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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.
Across the Bridge (1957)
"M" nearly gets his man
Bernard Lee made an acting profession playing various detectives, predominately as the first "M" in the Sean Connery era of James Bond from 1962.Before this he specialised in playing various policemen like in the subject film made in 1957.He is frustrated by the non-existent extradition treaty between Mexico, the U.S. & the U.K. in his attempts to bring to justice a latter day Robert Maxwell type crooked financier, played by Rod Steiger.A previous reviewer suspected it was filmed on location in Spain to obtain a Mexican type atmosphere and this worked well.There were a few British type actors pretending to be Mexican like Eric Pohlmann and the actor who played the chief of Mexican police whom I have seen in more typical British plots.
However the star of the film for my money was the dog actor who played "Dolores".She had a few expressive close ups with her doggy eyes which were very effective.When Rod Steiger initially rebuffed her, I was concerned that the R.S.P.C.A. would have to intervene.Nowadays when animals appear in films the producers invariably state in the credits "No animals were injured during the making of this film".The plot has already been effectively commented on by other users.Quite enjoyable I awarded it 7/10.
On the Night of the Fire (1939)
Writers_reign supreme."A load of old tosh"
I read all the user reviews first and disagreed with all their comments except with that of "writers_reign".This film is a "lot of old tosh".I have seen many Ralph Richardson (RR) movies and have generally liked most of his performances.The fault lies with the film producers hence I only awarded this film 2/10.I am now 67 and have seen many films from this period.The main faults of this film in my opinion are:
1.No evidence of a genuine working class vernacular "Geordie" accent for a drama set in Newcastle was noticeable from any of the actors.Thus it did not reflect enough of the local atmosphere in the North-East of England.As "writers_reign states, even the female lead, (Diana Wyngard), had a posh cut glass accent!.
2.As this is yet another claustrophobic studio bound production, the impression was more of a small village where everyone knows everyone else rather than a big city like Newcastle with a much more diverse ethnic mix to the population.The producers get up to a few tricks like actual newsreels of fires and stock footage of Newcastle but it did not convince or work, then we are back to dark moody studio interiors once again.
3.I get tired of the inevitable moral twist by the British Board of Film Censors at the time who decreed that every criminal must get his just deserts or surrender to justice.The anti-hero played by RR had a lot of my sympathy and it was a very tame ending to the film but that was the moral compass at the time.
4.A bunch of old harridans spread rumours about RR with which everyone and his dog agrees even forming a vigilante gang to attack his barber shop.What happened to the principle "everyone is innocent until legally proved guilty and why are people so ready to believe only rumours of guilt?
A very tame film by the producers.
Death Goes to School (1953)
Whodunnit the year when Elizabeth became our queen
I could only award this 1953 film 5/10.As the diner guest in Basil Fawlty's restaurant at "Fawlty Towers" said when asked by Basil "Did he like his meal?" he responded, (the way I felt when I saw this film today with my wife, an ex-teacher at a primary school); "Well it was adequate".So I appear to damn the film with faint praise but look at the obvious production budget.In the year of the coronation most British cinemas showed a cartoon, Pathe news, a "B" feature before "the big "A" picture" and I suspect this would have been a "B" picture then.We must therefore expect cheaper relatively unknown actors/actresses and virtually no locational shots filmed outside the studio system.Indeed the only actors I recognised were:Gordon Jackson, Sam Kydd, Beatrice Varley and Barbara Murray, hardly household names then and probably unknown to our American friends who saw this film.
Now having got the carping out of the way did it have some good points?Well yes, the screenwriters managed to keep "whodunnit" right to the end but the motive for murder was not sufficiently evident to me.There would be a job awaiting Miss Shepherd in the police if she wanted to give up music teaching but having teaching in my family, it tends to get into your blood.
More Wilde Quotes
To augment the quotes mentioned by above user Howard Schumann, I would add my own favourite Wilde quote from this play, "We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking up at the stars".After seeing a semi-pro version of this play in August 2013, this sumptuous 1985 version has all the hallmarks we have come to expect of BBC costume drama.Amazing attention to detail shown in the set construction (circa 1890), costumes, makeup etc were all evident including a cast of very professional actors, actresses, back stage staff including the direction, everything we have come to expect from BBC costume drama (e.g.the miniseries, Pride & Prejudice 1995).I obtained my DVD version of this production entitled "The Oscar Wilde Collection" Vol.2 (along with "An Ideal Husband" with Keith Michell, Dinah Sheridan and Margaret Leighton).I awarded "Lady Windermere's Fan" 9/10.Well done!
J B Priestley Type Plot
I commend the previous comments by users and have added to most an accolade showing I found them useful.As the first comment in particular on IMDb.com is so complete regarding the plot, I will not dwell further on it, however I should like to add my personal comment.
The pianist tenant at the boarding house was heard to play Franz Schubert's Impromptu #3 followed by the first movement (adagio sostenuto) of Beethoven's acclaimed "Moonlight Sonata".I was surprised by his "jazzed-up" version of the Schubert piece in front of the good spirit/angel played by Conrad Veidt.I found the plot of the phantom stranger arriving at the boarding house slightly reminiscent of J.B.Priestley's "An Inspector Calls" when the phantom inspector suddenly arrives at the family home.Renee Ray who plays Stasia the put- upon servant girl also played a beauty queen contestant in "Bank Holiday" (1938).Here she enjoys another Bank holiday but through careless exuberance nearly drowns herself during the Thames boat ride.Jerome K Jerome certainly had a love affair with boats!I thought at first Frank Cellier (Mr Wright) was playing the Devil to Conrad Veidt's Stranger as they seemed to instinctively know each others true characters.
There are many well known actors playing support roles in this film, e.g. the Irish Sara Algood who went on to carve out a career in Hollywood.Mary Clare plays the landlady of the boarding house has to interact with all her tenant characters.She played a similar role in "A Girl Must Live"(1939).Anna Lee who played the attractive blond daughter of a couple ready to pawn her to Mr Wright for financial gain, in some lights reminded me of the beautiful Madeleine Carroll.
A film exploring the moral forces of human frailty, greed, hope, forgiveness & redemption and can be viewed in its' entirety on www.youtube.com as it is in the public domain.I awarded this rare film 8/10.