All Night Long (1962)
April 25, 2023 5:31 PM - Subscribe

British director Basil Dearden followed his gay blackmail thriller Victim with 1962’s All Night Long, which re-imagines Shakespeare's Othello at a late night London jazz jam. Patrick McGoohan is drummer Johnny Cousins, the scheming, pot-smoking Iago who prowls the party stirring up jealousy and fear to tear the interracial couple of bandleader Aurelius Rex and his wife Delia apart so Delia will sing with Johnny when he leaves Othello's band. An excellent score helps drive the tightening downward spiral, with Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck showing up as themselves throughout the party.

Streaming at Criterion, rentable via Apple and Amazon.

Allmovie: "An unfairly neglected little treasure" (warning that the end of that review vaguely spoils the end of the film, which differs from the play)

Richard Attenborough plays the rich hepcat whose sprawling warehouse/apartment provides the setting; AppleTV has a clip here where he shares a drink with Mingus, who's hanging out playing bass before the guests arrive.

Iago tokes up and tries to shame former heroin addict Cassio into joining him

One of Brubeck's featured musical moments, extended soloing with the band

UK bandleader and saxman Johnny Dankworth takes a quick solo as the partygoers mingle

Patrick McGoohan ratchets up the tension with a drum solo as his lies and the resulting distrust mount late in the evening. (McGoohan has claimed he practiced for months and played drums in the film, but others say he was miming to UK drummer Allan Gantley, who coached him so it would look realistic.)

There's also a too-brief bass/piano duet between Mingus and Brubeck but I can't find a clip of that one.
posted by mediareport (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man, this looks awesome!
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:55 PM on April 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

Dug this one a lot; it has the smoky, shadowy feel of a noir but with a swinging 60s London vibe. The plot moves along quickly, with some nice musical moments woven in. Patrick McGoohan is great as a conniving villain, and Paul Harris is excellent as the increasingly jealous Aurelius Rex/Othello. I'm not sure why Harris's film career seems to have gone nowhere except for a few blaxploitation flicks later on; he's really good here. The plot twists maybe once too much (Iago editing partygoers' conversations on reel-to-reel tape made me laugh and seemed like overkill, e.g.) but it's an engaging, exciting 90 minutes that goes by fast.

I liked the casual way Dearden presents not one, but two interracial relationships - yes, Aurelius/Othello and Delia/Desdemona, of course, but also Cassio's relationship with his Black girlfriend Benny, which is also presented in a very matter-of-fact way for 1962 and is accepted without comment by everyone at the party. I've grown to really like the way Dearden took risks like that in his films, including in this case a surprisingly casual presentation of marijuana use. Iago just whips out a few joints like it's nothing and starts smoking. In 1962!

The one slightly sour note for me was Delia's eagerness to have given up her singing career to be a wife to Rex, and Rex's jealous insistence (even before Iago started in with his nonsense) that she become a housewife after marrying him. The film's presentation of Delia's meekness on that made her character flatter than I wanted her to be, even as other characters encouraged her to get back on stage.

Still, this is a really enjoyable little film that I'd never heard of before and was delighted to discover. If only that brief Mingus/Brubeck duet had been longer than a minute, sigh.
posted by mediareport at 6:00 PM on April 25, 2023

(Meant to include that the ending could have been better; it felt rushed and again left me feeling that Delia's character got shortchanged, but the rest of it makes up for that.)
posted by mediareport at 6:35 PM on April 25, 2023

I have literally never heard of this before today but now I want to seek it out. Thanks!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:24 AM on May 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

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