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World in Action (1963)
Slow burners that affected change
A comedian once said he had cured his friend's manic depression by stopping him watch World in Action. For there on a Monday night sandwiched between a soap opera and a jolly sitcom was our conscience, a reminder that things were not quite right in the world and somebody might be suffering. Most TV shows have a routine compilation edition at the end of the year and one of World in Action's was modestly sub titled 'Sorry,nothing doing' as if to say their years output had made no difference,but this was not so, a World in Action film lingered in the mind and did affect change. Its film on lorry drivers probably pushed through the Tachograph?,its films on mental health definitely helped sweep away the old style mental institutions and the reason furniture today has a 'flame proof' label was probably due to its eye opening film of an armchair catching fire. In today's mass media,issues blow up and shine bright for a couple of weeks and then are forgotten, but in the days when TV was 'the' window on the world a World in Action issue was a slow burner that you would not forget and did eventually make difference.
Curiosity: What Sank Titanic? (2011)
Agree with the first poster, this an underrated, but top notch film. Obviously a low budget compared to the more well known films, but I subconsciously never questioned a single shot for fake details or CGI, the boat and effects are superbly done.
I thought Lawrence Naismith was the definitive Captain Smith, but Christian Rhodska may have taken over that mantle now? and its hard to believe he once played a carefree,greasy biker in the series Follyfoot, and he was just part of a great cast of relative unknowns. We all know how its going to end, but the editing and acting keep the tension and air of impending doom going from start to finish, and something you could easily watch again and again.
Midnight in Saint Petersburg (1996)
A cure for insomnia ?
Every time I woke up during this film there seemed to be Caine jumping in a car and rushing off somewhere.If it was trying to capture the magic of the first three Palmer films then it failed miserably,not just because they were the product of a different time and atmosphere, but because its a muddle to a point I really didn't have a clue what was going on, just a lot of cars buzzing about,old factories and the usual rat-tat-tat dialogue. While Caine was hungry for the fame in the first Palmer pictures and acted accordingly, he is not hungry anymore here and is obviously just Michael Caine acting as Michael Caine, but its not all his fault as he has no foil here to bounce off due to the dull co-stars.
Tarnished Heroes (1962)
Good old adventure yarn
Could well be described in the old speak as a 'Ripping Yarn'. This was the type of story that would turn up in boy's comic magazines and perhaps for the same reason this film would turn up on TV in the morning of a school holiday. Its all very cheap but very effective.
Set in World War Two, Major Bell is given the task of blowing up a bridge that is a life line for German supplies, the only troops he can muster is a bunch of renegades and wasters who are awaiting a Court Martial, can he turn them into the team that will do the job while watching his own back? A cast of favourites from British TV this little gem rarely gets seen now but if you want an idea of the plot just watch The Dirty Dozen with Lee Marvin.
Lollipop Loves Mr Mole (1971)
In the beginning
As a comedy sitcom this had everything going for it, for a start it was written by Jimmy Perry (one half of the famous duo who wrote Dad's Army and Hi DE Hi), a super pair of leads with Peggy Mount (who could literally drag a comedy performance out of anyone in her air space) and the often hysterically funny Hugh Lloyd. So why is it not remembered today and faded away after only thirteen episodes? I think the problem lies with the first series and something that happened each week after the ATV zoom faded out. The title sequence featured Peggy and Hugh singing about their love for each other. Which might have been OK for the first episode or a special,but the same (what can be described as a) wailing dirge repeated week after week probably had many rushing for the channel change button? Shame really as those who turned over missed a good treat. In the second series the producers obviously realised the mistake and the theme tune sequence was replaced with a lively contemporary electronic number on the same lines as "George & Mildred" type theme tunes, but it came a bit too late perhaps in recovering viewers?
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003)
A load of cods wallop
I had expected better things of Trevor Preston and Mike Hodges and perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt that their original vision was manipulated by the money men. But even so this really is a dreary load of clichéd cods wallop with the plot stolen from Get Carter. The wheels kept coming off the waggon as I watched, but the final one to make the film crash to floor in clichés was when he opened the garage and there was a 1960s Jaguar sitting there. It might have made a half decent 50 minute Sweeney episode in the 1970s but as a movie its a complete waste of money. The British film elite are always complaining about lack of money, well if they stopped giving it to the same old lethargic luvvies to make the same old junk all the time, they might end up with a proper 'industry' in which digestible movies are churned out week after week?.
This Is England (2006)
Not This is England
Frankly the title put me off. I thought the title was arrogant and self absorbed as if this was the definitive story of England in the 1980s which of course it was not. I next expected it to be the "1980s hell under Thatcher" cliché,whine fest from a typical northern middle class socialist writer patronising the working class. Any mention of 'The Belgrano' and I was turning it off.
However if any of that was there I didn't notice it as the stirring rites of passage story came through.It certainly jarred nerves of growing up and making sense of the people in your world and winning the great prize of getting respect and admiration from people older than yourself. Anybody studying children's behaviour and the importance of role models should watch this film.
This a universal story and its a shame that the title probably cost it international empathy and recognition?.
The 1980s were politically charged times, but if the sparks between the red and blue posts produced Shane Meadows then they could not have been all bad could they ?.
The Champions: Reply Box No. 666 (1968)
Every series has to have a duff episode
Every series has to have a lousy episode or two and Reply Box 666 does not fail to disappoint in that respect, and must rate perhaps the worst episode of the series? Sometimes the Broadley/Frankel combination can be very good, but when its bad its really bad, producing dull episodes with tatty production values, also in this case the credibility of the plot is stretched to such a point that even 1960s viewers must have felt they had been short changed?. There is however the saving grace of 'the look',style and characters of this series as well as overlooking the fact that this is over 40 years old !. So you can easily forgive the odd cheap slapped together episode.
Not A Word About its Daddy
The use of marionettes must have brought in a new set of problems of its own? Use on this scale in a movie has not been attempted since the 1960s with children's TV shows like 'Thunderbirds', obviously time has moved on and what could take ages to build and make, can now be done with CGI.Its also a credit to those early pioneers with their cantankerous lip sync mechanisms, mini explosions and the sheer good nature behind every episode. So its quite appalling really that the team behind 'Team America' could not muster one single tiny little nod to 'Thunderbirds' which obviously inspired them to make this movie and a great deal of money also?.
Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965)
New York but not Hollywood New York
When you think of movies about New York from this period in time, what comes to mind to me as a foreigner is a woodwind instrument blowing in the background while Jack Lemmon (or a lookalike) in a shiny suit neurotically babbles away something insignificant. Who killed Teddy Bear comes along and sticks its fingers up at the Hollywood system and is a break thru movie in every sense. This flawed, creaky, creepy and cranky movie is a delight. Not forgetting that you are led into the wonderful atmosphere by the wailing and unforgettable theme tune, which sounds like an old 45rpm record where the center hole has not been cut quite right.
IMHO due to Hollywood, American Independent film makers were just not taken seriously enough at this time, because of this, films like this have been unfairly over looked as great examples of low budget, gorilla technique( getting the shot before the police arrives etc). Taxi Driver was classic, but you know it was meticulously planned, every location permission was got and sums agreed, shots were retaken until they got it right. Well Who Killed Teddy Bear is wild and untamed and surely a minor classic?