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The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947)
A Film Fan Divided by a Common Language
Oscar Wilde in The Canterville Ghost, 1887 wrote "We really have everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language".This quote is often attributed instead to George Bernard Shaw and misquoted as "England & America two countries divided by a common language".I will paraphrase the misquote by commenting on this film as a "two countries divided by a sense of humour".I noticed that all the IMDb.com user comments before mine were apparently penned by American resident users and I being British do not share the same humour as our transatlantic cousins through custom and upbringing.
Why you may ask did I watch this movie in the first place, especially when I have always found William Powell so witless and unfunny in his films?Well I am a great fan of the wonderful Ella Raines, for example read my separate critique of her in "The Web" (1947).One of the user comments on IMDb.com for the latter film put me on notice of the subject film which fortunately was on www.youtube.com in its entirety.So I sat through this screenplay merely to see the lovely Ella again and she comes over as a "smart cookie" (if I can use that American expression).
Obviously I did not care for the film as being produced wholly for the American market and sense of humour however as the other users seem to be American residents I was generous and awarded it 5/10 if only to have another chance to gawp at the lovely Ella again.
The Web (1947)
Ella Raines Promoted to one of my screen Goddesses
My wife and I visited our vintage DVD store at Camden Lock, north London the other day, for my Easter 2014 treat which was to buy some more dvds for my collection of mainly 1940s & 50s film dramas.I am thinking now of promoting the lovely Ella Raines to one of my favourite screen goddesses after seeing "The Web"(1947).By the way, I especially collect Margaret Lockwood, Vivien Leigh, Jean Simmons,Gene Tierney,Jennifer Jones, Ava Gardner & Hedy Lamarr films.So far I have "Impact" (1949), "La Dama Desconocida","Tall in the Saddle","The Suspect" all from (1944) and now I have "The Web" (1947).
Ella always brilliantly and naturally plays the true American heroine in her movies and she has the most engaging smile which melts my heart whenever I see her act on screen.I will definitely look out for more vintage movies of Ella.As to the film I award it 7/10 as it is well written with a fine cast which includes arch horror actor Vincent Price as a youngish actor.I do not see Edmund O'Brian as a particularly romantic lead however.There are a few "red herrings" in the script but the viewer soon ascertains who is the true villain.I believe the complete film is now available on www.youtube.com
Passport to Shame (1958)
AKA "Passport To Shame"
Diana Dors was at her Marilyn Monroe like physical voluptuous peak in this 1958 film drama about prostitution in London.Playing a "tart with a heart" she is only on the game to earn enough money for plastic surgery to save her younger sister's face from a previous acid attack by her vicious pimp (played by Herbert Lom) when her sister had previously refused to go "on the game".A shining white knight appears on the scene, not on a horse but in the form of a London taxicab driver (and his loyal cab mates)- a Canadian war veteran played by Eddie Constantine.Herbert Lom deceitfully involves both the new naive blonde girl (played by French actress Odile Versois) into his group of girls for hire and the taxi cab owner into his debt.
In the light of sex & violence graphically shown in 2014 by the media, this film will seem rather tame but I'm sure it had an X certificate at British cinemas in 1958 for its adult themes.There is also a drug scene, another taboo subject at the time.For Dors fans, a companion to this film would be "Yield to the Night", aka "Blonde Sinner" the latter film loosely based on the celebrated case of Ruth Ellis the last woman to be hanged in 1955 in Britain.I voted "Passport to Shame" 6/10 as I felt "Blonde Sinner" had slightly the stronger story line and better production values.
The Million Eyes of Su-Muru (1967)
A Fleeting Glimpse of Krista Nell
No I did not rate this higher than the IMDb norm of 2/10.The only thing going for it was an expensive location in Hong Kong and the chance to see a fleeting glimpse of one of my 1960s pinup film actresses, Krista Nell, who unfortunately gets bumped off on the vengeful orders of Su-Maru (Shirley Eaton of "Goldfinger" fame) in the first reel.The full length film is now available (as at 22/3/14) on youtube.com.Comically there are parts dubbed in German in what was then a British Crown Colony!
In the 1960s there were many James Bond spoofs which were in fashion in film circles with Connery lookalikes playing secret agents who had hoards of beautiful female actresses lusting after him.Despite many shots and high body count in the big shootout at the end not one actor showed any sort of wound.Filmed very much tongue-in-cheek with throw away Bond like lines.
Hooray! Now available for free on www.youtube.com
Yes this chiller is now available (as at 22/3/14) on the above web site which thus saves viewers the cost & time tracking down a DVD copy.I cannot add to the praise of all the other user comments for this film which I have just seen for the first time.Of course the film censor morality code was omnipresent in 1949 and I waited inevitably for Robert Newton to get his comeuppance, although Edward Dmytrk had a surprise twist at the end of this tale.I was especially envious of the good doctor's "O" guage model railway set in his basement as purchase tax was ruinous then what with the massive war debt we in the UK owed and had to service to the USA after WWII, especially on imported luxurious goods.I gave it a healthy 8/10.
The Cabin in the Clearing (1954)
Wonderful TV 1950s memories
I, like the only other reviewer of this programme, regret that no copy exists of those priceless BBC children's hour 1950s serial drama recordings.All I can now remember seeing on our one channel 1954 (BBC) Murphy TV set was seeing the actor Euen Solon dressed as a native north American Indian laying siege to a settlers' log cabin.As this 68 year old looks back, I realise the BBC 1950s children's drama hour output was very literate and I can still remember seeing "The Railway Children", "The Secret Garden", "Peter Simple", "The Gordon Honour", & other children's classics from 5p.m. on a weekday.When we visited my cousin they had from 1955 a set with the ITV (commercial network), so I was able to see "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Richard Greene!
Kiss the Bride Goodbye (1945)
My summary headline translated from Italian means "the eyes" and is from page 59 of Patricia Medina Cotton's autobiography which she wrote in 1998.In subject film there are several close ups of her showing how darkly vivid were her eyes.I am drawn to beautiful 1940s actresses with raven black or dark brunette hair such as Vivien Leigh, Hedy Lamarr, Ava Gardner etc. and 16 year old Jean Simmons who also plays Joan's younger sister in this 1945 film.Jean plays the part in a similar way to the wayward young girl she played in "Give us the Moon"(1944).Patricia plays opposite Jimmy Hanley who plays a penniless soldier who is home on a 3 week leave.Meanwhile Joan's social climbing mother wants her to marry an affluent factory owner and tries her level best to sabotage her daughter's romance with Jimmy Hanley.However "amor vincit omnia" in the end.
There are some rather sudden edits and a strange uncle & aunt in the screenplay who don't listen to the young pair when they come to visit them so lapsing into farce.Overall I rated it 6/10 as the production values are somewhat economical but I enjoyed seeing Patricia in a lead role.
Eight O'Clock Walk (1954)
Dickie Attenborough on Song
I have awarded this film 7/10 and was surprised as a 67 year old regular viewer of films that I had not seen this long neglected title on TV before.I was given this Christmas from my wife about 12 movies of my choosing after visiting my favourite contact of rare dvds in North London.I was attracted to this title by the inclusion in the cast of actress Cathy O'Donnell who won acclaim as a newcomer acting in "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), playing the young fiancé then wife of a U.S.seaman (Harold Russell) who actually lost both his wrists in WW11.
There is no point giving the plot again but my wife & I both thought the mother was totally naive and not a little stupid allowing her very young daughter to roam over bomb sites rather than being escorted to school.However since I was 8 in 1954 I can state there was a much more casual approach by parents to child safety then like climbing trees, playing on bomb & building sites, walking by canals and walking home from school alone.Perhaps it was the effect of living through the war.Of course the 1954 British Board of Film censors would never have allowed a certificate for a film portraying murderous, psychotic paedophilia on cinema screens.Also in my DVD collection is Graham Greene's "Brighton Rock"(1949) which shows the depth of roles Dickie Attenborough could play.Here he plays an innocent cabbie in the wrong place & time who gets accused of the little girl's murder.To solve why Cathy O'Donnell has an American accent she plays Dickie's Canadian wife in this movie.She believes in her husband and fights to get him the best legal counsel for his defence.The real killer was spotted by my wife.
Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
Slushy & Too Sentimental
I voted 5/10 for this film as the only bit I enjoyed was listening to Maria Ouspenskaya singing a line in Russian of "Jingle Bells".Hollywood producers had an annoying tendency in the 1940s to produce too syrupy & sentimental movies and this one is no exception.Even some of your critical American users above are of this point of view.I know the USA is largely a Christian country but why bring this doctrinal assumption into the screenplay where the possible hereafter is concerned? To a 2013 audience the filmed screenplay seems very naive.The producers should have read Shakespeare's Hamlet who says in his famous soliloquy, "...the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of".So they should have left the subliminal question open which no living man can answer.
Another Man's Poison (1951)
Baby Jane in Training
I awarded this film 6/10 and you can see how Bette Davis is gradually moving to her later horror style which she reached her apogee in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?".It is so obviously a filmed stage play with 95% of the action filmed in Betty's Yorkshire country house but there are a few token scenes of her and her co-male actors riding over the Yorkshire moors however.An irritating continuity problem is when actors open and come through the front door seemingly without keys and suddenly appear inside your living room this still happens in stupid "soaps" like "Eastenders" especially when the home-help has not started her duties!I only saw this film because someone uploaded it onto "Youtube.com".Gary Merrill plays a less sympathetic character than he played in "All About Eve".A slightly above average film.