Combustible Celluloid
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With: Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt, Diane Cilento
Written by: Anthony Shaffer
Directed by: Robin Hardy
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 88
Date: 12/01/1973

The Wicker Man (1973)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Island Girls

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Robin Hardy's and Anthony Shaffer's horror film recently made the BBC's list of the 100 greatest British films ever made. Edward Woodward plays a puritan cop who arrives on a remote island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, but the townspeople seem to know nothing about it. Christopher Lee appears as the mastermind behind it all. Hardy made his directorial debut with a sure, curious touch, and Shaffer -- the twin brother of Peter (Amadeus) Shaffer -- crafts a brilliant screenplay, unfolding in perfectly sculpted waves and including fascinating subtexts.

Neil LaBute directed a much-loathed 2006 remake that I haven't seen.

Though Anchor Bay's DVD looks great and comes with an interesting making-of featurette, it still doesn't provide the elusive full-length version running 102 minutes. This is the edited 88-minute version originally released in U.S. theaters. Anchor Bay has also released a 99-minute "Limited Edition" that still isn't quite complete, but closer. In 2013, Lionsgate issued a Blu-ray with a "Final Cut," reportedly approved by director Hardy, that runs 88 minutes. I'm not yet sure if this is the same as the theatrical cut. More detective work is still required.

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