Scaramouche2004

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Reviews

Sharpe's Mission
(1996)

Sharpe is on a mission.
Sharpe is back again and he and his chosen men have been given a very important job.

Wellington has ordered Sharpe and Major General Ross to find Major Septimus Pyecroft, a disfigured explosives expert in order for them to organise a raid on a nearby French ammunition dump.

To lead the raid however Wellington has chosen Colonel Brand, a highly decorated national hero with a reputation for bravery and discipline as well as one for ruthless efficiency and a complete lack of mercy towards the enemy.

Sharpe had served under the then Major Brand and fought in the action that was to ensure Brand's promotion and impressed, Sharpe is one of Brand's most ardent admirers.

However, Brand is not all he seems to be. His reputation for bravery has been afforded him by the French for whom he has been spying and assisting throughout the entire war, and on the journey to the ammunition dump, Sharpe's suspicions are aroused as his hero soon turns into a bitter and dangerous enemy.

It turns out that the French have their sites on Ross and through Colonel Brand, they plan to capture him and torture him, and with this in mind Sharpe turns the table on Brand using Ross as bait.

The whole thing comes to a head with a makeshift court martial, where Sharpe shows a previously unforeseen eloquence and knowledge of the law in order to get his man bang to rights, and Brand is sentenced to death, a death penalty that is unexpectedly and hurriedly carried out by Sharpe in his own inimitable way, providing the viewerÂ…certainly this viewer with the biggest smile of the film.

Also in tow on the expedition is Mr. Clarence Shellington, a newspaper columnist and lecherous womaniser, who sets his sights on Sharpe's wife and it is in this film however we see for the first time, the weakness of Jane Sharpe's character and a glimpse of where this vulnerability will eventually lead.

Another great Sharpe movie, and one in which Sean Bean gives one of his strongest performances

Sharpe's Siege
(1996)

Sharpe is as Brave and gallant as ever
Sean Bean reprises his role for the tenth time in this exciting entry in the Sharpe movie.

Sharpe and his chosen men are once again put under the command of a inexperienced, incompetent officer as they are sent to capture a French held fort. The French nobleman who owns the fort has promised that the locals can be persuaded to join the British and organise a rebellion against the French. However Wellington's spies are convinced that these reports are untrue, which his why Sharpe, his men and their new useless commander have been sent to the fort, to ascertain the truth.

Sharpe is also troubled that his new bride has been hit by fever and as he departs, she is at deaths door and with quinine the only thing that can save her in such short supply it seems that nothing can save her.

As suspected the French nobleman's talk of rebellion was a trap, and mainly thanks to the incompetence of his new commander Sharpe soon finds himself trapped inside the fort with a depleted rag tag bunch of men and half the French army camped outside ready to lay siege.

Also the same fever that is ravaging his wife's body, is rife withing the fort and with the local doctor having acquired some quinine, Sharpe has to wrestle with a difficult decision, does he selfishly save it for his wife or administer it to the locals?

Plus with ammunition running out fast, and with Sharpe vastly outnumbered, it seems that this maybe Sharpe's final battle or can a miracle save him at the eleventh hour.

Excellent support from all involved and another good swashbuckling yarn.

Sharpe's Regiment
(1996)

Sharpe is forced to battle on home soil
Sean Bean returns once again as Richard Sharpe in this, the ninth movie in the series entitled Sharpe's Regiment, a strange entry as it is one of only two Sharpe movies where the main portion of the action takes place in England.

He has been sent home, along with Harper to find out why the South Essex have not been receiving their promised reinforcements, which is now endangering the future of the Regiment.

On arrival at Horsegauards in London, Sharpe discovers that the South Essex is far from a dying regiment but a thriving force...on paper only. The records show that the regiment is still being recruited, trained, supplied and dispatched, but without one trained soldier reaching Sharpe's ranks in Europe.

Lord Fenner, the man behind the deception realises that Sharpe is getting too close to the truth and orders his and Harper's murder, but when they in turn dispatch the dispatchers and disguise the bodies as themselves, they decide to join the South Essex as raw recruits to find out where they and the several hundred others that proceeded them are really disappearing too.

Great scenes to watch out for are Sharpe and Harper's arrival at Horseguards, and when 'Private' Sharpe eventually unmasks himself as a highly decorated senior officer to the bullying officers and Sergeants that had been so ruthless in the training of the South Essex. Rank most certainly has its privileges and revenge can be so sweet.

This episode also marks the first appearance of Abigail Cruttenden as Jane Gibbons, soon to be Sharpe's wife and eventual nemesis.

As I said, an unusual entry in the series but still a brilliant and entertaining film.

Sharpe's Sword
(1995)

Sharpe becomes embroiled in the world of Espionage
Sean Bean returns again for another swashbuckling Sharpe adventure, which sees Sharpe and his chosen men become involved in the dark and sinister world of espionage.

Richard Sharpe and his chosen men have saved a young nun from certain death after her coach was attacked by a French company, where her travelling companions, a priest and two other nuns have been brutally tortured and murdered. This leads her to be struck dumb with shock ,lose her faith in God and become inseparable from Sharpe, who she now considers her saviour.

Sharpe and a dashing Lord by the name of Captain Jack Spears defeat the French company and take a French Captain prisoner, but further discoveries and investigation, arouses Sharpe's suspicions that this French Captain is far more than what he appears on the surface and certainly more dangerous.

However, when Major Munro tells Sharpe that Napoleon has sent top Soldier Colonel Leroux to capture El Mirador, Wellington's top spy in the territory, Sharpe is convinced that his mysterious prisoner is Leroux himself, but cannot prove it.

Sharpe is therefore sent to protect El Mirador, which is a difficult task as aside the name he does not know who El Mirador is, so he does not know for sure who he is supposed to be protecting.

When the prisoner finally unmasks himself it leads to a bloody battle and the exposure of a French spy in their midst.

The talented and amazingly underrated James Purefoy practically steals the show as the dashing Captain Jack Spears and the delectable Emily Mortimer turns in a nice little performance as 'Lass' Sadly missed however is Hugh Fraser who's presence as Wellington is always an added attraction to the Sharpe movies, but in this particular adventure he seems to have been overlooked. Shame.

Although this storyline does has the power to confuse somewhat, the action, as always never fails.

Sharpe's Battle
(1995)

Sharpe has trouble with the Irish
Sean Bean returns as Napoleonic war hero Major Richard Sharpe and Sharpe's Battle opens with Sharpe and his Chosen Men liberating a tiny Spanish town that has been sacked by the French under the command of General Loup. When Sharpe discovers that many women children and indeed babies have been massacred under the Frenchman's orders, he is outraged and promptly executes without trial the two French soldiers they have caught, making an enemy of Loup who now vows a bitter revenge.

When Sharpe returns to camp however, is told he has been made strategic adviser to Lord Keily, and has been ordered to whip his men 'The Royal Irish Company' into an effective and loyal company of fighting men. This is made more difficult however as articles in the American press that are being unusually and freely distributed amongst the ranks, speak of British atrocities in Ireland, making Sharpe's new company an angry and embittered group of men.

Also making Sharpe's life a misery is the inexperienced and arrogant Lord Keily himself, who's attitude towards Sharpe and his own men, plus his open affair with a sensual female guerrilla fighter by the name of Juanita, pushes Sharpe to the brink of his patience especially as this affair is embarrassing, and emotionally crippling the beautiful and busty Lady Keily who is also in camp.

However when Lord Kiely learns that his wife is pregnant and that Jaunita is actually a French spy in the pay of General Loup, he quickly reorganises his loyalties and tries to rally his men back into order, but thanks to the lies regarding the British atrocities (spread by Juanita of course) many of them are now secretly working for the French against the British and are ready to turn on Sharpe in the heat of Battle, and help Loup organise the kidnap of Lady Keily.

With his friend's now his secret enemy, Sharpe and is Chosen Men are lured into a fight to the death against an enemy both seen and unseen.

When the Irish reveal themselves as turncoats during mid battle however, it results in the tragic death of Rifleman Perkin's the youngest of Sharpe's chosen men, resulting in the remainder of the crack Rifle company going completely berserk killing off all the traitorous scum, this coupled with the inevitable rescue of Lady Keily and the final showdown between Major Sharpe and General Loup make this truly great swashbuckling stuff.

Great support as usual from Daragh O'Malley and Hugh Fraser and stolid performances from the lovely Allie Byrne as Lady Keilly, and the sensual Siri Neal as Juanita.

Sharpe's Gold
(1995)

Sharpe gets the Midas Touch
Sean Bean reprises his role as Napoleonic hero Major Richard Sharpe and in this adventure he is ordered by the Duke of Wellington to deliver a consignment of guns to El Casco, a local guerrilla leader, known for his brutality and inhumanity, in exchange for a handful of British deserters.

Also in tow on this mission are Bess Nugent and her daughter Ellie, relatives of the Iron Duke who have come to Spain to find their missing husband/father. They have practically stowed away after Wellington refuses official aid to their mission, and Sharpe in order to ensure their protection has no choice but to take them along.

It is inevitable therefore that a romance starts to blossom between the lonely and windowed Sharpe and the beautiful and vivacious Ellie.

However El Casco proves himself every bit the madman he is reputed to be by capturing, and torturing to death a contingent of French troops, killing poor Bess and kidnapping Ellie and holding her captive in a cave full of golden Aztec treasure.

However El Casco's plans for Ellie are far from romantic as he plans to sacrifice her to the ancient Aztec Gods from which he believes himself to be directly descended. Can Sharpe, Harper and the rest of the Chosen Men find Ellie before it's too late and just what will become of all that Aztec gold.

Daragh O' Malley and Hugh Fraser reprise their roles as Harper and Wellington respectively and Jayne Ashbourne makes a more than appealing appearance as Ellie in the sixth Sharpe adventure, which although lacks the heat, smoke and blood of a major battle scene is still as exciting and as thrilling as it's predecessors.

Sharpe's Honour
(1994)

Sharpe defends what little honour he has been afforded
Sean Bean returns as Napoleonic hero Richard Sharpe in Sharpe's Honour, the fifth movie in the series and as always Patrick Harper and the rest of Sharpes chosen men are all along for the ride, but this time Major Sharpe is in serious trouble.

Under the influence of Sharpe's sworn enemy Major Ducos, a mysterious lady by the name of La Marquesa has accused Sharpe of rape. Her husband arrives at Sharpe's camp to challenge his wife's attacker to a dual.

The dual is discovered and stopped by the authorities, and as a result Sharpe becomes the prime suspect when his opponent is murdered in the middle of the night.

As no-one in the British Army other than Wellington and Major Nairn consider Sharpe anything but a rough commoner with little or no honour, he his given a shambolic trial and is sentenced to death by hanging, and Harper and the chosen men have no choice but to look on as their beloved commander walks slowly to the gallows.

However, convinced of his innocence Wellington and Nairn hang another convicted prisoner in Sharpe's stead and release him and his chosen men to find the real killer and La Marquesa herself, to not only prove his innocence but to find out her reasons for framing him in the first place.

Daragh O'Malley, Micheal Byrne and Hugh Fraser co-star with brilliant performances by Alice Krige as La Marquesa and FĂ©odor Atkine as the villainous Major Ducos, in what is another exciting, swashbuckling instalment through Sharpe's eventful journey through the Napoleonic Wars.

Sharpe's Enemy
(1994)

Sharpe -v- Obidiah Part 2
In what is arguably the best of the Sharpe series, Richard Sharpe, now promoted Major is sent to secure the release of the wife of an English aristocrat who has been captured by a gang of desperate deserters lead by Sharpe's former Nemesis Obidiah Hakeswell.

Hakeswell is demanding a kings ransom for Lady Farthingdale played by a young Elizabeth Hurley, and he has asked for Sharpe to be the delivery boy so he can exact his ultimate revenge.

Also the town in question is not only the den and haven of the thieves and mutineers but a strategic stronghold, essential to Wellington's advance, and as a result Sharpe and his chosen men not only have the deserters and the hostages to contend with, but the arrival of a large contingent of French troops determined to secure the town for themselves.

Sean Bean and Daragh O'Malley return as Sharpe and Harper, and we see excellent performances by Hugh Fraser as Wellington, Michael Byrne as Major Nairn and Assumpta Serna returning for the final time as Sharpe's wife Teresa Moreno.

However the performance of the film, if not the performance of the entire Sharpe series is given once again to Pete Postlethwaite as the pervertedly evil and twitchy Obidiah Hakeswell, in my opinion one of the most loathsome baddies ever brought to the screen.

Super Swash for your Buckle

Sharpe's Company
(1994)

Sharpe - v- Obidiah Part 1
Sean Bean returns as Napoleonic hero Richard Sharpe. This time the action takes place in 1812 around the historical Battle and siege at Badajoz.

Sharpe has been demoted to no more than a quartermaster to make a place for an aristocratic fop who has bought Sharpe's captaincy of the light company at horseguards.

Sharpe realises that there is only one act of bravery that will help him regain his captaincy and keep it, and that it to lead the the 'Forlorn Hope' the first company that will storm the walls of badajoz when the assault finally begins... in short a suicide mission.

Sharpe also has personal reasons to get inside the city, and that is because his wife Teresa and his newborn daughter Antonia, are trapped inside and are in danger of being discovered by the French.

Also to add to Sharpes worries, a demon from his past, Sergeant Obidiah Hakeswell has returned to the ranks and is determined to rape, pillage and flog as many people as possible.

Pete Postlethwaite gives the performance of the movie as the evil, twitchy Obidiah, and the character of Patrick Harper is brought to the forefront a lot more and Daragh O' Malley really shines.

Another great Swashbuckling Sharpe adventure

Sharpe's Eagle
(1993)

Sharpe is back
Sean Bean returns in this, the second entry in the Sharpe movie series, which sees Richard Sharpe reluctantly serving under the command of a ruthless and sadistic 'Horseguards' fop Colonel Sir Henry Simmerson, who's incompetence results in the death of the highly respected Major Lennox, a company of soldiers, and the loss of the King's Colours.

Also Simmerson's cowardly retreat from the action, allows Richard Sharpe and his crack company of Rifles to save the day, gaining Sharpe another promotion, this time to Captain.

Captain Sharpe however has sworn revenge for Lennox's death and is determined to realise Lennox's dying wish, which is for Sharpe to capture a French Imperial Eagle from the battle field to adorn his grave.

However with disgrace staring him in the face, an embittered Simmerson is out to extract his own revenge upon Sharpe, with the help of his worthless nephew Lt. Gibbons and the dangerously nasty Lt. Berry played with a deliciously evil sneer by a very young Daniel Craig.

Set just before and around the historical battle of Talavera, this is one of the best entries in the series with welcome returns for Daragh O'Malley, as Harper, Assumpta Serna as Teresa, Brian Cox as Hogan and David Troughton as Wellington.

Sharpe's Rifles
(1993)

The first in the now legendary made-for -tv movie series
Having not actually read any of the Cornwall books on which this series is based, I can look upon this and the other movies in the Sharpe series as solely a viewer instead of one constantly comparing them to the books (which I now seem to consistently do with the Harry Potter series)so I consider this to puts me at an advantage whilst writing a review.

Sean Bean makes the role of Napoleonic hero Richard Sharpe his own right from the very start, as he plays the working class, son-of-a-whore Sergeant plucked from the ranks and given officer status for saving the life of the future Duke of Wellington.

Wellington repays Sharpe by giving him command of a tough and unruly bunch of riflemen, who are forced to escort a small guerrilla army of Spanish Freedom fighters through French held territory to the tiny town of Torrecastro to help start and support an uprising.

To add to Sharpe's duties he is also under orders to find and protect James Rothchild, a banker trying to journey through enemy territory with a much needed bankers draft in order for Wellington to pay the British Army.

Although it this a great 100 minutes of classic swashbuckling entertainment, this story only seems to serve as a means to an end with this episodes sole purpose being to introduce us to the characters, and show the building relationships that will see Sharpe through fifteen sequels to date.

We see Sharpe develop several strong relationships throughout the series, and in this episode we see the basis of most of them. We all know Sharpe soon becomes one of Wellington's favoured officers but here they meet for the first time. He also meets Teresa, who will become his wife, and Patrick Harper whom after a shaky start soon becomes Sharpe's best friend and right hand man. It is here he also meets Hagman, Harris, Perkins and Cooper other ongoing characters throughout the series.

A great start to the series and one that set the bar pretty high for the future.

The Ladykillers
(1955)

Another Ealing Gem
Along with Passport to Pimlico, The Ladykillers is the Ealing Studio's other undisputed jewel in it's already impressive crown, and this time the comedy cannot be more darker or blacker.

Elderly widow and local busy-body Mrs Wilburforce rents rooms between of course, her frequent visits to the police station to report this and that and complain about that and the other.

Her most recent tenant is mild-mannered Professor Marcus played by Alec Guinness practically unrecognisable behind a hideous set of teeth and an over long scarf that predated Tom Baker's Doctor Who by almost twenty years. Professor Marcus befriends Mrs Wilburforce and rents her room as he is looking for a quiet place to rehearse his up and coming string quintet.

Other members of this seemingly harmless and cultured group include a handle-barred mustachioed Major played by Cecil Parker, A teddy-boy cockney played by the great Peter Sellers, a sinister looking trench coat played by Herbert Lom, and a mono-symbolic punch-drunk bruiser played by Danny Green.

However despite the musical instruments they carry it soon becomes clear that they actually have their minds on an altogether different kind of 'fiddle' They are actually all seasoned criminals planning a major cash heist from the local railway station, using Mrs Wilburforce and her 'lobsided' house not only as a base of operations, but plan to involve her unknowingly in the transportation of the cash.

All goes well, and the robbery goes ahead as planned, but when Mrs Wilburforce discovers their true identities, their sordid crime and the stolen money, it is clear to these desperate men, that she clearly knows too much, and will not have any second thoughts about sharing her information with the local Police inspector first thing in the morning.

It is decided by the now obviously insane Professor Marcus that one of them must 'do the old woman in' but each of them are either too cowardly or too fond of her to do the dreadful deed. One by one they are chosen and one by one, they chicken out and try and double cross the others, which leads to a series of unfortunate accidents occurring throughout the night.

Alec Gunniess, Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Cecil Parker and Danny Green are all perfectly cast and deliver spot on comedy performances but it is clear from the outset that the adorable Katie Johnson practically steals the film as Mrs Wilburforce making a stand against Guiness and his gang of thugs after being taken advantage of in the worst possible way.

With delightful cameos from Carry-oners Kenneth Connor and Frankie Howerd plus Jack Warner and Philip Stainton in their requisite roles as the local police inspector and his portly Sergeant, this is a classic British film, which outstrips it's contemporaries (and remakes) by a country mile.

Passport to Pimlico
(1949)

One of the best Ealing Comedies
Passport to Pimlico is a real treat for all fans of British cinema. Not only is it an enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining comedy, but it is a cinematic flashback to a bygone age, with attitudes and scenarios sadly now only a memory in British life.

Stanley Holloway plays Pimlico resident Arthur Pemberton, who after the accidental detonation of an unexploded bomb, discovers a wealth of medieval treasure belonging to the 14th Century Duke of Burgundy that has been buried deep underneath their little suburban street these last 600 years.

Accompanying the treasure is an ancient legal decree signed by King Edward IV of England (which has never been officially rescinded) to state that that particular London street had been declared Burgandian soil, which means that in the eyes of international law, Pemberton and the other local residents are no longer British subjects but natives of Burgundy and their tiny street an independent country in it's own right and a law unto itself.

This sets the war-battered and impoverished residents up in good stead as they believe themselves to be outside of English law and jurisdiction, so in an act of drunken defiance they burn their ration books, destroy and ignore their clothing coupons, flagrantly disregard British licencing laws etc, declaring themselves fully independent from Britain.

However, what then happens is ever spiv, black marketeer and dishonest crook follows suit and crosses the 'border' into Burgundy as a refuge from the law and post-war restrictions to sell their dodgy goods, and half of London's consumers follow them in order to dodge the ration, making their quiet happy little haven, a den of thieves and a rather crowded one at that.

Appealing to Whitehall for assistance, they are told that due to developments this is "now a matter of foreign policy, which His Majesty's Government is reluctant to become involved" which leaves the residents high and dry. They do however declare the area a legal frontier and as such set up a fully equipped customs office at the end of the road, mainly to monitor smuggling than to ensure any safety for the residents of Pimlico.

Eventually the border is closed altogether starting a major siege, with the Bugundian residents slowly running out of water and food, but never the less fighting on in true British style. As one Bugundian resident quotes, "we're English and we always were English, and it's just because we are English, we are fighting so hard to be Bugundians"

A sentiment that is soon echoed throughout the capital as when the rest of London learn of the poor Bugundians plight they all feel compelled to chip in and help them, by throwing food and supplies over the barbed wire blockades.

Will Whitehall, who has fought off so may invaders throughout the centuries finally be brought to it's knees by this new batch of foreigners, especially as these ones are English!!!!

Great tale, and great fun throughout. Not to be missed.

Move Over, Darling
(1963)

A nice little film, but a far cry from the original
I am writing this review because I have just watched 'Move over Darling' for the first time after having been watching the original, 'My Favorite Wife' for years so I thought I'd write a review of both films and compare them.

Firstly this remake is good and entertaining but not as good as the original black and white version. Although the later film does have identical dialogue in parts and James Garner and Doris Day are great in the roles, they just do not to it as good as Cary Grant and Irene Dunne done...er did.

For instance, the scene where Nicholas Arden first sees his wife in the hotel lobby and he follows the lift doors closing. Hilarious and Garner does it superbly, but that was a typical Cary Grant action and no-one can do it better.

The film opens with Nicholas Arden (Garner), who having lost his wife to a shipwreck five years ago, is filing his petition to get have his missing wife declared legally dead, so he can marry Bianca, a fox-clad beauty played by Polly Bergan.

However, having happily made his vows and is all set to settle down with wife number two, wife number one, hilariously portrayed by Doris Day determined to get her husband, life and home back, returns after having been shipwrecked on a desert island.

Garner now has to spend the rest of the movie realising that his one true love has returned and must find a kind, and considerate way to 'dump' his new bride.

Add to his misery and torment, Garner's discovery that his wife has not been the lone shipwrecked victim these last five years, but has been a jungle mate to a muscle bound Adonis played by Chuck Conners, news made worse by the fact that their affectionate nicknames for each other during that time seem to have been Adam and Eve.

With such 'naked' truths scratching the surface, it's not long before Garner's troubles really start as with two Mrs Arden's out and about, living, breathing, walking and talking, the authorities are starting to sit up and take notice. Bigamy is after all a crime.

What is more evident in this movie is the sexual overtones which had been thoroughly censored in the first movie, but were starting to emerge more as the sixties progressed. Like Garners' attempts not only to tell his new wife of his first wife's reappearance, but his attempts to avoid having sex with her.

I also like Doris Day's chat with Bianca during the massage scene where she describes 'My Favorite Wife' to draw a comparison with her own life. Her Swedish accent was a bit bad though wasn't it???

Perhaps the only top marks this remake gets over it's forerunner is the title song which became Doris Day's last big hit, certainly her last top ten hit in the UK. A lovely song sung by my favourite female vocalist. In fact I preferred her talents as a singer than her talents as a comedienne, as funny as she was, which is ironic as I preferred her to see her 1940 counterpart Irene Dunne work her comedy than to sing her operettas.

The one failing of both these films however is the character of Bianca, she is such a tragic figure when you think about it, she's neither nasty, vulgar, cruel, malicious or evil. Just a woman who loved a man enough to marry him, yet in both films she becomes a victim. Maybe she should have been written to be a gold-digger or a liar or a cheat, just so you don't feel so sorry for her. The Comedy can become a bit tainted and black as a result.

Anyway. Not as good as the original but still a great screwball 60's sex comedy.

My Favorite Wife
(1940)

A Classic Screwball Comedy,
I am writing this review because after years of watching this movie and loving every minute of it, every time I watched it, I have just watched 'Move over Darling' for the first time and thought I'd write a review of both and compare them.

Firstly this original and black and white version is so much better. Although the later film does have identical dialogue in parts and James Garner and Doris Day are great in the roles, they just do not to it as good as Cary Grant and Irene Dunne done...er did. For instance, the scene where Nicholas Arden first sees his wife in the hotel lobby and he follows the lift doors closing. Hilarious and Garner does it superbly, but that was a typical Cary Grant action and no-one can do it better.

The film opens with Nicholas Arden (Grant), who having lost his wife to a shipwreck seven years ago, is filing his petition to get have his missing wife declared legally dead, so he can marry Bianca, a fox-clad beauty played by Gail Patrick.

However, having happily made his vows and is all set to settle down with wife number two, wife number one, hilariously portrayed by Irene Dunne, makes an unexpected return from her shipwrecked paradise, determined to get her husband, life and home back.

Grant now has to spend the rest of the movie realising that his one true love has returned and must find a kind, and considerate way to 'dump' his new bride.

Add to his misery and torment, Grant's discovery that his wife has not been the lone shipwrecked victim these last seven years, but has been a jungle mate to a muscle bound Adonis played by Randolph Scott, news made worse by the fact that their affectionate nicknames for each other during that time seem to have been Adam and Eve.

With such 'naked' truths scratching the surface, it's not long before Grant's trouble's really start as with two Mrs Ardens out and about, living, breathing, walking and talking, the authorities are starting to sit up and take notice. Bigamy is after all a crime.

As with 1937's 'The Awful Truth' Grant and Dunne prove what a great comedic team they made and that their performances were by no means a fluke. It is also my opinion that Irene Dunne was a more natural comedienne than she was a singer...good voice though she had. She was just more of a joy to watch in these kind of roles, the opposite of her 1963 counterpart Doris Day, whom i always preferred as a singer.

The one failing of both these films however is the character of Bianca, she is such a tragic figure when you think about it, she's neither nasty, vulgar, cruel, malicious or evil. Just a woman who loved a man enough to marry him, yet in both films she becomes a victim. Maybe she should have been written to be a gold-digger or a liar or a cheat, just so you don't feel so sorry for her. The Comedy can become a bit tainted and black as a result

Anyway. A True classic and a great example of screwball comedy.

Chance of a Lifetime
(1950)

A surprisingly great film
Reading the synopsis of this British movie, I was expecting a classic pre-Carry On Ealing type of Comedy, but this film turned out to be quite a gripping. moving and entertaining industrial cum kitchen-sink soap drama.

When factory owner Basil Radford's popularity falls to an all time low with his workers, it leads to the sacking of one of his more outspoken workers and potential strike action by the rest of his staff calling for his reinstatement.

In a heated argument with his men, he argues that if any of the workers think they can run the factory better than him, then they ought to put their money where their mouth is and step up to the plate, which is what quiet soft spoken worker Bernard Miles, who also wrote, produced and Directed the whole show, decides to do.

Radford calls Miles' bluff and leaves forthwith leaving the workers in charge of everything, the factory, the wages, the production, the bills, the distribution and the malcontented staff, personified by Niall McGuiness and his gang of anarchic layabouts.

Kenneth More however is another member of the team who rises to the challenge and displays a previously unseen superb business acumen that steers the company in the right direction, even managing to secure a major overseas contract for the firm.

However when word gets out that the respected Radford is no longer in charge, the hitherto steadfast Banks, associate companies and suppliers panic and pull out of all their dealings with the struggling firm, leading Miles, More and the rest of the workforce fighting one problem after another.

All seems lost until Radford, a man who it seems has been judged to harshly, sees his beloved firm struggling, and his hard working workforce losing the battle he at first despaired of but which he now has full admiration for. He helps by using his money and influence to secure deliveries, orders, loans etc, while staying anonymously behind the scenes.

Great performances from what runs as a who's who of post-war British Cinema, and great early performances from Patrick Troughton and Hattie Jacques, This coupled with the gritty black and white photography perfectly capturing the struggles and hardships of a war-battered and rationed England now long since gone, make this a good little film for a quiet afternoon.

Muck, grease and overalls, so realistically portrayed you can almost smell the oil.

It Started with a Kiss
(1959)

A charming 50's sex comedy without the sex
This is a charming little film, which like many of it's kind, derives it's charm from the circumstances involved rather than the actual dialogue.

Glenn Ford (as always) shines through in a great comedic performance as the penniless Air Force officer, married after just one day to gold-digging showgirl Debbie Reynolds.

After the one initial wedding night of passion and a life changing move to Spain, the two quickly realise that apart from the strong sexual attraction they feel for each other they have nothing at all in common.

However when she decides to give their marriage a go, it is on the understanding that it for one month trial period only and sex is most definitely not on the cards.

Ford is also falling foul to his new $40,000 Lincoln Futura Concept Car (the future Batmobile) which he wins in a raffle the same night he meets his new wife.

The car is bringing him unwanted attention from the Air Force, who see it as a vulgar display of American wealth and is bringing suspicions of corruption and embezzlement etc. It is also putting him in the 80-90% tax bracket and as penniless as he is he now faces a tax bill of over $17,000. Not the kind of money you should be owing when your wife is the kind of person who spends over a $1,000 on one shopping trip.

Even when he tries to sell it it brings him misfortune as selling so much as a cigarette or a pair of stockings to the natives is punishable by court martial, so you can imagine that a $17,500 transaction practically has the firing squad polishing their rifles.

His potential purchaser is also causing him problems as he is a disgustingly handsome Bull-fighting Spanish nobleman, who's interest in the car has lead to a stronger interest in Ford's wife, made worse by the fact that a rich jet-set lifestyle is being offered and is what she has sought for so long.

With Ford's sexual frustration rising and jealousy in his love rival mounting, coupled with Reynolds' materialistic attitude and flirtatious behaviour around the enamoured Spaniard serving to drive the wedge deeper between the two, it seems that their whirlwind relationship is destined to end.

But can whatever love and attraction that threw these two love birds together in the first place, shine through and keep them together?

Not the best example of this genre of film, but due to the watchable performances by it's principles and the enjoyable plot line, it is certainly a fine one.

Yolanda and the Thief
(1945)

A Lighter than air story, yet one that fails to get of the ground.
My guess is that Fred Astaire was having a bit of a tough time in Hollywood in the early 1940's. The studios just didn't have a clue in what vehicles and what roles he should be cast in.

I mention this as it seems that in most of his offerings between 1940 and 1945, he is sadly miscast as rogues, liars, thieves, con-men, and friends who are so two-faced that they will stab you in the back at a moments notice.

Some examples of these miscast roles see Fred play a scheming back-stabbing trumpeter(Second Chorus), a man who is out to steal his best friends girl (Holiday Inn), and a flyer gone AWOL, lying through his teeth in order to get his way with a girl (The Sky's the Limit).

Even one of the 'sketches' in Zeigfeld Follies, has Fred playing a thief and a Pick-Pocket. I guess Hollywood casting executives must have seen a seedier side to Fred Astaire than his ardent fans ever did.

Yolanda and the Thief is no exception as once again Fred is cast as a con-man, trying to swizz Yolanda (Lucille Bremmer), a Latin American heiress out of her cool seventy-two million dollar fortune, by taking advantage of her religious beliefs and pretending to be her guardian Angel.

Of course the two fall in love...a little too quickly as to be believable I fear, which is why Fred finds redemption, returns her money and acts a noble hero. Its all so predictable. So predictable in fact that I knew who Leon Ames' character was meant to be from the first.

No surprises here and despite Fred's miscasting the story is passable and enjoyable enough to be successfully entertaining.

However, I always found that the story lines of these Hollywood musicals tended to be on the duff side anyway, and overall the one and only reason to watch was to see the stars do what they did best; sing and dance.

Yet unfortunately 'Yolanda' even fails here, with only 'Coffeetime' set during a street carnival, exciting enough to watch without drooling and snoring, and as it is the last of only three dances in the film there is little else to hold your attention.

About forty minutes in we are presented with a dream sequence that lasts forever and a day and just seems to go on and on without anything great happening. I felt that this sequence was so awful and prolonged that it would have felt more at home in a Gene Kelly movie.

I just felt that this wasn't Fred's thing. Give him a girl to twist, turn, lift and spin, he was the master, Give him an empty stage a hot beat, a prop or two and a pair of tap shoes, then you needn't invite anyone else to the party. But this?????

Two things really stand out in this film however and that is the glorious war-time Technicolour (this was Fred's first colour film) and Mildred Nantwich, who's scenes as Yolanda's aunt, are both funny and refreshing and a real treat to watch.

This film understandably bombed at the box-office and is considered by many to be one of Fred Astaire's career low points which may have influenced his decision to retire soon after, However after just two years of retirement he returned in 1948 for Easter Parade and with a new permanent home at MGM, he was at last given the roles he was suited to best; roles that had served him well throughout the 1930's and were destined to be just as kind to him for the remainder of the 40's and 50's

In short, this film is purely for avid Astaire completists.

Noises Off...
(1992)

Perhaps the most perfectly executed comedy you will ever see.
Who was it that said, "Comedy is all about Timing?" Well whoever said it must have just watched Noises Off, as it is probably one of the best examples of true comedy timing ever brought to the screen.

It follows a troupe of actors attempting to bring a 'farce' to the stage despite the entire performance falling down around their ankles, as personal disputes, dodgy scenery, missed queues, and backstage accidents take hold.

Michael Caine is delightful throughout as the humourless director, desperately trying to bully a reasonable performance out of his unhappy band of players, who include Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, Carol Burnett, Denholm Elliot and Nicolette Sheriden.

The film is basically split into three parts, the first third of the movie shows us how the play should be performed, introducing us, the flies on the wall so to speak to the important lines, the queues, the nature of the farce etc, which we then relate to later on when it is destined to all go so wrong. Even this segment is not without its problems as we see fluffed lines, confusing prop issues and the basis for future disagreements between the cast and crew become apparent.

Fast forward a few weeks and we see another performance of the play, this time all the action we see takes place back stage, in the wings and behind the scenery as the comical slapstick feuding reaches fever pitch. We can here the dialogue of the play on stage as the cast silently fight behind the scenes, with weapons, bottles and props, being passed from character to character as their off stage antics threatens their entrances and exits, their lines and the overall smooth running of the play.

Another few weeks later we see the play reach Cleveland and it's way to its big Broadway opening and the cast have practically given up, ad libbing and bringing their off stage issues right onto the stage and into the audiences lap.

The action is so fast paced that it is hard to describe just how great and funny this film is, it just has to be seen to be believed. And anyone who has performed on stage and perhaps even acted out a farce, will appreciate just how brilliant the whole cast were and how their individual performances were just spot on.

A nice angle in which to look at this film is that it is a group of actors playing farce on the stage and not quite managing to get it right, yet their offstage antics become the most perfectly performed farce you will ever see.

I defy anyone not to enjoy this film enormously.

Made for Each Other
(1939)

Don't expect many laughs, just great performances
A young couple meet, fall in love and marry, all in the space of one day. Now comes the hard part, telling the folks and making the marriage work. Sounds fun doesn't it? Add to this synopsis Jimmy Stewart and Carole Lombard, two of the best exponents of the 1930's screwball comedy than your bound to think that this is a must-see humour fest, on par with the likes of say, It Happened One Night, The Awful Truth or Bringing up Baby. Well your wrong.

What has the potential to be a light hearted love comedy with all the domestic trimmings, soon morphs into a dark and brooding melodrama, highlighting the troubles and heartache this new couple encounters.

His overbearing and interfering mother, his uninspiring job and lack of prospects, the pay cuts and the poverty are all played out for us to see in true David O'Selznick gloom and doom fashion.

Add to this already depressing spectacle, a lusty infant who is suddenly brought to deaths door, this movie will soon have you reaching for the pills, the noose or any other sharp object you may happen to have handy.

However what actually curbs your efforts for self destruction and has you glued to the screen are the fine performances we are presented with.

The great James Stewart once again delivers an Oscar worthy performance (and lets face it in which film did he not!!!!)as the hapless hero, although this time unlike other characters like George Bailey or Jefferson Smith, he seems to be a bit of a limp-wrister with very little 'umph' about him. In fact at times you have to question what Lombard's character saw in such a insipid loser in the first place.

Also Lombard was superb. Although more famous for her rapid talking wise cracking comedic roles, she actually acts through what has essentially become a true out and out tear jerker with the greatest of ease.

So in summarising, The story may be depressing as hell, but the performances save it from what would otherwise be virtual obscurity, and if you can resist the act of suicide until the end, the now fully restored to health tot says, his first words which will go along way to reassure you that their is plenty left to live for.

However, watch this film more than once and even this moment of wonder may fail to save you.

Gunpowder, Treason & Plot
(2004)

Anti English, Pro-Catholic and would have been dismissed as racist and bigoted had it been directed at any other denominations
As a lover of British History, and a as fan of some of this movie/mini series' more prominent actors i.e. Robert Carlise, Kevin McKidd and Richard Coyle, I was looking forward to this adaptation of the circumstances leading up to the events of November 5th 1605 with great anticipation. However, I was somewhat disappointed.

It was not so much the historical inaccuracies, these are now somewhat expected, as it seems these days History just isn't interesting enough just to be shown as it actually happened, and needs dumbing down or tweaking.

I was more disappointed at the overall tone of the piece as it is openly biased in favour of the catholics and as a result history seems to have been completely rewritten to make England, Queen Elizabeth I, Kinf James I and every other protestant in the world evil conspirators and murderers.

In the same vein we are shown how Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby and the rest of his gang of Catholic TERRORISTS, were really only martyrs to a great cause and were forced into this action by a disfigured, cruel, oppressive and homosexual sex predator of a King, who lied to the people and deserved to get his evil arse blown to smithereens anyway.

It is also seems to be anti-English and Pro-Scottish which doesn't make sense at all as the disagreements between England and Scotland had nothing at all to to with the Gunpowder Plot and it seems the entire first half of this three hour lie-fest highlighted the 'plight' of Mary, Queen of Scots just to justify the anti-English sentiment.

Of course it never mentions once the lying, plotting and conniving she herself did against her cousin Elizabeth, which bought about her 'reluctant' execution by the English Queen.

Apart from using it to work in some anti-English propaganda, the whole Mary, Queen of Scots story line wasn't needed. It took place 40 years before Guy Fawkes and his cronies tried to blow up Parliament and was just a waste of time and money. Its not like it even set the scene, the events of the 1560's and the events of 1605 are completely unrelated. I'm sure the public would have much preferred to see a more accurate three hour in depth story about 1605 than anything else.

I just feel as a protestant and an Englishman, that this film went too far in it's inaccurate portrayals and political sentiments against me and my kind and cannot justify the openly political and religious stance it made by portraying the catholics of 16th and 17th century Britain as the nice guys of the piece. It is on a par with portraying the Nazis as humanists with morals and Al-Qaeda terrorists as brave soldiers with just cause.

I feel that had a programme, film, play, book or song directed so much negative feeling and bile towards any other country, religion, race, colour, creed or faction, it would have been banned as racist and bigoted, and wouldn't even have seen the light of day.

I myself am not racist against any country or religion, especially not against my fellow Britons, my Scotttish and Welsh brethren, it just hurts me that even now in the 21st Century these two great countries still feel significantly insecure that they have to make such jibes and comments towards the English as they feel it raises their position somewhat.

To be honest devolution hasn't helped. It has done more to recreate the politics and feeling of the era depicted here than anything else, and unfortunately as a result, the division between our three countries is now growing wider, and the undertones shown in this production substantiates this fact.

As far as Scotland and Wales are concerned the United Kingdom of Great Britain is sadly no more

Merlin
(2008)

New excitement for Saturday tea times
Merlin follows Doctor Who and Robin Hood in to this crucial prime-time Saturday evening slot, and any programme occupying such a sought after position in the listings, has to be worth it's salt.

Fortunatly like Doctor Who and just as fortunately NOT like Robin Hood this one definitely hits the spot.

Updating the Arthur legend to a modern day audience seems to have been handled a little better than the previously mentioned Robin Hood, and our characters look and act the period..not just like a bunch of hoodies fresh from their cameos on Hollyoaks.

The dialogue is superb..not quite olde English, but the contemporary speeches are soon forgotten as the story enthrals you from the very start.

With a cast headed by well known British actors, John Hurt, Richard Wilson and Anthony Head, it is clear that the bar has been set pretty hight for the future and for virtual newcomers Bradley James and Colin Morgan, these roles as Arthur and Merlin respectively are a dream come true and both actors give admirable performances, especially Mr. James who stands out on the screen like shaft of light...it is clear we can expect to see more of him.

With enough period drama and enough supernatural magic to link it to it's predecessors, both fans of Doctor Who and Robin Hood will find something here to interest them..it seems to be a bit of an amalgamation of both programmes.

Well it may be too early to comment on this brand new adaptation of the Merlin legend, (i.e. check out my Doctor Who review from the new series in 2005....boy did I get that one wrong) but if I was to judge it on how quiet the first episode kept my kids for 45 minutes and how (secretly) entertained it had kept me, then you can definitely chalk this one up in the "Hit" column.

The Worst Week of My Life
(2004)

Side achingly Funny, with plenty of belly laughs and guffaws throughout.
This show was without doubt one of the funniest I have seen on television for many long years. It is one of those programmes, you just have to watch alone or only with your nearest and dearest as the grotesque faces you will pull and the snot that will pour from your nose as you laugh uncontrollably will put off people who do not know you quite so well.

Ben Miller is pulling out all the stops to make sure his marriage to Sarah Alexander all goes swimmingly (and lets face it who wouldn't.) Yet despite his good and noble intentions, circumstances are fighting him all the way as one hilarious but cringe worthy situation and mishap blends unceremoniously and continuously into the next.

You have her upper class parents who can't stand the sight of him, and who can blame them after all in the course of just one week he crawls into bed and gropes his future mother-in-law, accidentally throws the the family dog into a fully operational cement mixer, destroys an important painting and almost fatally hospitalises the beloved grandmother. Classic.

His own father is also presenting a problem as he is now heavily and sexually involved with a lap dancer with as much class as public toilet,which again poses a problem with the snobby-in-law elite.

His best man is also hospitalised two days before the wedding calling upon our hero to ask the most unlikely replacement, a beer swigging, foul mouthed, vulgar chav, complete with baggy jeans, stubble and lack of manners to take his place, to his ever lasting shame and regret.

Add to this a psychotic ex-girlfriend from hell intent on either destroying either him or his wedding, this truly adds up to be the undisputed worst week of his life.

With each half hour episode taking up a day of the week leading up to the fateful day and delightful support from all involved this really is an unmissable experience.

The Meeksville Ghost
(2001)

Not as Bad as everyone is made to believe
This film has some pretty bad reviews, and on the whole you can see why. It was shot on what must have been an extremely low budget, a cast largely made up of relatively unknown and extreme little league actors and a screenplay so full of holes you could fill it with water and use it to feed your plants. However it is not as bad as it could have been....far from it and great family entertainment can be derived here.

I am not however going to lead you up the garden path and let you all believe that this film is a masterpiece, because it's not. It is merely an entertaining story, which for a change is suitable for he whole family which is always nice to see. It contains its fair share of romance, comedy and mystery with just enough supernatural ghostliness to intrigue yet not scare the bejesus out of the little ones.

The story is taken straight from The Canterville Ghost, where the unsettled spirit of a character from history walks the earth searching for eternal redemption that is held in the hands of his modern day descendant.

However to spice this up and make this a little different from the aforementioned 'The Canterville Ghost' or even 'The Ghost Goes West' the action is moved to the wild west and our down trodden ghost is a gun packin', cheroot smoking, whisky sippin' outlaw, who in 1878 was responsible for the theft of the deeds to a thriving mining town, the murder of the towns founder and most influential citizen and the accidental death of the two mens shared love.

Now destined to find no peace in this world or the next he turns to his last surviving descendant a modern, streetwise biker boy named Danny, to find the lost deeds to the town, clear up the mystery of what really happened in the past and finally reunite the towns two main families who have been feuding over the issue ever since.

It is quite predictable in places and the acting leaves a lot to be desired but it is harmless fun, good for the kids and can pass an hour or two when there is nothing else on the TV.

Give it a go what have you got to lose?

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
(2008)

Why all the bad reviews????
Indiana Jones was an icon of the 80's and an icon of my childhood. As a character it has to be said that with the exception of Captain Jack Sparrow, never before or since has such an iconic and legendary character been created that has had such an impact on movie going audiences.

For this reason the character was never officially retired and although nearly twenty years have passed since Indy's last great adventure, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford have spent that hiatus trying to agree on the best plot, script, cast etc. in order to bring a new Indiana Jones vehicle to the screen.

It was an unfortunate coincidence however that the finished article had to be released when it was because although this movie has been long awaited by fans, it appears to many that Lucas and Spielberg have simply jumped on the current bandwagon which has seen other 80's relics such as John McLaine, Rocky Balboa and John Rambo also casting away their zimmer frames, taking off their cardies and slippers and acting like a group of twenty year olds.

So although this movie was always planned and envisaged, if you take into account the time elapsed since The Last Crusade and this trend of 80's nostalgia characters, this film becomes a revival piece by default.

First I was excited at the prospect of a new Indiana Jones movie, but became disheartened by the bad reviews I had read. I expected to leave the cinema with a distinct feeling of anti-climax never able to look at Indy in the same light again. In short I was expecting the biggest turkey ever. Thankfully that was not the case.

It occurred to me midway into the film that the people who have panned it probably didn't get it. They were probably not around or old enough to appreciate the original trilogy first hand or maybe it's because as they have only been spoon-fed a singular movie diet of CGI blockbusters, slashers and horrors for the last twenty years, their tastes, attitudes or expectations have changed alarmingly since 1989. Or maybe simply because this genre of film has been away from our screens so long people have just forgotten how to appreciate them.

So with so many bad reviews its about time I go out on a limb and defend it with justifiable gusto.

This film is great and thoroughly entertaining. Its quite right that it doesn't contain the epic spectacle of Raiders of the Lost Ark or the dark plot line of Temple of Doom, nor is it quite the thrilling roller coaster ride of The Last Crusade, but it none the less an exciting and befitting chapter thats fits in well with The Indiana Jones legend.

This time we see a much older and slower Indy, embroiled in a KGB plot to find and acquire some apparent extra terrestial artifacts, whilst being reunited with former lover Marion Ravenwood and her son Mutt, a switchblade loving biker boy and Fonz wannabee, who turns out to be....well you can guess the rest.

The search leads them to Peru where the site of an old Inca temple reveals a supernatural history of its own.

Aliens? Flying saucers? Is this for real? Is somebody having a giraffe? Yeah, I thought the same thing when I first heard about it, but in reality is a flying saucer anymore of a fantasy than a seven hundred year old knight in a cave full of cups? An Ark full to the brim with the power of God, or five magical stones that decide the fate and prosperity of a village? The Indy films have always had a supernatural edge to them, whether this be based on faith, or the occult, so to incorporate a science fiction twist to that edge was after all a logical step. And despite what your mind conjours it is done both tastefully and in line with the films plot.

There are some unbelievable moments here like the nuclear fridge routine and the survival of going over three major waterfalls all of which made Niagra look like a dripping tap, and in hindsight these scenes should have probably been rewritten or just cut from the movie altogether.

But its great to see Indy back in the swing of things, notably older and more cautious, conscious of his age and the era in which he now lives. It was also nice to have explained some of the things which Indiana Jones has been doing these last twenty years, including his OSS service during World War II for which he was highly decorated and awarded the rank of Colonal.

It also mentions the passing of both Marcus Brody and his father which helps to tie up the loose ends from the previous picture and once again emphasises the passing of time...a major factor in the film.

I went to the cinema expecting the worst, instead I got...not the best by a long margin, but a film on par with the others and a far, far better experience than I could have hoped for.

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