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This is a good, solid storyline. Morse is in hospital, reviewing a historical case while convalescing. In that respect it is very like the book Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey where her inspector (Inspector Grant) while in hospital, after falling through a roof, reviews the princes in the Tower deaths, allegedly killed on the orders of Richard III. Obviously this case is different, being one from 150 years earlier and from Morse's Oxford but the similarities are great. The story is told as Morse in hospital and flashbacks to the original trial. Wonderful story all the same and some excellent performances especially from the supporting cast who often get overlooked by critics praising the leading actors.
Hot Metal (1986)
This was a superb TV satire spoofing the newspaper industry. There were so many great moments that stick in the mind, particularly the wobble vision glasses, the campaign to save Happy the horse, the royal girlfriend in a porno film scandal. Too many to mention, in fact. It was written by a very talented duo (Marshall and Renwick) who had written the Burkiss Way radio show and the sensational TV series Whoops Apocalypse (they were also responsible for the far less successful film of the same name). The actors were wonderful and the parts they played very well written. It was Robert Hardy's finest hour in the dual roles of Twiggy Rathbone and Russell Spam. Geoffrey Palmer was possibly the better of the two editors (Richard Wilson got the part in the second series) but star of the show was Richard Kane as the conniving reporter Greg Kettle who made up stories if he couldn't find one and generally browbeat the public into admitting to things they had never actually done. Sheer class. Why isn't this on DVD yet?
Excellent Time Travel Comedy
This is a film I saw just once on BBC2 on a Saturday night. In order not to watch Dallas I thought I'd watch the first half hour of the film and then turn over for Match of the Day. MotD never got a look in. The film had me laughing from the word go and made such an impression on my mind that I could still vividly remember scenes from it over a quarter of a century later. Today I received the DVD from a shop in the Czech Repbulic and am astounded at how well I remember the film. The plot centres around the plan by a group of former Nazis to travel back in time and give Hitler a hydrogen bomb and the attempt of the pilot to stop them. He is actually the twin brother of the pilot who should have been taking them but who had died choking on a bread roll. The immobilising spray and the washing up liquid were just as I remembered them. The American tourists were hammed up for all they were worth (it was made under communist rule after all). This is a very funny film and well worth the effort of ordering it from a website in a language I don't read.
The original book of this was set in the 1950s but that won't do for the TV series because most people watch for the 1930s style. Ironically the tube train near the end was a 1950s train painted to look like a 1930s train so the Underground can play at that game too. Hanging the storyline on a plot about the Jarrow March was feeble but the 50s version had students who were beginning to think about the world around them so I suppose making them think about the poverty of the marchers is much the same thing. All the stuff about Japp having to cater for himself was weak too but they had to put something in to fill the time. This would have made a decent half hour show or they could have filmed the book and made it a better long show. It is obvious this episode is a victim of style over content.
Carry on at Your Convenience (1971)
I Like It
This is the Carry On film which took longest to make back its money. It's not difficult to see why as it is so disparaging towards the unions and the typical Carry On fan in the early 70s was working class. If you are going to insult your target audience then don't be surprised to find they don't go to see your film. Having said that the basic storyline has plenty of opportunities for Talbot Rothwell's seaside postcard humour especially as they go on a works outing to Brighton. One of the Carry On films' best points is the way they added those little details so you get a toilet manufacturer called WC Boggs, the foreman's name sounds like plumber, his daughter's name is Myrtle which is a plant that grows in bogs. If I could only buy a budgie like Sid Plummer's I'd be laughing even more.
Green for Danger (1947)
This is a lovely little film with Alastair Sim on top form and it follows the book quite closely. The real secret of its success is that the cast are all excellent and the teamwork is superb. Ronald Adam is the epitome of pompous self-important bosses everywhere and the rest of the hospital staff are equally well observed, particularly the jealous Dr Barnes played by Trevor Howard. The subdued lighting adds just the right tense atmosphere without it being over the top. There is a massive plot hole when you think about it (it is important to the plot that you switch your brain off a bit but it was the same in the book) but the playing is so good I'll forgive them all anything. I'm so glad this has just been released on region 2 DVD. I wore out the video taped off the box ages ago so at least I can now watch it over and over again.
Up the Front (1972)
I have to say this film is a big disappointment especially when you see the actors in it. Frankie Howerd was always better with a live audience to bounce catchphrases off (he could make three jokes last over half an hour like that). This film also features stalwarts of the British film scene such as Stanley Holloway, William Mervyn, Bill Fraser, Dora Bryan and Lance Percival with early bit parts for Bob Hoskins and Mike Grady. Madeline Smith provides the love interest for most of the film as Fanny, loved by both Lurk (Howerd) and Groping (Fraser). Zsa Zsa Gabor turns up as Mata Hari which says a lot about the film and the state of Gabor's career at the time. Jonathan Cecil gives one of his best performances as the twit son of the family who becomes a spy and Hermione Baddeley is marvellous as the brothel madame. Gertan Klauber and Stanley Lebor play almost exactly the same characters as they play in Soft Beds, Hard Battles as slightly sinister but ultimately comic heavies. The story is basically about the spy stealing the German master plan for the war and the efforts of the Germans to get it back while the Brits try to get it to the General at HQ. It ought to have been a lot better. I do have a big soft spot for this film despite its failings.
This is bad even for a Brian Rix farce. I bought a boxed set of Leslie Phillips DVDs for £10 in a sale and this one was in it along with 'The VIP' and 'Doctor in Trouble' (both with James Robertson Justice). I can't think why. Phillips did so many much better films and I can't see why anyone thought it worth the effort to transfer this one onto disc. The cast contains some of the great stalwarts of the British film industry such as Joan Sims, Derek Griffiths, Joanna Lumley, Peter Cellier and the Goodies' favourite newsreader Corbet Woodall but even they can't bring it up to standard. Even the worst Carry Ons were ten times better than this garbage. An absolute stinker.
Appointment with Venus (1951)
Could have been a lot better.
This is quite a nice film but it could have been a lot better. The plot is mucked about too often for no apparent reason and Glynis Johns just isn't right as the Nicola. David Niven is believable as Major Valentine but it's not his best performance by a long way and Noel Purcell must have been cast just for his beard. He's supposed to be from the island but he plays the part very Dublin Irish. Patric Doonan is absolutely spot on as Forbes though giving one of his best performances and Martin Boddey is a wonderfully brutal Vogel. Kenneth More is good as the pacifist Lionel but (Spoiler) at the end of the film he gets on the boat and sails to England with the others which is totally out of character and, for me, ruins the end of the movie. In the book he specifically says that he can't go to England because the Germans will want to take retribution and he stays behind to take the blame so the island will be spared and then Captain Weiss, who is quite a sympathetic character, shoots him to save him falling into the hands of the torturers from the Gestapo.
Nearly a Nasty Accident (1961)
Not bad British B-movie
This film has Kenneth Connor typically landing on his feet after creating mayhem as a National Serviceman who thinks he knows how to fix anything. There was also one where Connor plays much the same character in the Royal Navy called Watch Your Stern. In Nearly a Nasty Accident Connor is joined by stalwarts of the British cinema such as Jimmy Edwards, Richard Wattis, Cyril Chamberlain and, of course, Shirley Eaton. I particularly liked the bits where he tries to mend the telephone and where he opens the gate to the overgrown path. Needless to say, despite being a total idiot and messing everything up he still ends up with the girl since British audiences at the time wanted feel-good films. After the war loads of British movies, particularly light comedies like this, run along these lines. It's a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, not taxing on the brain and has some good laughs.