THE BALLAD OF TAM LIN
Away with the fairies
RELEASED OUT NOW! 1970 | 15 | Blu-ray
Director Roddy Mcdowall
Cast Ava Gardner, Ian Mcshane,
Cyril Cusack, Richard Wattis
The latest BFI Flipside rarity takes its name from a 16th century ballad about a man captured by the queen of the fairies, earning it a folk horror tag. But everything here is explicable by the power of money, not magic.
Ava Gardner, resplendent in an array of fabulous frocks, is Michaela Cazaret, reigning over a “coven” of hippy lotus-eaters in a Scottish country house. Ian Mcshane is the beguiled Tom Lynn. Stephanie Beacham’s local innocent catches his eye, but can he escape Michaela’s clutches?
Actor Roddy Mcdowall’s one directorial credit, it’s a visually ravishing affair, which luxuriates in both the natural grandeur of the Borders and the bone structure of its beautiful people. Mcshane is almost supernaturally handsome; the camera lingers on long loving looks between him and Beacham.
Ultimately it’s too arch a confection to induce genuine anxiety over Tom’s fate. But it will still leave you rueing what could have been if only Mcdowall had continued down a directorial path.
Extras Flipside’s co-founders provide well-prepped commentary. Coven-kid Madeline Smith rambles adorably (and candidly) (32 minutes). Pentangle’s singer discusses their evocative songs (27 minutes). Audio interviews record recollections by Mcshane and Beacham (21 minutes), plus Hans Zimmer on his mentor, composer Stanley Myers (20 minutes). Mcdowall’s biographer talks through stills (12 minutes). There’s also a grandiloquent 1998 intro by the director (18 minutes). Three archive shorts provide portraits of a hippy commune (34 minutes) and Borders life (26 minutes). Plus: trailer; booklet. Ian Berriman
During the cast’s stay at a Peebles hotel, Sean Connery (there playing golf) hit on Madeline Smith. She turned him down.