Elstree Calling (1930)

Not Rated   |    |  Comedy, Musical

Elstree Calling (1930) Poster

A series of nineteen musical and comedy "vaudeville" sketches presented in the form of a live broadcast hosted by Tommy Handley (as himself). There are two "running gags" which connect the ... See full summary »

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23 October 2018 | AlsExGal
| The British film industry's version of the Hollywood studio revue musical
It involves a variety of directors, including Andre Charlot, Jack Hulbert, Paul Murray, and Alfred Hitchcock. The film is comprised of short segments, usually stagebound, with singers, dancers, comedians, and assorted musicians, hosted by MC Tommy Handley, and also using a wraparound segment involving some people trying to watch the program on a primitive television, the development of which was in the news in the UK at the time. The performers include Donald Calthrop, Teddy Brown, The Three Eddies, Helen Burnell, Bobby Comber, Will Fyfe, and Anna May Wong, among many others.

This works best as a snapshot of the vaudeville-style entertainment of the time, often corny and grating, and occasionally inspired. Some segments are in Pathecolor, a technique wherein the frames were hand-colored. I enjoyed Calthrop's recurring gag as a would-be Shakespearean actor struggling to perform some of the Bard's works but always being interrupted. Hitchcock, whose participation has kept this from disappearing into obscurity, reportedly directed the interstitial bits with the people trying to watch TV. Not among the highlights of his career, to be sure.

Recommended for film historians interested in British film. All others YMMV.

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