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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31 Number 14. June 25, 1968

Jan Walker appreciates Cacoyannis' Campy Nudo

Jan Walker appreciates Cacoyannis' Campy Nudo

The Day the Fish Came Out is an example of the black humour cult pervading the cinema as in theatre and literature. Black humour has the fascination of disgusting us with its reversal of orthodox values, yet amusing us with its absurdity. Novelists like Roald Dahl and John Barth have perfected the art of extracting humour out of serious situations. The cinema has used the same technique in such films as George Axelrod's Lord Love a Duck. The most recent example is this new film by Michael Cacoyannis remembered for his stark earthy sagas, Electra and Zorba the Greek.

The plot utilises the recent incident of a US nuclear bomber dropping its atomic load off the Spanish coast In Cacoyannis' treatment the "load" is dropped on the small Greek island of Karos, and the two airmen, Tom Courtenay and Colin Blakely bale out to look after their baby. Meanwhile HQ have been alerted and to recover the "load" (we never know what exactly it is) without panic and publicity, a group of air force personnel, disguised as hotel consultants, descend on this out-of-the-way island.

Karos rapidly becomes the mecca of holiday seekers eternally searching for virgin territory—Courtenay and Blakely are the first to be stripped to their bare essentials, wandering around the island trying to reach a telephone without attracting attention. Cacoyannis uses futuristic, slightly clad fashion models, including Candicc Bergen in an abbreviated waist-coat to show us the depravities to which hedonistic man has descended (or arisen), and some clodish peasant speaking a mumbo-jumbo language (sounding like Greek) to provide the contrast.

Miss Bergen is the castrating female with her all-eating chemical; reducing her Mr French to a protesting wretch; demolishing young Ian Oglivie with a friendly nip on the ear. Courtenay, though he is apparently potentially endowed is the castrated, frustrated male until his final hysterical feast makes up for it all.

Cacoyannis has used gimmicks—Beethoven's 9th, the rugby tackle of a scarecrow, the fashion parades, sexual titillation, all to emphasis his biggest joke—death.

The Day The Fish Came Out is Cacoyannis' equivalent to Losey's "paper handkerchief" Modesty Blaise. Both are serious directors but show that they can experiment with variations of colour and humour with the best of the "entertainment" directors.