HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Look Away
J.C.
Filmworker
Sixty Glorious Years
Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe
Victoria the Great
Dave Made a Maze
Desire and Hell at Sunset Motel
Prayer Before Dawn, A
Ragewar
Lowlife
Fashionista
Elizabeth Harvest
Moulin Rouge!
Free Solo
Mifune: The Last Samurai
Stan and Ollie
Girl in the Spider's Web, The
Up from the Depths
Guardians of the Tomb
November Man, The
Overlord
Sebastiane
Lifechanger
Circle of Two
Hell Fest
Oklahoma!
Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The
Vigilante Force
Haunting of Sharon Tate, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Oh, What Happened to You? The Likely Lads on Blu-ray
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
How 1970s Can You Get? Cliff Richard in Take Me High vs Never Too Young to Rock
A Perfect Engine, An Eating Machine: The Jaws Series
Phwoar, Missus! Sexytime for Hollywood
He-Maniacs: Ridiculous 80s Action
All's Welles That Ends Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 1 on DVD
Shut It! The Sweeney Double Bill: Two Blu-rays from Network
Network Sitcom Movie Double Bill: Till Death Us Do Part and Man About the House on Blu-ray
No, THIS Must Be the Place: True Stories on Blu-ray
Alf Garnett's Life After Death: Till Death... and The Thoughts of Chairman Alf on DVD
Balance of Power: Harold Pinter at the BBC on DVD
Strange Days 2: The Second Science Fiction Weirdness Wave
Strange Days: When Science Fiction Went Weird
Ha Ha Haaargh: Interview With Camp Death III in 2D! Director Matt Frame
   
 
  Wolcott The Jamaican DetectiveBuy this film here.
Year: 1981
Director: Colin Bucksey
Stars: George Harris, Christine Lahti, Warren Clarke, Christopher Ellison, Hugh Quarshie, Martin Dempsey, Mona Hammond, Merdelle Jordine, Rik Mayall, Clive Merrison, George Silver, Howard Schuman, Paul McDowell, Raul Newney, Steven Woodcock, Alexei Sayle
Genre: Action, Thriller, TV Movie
Rating:  0 Votes
Review: Winston Churchill Wolcott (George Harris) is a Jamaican-born beat cop who has lived in England since he was 5. Appointed a detective to Scotland Yard, he strikes the ire of both racists and his unimpressed mother (Mona Hammond) who, though proud of her son, wants to see him date the classy Cynthia (Merdelle Jordine). However, faced with racism both inside and outside the force, and black criminals, he stumbles upon a conspiracy linking both worlds.

A groundbreaking if until recently, completely forgotten series that even failed to strike the nostalgic reminiscences of its BBC contemporary, the Chinese Detective, Wolcott was like the Quatermass Conclusion, ITV's attempt to do a US-style miniseries screened over consecutive nights, an attempt almost to do a Roots in Sweeney drag. Though intended as a pilot for a long-running series, no series came, and the series indeed ends on a conclusion that both is a cliffhanger, and yet could easily be a definitive end. And it's a shame it is forgotten.

Whilst not perfect, it was very clearly a prestige project for ITC's Black Lion arm, an attempt by Lew Grade to rival Euston films with a grittier, less glossy, more parochial style of filmmaking. The Long Good Friday is the most famous property from this subsidiary, though it was disowned by Grade, and sold off to Handmade, but Wolcott, which is cut from the same gritty quasi-Sweeney London noir shape seems to have been actually given care. With ITC, there are concessions to the US market. Christine Lahti, in typical ITC style is brought in from the US as a tagalong white American journalist/love interest, And the marketing pushed it as "He's Big. He's Black... our answer to Sydney Poitier's Mr Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night."

But the series is misshapen. The plotline involving a pre-The Bill Christopher Ellison as a bent copper teaming up with a memorably sleazy Warren Clarke as a racist thug (whose gang raids reggae bars, pushing Aswad off the stage to sing mocking interpretations of Perry Como standards) is complicated, and the series is overlong, at four hours. But there's nuggets of groundbreaking stuff in there. Particularly, a young Hugh Quarshie, as Wolcott's cousin/sidekick Trevor who at one points utters the N***** word jokingly in front of his horrified, refined aunt. And there's a staggering cast. Rik Mayall, Alexei Sayle (with hair) and Keith Allen all turn up. There's a refreshingly un-British TV performance from Irish actor/opera singer Martin Dempsey, an RTE stalwart as Gilligan, Wolcott's Irish superior who sympathises with his fellow blow-in, and brings Wolcott to Irish bars, and has a musical cottage-shaped cigar box that plays "Irish Eyes are Smiling".

The cinematography by a tyro Roger Deakins is also excellent, sumptuous rather than Euston-style grain, with one scene of a gangland meetup shown exclusively through the reflection of an arcade machine. And Harris, fresh from appearances in Flash Gordon and Raiders of the Lost Ark is a decent lead, but the trouble is most of the gangland stuff is so rote, and the black stuff genuinely refreshing that it becomes a mire. It all builds to an astonishing climax - that is extremely downbeat, resulting in a bitter climax where no one is safe. But it deserves to be known. It's flawed, but it is interesting, and genuinely groundbreaking.
Reviewer: George White

 

This review has been viewed 254 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
   

 

Last Updated: