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And Soon the Truth, 22 May 2017

Friends Pamela Franklin (Jane) and Michele Dotrice (Cathy) are on a cycling holiday in rural France when they fall out. Dotrice is fed up with Franklin's strict timetable and decides to stay on and sunbathe at the edge of some wooded land alongside a road whilst Franklin continues on to the next village. She gets to a secluded café and hangs out there for a while before going back down the road for her friend. When she arrives at the wooded area, Dotrice is nowhere to be found. The film follows Franklin as she tries to find her friend. There aren't many options open to her as the landscape is one long road. You go one way…..or you go the other way….and nobody has seen Dotrice.

This film is filled with tension and is pretty scary. I found myself thinking how easily this incident could actually happen. Where is her friend? Once we meet the rest of the sparse cast, we doubt everyone and are clueless as to who to trust. Even though we know that Michele Dotrice must be around somewhere because she later gets together with Frank Spencer (Mmmm…….Betty..) in British sitcom madness "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em", we definitely fear the worst for her.

The cast do a good job – both lead girls deliver their dialogue realistically, especially to each other as they fall out. I found out after watching the film that Pamela Franklin played "Flora" in my favourite ghost film "The Innocents" (1961). Wow – never even crossed my mind that it was her! The only character flaw comes with the mysterious Sandor Elès (Paul) who keeps suspiciously appearing. That's not the problem – it's his manner for the end sequence which is unrealistic. He shouldn't be acting like that. But, it keeps the tension going right up to the film's end. I'd like to say that I guessed correctly, but I was never 100% sure! No gore in this, thank goodness, but a few scares and a creepy atmosphere.

TWA and scalextric, 21 May 2017

Bus passenger Marc Mazza lands in a Southern French town/village and immediately notices local girl Marlène Jobert (Mel). He does more than notice her……and she takes revenge. Mysterious Charles Bronson turns up soon afterwards and is interested in the whereabouts of this mysterious passenger along with a bag that he was carrying. He cosies up to Jobert and tries to get her to confess the truth as to what has happened but she is wise to the game he is playing even if she doesn't fully understand it. Neither do we. Who is Bronson and what does he want?

The film has two very different sections. The beginning segment grips us with suspense and a feeling of dread that plays against a background of rainfall. Then Bronson appears and things get mysterious but also slightly comic and the film exudes a James Bond-like atmosphere. The cast are good, especially Annie Cordy (Juliette) in the mother role. You are definitely convinced that there is a lot more to her character. She is very strong. However, at the film's heart we have Jobert and Bronson and Jobert is the better actor. Bronson is whatever Bronson does – cruising through the film throwing in some comedy here and there. It's an entertaining film with a satisfying conclusion and leaves you on the upbeat. It could have been very different given the final section as things unravel.

Ballad of crap, 20 May 2017

Ava Gardner (Micky) is a wealthy woman who surrounds herself with a young jet-set crew who she keeps within the confines of her huge estate. They hang out there until Ava gets bored with them and sends them away. Woe betide if you're her favoured lover, though, for if you cross her, you don't get a happy ending. Ian McShane (Tom) is in that role when he falls for vicar's daughter Stephanie Beacham (Janet).

Not really sure what this film is about. It makes no sense and it's pretty boring. The director – Roddy McDowell - is also a bit all over the place with his mish-mash of styles and in particular a photo montage that goes on for too long when McShane and Beacham first get it together in the great outdoors of Scotland. What is Ava's character meant to be – we never know, it's never clear. Can she live forever, is she going to get old – this isn't thought through and we get a silly folk-music soundtrack. The original song about this tale may have a supernatural interest but judging by this offering, keep it as a song. At least make it into a good film if you're going down that route. Big fail. Complete nonsense.

The whole acid trip sequence at the end is phoney – clearly, nobody involved in the film had any experience of taking LSD and we are also meant to believe that this upper-class posh set of hanger-on are some sort of savage gang of killers!! Pretty ineffectual killers if you ask me. This film sucks.

The Lord giveth…, 17 May 2017

…and the Lord taketh away. Stacy Keach (Jonas) is the good-natured psychopath who travels around America in his van performing an usual ceremony. He's the travelling executioner and transports his own electric chair around with him to each gig. He straps in the victim, provides a kindly speech and then flicks the switch. Then, it's a big meal and on to the next appointment. One day, it's a woman who is due to die and this seriously upsets Keach's routine. He likes her. Can he save her?

This is a dark comedy. The music is comedy music, Keach's performance keeps you smiling and there are funny episodes. One example is the scene where Keach procures a van load of prostitutes to hire out to inmates so that he can raise some money for a ludicrous plan to bring the condemned Mariana Hill (Gundred) back to life after the event. Doctor Graham Jarvis (Brittle) is the doctor who Keach is relying on for this experiment that works with rats.

Out of the cast, other than Keach, the standout performance is by sadistic warden James Sloyan (Piquant). He is the blueprint for the character in "The Green Mile" (1999) – you'll know the one I mean. There are two things to take from this film. Firstly, women are trouble. Secondly, if anyone starts talking about the Field of Ambrosia to you, get out of there fast!

Don't gamble on this film…, 10 May 2017

…as being good because it isn't. It has an interesting opening credits sequence with a deck of cards and then we meet Bernadette Hayes (Fay) as she fleeces some innocents at a poker game. Kane Richmond (Mike) is watching and twigs what is going on. These two then team up as a brother/sister combo to rip people off on cruises, casinos and the like.

I only watched this film about a week ago and can't remember much about it apart from the story not being very good. The fact that it is unmemorable speaks volumes. It's not memorable for a reason.

It zips along but falls short of any grabbing storyline – the usual man/woman love thing goes on and Richmond falls for another woman other than his pretend sister which obviously gets to her. There is a gangster set-up and nightclub wrong-doings but when the film finishes, nothing really sticks in the mind.

Carnival (1946)
Blasted cockneys!, 6 May 2017

Not one cockney in sight but you can't really blame simpleton country farmer Bernard Miles (Trewhella) for his humorous comment referring to Londoners in this way. A lot of northerners even today refer to all Londoners as cockneys and I know this as I'm a Londoner living up north. Anyway, the central casting of Sally Gray as dancer Jenny or Ginny is completely wrong in this film. She is meant to be born into a working class family but has this ghastly air of superiority only found in the most confident of wealthy children. And her accent is pure upper class. This is completely wrong for the film. Also, her name changes in the film – she definitely starts off as a Ginny and by the end of the film and the cast list at the end of the film, she has turned into a Jenny. She was called Ginny! Loads of times!

The film suffers as its two main characters – Gray and artist Michael Wilding (Maurice) are totally unappealing and we just don't care what happens to them as they are awful. The two characters who stand out are Stanley Holloway (Charlie) as Gray's dad who portrays a working class dad correctly and with a dash of humour and Bernard Miles as the humble farmer from down South who undergoes a character change and walks away with the film's acting honours. Nancy Price is also memorable as the uber-religious nut-case mother of Miles.

The story is one of taking the wrong path when it comes to love and the effect it has when everyone gets it wrong! Holloway and artist Michael Clarke (Fuzz) are the most likable characters and your sympathies are with them. Back to the story, you can see how this will end and I just didn't care. Back to northerners, they also say "tea" when they mean "dinner" and I'm just another blasted cockney from South Kensington!

Fear (1946)
Fear of having no money, 2 May 2017

Peter Cookson (Larry) is a student who needs money – his college fees and rent need paying and he can't do it. He goes to College Professor Francis Pierlot (Prof Stanley) who moonlights as a loan shark to help him out. Pierlot keeps all his money in his apartment in a safe and he's also a pretty unpleasant character. Is he unpleasant enough to be murdered? Yeah, probably…….but will his attacker get away with things…

This film zips along and keeps us watching as to whether a crime will go unpunished and things are done in a suspenseful manner. Unfortunately, the ending doesn't quite live up to expectations so view this film as a bit of fun. You'll see what I mean.

They still are, 1 May 2017

The setting is Berlin immediately after the end of WW2 and Hildegard Knef (Susanne) returns home from time spent in a concentration camp. I must say she looks pretty good considering where she has just been. Anyway, someone else is now living in her apartment – doctor Wilhelm Borchert (Mertens) – and he's not going anywhere. Borchert has lost his mojo when it comes to the medical practice and prefers to spend his days getting drunk. Good man. These two characters share the apartment as they come to terms with what they have lived through during the war. They come from opposing sides but can they unite at the end?

The film has a great setting, especially given the historical significance of Berlin at this time. I have read that it was set in the East part of the city then under the control of Soviet troops and soon to become part of East Germany. The cast are good – Borchert is a bit over-dramatic at times and the film's story gets going with the introduction of former Nazi captain Arno Paulsen (Brueckner). He was in charge of Borchert's unit and callously ordered the execution of civilians one Christmas Eve during the war. Borchert wants retribution for this.

This film is one of two films that are worth having in your film collection from Germany in the 1940s. The other is their version of Titanic (1943).

Keep your isotopes, 30 April 2017

Allyn Joslyn (Henry) has returned from WW2 to the newspaper he worked for. This time, however, he is the Science Editor instead of a Crime Reporter and he really doesn't care for this role. He wants to be a Crime Reporter again. Whilst having a drink at Ralph Sandford's bar – "Nick's Bar" – with a drunken local policeman John Alexander (Joe), Carole Landis (Julia) enters the scene with her dog. What follows is a sequence of misunderstandings and a bit of slapstick, comedy policemen and an unbelievable storyline which is meant to be funny.

No brain required for this but the cast are OK apart from the comedy policemen – we get two! The dog is pretty unspectacular and not at all cute or convincing – we even get a male voice dubbing over sneeze noises and yawns and woofs on its behalf. More of that comedy stuff. I watched it as I like Carole Landis but the film is not up to much.

The big bonus here is that we also get a film with Whit Bissell. After watching the whole series of "The Time Tunnel" from the mid 1960s, my wife and I were staggered at the poor quality acting of the General as played by Whit Bissell. We found it rather amusing and even suggested getting hold of every film he's ever done. Well, we didn't go down that route but what a pleasant surprise to find him in this offering. They make you wait for him, though, and I'm afraid to say it's a let-down as he does alright in his small role.

Fragment of insanity, 17 April 2017

Ex-junkie author David Hemmings (Tim) is chilling out in Italy and agrees to meet his aunt Flora Robson (Lucy) for lunch in Pompeii. I'm afraid that's not going to happen – Robson doesn't make it. She's been strangled. Hemmings wants to find out more about her aunt's life and pursues his own investigation back in London. However, there is a network called 'The Stepping Stones' that seems hell-bent on preventing him from discovering anything. He's a marked man unless he drops his curiosity.

It's a tense film if a little complicated at times as you're never quite sure who's who. Basically, suspect everyone who Hemmings comes into contact with. The cast are good and the story unravels well but the ending just didn't do it for me. I wanted something better as things don't get resolved in the manner I had wanted. And the music by Johnny Harris is laughably inappropriate. I see that some nutter has previously referred to it as a superb music score. He clearly has no knowledge of how to score a film. The film leaves unanswered questions and that was a let-down for me.

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