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A Royal Night Out (2015)
Had its moments.
I saw "A Royal night Out" at a preview in Melbourne tonight. The film concerns the Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth having a night out in London to celebrate VE (Victory in Europe) Day in 1945. The Queen, played by Emily Watson bearing a remarkable resemblance to the late Queen Elizabeth, firmly forbids the teenage sisters to go out but the slightly stammering King George(remember 'The King's Speech'?)succumbs to Daddy's girls' pleading and sends them forth with two army officers chaperoning. I found these two clowns totally unfunny but there was laughter in the audience. Needless to say much high jinx ensue, most of it totally unlikely to me but I did enjoy the Glen Miller music and there were involving scenes before dawn. Unchallenging entertainment.
Inside the Dream Factory (1995)
Dream a Little Dream
While there's probably not much that's new here "Inside the Dream Factory" is fine for movie buffs. It's the usual formula of Talking Heads and film clips with the heads including Virginia Mayo, June Allyson, Janet Leigh, Jackie Cooper etc., etc., telling us how it was. Faye Dunaway hosts looking lovely in a powder blue trouser suit and at just over an hour it doesn't outstay its welcome.
Among tit-bits of information we're told that a star of "It's Always Fair Weather" was a cross-dresser but not which one. I was also amused to learn that Press Agents were known as Suppress Agents as their main role was to keep bad publicity out of the papers. Things have changed! If you think you'd like "Inside the Dream Factory" you probably will.
It's Trad, Dad! (1962)
Didn't ring my bell.
After reading all the positive comments on Ring-a-Ding Rhythm it seems a shame to criticize but here goes.
I thought the movie was awful, leads Douglas and Shapiro couldn't act (they made a total of one more film between them!), the "pop' performers were bland with the songs totally forgettable and it's obvious why the British trad jazz craze was soon blown away by the Beatles et al.
Speaking of the Beatles, I couldn't for the life of me see, though of course others did, how Richard Lester was given two Beatles films to direct on the strength of this. All the humour here was, to me, embarrassingly, excruciatingly unfunny.
One other thing that bothered me was the glorification of smoking. Two singers, John Leyton and Gene McDaniels actually drew on cigarettes while they were singing, "Mister" Acker Bilk had a lit cigarette between his fingers as he played his clarinet and legendary Australian DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman is seldom seen without a smoke.
Sorry, fans, I hated it.
It's Black Entertainment (2002)
Five Star Entertainment of any color
I've just finished watching "It's Black Entertainment" on cable TV in Australia and I'm surprised that there aren't more comments on IMDb considering that this brilliant documentary was made in 2002. Has it not been widely distributed? The format is fairly conventional, on "That's Entertainment" lines with a presenter (the beautiful Vanessa Williams sitting in the stalls), talking heads and film clips but it's the content that's the thing.
Beginning with the great Sammy Davis who could sing, dance, act, and do impersonations (not fair, is it?) we are treated to a marvelous parade of talent from Bessie Smith through Louis Armstrong, Paul Robeson, Aretha Franklin and so,so many others up to today's (well 2002's) Hip-hoppers.
Of course I'd like to have seen more of just about everybody, especially Fats Waller "supreme master of stride piano", the gorgeous Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, and on and on I could go but I hope you get the idea.
I'd like the commentators identified as even the credits weren't very helpful, the IMDb listings are much more comprehensive. No problem picking out Little Richard with his "Look at me" squeals but that's a very minor quibble. Please see "It's Black Entertainment" as soon as you get the chance.
Big Love (2006)
This "controversial" series has been around Australian TV for a while but I decided to have a look at it from episode one only this week. After quickly establishing that the lead character has three wives we soon find him in bed with one then another. The slightly pained look on actor Bill Paxton's face as he looks down towards his "mid-section" leads us to believe that he is unable to obtain or sustain an erection. The thought crosses my mind that if he removed his wife's top and fondled her breasts it may assist him to become aroused but as this level of realism is apparently beyond the producers of "Big Love" I switch off.
If I wanted to watch porn I can find plenty of it but if "Big Love" can't show nudity they shouldn't feature scenes of married love done in such a ridiculously unrealistic way with the husband naked and the wife almost fully clothed!
Great Day (1945)
Not great but .....
"Great Day" couldn't be described as a great film by any stretch but it has enough of the incidental pleasures present in so many English movies (for me anyway) to be worth seeing.
First of all Eric Portman is outstanding as the pathetic WW1 Captain whose time has passed. He reminded me a little of David Niven in "Separate Tables". Flora Robson as his supportive wife is also excellent, no surprises there. It struck me looking at the familiar faces in the cast that so many of these actors always seem to have been middle-aged, was there a young Irene Handl or John Laurie, was there ever a teenage Kathleen Harrison, Marjorie Rhodes or Patricia Hayes? I can't recall them.
While it's fascinating to see the Women's Institute in action in Village England "Great Day" is very studio-bound with too obvious back-projection and the dialogue tends to the stilted. (I did like one line about a dinner invitation "Kill the fatted spam") And was Britain always drenched in sunshine?
"Great Day" is well worth one look.
False Witness (2009)
"False Witness" is an enjoyable enough espionage mini-series which easily kept me watching for more than three hours in two sessions on Australian cable TV on the second weekend in January 2009 in what was claimed to be a "World Premiere". There's probably very little in it that you haven't seen before though the degree of culpability of the main character Ian Porter (Dougray Scott) had me guessing for a long time.
I thought this was a co-production between Australian pay-TV company Foxtel and British TV (BBC?) but apparently it's all-Aussie. The action takes place in London and Sydney and in case you're not sure where we are, every time the location changes we start with a shot of Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben etc or alternatively Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Opera House. (Incidentally, according to "False Witness" every resident of Sydney has a harbor view).
Real-life couple Dougray Scott and Claire Forlani are a great-looking pair, Clare especially is a stunning-looking young woman. Unfortunately on this evidence Dougray is something of a sleepwalker.
I don't think I need to explain the plot again as Venus Attack has covered it well but I suspect the couple whose marriage fails after they lose a child in an accident has been done before.
(The broadcast I watched had sub-titles (which I find helpful) in the second episode but not the first!)
The Only Boy for Me (2006)
Not The Film For Me
Single Mum Annie (played by the lovely Helen Baxendale from Cold Feet) has a big decision to make when her lover Mack, handsome Patrick Baladi who sometimes has a slightly self-satisfied air about him, lands a plum job in New York and wants Annie and son Charlie to join him.
Unfortunately this is all played out so predictably with by-the-numbers plotting of the Boy Meets Girl etc., etc., variety, one-dimensional supporting characters, and a bit of Little England thrown in. And the attempts at humour all fall flat.
The main problem for me was that angel-faced Charlie is a selfish, manipulative, lying little toad. And those are his good points! Maybe the message is that children need two parents in order to grow up human. I'm not sure but we certainly are told that smoking is a good thing if you are stressed! There are the usual Hallmark bedroom scenes where Mack proudly displays an unfeasibly hairy chest while Annie meticulously covers up.
Sorry, Helen, can't recommend this one.
Murder in the Big House (1942)
Van a man with a plan
I watched this smart little B film on TCM in Australia and was agreeably impressed. I was reminded somewhat of "His Girl Friday" with the newspaper setting, the theme of corruption and the hard-boiled dialogue though needless to say "Murder in the Big House" is not in the same league as the Howard Hawks classic. Incidentally, the version I watched was called "Born for Trouble", a title which makes no sense at all.
If you ignore the occasional plot hole in a movie lasting only an hour this is good entertainment with some very black humour concerning the electric chair. A street newspaper seller calls out "Mile-Away Gordon gets the hot squat tonight" and a potential execution witness declares "I like to see 'em sizzle" I've always found Van Johnson a little insipid for serious roles but perhaps that's just a personal prejudice; Faye Emerson, who I was unaware of, is a Rosalind Russell type ("His Girl Friday" again!) and the rest of the cast of mainly older unknowns perform competently.
"Murder in the Big House" was made and set in the era when hats for men were compulsory wear; a room full of reporters all sport felt hats and Van's fedora remains firmly in place after a fast and furious fist fight with much wrestling on the floor! I couldn't find a mention of this film in any of my reference books but I assure you they cover plenty that are worse. Have a look if you get a chance, you won't be sorry.
What We Did on Our Holiday (2006)
Holiday From Hell?
Remember Angeline Ball, the beautiful blonde back-up singer in Alan Parker's superb Irish Musical "The Commitments"? Well into her thirties she's still an extremely attractive woman in TV movie "What we did on our Holiday" so you can imagine my surprise when her husband, played by English soap star Shane Ritchie, sticks a jagged piece of glass into the sole of his foot rather than make love to her. (She wants a baby, you see). I'm afraid your character lost a little credibility for me, Shane.
"What we did .." didn't work for me as comedy, I didn't care for Roger Lloyd-Pack's Parkinsons' sufferer being treated as a figure of fun. There is one good line when they go into a church where Pauline Collins' reply to "Make a wish if you want" is "The technical term is praying" However this Granada International comedy/drama has something to say about our responsibilities for our aging parents and the ending packs a real punch.
"What we did on our Holiday" is crisply edited but has excessive use of the Stedicam, its Maltese setting is attractive and Pauline always gives a performance.