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33 reviews in total 
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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
The English Sense of Humour, 26 April 2003

Stephen Potter's biography tells that, before this happy film version was made, Cary Grant was keen, with American producer Carl Foreman, to make a film about Potter's brilliant (now sadly out-of-print)Oneupmanship books. The problem that confronted Grand and Foreman was that they couldn't find anyway to make the humour "American". In the end they dropped it and this rather Ealing-esque film was made instead. This film is just great fun and a reminder of what British cinema at its best can offer. Thank goodness Grant and Foreman didn't give it the "American" treatment. Thank heavens also for a sterling case, in which Terry-Thomas particularly stands out. Tennis, anyone?

29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Better than it's often given credit for, 28 December 2002

Often criticised for being a shot-for-shot remake of the Hitchcock original, this film is in fact a perky little thriller which benefits from Kenneth More being a more sympathetic leading man than Robert Donat (he was somewhat aloof) in the '39 version. True, the film trades heavily off the script for the Hitchcock version, and true it does not go back to the original novel for context, spirit or historical setting in the way the '78 version does; but for me, the film is the jewel among the three. As well as a pacy and fun thriller, it catches the spirit of the England and Scotland of the time. It is also interesting to note the role of the two hit-men characters; they are shadowy background figures in the '39 version, but here they are more fully flushed out (and well played by Duncan Lamont and Michael Goodlife). In the '78 version (and the unofficial remake called North By Northwest) the role of the hit-men is further developed and the suspense increased as a result.

Other things to watch out for in the '59 version are Sidney James, Brian Oulton and a host of supporting players (not to mention Tania Elg's legs in the remake of the stocking-removing scene, all the more intriguing for being in colour). Long available on VHS in the UK, this film now sadly seems to be deleted and is much missed.

Count Dracula (1977) (TV)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Now on DVD, 3 May 2002

This beautiful and much-loved version is now available for a short time only from the BBC on its Special Interest label. This is a limited edition (apparently) and is region 0 coded according to the box so is should play anywhere in the world.

I remember this from my childhood: I was 13 when it was first on and boy did I drool over Judi Bowker! I saw it all three times it was on the BBC.

This is still the most majestic and magnetic production. Only the Badham '79 version comes close (or may be Hammer's Brides of Dracula from '60, still the most atmospheric vampire film ever made, if not actually about Drac himself) to capturing the magic of Stoker's original. Coppola's is a poor-man's version, a wasted opportunity and a bore! How anyone can possibly rate it beats me, but there's no accounting (or Count Dracula-ing!) for taste (especially not the taste of blood! Yuck!).

No more puns! Good luck getting hold of a copy on DVD of Louis Jourdan's Count Dracula while yea may. I'm sure they'll become priceless heirlooms to be passed from sire to son before the sun has set too many more times.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Le Pire!, 15 December 2000

One look is enough to make you realise why Roger Moore WAS Bond in the 80s. Really, this is so poorly acted, written and directed, and Connery does nothing but attempt to impersonate Moore, without the ability to deliver glib lines glibly and looking older in this than Moore does in the same year's Octopussy, which is a much tighter and more enjoyable affair all round. The stunts are in this lame, the gadgets are not so great, the special effects poor, Basinger was still learning to act and Barbara Carrera looks positively ill. It's a remake of one of the slackest-scripted early Bond movies and time has not been kind to it -- it's dated more than almost all the rest of the Bonds put together. The score by Michael Legrand has its high points and its lows, but overall is unable to compete with the very good work being done by the likes of Bill Conti, Marvin Hamlish and John Barry on the EON pictures. For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, Spy Who Loved Me, even the much-bashed Moonraker are much better Bonds -- 'nuf said.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Agatha who?, 22 November 2000

The one problem I have with the works of Agatha Christie when performed in play, TV adaptation or film form, is that the writers have to put so much effort in to make the characters and motives better than one-dimensional pasteboard cutouts she created that it doesn't seem worth their while.

Although this follows the stage adaptation of the novel, rather than the novel itself, this is superior fare, largely to the playing of the cast (especially Loius Hayward, the brilliant Roland Young, Barry Fitzgerald and Richard Haydn, and Basil Rathbone (bet you can't spot him!)) and the fact that director Rene Clair refuses to take it seriously.

It is genuinely suspenseful and rewards repeat viewings to see how the mechanics of a good suspense film work. Better than Hitch? For the period, yes, and equally as good or better than Clair's other British or American efforts, such as 'The Ghost Goes West' and 'I Married a Witch'. Buy, savour, enjoy... It's a lot better than either book or play!

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Thorne Smith lives on, 22 November 2000

Not too many films rate big accolades from me -- I like what I like and I dislikes what I don't. But, for my money, you'd be hard pressed to find a more likeable Rom-Com this side of Thorne Smith's other comedic creation, Cosmo Topper, in "Topper Takes a Trip" or "Topper Returns".

The plot, partly taken from Smith's unfinished "The Passionate Witch" is more logical than the novel, which was finished by Smith's collaborator Norman Matson after his death.

The film follows a more typical Rom-Com formula (Witch meets boy, falls in love with boy, and marries his ancestor 200 years later) than the book, but never mind. It is moments of inspired hilarity (even if watched when sober) and downright joie de vivre that I think you'd have to be at least partly dead not to enjoy it.

Favourite scene: groom Fredrick March's character pausing on top of a staircase in front of hundreds of guests during the mother of all wedding days. Line: "Did you ever have one of those days when nothing quite went right?"

20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Sort of 'Four Weddings (minus a funeral)', 24 October 2000

Minor London Films comedy, chiefly interesting now because of the number of British actors it features who later went on to greater things. The plot concerns the Marquis of Buckminster (Roland Young), who must marry or be cut out of a rich relative's will. Instead he sets about marrying off all his friends to the eligible girls on his relative's hit-list in an attempt to save himself from such a ghastly fate. Only as the moon sets on the day of his friends' weddings does he finally find himself smitten...

Not as witty nor as farcical as it pretends to be, Young (later Mr Topper) gives a marvellous performance that makes it sort of worthwhile. Other notables include John Loder, Wendy Barrie (of The Saint, Falcon and Sherlock Holmes films), Joan Gardner (later Mrs Zoltan Korda), Maurice Evans (later Dr Zaius in Planet of the Apes) and a stunning Merle Oberon. Something perhaps for an older generation - or those deeply in love with early cinema - to savour, but an acquired taste for everybody else.

20 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Here kitty, kitty..., 30 September 2000

Although supposedly made under the name of BHP Productions for contractual reasons, there is no doubt that what you are watching is a Hammer film. Everything about it reflects the Hammer trademarks of the era. The lighting, the music, the photography, the use of the exteriors at Bray (Hammer's first and most fruitful home) and the ever-present Black Park (a green lung in urban Slough that Hammer turned into everything from a Swiss mountain stream to a tropical river filled with piranha fish) - nothing is out of place. The plot is typical Grand Guignol - a rich elderly woman is murdered by her relatives for her money. They might get away with it too, except her pet cat takes exception to the plot and decides to exact revenge. While not thought-provoking by any means, the film moves confidently and swiftly along. Director John (Plague of Zombies, The Reptile) Gilling papers enough shocks over the holes in the plot to keep it interesting and the cast (led by Barbara (The Gorgon) Shelley and Andre Morell) do their jobs efficiently and entertainingly. The movie, though, belongs to Tabitha... Oh, and do you get the significance of the widow's reading of Poe's "The Raven" at the start of the film? Creepy stuff!

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Whispering down the ages, 7 September 2000

Like `The Cat and the Canary', `The Bat' has been filmed many times and is a highly influential example of the `Old Dark House' type of spooky murder mystery popular in the 1920s and 30s. Based on a successful stage play by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood, both the play and the various film versions of it seems slightly antiquated now, although both combine enough humour with thrills to remain sufficiently interesting. The opening scenes of this version, `The Bat Whispers' are said to have greatly influenced the Batman cycle and Bob Kane.

One can see why The gloomy 30s expressionist art-deco architecture, the shadowy figure of a man-sized, bat-like figure seen against walls and windows, and the way in which the character of the Bat is built up to give the master criminal an almost supernatural aura are very well done. Unfortunately, the film's early promise is let down somewhat as it drifts into what amounts to little more than a filmed version of the stage play, somewhat hammily conducted y some of its stars.

The plot – big-time crook the Bat takes time to haunt a mansion rented to a retired gentlewoman for the summer while other mysterious events are going on – keeps one generally entertained. The high points of the film after the opening scenes establishing the exact nature of the Bat's criminal activities, featuring a daring robbery and murder, lie in the performance of star Chester Morris and some imaginative photographic tricks. A camera zooms in on a country mansion, and continues right inside the house, giving a dizzying, high-speed tour of the creepy building. At one point Anderson (Morris) runs down the garden and the camera travels with him, taking the viewer right into the heart of the action. Certainly, director Roland West and his team were able to use tricks like this to their benefit at a time when few other directors had even grasped the effective use of sound (also used imaginatively in `The Bat Whispers'). It is these elements that give it a more modern feel than many films of that bygone era now possess. The finale, in which the Bat is finally unmasked, also shows considerable understanding of cinematic technique. That is not to say that the film is wholly accessible to a modern audience. Overall it is too talky and some of the performances, particularly Gustav Von Seyffertitz as Dr Venner (whose English is almost inaudible), occasionally make the film hard going.

However, lovers of the old dark house genre will revel in it and the performances of Morris as slick city detective Andersen and Una Merkle as the love interest more than make up for the deficiencies of others.

Certainly an unusual film and one many will want to come back to as each reviewing brings previously unseen images into the mind.

13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A happy highwayman's holiday, 19 August 2000

One of the better entries in a series that was starting to tail off. Sanders had left the part of the Saint to become "The Gay Falcon" for the same studio, RKO, and production was transferred to war-torn Britain. Unbelievably this film shows little signs of the conflict as it's a tale of a race across Europe (with train footage apparently dragged out of Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes") to solve the mystery of a strange music box. Hugh Sinclair is slightly wooden as Simon Templar, although he gets into his stride during the action sequences and promises to shape up well (actually his one sequel is slightly disappointing as he doesn't get the chance to display his athleticism in the same way again). Sally Gray, who popped up as the romantic interest in "The Saint in London" is reporter Mary Langdon, out to get a story whether the Saint wants her to or not -- she was easily the prettiest co-star of the series and could easily have outshone a dozen similar Hollywood actresses. Arthur Macrae is a fine comic Monty Hayward and Ealing Comedies regular Cecil Parker an excellent, hissable villain as Crown Prince Rudolph. Gordon McLeod makes the second of three appearances as Chief Inspector Teal, though sadly his is only a guest appearance right at the end of the film. Again, he is easily the best of the screen/TV Teals. The story is faithfully adapted (if shortened) from "Getaway", one of Saint creator Leslie Charteris's best books. Forget the Val Kilmer "Saint" film effort (which has nothing in common with Charteris's character, and doesn't even credit the author) and curl up and enjoy.

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