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The Traitors (1962)
Very interesting spy thriller
Clearly this film was inspired by the revelations of various communist spies in the establishment and actual spy rings.This is a very neat and fast paced thriller with an exciting climax.It is also interesting for those of us living in London at the time what it was like.I have to say it looks rather down at heels with the grime of years of coal staining the buildings.No supermarkets yet,so a United Daries grocers shop next to the surgery with its windows full of tins.The cinema used is the Coronet Notting Hill.I am pleased to say that it is still operating and still looks pretty much the same inside.Anyway a thoroughly entertaining film.
The Wind of Change (1961)
Strange Title but interesting ,if derivative film
The title refers to a phrase in a speech made by PM Harold MacMillan in relation to the desire of countries in the British Empire to gain their independence.The film is a cross between Saphire and Woman In A Dressing Gown.Donald Pleasance plays a man with liberal attitudes but who showers more affection on his rabbits than his family.Johnny Briggs plays a racist thug who ends up murdering his sisters black boyfriend.His mother is the peacemaker of the family.There is a lot of talk in what was obviously a small studio at Twickenham,Whist it is a gripping film well directed by the reliable Vernon Sewell,there is one problem.How come the sister,Ann Lyn is so open minded but Briggs is such a bigot.This is never fully explained.It fully justifies its DVD release.
The Man Within (1947)
How Could He Resist The Charms Of Jean Kent
This film is virtually unknown.I can never recall it showing on TV in the UK and it is not available on DVD>It is an interesting film with an exceptional cast.However most of the film seems to consist of Richard Attenborough being flogged,tortured or threatened.not surprisingly his most oft used line is "I hate him".Furthermore when offered the ample charms of Jean Kent he resists her and flees back to Joan Greenwood who is afflicted with an awful French accent.There is some very good technicolour camera-work.However it is clear that this film must have got lost in the rush of costume dramas coming out of Gainsborough Studios.It doesn't deserve to be forgotten.
It's in the Bag (1944)
Silly but fun
This was i believe on a BFI list of missing films.It now comes as a DVD release shorn of 20 minutes including all of the credits.This is a reworking of that old chestnut "The Twelve Chairs" starring the musi hall team Gert and Daisy.Given that there are no credits part of the fun is wondering who ia going to turn up next.In small parts we see Esma Cannon and Irene Handel.Much of the humour is predictable.Like many films of this era the climax takes place in a theatre where everything that can go wrong does.The image and sound are good.Whist no forgotten masterpiece this is a fairly entertaining slice of wartime comedy.
Valley of Song (1953)
An Attempt To Copy Ealing
So this is an attempt by Associated British Picture Corporation,based at Elstree to try and copy the type of film then being made so successfully at Ealing Studios.However it doesn't quite come off.Whilst it is mildly entertaining the basic problem is that it relies far too heavily on national stereotypes.In this instance it is the Welsh passion for choirs.There is a lot of choral music featured in the film and if you are not partial to it then you will do as I did and fast forward through those sections.There are lots of familiar faces popping up in small parts.I even managed to miss Kenneth Williams who is referred to in the closing credits.
Good Night, Vienna (1932)
They don't make films like this anymore
A charming romantic musical starring Anna Neagle and Jack Buchanan both of whose film careers were getting going in a big way.Of course the most memorable thing about this film is the immortal title song charmingly sung by Jack Buchanan.Yes the film is dated but you hardly expect a film from this era to have been made with the tastes of the 21st century in mind.It comes from a different age and different goals in entertainment.The plot of course is a trifling mater.However it is all so effectively carried out that one cannot fail to be overcome by the sheer charm of the piece.I doubt whether Neagle or Buchanan would ever do anything better than this.
Touch of Death (1961)
Good British B Thriller
This comes from the genre where the thieves steal more than they bargain for.In this instance apart from taking £17000 from the safe they also have contamination to cyanide which was also in the safe.So it is slightly reminiscent of The Devils BaitSo contact with the pound notes can be fatal.It is a bit inconsistent in that one man who handles a note collapses almost immediately whereas the crooks are still alive,even though one of them has an infected leg.Much of the action takes place aboard a river launch and so is confined in a small space.It only lasts for 69 minutes and does well to get through its story in that time.A competent cast headed by the reliable William Lucas.
The Dark Light (1951)
Vernon Sewell All At Sea
The director Vernon Sewell clearly had a great love of the sea and he made a number of films featuring it.This is a rather threadbare production featuring escaped criminals who arrive on a lighthouse whilst escaping from a bank robbery.They gradually take it over with the help of the crew except for the Captain,who refuses to be a part of the escape.Eventually he is killed.The crew and robbers make their escape in a dinghy.However they fall out and in the end only 2 are left.It is a fairly average second feature of its era and I suppose its main asset is its brevity.Maybe not one of Hammeers best efforts but quite entertaining at times.
Tall Headlines (1952)
"Why see this when there is misery all around"
So said a woefully miscast Michael Dennison in this absolute shocker.he was talking about a crime film that Mai Zetterling wanted to see,and in view of the contents of this dreadful film are rather ironic words.The whole film is gloom and doom from beginning to end .the script is dreadful,direction lacklustre and not one actor of note in a really starry cast.It is little wonder that at this moment in time audience figures were beginning their precipitous drop to near extinction.The plot of this film beggars belief.Incidentally it is never explained how Zetterling and her sister both came to end up in an English seaside town.Were they the forerunners of IKEA?
The Butler's Dilemma (1943)
Only for fans of Richard Hearne
Richard Hearne was an extremely acrobatic comedian who was best know for his comic old man "Mr Pastry".It clearly owed much of its origins to the music hall.So today most of the comedy look rather quaint and outdated and sadly rather unfunny.The story is almost pointless and at times unintelligible.There are some very good actors who are spent very much wasting their time in this dross.There are fans of Hearne who will enjoy this film but they are rather a minority,however I am sure that they will enjoy watching their hero in is his prime.Otherwiseif you are one of the majority you will undoubtedly feel that your time was wasted.