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Drop that Sherlock Holmes bit. That hat looks funny on you.


All Night Long


In which Patrick McGoohan attends a really groovy party, Pop Goes the Weasel is played, and he utters an immortal “Be seeing you”. However, while Pat embodies the mantra that his life is his own, he also behaves as if everyone else’s is too. This is Shakespeare Goes Jazzathon, whereby McGoohan’s drummer Johnny Cousin attempts to Iago his way to success with his own band, but the deal is only sealed if he has Delia (Marti Stevens), Othello’s Aurelius Rex’s (Paul Harris) wife as singer. To get that, he needs to split them up. All Night Long would probably have been more appealingly incongruous had it attempted to transpose the Shakespeare dialogue wholesale. As it is, Johnny’s machinations never rise above the third rate.

Emily: Johnny’s a liar. He never told the truth in his whole life. In his whole miserable life.

He is, however, as a budding psychopath, the very embodiment of “service to self”. Every individual he comes across is there to be used, and no depth is too low to stoop to. If Johnny’s psychology is finally called out by shrewish wife Emily (Betsy Blair), it’s more of a footnote, since his unholy scheming has already been exposed for all to see. Screenwriters Neil King and Paul Jarrico stop short of having Rex strangle Delia, (or smother her, per the Bard). Indeed, the only death here befalls Johnny’s aspirations (he’s left playing a solitary drum solo, spurning Emily’s offer of comfort: “Go find somebody else to love”. McGoohan learnt the drums for the role and apparently kept the kit). One might reasonably assert that Rex’s reconciliation with Delia is on the unlikely side, given his incitement to violence, but we’re presumably supposed to think it’s all rosy now, as Johnny made him do it.

Sir Dickie slots into the Roderigo role (as Rod Hamilton). And, to show he’s hip, he says “Man” to Charles Minghus; various other jazz world alumni pepper the picture, including John Dankworth, and there are points where the Shakespearian bit just seems like filler to connect the extended performance noodles. Rod owns the happening Thames warehouse holding the bash, a location that initially elicits a sensitive “Wow, this is spook city” from one of the guests. 

All Night Long is notable, however, for making no specific mention of its interracial relationships, Rex and Delia, and Cass (Keith Mitchell; yes, that would be Cassio) and Benny (Maria Velasco). No one is square in this dojo. Well, I say that… Cass, riled, takes issue with Bernard Braden’s booking agent Lou Berger – the man Johnny’s attempting to strike a deal with – when he tells him the only people who like jazz are “negroes, adolescents and intellectuals”, and Lou is none of them. His assistant Phales (Harry Towb) is given to observe “He came over here and insulted Lou, in very insulting terms”.

The old weed is frowned upon too, since a mere toot of the stuff (at Johnny’s conniving) turns Cass into a raving paranoid. Johnny’s joke about all white American jazz musicians (“We’re going to hold a meeting in a phone booth”) is only shocking for the realisation that Cousin is supposed to be a Yank (this is McGoohan’s standard American accent, per The Prisoner episode Living in Harmony). Cousin’s also supposed to be 35; McGoohan was 33 when the film was released and had shot a season of Danger Man (one that was shown between 1960-62), but rather like John Thaw, he was born old; you wouldn’t blink if told he was 40, say. I’m guessing he had a particular thing for Othello riffs, as he later directed Catch My Soul (1974), an adaptation of the 1968 rock musical. 

Basil Dearden made this hepcat, his first of two pictures with McGoohan that year (the other being religious convictions vs ethics drama Life for Ruth); Dearden wasn’t exactly knocking out the hits at this point but doubtless had goodwill on his side, since racism drama Sapphire had won a BAFTA a few years earlier and The League of Gentlemen was a big hit; for someone who started out directing Will Hay comedies, he’d perhaps surprisingly found himself a niche in the social-justice arena for a few years in the late-50s and early-60s (including Victim, with Dirk Bogarde). Dearden was very much the journeyman, really, capable at any genre he put his hand to but rarely delivering stunning results. All Night Long’s something of an obscure experiment and a less than wholly successful one. The reconception of Othello is curious at best, and the compressed-time manoeuvring might have worked better had it gone all-out for taut, De Palma-esque spinning plates (Carlito’s Way), emphasising Johnny’s need to set his ducks up with precision.

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