Friday, May 31, 2013

Captain's Theatre: BIGGLES: Peter Cushing's Final Bow

Peter Cushing was an integral part of several "franchise" series...
...including Hammer Studios' Frankenstein and Dracula series (as various Frankensteins and Van Helsings), Amicus' Dr Who and EC Comics duologies,  Star Wars (as Grand Moff Tarkin, the only guy besides the Emperor with the chutzpah to boss Darth Vader around), At the Earth's Core (as Abner Perry, inventor of a giant mechanical mole in the first of a projected Pellucidar series that never developed) and Sherlock Holmes (in films and and a tv series).
British DVD cover
His final film was another potential franchise series...Biggles: Adventures in Time (1986).
Based on a popular British series of juvenile novels by Captain W E Johns (who reached the lower rank of Pilot Officer in real life),  the movie takes 1980s ad executive Jim Ferguson (Alex Hyde-White, son of actor Wilfred Hyde-White) through time back to World War I , where he encounters dashing British pilot James "Biggles" Bigglesworth (Neil Dickson) as he attempts to stop a secret German sonic weapon from being used against the Allies.
As retired Air Commodore Colonel William Raymond, who was Biggles' commander in 1917 and now lives secretly inside London's Tower Bridge in what was obviously meant to be a base of operations for the characters in later films, Cushing is the lynchpin of the story, explaining the whys and hows of the time-travel phenomenon that links the two characters from 1917 and 1986!
The movie itself is like Flash Gordon (1980), in that it's a tongue-in-cheek high adventure/sci fi amalgam.
Unfortunately, it didn't do well either in England (where the audience felt it didn't do justice to the Biggles character), or America (where Biggles was almost totally-unknown).
Here's the trailer, which plays up Peter's role...
...a feature about the movie from the BBC series Blue Peter...
...and here's the whole movie, unavailable on DVD in the US!

We hope you've enjoyed our posts featuring the legendary Peter Cushing.
There's more cool Cushing stuff to come!
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And check out other posts from the Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon by clicking on the art below!
Trivia:
Many of Peter's co-stars have also been involved in franchises...not always sucessfully!
Alex Hyde-White (Jim) was Reed Richards in the unreleased Fantastic Four movie (1995) as well as being a regular in the second season of the 1980s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century tv series.
Neil Dickson (Biggles) was the co-star of the short-lived She-Wolf of London/Love & Curses tv series as well as the voice of ongoing villain DreadKnight in the 1990s animated Iron Man series.
William Hootkins (Chuck) has appeared in numererous genre films including Batman (1989) as Detective Eckhart, Flash Gordon (1980) as Munson, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) as Major Eaton, Superman IV: the Quest for Peace (1988) as Harry Howler, plus a taxi driver in the last two Peter Sellers Pink Panther films, and the Crimson Dynamo on the 1990s animated Iron Man series.

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