Basil Dearden's London Underground
When British director Basil Dearden perished in an automobile accident in March 1971, at the relatively young age of 60, his demise put an end to one of the most exciting and unique directorial careers in contemporary British cinema. Dearden's work had grown particularly noteworthy in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he left his 'home studio' of Ealing and began to strike notes seldom heard in English movie theaters at that time, with films that explored such issues as race, homosexuality, the legacy of Britain's involvement in World War II, and many more controversial subjects. This box set from the Criterion Collection's Eclipse series features four such films. It begins with the 1959 Sapphire, starring Nigel Patrick and Yvonne Mitchell - in the tale of a slain young woman whose death opens a window into the bitter racism belying late '50s London. The second feature in the set, 1960's The League of Gentlemen, concerns a disillusioned veteran (Jack Hawkins) who assembles a cadre of washed-up ex-WWII soldiers to launch a sophisticated heist. The third film in the set, 1961's Victim, stars Dirk Bogarde as a closeted, married homosexual who risks disclosure to thwart a blackmailer preying on England's gay community. Finally, 1962's All Night Long updates Shakespeare's Othello to early '60s London, for the tale of a chaotic, betrayal-ridden anniversary party; the film also contains rare performances by Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus.