11 March 2003 | rotcev
This is a film for the Hitchcock fanatic or movie historian only.
Is it worth it to buy this movie? To a Hitchcock fanatic like myself (Vic Evans)I would say "Yes!" but to any person other than a movie historian I would say "Forget it!"
It is a collection of skits and songs with a bit of comedy in the form of a London stage musical and comedy "Vaudeville" revue. Revues like this one have been done on the London stage from time to time since Vaudeville days. I remember seeing one in London in 1974 called "Carry On London" with Sid James and many other members of the "Carry On" movie comedy crew.
"Elstree Calling" (1930) is presented in the form of a very early live TV broadcast hosted by Tommy Handley. You also see a family attempting to tune into this program. Every so often between skits, you see how they are making out. They experience great difficulty throughout the show. The picture comes and goes as they attempt to adjust the set. The TV set even blows up and is later repaired. By the end of the presentation, the reception finally is restored and the program ends. The problems with this new medium (television) is one of the running jokes.
To the audiences of today it is of little interest. The singing, dancing and comedy is standard for this type of English variety show of the day but terrible by today's standards. For dancing, think of "The Pleasure Garden" as a comparison. Those familiar with Hitchcock's work may remember "Mr. Memory" from "The Thirty-Nine Steps". The music hall in that film is a similar setting. Alfred Hitchcock said to Francois Truffaut about this film - `Not good.'
There is little evidence of Hitchcock except perhaps for a short scene about a murder of the "wrong man". You should recognise the Hitchcock touch in it.
While I don't think anyone knows for sure, I have read that Alfred Hitchcock may have been responsible for the TV broadcast/TV viewing family framework that links the skits together and a running gag with Donald Calthrop attempting to recite Shakespeare periodically throughout the broadcast.
Vic Evans (marmalade_man [NOSPAM] at yahoo.com