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Reviews

Murder in Reverse
(1945)

Revengr is a dish best served cold
I first saw this f I'll at the National Film Theatre in 2010..Since then it has been residing untouched in the National Film And Television Archive until October 2022 when it was fun out by Talking Pictures TV..It is an excellent atmospheric thriller set in the early post war years London docks.

William,here in his Billy phase,Hartnell puts in an excellent performance as the unjustly convicted murderer looking for John Slater,able to play villains and cops equally well. I met him when he played in the same cricket team as my dad. Chilli Bouchier reliably plays the fairness wife and Kynaston Reeves plays a crusty judge as usual.

The last across worth waiting for.

Appointment in London
(1953)

A Wizard Prang
This is an eloquent tribute to the men of Bomber Command. It is staggering and appalling that they lost 55000 aircrew in the war. This was partly due to the utter ruthlessness of their commanfer,Arthur Harris,who was justifiably nicknamed "Butcher".

Dirk Bogardes cha.faster was based on Guy Gibson,who completed over 170 missions before being shot down over Holland in 1944,I have visited his grave.

Given that 30 missions was the norm he must have had nerves of steel. He was a complex man and Bogardes character reflects this. Gibson,like Bogardes character was a martinet and not much liked by his men. Without men like Gibson you cannot win a war.

The World Ten Times Over
(1963)

Rather a disappointment
This film came in the middle of the British new wave,but the tide seems to have gone out with this film. One of the stars,June Ritichie started in A Kind of Living and William Hartnell in This Sporting Life.

The film is set in Soho,which was very popular at this time.

June Ritchie has problems with her married lover,Edward Kidd and Sylvia Simms has trouble either her strait laced father,played by Hartnell. Simms has to show him that she is in reality a hostess/prostitute. There were many better films about life in Soho. It is little wonder that this film has dwelt informal obscurity since it's original release.

This Man Is Mine
(1946)

The last film of Marcel Varnel
Sadly not up to the standard he set in the thirties with the top comedy film stars of the day.

The screenplay is based on that eccentric actor of the fifties and sixties,Reginald Beckwith. Other contributors include Nichols Phipps,of the Wilcox/Be able films,and Mabel Constanduorous,who was a star of radio.

The cast includes veteran Tom Walls ,and a young Glynis Johns.

The problem is that this is the usual type of stabbing farce set mainly in a middle class household. There are various romantic entanglement,especially when a Canadian army private is billeted on them. He gets slapped by Glynis Johns and you know what that means in films of this era.

One can only assume that the play must have run a long time and been successful for them to have thought it worthwhile to film.

By the way there is a running joke about people bringing a turkey.

Terry on the Fence
(1986)

Almost the end of the road
The children's film and television Foundation drew £60000 a year from the Eady Levy on box office receipts.

In 1985 the Thatcher government abolished the Eady Levy and this resulted in the end of filmmaking for the Foundation. In any event by this time there were very few Saturday morning children's matinees at which they could be shown.

So this film was one of the last to be made.

Instead of children rounding up a gang of thieves,the children are the gang of thieves,and they end up in a Juvenile Magistrates court presided over by an avuncular Clifford Rose. So it is very different from its predecessors. It is certainly among the best of the films they made and well worth seeing.

Just Like a Woman
(1967)

Did it cost as much as £90000?
This is more rememiscent of a television sit com of the period,very flatly lit. Maybe that's appropriate for the two leads as they both attained stardom on television. Craig in Butterflies and Matthews in the Francis Durbridgr mystery thrillers.

I am presuming that this was supposed to be a comedy,but unfortunately I did not laugh once. The writer Robert First manages to make such sterling performers as Miriam Karlin,wearing a strange wig,and Clive Dunn,with a monacle,as appetising as Christmas leftovers.

I found it a real struggle to get through this film. I wonder if cinemas at the time actually booked this film. It is justly forgotten.

The Farmer's Wife
(1941)

Unexciting remake
I am always pleased when Taking Pictures a film which has been totally forgotten such as this remake of Hitchcocks 1928 film. Made by Associated British Pictures at Selwyn Studios,known as the Porridge Factory.

The problem with this film is that it is very predictable and not particularly funny. Even with the formidable presence of Wilfred Lawson,one of the true characters of the British Cinema of this era.

Now it can be true that films based on stage plays can be successfully transferred to film,e.g. On Approval,this definitely does not make the journey well. I suppose it was considered good escapism gate for the war weary audience.

Miracles Do Happen
(1938)

New milk for old
Aubrey Mallileu is an inventor who invents eccentric products. He has invented artificial milk. His nephew,a very young Bruce Seton,decided to go into business with salesman to promote the new product. The only problem is that neither has any money. So they try to persuade businessman George Candy to invest in the production.

Unfortunately Mallileu has lost the paper containing the formula and can't remember it. So Hobbs and Seaton have a go at reproducing the formula,and are successful enough to ge.t the financier to stump up the money. However they can't get started without the formula.

Owners of a dairy are concerned enough to s and their Secretary to act as a spy at the company. Also the press start raising questions as to why production hasn't started.

Predictably the Secretary fall in love and she promises not to advise anyone of the true position.

The dairy offers £30000 for the formula. Mallilieu has found the formula but has lost interest in milk,now he wants to make imitation bath soap.

Rather weak comedy which is a satire on the many companies then being set up to promote useless products.

Never Take Sweets from a Stranger
(1960)

Good but....
This is a good film from a period where the topic was hardly ever mentioned.

However I do have reservations relating to the trial.

Firstly,if a town was controlled by one family the trial would be moved to another town.

Secondly the prosecuting counsel did not challenge any of the jury as whether they were employed by the Defendants family.

Thirdly no defence counsel would be allowed to cross examine a 9 year old child in the manner that McGinnis was allowed. There is a code of conduct governing such situations.

Finally the father would not be the one to decide on a prosecution should be aborted.

Watch Out
(1953)

Amusing OFF film
This short,made by the Children's Film Foundation for showing at Children's shows on Saturday morning,is of great interest as it was made in and around Nettlefold Studios. A studio that had been operating since the early days of the cinema. It was currently used by Sir Alexander Korda,but sadly this studio would close in the fifties and just one building now remains.

This type of film was particularly common in the silent days. I have a silent comedy from the twenties starting Charlie Murray. There was also Abbott and Costello meeting the Keystone Kops in the fifties. I Here it is the turn of the great Peter Butterworth to keep the kids amused.

The Stranger Came Home
(1954)

Torpid Thriller for facing star
Paulette Goddard was one of a flock of American female stars who were in their forties without a studio contract and who came to England to try and revive their fading careers. As in this case it didn't work. She only made one more film after this.

This Hammer film starts off at a slow pace,with everybody wondering why and how William Sylvester has suddenly returned when he was thought to have fallen overboard some years ago.

Then of course murders start happening all around Bday studios.

The denouement when it comes,is fully explained in the final scenes. A totally lacklustre film which called time on her feature film career,with the exception of her final Italian film.

Vardy v Rooney: A Courtroom Drama
(2022)

First rate courtroom drama
As a retired lawyer i took a professional interest in this drama. I most enjoyed the first half where the excellent Michael Sheen was testing Vardys evidence to shreds. The court procedures were familiar to me,though I understand that they could have put off some viewers. The performances were excellent,with the exception of the actor playing Wayne Rooney.

It is difficult to understand how this case came to court. Would be interesting to know the advice she received from her legal team. Surely they must have realised that Barry was on a hiding to nothing Having previously read accounts via the Law Society Gazette,this brought it to life for me.

Saloon Bar
(1940)

Well constructed thriller
This film is based on a stage play but doesn't fall into the traps of adaptation. It is neither static not slow moving.

The film was made by the husband and wife team of Walter and Culley Forde. Very rare for a woman to be in such a position in those days.

A very experienced cast is a great help. Felix Aylmer in a very brief role. Martin Clunes father,Alec,plays the convicted murderer. One of my favourites,Gordon Harker,plays the lead role of a bookie trying to clear the convicted murderer before the following mornings execution. Mervyn John's is propped up in his corner giving forth with often inappropriate sayings.

A first class thriller.

Reel Stories: An Oral History of London's Projectionists
(2022)

A Dying Art
I was always enchanted by the beam of light coming through the porthole,making its way through the cigarette smoke to the screen. I even tired to get a job at the Classic Baker Street.

Eventually after i joined the Cinema Theatres Association,I was able to go into projection boxes on a regular basis. What a great thrill it was.

I remember I'm about 2008 we went to the UGC,ex AB C in Ealing and witnessed out first digitally projected film.

Then starting in 2011 film projectors were swept away and digital reigns supreme.

So now you go into a cinema. There is one person in charge who runs everything. Sometimes the sound isn't right so you go Amstell her.

This film documents thrives of protectionist who ran film and the few that are now left. Very nostalgic.

Sammy Going South
(1963)

Edward G is a scene stealer
Normally the advice is don't act with children and animals. Here it must be the reverse as Edward G Robinson steals every scene which he appears in. Mind you the child actor is so wooden that this is not a difficult feat.

The film is a bit disjointed at times. No surprise when you realise that the film was three hours long after its first edit.

The director,Alexander Mackendrick was excellent but he was a perfectionist which led to him being sacked from two major films and led to the end of his directorial career.

The Eastman colour photography by Erwin Miller is superb.

One of the last Michael Balcon productions.

A Horse Called Jester
(1979)

The debut of Sadie Frost
Typical film from the Children's Film and Television Foundation. A gang of children frustrate and assist the capture of a gang of villains.

The children are upset that tag and none man ,Tony Simpson will have to sell his yard and the gate of Jaspeer will be the knackered yard.

They try to find a home for the horse but discover that it will cost too much to house him.

The man who is buying the yard is a car dealer,and as the children discover is planning a robbery of the local Co Ok payroll office.

True to form with these films they thwart the robbery and the villains are arrested by the police.

Cheer the Brave
(1951)

In the Doghouse
It just goes to show what can be done with a minimal budget and an excellent cast.

Poor old Jack McNaughton marries Elsie Randolph and is henpecked. He sees no way out till first husband, Geoffrey Keen comes back from his supposed watery grave and gives him a way out,since of course his wife is a bigamist.

One normally one associates Elsie Randolph with musicals as Jack Buchanan's partner rather than in B movies playing this type of role.

KO Distributed by Apex Distributors who released low budget films in the nineteen forties and fifties..This film would be on the lower half of the bill but probably have been more entertaining than the film that was top of the bill.

Further Up the Creek
(1958)

As good or as bad as the original
I find Up The Creek to be particularly funny so this for me gets the same rating as the original. Mind you there is nothing particularly funny or original about this film.

I found Frankie Howard to be marginally funnier than Peter Sellers. However for me David Tomlinson is a total waste of time and as funny as a cold rice pudding.

Val Hurst was a vastly experienced writer and director,so it is difficult to understand his willingness to turn in such a third rate script together with lacklustre direction,so the prospect of any further films based on the same characters was stillborn. Hammer should have kept a closer eye on its production.

Fern, the Red Deer
(1977)

Sub Disney
You would have thought that this was made by Disney not the Children's Film Foundation.

The boys female cousin comes to stay at his parents farm. Whilst out riding they find a young abandoned deer and decide to take it back to the farm. Within a short time it is yamed. However the deer males a nuisance of himself in the neighbours garden. The neighbour gets his shotgun and fired at the deer and misses. However the girl falls off her horse. She is now in bed,her head bandaged and arm in a sling. However she gets back on her horse to find the deet,which she does with the aid of a gypsy. The next shot is of her sitting with the fact only for finnet. Anyway t?he feet is reunited with the herd and the neighbour is chastised. All rather unsatisfactory.

The Water Babies
(1978)

Sad end to Jeffries directing career
It is rather sad to reflect that Jeffries directing career had started with the very successful Railway Children ended with this disaster. The concept just doesn't work. Not least because the animation is just so awful. It is little surprise that having made the film he couldn't find a distributor. Pentland,who are shown as the company responsible only released this one film.

The music is very undistinguished and very repetitive.

As for the human actors it is always good to see James Mason. Bernard Cribbins is quite good,and there is also Joan Greenwood though she doesn't have a lot to do. Sadly a really misconceived effort.

The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan
(1953)

Strictly for G&S fans
The Technicolor photography and the sets and costumes are marvellous. However that's it. This was Sir Alexander Korea's effort to create a film to celebrate the 1953 coronation. It was such a colossal failure that it emptied the coffers of the National Film Fiance Corporation and bankrupted British Lion.

There is precious little story and for non Gilbert and Sullivan has far too much music.

It probably didn't help that Robert Morley and Maurice Evas were not film stars and this unable to attract audiences.

This film was part of the gradual decline of Korda who had too many films fail in the post war years.

Morley is his usual.ebullient self.

England Made Me
(1973)

Boring film and lack of verisimilitude
The problem with this film is that it is so boring that you start noticing so many things that are wrong with the settings and incidentals.

For a start the military parade has the soldiers just executing an ordinary marching step,instead of the goose steps.

All the interiors are very plain,not reflecting art deco,the Bauhaus movement or the Nazis brutalist architecture.

The women's hairstyles and their clothing all are 1970s contemporary. So not for one minute can one believe that this is set in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

There were numerous films set in this era,notably Cabaret all better than this..

Song of London
(1963)

Strange short
Difficult to know who this short is aimed at. It is a sort of tour of central London accompanied by a selection of musical numbers on the soundtrack.

Some of the numbers seem to have come from the music hall. There are a variety of artists singing. Most long forgotten. Tommy Trinder,a popular comedian in his day,sings the opening number with Trafalgar Square in the background. Now a comedian he may have been a singer he certainly was not. Shirley Anacair plays her zither and there is an uninspiring number from the London Palladium One has to conclude that this films sole purpose to earn lots of money from the Eady levy.

This Was a Woman
(1948)

And they all lived happily ever after or not
Celia Lipton,who plays Effie ,was to have a life she could never have dreemed of. She was the daughter of bandleader Sydney Lipton. She was an actress for a few years before going off to America an marrying the inventor of the paper milk carton containers. When he died he left her $100 million dollars. She then became a renowned philanthropist. A far cry from her role in this film This film is very entertaining due to the playing of Sonia Driesdel. However as mentioned in other reviews her character is a bit of a puzzle Why she suddenly decided to behave in such a crazy manner is totally unexplained. Difficult to understand what she hoped to gain.

Turned Out Nice Again
(1941)

George's Last Ealing Yarn
George became the top UK box office attraction with Ealing Studios. However this film was his last for Ealing. He signed with Columbia Pictures for more money and the opportunity to produce. In my opinion his Ealing films were far better than those he made for Columbia.

Unlike most of his other films this is based on a stage play. They even have all the actors entering and exiting through french windows which are obviously not the front door.

There is even the typical mother in law.

Interestingly this film,though made in the middle of the war was set in 1936. So obviously a morale booster.

As this is about women's underwear there are obviously lots of double entendres.

A very young Michael Rennie pops up for a couple of lines.

Not George's best work.

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