Jazz meets Shakespeare in a pre-swinging London – that’s All Night Long in a nutshell.
In fact, if you’re a fan of classic jazz, this is pretty an much essential document of the era, featuring the likes of Dave Brubeck, Johnny Dankworth, Tubby Hayes, Charlie Mingus and a host of other names from the day, all jamming away in the background of the main plot. And that plot is a modern (well, in 1962) take on Shakespeare’s Othello.
Richard Attenborough is Rod Hamilton, an upper-class jazz buff who throws a party in a disused warehouse (well before they were fashionable) to celebrate the first wedding anniversary of band leader Aurelius Rex (Paul Harris) and top jazz singer Delia Lane (Marti Stevens). But one person has a more sinister motive. Patrick McGoohan is the couple’s friend and manager Johnny Cousin – he has a deal lined up to bring Delia Lane out of semi-retirement, but she’s too consumed in wedded bliss to contemplate working again.
Cousin uses the occasion to spread the seeds of doubt into the mind of Rex about his wife and road manager Cass (Keith Michell), using the misery caused by the “green-eyed monster” for personal profit. If you know Othello (I still vaguely remember studying it at school), you’ll be able to place the characters from the original – Cousin (Iago), Rex (Othello), Delia (Desdemona) and Cass (Cassio). And despite the movie now showing its age, it’s still a great piece of entertainment – but now as more of a novelty item than a serious slice of cinema.
What it does have is Patrick McGoohan in top form. Despite sporting a dodgy American accent, he does devious as well as anyone before and after, turning on the sympathy and menace in equal measure to get his way – before it all comes crashing down.
The ending is a little disappointing, some of the jazz names don’t get enough screen time, but overall this is one to catch for sixties cinema buffs – and if you like your jazz, all the better.
Extras on the DVD: