I know it’s been barely a month since I last featured a Robert Powell movie for the Night Owl. A little voice in my head said that’s too redundant and I should have more variety in my Friday Movie write-ups. It’s a quiet voice and one that’s easily ignored. I love HARLEQUIN (1980) too much. When I found there was a copy uploaded to YouTube I was more than happy for an excuse to watch it yet again.
HARLEQUIN (originally released in the US as DARK FORCES) features Powell as a mysterious figure. He first appears as a birthday clown for a very sick little boy. Young Alex Rast, son of a rising political star, is suffering from an aggressive leukemia. Everyone is prepared for this to be his last birthday. The two make an immediate connection. That night, as Alex is on the verge of death, Powell’s Gregory Wolfe appears at the window and magically cures the boy.
There are parallels between the tale of Gregory Wolfe and Senator Nick Rast, and the tale of Rasputin and the Tsar Nicholas II (“Rast” is “Tsar” spelled backward). Wolfe ingrains himself in the Rast family, becoming the companion Rast’s wife desperately needs while her husband is off being used as a political puppet. Young Alex is not brought back from the brink of death but flourishes under Wolfe’s care, even learning a few tricks himself. There may be magic at play, there may be trickery. Is Wolfe an angel in disguise, or is he too good to be true, or too good to be good?
Powell is perfect as the flamboyant stand-in for Rasputin. The role was originally written for David Bowie. Knowing this, you can see flashes of the glam rocker in his portrayal of a man walking a fine line between the real and supernatural. The music by Brian May of Queen helps set the sense of vague otherworldliness.
Granted, the movie can get a bit jumbled and the ending is somewhat convoluted, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch:
Question of the night–what’s the weirdest experience you’ve had with a birthday clown?