Satirical view of the British middle class in the 60s. // Young office assistant Majorie will marry soon, however she's plagued by doubts if her fiance is the right one. On her last day at ... See full summary »
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Satirical view of the British middle class in the 60s. // Young office assistant Majorie will marry soon, however she's plagued by doubts if her fiance is the right one. On her last day at work, her male colleagues don't miss a chance to comfort her... and flirt. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
For this film, Nancy Kwan wore costumes made by Mary Quant and had her hair cut by top hairdresser Vidal Sassoon in a short, geometric bob. Considered the first time the styles of swinging London to be captured on film. See more »
This long-forgotten film has fortunately been resurrected on DVD and is very amusing to see now, giving us so many glimpses of what things used to be like in that faraway age when people tried to throw what was then considered a wild party. It stars Nancy Kwan, wearing dresses specifically designed for her by Mary Quant and with a hair cut personally invented for her by Vidal Sassoon. Nancy Kwan was a pretty and vivacious half-Chinese Hong Kong girl who had caused a big stir amongst audiences not long before by being 'discovered' and starring in two big hit films, THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG (1960) and FLOWER DRUM SONG (1961). She was particularly popular in America in the sixties, where she was enthusiastically regarded as a breath of fresh air with an alluringly exotic tang. People thought then that she looked very Chinese, but in retrospect, we can see that she looks only vaguely Chinese, as we have seen so many more of them by now. Three years into her new career, she starred in this film in order to show that she could be an excellent comedienne. She carries it off very well, and readily dominates the screen with her personality. Apart from Kwan, the finest performance in the film is by Betty Marsden, as Mavis, who is spectacularly effective in her supporting role. Marsden was one of the best British character actresses of her time, and she died in 1998. The famous Bessie Love plays Kwan's mother. Love appeared in 246 films during her career, commencing in 1915, and continuing for the next 68 years. She was a true veteran of the silent screen from its very beginnings and she knew and worked with all the legendary creative figures who created the American movie industry. One particularly interesting appearance in the film is by Frank Thornton, an assiduous wine salesmen looking younger but playing exactly the same character as he was later to appear in the TV series ARE YOU BEING SERVED? (1972-1985), which was one of the most hilarious and best loved TV comedy series ever made in Britain. It is fascinating to see Thornton honing that same punctilious persona nine years previously, and doing an excellent job of it too. (Those interested in the origins and history of ARE YOU BEING SERVED?, please note.) I wanted to obtain this DVD because I am interested in the films of director John Krish, and this was one of his early works which no one had seen for decades. I used to know him slightly in the late sixties when he lived in the Vale of Health in Hampstead. I attended the premiere of his film DECLINE AND FALL (1968, from the Waugh novel, see my forthcoming review) at that big cinema in Lower Regent Street which used to be called the Paramount, or perhaps then it had even an earlier name. John was a very nice bloke, and highly talented. I never understood why he did not become a famous director, and remained semi-obscure. He does a good job of directing this 'comic romp', as it would have been called in those days. Terry Thomas has a supporting role, but got star billing because of his fame at that time. He gurns and grimaces but has little else to do. He helped draw the punters into the cinema though. Victor Spinetti has a good part and does well, and Frank Finlay excels as an obstinate drunk who invades a phone booth and accosts someone else who is making a call, and tries to get him to join him for a drink. He does this completely straight, which makes it even funnier. The excellent cinematography was by Arthur Ibbetson, assisted by his trusty operator Paul Wilson. They had a considerable challenge filming most of the story in a very cramped studio set, and I don't know how they managed to squeeze in with their camera sometimes, especially in the scenes where people have passed out on top of one another in heaps at the party, so that even the actors were tripping over them. John Krish wrote the screenplay, from a novel by William Sanson called THE LAST HOURS OF SANDRA LEE. Sanson was a very prolific writer, who died in 1976, and who does not appear to be much remembered today. One of his novels was called PROUST, though whether it was about Marcel Proust or not I cannot say. An article about Sanson appeared in the London INDEPENDENT in 2008 informing us that 'William Sanson was once described as London's closest equivalent to Franz Kafka. He wrote in hallucinatory detail it made his stories hauntingly memorable.' This story is however a comedy, though a satirical one. It might not appeal much to contemporary tastes, but this film met the temper of its time and is very funny when seen in temporal perspective. So much in it which seems unbelievable today was perfectly accurate to what things were like then. Many of the film's characters, now extinct as species, were exactly like that at the time. Yes, such people really existed, though you can hardly believe it now. The film is a real time warp for the manners and mores of 1963 London, shot just months before it became 'Swinging London' (that happened in the autumn of 1963), and released in December, not long after a group of youngsters called the Beatles blew traditional England right out of the water.
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