These Are the Damned (aka The Damned, 1963)
Directed by Joseph Losey
Produced by Michael Carreras, Anthony Hinds, Anthony Nelson Keys
Screenplay by Ben Barzman, Evan Jones
Based on the novel The Children of Light by H.L. Lawrence
Cinematography by Arthur Grant
Music by James Bernard
Edited by Reginald Mills
Hammer Film Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
(1:34) Hammer Films: The Ultimate Collection Blu-ray box set, Mill Creek
My journey through the Hammer Films box set from Mill Creek continues today with a stunner. These Are the Damned (released in the UK as The Damned) is one of the most fascinating movie experiences I’ve had in years, and I was completely unprepared for it. I suspect 1963 audiences were just as unprepared. The film starts out as a motorcycle gang picture, then turns to an older man/younger woman picture. Then it turns into something truly terrifying.
I’ll tell you as much as I can without spoiling too much:
On the streets of the English seaport town of Weymouth, a middle-aged tourist named Simon (Macdonald Carey) is minding his own business walking down the street when an attractive young woman named Joan (Shirley Anne Field) catches his eye. As we can figure out (but Simon can’t), Joan gets Simon’s attention only in order to lead him to her brother King (Oliver Reed) and his gang of “teddy boys.”
Although he probably should be, Simon is not intimidated by King in the least, yet Joan is terrified of her brother. In an attempt to escape the wrath of King, Simon and Joan stumble on an abandoned cottage. They actually stumble upon much more than that, but I refuse to tell you any more.
I’ve never been overly impressed with Macdonald Carey (even in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt), but Carey is very good and believable here. Even this early in his career, Oliver Reed is superbly menacing. The film also stars Viveca Lindfors and Alexander Knox. Hammer fans will also recognize cinematographer Arthur Grant as a mainstay for the studio, also shooting Cash on Demand (1961), The Reptile (1966) and others.
Filmed in 1961, The Damned was not released in the UK until 1963. In the U.S., a shorter 77-minute version under the title These Are the Damned was finally released in 1965.
Noir fans will no doubt know that blacklisted director Joseph Losey moved to England, where he shot a short film for Hammer called “A Man on the Beach.” Liking what they saw, Hammer offered Losey The Criminal (1960), starring Stanley Baker, and then The Damned. Yet The Damned sat on the shelf for nearly two years, finally getting a release, albeit with an X certificate (not quite the same as X-rated). Even then, The Damned was placed on a double feature with other films (whose titles I cannot verify).
If you’re a fan of this movie (or will be, as I suspect you might), you’ll want to pick up the Indicator Standard Edition of this film. (If you were fortunate enough to have purchased the Faces of Fear box set from Indicator, you already have this film.) The region-free Indicator edition (limited or standard) includes an audio commentary with film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan, a documentary on the film, a profile of Viveca Lindfors, an interview with Shirley Anne Field reminiscing on working with Oliver Reed and Joseph Losey, and much more (around three hours of extras not counting the commentary). Extras for this title on the Mill Creek set? Nada.
If you own the Mill Creek box set, you should either watch this one immediately or save it for last. I suspect it’s the best film in the box.
Next: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)