This lesser-known suspense thriller is an excellent adaptation of a Graham Greene novel, and an excellent showcase for actor Anthony Hopkins and the upcoming Kristin Scott Thomas, ably assisted by Derek Jacobi. A Paris lawyer is sentenced to die as a random hostage of the German occupiers, but is exchanged with another prisoner on a desperate and questionable death cell contract. Three years later, he must pretend he’s not himself when he returns to the house he changed for his life, to confront a woman who has sworn to kill the man who allowed her brother to die. Hannibal Lecter fans will be impressed by Hopkins’ deep and absorbing performance – the show’s moral tension and bizarre twists of fate are quite moving.
the tenth man
KL Studio Classics
1988 / Color / 2:35 1:85 1:66 widescreen 1:37 Academy / 99 min. / Sale date August 30, 2022 / available through Kino Lorber / 24.95
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Cyril Cusack, Brenda Bruce, Timothy Watson, Jim Carter, Geoffrey Bayldon.
Photography: Alan Hume
Production Designer: Michael Stringer
Art Director: Cliff Robinson
Film Editing: Millie Moore
Original Music: Lee Holdridge
Written by Lee Langley from the novel of Graham Greene
Produced by William Hill, David A. Rosemont, Michael Stringer
Directed by jack gold
Anthony Hopkins really had a big hit in 1991 The silence of the lambs. Always a great actor, he excelled at everything, not just prestigious productions. He is a great reason to see giantand it’s fantastic when he stretches out to play a no-nonsense spy in the rough When the eight bells ring. There are errors like audrey rose Y Magic. . . But one very valuable Hopkins feature that fell through the cracks is the one from 1988. the tenth man. Some say it started out as a feature film, because its executive producer William Self had just left CBS to make theatrical movies. Regardless, it was eventually finished as a TV movie.
the tenth man it’s a carefully produced story with an excellent role for actor Hopkins, one that suits the actor’s skill with nuance. The Source is a story of the great Graham Greene, whose famous ‘intrigue’ thrillers (This gun for hire, the third man, Our Man in Havana) are combined with riveting drama informed by what his literary critics identify as ‘Catholic’ themes: End of the matter, The fugitive. Many excellent films have been made from Greene’s stories, and some mix the two themes, such as the gangster story. brighton rock. Some say that all Graham Greene carries a streak of Catholic morality.
Grahame Greene’s book was published in 1985; it comes from an unproduced MGM project forty years earlier, when he was working in Hollywood. Shot on location in France and directed by Jack Gold, it balks at large-scale production values, but does an excellent job of outlining its period setting: Paris during the German occupation and a small town “an hour away by train.”
Parisian lawyer Jean Louis Chavel (Anthony Hopkins) lives alone in the large country house he inherited; he owns land and has money in the bank. He may have been too shy and cautious to start a family of his own. Chavel’s life disappears when the German occupiers capture 30 random Frenchmen in the street to form an execution group: 3 citizens must be shot for each German attacked by the resistance. In the prison dungeon, Chavel’s name appears in a lottery that selects who will die. Breaking out in terror, he offers to hand over all of his possessions to whoever takes his place. To the surprise of the other arrestees, sickly young Michel Mangeot (Timothy Watson) volunteers: he wants his impoverished mother and sister to remember him as a hero who made them rich. Chavel draws up a handwritten deed of gift for Michel, and then a will; prisoners Breton and Pierre (Paul Rogers and Jim Carter) witness it. Chavel feels guilty at the last minute, but Michel doesn’t back down from the deal.
Three years later, the liberation frees the prisoners. Chavel, bearded and emaciated, has survived. His business is long gone; he gravitates back to his town and to his house, only to discover that Michel’s sister and mother have taken rightful possession of his house. Therese Mangeot (Kristin Scott Thomas) Richard III Y gosford park) accepts Chavel’s lie that he is ‘Jean Perette’, a prisoner who knew both his brother and Chavel. He is given a meal, but stays as a handyman. Thérèse wants ‘Perette’ to be close to her so that she can identify Chavel, who is sure that he will return to his old home. Thérèse has formed a personal hate vendetta against Chavel and she won’t sleep well until she kills him.
Adapted by screenwriter Lee Langley, the tenth man is an intense small-scale drama with a built-in suspense factor. What might read as contrived in a synopsis is made compelling by the excellent writing and strong performances. Anthony Hopkins plays a meek and careful survivor haunted by his own survival, but who could blame any man for finding a way out of Chavel’s predicament? Restored in his own home, ‘Perette’ is thoughtful and penitent. He overcomes his burden of guilt by trying to help Thérèse free herself from her commitment to revenge. The themes of guilt, identity transfer, and Christ-like sacrifice are never addressed in direct religious terms, but are deeply felt. Michel chose death to help his loved ones, but he may also have reached a state of personal grace.
Graham Greene wonderfully avoids some clichés. Jean Louis Chavel was so estranged from the townspeople that (with his beard and his scar) no one recognizes him. That includes Roche (Peter Jonfield), the local farmer he met as a child, who became a resistance agent and is now looking for collaborators. We nervously wait for some catalyst in the third act to reveal the personification of ‘Perette’. He comes in the form of a figurative devil. Another man (Derek Jacobi) shows up at the door one night, claiming to be Jean Louis Chavel. ‘Perette’ plays along, hoping that the presence of this impostor will make Thérèse’s hatred lessen. The fake Chavel is actually Philippe Breton, a collaborator wanted for murder, who learned of Michel-Chavel’s execution agreement from his father. when breton sons realizes that the impressionable Thérèse can get carried away with some lies, she has big ideas about staying and taking over the house.
It is not a ‘Catholic mystery’, but part of the story hinges on a superstitious notion. Thérèse is sure that one night she “felt” the death of her brother from afar. Perette/Chavel assures her that no, that the execution took place at dawn, a discrepancy used by the diabolical Philippe Breton to persuade Thérèse that Perette is the fraud, the villain. It’s like a matter of faith, based on nothing more than an imaginary coincidence. the tenth man could have a happier swoon, but what happens seamlessly ties a very unusual romance together and completely satisfies. It is one of the best adaptations of Graham Green.
One of Chavel’s fellow inmates is played by Jim Carter, ‘Mr. Carson’ from television downton abbey. Young Carter is so skinny that viewers may not recognize him. Old Madame Mangeot is played by Brenda Bruce from voyeur and hammer Nightmare. The kind Perette has made Madame happy by helping Thérèse accompany her to mass every week. Cyril Cusack has a brief role as a local priest. We expect him to deliver a moral pronouncement or two, but Graham Greene and Lee Langley are not going that way: this priest is more concerned with walking in the rain. In silence, he investigates Perette’s character to decide if it will be acceptable for the man to live under the same roof as young Thérèse.
The on-site production relies on brief street scenes to create an impression of occupied Paris. It’s completely convincing: the wide master shots and elaborate special effects would only take away from the intimate feel of the show. Although we focus a lot on the characters, many details evoke greater depth. Although she has inherited a large house, Thérèse behaves like a poor woman. She doesn’t spend her money and her simple clothes are appropriate for the times. We like the practical white socks that Thérèse wears, which now look childish. Hopkins retains the haunted look of him at all times, with the ugly scar over his eye and the beard that he doesn’t shave, to hide from his former neighbors. We accept that he would not necessarily be recognized, discovered.
the KL Studio Classics blu ray of the tenth man it has the scale of a TV movie, but never feels confined or claustrophobic. It was filmed in France by famous professionals. Shot by cameraman Alan Hume The vampire’s kiss, return of the jedi and various adventures of Roger Moore 007; production designer Michael Stringer was art director on Fiddler on the Roof.
MGM’s excellent transfer vastly improves on what we saw on TV in 1988, and the widescreen version gives the show a satisfying big-screen look. Kino’s disc also includes a 1:37 full-frame version, as shown on TV, for viewers who like to see empty floors and free space above the actors. Only the style of the titles and the occasional fade-outs of television commercials reveal the film’s television origins. Of particular note is Lee Holdridge’s lush soundtrack, which provides just the right tone of emotional support.
the tenth man The compressed drama didn’t have the big ‘hook’ needed to act as a feature film in 1988 – there’s little here to create an eye-catching movie trailer. A distributor would have had to promote the show as Anthony Hopkins’ Great Art and wait for a less prestigious release. The television network’s presentation attracted awards. The Golden Globes nominated it for best Miniseries/TV Movie, and for both Hopkins and Jerek Jacobi. Derek Jacobi won a Primetime Emmy for Supporting Actor.
We appreciate Kino’s dual format presentation. They offer no other extras except for a series of movie trailers by Anthony Hopkins and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
the tenth man
blu ray rates:
Friendly for the deaf and hard of hearing? YES; English subtitles
Packaging: one Blu-ray in Keep slipcase
Checked: August 24, 2022
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