
– though he appears willing to live with these consequences if it means he can
access wealth by way of gold.
And so, they form a team
and set off in search of their fortunes. They travel a considerable distance
across Mexico and leave behind “civilisation”, society and the social
structures they impose. Large social groups involve complex frameworks which
allow their members to co-exist, support one another and eventually become
interdependent. They come to rely on one another to provide services but also a
source of income, a means of getting by and even fraternity. This dependence on
one another requires trust and reliability – they need one another to survive,
especially financially. The gaining of excessive wealth removes the fundamental
need for such structure and dependence on others, and may lead to distrust and
suspicion as the wealthy become protective, self-centred and unwilling to
Thanks to Howard’s
experience and hard-won knowledge they find their gold and gradually Howard’s
warnings of loss of trust and selfishness come true. Dobbs is particularly
distrustful, perhaps because he felt shame at his circumstances in Tampico and
has no desire to return to that social position and so becomes highly
protective of his finds, and he makes accusations which do little to build or
retain any sense of fraternity and confidence between the men.
Thus, Dobbs, Curtin and
to a lesser extent Howard (who knew to expect this consequence of finding
wealth) have a taste of independence, yet they realise they remain reliant on
one another’s honesty. Alone and in the wilderness far from social niceties of
morality and laws, trust evaporates and they start to lose sight of one
another’s principles and are increasingly aware of criminal possibilities.
Curiously, they remain
fundamentally honest at this point as they merely express distrust in one
another and wish to protect their own gains. They do not seek to take what
isn’t theirs – it is not a question of personal greed but rather suspicion of
greed and dishonesty on the part of the others.
This situation should be
compared to earlier scenes in which, jobless and taken advantage of, Dobbs is
willing to share his good fortune (when he wins a small share of the lottery)
to stake Curtin in their gold-seeking venture. They share what little they have
after receiving no pay and they are happy and willing to help one another when
all are needy and require assistance. Their common needs help them to form a
social pact in which each supports the other to the benefit of all concerned.
The arrival of a
stranger, Cody, who wishes to throw in with them (on a basis of honesty and
fair shares) tips the already teetering balance of morality in favour of
self-preservation. Our three seekers of wealth hold a reasoned discussion
regarding Cody and they decide they should murder him in order to protect and
advance their own interests, pure and simple. They consider this action
acceptable if all three share the guilt. This marks a notable deterioration in
the view of morality of all three – not only are they willing to take a life
merely to advance their own interests, they recognise they will feel guilt (and
thus that they are doing wrong) but they are ready to live with it if it means
they can have their gold.
They make their way to
Cody in order to take his life but encounter a common enemy on the way –
bandits who are also willing to do anything to advance their own interests,
including taking the lives of our band of gold-seekers. Cody defends himself
and his would-be murderers against the bandits but pays with his life.
Having survived the
bandit attack and recognising Cody’s contribution, Dobbs, Curtin and Howard
discover a letter to Cody from his beloved wife. While previously they regarded
Cody simply as a threat to the accomplishment of their mission, the reading of
this letter brings home to them that Cody had a past, relationships,
responsibilities and a future – he did not belong solely to their present. We
are all multi-facetted individuals whose paths cross and exercise influence on
others and it is often too easy to see individuals only in terms of their
immediate effect on us.
Upon reflection, and
having gained a wider perspective on friend Cody and his life, and taken in to
account the fact he helped them survive the bandit attack, they decide to share
a portion of their good fortune with his family in Texas.
We see that they remain
open to empathy and compassion as they are reminded of social structures and
warm relationships, but continued isolation, obsession and desperation lead to
a lack of consideration and respect for others. Thus, en route toward
“civilisation”, Dobbs shows himself willing to kill Curtin as his suspicions
and paranoia get the better of him. He has been so focused on gold for so long
that he has lost perspective and is now losing the one thing he retained
despite everything – his honesty. Even when reduced to the status of a beggar
in the streets he held on to his honesty. Now, technically wealthy, he loses
his grip on self-respect and morality as he shoots Curtin and takes all the
gold. He believes he has killed him but is plagued by guilt and uncertainty,
especially when Curtin’s body disappears.
Virtually within sight of
a town and the means to cash in on his efforts, Dobbs encounters some of the
murderous bandits he has met on at least two previous occasions. In the end,
Dobbs is murdered for next to nothing while his fortune in gold dust is not
even recognised for what it is (the bandit assumes it is sand and empties the
bags containing it on the ground). The few goods for which he is murdered have
more immediate value to his murderer than the fortune Dobbs has spent an age
uncovering. All that matters to his bandit killer is that Dobbs had something
he wanted or needed. The value was of no consequence. Perhaps Dobbs was
travelling down the same path toward similar values – he had crossed the line
and having lost his grip on morality and his self-respect, he might have been
tempted to kill (as he thought) again.
On the way to the
mountains our group encountered fierce winds and there were warnings that nature
will not be defeated. As they approach the town, winds are once again raised
into a violent storm and they whip up sand, soil and gold dust which they carry
off, returning it to its rightful resting place. Nature has indeed triumphed
over man’s petty efforts to gain from it.
When faced with this
devastating loss, Howard and Curtin (who survived Dobbs’ attack) recognise the
irony of the situation and concede defeat. They laugh uncontrollably at the
ease with which nature has reclaimed that which took several months of hard
labour to wrest from the Earth.
They ponder their futures
and are not tempted to further pursue apparently easy-gotten wealth. On the way
from the mountain, Howard saved the life of a native child through applying
what was, for him, basic medical knowledge, but the villagers are willing to
adopt him as a sort of medicine man and Howard decides to take them up on their
proposes to head to Texas to look up Cody’s wife. Perhaps he hopes to pick up
the life Cody left behind.
It is interesting to note
that both survivors of this venture opt for futures in society, surrounded by
people and in the warmth of relationships rather than pursue gold which, they
have seen, can lead to the destruction of relationships, the breakdown of society
and unleash an unattractive and amoral independent streak in men.
The script and direction by
John Huston are completely assured, engaging and clear. The general atmosphere
of social desperation and the gradual descent into suspicion, paranoia and
amorality are superbly done and are presented as a natural progression (or
deterioration) at a steady pace.
I have to say that for me
a couple of the plot developments seemed a little unnatural. The letter from
Cody’s wife seemed to trigger too easy a transition to compassion, and Howard’s
saving of the native boy and his quasi-mystical induction into the tribe seemed
contrived, but both these elements served the purpose of opening up the story
and offered social alternatives to the self-centred and obsessive pursuit of
All the actors acquitted
themselves remarkably well, though special mention must be made of Walter
Huston’s Academy Award-winning performance. His shrewd but likeable Howard
encapsulates the strength, character and spirit of those willing to chance
everything but able to pick themselves up if or when they fail.
Humphrey Bogart is simply
outstanding as Fred Dobbs. He captures brilliantly Dobbs’ deterioration from
the honest, ambitious but failing down-and-out to the suspicious, lost and
demented wealthy man who loses everything, including perspective, before he
loses his very life.
My thanks for taking the
time to read this article. I hope you found it of some value.
A video presentation of this material is available here.
Part documentary, part
social commentary and part drama, this is an adventure story with a difference.
Adapted from the vivid, colourful and gripping autobiography of Henri
Charrière, “Papillon” dares to challenge the premise, integrity and merit of
the French colonial penal system of the 1930s (French Guiana ceased receiving
convicts in 1938 and was closed in 1953).
Papillon (the nickname of
Henri Charrière), Louis Dega and their companions are all convicted criminals
and are to be dispatched to French Guiana for the duration of their sentences
(and double it in some cases) as France, they are told, has washed her hands of
them. Papillon insists he is innocent of the murder for which he was condemned,
though he does not deny involvement in lesser crimes. Dega is a forger and
embezzler. Thus, a major issue and challenge in terms of audience investment in
the film is sympathy, or lack of it, for the main characters. The source of
interest and key to engagement with the film is not indignation at a
miscarriage of justice, but rather an investigation into the conditions and treatment
of those incarcerated, the appropriateness of punishment to fit crimes
committed, and an examination of effects (both negative and, amazingly,
positive) of incarceration and treatment such as those meted out at that time.
From the outset it is
made clear that these men have lost more than their freedom as a price for
their crimes – they have lost their homes, their families, their country, their
dignity, their rights and their futures. The relatively naïve and unworldly
Louis Dega desperately tries to hold on to trust in his wife and lawyer to
extricate him from his predicament, but he is quickly disabused of this notion
by the more worldly-wise Papillon. He suggests that from that moment on and in
that place (though perhaps also in life in general) it is every man for himself
and each must do what he has to do in order to survive. They make a mutually
beneficial pact which will form the basis of a long and rewarding friendship
The harsh reality of
their circumstances hits home as Papillon defends Dega from murderous thieves,
a young fellow convict, unable to cope with his situation, is killed in an
apparent bid to escape, and another wounds himself seriously to ensure he is
sent to hospital where he will have time to reflect on how best to try to
escape. Hopelessness and desperation set in when a fellow convict who has tried
to escape once too often is guillotined before their eyes as a warning.
Apparently, washing her
hands of these convicts means France is willing to turn a blind eye to
corruption, institutional violence, racism, bullying and, of course,
deprivation of human rights as guards and staff accept bribes, organise bounty
hunters to foil escapes (sharing the bounty), use convicts’ efforts to fill
their own pockets and apply pressure by deprivation as a means of “persuasion”
Deprived of hope,
rehabilitation and humanity, Papillon and his compadres are driven to take
matters into their own hands and set out to escape.
It could be argued that the
penal system itself should be viewed as the principal antagonist, compelling
its prisoners to comply, face destruction or defy it and seek escape.
Curiously, those who choose defiance discover unknown or untested depths of
character in themselves and learn to admire and value aspects and traits of
common humanity they may previously have taken for granted or simply not
These men are far from
innocent and readily admit their wrongdoings but they are driven to greater
acts of criminality by a system which pushes them to desperation merely to
survive and leaves them with little or no sense of self-worth. Somewhat
ironically, facing such hardships and inhumane treatment brings out the best in
Papillon, Dega and their fellows as they discover the value of friendship,
loyalty, determination, courage, compassion and spirit, all in the pursuit of
freedom from what they may regard as punishment out of proportion with their
Papillon refuses to
denounce Dega after the latter supplied coconuts during the former’s solitary
confinement, an act of loyalty Dega has not previously experienced, but is much
appreciated by him. Dega physically helps his friends escape, showing courage
and loyalty of which he never knew he was capable and lepers show compassion by
providing a boat for Papillon and his group because he and his friends treat
the lepers with respect and consideration.
Those who share hardship
and difficulty may share a bond which forges friendship, compassion and
understanding, often in contrast to those who enforce regimes that cause such
hardship and who may even display some of the qualities and behaviours
condemned by legal systems and courts.
I am unconvinced that
Henri Charrière learned the lessons depicted in the film or set out to draw
attention to the themes developed within it. Dalton Trumbo and Lorenzo Semple
Jr.’s script distils and accentuates elements touched upon in Charrière’s much
disputed but fascinating account of his adventures.
In passing, I would point
out that Charrière’s book was published just over a century after Victor Hugo wrote
“Les Misérables” in which he set out to describe the consequences of an
inhumane and heartless penal system and how, with a little compassion and
understanding, a man’s life can be turned around.
Franklin J. Schaffner
took a difficult and perhaps unsympathetic subject and managed to wring
sympathy and concern from it by focusing on the harshness of the environment
and regime, and the stoicism of his protagonists underpinned by their slow but
steady development as flawed human beings, but all tinged with regret and
perhaps despair at the sheer waste of life on display.
Steve McQueen and Dustin
Hoffman are quite superb in their roles. Hoffman’s nervy, twitchy and downright
annoying performance captures perfectly the quirky, awkward and increasingly sorrowful
Dega and is in direct contrast with McQueen’s calm, controlled and determined
Papillon. Many write Steve McQueen off as just another action hero (albeit a
charismatic one) but anyone who ever doubted his acting ability should see his
performance here, especially in the scenes of solitary confinement. Sheer heart-rending
My thanks for taking the
time to read this article. I hope you found it of some value.
Reflections on aspects of existentialism in “Public Eye” (TV series 1965 – 1975)
Created by Roger Marshall
and Anthony Marriott
Starring Alfred Burke as
A video presentation of this material is available
“Public Eye” was a TV drama
which ran for seven series from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies. It
revolved around the investigations of Frank Marker, a slightly down-at-heel but
highly principled inquiry agent, usually into low-key, familiar and “realistic”
problems and situations.
Produced during the same
period as shows such as “The Avengers”, “The Saint”, “Department S” and
American shows such as “Kojak”, “Cannon” and “Hawaii five-0”, “Public Eye”
represented a significant and deliberate departure from these flashy, highly dramatic
and exciting shows. It focused on more human, recognisable and identifiable characters
and situations that were nonetheless intriguing and involving, and allowed the
viewer to engage with others’ lives and see possible outcomes, problems and
complications arising from those lives.
Marker’s inquiries touch
upon human relationships, social attitudes, legal and moral challenges and
above all the choices people make in their lives and the consequences of these
choices. His tales accentuate the fact our lives are interwoven and actions and
decisions we take will impact on others.
We all experience problems
in our lives and for the most part we turn to friends, family or the
authorities for help. Frank Marker is there if these avenues are not readily
open. He offers his services to look in to situations and at the same time
enables the viewer to do so as well. He is a sort of impartial observer with a
voice of reason and objectivity who seeks truth and clarity where emotion,
anxiety or anger may cloud judgement.
He walks a dangerous and
difficult path as his genuine willingness and desire to help his clients mean
that he will become embroiled in their situations. Faced with this existential
conundrum, he behaves like a human being – he cannot stand back and allow
circumstances to develop if he has some insight or thinks he can offer some
positive input. We all muddle through life impacting on one another’s lives but
Marker seems willing to recognise and accept responsibility for his actions,
sometimes paying a heavy price for his “interference”.
Marker is not driven by ambition
or a desire for money but rather a wish to help his clients while seeking truth
and clarity. Of course, he doesn’t do it out of the goodness of his heart – he is
paid for his services as, like all of us, he has to make a living, but his primary
concern is to do his best for his client. His fee is simply a fair recompense
for his time and effort. Ultimately, Marker seems to value the help he can
offer his clients above personal financial gain, highlighting the importance of
personal input and support in society as opposed to mere commercial
In terms of social
interaction, he is fiercely independent, sure of his own ethics and is not at
all keen on personal or romantic involvement. His strength of conviction and
clarity of thought and perception make the compromise required for a close
relationship or friendship very difficult for him.
The show offers insight
into the human condition and, generally speaking, the problems and situations
of clients are the centre of attention while Marker’s character is cleverly
drawn through his reaction to events and interaction with other characters.
Marker and, at times, his friend Detective Inspector Percy Firbank, uncover
truth which may have consequences but these consequences are always down to
choices made by those involved, though Frank and Percy occasionally have
trouble living with the influence they exercise as a result of their inquiries.
This show may be the
purest exploration of the principles of existentialism yet seen on TV. It
examines closely the interwoven nature of our lives, the impact we have on one
another and the responsibility we may (or may not) feel for this.
It is beautifully written
and produced (given its age), focusing on the ordinary and characters, problems
and choices we may all encounter, one way or another. The acting is of a high
standard throughout but Alfred Burke and Ray Smith deserve particular praise
for their portrayals of Marker and Firbank. Both bring authenticity, sincerity
and vulnerability to their roles and Alfred Burke manages to impart, seemingly
effortlessly, humanity and genuine soul-searching in his portrayal of the
relatively impoverished but highly principled and dedicated Frank Marker.
My thanks for taking the
time to read this page. I hope you found it of some value.