Ken Russell's The Devils At Lincoln Center This Weekend!
This week Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center is running a fabulous tribute at the W to the British enfant terrible of cinema Ken Russell. The 81-year=old controversial director (who will be making an appearance every night) began his career with fabulous black and white biographies for British television on people like Dante Gabriel Rossetti (played by a young brooding Oliver Reed), Isadora Duncan (starring a brilliant Vivian Pickles), and Frederick Delius. But most know him for Women In Love, his masterful take on the D. H. Lawrence classic (and a memorable nude wrestling scene between Oliver Reed and Alan Bates). Russell's work also includes The Boy Friend, starring Twiggy, a delightfully campy take on Busby Berkeley musicals, as well as The Music Lovers -- an extravagantly delirious take on the tragic life of Tchaikovsky (with an searing performance by Richard Chamberlain in the lead and a heartrending Glenda Jackson as his tormented wife). And who can forget Ann-Margret rolling in baked beans in the rock opera movie of Tommy? But my favorite- playing this weekend, is The Devils, Russell's controversial 1971 version of an Aldous Huxley novel about a 17th century priest (Oliver Reed) executed for witchcraft in the walled-in convent of Loudun. Vanessa Redgrave is unforgettable as the sexually repressed hunchback nun. With visionary production design by the late, great, Derek Jarman, the film caused a furor when it opened and was rated X when it played in America. Only ever appearing on VHS, Warner Brothers seems too chicken-shit to release this on DVD. Which is a shame -- The Devils shows Russell at his most blasphemous, his most outrageous and his most inspired.