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July 2010

Goodbye Gemini

cast: Judy Geeson, Martin Potter, Alexis Kanner, and Michael Redgrave

director: Alan Gibson

86 minutes (15) 1970
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Odeon DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
review by Gary Couzens

Goodbye Gemini

Jacki (Judy Geeson) and Julian (Martin Potter) are twin brother and sister, and very close, even dressing alike. However, there's a sinister side to them, not least when they arrange the death of their housekeeper in an apparent fall. Arriving in London, they become part of the more hedonistic, and more than a little gay, part of a local social scene. They come to the attention of debt-ridden gambler Clive (Alexis Kanner) who embroils them in a blackmail scheme.

I have in my possession an old issue of Books & Bookmen magazine from 1964 (the year I was born - my late grandmother passed on the batch of magazines to me). On the front cover is the then twentysomething Jenni Hall, whose novel Ask Agamemnon, a suspense thriller, had just been published. The next big thing, perhaps? Clearly not: Amazon lists used copies of later novels by Ms Hall from up to 1970, and the IMDb, as well as this film, records a screenwriting credit also from 1970. I have not been able to trace if she continued to write, or indeed if she is still alive. I read Ask Agamemnon from my local library in the early 1980s. I remember not being especially impressed. Still, it did create a stir and the film rights sold. The result, six years later, is Goodbye Gemini, released as Twinsanity in the USA. (Agamemnon is the twins' teddy bear and confidante, by the way.)

The lapse of time is presumably to allow film censorship to catch up with what was allowable in the written word. The film is not subtle in depicting incestuous attraction between the two twin siblings, at least on Julian's side. And the depiction of the more decadent side of 1960s' London at the end of its swing - a very gay world inhabited by drag queens and even a drag stripper - might not have got past the BBFC much earlier. As it is, they cut the film before passing it for adults only with an X certificate. Now it's available uncut with a 15.

Goodbye Gemini was marketed as a horror film but it isn't really - it's more a slow-burning character-based thriller, capably handled by Alan Gibson, who would go on to make a couple of later Hammer films (Dracula AD 1972 and The Satanic Rites Of Dracula) before spending much of his career in TV (he died in 1987 at the age of 49). The two leads are well cast as late 1960s' beautiful people, similarly dressed, their physical resemblance being key to the plot. Martin Potter had just made Fellini's Satyricon, while Judy Geeson was the go-to girl at the time for sexy young blondes. They're backed up by a heavyweight supporting cast and the result is nicely photographed by the great Geoffrey Unsworth.

Odeon's DVD transfer is anamorphic in a ratio of 1.78:1, very close to the likely cinema ratio of 1.75:1. The soundtrack is the original mono, though unfortunately no hard-of-hearing subtitles are available. Nathaniel Thompson moderates the commentary which features Judy Geeson and producer Peter Snell. This was recorded in the USA, where Geeson and Snell both now reside, for the American DVD release. Both are appreciative of this film, which had a middling critical reaction and commercial success but now has a cult following. The conversation does tend to digress, with Snell twice mentioning his newest film The Wicker Tree (yet to be released as I write this). Also on the disc is 11 minutes of on-set footage, with music in lieu of a soundtrack, and explanatory captions. The extras are completed by the trailer and a stills gallery, plus trailers for Odeon's forthcoming DVD releases of Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly and Say Hello To Yesterday.



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