Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Paul Wendkos 1922-2009

Word comes of the death of director Paul Wendkos, whose filmography includes dozens of hours of episodic TV drama and movies, as well as helming the surfer-era classic Gidget. Of greater interest to me and readers of the Jar was his directing The Mephisto Waltz, one of the first and best of the Devil Worshiper movies that followed in the wake of Rosemary's Baby. Alan Alda plays a writer who relinquished a career as a concert pianist after a disastrous debut, but finds the keyboard calling to him once again when he is taken under the wing of Curt Jurgens, a dying konzertmeister and Satanist interested in more than mere conversation from Alda. A very young Jacqueline Bisset is Alda's wife, willing to go to great extremes to keep her husband from Satan's clutches, and if she can't manage that...The ending is a downbeat shocker and a testimony to the power of practicality.

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