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I first saw this film as a nine-year-old at one of our two local cinemas, way back In 1973. In those days,we had what was called the 'Saturday club'- for 'Twenty-new-pee' each,a huge bunch of us young kids enjoyed nearly 3 hours (9.15 to around 12 noon)of all sorts of cinematic delights - a few cartoons,a main feature film, the latest episode of some exciting series (usually science-fiction based), and the occasional little gem...'The boy who turned yellow' being by far the most enjoyable and certainly the most memorable! It must have taken a great deal of time and trouble - not to mention skill - to 'paint the world yellow' for this movie, even If 'the world' In this case doesn't extend much further than the tube station, but even now I clearly remember the awe and excitement with which I was filled when this was on the big screen. Watching It again today,for the first time In nearly 40 years (I'm 49 at the time of writing),brought back so many memories and I'm happy to say that I love It as much today as I did back then! Of course,It's dated to say the least, but It's both fun and educational,not only In It's subject matter but as a piece of historic British Cinema! I'm sure the kids will love It, no matter how dated It becomes - show It to the kiddies and see what they think! A little Gem!
This simple children's film, made as a way of educating kids through "fun" means, is a small-scale, very dated piece of fluff that would have long ago been lost to cinema history if not for one very crucial element -- it was the final pairing of one of film's finest partnerships, director Michael Powell and writer Emeric Pressburger. After a string of cinematic marvels in the 1940s (including The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, and A Matter Of Life And Death), their fortunes faded. They kept up their partnership as The Archers until 1957, made one more film together in the mid-60s (They're A Weird Mob, which is probably the least seen and most elusive of all their work), and then surprisingly churned this out in 1972. Anyone hoping for a hint of the old magic will be disappointed. This is weak on all fronts, an odd and unhappy concoction from a pair of geniuses who were famed for their innovation and creativity. Fans will want to catch it anyway, just to be able to say they've seen it, but really this is a very minor PS to a fabulous career which had long since hit its peak.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being enchanted by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's amazing The
Red Shoes,and their sadly forgotten,stunning film Gone To Earth,I was
shocked to discover,that whilst Michael Powell's film Pepping Tom is
always talked about as being the film that destroyed his career,he was
thankfully able to re-team with Pressburger and deliver this film.
Whilst not being as strong as their past brilliant work,the film is still very entertaining,with a brisk running time,and an interesting,more light-hearted look,at one or two of the main themes that had featured in Powell and Pressburger's film.
After losing one of his pet mice during a school trip to the Tower of London,John starts to find it very difficult to concentrate on his school work.Getting very angry at John constantly falling asleep during his science lesions,the science teacher orders John to leave the class right away,and to not come back to the school until he has learnt his ways.
Catching the train home,John starts to settle down for a long journey home.Suddenly,John and the whole of the train transform ,into being bright yellow!.Rushing back home,John's parents immediately phone for a doctor,who tells them that he has never seen anything like this before.Later on that night,John hears a voice from the TV,asking him to turn it on.
Nervously turning it on,John is startled when an electrical current called Nick pops out of the TV,in human form.Noticing John's increasing sense of fear,Nick quickly explains to him that he means no harm at all,and that he is just attempting to find his fav source of electricity,so that he can charge up.Whilst he is re-charging,Nick explains to John,that due to him having turned yellow,he now has the same powers which Nick has.
Talking to Nick about what type of powers they both now have,John is thrilled, when Nick tells him that,due to both of them now being connected up to all electronic routers,he and John can now travel to any where in the city,at the speed of light. Hearing this,John instantly decides that they will go to The Tower of London,so he can at last find his missing rat.Although,Nick and John have no idea that along with the pet rat,something very nasty is waiting for them at the Tower.
View on the film:
Whilst The Red Shoes and Gone To Earth have Powell and Pressburger credited as a writing/producing/directing team,the credits here strangely,have them both being credited separately,with Pressburger for the screenplay,and Powell for the directing.For the first half of this enjoyable short film,screenwriter Pressburger gives the film very strong hints of The Wizard of Oz,with John changing into bright yellow and his wild adventure with Nick being neither confirmed nor denied as either real or imaginary.
Unexpectedly for the second half,Pressburger really struggles to decide what time period the film is set in.From the point where John and Nick enter The Tower of London,the films plot jumps around all over the place,with one scene being set in the present day,with the guards of The Tower watching football on TV,to the very next scene being set in medieval times!.
Although the film is fairly low budget,director Michael Powell still proves the he is able to deliver brilliant moments that truly flourish,with the scenes where Nick and John are giving "Channel surfing" a whole new meaning,allowing Powell to show a very whimsical side,which also lets Michael Powell to give the film a fun,light fantasy felling.
Final view on the film:
Although sadly not reaching the stunning heights of their astonishing past work,the final film by Powell and Pressburger is still a very enjoyable,light-hearted spin on The Wizard of Oz,which also has both of them still showing some very bright flourishes.
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