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Tommy the Toreador (1959)
A load of bull
There was a time when Tommy Steele was a rock and roll singer.However it is clear that by time this film was made he had already softened that image to more middle of the road,where he would find long term success.He is one of the numerous popular stars of that era who tried and failed to have a successful film career.He joins a long list of failures,such as Morecambe & Wise,Charlie Drake and Spike Milligsn.Despite a pretty decent cast and the name of Talbot Rothwell as one one of the scriptwriters,this film never gets off the ground.The songs are mediocre,though Steele had a hit with "little whit bull".The climax at the bullfighting is truly awful in every way.The producers should have been thrown to the lions.
A Song for Tomorrow (1948)
Rank blows his bankroll
The Labour government decided to put a stop to the importation of American films to stop the dollar drain by putting a swinging tax on them.The Americans stopped importing new films which left rather a void.Rank was encouraged to fill this with an enlarged production programme.So many films such as this were produced.This was made at Highbury studios,which was the home of the Rank Charm School.Christopher Lee was an alumni.This explains not only his presence but that of so many other actors,who unlike him,were never heard of again.Unfortunately by the time this film reached the cinema the government reached a compromise with the Americans.In came a flood of American films,sweeping away everything in their path.As a result by 1950 Rank had an overdrafts of 12 million.This meant the closure of a number of small studios such as Highbury and the end of the charm school.As a fan of Round the Horne I can safely say that Bonnie Hucherback and Dame Celia Molestrangler would have done a far better job.There is too much music and too little plot.In the end I fast forwarded through the music,which only left the feeble plot.
The Breaking of Bumbo (1970)
When EMI took over an ailing ABPC in 1970 they decided to get Elstree studios working again.With that in mind they appointed Bryan Forbes as head of production.He produced a slate of 16 films.Some of those,such as The Railway Children,still get an airing on TV.However this film never got a cinema release.It was recently released on DVD and has a recent TV screening on London Live.The film is presumably supposed to be a comedy,well it isn't.It is incoherent.So far as I was concerned the only moment of interest was the brief shot of an Arsenal match at Highbury,not Stamford Bridge as indicated by another reviewer.There are also some interesting shots of London in that era.
Saturday Night Revue (1937)
Turns more interesting than the story
This film is typical of rescue films made at this time.Put as many turns as possible on film and link it with a weak plot.Many such films exist only in cut down versions,which means many acts are lost.Thankfully not in this film which is a very good DVD release.The musical numbers are actually well staged.I was intrigued by the.Edinburgh kiilted orchestra,comprised of teenage musicians and dance band leader exhibiting a fair amount of exuberance.There is a tap dancer,name unknown,wonder if it was Buddy Bradley,with a great routine well photographed.Yes there were tap dancers on radio.There are glimpses of Billy Reid and his accordion band.However Sally Gray has a truly awful voice,couldn't they have dubbed her?
The Middle Watch (1940)
Good cast gets best out of farce
Jack Buchan plays the captain of ship in the navy.They are having a dance on board.Bruce Seton,one of the officers Alaska couple of the women guests to stay on board for dinner,knowing that they can go back on shore with the picket boat.However the boat breaks down and the two women are going to have to stay on board all night.They are put up in the captain's cabins.However an order comes through to get ready to sail to Singapore.Furthermore the Admiral has decided to sail with the ship.So when he comes over the women have to go to one of the cabins.However inevitably the Admiral finds out the women are aboard.So the captain is in trouble.The girls manage to extract the captain out of his trouble.,However the Admirals wife and daughter come aboard to add to the farcical proceedings.Good cast extracts maximum fun from the continuing mix ups
Why Sailors Leave Home (1930)
Middle Eastern farce
Leslie Fuller is a forgotten name in British film comedy and this film gives evidence why this should be the case.Fuller normally played a comment character.Here he is a naval rating on leave in port,somewhere in Arabia.Apparently he once helped the sheikh of this country.The sheikh invites him to his palace.So there are lots of dancing women a d of course a large harem.The sheikh decides to absent himself from the palace for a time and appoints Fuller to his place.Fuller has not had much luck with women so this is a heaven sent opportunity for him.This film is a very early talkie.In some instances music drowns out dialogue.It is quite apparent that scenes are being photographed with multiple cameras.This makes the film very static,as if it is being filmed from the stalls.There are a number of dances and musical interludes which takes your mind away from the inane comedy routines.
Miss Tulip Stays the Night (1955)
What possessed the bfi
Now I appreciate that the BIG has to negotiate for rights to films it releases on DVD so what persuaded them to invest time and effort into releasing this load of rubbish.The cast is interesting on paper but in reality they don't tell.What on earth is Diana Ford doing in this,shortly before her trip to America to try and do for TOO what Monroe had done for Fox.Can anyone seriously believe that Patrick Holt is her husband.Lovely Courtneidge who always acted as if she had a bad case of st vitus dance.Her husband Jack Gilbert smuggling his way through the film.The plot is virtually non existent and if you thought that you were going to see a serious thriller well you will have to think again.At 65 minutes it feels more like 2 hours.
Joey Boy (1965)
What a waste of a talented cast
This film proves that the vein of humour of army comedies had been mined to exhaustion by the time this film was released.There is Harry H Corbett doing an audition for the role of Steptoe which would typecast him for life.Stanley Baxter who would find stardom on TV with his Hollywood parodies,sadly underused here.The Barnet who attained stardom on in On The Buses.Bill Fraser who had also become a TV star playing a Sergeant in the army game.Yet despite all of this and the track record of Launder and Gilliat this film is virtually a laugh free zone.The story is full of tired clichés with Corbetts role proving to be more irritating than anything else.
The Love Race (1931)
Doesn't wear its years well
Stanley Lupino made 13 films in the thirties most of which have a play as their source.This film utilised one of his plays.It is co directed by his cousin Lupino Lane who was an experienced film director.So they are both equally to blame for this hopefully unfunny farce.There is one musical number which is unimaginative staged save for one brief overheated shot.Maybe the primitives of sound may have been partly to blame.You can hear the clicks on the soundtrack where it has been edited,clearly the editor did not know how to properly bloop the track.Some of Lupinos later films such as Happy and Over She Goes we're quite good.Presumably by then he was able to tailor his material to this new medium.If this was typical of plays staged.in that era then playhouses must have been easily pleased.
No Lady (1931)
Curio starring Lupino Lane
Contrary to the previous review Lupino Lane was very much a film star.He made 76 films,the majority in Hollywood.He appeared in The Love Parade for Ernst Lubitsch.He gave up making films because he preferred the stage.In 1939 he scored his biggest ever hit with Me and My Girl.The first 16 minutes are quite funny.Lane with domestic strife with his wife and stepchildren.The scene then switches to Blackpool,where there is a lot of location shooting,a lot of it shot silent.The rather silly plot involving Sari Maitza then comes into play.However the best parts of this film are the silent sections where clearly his expertise as a silent screen performer and director came into play.There is a sequence where he is on a folder which is as poor a process as you will ever see.