Thursday, February 11, 2010

John Dankworth

Many years ago MUFS screened the first ever Joseph Losey film that I associated with the director. It was a low budget Brit crime story made in 1960 for peanuts at the Merton Park Studios. Till then, and resuming immediately thereafter, Merton Park was a home for B features like the Scotland Yard series. The Concrete Jungle as it was first known here in a version that had been cut for American release but was later better known by its original title The Criminal, was a knockout movie, full of raw violence in both its criminal demi-monde and within the British prison system. It contained some ferocious verbal and visual asides about British class systems. Everyone had their place you see and those who transgressed by seeking to go elsewhere were punished. John Bannion, the ambitious crook played by Stanley Baker was always a doomed man, a thieving boy who created misery for those around him by seeking independence. Among the people involved along with Losey were the great actors Stanley Baker, Sam Wanamaker and Patrick Magee, all of whom I think I was seeing onscreen for the first time. The Australian Kenneth J Warren who played the pyschopathic thug Clobber had a terrific part as well. On the soundtrack, it was the first time I heard the voice of Cleo Laine. She sang the lament reprised throughout the film “all my sadness, all my joy, came from loving a thieving boy”. The music for the film was written and played by another then unknown, John Dankworth. It all came flooding back when I heard of Dankworth’s death this week, another of the titans gone