Monday, 27 October 2008

The Serpent

One of the most intriguing features of The Serpent is that it is, apparently, a movie based on a book written by Ted Lewis. Now the late Ted Lewis is well remembered as author of Jack’s Return Home, which formed the basis of that brilliant Michael Caine film Get Carter. But his other work is much less renowned. I’d never heard of The Serpent, and a quick glance at Wikipedia suggests that the source work is, in fact, a novel called Plender.

I can’t tell how faithful the film is to the novel, but Plender is the name of one of the two central characters. He is a shady private eye with a penchant for blackmail. At the start of the film, his stunningly attractive sidekick Sofia seduces an ageing lawyer and compromising photographs are taken. But it proves, in the long run, to be an unwise plan.

The main protagonist is a fashion photographer called Mandel, who is going through matrimonial difficulties. His glamorous blonde wife is the daughter of a multi-millionaire, and his two young children are utterly charming, but for some reason he isn’t satisfied with his lot. Yet when Sofia turns up in place of his usual model, in suspicious circumstances, he resists her attempts at seduction. Neverttheless, she accuses him of rape, and although she drops the charges, when she calls him and offers to explain, he is na├»ve enough to invite her round to his studio. Big mistake.

I enjoyed this film, which turns out to be a revenge thriller. The latter stages are rather over the top, but the menacing first third of the movie, before the nature of the plot becomes discernible, are chilly and gripping. One of these days, I’d like to read the book.

On another note, lovely reviews of Waterloo Sunset and The Arsenic Labyrinth have just appeared on Eurocrime and Mysteries in Paradise respectively. Much appreciated.

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