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Steven Berkoff film 1970s


 

 

In the seventies Berkoff worked with Stanley Kubrick on A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon, and with Antonioni in The Passenger.  He had the basis for a cult film career.

 


Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - title

Nicholas and Alexandra from 1971 about the fall of the Tsar.  A tiresome overlong (three and a half hours) film, which suffers badly from comparisons with Dr Zhivago- Freddie Young was Director of Photography in both films.

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - Michael Jayston 

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - four daughters

The fall of the tsar and the rise of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, but whereas David Lean's film of Dr Zhivago filmed the set pieces with visual flair, and he brought out the characters and how they were affected, Nicholas and Alexandra fails  blandly.  There is no insight into the character and failings of the Tsar.

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra

Steven Berkoff plays Pankratov.  Lenin on the right as Berkoff looks on in the background.  "I went to Spain to play a... small role in the epic movie Nicholas and Alexandra .  That was one of the worst experiences in my life, since having been with a bunch of reasonably dedicated stage actors for six months more I was now thrust into the midst of a bunch of drunken slobs." (Steven Berkoff, Free Association, 1997).

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - rioters

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - military

The poverty and the oppression lead to the Bloody Sunday demonstration and massacre.

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - parade  Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - soldiers

The internal problems are coupled with the First World War and the need to resist the German invasion.  The parade of soldiers is impressive, but the reality is poorly armed and trained conscripts.

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra

Berkoff like everyone else is lost amid the hoards of stars.  Olivier and many other British actors are in the film. Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner in 1971.

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - Michael Bryant - Lenin

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - the Tsarist royal family

"Nicholas and Alexandra boasts terrific performances and gorgeous production design, but it's bloated and unwieldy. There is more history here than the film-makers know what to do with" (Alex von Tunzelmann, 14 Jun 2013, The Guardian).

"Nicholas and Alexandra doesn't sweep. It jerks- from vignette to great moment to vignette, some more effective than others... Nicholas and Alexandra are not really tragic characters, though the movie seems to pretend that they are. They are a nice, loving, fatally uninformed couple who, between them, were ultimately responsible for the death of something like 7 million subjects... The problem with Nicholas and Alexandra is... the attempt to cram too big a picture into too small a frame" (Vincent Canby, 14 Dec 1971, New York Times).

Steven Berkoff - Nicholas and Alexandra - credit

All images from the film.

 

 

 


Steven Berkoff - A Clockwork Orange - Title

A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971.  Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, Kubrick says "“The book was given to me by Terry Southern during one of the very busy periods of the making of 2001... I just put it to one side and forgot about it for a year and a half. Then one day I picked it up and read it. The book had an immediate impact.  I was excited by everything about it, the plot, the ideas, the characters and, of course, the language. Added to which, the story was of manageable size in terms of adapting it for films” (Interview with Kubrick by Bernard Weinraub, New York Times, 4 Jan 1972). 

Steven Berkoff - A Clockwork Orange - Malcolm McDowell

Malcolm McDowell plays Alex who loves Beethoven and ultra-violence.

"Alex’s choice of evil is total and enthusiastic; his aimlessness is electric, like a shark switching around to the nearest scent; his intelligence is sharply practical and of a high order. The novel is about this individual versus the State, which removes his capacity for choice, turning him into a mass of conditioned reflexes, all wholesome and good" (New York Times, 19 Mar 1963).

Steven Berkoff - A Clockwork Orange - Malcolm McDowell

Steven Berkoff - A Clockwork Orange - Partick Macnee

The novel a writer (Patrick Magee) is working on is titled A Clockwork Orange- the title is not explained in the film.  His house is invaded by Alex and his gang who violently attack him and his wife.

Steven Berkoff - A Clockwork Orange

Steven Berkoff - A Clockwork Orange - Gang

Steven Berkoff - A Clockwork Orange - Corridor

Steven Berkoff in Clockwork Orange

Steven Berkoff has a small but noteworthy role as the sadistic policeman in a scene just after McDowell is arrested.  Berkoff's use of body language is spot on. The novel, about violence and using futuristic Russian slang, has elements of Berkoff´s East.

Berkoff says "When I saw it I did not think it was that controversial. I thought there were some achingly archaic bits in it, the prison scenes, the little bit of winky winky, you know, were from someone who's not familiar enough with British life. I remember feeling it wasn't quite up to his [Stanley Kubrick's] usual being ahead of time – it was behind the times. I suppose he felt it made the violence too seductive and maybe he felt guilty about that. I don't think it was cutting edge, no" (Berkoff quoted by Jonathan Romney, The Independent, 8 Jan 2012, click here).

Steven Berkoff in Clockwork Orange   Steven Berkoff in Clockwork Orange

Malcolm McDowell says "In the scene where I’m being worked over by the police, the probation officer, played by Aubrey Morris, was supposed to spit on me. Poor old Aubrey ran out of saliva and so Steven Berkoff, who was playing a cop, said: 'Don’t worry, I’ve got some.' He brought up the most hideous lurgies. Stanley asked: 'Can you get it on his nose?' Berkoff says: 'Yeah!' We did so many takes, what with Stanley not accepting anything less than 100%. He wanted it to dribble down just right, to be totally humiliating. Obviously, I was a bit pissed off" (Malcolm McDowell interviewed by Phil Hoad , The Guardian, 2 Apr 2019, click here).

The editor was Bill Butler and the lighting cameraman was John Alcott.

Steven Berkoff - A Clockwork Orange - credit

All images from the film.

 

 



Steven Berkoff - The Passenger - titleJ

The Passenger also known as Profession: Reporter with Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider and directed by Michelangelo Antonioni in 1975.

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

At a remote desert hotel A disillusioned reporter Locke (played by Nicholson), takes on the identity of another man who has died.

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

He swaps clothes and id to fake his own death.

"... a classic of a difficult and alienating kind, but one that really does shimmer in the mind like a remembered dream. It is the Greeneian tale of a world-weary television reporter in Chad, north-central Africa, called Locke, played by Jack Nicholson. Profoundly depressed by his failing marriage and by a drab professional career that involves conducting non-boat-rocking interviews with potentates, Locke discovers what he believes to be an existential way out: a suicide that isn’t suicide. He swaps identities with a dead man in the neighbouring hotel room, with whom he had struck up a desultory friendship" (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 16 Jun 2006).

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger  Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

He turns up at the appointments in the dead man's diary and discovers his assumed identity is involved in gun running.

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Steven Berkoff plays the lover of the Locke's wife.

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Locke and Maria Schneider's character, never named, become lovers.

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger  Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Locke's wife receives the dead man's possessions including the passport with the wrong photo.

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger

"The Passenger, arguably Mr. Antonioni's greatest film… was originally titled Fatal Exit… During production, the film was renamed The Reporter and then, Profession: Reporter, the title under which it was released in Europe. It was called The Passenger for the American release, which is too bad because the film turns on what happens to Locke when he abandons the safety of objectivity, which allowed him to keep the world at a distance, with a new, uncharted subjectivity… what seems to matter most now is that few filmmakers have revealed so much beauty inside a film frame… … The film has long been out of view because its rights belong to Mr. Nicholson, who inexplicably chose to keep one of his and Mr. Antonioni's greatest triumphs in limited circulation" (Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 28 Oct 2005).

"... a remarkable work and a major return to form after the incoherent, shallow Zabriskie Point. It is a bit like a heavily intellectualised Graham Greene story, partly because of its screenplay, by Mark Peploe and structuralist critic Peter Wollen (who was once a political correspondent in foreign parts) and partly because Antonioni was concerned with spiritual values" (Derek Malcolm, The Guardian, 1 Jun 2000).

The director of photography was Luciano Tovoli and the editors were Antonioni and Franco Arcalli.

Steven Berkoff - The Passenger  - credit

The credits misspell Berkoff's name.

All images from the film.

 

 


 

Barry Lyndon, Kubrick´s period piece filmed, unusually for him, outside Britain, in Ireland. Berkoff´s second Kubrick film alongside A Clockwork Orange.  Berkoff has two short scenes as Lord Ludd, a dandy. He loses at cards to Robert Ryan and then loses at swords in a duel.  Directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1975.

"Barry Lyndon was a three-year project, with a year of preparation, and eight months of shooting. The film itself bears the mark of its meticulous origins; watching it, you feel drawn into a fully realised world. It won four Oscars – all richly deserved. In particular, John Alcott’s cinematography and Ken Adam’s designs are flawless. The supporting cast reveals the great strength of British and Irish character acting then, with Murray Melvin, Gay Hamilton, Patrick Magee, Steven Berkoff, Frank Middlemass and the wonderful Leonard Rossiter" (Michael Newton The Guardian, 29 Jul 2016, click here).

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

"The most memorable duels in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Thackeray’s tale of a bounder are probably the ones with pistols, but the glorious natural lighting, Steven Berkoff’s perfect twirl and Ryan O’Neal’s foil-deflection and grab, coached and choreographed by Anderson, make this one a keeper" (Anne Billson, The Guardian, 7 Oct 2021, click here).

 

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

 

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon

Steven Berkoff - Barry Lyndon  

All images from the film.

 


 

 

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

Joseph Andrews.  A tiresome and reverential film of the novel by Henry Fielding- surely the last thing to do with Fielding.  Directed by Tony Richardson in 1977 with Peter Firth as Andrews and other well-known British actors including John Gielgud, and Swedish-American Ann-Margret fill up the cast.

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

Berkoff has a small role as "Greasy Fellow".

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

He tries to take advantage of a woman but is knocked out.

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

Quietly he revives...

Steven Berkoff - Joseph Andrews

... and takes a hostage.

Berkoff and Peter Firth would later work together in Prisoner of Rio and Michael Horden (Parson Adams) had already worked with Berkoff on the television play "Sir Jocelyn, the Minister Would Like a Word... ".

"…Joseph Andrews contains more great (and more greatly funny) character performances than any film I've seen in years. It's one of the few movies around now that truly lifts the spirits, not only because it is so good-humored but also because the humor is laced with so much wit and wisdom... The movie year, which has not been great so far, looks a great deal richer today." (Vincent Canby, New York Times, 14 Apr 1978).

"Attempting to repeat the commercial success of Tom Jones, this adaptation of Fielding's first novel is little more than a middlebrow's Carry On. Richardson allows his photographer and designers to make pretty pictures à la Barry Lyndon, while himself showing little interest in Fielding's essentially moralistic themes- innocence beset by rapacious experience, physically with Joseph and Fanny, mentally with Parson Adams. Indeed he violates the novel's guts and narrative coherence, at the same time reducing it to little more than a headlong tumble of bits of knockabout bedroom farce loosely hung together" (RM. Ti,me Out, 10 Sept 2012, click here).

The editor was Thom Noble.

Joseph Andrews Steven Berkoff - credit

All images from the film.


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