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|Index||35 reviews in total|
This film is one of my top favourites and each successive viewing makes
me like it more and more. Perhaps I have a partiality for Priestly as I
adored as well "Last Holiday". Whether it is the superb black-and-white
photography, the plaintive theme music by Francis Chagrin ( Eva's Theme
), the masterly way in which the plot unfolds as the film progresses,
the surprise ending ... all contribute to make this a small masterpiece
which is never to be forgotten once seen.
Basically, a wealthy family in the early part of the 20th century are having a little celebration at home when proceedings are interrupted by a rather mysterious police inspector who says he has come to interrogate them about a young lady who has just died through suicide in an infirmery. When the young lady's name is pronounced, this doesn't ring any bells with those present but - this is where the fun starts and you can just see it coming - the inspector proceeds, via flashbacks, to establish a connection between all present and the unfortunate young lady who has passed on ...... The plot is excellently made, and build up to a final climax with brio. They just don't make films like this any more !
The film has now been available for about 18 months ( October 2007 ) on a DVD in the UK only which while sporting an excellent copy of the film, offers no subtitles or other languages and no interesting extras for the viewer. This is a bit of a shame for a film which, to me at least is to be considered as a small masterpiece of British Cinema. The theme music is also now available on a Francis Chagrin CD.
A fairly rare thing; a film version of a play which really works- partly because of the quality of the original play, and partly by using flash-backs as a natural way of introducing more locations. These new scenes are well-written enough to fit seamlessly with Priestley's lines; and Eva Smith is beautifully acted. What makes this movie, though, is the magnificent performance by Alistair Sim in the title role. A great piece of casting- it would have been so easy to have cast some brooding, fierce actor like Basil Rathbone in the part, but Sim's gentle, avuncular, and sad performance is far more compelling, and finally, far more sinister. The only bad thing about the film is the classic fifties close-up and Da Da DAAA! music whenever someone looks at the photograph. I think we got the point already...
This film demonstrates , that when the cast are given such a
wonderful story, the film doesn't need big stars or outlandish
special effects to succeed. Alastair Sim stars as the mysterious
Inspector Goole, who calls upon the wealthy Birling family, to
investigate the death of a local girl, Eva Smith. The audience is led
to believe, that because the dead girl had worked in the Birlings
factory , Mr Birling is the subject of the investigation , but as the
story unravels, it is apparent that the rest of the family are involved
in the girls death. When I first saw this film I was unfamiliar with
Priestley's work, but after the final scene, I was enthralled. The
ending took me completely by surprise. Good supporting cast of
British actors, including a young Bryan Forbes as Eric Birling, but
as in all his films, Alastair Sim stands head and shoulders above
everybody else, and carries the film. I would recommend this
movie to everybody, but don't give away the ending.
I first saw this film when I was ll years old and have never forgotten it. If I had my way, it would be required viewing in every school in the U.S.. The period atmosphere is superb and the acting first rate. A well shaded performance by Jane Wenham who plays the pivotal role. The haunting theme music, I have tried unsuccessfully to obtain.
I have just finished watching this film on TV,and I must say,what a pleasant diversion it was for the afternoon,plenty of twists and turns,and the ending was excellent also,top performance must go to Alistair Sim for his protrayal of Inspector Poole,rivetting stuff.
What can I add, but to say that I agree with all the previous comments
about the magnificent performance of Sim and the intelligence of this
I've had this film on tape (from TV) for many years now and view it frequently; it is such a pleasure to watch something of this quality: low-key, well-acted, absorbing and, above all (and here's that word again), intelligent.
I give this film two thumbs up (and I'd give it even more if I had more thumbs.) P.S. Hadn't seen Jane Wenham (Eva Smith in this film) in anything else until I watched an Inspector Morse rerun from 1992 ("The Death of Self") last night. I said to the Mrs. that one of the actresses looked familiar; what a surprise to find that it was Ms. Wenham some 38 years later on (and as a blonde.)
Alistair Sim is brilliant in the title role. This is a filmed stage play, but in absolutely the best possible connotations of the phrase; it gives the viewer the sense of intimacy and participation one gets from watching live theater. The tale itself basically combines a bit of "Tales From The Unexplained" with Noel Coward and Aesop's Fables with a dash of Hitchcock for good measure. More than that I shall not say except all four of the family members' supporting performances are excellent. When this inspector calls, he is not soon forgotten.
This movie is a special favorite of mine. Alistair Sim has never been
better; his regretful smile is truly haunting. I particularly enjoy
this movie to people for the first time, as reactions are never quite the
same. What is consistent is that it always gets a reaction! Warning:
female friends count it as a two-Kleenex-box movie...be
An odd thing...Bryan Forbes, as Eric Birling, resembles American actor John Larroquette remarkably. It doesn't distract from the enjoyment of the movie. Just a curious thing.
A toff English family dinner is interrupted by the appearance of
Inspector Poole, he announces that a young lady has committed suicide
by the ingestion of disinfectant. At first the family is oblivious as
to why this concerns them, but as Poole interviews each family member,
it's apparent that one thing binds them all to the mystery.
Adapted from the J.B. Priestley stage play, An Inspector Calls is everything that was great about 50s British Cinema. Simple in structure it may be, but the lack of clogging in any form shines brighter than many a lavish production from this particular decade. The films cause is helped immensely by the quality of the writing, Desmond Davis adding further quality to the already great source provided by the talented Priestley. At first the film leads you to believe that it's going to be a one room interrogation piece, but thru a series of flash backs we are taken out of the room to follow this intriguing story to its quite brilliant finale. There are no histrionics from the actors in this piece, all of them are wonderful because they adhere to the necessity of letting the story be the star. Alastair Sim is perfectly cast as Inspector Poole, a large presence with those highly sympathetic eyes, Sim may be playing the main character, yet he's playing second fiddle to the fleshing out of the Birling family deconstruction, it's a wonderful case where the acting glue is holding it all together.
Director Guy Hamilton does a smashing job of making the film permanently edgy, a sense of unease is palpable throughout, and it's only during the final reel that the heart of the film shows its ace card, and even then, the makers have one more trick up their sleeves. Also worth mentioning is the editing from the sadly uncredited Geoffrey Botterill, so many films containing flash back sequences feel intrusive to the flow of a picture, it isn't here, it's spot on. An Inspector Calls is a wonderful mystery piece that is dotted with moments of unease, but all this would go to waste if the pay off was merely a damp squib, it thankfully isn't, and the likes of Rod Serling and Charles Beaumont were surely nodding in approval.
Highly recommended 9/10.
*Footnote:Alastair Sim is listed on this site as playing Inspector Goole, that is the characters name in the Priestley play, but i can assure everyone that his characters name is definitely Inspector Poole for this film version.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was a nice surprise when I saw it in 1977 or so. Alistair Sim had
appeared as Inspector Cockerill in GREEN FOR DANGER shortly after World
War II, and gave one of his best performances as that droll Scotland
Yarder, who just manages to bungle his successful investigation at the
conclusion of that film. Here he finally repeated the role of an
inspector of the police - Inspecter Goole, who disturbs a pleasant
evening at the Birling mansion in some midland industrial town with
news that there has been a tragedy involving the death of a young
woman, and she seems to be connected to the family.
J. B. Priestly was a highly successful novelist and dramatist of the middle years of the 20th Century. Besides AN INSPECTOR CALLS, he wrote LAST HOLIDAY and the novel (later a television series) LOST EMPIRES. He usually sets his stories (not LAST HOLIDAY) in the Edwardian period. That is the setting of LOST EMPIRES, which follows the London Music Halls in the years before and during World War I, and in this film, set in 1912. As it is set in 1912 it is like Terrance Rattigan's THE SLEEPING PRINCE (filmed as THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL) - a story whose plot line is complicated by the knowledge of the audience that history is headed in a disaster of war that will destroy the world of the characters.
They are quite complacent these Birlings. The father is an industrialist, who has become Lord Mayor of the city. A bluff old codger, he thinks that most of the problems of the world can be covered over by a smile and some cash. His alcoholic son and his daughter and her fiancé seem less cynical, and his wife seems more proper. But each is forced to look at a photograph of the dead girl, shown by the Inspector and suddenly see their sins of pride, lust, cruelty all arising. But in the end when about to admit they did wrong they learn that the Inspector may not be what he said he was. But the conclusion leaves them facing the same crisis that Goole seemed to be on the edge of resolving - and Goole is no longer there to advise them on how to solve it.
Sim, with minimal effort, controlled the film although he was off the screen most of the time. His Goole is a pleasant enough figure - apparently just doing his duty - and not being hard on the Birlings. He is just letting their consciences act out their feelings of contrition. But in the end the contrition (for the older Birlings) was too weak. So something stronger was needed to make them aware of their sins.
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