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The Durant Affair (1962)
Pretty good budget movie
I beg to differ with the previous reviewer of this little film. In the first place several of the cast were quiet well known here in the U.K. Especially Conrad Phillips, here the films leading man and he gives a good performance as the barrister. He was TV's William Tell which was a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic and had a good career for over 40 years on Stage, TV and film. Here he is ably matched by his old William Tell partner- Nigel Green. It is a very interesting, well told little B movie, no fistfights just good dialogue and an interesting premise ( the plot is explained in full elsewhere and I see no reason to repeat it ). The only cliché is the lovey ending which we don't need but all in all an offbeat movie to while away 70 minutes and look for several faces that did much in the acting profession. Here in the U.K the film now has a DVD release.
A missed opportunity
I was really looking forward to this episode. There could have been so much fun or excitement. Instead it is a very tedious episode from a once great series. This time it is not the fault of the lead actor. Yes, John Nettles is sorely missed but Neil Dudgeon is defeated by an abysmal script. Murders are brief and no build up of suspense. This could have been a great horror pastiche. What is really criminal is the waste of Hammer Horror greats John Carson and Caroline Munro. Munro gets one line! Carson, a superb actor does a little better, his opening scene is the only good sequence and leaves one begging for more. Sadly that was it. Anymore like this and Midsomer Murders is going to be killed off itself.
The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder (1969)
The Color is there- but only in 2!!
The Mind of Mr.J.G.Reeder was a unique British series. Based on the Edgar Wallace novels it features Hugh Burden as the mild, meek and seemingly bumbling investigator. Of course in reality he is highly efficient, he always gets his man! Burden is quite brilliant and the series has an evocative atmosphere that lingers in the mind. Willoughby Goddard is also superb as his arrogant, doubting boss, he is quite happy to take the credit for Reeder's successfully solved cases. One of the running gags is that there is a different secretary in every episode. Presumably the boss is too much for them. There were only 16 episodes, two are in colour. At the time colour TV was in it's infancy on British TV. We can assume that either only 2 episodes were filmed in colour or that the colour prints for the rest of the series no longer exist and only survive in black and white. However we are presented with a thoroughly enjoyable series that really does capture the flavour of Wallace's books. Reeder investigates all aspects of crime ranging from murder, through blackmail to burglary.Sit back, relax and enjoy.
Incident at Phantom Hill (1966)
Good vintage style western
Incident at Phantom Hill was released in 1966 as the western fad was fading- more's the pity as it's a cracking good western film. A great cast of western stalwarts lead by Robert Fuller from TV's Laramie as the hero and Dan Dureya as the ultimate villain. Any film featuring Dureya has class and here he chews up the scenery. Also along, the beautiful Joycelyn Lane and western heavies Claude Akins and Noah Beery jr. The plot involving a search for a lost horde of gold in remote Indian country moves along at a good pace.Directed by old hand Earl Bellamy , we are treated to some great location work and excellent character studies.I wish that all the actors had more time to display their talents but really it's a three way show with Fuller, Dureya and Lane to the fore.However Tom Simcox manages to register well as a survivor of the opening massacre of union soldiers . Dureya leads the confederacy on this attack and he has plans for this gold, just for himself. It is surprising that Fuller did not get more movie leading roles, he should have as he is the classic western hero.This film with it's excellent colour photography merits a DVD release and it has just received one in France, of course it's Pal but there is an English track. About time it was released in USA and U.K.
A vintage treat
A wonderful long forgotten show ( by most people anyhow ). Glencannon ran one series of 39 episodes in 1959 . The series was based on the very famous books by Guy Gilpatric. Glencannon is played by the great character actor Thomas Mitchell. Although he didn't fit Gilpatric's description of the character he made a great stab at the role.Mitchell dominates every single scene and he is in almost every one as well.Glencannon is a tight fisted rogue but he really is lovable.His adventures take him all over the world , courtesy of limited stock footage! The series was a delight to watch, the scripts were clever. One episode, The Rolling Stone featured Glencannon hoping to be the beneficiary of his 108 year old uncle, who seemed to go on forever.Outwitting two other relations he finds his sprightly uncle leaving all his money to a bird society.Watching him connive his way back into the will is very funny.Sadly these shows never seem to show up on air these days.More's the pity, I have five episodes and judging by them I would love to see the series again.I still have vivid, pleasant memories of my family glued to the TV every Monday following the adventures of Glencannon and his crew.Patrick Allen was the first mate, he was amused by Glencannon and often collaborated with him on one of his get rich schemes, the rest of the crew were somewhat more wary.
Come back to these shores Glencannon, we need you!
The Rogues (1964)
The Rogues is available on DVD.
To all those people that continually ask The wonderful series The Rogues has been released on DVD but only in Germany. You can obtain 20 of the 30 episodes. The picture quality is excellent and you can hear the soundtrack in English.But beware the region coding is fine for any DVD players in Europe but not USA players. This was a wonderful show with a sparkle that is missing from shows today.The whole cast was perfection itself. I have just viewed the episode Mr. White's Christmas and it was superb. A wonderful re working of Dicken's A Christmas Carol, therefore perfect Christmas viewing.I thought the 3 leads were brilliant but the series was made so special by the excellent playing of Gladys Cooper and Robert Coote in almost every episode.The Real Russian Caviar stands as a highlight of the series.
Gone to Earth (1950)
Magical adaptation of Mary Webb's novel
I heartily recommend this film, but as others have said before me, avoid the dreadfully hacked version- The Wild Heart. It amazes me that Selznick could ruin such a wonderful piece of cinema. For me the locations are stunningly beautiful yet bleak. Based on the Mary Webb novel the movie was filmed in Shropshire , the book , as most of Webb's were, was also set there. The windswept Stiperstones and The Devil's Chair are not make believe. They really do exist and you can easily visit these locations.I always wanted to visit Shropshire, as a child I loved the Lone Pine stories by Malcolm Saville that were set there ( I still do ). They, as Webb's stories all were set in real places. The little church ( Godshill ) in the film is still standing and you can still make out the shape of the baptism pool in the garden. It's a beautiful, atmospheric place.I have now visited these locations several times. The long chimney you see standing in several sequences can still be found in the ruins of the old Snailbeach mines. It is so wonderful to stand in these places, on these hills ( the stiperstones, the Long Mynd ) and imagine 57 years ago when all the actors and crew stood in the very same place, you can't explain how you feel, but it's something very extraordinary.The film itself is a strangely evocative piece that features eerily scored music, wild but effective performances. Cyril Cusack stands out in a restrained, dignified part as the sad parson.It is his character that I felt so sorry for.Although poor Jennifer Jones ( Hazel ) is a tormented soul that you can't help but feel attracted to.A glorious piece of cinema of the past with wonderful locations. The plot may be all too familiar but the scenery, the characters and yes, Foxy all help pass the time in a blink of an eye. Watch it a couple of times, each viewing brings out something else that you may have missed.
Ghost Squad (1961)
A great film noir series
Ghost Squad was a British series that commenced in 1961. The first 13 episodes were shot on high quality film and still look great today.Unfortunately the second, longer series suffered from a strike at the time and was therefore shot on video tape and it shows.The first series starred Michael Quinn as Nick Craig, special Ghost Squad operator.Also starring as his boss was the legendary theatre actor, Donald Wolfit.This first series is a gem. Espionage, murder, robbery, international intrigue and Nick Craig was always there.Great to see so many British upcoming actors, Honor Blackman, Douglas Wilmer, Roger Delgado, John Cairney, William Hartnell, so many more.The entire series has now been released on DVD in the U.K. I recommend it strongly to the t.v. collector.The second series gave Craig a new boss , Donald Wolfit was gone. Neil Hallett came in as another agent and his stories generally rotated with Craig's.It's still a good show but the loss of quality really does show on video tape.Michael Quinn was an American actor with only a few bit parts to his name when he landed the lead. In the beginning his inexperience shows but to his credit he vastly improves quickly and for me despite other actors appearing as agents , Craig is always the interesting one.Neil Hallett is fine and probably the better actor of the two. However there is something about Quinn as Nick Craig that really does convey the life of a lonely agent.Some sources state that Craig is blown up in the episode "A first class way to die". This is untrue, he is alive and well at the end of series 2.However when the series returned a year later under the title, GS.5 , Nick Craig was gone and Miller ( Neil Hallett) sets out to avenge his death, but Craig's demise is never shown to the audience. Was Quinn dropped or did he leave? We shall never know.Quinn went back to America and only managed small roles in shows like Bewitched and Dallas. I have heard he then went to Australia and appeared in Neighbours as a doctor. I have been unable to verify this, so if anyone could help, please do let me know.Would be interesting to know if he is still alive, if he is it seems a shame he is not there giving a commentary on a landmark t.v. series.Ghost Squad was the first British one hour dramatic show and to this day the majority of the stories stand up well, give it a whirl.
Clash by Night (1964)
Interesting little "b" movie
I don't agree fully with the first reviewer of this film. Whilst I accept that all the clichés are indeed overworked and obvious as the previous reviewer points out , the film itself is entertaining in other ways. As a period piece of the 60's it is great to see that the British stalwarts are all there. Terence Longdon , the lead is o.k. It's good to see Harry Fowler in a typical wide eyed cockney performance. Also of interest is Alan Wheatley ( t.v's villainous Sheriff of Nottingham in the Richard Greene - Robin Hood series ) and lo and behold there is John Arnatt ( the deputy sheriff from the same series ). This time however they are on opposite sides of the law. I suppose it's especially interesting for me as for many years I was a friend of Alan Wheatley's. He was a fine educated man who enthralled me with his tales of filming and the many stars he worked with. I always enjoy his film performances.Then there is Jennifer Jayne ( from t.v's William Tell ), Peter Sallis, Robert Brown, all great supporting actors of British cinema. Taken as a low budget filler there is much enjoyment to be had from the film. O.k. so prisoner's bus is hi jacked and the passengers who all but one are criminals are left stranded in a barn covered with paraffin. One of the prisoners is a loony, another is a decent guy who may have committed fraud, another is a petty thief who has to discover the error of his ways, plus we have the lead's character who killed a guy attempting to rape his wife. So there you have it, all the plot lines are indeed cliché, but the acting from the stalwarts fleshes out the characters and time flies by. Give it a whirl and don't be too harsh.
The Detectives (1959)
Good, gritty cop show.
The Detectives was a pretty good cop show that ran 3 seasons, the first two were 30 minute episodes but the last season expanded to 60 minute shows. When you read the above cast list it credits the leads of the series at the very bottom and as only having one episode each. Of course this is incorrect. From the start it was obviously going to be Robert Taylor's show but he had fine support especially from the excellent Tige Andrews who was the only other lead to stay the course of the show. In the first two seasons we had Russell Thorson as the aged experienced detective but when the third season went to 60 minutes he was dropped and two young guys were bought in, Mark Goddard and Adam West.We had an excellent, strong cast and good, gritty stories. High points had to be The Legend Of Jim Riva starring Edward G. Robinson and the wonderfully, evocative, poignant episode Song of the guilty heart starring Inger Stevens and providing an excellent episode for Tige Andrews who has the pivotal, compassionate lead role in that episode.Robert Taylor really disliked t.v but he gave an authoritative performance each week and along with Tige Andrews and of course Adam West, Mark Goddard and Russell Thorson's fine performances this ensured it became a believable show that had some excellent writing. It remains a series that lingers in one's memory. Doubt we will ever get a DVD release but it can still be found playing the cable channels.As a footnote to this review I would like to say that I corresponded with one of Tige Andrew's sons- Tony - a few years ago, he is a real nice guy and to top it all I had a very nice hand written letter from Tige plus a great signed photo, he told me that would be the last time he sent an autographed photo as he had generally stopped working then, it was a very nice personal letter, rest in peace Tige Andrews, a fine actor, a fine person.