Midnight Express is a masterpiece, a mess, and a mystery. Brad Davis, who died of AIDS in 1991, had limited regular acting talents, but a metaphysical power which was off the scale. Very handsome and athletically built, his tendency to growl, mumble and scratch his chest during scenes leant him a magnetic, blue-collar sexiness, while his mix of boyishness and femininity created a compelling erotic charisma. His two famous roles, this one and Querelle, have him shirtless and sexual a lot of the time, struggling to survive in an s&m prison, and stabbing and fucking guys at a homoerotic sea-port. Not incidentally, he plays objectified bottom in both, stripped, spreadeagled and ogled then repeatedly raped and beaten here, but taking control and aggressively bending over in Querelle.
Written by Mark Simpson and originally published at Mark Simpson’s blog.
The Naked Civil Servant is the best and funniest TV drama ever made. And I’m sorry, but it’s a scientific fact.
And like its subject it could only have been made in the UK. Even if Quentin Crisp said he hated England –and he did, over and over again –only England could have made Crisp and The Naked Civil Servant.
So many lines in Philip Mackie’s superb screenplay for the Thames TV adaptation glitter like, well, the icy aphorisms that Crisp filled his eponymous autobiography with. But it was Hurt’s breakthrough performance as Crisp which is most historic: rendering Crisp, as Quentin himself acknowledged — and welcomed — something of an understudy to Hurt’s Crisp for the rest of his life.