Last year saw the anniversary of an iconic sci-fi show, perhaps one of the most important in British TV history. It was pioneering in its writing and production and is fondly remembered even after 60 years... it is of course the legendary Quatermass! You thought I was going to say Dr Who didn't you? Well you shouldn't have as the title says it all!
The Quatermass Xperiment is the Hammer Film production based on the original 1953 The Quatermass Experiment. The plot is simple; 3 men are sent into space in a rocket and only 1 of them returns, ill and changed. As the film progresses we watch helplessly as the lone survivor, Victor Carroon slowly transforms into an alien monster whose sole purpose is to assimilate all living things on Earth.
So far so B-movie fare but as the story develops we build an extraordinary amount of sympathy for the 'alien' predator. The reason for this is the marvellous performance by Richard Wordsworth, a direct descendant of the famed poet. During the 1 1/2 hr movie he is given a couple of words to utter but his sheer physical performance, nuances looks and pained expression elicit a lot of sympathy.
In contrast Brian Donlevy turns in a poor performance as Quatermass. His brash brusque manner jars with the rest of the film and cast. One of the best moments is watching Mrs Carroon, the wife of the astronaut who is undergoing the horrifying transformation, put the arrogant Quatermass in his place.
As a whole the movie works well and considering it's age has a good vintage. I look forward to watching the other Quatermass series as they are supposed to be better and contain more nuanced performances from the actors who play Quatermass.