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Inspired by H.M.S. Campbeltown, 8 September 2014

Viewers might as well know the inspiration for the screenplay to this 1952 movie based on facts gleaned from Wikipedia.

Based on the lend/lease arrangement of the UK/USA during WW2, Britain was leased an old destroyer by the US Navy.This was used in the St Nazaire raid of 1942. An explosive charge consisting of 24 Mark VII depth charges—containing a total of 4.5 short tons (4.1 t) of amatol high explosive—was fitted into steel tanks installed just behind the steel pillar that supported her most forward gun mount. The charges were to be detonated by multiple eight-hour time pencils connected together by cordtex, set before steaming out and cemented in to prevent any interference with the detonation.HMS Campbeltown steamed from Devonport to Falmouth, Cornwall on 25 March 1942 to join the other ships that would take part in the operation. The crew —which would be evacuated with the commandos—was reduced to 75 men, under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Stephen "Sam" Beattie.

A flotilla of 21 vessels—Campbeltown, 16 Fairmile B motor launches, one motor torpedo boat, and a Fairmile C motor gun boat acting as the troops′ headquarters—left Falmouth at 14:00 on 26 March 1942, escorted for most of the crossing to France by two "Hunt"-class escort destroyers.[2] Apart from a brief clash with German submarine U-593, whose captain misreported the task force's course and composition, the ships reached France unmolested. One motor launch suffered mechanical problems and had to return to England.

The preliminary air raid carried out through heavy cloud by 35 Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys and 25 Vickers Wellingtons was much smaller than originally planned and was ineffective, merely alerting the defenders of something unusual happening. Nevertheless, by flashing genuine German recognition signals, the force, with Campbeltown flying the flag of the Kriegsmarine, approached to within less than 1 mi (1.6 km) of the harbour before being fired upon. Campbeltown—as the largest target—drew most of the fire. During the final approach, the crew of Campbeltown lowered the emblem of the Kriegsmarine and hoisted the White ensign of the Royal Navy.

At 01:34 on 28 March, four minutes later than planned, Campbeltown rammed the dock gate. The Commandos and ship's crew came ashore under heavy German fire, and set about demolishing the dock machinery. 162 of the raiders were killed (64 commandos and 105 sailors) out of the 611 men in the attacking force. Of the survivors, 215 were captured and 222 were evacuated by the surviving small craft. A further five evaded capture and travelled overland through France to Spain and then to Gibraltar, a British territory.

German photo of HMS Campbeltown, taken before it exploded The charges in Campbeltown exploded at noon, an hour and a half later than the British had expected. Although the ship had been searched by the Germans, the explosives had not been detected. The explosion killed around 250 German soldiers and French civilians, and demolished both the front half of the destroyer and the 160 short tons (150 t) caisson of the drydock, with the rush of water into the drydock washing the remains of the ship into it. The St. Nazaire drydock was rendered unusable for the rest of the war, and was not repaired until 1947.

The delayed-action torpedoes fired by the motor torpedo boat into the outer lock gate to the submarine basin detonated, as planned, on the night of 30 March. This later explosion led to panic, with German forces firing on French civilians and on each other. Sixteen French civilians were killed and around thirty wounded. Later, 1,500 civilians were arrested and interned in a camp at Savenay, and most of their houses were demolished, even though they had had nothing to do with the raid.Lt-Cdr Beattie—who was taken prisoner—received the Victoria Cross for his valour, and in 1947 received the French Légion d'honneur.The Victoria Cross was one of five that were awarded to participants in the raid, along with 80 other military decorations.

I rated this film 6/10 as above average and certainly not up to the level of "The Cruel Sea" (1952) produced in the same year, which which some users have compared it.

A Mislaid Gem, 16 July 2014

I have an impressive collection of 1940s movies on DVD but this one has hitherto eluded me.Full marks then to for up-loading this missing gem of a film and thereby giving me a viewing pleasure.Yes I know that in the immediate post war years the fall out of physical and mental stress from combat affected returning servicemen and that apart from their physical wounds there was a need to treat their minds through psychiatry.Consequently the film industry produced quite a few movies portraying the recovery treatment to war veterans and civilians.Examples were "Spellbound"1946 "The Seventh Veil"1947 & "Since You Went Away "1944.

Dulcie Gray is in her familiar role of a put upon wife (as she played in "They Were Sisters") but in this film she has more character & strength of mind when clumsily supporting her lay-psychiatrist husband (Burgess Meredith).I first saw the attractive Barbara White in "Quiet Weekend" (1946),the sequel to "Quiet Wedding"(1940) and here she has a grown up part playing Molly Sinclair Lucian.Kieron Moore plays her ill-fated mentally distressed war veteran husband, Adam Lucian, who is the main patient of Burgess Meredith.Nigel Balchin wrote the novel on which this screenplay was based.Another intelligent novel by him produced into a film was "The Small Back Room" produced the same year as "My Own Executioner",(1947).

Definitely worth another viewing as long as it remains uploaded on rated it highly 9/10 as one of Burgess Meredith's best films, especially as I noticed it had a rating of only a bit above 6/10.

A Film Fan Divided by a Common Language, 21 April 2014

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 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 for the latter film put me on notice of the subject film which fortunately was on 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, 20 April 2014

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

Room 43 (1958)
AKA "Passport To Shame", 19 April 2014

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.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Fleeting Glimpse of Krista Nell, 24 March 2014

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 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.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Hooray! Now available for free on, 24 March 2014

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.

Wonderful TV 1950s memories, 5 February 2014

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!

Gli Occhi, 27 January 2014

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.

9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Dickie Attenborough on Song, 26 December 2013

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.

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