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Watched Last Night

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  • They Can't Hang Me (1955). Assured direction from Val Guest helps along a slightly muddled script wot he wrote with Val Valentine (see above!), which is part spy thriller and part police procedural, and there's a curious chase sequence near the end where there's no dialogue track, just sound effects and (often inappropriate) library music. Andre Morell is set to hang for murder, but he has vital information about the imminent theft of "Top Secret Plus" plans, which information he hopes can save him. Special Branch's Terence Morgan, well paid it seems with his palatial flat and manservant (Reginald Beckwith), rushes into trilby and overcoat action, backed up by a similarly-attired Anthony Oliver. Ursula Howells, Basil and Mark Dignam, Arnold MarlĂ© and Guido Lorraine are also involved and as it's Mr. Guest, he keeps the pace up. However, it has to be said the so-called comic relief from Mrs. Guest, the second-billed Yolande Donlan , with her over-the-top brassy mugging, simply detracts from the film which Val only mentions in passing in his autobiography, albeit gallantly elevating his wife to top billing!

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    • Life In Danger (1959)

      My first picture on Talking Pictures, features country girl Julie Hopkins, who attaches herself to a drifter played by Derren Nesbitt. Meanwhile a lunatic has escaped from the local Psychiatric hospital and the local villagers led by blimpish Major Howard Marion-Crawford are getting twitchy..
      A nice tense little thriller from Butchers, directed with aplomb by Terry Bishop, a director more used to helming 50's ITC adventure series.
      First rate entertainment.

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      • Originally posted by Gerald Lovell View Post

        I have these on disc, John.
        You must have an awful lot of shelf space! Inspired by your review of The Late Edwina Black, I sought it out on the 'net'. I suspect my viewing had a considerably less quality print than yours but it was a fairly pleasant way to spend an hour or so. I can see the Ligeia in it but probably won't have noticed if you hadn't mentioned it, but the writers were definately channelling Rebecca.

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        • Derailed (2005)

          Anglo-American thriller with Jennifer Anniston as the honey trap, Vincent Cassell as the psychotic con man and Clive Owen as the mark. Tom Conti, David Morrisey and Melissa George are all along for the ride. Polished and pacey with just enough suspension of disbelief to over look all the obvious inconsistencies.

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          • Cloudburst (1951). Shoestring budget but beautifully lit early Hammer in which former resistance commando and now master codebreaker John Graham meticulously plots revenge for the death of his wife in an hit-and-run, enlisting the skills of some of his wartime colleagues. But there's a bitter twist once Scotland Yard gets involved.
            "Canadian" Robert Preston plays Graham in a cold performance and generally the film is pretty slow. Elizabeth Sellars plays the wife in this first film made at what would become Hammer's home at Down Place in Bray as she would to John Phillips in her only other film she made for the company and the last film Hammer made there, The Mummy's Shroud (1967). Scotland Yard is represented by Colin Tapley and, ahem, George Woodbridge, while Harold Lang and Sheila Burrell play a very hateful pair.
            From a story and co-written by Leo Marks, so I bet the codebreaking scenes are pretty accurate.

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            • Sgt Pepper's Musical Revolution with Howard Goodall (BBC2 9pm). A brilliant documentary, informative (and from a musician's point of view), insightful but never pedantic, and like The Beatles music itself, full of joy at the creative process and a willingness to translate complex musical terms for the non-musician audience. loved it. Shame it was only 60 minutes!

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              • The Woman for Joe (1955). Episodic melodrama with lots of fades to black set in a circus sideshow outfit and which takes a heck of a long time to get to its romantic point: boss Joe and loyal best attraction and worker George are both in love with singer Mary. George is what they in the film a midget, but he has a bigger heart than the rest of the sideshow folk, none of whom ever seem to understand what makes him tick. Adopting an occasional Irish accent, George Baker plays Joe, a fact we're not likely to forget as just about every sentence directed at him calls him by name. George is Jimmy Karoubi whose fine performance keeps the thing together and Mary is Diane Cilento who's only in the second half of the film as the storyline drags out until she arrives. David Kossoff, Violet Farebrother, Sydney Tafler, Earl Cameron and Alf Dean are the other stalwarts in the sideshows which, stock location sequences apart, are erected in a most unconvincing Pinewood soundstage. Pretty predictable stuff.
                Last edited by Gerald Lovell; 4th June 2017, 08:34 PM.

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                • Assignment K 1968

                  The boss of a large toy company is also a spy who gets mixed up in international espionage.

                  Stephen Boyd, Camilla Sparv. Michael Redgrave, Leo McKern, Jeremy Kemp. Robert Hoffmann & Jane Merrow.

                  I like this film. The snowbound European locations & a great cast make up for a somewhat confusing story in

                  which the bad guys do a lot of nodding & winking to each other.

                  The two leads make an attractive couple & I always like to see Jane Merrow even when she's playing a bad girl!

                  Stephen Boyd would've made a very good James Bond I think!

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                  • A Grand Day Out (1989). Mindful of Peter Sallis' passing, I watched this first Wallace & Gromit film while eating some sharp cheddar cheese. Sorry, couldn't find any Wensleydale or Stilton at the market.

                    Followed by watching The Wrong Trousers (1993).

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                    • I am a Camera (1955). Or The Bowdlerised Adventures of Christmas Isherwood in 1930s Berlin, or Cabaret Without the Songs. Henry Cornelius is in the director's chair for this adaptation of John Van Druten's play that veers from drama to slapstick and rests very much on the shoulders of Julie Harris as Sally Bowles and Laurence Harvey as Isherwood. Harris I think is somewhat miscast as her flights of fancy as the scatty, flighty and manipulative Sally seem, well, obviously acted; ten years earlier, Joan Greenwood might've been a better Sally. Harvey is pretty good as Isherwood and copes well with the indignities thrust upon him. And despite Nazis on the horizon, Anton Diffring is not one of them and it's a good change of pace for him as Fritz, the penniless playboy with a secret. A small role for big Shelley Winters and there's also Frederick Valk, Patrick McGoohan and Tutte Lemkow plus nice louche music by Malcolm Arnold.

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                      • Originally posted by agutterfan View Post
                        Sgt Pepper's Musical Revolution with Howard Goodall (BBC2 9pm). A brilliant documentary, informative (and from a musician's point of view), insightful but never pedantic, and like The Beatles music itself, full of joy at the creative process and a willingness to translate complex musical terms for the non-musician audience. loved it. Shame it was only 60 minutes!
                        Yes, I saw that and can heartily agree. I'm not a muso but Goodall's presentation was up to his usual standard and gave me some great insights

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                        • Light Up The Sky (1960)

                          A curious mixture of comedy and pathos with Ian Carmichael leading a motley gang of WW II Search Light gunners, including Tommy Steele, Victor Maddern, Benny Hill, Sydney Tafler and Harry Locke.
                          Predictable enough, with stock characters including the bluff NCO (Maddern) Barrack room joker (Hill) and lovelorn youth (Steele).
                          None if really works despite some good performances notably Hill and Steele and the comedy does jar horribly with some of the tragedy.

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                          • Death is a Number (1951). Another mystical short, this one about numerology and starring stock footage supported by stilted narration from Terence Alexander who gets to wander around for an afternoon for an afternoon's filming. It's about a family curse and the deadly significance of the number 9, but the germ of a good idea is squashed by the non-existent budget and the cack-handed direction. The racing car climax includes a continuity goof due to the use of library film, although the digits of the number of the car, 27, do add up to 9. Only 50 minutes long, watching it certainly brings death closer. And 9 don't go into 50 however hard Terence might try.

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                            • Mystery at Monstein (1954). Another short, this time a TALES FROM EUROPE type yarn with silent Swiss travel log footage, somewhat po-faced narration spoken by Peter Illing and jolly music by Leonard Salzedo. It's not much of a mystery, involving snowbound greed and murder, as the guilty party once more is in the bleedin' obvious category, but at 32 minutes, the film doesn't overstay its welcome.
                              Last edited by Gerald Lovell; 9th June 2017, 02:22 PM.

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                              • Spare the Rod (1961). Predictably one of the reviews on imdb is entitled "I Wan to tell you a story" and it does take someone of my age a bit of time to get used to Max Bygraves as the teacher with a dream for the 'orrible kids in his class ... But you soon get into it, and it's a lovely little film with excellent performances, not so much from Max (who's fine) but from Donald Pleasance as the cynical but sharp head and Geoffrey Keen as a bastard. More similar ot Blackboard Jungle than To Sir With Love, but it can hold its head up in the company of either, all BEAUTIFULLY lit in a rich black and white (see photo).

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