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Here Come the Huggetts (1948)
Ragged ridiculous stories that give a delightful look at a 1948 suburban London family.
I knew of "The Huggetts" as a Sunday lunchtime BBC radio comedy soap opera of the 1950s and was reminded of that in a reminiscent recollection in an Internet Forum.
This is the first of The Huggett films I have seen. It was made in the year of my birth; 1948 amidst post-war rationing as Britain began to turn wartime losses and gains into history.
I am no film technical buff, but this seemed competently done with clever editing to try and draw some interest from the tales of these folk who do not seem to matter enough to me to really hold my attention.
It is fascinating to see all those talented actors that I grew up with, who seemed to perform competently, though the real interest was the view of suburban Britain, before television was rampant. \it is fascinating to see the styles of the day and fitments in the home - like the old range and the heavy stratified life of this family.
I am sure it could be the basis of an informed investigation into Britain and black and white films for entertainment as they gradually replaced Music Hall, whilst radio was probably becoming the entertainment and information system that many turned to first.
I best see the first film that was made a year earlier and then perhaps the later two films, as well as tracking down some of the half-hour radio scripts to clarify my appreciation & understanding.
I suggest it is a film for those interested in understanding the mid 20th century in Britain as well as those who just want to remember it and some of the old stars, who have now left us - though Petula Clark lives on in glory.
This was the age the sadly departed (yesterday) Victoria Wood depicted with her housewife 49 film - though that was from a northern English perspective. I felt the age depicted here is reflected in some other of Victoria Wood's fine writing - such as the early years of her biographical drama about Morecambe and Wise and also the TV programme about the couple who recalled singing on the gramophone record as part of the Manchester Children's choir.
I am a Londoner - who moved away - and whilst in Merseyside I came to appreciate a sense of how many in the provinces have a view of us Londoners as "soft" and inconsequential, in the grand scheme of things, rather like The Huggetts!
I presume the film is now out of copyright, I found it freely available on You Tube.
For whodunnit fans rather than those who like legal accuracy
A complex thriller with twists and turns that are fascinating to follow.
From the opening scenes I thought we were being shown Oxford City but this is an urban story of anywhere in England. What with Morse, Lewis and Endeavour also advertising Oxford crimes, one wonders whether the tourist board is glad for the publicity or feels it shows the place in a bad light? With so many deaths - one expects another around the next corner at any moment after the second one, I wonder whether Lynley and co are a good advert for British police detective skills? The writer touches on interesting social aspects of both reluctant and enthusiastic parents and also about a demoted police sergeant starting out again. I think I would have preferred a drama focusing on such matters, and exploring them rather deeply in the manner of JB Priestly or Somerset Maugham. than just 'flag up' the issues without delving.
To me the people were believable - as portrayed - there really is that much malevolence and greed in society, though it is perhaps not as tightly packed as the dramatist here suggests.
I do not know the date the tales were originally written but by the time this was produced in 2004 it was no longer legal for any British Police Officer to interview a suspect without them being given the opportunity of having a lawyer present - very few reject that opportunity especially when serious charges are likely - as here. So it was a big flaw for the BBC to broadcast this without getting such a basic fact correct - I see a USA reviewer has commented on the consequences without realising that what we saw was illegal and would be likely to cause a great deal of trouble, when such a case came to court.
Maybe we need more dramas that involve BOTH the investigation AND court process - Inspector Lynley and Rumpole of the Bailey in one programme.
San Demetrio London (1943)
Worthwhile viewing for budding historians and movie fans of the 1940s era.
It needs stressing this is a dramatic retelling of an actual event that happened during a world-wide war.
At the time the film was made the whole nation of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland was in severe peril and so the film, like others was of far more importance than a vehicle to entertain.
I do not know if every detail is accurate in terms of what exactly happened but some aspects are particularly worth considering.
It portrays the men of the British merchant fleet - not the military and what they were doing was attempting to bring vital fuel oil to Britain for use to keep the nation functioning during the time back home they were under intermittent bombing attacks (I recollect it was November 1940) We are actually shown the oil port of Galveston Texas, which I found interesting and I presume the basic technical information about how a ship can be 'rescued' and sailed using auxiliary controls was also correct.
OK for entertainment and uplift there was the propagandising - the people seeing it back home in the UK - really did need the fuel that such ships were bringing and did have close relatives away from home in peril amidst uncertainty and they did come from all parts of the UK and even at that time much further afield. It is therefore natural reference was made to an Englishman, Scotsman... etc.etc., and even a North American - who was nominally Canadian because the regulations at that time made it 'legal' for him to be taken on as crew.
There was an element of the public service broadcast with mention of The Board of Trade (A UK Government Department) and the regulations allowing only non intoxicated seaman to board a British ship, anywhere in the world - but then showing us that regulation was not surprisingly disregarded.
I learned real stuff, some important some merely interesting, and I felt we were given - in just a hundred minutes a real idea of the perils that were faced by those involved in North Atlantic convoys.
I also learned - about a bit of social history - how the News of the World ( A Sunday newspaper of long-standing - strap-line- "all the news that's fit to print") really did give an award for darts players scoring three successive treble tops I checked it with my Internet Search engine and my finds included http://www.dartsnutz.net/showthread.php?tid=1206
So the Marriage has NOW actually lasted 10 years in real life after her release from prison.
I was drawn to this by a news report of interviews between the actual couple involved.
The story seemed amazing - but true and fairly well represented in this drama.
I think it proves the old adage 'hard cases make bad laws'.
I also think that prison is rarely the best response to law breaking - although in this case it was probably necessary because of the the subsequent offending - though 7 weeks rather than 7 years might have been sufficient - as one who has worked with imprisoned people I know that usually longer detention achieves very little apart from keeping the convict out of circulation. About the only two justifications for continued imprisonment are that a person presents an immediate danger to others or their criminality is so prolific and out of control that incarceration is required.
However, she was diagnosed as mentally ill, which suggests to me the detention should have been in a hospital not a prison.
Another reviewer with some knowledge of Samoan customs has commented that Samoans have a different attitude to sexual relationships between younger males and older women to most Western cultures.. However, we are not told to what extent Vili was influenced by his Samoan ancestry and I am not sure whether the influence is consequential on conditioning and socialisation rather than psychological - so these remarks maybe irrelevant. It is many years since I studied - at a fairly basic level - sociology and anthropology but do recall Margaret Mead's works "Coming of Age in Samoa" (1928)and "Growing Up In New Guinea" (1930) were influential on both disciplines, but I cannot now recall the details.
The saddest aspect of all this is that the families involved have lived in the glare of publicity for many years now, which in itself can be a disabling factor.
Nonetheless, it is well worth viewing, especially if viewers can put their prejudices aside, whilst watching and view the Movie as a way of gaining greater insight into the complexity of human behaviours and relationships.
The Singer Not the Song (1961)
A sad strange show that hinted at far more than it delivered.
Very difficult to score, because some of it is ridiculous and unbelievable, whereas other stuff is interesting with content about governance, policing, spirituality and religiosity that give the mind material for real reflection.
Ridiculous;- the accents, especially Mills with his poorly sustained Irish one, which calls into question the Direction, why was he not made to do it again or some explanation given in the script for him being an English Roman Catholic Priest? Then again, why was Bogarde an English accented Mexican bully boy, albeit a very stylish one, with fancy leather pants? And the blonde Mexican mademoiselle, acting like a teenager yet looking like at least a twenty-five year old. She dressed contemporarily with the date of the production (1961) and the cars looked early fifties, yet the story somehow seemed as if it belonged to a few decades earlier.
The scenery and sets very effective and presumably expensive, yet the film had so many basic mistakes.
The story convoluted and saga like, I eventually got lost when the Priest (before we thought of paedophilia) planted a smacker on the girl, who looked all woman.
Yet underneath there was a point worth dramatising, about the way we are all prone to be dominated by fear, especially those of us in some religions who fear what will befall us after we die if we have not behaved honourably to our fellow humans. The Bogarde character seemed to be figuring all this out, realised that for him the church was a great confidence trick yet some of the church's adherents are truly honourable human beings.
Particularly ridiculous was the way the car with the severed brake cable/pipe - (handbrake and foot-brake both ineffective) travelled as far as it did down the mountain road without going out of control and then came to a standstill with very little injury to it's occupants.
With adverts this film was 2hours 45 minutes, yet such basic errors proliferated, presumably the Producer spent a great deal of money on the production but then just released it with so many ridiculous inconsistencies.
Yet I am glad I saw it, if only as a piece of film and social history.
I know intend to find out a bit more about the story on which it was based and will be particularly interested to discover what period the novelist was writing about.
Ladies Who Do (1963)
Clichéd but amusing
I enjoyed it because it shows an east London with which I am familiar and some very familiar character comedians and actors in situations that I recognise.
I suspect others not familiar with London in the mid 20th century would find it atypical as an example of British life.
Another Reviewer makes the point that this is a London with no black faces, and I think implies they were absent in 1963. They certainly weren't.
I am not sure where Pitt Street is but I suspect it is less than 5 or 6 miles from Ridley Road Market in Hackney or Brixton Market where non white faces were very common although not in so large a number as perhaps a few years later.
Limehouse had been a home for Chinese for at least a century by then and in the London Docks area there had long been residents of all the races that provided crew to ships that came to London for as long as they have been coming to London. We just deluded ourselves and acted as if they were absent or as in this film, invisible which our anti racist training of the 1980's onwards taught us we were wrong to have behaved in such ways.
It is very likely that whilst filming there were Black, Asian and people of other races passing nearby but the 'white' entertainment industry was producing material for us the white majority and for a 'non white' person to come into prominence they had to be outstanding in a similar way to a woman in business or politics.
None of this takes away my enjoyment of the film, which I feel a little guilty about with hindsight because I was brought up in such ignorance of the diversity of our nation. I would be very interested to know the precise location of Pitt Street. London is so large in fact it could be in many places within a thirty mile radius of the mythical centre of London (I think according to the Automobile Association's mileage measuring system at Charing Cross, Westminster) It is very likely in that area had a black person lived locally he would have attracted a nickname such as 'Sambo' - offensive now but not necessarily used in a negative way in the early 1960's, even though we were past the riots of Notting Hill.
Another characterisation shown is the 'Robert Morley' acted character, the retired army officer, living in very reduced circumstances trying to maintain some sort of faux status, and probably acted by Morley because Jimmy Edwards was not available! Such characters were part of the British scene, when we were mostly far less sophisticated and pretentious than nowadays.
I hope this gets an airing on TV before long and am surprised I had never seen it before now.
A final comment - this era was almost gone by 1963 although there are folk like those portrayed still around today, my mother in law, from Walthamstow was one such, and she only died, aged 89 a year ago.
Just Henry (2011)
A good idea spoiled by the need to have a violent ending
It started promisingly enough not quite as ponderous as some reviewers would have it but the ending was dire and unnecessary.
The idea being that a boy has grown up with tales of his dead father being a hero, but all that understanding changes as events progress.
It is immediately post 2nd World War in Britain (say 1946-8). Birkenhead and Liverpool are indicated but not made explicit and does not matter - it is not a Merseyside tale, but we are not in the South of Britain either. Some reviewers have complained about strong Northern accents, but I did not notice that, then although I am a Londoner, I have spent ten years on Merseyside.
Our teenage hero of the title has been raised by his young widowed Mum who has remarried and is much in love with second new husband. Mother in law from first marriage (Shiela Hancock) who cannot get rid of her false memories of her dead son, is a part of the family
The son becomes the hero as we see him at school making a fairly superficial relationship with the new girl at school. Mum gets pregnant, father turns up with a (sort of believable) explanation for how he had been thought a dead hero, then the script gets ridiculous.
Nonetheless I stayed with it to see how it all worked out.
I liked the period aspect and seeing Shiela Hancock, so it was not completely wasted for me, but this was not the sort of drama that gets one revisiting one's understanding and experience of humanity or adds anything to general knowledge about our recent past.
You'll probably get a better outcome by spending the hour and a half reading a book or doing something creative but if you are determined to be entertained by a moving picture with humans performing, it is not a complete waste of time!
Eloise at the Plaza (2003)
Tragically sad to Turtles and Fine actors
Obviously it is technically clever.
I stopped watching after about 40 minutes - it is a 'family film' more suitable for children's entertainment and the basic premise of a little rich 'madam' in a fancy hotel driving the adults crazy has loads of potential. I don't know if there is ultimately any good points and the horror child gets her come uppance or not but along the way there are some appalling things.
The misbehaviour is fine but for the Director to show such awful treatment of a turtle or terrapin is wrong. I believe many such small creatures are bought as pets given an appalling existence and then disregarded when they out grow the domestic setting in which they have been placed.
Film companies and TV companies who display this sort of stuff have a moral responsibility not to give apparent approval to poor animal management.
Then there is Julie Andrews false 'cockernee' accent. It is ridiculous and unnecessary, I cannot imagine why any director would require her to do it and presume she only agreed in order to get the income. It is fine for Dick van Dyke in 'Mary Poppins' we know he is not English and was exaggerating. If Julie Andrews cannot manage a genuine cockney accent (although I can't see why the part calls for a cockney accent) someone who can should have been cast.
Film not suitable for children who are not discerning about animal care.
The Gentle Sex (1943)
Most of the other reviews disappoint in some way or other.
The best description I have seen elsewhere is a 'time capsule' and what is in the capsule is idealised propaganda.
It is almost impossible to review the content seriously, in the early 21st century, particularly by reviewers who, probably mostly grew up in the aftermath of 'The War' as the great World War II Conflict was described in my Fifties childhood in suburban London, England.
I make no significant comment about the cinematography or acting, which to me seemed competent.
Presumably the purpose was to encourage yet more to volunteer and to provide reassurance for the parents of those women who served. The times were as terrifying then for most British people as events in the Middle East are exciting and terrifying for residents now, as one country after another begins a revolution of sorts, in a search for democracy, in March 2011.
Things were VERY different and the comforts most take for granted now, were not even dreamed of by the majority - for whom two slices of bread and margarine followed by a small 'rock cake' and consumed with a mug of tea were all the sustenance that would be expected when travelling. There may have been something between the slabs of bread, such as meat or fish paste but if it was there it was spread thinly as the bread slices were mighty close together!
Another small detail, the lorries with those little swishing window wipers, swinging from above clearing just the part of the window a driver can see through and working independently of the passenger's window wiper. Then the ambulances without doors, but with just a textile closing across the bottom half of the door-frame. I remember milk-floats like that in the fifties.
A film more for those interested in recent history than an ardent film buff!
Monarch of the Glen (2000)
It is a pity the drama and comedy are not as good as the scenery
I missed it when it was first showed although had dipped in to bits of episodes and previously thought it was promising however, now I have watched all the first episode and half of the second, I have given up with it.
Good production, talented actors and a basically interesting plot is spoiled by unbelievable script that makes the characters seem ridiculous.
I am not surprised it could not retain it's cast, and presume they all quickly realised it is utter tosh.
If you watch it, please do not believe it has much basis in reality.
It is however filmed in a very attractive part of Scotland and might have been sponsored by the Tourist Industry.