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Saturday 11 April 2015

The Girl Who Was Death

    Kenneth Griffith overplays his role as the mad scientist wonderfully well, and in the past Napoleon Bonaparte is generally the character thought to be adopted by those of an insane nature. We see very little of Kenneth Griffith as Number 2 in this episode, appearing only briefly at the end with Justine Lord. And that has been a general rule thought-out the series. Thus providing work for so many well known and renowned actors and actresses, some of whom were otherwise reaching towards the end of their distinguished acting careers, appear in ‘the Prisoner’ if ever so briefly. Frederick Piper as Number 66-the ex-Admiral in ‘Arrival’ for example who was replaced by Finlay Currie, in much the same role in ‘The Chimes of Big Ben,’ but as an ex-General.
   Justine Lord, who plays her role as The Girl to perfection, seductive, erotic, both physically and mentally dangerous, and gets to wear the shortest skirts in the whole series! It is written that feminine glamour began to be introduced into ‘the Prisoner’ series with Zena Walker as Janet Portland, and continued with Valerie French, and lastly with Justine Lord. Glamour and sexuality which Patrick McGoohan wanted kept out of ‘the Prisoner’ entirely, but who at the time of the production of three later episodes was mostly away in America working on the film production of ‘Ice station Zebra.’ And yet personally, I feel the feminine and glamour aspect was introduced a long time before actress Zena Walker, it began in ‘Dance of the Dead’ with a flighty maid Number 56 played by actress Denise Buckley who flirts with Number 6.
    Originally ‘The Girl Who Was Death’ called for Professor Schnipps to have a fixation about the loss of the WWII, who was supposed to have been a German scientist bent on revenge for the loss of the war. But WWII is no laughing matter, and the war in
Europe had only been over twenty-two years by 1967, and people’s memories of the war were still fresh in the minds of those who had gone through it. So Schnipps fixation was turned on Napoleon Bonaparte. However the original German aspect still crept into the episode, through the use of stick grenades, the Maxim heavy machine gun, and the Panzerschreck anti tank weapon. Last but not least the Girl wearing the Prussian Pickelhaube helmet which was painted white.
    For some fans of ‘the Prisoner’ the three episodes ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ The Girl Who Was Death,’ and ‘Living In Harmony’ show a low point in the series. Although I am aware of one enthusiast who’s favourite episode is ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ so suddenly the episode becomes a highlight of the series. It’s simply a question of personal choice. While others enjoy both ‘The Girl Who Was Death’ and ‘Living In Harmony’ simply for the acting of Alexis Kanner. In the one a cockney fashion photographer, and the other a dumb psychotic killer.
   ‘The Prisoner’ is a series of contrasts, from the absurd and laughable of ‘The Girl Who Was Death,’ to the sublime of ‘Once Upon A Time,’ together with ‘Fall Out’ which took ‘the Prisoner’ into television history.
Be seeing you

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