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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.
Witty, recognisable but stereo typical with some real victims out of sight
I have just watched an episode "second time around" with two old stalwart character actors in support, Beryl Reid and Bill Maynard. I certainly laughed at the one liners and recognisable scenes from my early life, although more sixties than eighties.
However, my real live tells me that there are real victims left in the wake of the Arthur's and Terry's. Certainly the Alcoholics and also the runners and lackeys, many of whom are not as sharp as the Terry McGann character.
Then there are the real "'er indoors-es" - feeding the kids on baked beans again when the deal doesn't go through. The trail of broken relationships, that are usually just off camera, etc.,etc..
Then there is the colour blindness, of London being multi cultural but that not showing through.
But did I enjoy it, even whilst feeling sorry for all the mug punters who got ripped off? Yes, I am ashamed to say I did!
I was grimacing from the start
As an English parole officer from the mid 70's to the early 2,000s I knew there were significant differences in the US and English and Welsh parole systems (there are also differences between the English and Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish schemes, where there are different legal systems, although they are broadly similar) I was hoping for a comment from someone who knows something about the system in Los Angeles as it operated in the late 40's, but there is none so far, nor in any of the reviews or message board comments.
As far as I was concerned it was wrong from the very first interview and completely wrong from the point Griff insisted that Jenny go to dinner with him, thereafter it was all downhill.
What kept me watching, I guess, was curiosity at how the plot would be worked out plus pretty good performances and great visuals along with the historical interest of street scenes, customs and costumes etc..
I am still hoping for a comment from someone "in the know" about the Los Angeles Parole system.
What disappoints though is that the public are given a completely unrealistic view of the workings of a criminal justice system, based on tabloid stereotypes, which are over simplistic in every sense and completely out of touch with the complexity of human and political relationships. I suspect it is that stereo typical view which has landed us with politician's who, in order to gain power lock up people for far longer than is necessary and provide minimal support that makes re-offending more likely when, with an appropriate balance of care and control and humanity, real changes can be achieved albeit, not without some catastrophes along the way, catastrophes that we will get whatever systems are in place!
Sad to read that Wilde and Knight's marriage did not last, as I suspect that broken families are at the heart of many of Society's problems.
A Man Betrayed (1941)
The script is simply daft
One wonders how the script came to be written.
Wayne and the other performers do an OK job but as it is neither comedy, romantic thriller or anything else it is all rather disappointing.
One feels as if one of the threads had been pursued it could have been something worthwhile. It is nonetheless interesting to see a real turkey of a story made just before the USA became directly involved with the war. I wonder if the surrounding politics had something to do with trying to make a movie for all tastes but ending up with something that pleases no one.
Nonetheless it has historical value.
Cagney & Lacey (1981)
Happily Ever After (1985) from Season 4, Episode 13 deals with timeless issues
The difference between being married or in a relationship, what it means to be a real couple rather than two singles living together, how not to be an actor in our personal lives, living free of addiction and just for today, "He who pays the piper calls the tune", "Sufficient until the day is the evil thereof".
These are just some of the themes explored in this fast moving drama.
I saw it early one morning when I was trying to avoid my day.A day I had avoided my morning meditation because I am feeling particularly lazy.
And yet, what I turned to for light relief offered all these challenges.
It was written in 1985, I guess the reason it is being repeated in 2008 on ITV 3, a UK digital station, is because it still pulls in the viewers so that the shareholders get their return from selling the advertising space. Today the whole daytime TV being sponsored by a diet company. To keep us spending they have to keep us believing that their diet method works, as my wife told me it did when she joined me. However, for me no diet works because I am an addict and I need a programme of recovery, that helps me make the best of today, whatever is going on around me. Chris Cagney reinforces that lesson as she opts for singledom rather than acting up to the man who wants her to marry him.
It gives me much food for thought as I revalue my relationship that has lasted for 44 years. I wonder if I had really thought about the issues involved as portrayed so accurately, would I have ever got started on my lifetime relationship? Is this is the first posting about this episode, have you seen it, what do you think?