Die Screaming Marianne Review

The Film

The point of Die Screaming Marianne is up on screen throughout. The film lacks a good narrative, any meaning and even any interesting craft but it does what its supposed to with its principal asset. It sells Susan George to gawping, avaricious lustful eyes and stops anything like morality, common sense or story from obscuring the view. The whole of the film is about looking at the very lovely lady and hoping that nothing too bad comes her way.

She is Marianne. The daughter of a corrupt judge, a serial free lover and on the run from the reckoning of her adulthood - the bequest of incriminating evidence against daddy from her long dead mother. Marianne gets by through finding her way through men, exotic dancing and avoiding the traps laid by her deadly relatives. She discovers something close to a proper relationship by marrying her lover's best friend but finds herself back on the Algarve ducking trouble whilst working on her tan.
Pete Walker's film attempts to swing, to offer car chases and to be a bit of a whowilldunnit. It tries to be groovy and reaches out to those admiring the kind of freedom that Marianne exhibits. It is wilfully difficult in terms of characters' motivations and does many an about turn which is both annoying and makes the film very hard to believe or take seriously. Charitably I could say that it feels made up on the hoof, but for a supposed thriller that is a rather magnificent flaw.

Ambition though is not always a bad thing and a low budget attempt at a sexy thriller with gorgeous locations can be given some credit. What seems to be very much the truth is that when Walker or the screenplay tries to be clever the film comes over as downright stupid but when he gives up the exploitation goodies then it's much more fun. And the goodies of flesh, sin and corruption save silly twists and a ropey story.
The point though is George and her star quality. As a doe eyed vixen and a damsel in distress she does her job admirably holding together a weak project. Walker sells her look, her attractiveness and her downright grooviness and that is probably all you will end up remembering of this entry in his career.

Technical Specs

Released as one of a number of Walker entries in Odeon's Best of British collection, the film gets an anamorphic presentation at 1.78:1 not 1.85:1 as described upon the box. The underlying print exhibits wear and tear with the warmer scenes bearing a yellowed hue, and lines and minor damage visible throughout. There do seem to be compression artefacts but the image is not oversharpened and I noticed little in the way of edge enhancement. I have not seen other DVD releases of the film but this seems to be a sensitive if not perfect visual presentation.
The transfer gets a solid mono 2.0 track which like the print carries some source damage. Dialogue is not crystal clear, there is some minor hum and distortion, and lower frequencies are a little muddy but again this seems relatively sympathetic given the quality of materials. There are no subtitles, sadly.

Special features

The film is accompanied by a commentary featuring Walker and Jonathan Rigby which Mike Sutton covered in his review of the previous Pete Walker Collection review that you'll find on this site here. It's a fun track with tons of interesting stories and tidbits that flows naturally and sympathetically between the two men.

In the Walker interview, the director talks about his debt to Film Noir, getting Susan George, and casting Barry Evans when he wanted Ian McShane. The difficulties of working with a young cast who were rather full of themselves for a young director and Walker's ploy to get back in charge is a good anecdote, and Walker proves good company for the viewer again.

Several trailers and a 40 image photo gallery complete the package on this dual layer all region disc. The disc also comes with a booklet featuring a three page essay from Steve Chibnall which deals with the film, it's shortcomings and some extra interesting background on Barry Evans.

Summary

As a piece of iconography, Walker's film is worth a play but as a thriller it is rather weak and a little incompetent. Odeon's release of the film has competent a/v and extras not on the previous Anchor Bay Pete Walker Collection.

Film
4 out of 10
Video
6 out of 10
Audio
5 out of 10
Extras
7 out of 10
Overall

5

out of 10

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