Oliver Reed was a man who wore himself on his sleeve, a powerful actor who found his acting roles limited by his own enormous personality. After 'Oliver' (1968), Reed became an international star, but he had been working in films for ten years, playing a variety of characters, most of whom were either brutes or basket cases, often both.
In 'The Shuttered Room' (1967) he plays Ethan, a thuggish Brando-esque yokel with a variable American accent, a penchant for harrassment and a neurotic dread of sex.
The film is based on H.P Lovecraft, has parts of Norfolk standing in for Massachusetts, and can boast a jittery, creaky squeaky score by the stupendous Basil Kirchin. Beyond that, it's all about Reed and his eyes and his head, particularly the bit at the front. The face.
Let's take a look at Ethan's emotions/reactions one by one.
Ethan has rage fermenting inside of him, and this manifests itself in physical aggression and intimidating posturing.
Ethan is listening, but he is a bit thick, so he doesn't really get it, like a child listening to his parents bickering about National Insurance contributions.
Ethan is being told off. Reed always had a great facility to look like a small boy, no matter how old and how big he got.
Ethan is facing an unpalatable truth, in this case, an opportunity for sexual intercourse he knows he is too mixed up to take. The slight incline of his head shows both his reluctance and revulsion at the offer.
Ethan stares, but his dangling belt gives away what's really happening in this encounter, a big, floppy nothing.
It's enough to make him turn to an old friend for help... actually, that's an empty jug, but no Ollie Reed piece is complete without mentioning how very thirsty he always was.
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