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Wednesday 14 January 2009

Patrick McGoohan

I just heard of the death of actor/writer/director Patrick McGoohan at the age of 80, following a short illness.

A terrific and brooding screen presence, an actor of integrity and eccentricity, mad as a box of bats in the best possible way... otherwise how could he ever have become the creator and driving force of that surreal classic of British TV, The Prisoner, of which I once wrote:
THE PRISONER was a huge, flawed, sprawling, psychotic explosion centred on the personality of its producer/star. Take away the things that gave it unique life - McGoohan, the location, its 1960s psychedelic sensibility - and what you're left with is a story premise that, on its own, was good for one episode of DANGER MAN.
As it happens, I'm working my way through the Danger Man boxed set right now (US title: Secret Agent). Appreciating it properly, too - it was more grown-up than most ITC series and I was too young for it the first time around. Terrific stuff.

Thanks, Pat. Be seeing you.


Todd Mason said...

The first obit I read, courtesy Bill Crider's blog, decided that he became an international star with THE PRISONER, yet DANGER MAN (under that title in the early 30-minute episodes) played in the US in 1961, and SECRET AGENT (the hourlong episodes) in 1965-1966, and, I suspect, the US wasn't the only export market.

He certainly seemed to relish his villainous roles in 1970s films such as SILVER STREAK and the COLUMBO series...I've been meaning to seek out THE QUARE FELLOW for years (which I take to be his first film as lead).

Todd Mason said...

"It's Up to the Lady," among the hourlong DM/SA episodes, was pretty devastating, as corrosive a critique as any of THE PRISONER's episodes.

Stephen Gallagher said...

Never seen THE QUARE FELLOW... I think my first non-DANGER MAN sighting was his role as a demonic, clear-the-road trucker going head-to-head with Stanley Baker in the energetic Brit B-movie HELL DRIVERS.

The televised version of his breakout performance in Ibsen's BRAND is available on DVD; studio-bound, but a powerful record.

Stephen Gallagher said...

I see that Philip Broadley, writer of "It's Up to the Lady" and key talent on many an ITC show, has also died; interesting obit here:


Stan said...

A rather unusual, late 1970s TV movie PM was in is 'The Hard Way' in which he stars as a hit man in Ireland with Lee Van Cleef (of all people!). I think Network might have it scheduled for release this year and it's worth a look if you're a McGoohan fan.

Gail Renard said...

The Prisoner was surely one of the most influential series ever. If you found the series psychotic, you should have watched it in both French and English, as I did when growing up in Montreal. The French translation often gave the series a wholly different interpretation than the English... a great talking point at school where we were having enough problems with reality!

Stephen Gallagher said...

The release of THE HARD WAY is announced in this morning's newsletter email to Network customers.