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662 reviews in total 
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Jassy (1947)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Margaret Lockwood and Esma Cannon Are Great, 15 July 2014

Sprawling costume drama casts Margaret Lockwood as a gypsy girl Jassy who has second sight. She gets a job as maid in the household of a once-great family who have lost everything due to father's (Dennis Price) gambling. But she falls in love with the son (Dermot Walsh) whose ambition it is to regain the family estate from the cruel master (Basil Sydney).

Later, Jassy gets a job at the school for girls where she befriends the daughter of the cruel master (Patricia Roc) and poses as her friend when the girl is expelled from the school. She moves into the estate where she is made housekeeper. But the cruel master has his eye on her.

In another storyline, a brutish blacksmith beats his wife and daughter (Esma Cannon) causing the daughter to lose her voice via a throat injury. She eventually gets a job as maid in the estate where Jassy has gone to live. The "loony" as she is called, becomes the devoted slave to Jassy.

After a riding accident, the cruel master is saved by the loony. He is returned to his estate where Jassy takes full control. But after his death Jassy and the loony are accused of murder.

Lockwood is terrific as Jassy, the gypsy girl who is kinder and truer than all the grand people around her. Cannon turns is a superb performance as the pitiful loony. Dennis Price, Patricia Roc, Dermot Walsh, and Basil Sydney are also very good. Co-stars include Linden Travers, Ernest Thesiger, Cathleen Nesbitt, Susan Shaw, Hugh Pryse, Jean Cadell, Beatrice Varley, Torin Thatcher, and Nora Swinburne.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Ivor Novello's Final Film, 28 June 2014

Love story set in the Austrian Tyrol stars Ivor Novello (in his last film) as a hotel keeper who falls for an English teacher (Fay Compton) who is on vacation.

Compton plays an aging woman (she's 35) who dreams about a mountain village and love. She finds both on her vacation, but her friend (Esme Church) warns her against being silly and ruining her life. Yet Compton is set to "run away" and stay in the village with Novello until she learns his secret.

Interesting look at two different cultures and unrequited love. Among the hotel guests are a "modern" unmarried couple who share a room (Jack Hawkins, Diana Beaumont), a vacationing parson and his old-maid sister (George Zucco, Muriel Aked), and a traditional German couple. The story show us the "modern" couple who defy conventions but are snubbed by "polite society." On the other hand we see the "proper" woman who has become a nosy old maid with no life of her own.

Will Compton defy convention and stay in the Tyrol with Novello? Or will be pay heed to her friend's advice and go back to England and her job? Fay Compton is excellent as the wavering teacher. She has a lovely scene where she sings a sad English ballad, and she's believable as the woman who knows her chance at love may be her last. Novello is also excellent as the hotelier who wants more love in his life. Despite some awkward rear projections, the film has a nice look and the Austrian mountains are gorgeous. After almost 2 dozen films, this was Novello's final film role.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Zelma O'Neal in a Starring Role, 20 June 2014

Mister Cinders (1934) is a delightful British musical starring Clifford Mollison and Zelma O'Neal in a take-off of the Cinderella story. Mollison is a poor relation living and working in the mansion of a cousin. The household is dominated by a a social-climbing wife. An American millionaire is saved from drowning by Mollison but the old lady steers the credit toward her bizarre sons. When O'Neal is called to collect daddy, she almost runs over a cop so she exchanges identities with a woman going to the mansion to work as a maid. O'Neal poses as a maid but gets the real story on the old lady and her worthless sons. They all end up at a ball hosted by the millionaire and the story plays out. Mollison is good as Mr. Cinders and it's interesting to see O'Neal in a starring role. She's quite good. Several good songs. Co-stars include Esme Church as the old battleaxe, the odd Western Brothers as her sons, Finlay Currie as the American, W.H. Berry as the dimwitted cop, Edmund Breon as the husband, and Lorna Storm as Minerva. Watching this, it's hard to figure why Zelma O'Neal was basically a bust in films.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Cute Musical Comedy, 20 June 2014

Over the Garden Wall (1934) stars Bobby Howes and Hollywood's Marian Marsh in a cute comedy about warring neighbors and true love. Howes and Marsh play the nephew and niece of two feuding families separated by a garden wall (think The Fantasticks), but posing as brother and sister, they manage to run off to a hotel. The families, led by tyrannical aunts, follow them and many secrets are exposed. Slim plot and a few songs but enjoyable enough. Howes was pushing 40 and is way too old, but Marsh is quite good though obviously not English (and her singing voice must be dubbed). Bertha Belmore has a field day as Marsh's maiden aunt who was disappointed in love. The beautiful Margaret Bannerman (a year younger than Howes) plays the other aunt. Co-stars include Viola Lyel, Freddie Watts, Syd Crossley, and Stewart Granger in a one-scene bit part. There's an extend fan dance sequence a la Busby Berkeley.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Esma Cannon Will Break Your Heart, 18 June 2014

HOLIDAY CAMP is an important 1947 British film for several reasons. First off, it documents the rise of a British institution, the holiday camp, a place where the working class flocked in the years after World War II to enjoy the countryside and various activities like swimming and biking and dancing. The holiday camp planned all kinds of outdoors activities for people who otherwise never got out of the city.

The films comprises several plot lines. The Huggett family (they would spin off into their own film series) epitomizes the working class family on the way up. They still hold to old morals and traditions but they are thrust into the post-war world where beauty contests and having a good time are now the norm. We also see a lonely spinster whose life has been wasted in pining for a boy who never came back from World War I and taking care of an ailing mother. Another plot follows a caddish womanizer who also seems to have a secret.

Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison are the parents. Peter Hammond is the hapless son, and Hazel Court the war widow with a baby. Flora Robson is the spinster who lets go of the past and finds a new purpose in life. Dennis Price is the cad with a secret.

But it's Esma Cannon, the tiny (4 ft 10) actress who steals the film as Elsie Dawson, an endlessly cheerful old maid who throws herself into life and into the pursuit of "Mr. Right" even though the odds are against her. She chases after Dennis Price, takes part in every camp activity (including a swim-suit beauty contest), and cheers up everyone around her. The ending of the film and Elsie's fate are quite shocking.

All of the stars are excellent. Co-stars include Esmond Knight as the "voice" of the camp (via loudspeakers), Jimmy Hanley as a possible son-in-law for the Huggetts, Yvonne Owen as a sharp-tongued friend, Beatrice Varley as a bitter old aunt, Emrys Jones and Jeannette Tregarthen as the troubled young couple, Susan Shaw as Patsy, Jane Hylton as the camp receptionist, Diana Dors as a dancer, and Patricia Roc in a cameo as herself.

But it's Esma Cannon who you'll remember from this great film.

Dennis Price and Esma Cannon, 25 May 2014

NOOSE FOR A LADY is a stylish British murder mystery that starts with a woman being convicted and sentenced for the murder of her husband. She has seven days until sentence is carried out. Then arrives a cousin (Dennis Price) from colonial Uganda who is determined to find the real killer. He goes to the quaint little English village she lives in and starts snooping. There's the worried step-daughter (Rona Anderson) who teams up with him to examine the various suspects. It seems everyone in town had a motive and chance to kill the mean old man. Story ends with the now clichéd gathering of all the suspects and the statement, "Someone in this room is the killer." No major stars in this little Brit thriller but everyone is quite good. Ronald Howard is the local doctor, Charles Lloyd Pack the quirky local trinket collector, Alison Leggatt and Melissa Stribling the lady and niece with a secret, Colin Tapley the fussy major, and Esma Cannon as Miss Ginch the town gossip. Great fun and a surprise ending. Plus with Dennis Price and Esma Cannon, what's not to like?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bebe Daniels Is Luminous, 23 May 2014

Bebe Daniels stars in this 1933 British film, playing Mitzi Hansen, a stage star who hires a male secretary (Victor Varconi) and falls for him. But he won't reciprocate because she's his boss. Slim plot, but films boasts a couple decent songs and of course Bebe Daniels as star.

Along for the ride are a trio of would-be lovers (Claude Hulbert, Frederick Lloyd, and Lester Matthews), a catty co-star (Iris Ashley), and a grandmother (Eva Moore).

There's also an extended marionette show (why, is anyone's guess) with a badly dubbed Varconi supposedly providing the voices.

Daniels is terrific and looks even better. She's beautifully dressed and photographed with lots of backlighting, which provides a glowing sparkle to scenes. Varconi is rather dull. Of the supporting cast, Hulbert and Ashley are fun. And yes that's Stewart Granger, in his first screen appearance, as the waiter.

It's a Boy (1933)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Marital Mixups, 17 May 2014

Edward Everett Horton is about to be married to Wendy Barrie, but out of the blue a young man (Albert Burdon) shows up claiming to be his love-child son from World War I. Of course Horton assumes this to be true without asking for any proof. But how to explain the "boy" to Barrie and her starchy family? He dragoons his pal (Leslie Henson) in helping with a charade.

In another plot, Heather Thatcher is a successful novelist who writes cheesy books under a man's name. She runs into pal Barrie and gets involved in the wedding preparations. When grasping for a man's name to tell the father, Horton spies the novel and blurts out the authors name as the boy's father. But the author is really a woman (Thatcher).

After more complications, both Henson and Burdon end up in drag claiming to be the woman author until each is unmasked, Thatcher comes forward as the author, and Burdon is exposed as a con artist.

It's all pretty silly but funny. And it gets funnier as it goes along. Horton is, as always, quite good as the flustered groom. Henson and Burdon are really funny as ugly women. Thatcher is breezy, Barrie is pretty. Alfred Drayton and Helen Haye are the parents. Robertson Hare is the beleaguered butler, and Joyce Kirby is the savvy maid.

Worth a look.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Marvelous, 13 May 2014

This British series ran on PBS in the late '80s and stars Barbara Murray and Norman Rodway as Lydia and Charles Brett, theatre stars in London in the 1920s and 30s. Indeed, their whole family is involved in theatre and includes outrageous Martha (Belinda Lang), sullen Edwin (David Yelland), serious Tom the writer (George Winter), and young Perdita (Sally Cookson). Then there are Charles' actor parents (Frank Middlemass and Helenea McCarthy)as well.

In 19 episodes, the stories deal with life in the theatre but also the coming of sound to the movies and the various relationships between all the main characters as well as their servants.

Some of the story lines are weak (like the Irish political stuff) but most are on target. Charles is a vain and stubborn man who overshadows Edwin on the stage, but Edwin (equally vain and stubborn) becomes a hit in movies. Lydia is a musical comedy star and plays peacekeeper at home. Martha is rather outrageous on stage and also in her personal life with a string on scandals linked to her name. Then there's Tom with all his writer angst.

The period sets and clothes are perfect and so are the various old cars. There's lots of old music and references to contemporary stars. It's all very well done.

Barbara Murray and Norman Rodway are excellent as Lydia and Charles, but I'm not sure if Belinga Lang as Martha doesn't steal the show.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Marion Davies Is Enchanting, 27 April 2014

Marion Davies stars as Ethel Hoyt, a beautiful, rich girl who is totally self-absorbed. She boasts in her diary that she can enchant men better than Cleopatra did in her day. She brags about toying with six Harvard seniors and how they jump at her every beck and call. She is condescending to her parents and treats them as clueless old things.

But daddy hatches a plan to "tame" his willful daughter. He hires an actor friend (Forrest Stanley) after seeing him in "The Taming of the Shrew." He persuades the actor to launch an amateur play in which Davies will star and publicly browbeat her.

The play is "Sleeping Beauty" with Marion as the princess and Stanley as the director and leading man. After belittling her in front of a pack of society matrons, she decides she despises him but goes on the with play. After all, who else could play the lead role? But lo and behold, Stanley falls in love with Davies (no surprise) and wins her over. Has she won again? The highlight of this film is the staged production of "Sleeping Beauty" in a series of scenes (supposedly at a socialite's house) that are gorgeously designed and quite elaborate. Along with dazzling costumes and sets, we are treated to flying fairies and witches, and multi-level sets that are beautifully lit.

The ending of the film, of course, is never in doubt although the final clinch is held off til the last second.

Marion Davies is excellent as Ethel, easily portraying the self-absorbed young woman who also has flashes of gaiety. Forrest Stanley is solid as the actor. Edith Shayne and Tom Lewis are the parents. Corinne Barker and Maude Turner Gordon are society ladies. Arthur Rankin plays Tommy the hapless college boy.

The film is stylishly directed by Robert Vignola, and the fabulous sets are by James Urban. The Long Island house and the Pierre (a tea room) sets boast the first use of European Modern (later art deco) decor in an American film.

My copy also boasts an excellent score by Donald Sosin.

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