Another DVD from Carlton’s New Wave Classics, All Night Long (1961) is a real curiosity – a thriller based on Othello, set over a single night and (bar one or two brief moments) all in a single location. Not so unusual and certainly one that favours the more budget conscious quick shoot, but All Night Long has one major twist – jazz. Rodney’s pad is a warehouse, you dig? Rodney’s this rich cat who’s sweet on jazz and he’s set up a party to celebrate the first anniversary of top band man Rex and his wife Delia. Now Delia ain’t been singing in public since she got hitched, but has been working on a "new style" in private with Rex’s manager Cass. Drummer and narcissistic psycho dope-fiend Johnnie Cousin (McGoohan, in fine twitchy drum-stick shruggy shoulders form) has plans to set his own band up using funding from Rodney and the skills of promoter Lou Berger and will do anything, no matter how underhand and devious, to realise his goal. This is, bear in mind, a guy who got married for a laugh while he was "juiced".
A big pull for jazz fans is the sheer wealth of talent jamming their way through the night, from some harcore bongo playing to the cool piano vibes of Dave Brubeck, complete with Buddy Holly specs and amateur dramatic credentials. All fine and dandy daddy-o, and a great reflection of the contemporary scene, but what’s in it for those who equate jazz with a bunch of talented musicians all playing different songs at the same time while some singer wobbles nonsense because they can’t remember the words?
Well fortunately there is a plot somewhere amidst the noodling, with Johnnie going to extraordinarily contrived lengths to ensure his elevation on the road to stardom (and it ain’t easy being a drummer) by setting one party off against the other, getting reformed addicts stoned on his delicate black-papered reefers and even doctoring taped conversations to trick people into performing devilish acts. That he manages to pull this off in such a short time, apparently through partial opportunism is one of the film’s strong cards. Without the presence of McGoohan this could so easily have spiralled into tedium, but each conniving evil twist is a delight to watch. At some points the urge to say "bastard" with incredulity at his on-screen antics is difficult to restrain. And there’s also a fair bout of fisticuffs for him to engage in.
An oddity to be sure, but a fascinating one, even for those whose taste in music doesn’t swing to jazz. Man. It’s like a beat scene Jools Holland show with a plot full of intrigue, jealousy and rivalry. Unfortunately All Night Long’s DVD release is fairly sparse – some background information for those of us who didn’t hang around fashionable warehouses in the 60’s would have been appreciated. The sole extra is an excellent trailer introduced, in character, by Richard Attenborough, but don’t watch this before the film under any circumstances, it gives far too much away.