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  • The World of Suzie Wong (1960)
    Five years after Love is a Many Splendored Thing, William Holden is back in Hong Kong falling for a Eurasian woman (although in this the half British Nancy Kwan had to be made up to play her supposedly full Chinese character). Paramount British Pictures made this to recoup some Eady levy money and Holden and Kwan went to the then British Crown Colony to shoot location scenes, while everybody else in confined to the MGM-British sound stages at Borehamwood. The film goes on too long and while Kwan does well for somebody who had barely acted before, Holden looks a little bored with proceedings (maybe he was fed up with having to return to Hong Kong to re-shoot scenes with Kwan after original co-star France Nuyen was fired). Geoffrey Unsworth's cinematography is OK without being outstanding and the Borehamwood sets are up to the usual high MGM-British standards. Sylvia Syms is decorative and Bernard Cribbens turns up for the proverbial "spit and a cough" as a sailor. Apparently Lionel Blair is in it as "dancing sailor" but I must have missed him. On the back of this film's success, Kwan was whisked off to Hollywood to make Flower Drum Song (again made up to look full Chinese). That film did nobody any favours and Kwan's big (but dubbed) number "I Enjoy Being a Girl" looks like it has wandered in from an Ethel Merman movie.

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    • #There's no business like show business!

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      • No Trees in the Street (1958). No laughs in it either. This is another gloomy social commentary from Ted Willis about a slum and the wretched and often criminal lives resulting from it. It's told in flashback (to a very 50s 1930s), framed by a heavy-handed cautionary tale given by policeman Ronald Howard to budding tearaway David Hemmings. Atmospherically lit by Gilbert Taylor nearly all in the studio and effectively directed by J. Lee Thompson, there are very powerful performances from Sylvia Syms as the nice girl desperately trying to get away, Joan Miller as her ratbag of a mother and Herbert Lom as the local lad gone prosperous through crime who's in love with Sylvia. Melvyn Hayes also gets some very dramatic stuff to do as the short-fused but terrified little brother of Sylvia who's given his entry into serious crime by Mr. Lom, but the cheery chummy Stanley Holloway seems quite out of place. A dull sledgehammer of a story, but some terrific acting.

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        • Courageous Mr. Penn (1942), aka Penn of Pennsylvania. What can only be described as an quick and uneven sprint through the conversion of Mr. Penn to Quakerism, his determination to have religious freedom, sponsored by Charles II it is suggested, and his trip to the new world to found a land of milk and honey for all time, plus having a family in the meantime. While the film spends considerable time over Penn's trial before the Lord Mayor of London, his achievements in America are generally rushed through via montages and the lofty sentiments in the intertitles must have been idealistic even in 1941/42. Clifford Evans is suitably stoic for the most part as Penn and Deborah Kerr is his steadfast and, according to this, his only wife, plus we get Dennis Arundell as the whimsical king, D. J. Williams as one of his miserable and moaning advisers and Henry Oscar as a dreamy Samuel Pepys. A budget-conscious flagwaver from Lance Comfort.

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          • The Solitary Child (1957). A second feature melodrama produced by Peter Rogers and directed by Gerald Thomas, but there's still quite a lot carrying on in this small scale production, which is only an hour long but is slowly paced and has big dollops of exposition chucked in every few scenes.
            Bride Harriet (Barbara Shelley) goes to live with her new husband farmer James (Philip Friend), who may or may not have murdered his first wife and poor Harriet comes to believe he's out to bump her off too. James certainly has a lot of female issues, what with his arguing sister Ann (Sarah Lawson), defensive farm worker Jean (Rona Anderson), her snooty mother Mrs. Dennison (Violet Farebrother), snappy housekeeper Mrs. Evans (Catherine Lacey), and not least his wayward daughter Maggie (Julia Lockwood). Jack Watling and briefly John Fabian pitch up too.
            Red herrings there are aplenty, though the extremely sudden denouement is not exactly surprising. And Julia's line "They're always banging off in the yard" would certainly having a different meaning in the producer's and director's later careers.

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            • Mr Holmes (2015)

              an an elderly Holmes struggles to pull together the elements of his last case, concluded some 30 years earlier, through a fog of senility and ongoing infirmity. The tone is melancholy but the performances superb and the slowly unfolding mystery, actually there are several, more than hold the attention. A gentle and thoroughly engaging film.

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              • One Exciting Night (1944). Another meaningless title for the last of Vera Lynn's three wartime flagwavers, although the conflict takes a bit of a backseat in this one as the MacGuffin is a valuable painting that some crooks are after. Vera's a budding singer who's trying to impress Donald Stewart who somehow manages to be a theatrical impresario and songwriter as well as a civil servant. The implausible yarn is well acted by Frederick Leister as the main villain and Cyril Smith as his underling and as well as Vera belting out six songs, Ambrose and his Orchestra and Sgt. Jimmy Miller and the RAF Dance Orchestra also get into the act. Richard Murdoch and his unfunny routines are chucked into the mix as well, but it's all pretty tightly directed by Walter Forde. The version I saw, however, was rather choppy at times and it appears to be short of about 10 minutes, aka two more Vera songs.
                On the subject of editing, all printed records have Terence Fisher down as the film editor, but the film itself credits Edward (B.) Jarvis for this. There are also credit differences in the art and assistant director departments too.
                Last edited by Gerald Lovell; 21st May 2017, 09:48 PM.

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                • Yes I agree Mr Holmes is a very pleasant film and I enjoyed immensely.

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                  • I watched Anthony Asquith's Quiet Wedding (1941) for the first time and thought it delightful. I guess it was a 'rom-com' but more clever than the similar Demi-Paradise two years later. And I guess it was the skillful Terence Rattigan who could play up the fleeting poignant moments amongst the farcical ones.

                    I particularly liked seeing Peggy Ashcroft playing some kind of kooky Hampstead Heath New Woman.

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                    • Originally posted by tv horror View Post
                      Yes I agree Mr Holmes is a very pleasant film and I enjoyed immensely.
                      I meant to add, Mr Holmes was directed by Bill Condon ,who also directed Of Gods and Monsters which has one of my favourite Ian McKellan performances. I now add his Holmes to that. (Condon also directed Beauty and the Beast, which I have studiously avoided)

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                      • Saints and Sinners (1949). Well, there aren't many saints in this at all at all, as it's a large chunk of Irish blarney and whimsy from Leslie Arliss. Michael Kissane returns home to his Irish village after spending two years in jail for theft. He wants to prove his innocence as well as win the hand of fair Shelah, but is distracted by Blanche, the glamorous wife of a visiting American, as well as the prophecies of old Ma Murnaghan. A goodly gathering of Irish players nodding and winking gets us to about straining point by the end of the thing, but it's not really an unpleasant journey getting there. Kieron Moore is Michael, Sheila Manahan is Shelah and Christine Norden is Blanche, with Maire O'Neill as the crafty Ma, Michael Dolan as the fire and brimstone Canon who's certainly not in the Barry Fitzgerald mould and usual attendees such as blustering Noel Purcell, whining Tony Quinn and jelly Eddie Byrne. Lovely location filming.

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                        • The Uncanny (1977)

                          The heavy pen of producer Milton Subotsky looms large in this UK/Canadian anthology co production.
                          Peter Cushing is the nervy author trying to persuade publisher Ray Milland that cats are the root of all evil.

                          London 1912
                          Joan Greenwood is the elderly spinster who leaves her fortune to her cats, much to the annoyance of her nephew Simon Williams and scheming housemaid Susan Penhaligon.

                          Quebec 1975

                          Orphan Katrina Holden and her cat Wellington fetch up in the home of cold hearted Aunt Alexandra Stewart and spoilt cousin Chloe Franks.

                          Hollywood 1936

                          Hollywood star Donald Pleasance wants to get shot of his wife to be with his mistress Samantha Eggar. His wife's moggy has other ideas.

                          Clumsy stuff with a horrible script. Poor Peter Cushing looks like he has a furball, and the cats fury is represented by fake paws on the end of a stick and has the feline protagonists dive bombing and shredding the cast from a great height.

                          Paw stuff.

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                          • Originally posted by Tigon Man View Post
                            The Uncanny (1977)

                            The heavy pen of producer Milton Subotsky looms large in this UK/Canadian anthology co production.
                            Peter Cushing is the nervy author trying to persuade publisher Ray Milland that cats are the root of all evil.

                            London 1912
                            Joan Greenwood is the elderly spinster who leaves her fortune to her cats, much to the annoyance of her nephew Simon Williams and scheming housemaid Susan Penhaligon.

                            Quebec 1975

                            Orphan Katrina Holden and her cat Wellington fetch up in the home of cold hearted Aunt Alexandra Stewart and spoilt cousin Chloe Franks.

                            Hollywood 1936

                            Hollywood star Donald Pleasance wants to get shot of his wife to be with his mistress Samantha Eggar. His wife's moggy has other ideas.

                            Clumsy stuff with a horrible script. Poor Peter Cushing looks like he has a furball, and the cats fury is represented by fake paws on the end of a stick and has the feline protagonists dive bombing and shredding the cast from a great height.

                            Paw stuff.
                            My son watched this when he was six or seven and twenty years later he talks about as the scariest film he has EVER seen. I told him to resist the temptation to revisit it!

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                            • Tigon Man
                              Tigon Man commented
                              Editing a comment
                              A real piece of cats poo.
                              Producer/Ringmaster Milton Subotsky had a habit of blaming everyone else when his films went wrong, In this instance it was the hapless director.

                            • John Hamilton
                              John Hamilton commented
                              Editing a comment
                              I'd suggest reasonably broad minded seven year olds are the ideal audience for it!

                          • Empire of the Ants (Joan Collins...er...1977) Stuck for something to help the Yellowtail go down (although it goes down quite well anyway) we selected 'Empire of the Ants' on Amazon. Two things told us it was not going to be a riveting experience: it was made in 1977 and its big star was Joan Collins. Still, we'd paid the not inconsiderable sum of £3.99 and we were going to stick with it. Apparently a spill of nuclear waste has caused ants to grow to alarming proportions, and they get their mandibles stuck into a group of no-hopers, con-men and assorted make-weights as they tour an isolated island looking to buy real estate. It's pretty poor stuff all round, with many of the actors (including Ms Collins) apparently saying whatever the script says without bothering to understand or mean it.
                            We turned to each other as the final credits rolled and uttered words that cannot be used on this fine forum. Be warned.
                            If you want a much, much better giant ant film, the 1950's THEM is the one to beat. I was going to say '...despite the crude effects', but it seems nothing had improved during the 20 years between that film and this one.

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                            • Operation Conspiracy (1956), aka Cloak Without Dagger. Or indeed, Clunk Without Drama, as this really quite poor fare indeed, with a predictable script by A. R. Rawlinson, awkward staging and direction by Joseph Sterling and some pretty lame acting from those who should've known better, and I have to include Allan Cuthbertson in that. It's a standard spy "thriller" with about three sets, a bit of location work, and a mysterious East European language which includes "yaki da" at the end of a shouted sentence. Mary Mackenzie puts in a strident performance as a fashion reporter who enlists former police sergeant Leslie Dwyer to solve a mystery dating back to the war. Her former boyfriend Philip Friend, who's now apparently an hotel waiter, calls her "Little Nose", but in fact she sticks her big one into the hackneyed plot throughout its long 69 minutes. A Butcher's Film Production and I wouldn't recommend a butchers at it.

                              Also watched:

                              The Iron Petticoat (1956), a far bigger budgeted production with headline stars in it, Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn, but it's just about as bad a clunker as Operation Conspiracy. It's a Ninotchka rip-off and even without knowing the backstage traumas during the film's production, the lack of chemistry between the two stars is almost physically palpable. Hope's odd and inconsistent performance is all over the place and Hepburn's Russian accent is, er, unusual. The presence of the likes of James Robertson Justice, Robert Helpmann, David Kossoff and Sidney James helps not at all, and it's no wonder Hope had the film withdrawn from circulation for many years. Producer Betty E. Box and director Ralph Thomas wanted to forget all about it and that's probably the wisest thing to do.
                              Last edited by Gerald Lovell; 25th May 2017, 08:58 PM.

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