Review: The Reckoning
Blu-ray & DVD: The Reckoning (1970)
Michael ‘Mick’ Marler (Nicol Williamson) is one of the top men at Grenville. He’s devious and committed and no one would ever know he’s the son of poor working class Irish immigrants from Liverpool. He has it all; the job, the big car, amazing house, vacuous friends and the posh wife (Ann Bell) who constantly belittles and ridicules him, only to fuck him in a sort of 1970’s animalistic way that would have been rather naughty for the time.
Mick gets a call from his wife Rosemary telling him that his father, John-Joe (Ernest C. Jennings), is dying in Liverpool. When he eventually gets to his father’s bedside his father has died. He then discovers several dark bruises on the body. After questioning several people he finds out that his father had a heart attack at a pub after some English Teddy Boys beat him up for singing. Mick decides that he must avenge his father
On the back of Tony Richardson and the rise of the ‘angry young man’ films of the late 50’s and 60’s, here we have a rather intense study of the rise of new working class man; a man who left their ex-war hero dads (or in Mick’s case, an Oirish immigrant) in the 60’s and went to university for the first time. The sort of lads who end up with the education, the posh wife and the well paid, dream job, who go home…back to the drudgery and poverty of their old lives. Nicol Williamson plays a man of his time, a successful yet ultimately empty man who oozes his hard won masculinity like a weeping sore.
This is one of those films that is so layered and so ‘of its time’ it’s hard to watch just as entertainment. I felt at times exasperated and cross with Mick, who feels self -pity and self -loathing while still being the cock of Liverpool. The acting in it is of course spectacular, in a somewhat over the top, gritty way. Even the somewhat silly ‘rolling about’ sex scenes between Mick and Rosemary are bearable. Rachel Roberts yet again plays ‘the other woman’ and its somewhat ironic that the part she plays was similar to her real life with Rex Harrison. Her genuine instability seeps through.
This was lauded when it came out in 1970, which isn’t surprising as it IS a progression from those ‘kitchen sink’ dramas and a sort of companion to the hard hitting ‘realistic’ plays that the BBC began to show (Dennis Potter anyone?). BUT…. I wonder what the women who saw this in 1970 thought of it? I can see that this is a film very much of its time, but it is a story of a man in a man’s world and the women are literally bitches (his wife), whores (Roberts) or saints (his mother).
Quite a perplexing but ultimately interesting film that is worthy of a rewatch.
Matthew Sweet’s Interview is a great analysis of the film and similar films of the time.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• Culture Clash (2017, 20 mins): a new interview with writer, journalist and broadcaster Matthew Sweet
• Memories of Marler (2017, 3 mins): a new interview with actor Tom Kempinski
• On Your Marks (2017, 4 mins): a new interview with second assistant director Joe Marks
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• New English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 32-page booklet with a new essay by Michael Pattison, Jack Gold on The Reckoning, Kenneth Tynan on actor Nicol Williamson, and an overview of contemporary critical responses
• World premiere on Blu-ray
• UK DVD premiere
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 3,000 copies
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