Though a huge fan of Linda Thorson's Tara King I thought Jennifer Croxton's Lady Diana Forbes-Blakeney made an excellent replacement and it would have been good to see her again in a subsequent episode. Pity the script from the usually reliable Tony Williamson doesn't add up to much more than a routine run-around and some first-rate actors like Bill Franklyn are somewhat wasted in roles anyone could have played. A still shows a dropped scene in which Mother addresses all the agents en masse re 'Remak' which would have brought a bit more cohesion to later events. Fight and action scenes are slightly above average though and Croxton gives every indication of enjoying herself.
Jason King is a knowing self-parody of action and adventure series with the hero a writer whose own fictional plots have a tendency to become entangled in his creator's adventures. In these circumstances outlandish situations and bizarre coincidences can be taken for granted but that doesn't excuse Philip Broadley's script, a melange of hackneyed ingredients with a lame finale that doesn't make any sense. Yet the series even at its worse is always watchable and apart from Peter Wyngarde who always went to great pains to try and get every detail right there's another fine character actor in Wolfe Morris. Not forgetting the usual excellent score from Laurie Johnson. Pity the script-editor was not more rigorous.
With his jolly oval face and gargantuan backside, Leslie Fuller seems like a cartoon caricature come to life. This plays like George Formby without the songs with our dog-loving hero being swindled and then framed for theft by the dastardly villain who gets his deserved comeuppance in the last reel. Fast moving with some amusing one-liners and a large cast for a low-budget film.
One of the very few shows I used to stay in for, but watching over forty years later found slightly disappointing. Contemporary shows like Minder which this in some ways resembles were shot on film, whereas Turtle made by ATV is largely confined to the studio, giving it the look of a considerably older production. Creator Edmund Ward, one of the finest TV writers of the time was an expert in gritty dramas set in the then cut-throat world of the building industry and the legal profession. He contributes some intriguing plots but comedy was not his forte and a little of Turtle's moronic family and Ruby Head's deadpan Aunt Ethel went a long way with me. John F. Landry, excellent in the lead had a strange career, seemingly coming from nowhere to star in this, only to be seldom seen again. Michael Attwell is effective as droll minder 'Razor Eddie' and James Grout and David Swift both make the most of their shared role of Inspector Rafferty. By contrast some of the supporting acting is remarkably poor, though seeing the likes of Stanley Lebor doing their American tough-guy acts nowadays adds to the fun.
Oh all right then, the scriptwriter was never in any danger of having to cancel all other arrangements on Oscar night, but this is still a happy, exuberant snapshot of a time when young people could take life much less seriously. A testament to the talents of Billy Fury who had the difficult task of being the main focus with little acting experience, and not least to the remarkable Helen Shapiro with her resonant, clear voice. Highlight must be the number with Fury exhorting everyone to Twist Twist Twist in Max Bacon's nightclub. Is it possible to sit still watching that? Winner certainly made many worse pictures.
The bodies of two wealthy women found buried vertically head down lead April and Mark to a circus troupe of Hollywood gypsies somewhere in France, whose leader, Sadvaricci (Lloyd Bochner) has evolved a scheme to part them from their fortunes aided and abetted by his mother, played by Gladys Cooper no less. There are a two or three good action sequences, including April being shot at while on the high trapeze prior to being challenged to a knife fight, though in both incidents the aggressor is a jealous rival. The relationship and affectionate dialogue between the two agents sometimes bears a similarity to that between Modesty Blaise and her sidekick Willie Garvin. Although the story is not quite as inane as some of the others in the series, there is barely enough to sustain fifty minutes and the whole event somehow fails to add up to the sum of its parts.
Margaret Leighton really gets into the spirit of the part of Gita Volander a former Thrush chief in Austria, put out to grass, and determined to stage a comeback. Her partner Franz Joseph (real life husband Michael Wilding) has invented an alleged molecular re-organizer which can apparently make anything disappear and then re-form elsewhere. An impressive opening sequence sees April strapped to the roof of a moving vehicle and menaced by the eagle which then disappears... An entertaining and above average episode even though the inspired lunacy of the first half tends to lapse into mere inanity by the close.
One of the stronger entries in the series, slightly better plotted than most, with the reliable trope of having our two heroes having to infiltrate a hostile organisation and facing constant peril. In April's case this involves being nearly drowned in a mud bath following a ferocious attack from a masseuse. Gena Rowlands makes for an impressively nasty villain, but there are lighter moments too. Had there been more episodes up to this standard the series would have gained a considerably higher reputation.
Though one of those episodes they couldn't make today, this ranks as one of the more enjoyable of the series, especially for those of us who loved safari movies. The plot has an absurd logic that keeps you watching, and is served by better than average acting, with a cast taking the incongruous material seriously. In particular Brock Peters brings a lightness of touch and a quiet dignity to his stereotyped role as the king. The stock footage is generally matched well with the studio sets though someone should have realized that there are no tigers in Africa. The business with Mark being taken in by the fake Waverly is amusing, as is the safari where April copes valiantly despite losing most of her kit in a fire.
The last film of Rank starlet Beverley Brooks before she became Lady 'Bubbles' Rothermere, this also features another actor who went on to bigger things, the glamorous Anne Heywood playing an hotel receptionist. Though not the first nor last time variations on this plot have been used, it does provide engaging entertainment for an hour or so. Can't be the only one whose eyes rolled at the contrivance of two villains breaking off a heist at a crucial moment to fight over a mutual girlfriend but it does ensure the proceedings end with a bang.
Looks as if the otherwise meaningless 'Code Seven' in the title was there solely to try and tie this in with the then burgeoning spy craze, as producer Harry Alan Towers' script (as Peter Welbeck) is, for by no means the last time, in the mode of Edgar Wallace in a tale of murder and revenge. Some superb filming of the picturesque South African backgrounds from Nic Roeg is matched by the underwater photography of Egil Woxholt who worked on several of the Bond films. Lex Barker is ideal as the New York investigator looking into threats on the life of wealthy businessman Walter Rilla, Ronald Fraser is a quirky police chief with an eye for the ladies and Ann Smyrner makes an attractive heroine. Victim Five has no pretensions other than to be an enjoyable 'B' picture and succeeds.
Filmed for showing as a TV Movie of the Week in the US and as a supporting feature in UK cinemas, this utilized the talents of several former Avengers personnel, director Sidney Hayers, writer Philip Levene, Laurie Johnson with an unmistakable score and Julian Wintle producing. Trademark fast-moving direction of the action scenes from Hayers, with no time wasted on people getting in and out of cars for example. The quirky character played by Roy Kinnear is very Avengers, in fact he'd played similar types in the show. A last appearance from 1930's leading man John Loder, while surprising to see the smooth Allan Cuthbertson, usually seen as one of the officer class, as a firefighter. Not too difficult to guess the identity of the arsonist, but the fires are relatively convincing, though how the hero and heroine emerged with barely singeing their eyebrows is anyone's guess. Good undemanding entertainment nevertheless.
The story is pleasant, though artificial and inconsequential. The scene where the heroine was obliged to go swimming and thus reveal her true identity is almost identical to one in the earlier Girls Will Be Boys with Dolly Haas. The print I saw was from the Cohen Collection, looking superb, and what I really enjoyed was seeing Ireland and pre-war London and its people in colour, together with character actors like Mark Daly and D.J. Williams, previously confined to faded monochrome footage. And not least the legendary Irish tenor, John McCormack, whom I've long heard recordings of, but never seen. Annabella and Henry Fonda make an attractive leading couple.
John Guillermin appears to have been partially influenced by neo-realism in this drama of a beautiful woman and her effect on the men of an impoverished Spanish fishing village, that from a leisurely start builds to almost unbearable tension. Though Linda Christian's enigmatic Maria was billed as 'lightning in the flesh, burning, destroying everything she touches' in the lurid, not to say sexist, words of the original publicity, especially as she is an object of lust to the men, suffering at least one attempted rape, she is really a catalyst, bringing to boiling point the frustrations and resentments, long simmering among the fishermen, mainly concerning their financial domination by the aggressive trader Gardea - a powerful performance from Charles Korvin. The ending is uncompromising and eschews sentimentality. I wonder if this Spanish-British co-production was a coded comment on Spanish politics of the day? Or is Maria intended as a modern parallel to the Sirens of mythology? Carlos Thompson, one of those stars who never really had the career he deserved, is good in the lead, as are the Spanish supporting cast. Thunderstorm has been long neglected, with even the Network DVD now seemingly out of print, which is a shame as it is a powerful drama well worth watching.
Interpol Calling tends to be one of the more neglected of the I.T.C. crime/adventure series, and having watched it all, was pleasantly surprised, and would recommend it. A partnership between Rank and the Jack Wrather Organisation, the latter were no doubt influential in casting Charles Korvin as Inspector Duval. He proved an excellent choice, bringing a touch of European sophistication to a highly intelligent, perceptive official with a congenial sense of humour, but whom is also able to look after himself when faced, as he often is, with violent desperate criminals. These include protection racketeers and other extortionists, heroin traffickers, blackmailers and many others whom have either killed for gain or to cover up incidents in the past. His cases take him all over the world, while, by contrast, his invaluable assistant, Edwin Richfield's bow-tied Inspector Mornay rarely leaves the Paris office. Who needed databases when Mornay's filing cabinets seemingly held records of every known criminal and unsolved crime in existence? There are also one or two attempted 'impossible crimes' such as the driver who murders his wife while contriving to be seen in a car rally miles away at the same time, and the case of the body, verified gone overboard in the Mediterranean, which turns up shortly afterwards in the English Channel.
Doubtful if Interpol really bore much resemblance to this, yet many of the plots seem more realistic than in some comparable series' of the time and the briskness of pace aids in the suspension of disbelief. It goes without saying that as with similar British shows it had the huge benefit of superb character actors, though in this case many go strangely uncredited. One example is future Bond Girl Zena Marshall, previously high in cast lists for over a decade and Duval's assistant in a couple of early episodes, but whom is not given a name, never mind a credit.
Notable as being the first major feature utilizing Independent Frame, sold to Rank as a revolutionary technique to reduce both budget and filming time. One aspect included pre-shooting of location scenes using stand-ins, with the stars performing against these filmed backdrops. The system's main originator, veteran art director David Rawnsley, was on set in an advisory capacity while another pioneer, Donald Wilson, became one of Rank's several one-time-only directors of the period. Even J. Arthur himself made a rare visit to one of his sets to see the promising new set-up for himself.
However, for all the excitement, the actual result was a rather long-winded romantic comedy, with French actress Anne Vernon as man-mad ex-convert girl, Renee. Despite her abundance of charm, a character so pleased with herself is not altogether endearing and my favourite part was when she was taught a drastic lesson by Sonia Holm's Maria. Holm, an attractive and intelligent-looking actress had a surprisingly brief career, and like star Harold Warrender did not live long past fifty. It all finally fails to fulfil the early promise where Ellen Pollock, reputedly G. B.Shaw's favourite actress, is enjoyable as confidante of Renee's mother.
This is for the most part an absorbing mystery, one of those where by no means all of the individuals are whom they appear to be. There's a strong cast of British character actors with Niall MacGinnis especially effective as a rather unorthodox insurance investigator. The film loses points by being needlessly confusing with over-reliance on the dialogue at certain stages, and if you're not paying close attention to every word at these times, the leisurely developed narrative will remain somewhat obscure. In particular the scene where Georgina Ward's Maria is introduced (together with the business regarding her late father) should have been presented with greater clarity.
David Farrar always looked the solid dependable type, making him all the more credible as an amoral confidence trickster that women would be taken in by. Jean Simmons is very good as his main victim, and it is remarkable that in actual fact there was a twenty year gap in their ages. Douglas Slocombe's monochrome photography is superb. Main weakness occurs toward the end with the narrative becoming contrived almost to the point of absurdity. Interesting to see that at this point the older doctor was still allowed to own a handgun legally, albeit with a licence, something that has not been the case in the UK for very many years.
A serious film with an appropriate cast that fails to live up to its initial promise, though it does have a certain charm. Tony Britton is a promising young surgeon who becomes engaged to the senior surgeon's daughter (the young Vanessa Redgrave giving a slightly precious performance, though one I quite enjoyed.) Retrospective interest is added by the manners of the period, not least hospital staff who ceaselessly smoke everywhere with carefree abandon. Gradually though the story evolves into two strands, neither very persuasive. The first details Britton's involvement with a drug-addicted Polish colleague which lands him in serious trouble and in which he is then portrayed as becoming virtuous and altruistic to an improbable degree. The second, regarding the senior surgeon's deep concerns about his junior, played by the talented Niall MacGinnis (whom as well as being a first-rate character actor was also a qualified physician), is opaque as nothing is shown to justify his fears, though it looks as if we are intended to sympathise with them.
Was really expecting much more than a plethora of misfiring would-be-witty repartee from the stars amid explosions and comic-book violence. Kept me watching in the expectation that something really interesting might develop, only for it to finally fizzle out. You would have to be really enamoured of either or both of Pitt and Jolie to get much out of this, but I found myself mainly immune from the latter's charms, hard though she worked. The Vince Vaughn character provides a few amusing moments.
One of those films so utterly banal and predictable as to be almost enjoyable on that account alone, the soccer world of Yesterday's Hero seems now nearly as distant as that of the superior Arsenal Stadium Mystery of forty years earlier. A time when virtually all weekend games kicked off at 15.00 on a Saturday, muddy pitches on some grounds from early winter on, teams rather than 'squads' and when you could pronounce all the players' names. A wealthy owner signing a player over the head of the manager would also look absurd back then, but now seems commonplace, so in that regard the film is prescient.
Not a big fan of Ian McShane but he's excellent here, giving the only really convincing performance and blends in well with the footage from the Forest/Southampton League cup final. (To me he has a passing resemblance to the superb England goalkeeper of the era, Peter Shilton.) Neither Adam Faith nor Paul Nicholas were great actors to say the least, the latter also turning up in another Jackie Collins' epic The World Is Full Of Married Men, released shortly prior to this. So for fans of Ms Collins and Mr Nicholas, 1979 was their year.
One of several British 'B's to be filmed at Ireland's Ardmore studios around the turn of the Sixties, featuring an early leading film role for outstanding character actor Ray McAnally, with estimable contemporary Norman Rodway among the supporting cast. I had the art forger and murderer figured out pretty early on, but was still thrown by one twist toward the end, and it was worth watching. Can only echo the comment that it would have been better had the lovely Yvonne Buckingham been leading lady.
A quite amusing regional comedy with some realistic sets including a football terrace and a good cast which is certainly more amusing than some of the films of forgotten Thirties star Leslie Fuller I have seen, though the plot about a family who believe they have won a fortune on the pools has been used several times since. An amusing performance from Marion Dawson, whose career was sadly soon to come to an end due to an eye injury, as the cadging neighbour and Mary Jerrold is good as Fuller's supportive wife.
A fictionalised account of the rise to fame of surely the most cheerful, amiable and exuberant star in the business, Tommy Steele. There is nothing about a manager trying to turn him into Elvis Presley, but mainly musical numbers, including the amusing Cannibal Pot, though some of the others sound rather the same. Clearly made on a very low budget - scenes supposedly on a ship appear to have been shot in a church hall - I wonder what they made of it in the US where it was released under the misleading title Rock Around the World.
There are a couple of calypsos from Tommy Eytle and his band, Nancy Whiskey sings Freight Train and there's a rare chance to see the great Humphrey Lyttelton and his band performing Bermondsey Bounce, written especially for the film in tribute to its star.
Paul McGann and Amanda Donohoe give convincing performances as respectively, hospital porter Matthew Harris who steps into the shoes of a recently qualified medical student, now deceased, and the nurse whom is gradually drawn into the deceit in this gripping story that can't fail to leave you with a slight sense of unease about the medical profession. He gets away with a disastrous first day in A&E partially because it had not been unknown for previous students with the right qualifications to panic in that way. Later when responsible for the death of a patient and being absolved by the medical establishment, he's surrounded by back-slapping junior colleagues - we've all done it mate - sort of thing. Even the sceptical Dr Thorn (Tom Wilkinson) whom has sensed that Harris is a hollow man from the start, finally keeps his thoughts to himself rather than rock the boat. Toward the end the story relies a little on coincidence, and ignores altogether how Harris could have got away with his deception with the tax authorities for instance, but these are minor quibbles. Paper Mask is a film deserving a much higher profile.