Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four

...With Peter Cushing as Holmes, that is. I have been watching Sherlock Holmes a Game of Shadows while it has rained interminably today, & I can only call myself unimpressed. I have just realised how watching mainly or only classic TV sensitises one to CGI. The aura of unreality it imparts works in some films, but not for Holmes. It's also no use turning Holmes into an all-action figure: the whole point of turning to Holmes on the winter evenings is that it takes the reader or viewer to a Victorian London of hansom cabs & fog, a different pace. Holmes should go slow, & the all-action approach blunts his intellect. With my love for all things weird I did love the scene with the tarot cards.
This Holmes, however, has everything that is missing from the film. I feel Holmes is better filmed in a small-screen way, anyway. This one has the atmosphere, the feeling of stepping into a different world. It has been many decades since most English-speakers have read Holmes as a detective puzzle or been mystified at his methods, so I feel it is for this atmosphere people read Holmes.
And Holmes does a funny thing to people. Surely people can never have written letters to Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple? In many ways Holmes is as unreal as Poirot (Miss Marple will always be a more real character, to my mind), & I think his drug use should have made him dodgy to his Victorian audience, but people wrote to him endlessly, & I imagine still do. I have only recently read that when the Holmes craze started Baker Street didn't have a 221B, but that as soon as one was built the owner had to hire a secretary to deal with Holmes's correspondence!
There are marvellous touches in this one - Holmes's war of wits with Inspector Jones. I love Watson in love as well.
And to think that this was going to be a post on another Jason King!
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Monday, 27 October 2014

Allegory in the Prisoner: Fall Out

I notice when I watched through The Prisoner looking to identify Number 6 as John Drake, I identified Fall Out as a flawed episode. This time I would go further: when watched from the point of view of allegorical interpretation Fall Out is the episode that makes The Prisoner fall apart.
Bearing in mind that the key allegorical interpretation of The Prisoner is of The Village as society, with reference to the various institutions etc, & their ability to harm us, it is capable of incredibly countercultural interpretations, as I think has been apparent in previous posts in this series. Fall Out makes this allegory unsustainable by turning it round to the pursuit of the individual's self-actualisation, or whatever you want to call it. 'We thought you would feel happier as yourself' are the words at which it becomes apparent we're in completely different territory here.
It is still open to allegorical interpretation, just differently: here The Village becomes the means to the individual's pursuit of himself - it's as if it has been testing for the one thing it has said it doesn't want. The juke boxes in the caverns under the village, pouring out All You Need is Love, represent the Village authorities' use of the mass hippie media to promote their message of integrity. I find this reversal of the allegory here very unsatisfying. Contrary to the impression given through the series it is actually all about Number 6. He's the point of the whole thing. This can't be how this show was meant to end, it's unconventional in the extreme but makes an unsatisfying resolution of the situation set up.
I suppose a key interpretation here could be of the need to overcome something as a means to the realisation of oneself as an individual. This is the falling apart or rebirth I referred to in the last post, & would fit with the initiatory/baptismal themes of the show. This begs the question of who or what Number 2 represents - it's possible to see the various Number 2s as aspects of the self that need to be overcome, or even as outside interference. This actually fits better with my hypothesised allegory of The Village as representative of Number 6's dreamed-of escape from his humdrum spying life.
Nor does the episode hang together well allegorically on its own. Number 48 is painted as symbolic of youth yet sings a Gospel song, surely in Prisoner terms symbolic of the power of the Church, especially when contrasted to the Beatles song. The episode ends in the seat of British power - Westminster - & in Number 6's own home. We're back where we began & it's profoundly dissatisfying. The door opening at the butler's approach however gives a hint that just possibly the apparent acceptance of Number 6's individuality is a fake, the whole episode is yet another fake test, & actually The Village is still there at every step, watching & waiting for him to give his secret away.
I was initially going to say that I don't like the section where Number 48 initiates a 'revolt': it can seem another incongruous element. However in allegorical terms it is almost an attempt to reintroduce the main allegory of the series - of power, authority, conformity, & the lack thereof. It is spoiled in the programme's context by Number 6 sitting on a raised throne, which implies (as indeed he is) that he is the authority, but this revelation hasn't yet been made. The place in which he is told by the judge that he has (words to the effect of) revolted in the right way is fairly obviously a red herring & it is a relief to see Number 6 initiate another revolt after being invited to meet Number 1.
A further nonsense is made of the whole premise of the show by the rebirth of Number 2, since the whole point here is that Number 6 has overcome Number 2 & is so 'realised' as Number 1.
I feel the allegory of this episode, indeed of the whole series, may be best resolved by a more psychological reading. In this The Prisoner is about as sixties as it can get, although the themes of self, seeking, autonomy, death, & rebirth are usually subsumed in the business of The Village. My preferred psychological reading would be that the whole series represents Number 6's journey of self-discovery & self-actualisation. He has to fall apart to return to himself - his normal home & life. He has undertaken a pillgrim's journey, such as is undertaken in Pilgrim's Progress, Way of a Pilgrim, & other such classics. In this countercultural version, though, he is the end of his seeking. I notice that I got the impression before that the series almost went off its head as it went on, as if the production team got more & more stoned. This impression is interesting coming from the devoutly Catholic McGoohan. In fact I think this episode is best explained as either a hasty attempt to tie up the loose ends or a late-sixties psychedelic trip!
Or else, it could be a critique of the feel good movements of the time. Number 6 has apparently actualised himself, but nothing in the Village is real, & the opening of his house's door at the end suggests that it isn't real, also suggesting a possibly more nihilistic moral, that nothing is real, which would be much more in line with one of the underlying themes of the series.
The ending further reinforces another underlying theme (despite the Carmen Miranda soundtrack) - that of the Butler, of whom I remain suspicious.
As a resolution to the allegory of this series, this episode falls down badly by clouding the whole issue & reversing the existing allegory to put Number 6 in the throne. Since many allegories are only fully explained by their resolution, I would suggest that the whole series may actually not lend itself that well to an allegorical interpretation, & may be better interpreted in psychological terms, or simply 1960s 'trippy' terms. Nor does a single allegorical interpretation hold up well through the series, instead individual episodes perhaps lend themselves better to different allegorical interpretations.
Thus ends my series of posts on allegory in The Prisoner. For next year I am projecting some work on echoes of Apartheid in The Prisoner - although don't hold your breath, reading about about Apartheid makes me physically sick - & I'm still interested in The Butler!
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Monday, 20 October 2014

Allegory in The Prisoner: Once Upon A Time

You'll notice I've gone back to my original profile picture, it was a dare originally, but i quite like it. so sorry.
The end of this look at allegory is nearing with this episode, & you would be forgiven for thinking that I've rather lost my relish for the subject as I've gone through. What I was expecting to find was that the series was susceptible to numerous different allegorical interpretations, which it is in certain places. However I'm expecting my conclusion to be that some episodes lend themselves to an allegorical interpretation better than others. Notoriously not even McGoohan knew how the series would end while it was being filmed, & additional conflict about the number of episodes/series shows in a certain lack of direction as the series progresses, in my opinion.
Additionally in my inner INFJ world of making connections I've been distracted by the similarities of The Villages to totalitarian regimes, specifically Apartheid-era South Africa. That is the one about which I know most: as a young theology student I wrote an essay on the theological underpinnings of aparthied. This is the point at which people are either surprised I have a degree in theology or even more surprised that apartheid had (& has among the far-right) a theology. It may be found in some of the more bizarre Calvinist ideas of the Dutch Reformed Church.
Anyway, there is a relevance of all this to this episode. If you read about South Africa as it is now, it is a society deeply scarred by its past. I was shocked when I found out what the famous quote from Winnie Mandela - 'with our boxes of matches & our necklaces we shall liberate this country' - actually means. It is a particularly brutal form of murder with specific cultural connotations (if you are of a sensitive disposition do not look at http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necklacing). I was surprised to find that my (white) friend in South Africa has met Winnie Mandela, & speaks of her with respect, affection, even awe. She told me that what Winnie went through - the imprisonments, banishings, disappearances, beatings - were enough to send anyone off their head.
The relevance to this episode of The Prisoner is that it is a wonder Number 6 didn't lose it completely (or perhaps he did, in a true 1960s psychedelic enlightenment, but that's yet another layer of possible meaning). The implication of 'degree absolute' (in a very Freudian slip I found I first wrote 'decree absolute'!) Is that there is nothing more The Village can do to him. This is the point beyond which there is nothing else, & in the true style of the totalitarian regime, it is all portrayed as Number 6's fault. He is the naughty schoolboy or criminal - & if he had done something socially unacceptable as a result of the trauma he suffered in the Village, it is sure that this would have been used as further evidence of his rebellious spirit.
The allegory here is a very painful one - to our society. There is no help in the institutions of education, law, church - they are all implicated in Degree Absolute. It is very plain also that it makes a painful point about the sickness of our society. You can't come back from Degree Absolute. There's no possibility of it being mended, healed, reconciled. The message of this episode is far from the usual unreality of the series - it's about as bleak as can be.
I would like to end this post by quoting from an interview with Minnie Mandela (http://www.standard.co.uk/news/how-nelson-mandela-betrayed-us-says-exwife-winnie-6734116.html), which I think from the point of view of this post may well be read bearung in mind that she is talking about the sort of regime this episode of The Prisoner refers to:
'She looked towards my chair. Her grey glasses focused on my face. "Yes, I was afraid in the beginning. But then there is only so much they can do to you. After that it is only death. They can only kill you, and as you see, I am still here."
'I knew that the apartheid enforcers had done everything in their power to break this woman. She had suffered every indignity a person could bear. They had picked her up in the night and placed her under house arrest in Brandfort, a border town in Orange Free State, 300 miles from Soweto. "It was exile," she said, "when everything else had failed."
'At this remote outpost, where she spent nine years, she had recruited young men for the party. "Right under their noses," she said to Vidia, laughing with the memory of it. "The only worry or pain I had was for my daughters. Never really knowing what was happening to them. I feel they have really suffered in all this. Not me or Mandela," she said.
[...]
'"Look at this Truth and Reconciliation charade. He [Mandela] should never have agreed to it." Again her anger was focused on Mandela. "What good does the truth do? How does it help anyone to know where and how their loved ones were killed or buried? That Bishop Tutu who turned it all into a religious circus came here," she said pointing to an empty chair in the distance.
'"He had the cheek to tell me to appear. I told him a few home truths. I told him that he and his other like-minded cretins were only sitting here because of our struggle and ME. Because of the things I and people like me had done to get freedom."'
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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Paul Temple: First Impressions

An attentive reader of this blog recently called it 'my go-to blog for Brit shows' (you know who you are, thank you) & so when I noticed I'd left the discs for this post sitting on my laptop next to a cup of tea in a Harrods mug, I had to snap it as the illustration for this ultra-British post. Incidentally I made the tea with a bag in the mug, don't take sugar, & superstition would have it that the almost complete absence of bubbles on top indicates that buying a lottery ticket this week would be a waste of money. As it happens the largest audience for this blog is in the Ukraine (hello there) followed by the US, but I like to think we English people are as much of a mystery to non-English speakers as we are to Anglophones. Anyway back to the matter in hand...
Surely there can be nobody interested in the sort of vintage media talked about in this blog who has not heard of Paul Temple? But just in case anyone hasn't...
'Paul Temple is a fictional character created by English writer Francis Durbridge (1912–1998) for the BBC radio serial Send for Paul Temple in 1938. Temple is an amateur private detective and author of crime fiction. Together with his journalist wife (Louise Temple, née Harvey, affectionately known as "Steve" after her pen name "Steve Trent"), he solves "whodunnit" crimes with subtle, humorous dialogue and rare "action". Always the gentleman, his use of the phrase "by Timothy" was the nearest he ever got to swearing. Since 1938, the Temples have featured in over 30 BBC radio dramas, 12 serials for German radio, a BBC television series, four British feature films and several novels. In the Netherlands several of the radio plays were recorded with Dutch actors and with the main character's name translated to 'Paul Vlaanderen '. In addition, a Paul Temple comic strip featured in the London Evening News from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.' (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Temple)
I have loved the radio serials for a long time. In fact I've developed my own countercultural theory that Steve is a lesbian (sometimes I think she's lovers with Charlie) who actually runs all sorts of dodgy operations without Temple knowing. Every time he gets to know of one he blames the wrong person & Steve gets away with it again. The series is wonderfully open to parody, for example when they come across yet another dead body & Steve says, 'Is...he...?', it is all too easy to envision Temple saying, 'Don't look, darling, he's working class.' An exhaustive account of Paul Temple's multimedia appearances can be found at http://www.thrillingdetective.com/temple.html
Anyway my own imaginative involvement with the radio serial has made me avoid the TV series so far. The reviews on the internet are distinctly mixed for a start. Also I've never seen any of the films, which I suspect might suit Temple's style better.
This suspicion of mine about transplanting Temple from a Boy's Own 1930s/40s milieu to a contemporary milieu in the 1970s, I now realise, has been awakened in part by the cover of the DVD box. It looks very much like any standard 1970s show, but now I know the reason:
'This was a co-production by the BBC and Taurus films of Munich, West Germany, and was shown internationally. According to star Matthews, both Paul and Steve Temple became fashion icons of sorts, creating a style that was to be imitated in ITV's The Persuaders!, while, in America, Ros Drinkwater's role was reportedly emulated by Susan Saint James in McMillan & Wife and Stefanie Powers in Hart to Hart. According to Matthews, Drinkwater chose her own "very expensive" designer clothes for the part.
'Paul Temple used overseas locations in France, Malta, Germany and elsewhere. The series was intended to last for five years, but despite its popularity especially in Germany, the BBC withdrew prematurely.' (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Temple_(TV_series))
The visual similarity to the style of The Persuaders is especially apparent. I'm inclined to say I don't like the updating of the Temples to the 1970s, but I'm not completely sure about that. What are missing are the elements of the novels & radio shows that made Paul Temple what it was: the upper-class attitudes, attitudes to the servants & criminal classes, & a plethora of cliffhangers in every episode. Given those essential ingredients there were clearly only two routes available - update using the characters or make it a period drama. Had it been the latter I really don't think I would have liked it, because I feel it would have stepped over a borderline into parody (certainly using this approach with Dick Barton was a complete disaster in my opinion - I'm referring to the series here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B001PQQVS8/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?qid=1413488813&sr=8-2&pi=SL75).
So Paul Temple therefore ends up a rather different series from the original. It is perhaps more inspired by the original. If you accept this fact, Temple actually translates rather well to the 1970s as one of the jet set.
The plots are less generic Paul Temple & more generic 1970s action mystery series. It aims for sophistication very clearly, yet also manages at times to get real suspense & emotion from the viewer.
Watch this if you like the things I mention above: avoid it if you're in love with the radio series & can't envisage Paul Temple any other way. I have never seen any of the films myself, but now want to so I can see how he was translated to the silver screen.
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Monday, 13 October 2014

Allegory in The Prisoner: The Girl Who Was Death

Since the focus of this series of posts is allegory, I'm quite keen to make everything in the episodes refer to something else if I possibly can. The Girl Who Was Death is another of those episodes which apparently take us out of the claustrophobic world of The Village. It is certainly one of my favourite episodes & seems to be beloved of the fans.
But I must start by demolishing the way this episode is normally approached. If you actually watch the opening few minutes, it is apparent that Number 6 has woken up in The Village again. This episode is therefore set in The Village. Similarly the scenes with the story book are so brief as to be easily missed - or at least overlooked if you're not paying attention - & clearly indicate the point made so often in The Prisoner, that nothing is real, & the show is entirely focussed on The Village when it comes down to it. In a sense, it's a reverse allegory, where everything outside of it refers in some way to The Village itself. The unreality of this episode explains some of the stranger things that happen, such as the car chase scene. I have read the strange twistings & turnings of that scene explained by rationalising that the woman is a witch! Much simpler for the whole thing to be a story - a Village-storybook-induced story. The unreality is reinforced by the use of back projection & sets which either just feel unreal or are parodies.
Here the references to things apparently outside the Village are clear enough - cricket, sauna, pub, numerous sexual references of a peculiarly sado-masochistic kind. All of these are everyday situations turned insidiously dangerous. Once again the power of The Village is everywhere, & they'll get you if they feel like it. I can only guess that advantage was taken of the strait-laced televisual mores of the time to use numerous sophisticated Freudian phallic or vaginal symbols. The vaginal symbols of course are included in the dangerous ones. It may also have been that the staunchly Catholic McGoohan wanted the sexual symbols to be disguised, or open to different interpretations. You can fall to your death in a pit, but the femme fatale who leads you there is the real trap! Far from being the straight comedy it is sometimes portrayed as, this episode is a warning to be on your guard.
Of course it can't be neglected that this episode sends up every staple of the spy-fi genre ever: reference is usually made to James Bond's amorous exploits. McGoohan was critical of the promiscuity & disinterestedness of spies in the genre: his Number 6 is the exact opposite of the spy who would work for any power as long as the martinis & pretty girls kept coming. Not only Bond but also Holmes, The Avengers (this episode just *feels* so Avengers) & all manner of other shows are criticised here.
There is a further allegorical twist. It's not mentioned, which is what makes it all the more painful when you think about it. There's a realisation to be undergone here: if you bear in mind who is Number 1 as you watch this, this apparently comical show becomes a harrowing exercise in self-knowledge for Number 6. Everything in this show is actually his creation, he is Number 1, he literally only has himself to blame.
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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Jason King: Flamingoes Only Fly on Tuesdays

Image: Female fans being held back from Peter Wyngarde as he opens the Woolworths shop in Luton in 1973 (credit: http://m.lutontoday.co.uk/news/nostalgia/when-tv-star-peter-wyngarde-aka-jason-king-opened-luton-s-woolies-store-1-5552393)
Things have been a bit fraught recently, but I've now started a much-needed week of annual leave, & intend to prove my superficiality by starting with a post on the confection that is Jason King, rather than any more serious cult TV show. I'm sure I wrote in my general post about this show that my interest in this show was partly aroused by my godmother telling me - some shamefacedly - that she had a raging crush on Peter Wyngarde in the 1970s. And how much of the 1970s Jason King is!
I have to give it full marks for the tropical establishing shots in the opening scenes. I have read criticism that this stock footage has not worn as well as the film used for the actual series, but my recollection of seventies TV's use of stock footage was that little effort was made to hide the different colour register & film. This was the time before CGI! The seventies were also an incredibly troubled time in all sorts of ways. I only recently realised that I keep candles in the house in case of power cuts, & that this is an expectation I developed as a result of many candlelit hours in my childhood, even though I can't remember a major power cut here for over thirty years & younger people don't seem to keep candles in that way. Anyway, the troubled elements of the 1970s are brought firmly into focus in this show by the sight of a journalist imprisoned unjustly: there is the suggestion of torture in the flashing light & the warder's cane.
Into the middle of this strides Jason King, looking about as unreal as you could wish for. I love the way the torture for King consists of tearing up pieces of his wardrobe. The title of this episode also comes across as unreal. The apparent criminal conspiracy with its emphasis on flamingoes is bizarre. In my real/unreal television divide, we've long left Kansas behind.
On the other hand there remains a very real sense in which the brutal reality of the 1970s - in this case a revolution on a Caribbean island - is knit together with the unreality of Jason King, with the added unreality of Mark Cain, his fictional creator. It is precisely this mixture I like about Jason King - he meanders through a world of revolutions & car bombs, wearing a caftan & having champagne & strawberries for breakfast. It is obviously not to everybody's taste, but I like this outlandish combination enormously.
Of course King's allocated minder has to be a woman, giving him full opportunity to display his misogyny, even mentioning rape as a means of 'persuasion' for a woman at one point. King really is an odious character in so many ways.
On the other hand, given some of the troubled relationships between black & white people at the time (I'm specifically thinking of the then Rhodesia under Ian Smith & the apartheid regime in South Africa) relations are unstrained & natural here. For the time these easy relations strike me as surprising for a British TV series - my impression is that you'd be more likely to find them in a contemporary US show. It gives a positive impression of the black people shown - none of the derogatory references to Vodou or superstition that you find in The Champions, yet this portrait itself also manages to be unreal, with a complete lack of poverty. This Caribbean island looks & feels like a first world country of the time transported elsewhere. It's strange.
Of course the sketchy scene setting is explained by this episode as a vehicle for King's detective ability, pure & simple. Well, & also to allow his colourful personality to lift a rather pedestrian plot into a world of fantasy. Pedestrian plot elements include a mysterious release from prison & the sudden appearance of a CIA man. I feel that given the base elements of the plot here, Mission Impossible or The Man From UNCLE would have done it much better as a spy/action/adventure show, but Jason King takes it into unique territory. Another wonder, of course, is the ease with which King walks into this volatile situation & sorts it. In reality, at the point at which the police chief is thinking of deporting him, you'd really be begging to be put on the next flight back to London.
All in all, I like this episode enormously. The only thing stopping it being stonking good television is the corny script, with huge credibility gaps. This is perhaps one of the shows that is best not looked at too closely, since these faults would otherwise be overshadowed by the larger-than-life character of Jason King.
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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Allegory in The Prisoner: Living in Harmony

Usually, when I start my dissection of a defenceless classic TV programme, I have a read round on the internet to see what other people have to say about it. In terms of the shows I've talked about so far, this is particularly easy in the case of The Avengers & The Prisoner, but seemingly not when it comes to Living in Harmony.
I ended my piece on Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling by saying that I had no idea what I would do when I got to this episode. One of the things I'm finding useful about going through The Prisoner thematically, is I'm finding I watch the episodes in different ways - I would like to say the episodes lend themselves to different interpretations - & Living in Harmony is one that doesn't seem to attract much in the way of allegory. So let me invent the phrase argumentum a silentio for how I must start here: either this episode doesn't lend itself to allegory or the idea of an allegory of an allegory in an already allegorical show is just too much for most commentators. At any rate, its standing among the fans seems to be that it's seen as an odd episode out - almost outside the 'canon' - & tends to be neglected.
After tying myself up in knots trying to do something inventive with an allegorical approach to this episode, & repeatedly falling flat on my face, I'm forced back to the conventional allegorical interpretation of The Prisoner: the Village represents our world & the Villagers people or powers within it. I feel the extension of that principle to this episode which best holds water, is that Harmony is an allegory of the Village. The fact that it is another 'Village' makes the message all the more depressing - the Village authorities are everywhere, every medium we see is infiltrated. There is truly no escape.
I see when I wrote about this in my series of posts examining the identification of John Drake with Number 6, I commented on this episode as a commentary on the Vietnam war & also gave a personal opinion that the Kid represents the Butler (http://culttvblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-prisoner-living-in-harmony.html). I like the latter idea enormously, since I still like the idea, which unfortunately I don't think will hold up under scrutiny, that the Butler is Number 1. In addition to the Vietnam War reference, references to apartheid-era South Africa have been seen in this episode. All of these events are now firmly in the past for those of us uninfluenced by them, & in my usual principle of trying to read these shows from a contemporary perspective I think there may be much more ground in treating this one as a reference to High Noon, & in turn to American anti-Communist witch hunts.
High Noon was already referenced in the title of the last episode, & thus also in the setting for this one. There are echoes in the plot also. Of course as usual in The Prisoner, no final identification is possible, but it is as if McGoohan is very subtly saying here, 'The Prisoner is about what High Noon is about'. I had no idea it was so controversial until I started reading it up for this episode. Remember the Number 2 here is apparently American, & the setting is an archetypally American one:
'In the Soviet Union the film was criticized as "a glorification of the individual."[7] The American Left appreciated the film for what they believed was an allegory of people (Hollywood people, in particular) who were afraid to stand up to HUAC. However, the film eventually gained the respect of people with conservative/anti-communist views. Ronald Reagan, a conservative and fervent anti-Communist, said he appreciated the film because the main character had a strong dedication to duty, law, and the well-being of the town despite the refusal of the townspeople to help. Dwight Eisenhower loved the film and frequently screened it in the White House, as did many other American presidents.
[...]
'Actor John Wayne disliked the film because he felt it was an allegory for blacklisting, which he actively supported. In his Playboy interview from May 1971, Wayne stated he considered High Noon "the most un-American thing I've ever seen in my whole life"[16] and went on to say he would never regret having helped blacklist liberal screenwriter Carl Foreman from Hollywood. Ironically, Gary Cooper himself had conservative political views and was a "friendly witness" before HUAC several years earlier, although he did not name names and later strongly opposed blacklisting.
[...]
'Zinnemann later said in a 1973 interview: "I'm told that Howard Hawks has said on various occasions that he made Rio Bravo as a kind of answer to High Noon, because he didn't believe that a good sheriff would go running around town asking for other people's help to do his job. I'm rather surprised at this kind of thinking. Sheriffs are people and no two people are alike. The story of High Noon takes place in the Old West but it is really a story about a man's conflict of conscience. In this sense it is a cousin to A Man for All Seasons. In any event, respect for the Western Hero has not been diminished by High Noon."' (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_noon#undefined)
In just such a way as High Noon *may* refer to the House Unamerican Activities Committee (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_Un-American_Activities_Committee), does Living in Harmony refer to The Village & the world. Interestingly, in this it turns another recurring theme almost on its head, that is that of the internationalism of The Village. In an age when it was supposed to be abundantly clear on the world stage who were us & them, The Prisoner normally muddies that picture, yet here references a time in history where the threat was considered very real & abundantly subversive. As usual, & as is the case with all other apparent threats in The Prisoner, the whole point of it is that nothing is real. Whether or not Harmony is a drug-induced hallucination, the whole point is that nothing is real. The Communist threat isn't real. The Iron Curtain isn't real. The First World is a fantasy. In reality you don't know who is who, nothing is real, & anybody could be anything. Heavy, man.
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