The Angry Corrie 14: Aug-Sep 1993

Mountaineering Movies No. 2: Cliffhanger

Cunningly disguised as a vertiginous stunt-thriller, this new feature by director Renny Harlin - brother of famous Eigerwanderer John, cousin to Antacid Magnate Renny McOwan - is in reality little more than a slightly renamed, uptempo treatment of the Victorian Black Country frock-coat proto-soap, Clayhanger.

The give-away connections are subtle, but, to the cognoscente, obvious. For example, the original Clayhanger novels came from the pen of Arnold Bennett, whilst Cliffhanger employs his grandson, SMC patriarch and Mogul Donald, as climbing adviser. Indeed, a trend is being set, wtih WH Murray recently emerging from Lochgoilhead retirement to star in Groundhog Day.

Even leaving aside the mid-seventes Sunday-evening TV serialisation in the splendid Brothers / Poldark / Triangle tradition, several other versions of this tale have hit stage and screen over the years. First came John Osborne's World War II erk-some mould-breaker, Look Back in Hanger - soon followed by idiosyncratic kiddies version, The Clangers. This cast the Iron Chicken in the current Stallone role, whilst Tiny Clanger predated Janine Turner rather well.

Already rumours are rife in Hollywood of a sequel - a costume drama set in the High Sierra amid lashings of Goretex and Polarfte. The title? Coathanger.

TAC 14 Index