Fade Out – Peter Cushing

Episode 32 - Peter Cushing's BIGGLES: AN ADVENTURE IN TIME w/guest Lucien Desar.

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10 responses to “Fade Out – Peter Cushing

  1. Thanks for another great episode. I absolutely adore Peter Cushing. He was masterful at portraying both sinister and heroic characters as well as doddering old grandfathers and professors. He was great as Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of the Baskerville as well as a BBC tv series. Tragically most of the episodes of the Holmes series are lost. My favorite of his goofier films is definitely The Legend of The Seven Golden Vampires. As expected, he delivers a masterful performance and holds on to his dignity despite the lunacy surrounding him. Both oh which he managed to do while recovering from dysentery. Peter Cushing was truly a gentleman actor. He appreciated his fans and chose roles he knew they wanted to see him in. Th ere are very few actors like him.
    Biggles is a movie I’ve tried to like, but just can’t get there with. A time travel adventure film featuring air combat is exactly the type of movie that would appeal to me. Unfortunately the movie just doesn’t work.
    Again, great episode. Excellent breakdown of Cushing’s legendary career.

  2. Peter Cushing? Never heard of him.

    Nice discussion. I have never seen Biggles, because I kind of also assumed it was a kids’ flick. I should have paid attention to the director though. Hough did some great genre films, and had previously directed Cushing in one of his most powerful roles, fanatical witch/vampire hunter Gustav Weil (reads VILE) in Hammer’s Twins of Evil. Many think Cushing channeled his despondency over Helen’s death into that blood-curdling performance. Hough may be one reason Cushing took this role in Biggles. Cindy and I covered that on our House of Franklin-Stein series over on the Super Mates podcast, right on this very network. There hasn’t been a season without a Cushing movie. There’s a reason for that.

    I saw Cash on Demand for the first time this Christmas. I’d heard about it for years, but never had access. Cushing and Morell are excellent in it. What a great, tight little movie.

  3. Terrific episode, guys!

    1] How long have we known each other, Rob?! It’s Dar as in “Darling” not Day as in “Daybreak. Dalek… say it with me… Dalek!
    The Cushing Dr Who films are a bit like Earth-2 Dr Who – most of the basics are the same but there are substantial differences between the TV show and the Movie universes. Dalek mania was huge in the UK in 1964, and the rights to tell the early Dalek stories were bought from the creator (Terry Nation) by Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg from production company Amicus – yes, that Amicus; the company that wasn’t Hammer!. (Terry Nation obviously had some amazing deal with the BBC over the Daleks, as he – and then the estate – have exerted considerable control over the property over the years).
    The two Dalek movies were repeated in the cinema as perennial children’s matinees and also on the TV, so it would have been the first version of these stories that many people ever actually saw. They have a very kid friendly tone, are more comedic than the original TV stories, and – unlike British TV in the early 1960s – were in glorious Technicolor!

    2] I’ve read more than my fair share of Biggles books in my time, although in childhood, my brother was a bigger fan than I was. They’re typical of a certain era of British boys stories; stiff upper lip, derring do kind of adventure tales. Very little in the way of female or non-WASP characters. The film really got stuck in development hell; by the mid-1980s the stories were looking very old fashioned, which I guess prompted the completely-out-of-character time-travel elements. In my head, the Biggles film sits alongside the Uma Therman “Avengers” film – a fundamentally British property morphed into a weird and ultimately not very successful movie. I have a secret soft-spot for both!

    3] I thought you were goign to say that Carrie Fisher couldn’t be scared of Peter Cushing on the Death Star set as his jackboots were too uncomfortable to wear so he performed the role almost entirely wearing slippers!

    4] Fun Fact – I grew up about 12 miles away from where Peter Cushing grew up (albeit about 60 years after he was born!)

    1. Very good comparision that Biggles is like The Avengers. It’s like an Earth-4 version of it. Although I’ve always like Uma Thurman. I liked her portrayal of Emma. Sean Connery in the film though —- plus what was with the killer giant teddy bears?

      You’re the first person I have heard read these books which apparently as popular in Europe as the Hardy Boys in the U.S. I need to find a copy.

      I’m curious what accent is in that region now you were from. Is it mostly RP now?

  4. Robert and Lucien,

    Fellas. Great review. But let’s talk about the greatest bit of trivia for this movie. John Deacon, the bassist of Queen, wrote the theme song for the movie! He even formed a one-time band for it! It’s Deacon’s only big non-Queen credit! More on this when I launch my Pod Save the Queen show in 2073, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the band.

  5. Ah Biggles : Adventures in Time.

    It is such a UK Production – the ambition outstretches the budget. I’d read some Biggles books as a kid, I think there might have been a BBC radio show or TV Show back in the day? So parts of this film feel on the nose for Biggles himself in the war settings. The appearance of Francesca Gonshaw in the film also certainly appealed to my Adolescent years. It’s a fun film that felt more like they were trying to transition Biggles into Dan Dare… Which is Crossover that needs to happen at some time – or perhaps once the Biggles books go out of copyright someone might do a Philip Jose Farmer Wold Netwon job and have Biggles and Dan Dare be related.

    But I like the film it’s fun, it’s camp , it’s got Francesca Gonshaw and Nazi Style Super Weapon – basically it’s bit Indiana Rick Jones with the whole time travel swapping thing. It also has as you’ve established Peter Cushing. Did I mention the main theme song “Do you wanna be a hero?” Sung by Jon Anderson of Yes, written by John Deacon and Anderson… it’s so damn catchy and will occasionally pop up on my playlist.

    So I get while a more sophisticated me might see that Biggles is a bit naff… but 80’s me? He thought it was great – even if we did have to see it on VHS.

    As for the podcast episode itself – it was a fantastic listen. I could have easily listened for another hour or two of the pair of Rob and Lucien chatting about Peter Cushing’s life and career. It really felt like I was part of this great chat between two friends about a fascinating subject. The only issue I had was that when I spoke up Rob didn’t listen with his AWFUL pronunciation of Dalek. It was awful and hurt my ears almost as much as those uneducated people who say “Legos”….

    But putting that aside it was a wonderful listen. Thanks Rob and Lucien for keeping me company!


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