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Stars for the real pilots, none for the movie.
Pretty bad. Whoever made this movie has obviously never served in the R.A.F. Stocks of ammunition in 1940 were very low and fighter pilots were instructed to think S.O.B. (i.e. short bursts) to curtail wastage. The movie 'pilots' of this movie would have been out of ammunition so quickly they would have been shot down in no time.

There is nothing new in this movie that hasn't already been said and portrayed better in movies such as "The Battle of Britain", "Reach for the Sky", and others. That the Polish pilots fought with courage during the Battle of Britain has never been in dispute, but no more than the courage of pilots of other nations. To imply that the Poles alone saved Britain is ridiculous.

That the Union Flag was shown flying upside down just about sums up this movie. It displays how little research has gone into it.

The two stars I award to this movie is to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of all piiols who fought in this world-changing battle, and only that. The rest of the movie warrants zero.

Hour of the Gun

Most definitely NOT the way it happened.
The producers of "Hour of the Gun" proudly portray after the credits that "THIS PICTURE IS BASED ON FACTS. THIS IS THE WAY IT HAPPENED." But it's very far from being how things happened.

Sheriff Johan Behan's name was changed to Jimmy Bryan for some reason unknown to me.

The dialogue in Wyatt's hearing (Judge Wells W. Spicer) was pure nonsense (I have the transcript of the Spicer hearing). There was no reference of the deal Wyatt Earp made to Ike Clanton to betray the Cowboys. The transcript is online for anyone to read.

The shootout wasn't at the OK Corral as shown, but in a side street on the other side of the block. (Doc Holliday was still in Freemont St.) The bodies in the coffin window were placed wrongly.

Doc Holliday played by a far too old Jason Robards (Doc was only 36 when he died) wasn't a killer either by reputation or profession as inferred, he was a dentist. The shootout wasn't even made famous until 1913.

Morgan Earp didn't die on a pool table, he hit the ground as soon as he was shot.

Pete Spence wasn't shot dead by Earp at a desert railroad stop, but died in 1914 and is buried in the Globe, Arizona cemetery, in an unmarked plot next to Phin Clanton. (In June 1883, Spence was working as a deputy sheriff in Georgetown, New Mexico, when he severely pistol-whipped Rodney O'Hara, killing him. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a 5-year term in the Yuma Arizona Territorial Penitentiary'. Less than 18 months later he was granted a full pardon by the territorial governor. He operated a goat ranch south of Globe, Arizona near the Galiuro Mountains with his old friend, Phin Clanton, and ran mule teams that were used to bring supplies into the Globe area. Phin Clanton died in 1906, and Spence married Phin's widow four years later on April 2, 1910, using his real name of Elliot Larkin Ferguson.)

Curly Bill Brocious was not shot outside a saloon but at a Cowboy encampment way out of town. The Earps were surprised when they came across it.

After the killing of Brocious, the "vendetta ride" was over, and Earp killed no more.

Billy Claiborne was killed in an argument by "Buckskin" Frank Leslie who was tending bar at the Oriental Saloon on November 14, 1882 when Claiborne, who was very drunk, began using insulting and abusive language. Claiborne left the bar. A short time later Leslie also left the saloon at which time Claiborne raised his rifle and fired, missing Leslie. Leslie returned fire and hit Claiborne in the chest.

Ike Clanton and his brother Phineas were charged with cattle-rustling and pursued by detective Jonas V. Brighton. On June 1, 1887, at Jim Wilson's Ranch on Eagle Creek, south of Springerville, Arizona, Phin Clanton surrendered, but Ike resisted and was shot dead. But certainly not by Wyatt Earp.

There are many other errors in the movie, but the above should be enough to suggest that this movie was most definitely NOT the way it happened.

But then by using the magic words "based on", the movie-makers can get away with anything.

The Imitation Game

Turing deserves much better!
This movie is supposedly based on a true story, it says so right upfront. So that's a give-away straight off. It's mostly fiction.

Set in the wartime Bletchley Park of screenwriter Graham Moore's imagination it's also supposed to be based on the factual account "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges (you'll see that claim in tiny print right at the end of the closing credits) which relates Turing's life and involvement with the breaking of Enigma. Anyone who has read that book will know that this movie bears little resemblance to that specific book (nor indeed to any other book on the subject), and I would even doubt that anyone involved with this production has actually read it, and that includes Graham Moore.

Although names remain as in real life, also bearing little resemblance to reality are the characterisations of most others who were involved in the real events. Some of the main personnel who should have been included are missing, and events have been added that never happened, nor ever could have happened. The scene of the alleged breakthrough in the reading of Enigma traffic is totally absurd, as was the inclusion in the movie of the character of John Cairncross. Yes the latter was at Bletchley, but at a different time and in a different area, and would have been totally divorced from the events covered in this movie.

It would seem that at the moment Cumberbatch can do no wrong, and his portrayal of Turing was precisely how the producers wanted him to play it, but it was most definitely nothing like the real Alan Turing whatsoever. And couldn't the producers have picked someone who actually looked like Turing? Likewise a look-alike to play Joan Clarke?

As a fictional movie in its own right it was reasonable, but if anyone believes that it's an account of the true events then they'd be advised to do further research on the subject. There's hardly a line in the screenplay which would stand up to scrutiny. It's as false as the movie U-571, and equally as misleading on what really happened.

I believe that Turing is one of Moore's heroes. I can only conclude by saying that (imo) he has given him a very unworthy epitaph. Given the service Turing gave to his country, the world, and to science in general, he deserves a much better epitaph than this pot-boiler of a movie.

Poirot: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
Episode 3, Season 4

The goof of all goofs
I love the episode of "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe", but I fear it contains one of the biggest goofs of any in the Poirot episodes, and it really is the fault of bad researching and sloppy editing which allowed it in.

The episode includes a 1925 visit of the Prince of Wales to the Indian sub-continent which is reported in a movie newsreel with perfect sound attached. One problem. Talkies weren't made to this quality at the time. The first talking movie, The Jazz Singer, wasn't produced until 1927, and sound in that was basically only for the songs, and very poor.

So why put in so obvious a phoney commentary, for a newsreel which is not even of the correct royal visit? The pictures are too perfect. It looks more like a royal visit somewhere sometime in the mid to late 30s than in the mid 20s. The commentary definitely states 1925, but there was no Prince of Wales tour of India in 1925. That occurred in 1921, during which time afaik there were no moving newsreels made at all. They didn't exist. Just still photography. I should also mention that the style of commentary given is more like those of the 1950s. Certainly not pre-WWII.

I've nothing against producers using such an historical idea as a prelude, but I wish the continuity, historical research, and editing departments, would do their jobs properly. If the viewers can figure out the faults, surely they can.

This goof is near the beginning of the episode and really doesn't deter from the rest of the episode which resumes its usual excellent Poirot quality, but the inclusion of such a goof is surely inexcusable.

And this is not a one-off. There's a similar newsreel reporting a murder trial at the start of "Murder on the Links". The action then moves forward 10 years and a hoarding promoting the forthcoming 1936 bicycle race is plainly shown, which would make the earlier newsreel as being in 1926, again before sound was added to film. This has to be the fault of shoddy research.


Call it Dullchester instead
Change the actors, change the directors, change the dialogue, change the plots, indeed change the screenwriters, liven up the action, and do some proper research on the period, and this programme may just work. As it is, it doesn't, at least not for me. I just can't ignore the fact that this is not how things were in the 1950s, which they weren't.

The 1950s decade was in reality quite an exciting one. The war was over, although there were still wars about (but then there always are) and the UK was slowly getting back on its feet. Not everything was perfect, but neither is everything perfect today, far from it. The young were having their say in no uncertain terms and it was the era of the Teddy Boys and that of cool jazz and the birth of rock'n'roll.

Very little of this is evident in Grantchester, which appears to be just another dreary soap with a murder thrown in to keep it in the mystery genre. Even a whisky-drinking priest on a roundabout of almost-but-not quite love affairs can't liven it up. Nor can a timid gay curate, nor even the priest's dog. Furthermore a grumpy house-keeper utterly destroys any sort of liveliness there may have been. As for the murder plots, well they're an insult to any self-respecting whodunit buff. They're mediocre at best.

I suppose Grantchester with its hunky good-looking vicar will gather fans, but I'm not one of them. I like to be entertained, not put to sleep.

Churchill's Secret

Easily forgettable
I looked forward to this production with anticipation of something great, particularly with the wealth of acting talent on hand. But oh dear! What a disappointment!

Michael Gambon/Churchill took to his bed and seemed to want to stay there and forget about the whole thing.

The rest of the cast looked equally bored and I'm not surprised. Even their combined talent couldn't rescue this tedious and utterly pointless badly-constructed and ill-scripted piece of alleged 'factual' drama in which one of the central characters...the nurse...was actually fictitious. As for the plot...what plot? There's very little plot in it to discuss.

No doubt there will be those who will drool over it and call it 'art', but it's already gone to the back-burner of my mind as easily forgettable, and never to be watched again.

In short it was a waste of time and effort for both cast and viewer.

Killing Kennedy

A travesty.
Bill O'Reilly likes to think of himself as an historian. I'm afraid he's anything but. All he has done in "Killing Kennedy" is follow the extremely dubious findings of the Warren Report, which has since been debunked by most sane-thinking people.

The first hour or so is more or less a history lesson of known facts, intermingled with a character bashing of Oswald, but other interpretations can be used regarding both in relation to the Kennedy assassination. For example, although there were suspicions, the shooting of General Walker was never officially attributed to Oswald.

Regarding the Kennedy assassination, which was covered only in the last 30 minutes, O'Reilly completely ignores:

1. The witnesses to shots coming from the grassy knoll and the picket fence.

2. The incompetency of the rifle supposedly used by Oswald. It was the worst on the market at the time. And what assassin would use a mail ordered weapon in an assassination, and leave it at the scene of the alleged crime? Oswald wasn't THAT stupid.

3. The marksmanship required to accurately fire three rounds in under 6 seconds using such an inferior weapon well known for inaccuracy. Oswald was no marksman, contrary to the inferences in this movie.

4. That no transcript or recording of the interrogation of Oswald exists. And no representation for Oswald provided.

5. The witnesses in the Texas Book Depository giving Oswald an alibi.

6. The Zagruber film.

7. The 'magic' pristine bullet.

8. The disappearance of Kennedy's brain.

9. The mismanaged autopsy.

10. Other explanations of events, and events and occurrences not covered above.

O'Reilly may be a renowned TV host, but as an historian he would make a great balloon salesman. Both being inflated with hot air. Rather than being treated as history, the assassination parts of this movie must be placed in the realms of fantasy, as has by most, the Warren Report.

Mozart's Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti

Wonderful yet wooden.
Lovely to see the Glyndebourne interior as it once was. It has gained in stature, fame, and technical ability since then and has become one of the most sought after venues for young singers to vent their artistic talents. Any Glyndeboune is now an unmissable event.

This version of Cosi is beautifully sung by all, albeit a little reserved passion-wise given the nature of the plot. It follows that the acting too is reserved and somewhat wooden.

It is well worth watching if only to see a young Thomas Allen, and three gracious ladies showing their talents. It's also refreshing to see the two young men switching to a disguise which might actually fool two silly girls, albeit Despina's disguises are once again in typical pantomime vogue, and wouldn't fool anyone.

That said I thoroughly enjoyed it. But then it's Glyndebourne, so who could fail to enjoy it?

In conclusion, the story of Glyndebourne itself is such a fascinating story that I'm surprised someone hasn't picked up on it and made a movie or TV series about it. I could try myself I suppose, but I fear my efforts wouldn't be worthy of it.

Arthur & George

Why oh why?....
Why do writers need to try to solve age old and virtually unsolvable mysteries with crazy and illogical reasoning? The Edalji case is well known, as is Conan Doyle's part in it, but he certainly didn't turn into Sherlock Holmes, nor did he solve it. Admittedly his involvement brought about the creation of England's Court of Criminal Appeal in 1907, and Edalji was pardoned, and allowed to continue as a solicitor. He was exonerated of the animal slaughter, but not of the poison pen writing. Couldn't the reason for the latter not have been examined further instead of the garbage that was dished up to us? Why fictionalise a case which would have stood up as an acceptable drama in it's own right, without all the added crap.

Modern writers just have to bring in racism and homosexuality into the mix even though in this particular case there was a suspicion of both. Even so, these days it's par for the course. And why try to make Conan Doyle into a Sherlock Holmes at all? Or even as some sort of a Dr Watson as happened in "The Murder Rooms". Will we next have a sprightly Agatha Christie as a young heroine solving the Oscar Slater case, the Maybrick Murder, or even perhaps the Whitechapel murders? If writers are so hooked up on writing about crimes, why can't they make up their own mysteries instead of resorting to something which is far better done in documentary fashion. Indeed the story of this case was done on BBC radio not long ago and with much better effect without any so-called solution added...not even a 7% solution.

I rate this as a big fat zero, but I'll give it one star for the quirky little terrier.


Just awful
I really looked forward to seeing this movie, but what disappointment and a waste of time it turned out to be.

Of all the feature films which follow a great series, this has got to be one of the worst I've ever seen.

It is so disjointed as to be utterly tedious, as is the plot. Miscasting abounds, and both acting and dialogue are dead and lifeless as is the direction. There is very little, indeed none, of the fire of the original characters on display here. In short it is a complete disaster.

Winston Graham is a wonderful writer, ergo I can't imagine or believe that he wrote the screenplay for this drivel.

The Heroes of Telemark

Most of it just didn't happen that way
Just a few notes on this variation from reality.

a) Why was it necessary to hijack a ship to get the scientist (Kirk Douglas) from Norway to England? The Germans found it impossible to patrol the thousand mile Norwegian coastline. Ergo there was a regular 'underground' ferry service from Norway to the Shetland Islands called the 'The Shetland Bus Service'. Plus the fact that London already knew about the Hydro plant and what was being produced. The invented Kirk Douglas role just wasn't needed.

b) What happened to the story of the parachuted four man advance team which spent months preparing the way, and which all almost starved doing it? All Richard Harris said about this epic tale of survival of an horrific winter on a remote ice plateau was "I'm starving". He sure didn't look it. The real guys certainly did. For a while they had to resort to eating reindeer moss.

c) Why the silly and hackneyed love complication when there wasn't one? If the movie had kept to facts it wouldn't have been needed.

d) There wasn't a Nazi infiltrator. The Germans knew nothing about the operation until after completion.

e) After the aircraft & glider catastrophe, there was no sudden change of plan. A new plan was carefully worked out in London with SOE (Special Operations Executive). The saboteurs didn't need a horny professor to show them where to place explosives. As one of the real saboteurs said afterwards, "I knew the plant better than my own garden". They all knew, they'd been studying the layout for months from accurate models.

f) There weren't any German guards inside the plant at the time of the raid, just one Norwegian, who was held at gunpoint (as was actually shown). There wasn't even any reaction from the sound of muffled explosions.

g) There was no gunfire battle before during or immediately after the raid, not even one shot fired. The saboteurs just walked in, placed the explosives and walked out again. And no saboteurs were killed. Indeed not only did they all survive the operation, but they survived the war and on into old age. Of course Americans aren't satisfied unless a war movie is filled with carnage and guns blazing. That's what comes of having a gun culture. Intelligence and subterfuge aren't really their strong points.

h) It took the Germans 3 months to get back into heavy water production after the saboteurs' raid, not just 2 weeks as mentioned.

i) The ferry 'Hydro' didn't sink bow first. It keeled on to its side, and then stern upwards. As the captain said afterwards. "I walked on the side, and jumped into the water from it". Nor were any passengers warned. But then Kirk Douglas just had to play the hero to please the American audience didn't he? But no such heroics happened on the sinking ferry. There just wasn't time, not even for a lifeboat to be lowered. However there were fishing boats around which picked up any survivors there were.

j) Names of characters in the credits don't give surnames. I'm sure real participants in the operation were very relieved.

I could go on and on with the contortions of truth displayed in this movie, but to conclude, it's not such a bad movie in itself. However don't treat it as a guide to what really happened. Facts here are few and far between. You may not believe me, so find out what the actual saboteurs thought of the movie. They've all said, "Most of it just didn't happen that way". They weren't very impressed with it. Nor am I. The real story is far more inspiring, and the real heroes deserve a far better epitaph than this Americanised movie gives them.


Ghastly caricatures of beloved characters.
Pelham Grenville Wodehouse must be turning in his grave. I've read all the Blandings novels and they are amongst the wittiest that PG ever wrote, and I have been longing for a TV version.

This series however loses all the wit and subtlety of the author and turns Blandings and its characters into something straight out of burlesque. The only ones which have some sort of resemblance to the originals are Beach and the pig. The acting, if it can be called such, is dreadful, but I'd blame the director rather than the actors. They've obviously been given instructions to be unbelievable.

I'll probably watch the rest of the series as I'm such a sucker for the writings of PG, but I would hope any further series would be put either in the PG mode rather than follow the imagination of the director as to what he/she thinks PG should have written, or else shelved forever....or at least until someone else can figure out how to do it properly. Reading the novels might help.

Agatha Christie's Marple: The Pale Horse
Episode 1, Season 5

A pale resemblance
Here we go again! The screenwriters in this "Marple" series just cannot resist trying to improve the non-improvable and failing utterly. When are they going to pay attention to the original Christie plots?

I can accept the replacement of Adriane Oliver by Jane Marple, but the original tale is narrated by Mark Easterbrook an historian (not an artist...that was the Colin Buchanan character in the movie version), and as sarahmarquis has observed Mark plays little part in this TV production.

Once again we are treated to additional characters (and deletion of others), additional subplots (which are either supplied as added and unnecessary red herrings, or for the producers to get the most out of their screenwriter for their money), and a different denouement. Thankfully the original culprit was retained. Notwithstanding, unlike some episodes of this unfortunately dreadful and seemingly endless "Marple" series, the overall plot of this tediously slow paced version of The Pale Horse is actually recognisable to the original Christie novel...but only barely. It's still pretty awful, but I give it an extra star in admiration of those poor suffering actors who managed to stay awake during the making of it. I fell asleep twice in the watching of it.

A Room with a View

I've always found the works of Forster utterly dreary, purposeless, and without passion, or I should say with a strangled passion. This movie completely captures his predictable time-wasting tale, his mostly meaningless dialogue, his lifeless cardboard cut-out characters, and the inevitable ennui, with all the seemingly disinterested actors sleepwalking through most of it. There is a need for good direction and the distinct lack of it is very evident. The only thing really going for the movie is the photography, the costumes, and the settings. Forster himself would have nodded off, and even he deserves better treatment than this movie adaptation of his novel gives. There may be a little excitement for the ladies with a full male-nudity bathing scene, but that's as hot as it gets. The rest of it is pure Dullsville.

Agatha Christie's Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye
Episode 1, Season 4

Best to date...but could have been better.
The producers of "Marple" for some quirky reason that only they know of, came to their senses with this adaptation. Was the only reason this happened because it was Julia McKenzie's first outing as Miss Marple? I can't imagine that they finally realised that Dame Agatha knew best after all.

This was a faithful and a reasonably good adaptation of her novel, and after severely denigrating most of the other episodes of "Marple" stated (falsely in my opinion) to have been based on Agatha Christie's works, it's a pleasure for me to actually commend at least one of them. One can only wonder why Agatha Christie's other works (including the later "adaptations" starring Julia McKenzie) weren't treated with the same respect?

One query, and I'm by no means a prude...why was a totally irreverent and irrelevant 10 second panting sex scene included? Definitely not a Christie idea. Have such crude scenes become an essential factor in the modern era of film-making?

For that silly scene I must deduct a point, another point deducted for a somewhat stodgy over-all production, and yet one more deducted as I'm of the opinion that Julia McKenzie is a little too young and a tad too forceful for the role. Otherwise I would have awarded ten points. This episode and "A Murder is Announced" are by far the best of the episodes in the entire series, because only in those two, was the genius of Agatha Christie not abused.

Agatha Christie's Marple: They Do It with Mirrors
Episode 3, Season 4

The original was better!
As other reviewers have rightly observed, "They Do It With Mirrors" is one of Dame Agatha's weaker murder mysteries (albeit "weaker" does not mean "bad"), and it hasn't as yet been successfully transferred to the screen, even in the Hickson series. This "weakness" must have given the "Marple" producers and screenwriters confidence that with this one they would not be criticised for using their hatchets on the works of the "Queen of the Whodunits". Indeed they had a great opportunity to rectify all their past faults by making this episode into a faultless adaptation. They failed. Once again they couldn't resist the lure of trying to better Dame Agatha.

The method of the murder of Christian Gulbrandsen has been changed from the original method, to a stabbing in the back (just like the producers of "Marple" have been doing to Dame Agatha for some time). The relationship between the two Restaricks is changed from being brothers, to that of father and son. Exactly why, I can't imagine.

Nowithstanding said changes (and a couple more incidental ones), the piece stays more or less with the original plot except for some bad oysters that somehow appeared into the plot, perhaps as an unnecessary alternative to poisoned chocolates. Again I can't imagine why.

It must be noted however, that they couldn't find different and better motives for the murders, nor even different and better concluding scenes, than Dame Agatha herself introduced. With the abysmal past offerings of "Marple" I was half expecting a different culprit, but thankfully that didn't occur.

The actors just did as they were directed, but without much enthusiasm. Understandable, as the script didn't promote much excitement. In truth it was somewhat irksome. The production as a whole is not the worst in the series (in my opinion "Sittaford" still holds that dubious distinction), but neither is it the best, and the sad thing is that with better writers and more thought applied, it could have been.

Agatha Christie's Marple: Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
Episode 4, Season 4

Take Dame Agatha's name off the credits!!
Yet another terrible "Marple" adaptation of a non-Marple/Christie novel. Except that, despite the producers' insistence that it's based on Dame Agatha's novel, it ain't based on Dame Agatha's novel. They hadn't even the decency to tone down the words "based on" to perhaps "as suggested by but nothing like", as once again their hack writers have been encouraged to get busy with the hatchet. If they want to carve up Agatha Christie's great plots into sub-standard ones because they haven't the intelligence to think up their own original plots, that's OK by me, but please...find new names for the characters, and new titles for both the series and the episodes within it...and keep Dame Agatha's name off the credits!!

I'm all for exploring characters and making improvements in any plot, but considering that Agatha Christie books (alongside the Holy Bible and the works of William Shakespeare) are the best sellers of all time, and the most ever translated works worldwide, it would seem to me that her original characters and plots don't need either exploration or "improvement". The arrogance of the producers and screenwriters of this series in taking on such a futile and totally unnecessary task astounds me!

I can't for one moment imagine that Agatha Christie would approve of this adaptation, nor indeed most other offerings in this dreadful "Marple" series. Neither can I understand those in authority of her estate approving it, so one has to wonder how and why it has been allowed to be screened under her name. Surely the estate can't be that hard up for a dollar or two? So why allow Dame Agatha's genius to be insulted and belittled in this way?

The magic of Christie's writing is the simplicity and ease in which she weaved complicated plots with believable characters, which were always solved with logical denouements, not as in these "Marple" adaptations where most plots have been turned into chaos with illogical denouements, and with characters turned into cardboard cutouts, by inferior writers and producers who think they know better than she did.

Right from "reel one" there are numerous holes in this implausible new plot, and the actors seem to sleepwalk throughout an utterly tedious script. To combat the tedium however, for the male viewers there is the beautiful Georgia Moffett to drool over, and Sean Biggerstaff and Rafe Spall are suppled for the female viewers. Apart from that there's very little going for this fiasco. One is thankful that the Hickson/Marple adaptations have been preserved, for both posterity and for the sanity of true Christie fans.

Dressed to Kill

The mystery is "when"!
This movie is rather an anomaly. Made after WWII in 1946, but when was the action set? The transport is of the 1930's, especially the "General" London omnibus. As I said in the Goofs section, one of the scenes depicts a "General" omnibus carrying passengers on a normal route, but the "London General Omnibus Company" went out of service in 1933. Yet the ladies fashions depicted in the movie are of the 1940's.

As another viewer remarked (also in the "Goofs" section)...

"Watson refers to the events in his story 'A Scandal in Bohemia' taking place two years earlier. In the story Bohemia was a independent kingdom, but in 1943 it was obviously part of Hitler's Third Reich."

...but of course the original story by Conan Doyle was written and set before WWI.

So exactly in which period was this movie intended to be set? Although there is no mention of either WWI or WWII, I suspect it's supposed to be set in the 1930's, and before Holmes' wartime (WWII) exploits. But who knows?

The movie is nowhere near as good as others in this Rathbone/Bruce series of movies. However it has its amusing moments, but the only one to come out of it with any real credit is Patricia Morison, and there's very little else to shout about.

Lewis: Allegory of Love
Episode 1, Season 3

Allegory of boredom
"Allegory of Love" is written by Stephen Churchett. Need one say more? Stephen Churchett is the writer mainly responsible for completely annihilating Agatha Christie's novels for the dreadful series "Marple" (not to be confused with the excellent earlier series "Miss Marple" which thankfully Churchett had nothing to do with).

This episode of "Lewis" fares no better at the hands of Churchett. It is a case of mistaken identity involving the murder of a Czech Muslim and also that of a C.S. Lewis-admiring fantasy author. It's up to you to sort out the confusion. Not the plot (the culprit is fairly obvious at an early stage for any self-respecting whodunit buff to figure out), but the awful dialogue and the direction.

The screenplay is slow, tedious, and utterly implausible. The rapport between Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox (and the characters they play) which was evident in the Dexter/Plater episodes is completely lost here.

All the actors involved seem to sleep-walk through the drabness of the entire piece. I'm not surprised. They must have been as bored as I was. Hopefully this will be the last episode in which Stephen Churchett is involved. I wouldn't say he's a hack, but every example of his work that I've seen has been a hatchet job.

If you want to stay awake, don't watch "Allegory of Love", do something else instead. I've given it 3 stars in sympathy for the actors who had to endure the pain.

The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel

Pity about Robespierre!
A rather tame yet amusing sequel to the Howard/Oberon movie. Sophie Stewart plays Marguerite Blakeney without a vestige of a French accent. Barry Barnes is passable as the eponymous hero. Anthony Bushell repeats his role as Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, and a youthful James Mason plays a minor role with his normal suavity. Raymond Massey is sorely missed as Chauvelin. His place is taken by a somewhat hammy Francis Lister.

The whole piece is not so much swash and buckle as tosh and truckle. However it's still enjoyable. What amused me most of all was the casting of the role of Robespierre. A 46 year old Henry Oscar was made up to look an older 56 or so, when he should have been made to look younger. Robespierre was only 36 years old when he went to the guillotine.

Agatha Christie's Marple: Nemesis
Episode 4, Season 3

Another hatchet job!
Once again we are asked to delve into another McEwan/Marple/Christie murder mystery. Except that it isn't a Christie murder mystery. Only the name remains the same to trap unwary viewers. The real mystery is why the trustees of Dame Agatha's estate ever allowed this series to be made by disrespectful butchers. Only "A Murder is Announced" retained some faithful semblance of the original novels.

All filmed interpretations have taken some artistic licence with Christie's mysteries over the years, which is perfectly acceptable to most Christie fans, but none except this Marple series (and the Tony Randall ABC effort) have turned them into unrecognisable farces. And that is most definitely not acceptable. In the various episodes of McEwen/Marple we've been offered, by way of change to the originals, everything including different characters, different plots, different victims, different culprits, added murders, etc., etc., etc., and of course inclusions of Jane Marple into stories in which she was never intended to appear.

"Nemesis" is the last episode in which Geraldine McEwan dons the mantle of the elderly yet intrepid needle-clicking sleuth (we may, I think, be thankful for the omission of "A Caribbean Mystery"), and it once again takes Dame Agatha's wonderful original tale apart, and reconstitutes it into one that makes little sense, logic, or reason, adds, deletes, and changes characters, presents new plot lines and a new conclusion.

I can't detrimentally criticise the performances, I would be wrong to do so, but when a drama is billed as being based on an Agatha Christie novel I expect it to be, and expect to see, just that. Not something that is haphazardly jumbled together by an inferior hack.

The Tudors

Where did Henry VII go?
Owen Tudor was the second spouse of Henry V's wife Catherine de Valois. Their son Edmund Tudor married Margaret Beaufort, and the only issue from this latter union was Henry Tudor (later Henry VII).

In a series called "The Tudors" I would have thought all this family history would have been relevant and worth the telling, but what are we given... just another re-hash of Henry VIII and his six wives, and the Thomases, coupled with a smattering of soft porn. Or did I miss an episode?

So what happened to all that history, what happened to the reign of Henry VII? It seems that TV producers of historical dramas want nothing to do with him. In "The Tudors", if the first episode is anything to go by, we are doomed to yet another inaccurate, no-substance and disappointing historical series. For example, did anyone in the production team even bother to look at a portrait of Henry VIII? It would appear not. they're so easy to find.

Even as a drama in its own right the production was flat and lifeless, but the miscast actors should be commended for at least trying to make the best out of a decidedly poor and empty script, together with muted applause for the wardrobe department. Apart from that, for me, "The Tudors" has very little going for it. It's all been done before...and much better. And I have to repeat the title question, where did Henry VII go?

After Thomas

A wonderful faultless drama!
I won't elaborate on the plot of "After Thomas" as it's been covered by other reviewers, all of whom (to date) I must heartily agree with. As a drama it was faultless, and must have brought hope to many parents in a similar situation. The acting by all (including the dog) was superb, and Keeley Hawes in particular has proved once again what a magnificently talented actress she is, and that there is no role she cannot tackle. As she did last year in "Under the Greenwood Tree" she teams up again, equally successfully, with Ben Miles, and their performances are just as unmissable. A special tribute has to be paid to Andrew Byrne for his portrayal as the autistic child Kyle. A truly remarkable job for such a young actor.

If this movie does not receive an award of some sort, then there is no justice.

Nicholas Nickleby

Whoever made this should read the book!
I have to agree with the comments made by anne2knunn and Edina van Daalen. This is a pretty unimpressive and woefully skeletonized adaptation of a wonderful story. Gone is the rich tapestry of Dickensian characters. Miss Snevilicci, the Kenwigs, the Mantolinis, Miss Knag, The Wititterlys, Tim Linkinwater, Peg Sliderskew, Mr Lillyvick, Miss Petowker and others. Even the main players who are left are shallow interpretations. The plot is drastically altered to accommodate this skeletonization, and the whole story is turned into a nonsense. Gone also is the fatal duel between Sir Mulberry Hawk and Lord Verisopht, the outcome of which is one of the main reasons for Ralph Nickleby's fall. Also gone is Arthur Gride, Madeline Bray's prospective albeit unwanted bridegroom, and NOT Sir Mulberry Hawk as portrayed here. Another change is that the Brays were originally placed as living in the Rules of the King's Bench debtor's prison, and although perhaps not so important with regard to the storyline, exactly why the producers deemed it necessary to alter this point (or any other parts of the story) is beyond me. The Brothers Cheeryble are made to look like discards from the Wizard of Oz, and whoever thought up the idea of Barry Humphries playing Mrs Crummles must have been on magic mushrooms. No mention is given to the ultimate fate of the Squeers family or the school, and the closing scenes include the Crummles, who, according to the novel, have by this time emigrated to America.

As to the actual movie per se, it is plodding, patchy, and utterly uninspiring. With one exception, the cinematography (and even that isn't great), I tried, but failed, to find one saving aspect of the movie. Even the acting is at best mediocre, at worst atrocious. Relatively non-essential parts of the story are kept in, whilst other essential details of the story are cut out. In short, what promises at the start to be a reasonable production, turns out to be more than a bit of a mess, and somewhat of an insult to Dickens, and the lovers of his works. For me, this movie has to be one of the worst adaptations of a Dickens story ever made, and if Charles Dickens himself were to watch it from his celestial armchair, I'm quite sure he would pull out most of his celestial hair. Give yourselves a real treat and watch the RSC version instead.

Na shan na ren na gou

I was so lucky to see it!
I was fortunate enough to have a friend in Hong Kong to send me a CD of this film, for which I have to thank him immensely. It is a truly wonderful Chinese movie, and set in the China of the 1970's.

The plot, though simple, never fails to hold the attention, and gives a heartwarming insight into the relationship of a father and son getting to know, and learning to appreciate each other after long periods apart during all the years of the boy's upbringing.

The father, played by Rujun Ten, is a postman whose route takes him around the mountain of Hunan and away from his family for months at a time. But due to age (and failing legs) he is forced to retire and to hand the job over to his son, played by Ye Liu. This movie is the story of the former showing the latter the mail route, it's ups and downs, with introductions to the mountain people on the way. They are aided in no small way by their faithful German shepherd dog, Buddy.

The Chinese scenery is utterly stunning, the cinematography equally so, which is backed up by superbly sensitive and restrained acting by the two main players and also the supporting cast (which includes the dog, a star in his own right).

The one downside is that it's possibly a little too slow-paced for most Western tastes, and therefore probably won't get the universal airing it deserves. But for my money "Nashan naren nagou" ("The Mountain Postman") is absolutely unmissable.

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