Jazz Goes Noir in 1960s British Flick

Paul Harris as Aurelius Rex and Marti Stevens as Delia are a rapturously happy couple married one year, until… Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

If a tale of treachery, temporary madness and marijuana, set in London’s early 1960s jazz scene and featuring Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus sounds appealing, consider this. It’s derived from Shakespeare.

All Night Long,’ a moody, rainy, black-and-white 1962 movie recently discovered on a video store shelf, is compelling. Seemingly based on a play that is based in turn on a Shakespeare play that will not be named here, it features Patrick McGoohan at his oiliest.

Mingus and Brubeck both have speaking roles (OK, neither says much) and both jam along with a cast of real jazz musicians, including Tubby Hayes and John Dankworth, who play throughout the action, all of which takes place one extended evening.

The film is part of a series, 'Basil Dearden's London Underground'

We’ve got Aurelia Rex as a Duke Ellington-styled bandleader and Delia Lane, his wife. It’s a racially mixed marriage, which is not commented on; there is another racially mixed couple as well.

Unusual for a film, at the time.

Director Basil Dearden (1911-1971) is little known to many American film fans but based on ‘All Night Long,’ he should be.

The Criterion Collection, which has released this and other films on DVD, calls his 1950s and 1960s films “gripping, groundbreaking, even controversial films that dealt with racism, homophobia, and the lingering effects of World War II, noir-tinged dramas that burrowed into corners of London rarely seen on-screen.”

That's Dave Brubeck on keyboards. Courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

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