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ROMAN POLANSKI'S 'A DAY AT THE BEACH' WITH MARK BURNS

Mark Burns and Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH Year: 1970 Rating: ***1/2

Ironically, while Roman Polanski was in Europe the same year The Manson Family would violently crash Sharon Tate's party, he was preparing for two movies with the word DAY in the title: scouting to direct THE DAY OF THE DOLPHIN while adapting an obscure Dutch novel for A DAY AT THE BEACH, a film so independent it feels like something more of the John Cassavates wheelhouse... 

And this BEACH centers on a raving drunken British man's beeline trek through a mostly barren Danish beach tourist town during sporadic rain bursts, and instead of tourists are an abandoned lot of outdoor and indoor cafe or curio shop or liquor store or pub owners wherein he gets more intoxicated and thus more pontificating and moody along the way, mostly trying for as much drink for as little money possible: a kind of progressively-blasted human coupon... 

Peter Sellers in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Mark Burns

The primary twist is he's not alone... Tagging along is his niece who's really his daughter from surly starting point ex Fiona Lewis, and while future HIGHLANDER beauty Beatie Edney is a good enough child actress, providing both realistic screaming tantrums and gaping toothless grins whenever needed, her mere existence is to underline just how flaky, downright selfish and dangerously neglectful Mark Burns's Bernie's traipsing-around really is... 

For example, in one scene he's being hit-on by an openly gay/super effeminate storefront couple... one played capably by Peter Sellers billed as A. Queen; at the same time, right outside, little Winnie gets stuck in some netting along the beach's planked walkway... a serpentine path winding through the sand in a location that's even more melancholy art-house from the incessant gale...

Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Mark Burns

It's never entirely clear what the actual plot or purpose is, but Burns's character is a terrific drunk that'd make Charles Bukowski envy with a mobile, existential life all mapped out, at one point telling a pretentious (passed-out) poet's sexy wife (pp), "I'll be hungover tomorrow, but the next day meet me around noon..." 

As this lost-for-decades curio is, by the end, a dizzying odyssey by first time director Simon Hesera and, while frowned upon by writer/producer Polanski for lack of proper composition, it's through a rip-roaring drunkard's eyes that we're eyeing everything, so in actuality the location is more what the character jarringly experiences than the audience casually visualizes.

Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Mark Burns in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Cafe owner's sexy/aloof daughter Sisse Reingaard and Mark Burns in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Sisse Reingaard and Mark Burns in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Eva Dahlbeck
Sisse Reingaard and Mark Burns in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Eva Dahlbeck
Sisse Reingaard and Mark Burns in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Eva Dahlbeck
Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Sisse Reingaard in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Eva Dahlbeck
Mark Burns in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Peter Sellers in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Peter Sellers in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Peter Sellers in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Peter Sellers in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Mark Burns
Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Mark Burns and Jack MacGowran
Joanna Dunham and Maurice Roëves in A Day at the Beach with Mark Burns
Joanna Dunham in A Day at the Beach with Mark Burns
Mark Burns and Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Mark Burns and Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Fiona Lewis in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Peter Sellers in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Peter Sellers in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Maurice Roëves in A Day at the Beach with Mark Burns
Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH with Mark Burns
Beatie Edney in A DAY AT THE BEACH
Opening credit for A DAY AT THE BEACH

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