The Ballad of Tam Lin (1970)

aka Tam Lin
Article 3887 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-27-2012
Posting Date: 4-5-2012
Directed by Roddy McDowall
Featuring Ava Gardner, Ian McShane, Richard Wattis
Country: UK
What it is: Offbeat witchcraft movie

A rich older woman surrounds herself with young partiers, some of which she takes as lovers. When her latest conquest falls in love with a vicar’s daughter, she swears revenge. And all of the previous lovers who’ve left her wound up dead…

The last twenty minutes of this movie is fairly decent, and it generates a certain amount of suspense. However, to get to that last twenty minutes, you have to sit through almost an hour and a half of tepid romance/soap opera, and unless you find that sort of thing interesting in itself or are so taken with Ava Gardner’s beauty and/or acting (neither of which hold any particular spell over me) that her presence is all that’s necessary, then you might well find it to be a rather tough slog. It’s the sole directorial credit of actor Roddy McDowall, and despite my affection for him and his acting work, in this capacity he seems uninspired and ordinary. The story itself has a basis in an old Scottish ballad, which does give it an interesting history, and if I were familiar with the song, I might find the movie a little more interesting, but I think a good pruning of about a half an hour from the movie would have helped immensely; as it is, the decent ending doesn’t quite compensate for the long stretch at the beginning.

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