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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Prismatic Reflection

    Good Old American Green Backs! Good old American Dollar bills which the Colonel took from the safe of the Prisoner's home in the episode of ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling.’ So why would the Prisoner have American Dollar bills in his safe? Why not £ Stirling? Perhaps that was the only currency the Prisoner had. Well that being the case, he would have to go to either the Bank, or a Bureau De Change as he would at least need British currency to pay for his ticket for the ferry across to France.
    Depending on the Prisoner’s line of work its possible that he might have a number of differing currencies in his safe. Perhaps the answer lies closer to home with the monetary exchange rate at the time in the 1960’s, that the Prisoner had more faith in the $ rather than the £.
    And there's the question of that safe secreted behind the television set. I wonder if this particular aspect of the Prisoner's study was replicated in his home of '6 Private' in The Village? Chances are it wasn't.
   Incidentally ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ is the only Prisoner episode where No.6 demonstrates affection. The affectionate embrace enjoyed and kisses between Janet and her fiancé No.6, on the occasion of her birthday party. Well this isn't really correct, it was No.6's mind, if not his body, and the way he kissed Janet which made up her mind to exactly who the man she was sharing an embrace was. Well it certainly wasn't Patrick McGoohan, but that of Nigel Stock, which just so happened to be a disappointment for actress Zena Walker, who thought when reading of the shared embrace and kiss in her script, that she would be embracing Patrick McGoohan. Poor Nigel Stock! I'm sure that had McGoohan not been in America filming ‘Ice Station Zebra,’ but here filming ‘the Prisoner’ that scene would still have been with actor Nigel Stock, how would it have been otherwise?

    I was reminded by a line in the 1955 film ‘The Sea Chase’ starring John Wayne as Captain Karl Ehrlich and Lana Turner as Elsa Keller, a German Intelligence agent. When Elsa Keller tells Captain Ehrlich "Prison is a state of mind."
    Well I wonder sometimes just what state of mind No.6 is in, or Patrick McGoohan for that matter, if The Village is as it is said to be. "Not a materialistic place, but symbolises the prison that is man's own mind." I think I much prefer the materialistic form of The Village!
   And in mentioning The Village, the place does suffer in quality in the latter episodes where the village is featured, ‘Hammer Into Anvil,’ ‘Its Your Funeral,’ ‘A Change of mind.’ Too many designed Village "backdrops" used in the MGM studios to help create scenes in The Village away from Portmeirion. They are easy enough to spot, when in ‘A Change of Mind’ we see No.6 and the "Lobo man" together. As you look down the hedge lined cobbled path towards the Town Hall, that is a painted backdrop, as it is when No.2 is perused by the citizens for being unmutual. And the speech balcony in ‘It’s Your Funeral’ is a set on an MGM sound stage, and not at Portmeirion. However although one knows that the back episodes had the least share of funds spent on them, it does not depreciate either the episodes themselves or their enjoyment.
    And that is what I like to do these days, sit back and watch episodes of the Prisoner for their enjoyment alone, and not always in the accepted order. Three and a half years of research into the Prisoner helps you enjoy the episodes for what they are, pure entertainment and escapism.

   ‘The Vicious Circle,’ a 1957 John Mills stars Dr. Howard Latimer, a Harley Street specialist who becomes the prime suspect in a murder hunt when a German film actress Freda Velda, who he has been asked to meet at London Airport by film producer Charles Caufmann, is found dead in Latimer's flat. Dr. Latimer is left to solve the mystery himself in order to prove his innocence.
    There are a couple of distinctive parallels to be drawn between this 1958 film Vicious Circle and the Prisoner. Firstly the Prisoner begins and ends with a clap of thunder and the grimaced face of the Prisoner behind the wheel of his Lotus 7. Vicious Circle ends and begins with a telephone call for Dr. Howard Latimer from Charles Caufmann, wanting Latimer to meet a film actress at London Airport. Also during ‘The Chimes Of Big Ben’ No.6 discovers that the London traffic noise, he thinks is outside, is actually being played on a tape recorder which he finds hidden in a cupboard. And when No.6 pulls the plug the sounds of the London traffic falls silent!
     Again in Vicious Circle when Dr. Howard Latimer pays a call on a friend to return his latch key, he hears the notice of a party going on inside the flat. Using the for said latch key, Latimer lets himself in on the party going on in the flat. Only when he closes the door and strolls into the lounge, there is no party, the flat is empty, save for the disembodied voices of the party goers and the pianist playing the piano! Latimer goes over to the radiogram and sliding the door open, he discovers that both the voices he hears and pianist are being played on the record. Lifting the tone arm reduces the flat to absolute silence!

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