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THE PROJECTION ROOM (The Prisoner Compared...)
"SEVEN THUNDERS "
By Sam Denham
other Prisoner fans lucky enough to catch a movie called "Seven Thunders"
screened in recent years? If they did, I'm sure they'd have noticed it had uncanny
Prisoner similarities - to me it seemed like a real missing link in the chain
of influences on the show. Set in occupied France, during World War II, it follows
two British officers attempts to escape the superficially tolerant German controlled
port of Marseilles. When their promised safe passage fails to materialise, they
fall into the hands of a seemingly helpful doctor who turns out to be a callous
murderer. Atmospherically set in the twisting alleys and tenements of the city's
run-down old quarter, the combination of Mediterranean architectural styles,
and unpredictable cosmopolitan characters trapped in a self-contained world
exactly echoed the essence of the Village, while the two war prisoners desire
to escape their deceptively congenial surroundings couldn't have been closer
to Number 6's experience of incarceration.
Adding to the sensation that you might be watching a seamier and seedier missing episode of the series - or at times that The Prisoner might be a colour remake of this 1957 film - was the cast, which included several key players from the series, all but one in roles foreshadowing their Prisoner appearances. George Coulouris and Martin Miller both appear as trapped victims of the scheming Number 2 style murderer, played - shades of Leo McKern - by James Robertson Justice, while Rosalie Crutchley plays a doting, put-upon mouse consigned to a loveless relationship, and Katherine Kath appears as the gregarious Madam of a bordello (a hostess, if not a society hostess). Only Denis Shaw, as a German soldier, is out of Prisoner character. Features of the plot also included seemingly innocent drugged drinks, an escape, Many Happy Returns style, through adjoining cupboards, and a cataclysmic final bid for freedom as mass evacuation is followed by chaos and destruction.
As a bonus link, the Danger Man episode The Journey Ends Halfway, which includes footage shot at Portmeirion, directly lifts the film's character of the refugee robbing and murdering doctor. Although like me, they might miss the point of the title, I'm sure anyone who loves The Prisoner would appreciate this seemingly forgotten movie.
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