An Inspector Calls (1954) Poster

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Wonderful performance in a compelling, well-written film.
Bracken5 October 2000
A fairly rare thing; a film version of a play which really works- partly because of the quality of the original play, and partly by using flash-backs as a natural way of introducing more locations. These new scenes are well-written enough to fit seamlessly with Priestley's lines; and Eva Smith is beautifully acted. What makes this movie, though, is the magnificent performance by Alistair Sim in the title role. A great piece of casting- it would have been so easy to have cast some brooding, fierce actor like Basil Rathbone in the part, but Sim's gentle, avuncular, and sad performance is far more compelling, and finally, far more sinister. The only bad thing about the film is the classic fifties close-up and Da Da DAAA! music whenever someone looks at the photograph. I think we got the point already...
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Excellent - A unique masterpiece
Nicholas Rhodes24 July 2002
This film is one of my top favourites and each successive viewing makes me like it more and more. Perhaps I have a partiality for Priestly as I adored as well "Last Holiday". Whether it is the superb black-and-white photography, the plaintive theme music by Francis Chagrin ( Eva's Theme ), the masterly way in which the plot unfolds as the film progresses, the surprise ending ... all contribute to make this a small masterpiece which is never to be forgotten once seen.

Basically, a wealthy family in the early part of the 20th century are having a little celebration at home when proceedings are interrupted by a rather mysterious police inspector who says he has come to interrogate them about a young lady who has just died through suicide in an infirmery. When the young lady's name is pronounced, this doesn't ring any bells with those present but - this is where the fun starts and you can just see it coming - the inspector proceeds, via flashbacks, to establish a connection between all present and the unfortunate young lady who has passed on ...... The plot is excellently made, and build up to a final climax with brio. They just don't make films like this any more !

The film has now been available for about 18 months ( October 2007 ) on a DVD in the UK only which while sporting an excellent copy of the film, offers no subtitles or other languages and no interesting extras for the viewer. This is a bit of a shame for a film which, to me at least is to be considered as a small masterpiece of British Cinema. The theme music is also now available on a Francis Chagrin CD.
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A superior mystery with a twist in the tail.
MIKE WILSON1 July 2001
This film demonstrates , that when the cast are given such a

wonderful story, the film doesn't need big stars or outlandish

special effects to succeed. Alastair Sim stars as the mysterious

Inspector Goole, who calls upon the wealthy Birling family, to

investigate the death of a local girl, Eva Smith. The audience is led

to believe, that because the dead girl had worked in the Birlings

factory , Mr Birling is the subject of the investigation , but as the

story unravels, it is apparent that the rest of the family are involved

in the girls death. When I first saw this film I was unfamiliar with

Priestley's work, but after the final scene, I was enthralled. The

ending took me completely by surprise. Good supporting cast of

British actors, including a young Bryan Forbes as Eric Birling, but

as in all his films, Alastair Sim stands head and shoulders above

everybody else, and carries the film. I would recommend this

movie to everybody, but don't give away the ending.
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Fascinating study of people facing consequences of their actions
ottoflop17 April 2002
I first saw this film when I was ll years old and have never forgotten it. If I had my way, it would be required viewing in every school in the U.S.. The period atmosphere is superb and the acting first rate. A well shaded performance by Jane Wenham who plays the pivotal role. The haunting theme music, I have tried unsuccessfully to obtain.
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Brilliant, whimsical, and unsettling
rollo_tomaso29 May 2001
Alistair Sim is brilliant in the title role. This is a filmed stage play, but in absolutely the best possible connotations of the phrase; it gives the viewer the sense of intimacy and participation one gets from watching live theater. The tale itself basically combines a bit of "Tales From The Unexplained" with Noel Coward and Aesop's Fables with a dash of Hitchcock for good measure. More than that I shall not say except all four of the family members' supporting performances are excellent. When this inspector calls, he is not soon forgotten.
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MichaelJohnMartin18 July 2003
I have just finished watching this film on TV,and I must say,what a pleasant diversion it was for the afternoon,plenty of twists and turns,and the ending was excellent also,top performance must go to Alistair Sim for his protrayal of Inspector Poole,rivetting stuff.
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An inspector calls and leaves an indelible mark.
Spikeopath8 August 2008
A toff English family dinner is interrupted by the appearance of Inspector Poole, he announces that a young lady has committed suicide by the ingestion of disinfectant. At first the family is oblivious as to why this concerns them, but as Poole interviews each family member, it's apparent that one thing binds them all to the mystery.

Adapted from the J.B. Priestley stage play, An Inspector Calls is everything that was great about 50s British Cinema. Simple in structure it may be, but the lack of clogging in any form shines brighter than many a lavish production from this particular decade. The films cause is helped immensely by the quality of the writing, Desmond Davis adding further quality to the already great source provided by the talented Priestley. At first the film leads you to believe that it's going to be a one room interrogation piece, but thru a series of flash backs we are taken out of the room to follow this intriguing story to its quite brilliant finale. There are no histrionics from the actors in this piece, all of them are wonderful because they adhere to the necessity of letting the story be the star. Alastair Sim is perfectly cast as Inspector Poole, a large presence with those highly sympathetic eyes, Sim may be playing the main character, yet he's playing second fiddle to the fleshing out of the Birling family deconstruction, it's a wonderful case where the acting glue is holding it all together.

Director Guy Hamilton does a smashing job of making the film permanently edgy, a sense of unease is palpable throughout, and it's only during the final reel that the heart of the film shows its ace card, and even then, the makers have one more trick up their sleeves. Also worth mentioning is the editing from the sadly uncredited Geoffrey Botterill, so many films containing flash back sequences feel intrusive to the flow of a picture, it isn't here, it's spot on. An Inspector Calls is a wonderful mystery piece that is dotted with moments of unease, but all this would go to waste if the pay off was merely a damp squib, it thankfully isn't, and the likes of Rod Serling and Charles Beaumont were surely nodding in approval.

Highly recommended 9/10.

*Footnote:Alastair Sim is listed on this site as playing Inspector Goole, that is the characters name in the Priestley play, but i can assure everyone that his characters name is definitely Inspector Poole for this film version.
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By all means...see this film.
martyfrommiami27 December 2004
What can I add, but to say that I agree with all the previous comments about the magnificent performance of Sim and the intelligence of this film.

I've had this film on tape (from TV) for many years now and view it frequently; it is such a pleasure to watch something of this quality: low-key, well-acted, absorbing and, above all (and here's that word again), intelligent.

I give this film two thumbs up (and I'd give it even more if I had more thumbs.) P.S. Hadn't seen Jane Wenham (Eva Smith in this film) in anything else until I watched an Inspector Morse rerun from 1992 ("The Death of Self") last night. I said to the Mrs. that one of the actresses looked familiar; what a surprise to find that it was Ms. Wenham some 38 years later on (and as a blonde.)
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A strange visitor interrupts dinner
Chris Gaskin4 October 2005
I've just seen An Inspector Calls for the first time and found it very enjoyable. The ending was a bit of a surprise.

The Birlings, a rich English family are having dinner one evening when a copper calls round to see them and tell them about a girl who has just been found dead. At first, they deny they knew her but each member of the family did know her and had a different connection with her. These include being a former lover and a former employee. Later on, we learn the truth and there is something strange about the Inspector...

The Inspector is played brilliantly by the great Alastair Sim (Scrooge) and the rest of the cast includes Arthur Young and Brian Forbes.

This is a must see, especially for old movie fans. Brilliant.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
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A well-to-do British family has their complacency disrupted by the appearance of Inspector Poole.
Paul Curtis14 November 1999
This movie is a special favorite of mine. Alistair Sim has never been better; his regretful smile is truly haunting. I particularly enjoy showing this movie to people for the first time, as reactions are never quite the same. What is consistent is that it always gets a reaction! Warning: some female friends count it as a two-Kleenex-box prepared.

An odd thing...Bryan Forbes, as Eric Birling, resembles American actor John Larroquette remarkably. It doesn't distract from the enjoyment of the movie. Just a curious thing.
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The Last Chance of the Birlings
theowinthrop23 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This was a nice surprise when I saw it in 1977 or so. Alistair Sim had appeared as Inspector Cockerill in GREEN FOR DANGER shortly after World War II, and gave one of his best performances as that droll Scotland Yarder, who just manages to bungle his successful investigation at the conclusion of that film. Here he finally repeated the role of an inspector of the police - Inspecter Goole, who disturbs a pleasant evening at the Birling mansion in some midland industrial town with news that there has been a tragedy involving the death of a young woman, and she seems to be connected to the family.

J. B. Priestly was a highly successful novelist and dramatist of the middle years of the 20th Century. Besides AN INSPECTOR CALLS, he wrote LAST HOLIDAY and the novel (later a television series) LOST EMPIRES. He usually sets his stories (not LAST HOLIDAY) in the Edwardian period. That is the setting of LOST EMPIRES, which follows the London Music Halls in the years before and during World War I, and in this film, set in 1912. As it is set in 1912 it is like Terrance Rattigan's THE SLEEPING PRINCE (filmed as THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL) - a story whose plot line is complicated by the knowledge of the audience that history is headed in a disaster of war that will destroy the world of the characters.

They are quite complacent these Birlings. The father is an industrialist, who has become Lord Mayor of the city. A bluff old codger, he thinks that most of the problems of the world can be covered over by a smile and some cash. His alcoholic son and his daughter and her fiancé seem less cynical, and his wife seems more proper. But each is forced to look at a photograph of the dead girl, shown by the Inspector and suddenly see their sins of pride, lust, cruelty all arising. But in the end when about to admit they did wrong they learn that the Inspector may not be what he said he was. But the conclusion leaves them facing the same crisis that Goole seemed to be on the edge of resolving - and Goole is no longer there to advise them on how to solve it.

Sim, with minimal effort, controlled the film although he was off the screen most of the time. His Goole is a pleasant enough figure - apparently just doing his duty - and not being hard on the Birlings. He is just letting their consciences act out their feelings of contrition. But in the end the contrition (for the older Birlings) was too weak. So something stronger was needed to make them aware of their sins.
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Sim - brilliant again!
jagman19 February 2004
Fab film, good story, great acting & as usual Alastair Sim steals the show. This film proves the fact that acting & plot alone can produce a very good film without ANY need for GUI FX, which many modern films use, often to excess, to carry an otherwise mediocre film. Very enjoyable.
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Priestley's Morals on Society
fuhgeddaboutit0127 August 2006
JB Priestley usually had a moralising theme to his plays.As a Socialist he wanted to show his audience the social ills in society and prick their conscience.This film, which my son studied for his English GCSE was made into a film in 1954 with Alistair Sim in the title role.To help my son get a better understanding we all went up to the West End to see the play acted by professionals.It has a haunting theme about the social ills in the Edwardian society of 1912 when a girl first loses her job at the factory when asking for higher wages by the father, loses her second job courtesy of the daughter, loses her flat courtesy of the daughter's fiancé, is made pregnant by the son and finally is refused genuine charity by the mother.

My son returned the favour by giving me a DVD version of the film when I expressed a wish to see it, since one sees so few worthy films on TV these days compared to all the modern rubbish shown.There is rather a ghostly denouement to the film and twist which Priestley cleverly writes into the plot.Although Alistair Sim is only on screen for a short time he effortlessly steals your attention.
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Better than Stephen Daldry's version
David Ryan19 July 2003
Before he made Billy Elliot and The Hours, Stephen Daldry

directed a strangely baroque revival of this play for Britain's

National Theatre which won truckloads of awards, was hailed as

the theatrical event of the 1990s and went on to enjoy a very long

run in the West End of London.

I only wish I'd been more impressed with it when I saw it in 1999.

The unusual set design - having the Birling residence look like a

giant doll's house - was undoubtedly striking, but the whole thing

was a bit too clever-clever and postmodern for my liking and the

not very well known actor playing Inspector Goole at that time

simply didn't possess the requisite charisma.

When I caught this movie on TV the other day, it occurred to me

that Guy Hamilton's straightforward telling of Priestley's morality

tale packed a moral wallop that Daldry's version patently lacked -

and that the presence of the incomparable Alastair Sim helped

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Dramatic showcase for cinema's greatest comedian (spoiler in the second paragraph)
Alice Liddel31 October 2000
Warning: Spoilers
The detective story is such a concrete, material genre - a physical crime occurs, and a detective solves it by interpreting physical clues. And yet, in another way, the genre is at a remove from the physical - corpses can't speak; the stolen item is an absence, the detective works in the abstract, trying to retrieve that elusive concept, time, the past; concrete clues become abstract, made to fit a theoretical pattern; much evidence depends on witness and testimony - such 'facts' are so tainted with subjectivity, unreliability, self-interest, faulty memory, even falsehood, that the material floats away in a haze of dubious suspicion and speculation. It is this tension in the genre between the material and the abstract that makes 'An Inspector Calls' so compelling.

Priestley's thesis is patently artificial - five members of a prosperous family (well four, and a future in-law) are all supposed to be linked to the suicide of a working-class woman - but for once theatrical contrivance is justified. Although the film works well enough as a mystery, it is Inspector Poole's role in it that is its motor. Even before the supernatural ending, we realise that we are not dealing with a prosaic officer of the law. The dramatic cuts (with thunderous music) to Poole, the otherworldly lighting that sets him apart from those he interrogates, giving him an almost demonic look, or that of a grim Calvinist prophet, replete with vicar's dress, his omnipotent power and knowledge, whether ordering the family around their own home, judging them, disrupting routine and dangerous assumptions, or the access he has to the life of the dead girl, the way he can connect a woman of various pseudonyms, jobs, lives to one family; his repeated, ungainsayable power to extract the truth, all suggest a supernatural figure, an avenging angel, perhaps, or an embodiment of conscience - after all, the family become aware of their guilt before the crime happens, and, importantly, it is a collective guilt, not just limited to this family, but the ruling classes of England as a whole, two years before blundering into a stupid war, where millions of Eva Smith's class will be slaughtered, while Birling and his like sip sherry and gloat over munitions factories.

Most English mystery stories take place in one setting, but are rarely as claustrophobic as this. The only respite are the flashbacks, but these are mere images of what people are saying, and hence, unsubstantial, abstract. The more the film goes on, the more the home becomes a kind of figure for the mind, propped up by illusions, evasions, prejudices, nagged away at by inexorable conscience.

But this metaphysical dimension co-exists with a canny understanding of class. The film opens as pure Galsworthy, with the vulgar, pretentious middle-class business magnate marrying his finishing school-educated daughter to an aristocrat who is presumably impoverished. The film opens with the hope of a union, but the cracks in this happy cross-class alliance are already clear, the dissipation of the son and heir, the mysterious Victorian double-life of the fiance, showing that sexuality will always undermine the self-confidence of governing elites. The exploitation of the working class is, punningly, linked to sex also, the loss of position and status due to vanity and caprice resulting in a vulnerability to exploitation.

Admittedly, Priestley's ideas are simplistic and rarely subtle, but the concentration on pure plot means less room for the usual execrable attempts at character and atmosphere. Hamilton's direction is serviceable, a little self-mocking; the cast are believable caricatures, but there is still only one real reason to watch 'An Inspector Calls' today, and that is the immortal Alistair Sim, cinema's greatest comedian bar none, bringing a frightening, yet amused and perverse irony to a difficult role to pull off. Genius.
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Inspector Poole, NOT Goole, can be considered our collective conscience.
appealing_talent16 December 2007
I have an excellent copy of this rare and wonderful film and Alastair Sim introduces himself -distinctly- as Inspector Poole, the daughter's fiancé asks a police officer about the Inspector using that name and the police officer repeats the name. Goole is a rather gruesome reference to ghoul, I think, and the benevolent Inspector was not at all depicted as a creepy or menacing man. J.B. Priestley meant this piece to be as much a morality play as a mystery, I believe. The Inspector was supposed to be either an angel on a mission or God himself giving these unconscious people a chance to redeem themselves for their thoughtless and compassionless actions... The performances are uniformly top notch and Alastair Sim's, in particular, rivals his unsurpassed portrayal of Scrooge in the finest version of "A Christmas Carol." I highly recommend this film as a first class lesson in the common foibles of human nature and how we have the ability to achieve salvation if we take responsibility for our faults.
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Probably the best version...
Quackle25 February 2005
I probably enjoyed this version of An Inspector Calls the most. There have been so many different sketches, but this one has the atmosphere than none of the others possess. The factors that provide the viewer with the best atmosphere are the fact that the film is in black and white - This makes it old fashioned, which it is meant to be. Also, the use of mirrors around the entire room are very eery, and the brief yet effective music play a part, too.

I strongly recommend watching this, and I'm aware that it is being studied in English lessons, so watch the entire sketch for more knowledge!
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"What are you waiting for?" "To do my duty..."
The_Secretive_Bus27 June 2007
A wonderful adaptation of an already very good play that, in my mind, improves upon the original source material. As a morality tale it's fairly thought provoking - though it's slightly irritating that the female character has to spell things out for the audience every few minutes - but it probably works even better as a simple character drama.

A good cast is headed by the always fantastic Alastair Sim as Inspector Poole (the name changed from the original text - in my opinion for the better, controversially), who, though on screen less often than you might think, is like a burning sun around which orbits everything else in the film. The cool, calm yet still devastating Inspector is a part Sim was born to play and I can't imagine another actor bettering it. The Inspector as presented here is more benign than that of the original play, which could have risked making the Inspector seem less interested in the other characters and too detached from them - the Inspector of the film never raises his voice, and some of his more forceful lines are given to the young female role - but Sim is able to maintain a chillingly capable and oppressive demeanour simply by smiling. He almost floats through the proceedings. A truly magnetic performance.

The direction is also to be commended - there are several edits between shots designed to make you jump, and they definitely do the job - and enlivens the material when the film could have been a bit of a slog (though the script is great it's obviously far more difficult to maintain an electrifying atmosphere through film than through the more immediate medium of the theatrical stage). There's little I can say about "An Inspector Calls"; I'd just highly recommend it. Give it a go.
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I'm not sure if Alfred Hitchcock or Rod Serling called...
calvinnme24 November 2016
... but this was an excellent British film. I can't really say if it was suspense, thriller, or even fantasy. The beginning has five wealthy people sitting down to dinner with the daughter in the family, Sheila, announcing her engagement to Gerald, who is obviously approved of by the family. The son, Eric, is obviously a cynic. Lots of time is spent having the camera pan over all of the food. The reason why will be obvious later. The father, Mr. Birling, says that the young people are marrying at a time of great prosperity and that war is impossible in 1912, that the world is changing too fast for war (WRONG - won't be the last time either for dear old dad). Then he says that the family must try and stay out of the scandal sheets since he is expecting to be appointed to an important post and with Sheila's upcoming marriage. He really says this last part jokingly, as if anybody in that room could do something scandalous.

And out of nowhere a police inspector appears in the dining room doorway. They even mention why he didn't knock. He says he is there because a young woman has just died of poisoning and he needs to ask them a few questions. He says he is not sure if it is suicide or murder. He goes to each family member in turn and shows them a photo of the girl but does not show the same photo to anybody else. Each person remembers the girl, and each did something - sometimes a very small thing just because that person was having a bad day - that led the dead girl on the road to ruin, ultimately placing her in a situation where she was desperate and felt she had no out but suicide. She was young, pretty, and smart, but she had no real family and no money, putting herself at the whim of the upper classes.

After all of the revelations, Gerald goes outside for a walk to calm down and runs into a policeman he knows where he learns a shocking fact. What did he find out and what comes of it? Watch and find out.

The whole point of the film I think is to show that each of us may be a small pebble on this earth, but in life's pond we can produce big ripples. In concert with other "pebbles" we can start off a chain reaction in a person's life that greatly affects them without really knowing or caring what we did until we are made to care and look at the result of our handiwork.

This film was very suspenseful with lots of twists and turns. Alistair Sim was marvelous as the inspector, unfazed and deliberate throughout. I'd highly recommend it.
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Superb mystery film
jimbo-53-18651122 July 2015
A upper class family are celebrating round a dinner table one evening when they receive a visit from Inspector Poole (Alastair Sim). The inspector informs the family that a young woman that they all know has died. Due to the fact that everyone in the family knows the victim, the Inspector begins to question each member of the family to try to uncover the truth surrounding her death.

An Inspector Calls is a film adaptation of a JB Priestley play and the film does have a very stagy feel about it. However, once Inspector Poole arrives the film never lets up and I was fully wrapped up in the story. Like any mystery film the less you know about it beforehand the better the experience is likely to be for you. The nature of the narrative had me hooked as I was never really sure which direction the film would take me in and how it was going to end - in other words it kept me guessing. The ending is both surprising and thought-provoking.

Aside from a good narrative, the film also benefits from excellent performances from the cast with Sim arguably being the strongest player. The way he interrogates the family and gets information out of them is also top-notch and very clever.

This is a great film and uses a very simple premise and uses it well and to good effect. The running time of 80 minutes keeps everything tight and ensures that this film never outstays his welcome.
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Arresting stuff!
Spondonman21 September 2014
The day Alistair Sim died in 1976 this was the film UK BBC1 showed in tribute, and it was the first time I'd seen it. Over the years this particular effort has seemed to me to gain in stature, it's power and poignancy increasing as we maybe realise all the more that some lessons are never learnt, and that the wheel of life is oiled by life's mistakes. Sim made some unforgettable appearances in films throughout the '40's and '50's - also being unforgettable in The Ladykillers even though he turned it down.

In 1912 an enigmatic police inspector named Poole calls on a well-to-do family with information that a girl they've all been involved with has been found dead. And more, much more. It's Green For Danger Meets Last Holiday Meets Dead Of Night, with a nod to Ophuls in part thanks to Chagrin's music. The cast are wonderful, Sim at his eccentric best with his black humour sometimes bordering on grisly. Only one skeleton was in this family closet though... Priestley's play was transferred to the big screen perfectly – you seldom remember it was a play it's so classily photographed showing the cast being inspected. As in Priestley's later story Last Holiday which was filmed earlier (and which also had music by Chagrin and Sim's Ladykillers substitute) the co-incidences pile up, are in turn believed, disbelieved, and eventually boggled over, by the cast and us.

Wonderful and engrossing moral entertainment! Is it impossible to make thoughtful little gems like this, like this anymore? If remade all its polish and erudition would be more or less thrown to the winds: the cast would be cursing and coarse with graphic sex and violence to keep the viewer amused. A point would be made but the point would be lost.
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More questions than answers....
gridoon201821 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Despite appearances, "An Inspector Calls" is not a traditional "whodunit" by any means. It's a strange, enigmatic, socially-conscious mystery, and if you're expecting solid answers, forget it. And it's not exclusively an "Alastair Sim" movie, either; although his presence does dominate the proceedings, most of the rest of the cast is excellent as well, particularly the two younger women, Eileen Moore and Jane Wenham, who are both elegant, beautiful, intelligent, sensitive. It's because of them that this mystery sometimes transforms into a quite moving drama. And the final scene, although open to the viewer's interpretation, is guaranteed to give you a chill! *** out of 4.
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One call not forgotten
TheLittleSongbird20 August 2017
Being a classic film fan (though do watch films and television of all genres/medium old and new), that 'An Inspector Calls' was based on the classic play with a great story by JB Priestley and had a great actor in Alastair Sim on board were reasons enough to see it.

'An Inspector Calls' thankfully did not disappoint. While the 2015 television adaptation with David Thewlis was also wonderful, this film version from 1954 is the marginally better one. Even if it does open up the deliberately confined setting and atmosphere of the play with the inclusion of flashbacks for cinematic reasons no doubt, which some may feel tones down the claustrophobia. To me it isn't as strong as it is on stage but is present still. As well as changing the Inspector's name from Goole to Poole, some may, and have done, find that it misses the point of the character for reasons that won't be gone into here at the risk of spoiling crucial elements of the story. Didn't have as big a problem with this change though it does take away a little from the character's mysteriousness. But what makes this version of 'An Inspector Calls' so good is how well it succeeds on its own merits.

It is an incredibly atmospheric film first and foremost, it's not the most technically polished film there is but it does look good. The setting do maintain the sense of confinement and claustrophobia and are produced elegantly. The cinematography and lighting are suitably ominous and while not the most polished look beautiful and add hugely to the atmosphere. A big shout out also has to go to the editing, with 'An Inspector Calls' containing to me some of the best editing of any film seen recently by me and of its kind, with its fluid and seamless transitions between present day and the flashbacks. Something that has been done with wildly variable results elsewhere, many films do it well and just as many others executing it rather clumsily.

Regarding the music, much of it is very haunting and adds a lot in giving a sense of constant unease. There are a few instances where it's a touch heavy-handed, my sole complaint of the film but it is not significant enough to bring it down. The script is droll and thought-provoking, never once found it trite, the best lines belong to the Inspector and Sim's delivery has a lot to do with it.

Story goes at a deliberate but efficient and never too slow pace, it is unsettlingly suspenseful and very intriguing. The portrayal and dynamic of the central family were beautifully established, there is a lot of great psychological tension and unease when the family are interrogated and the flashbacks were a great way of opening up the story and solving the potential problem while stage to screen adaptations of being stagy. They allowed us to get to know the victim and care for her plight and also the members of the Birling family and how it all affects them. The final twist, while open to interpretation, really sends a chill down the spine.

The performances are very fine across the board. Didn't have a problem with Bryan Forbes, though he fares better as a director than an actor in a way. 'An Inspector Calls' is compelling from the get go , but gets even better once the inspector shows up and interrogates the Birlings to utterly transfixing effect. Alastair Sim always had a knack for scene-stealing, whether in lead or support, and he does here in a superb performance that perhaps ranks among his best. Loved his witty but serious line delivery and even more so his understated and oh so expressive eyes and face.

Jane Wenham is very touching in her here pathos-filled role. Arthur Young has the right amount of patriarchal authority and crustiness and Olga Lindo brings dignity and class.

Concluding, wonderful and not easy to forget. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Cinematic chamber theatre at its very best: an intriguing example of criminological metaphysics
clanciai20 September 2016
J.B.Priestley's most famous play is an ingenious composition of knots tied up into an overwhelming mess of guilt and human weakness with many hard lessons learned on the way, until it all dissolves into a trifle, but then the real serious business begins, which we may know nothing about but are left to guess wildly at the consequences...

The play-acting is fantastic all the way including the minutest details, like for instance the small girl in the fish and chips shop stating her order exactly before wiping her nose. Alastair Sim is always eerily fascinating with his microcosmic acting where the smallest hints import the greatest significance, and Bryan Forbes, quite young here still, excels in a very variegated display of different sides of a spoiled rake, a mother's boy in the worst sense of the word, but comes out of it alive and perhaps better than the others. This is a dream play for any director, who is bound to have a very good time with it including the actors, and the elegance, the comfortable environment with sofas and boudoirs, also including the smoky theatre bar, adds to the charm and entertainment. This is a theatre classic perfectly transformed into cinema with flashbacks and poignant camera and music effects that must charm anyone at any time. It is all set in 1910-12, but it definitely strikes the timeless zone at once and keeps it there, underscored by what we never shall know will happen next...
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If Men Will Not Learn That Lesson They Will Be Taught It In Fire And Blood And Anguish
ShootingShark26 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
One evening in 1912, the well-to-do Birling family are celebrating the engagement of their daughter Sheila to family friend Gerald when a strange policeman, Inspector Poole, arrives with news of the suicide of a young woman, Eva Smith. It transpires the Birlings all had separate dealings with Eva, and may bear the responsibility for her fate ...

John Boynton Priestley's 1946 play An Inspector Calls is a masterpiece of theatre and this film is an excellent screen adaptation, not to be missed. The plot details are brilliant, as each family member's cruel treatment of Eva is mercilessly exposed by the Inspector, piling hardship and misfortune upon her to its grim conclusion. But this is not a heavy-handed expose or moral lecture - each point is made with subtlety and clarity, and as the Birlings (particularly daughter and son) start to confront the enormity of their combined efforts we begin to feel almost as sorry for them as Eva. Like us all, they try to rationalise their actions, instead of accepting the simple truth that everything we do affects someone, often in ways we don't understand and fail to recognise. The other aspect of the story which fascinates me is the nature of Inspector Poole (or in the original text, Goole). I'm a sucker for Mysterious Dude characters, and he's one of the best. What is he ? He seems to have supernatural abilities, but again treated with delicate subtlety (like the moment he checks his watch just before Eric comes in), but is he a ghost, a ghoul (sic), an avenging angel, a phantom conjured by the force of the Birlings' collective guilt ? Sim is superb in the role, his hawkish stare and uncomfortable smile penetrating right into the heart of the family's shameful conscience. Of course, he is a plot device to bring across the social and political points Priestley wants to emphasise, but what a fabulous character. The direction is tight and tense; Hamilton was a skilled technician (he made four of the classic James Bond films) but he extracts all the emotional weight from the events in this very unique drama. There is one key difference between film and play, which is the characterisation of Eva via flashbacks. Whilst I understand the need for this, and Wenham's performance is good, I think the play is much stronger for Eva's absence. Literally seeing her somehow grounds the film more in the ordinary, but in the play she exists only in our imaginations, a definitive Everywoman, haunting our thoughts, which for me is the real strength of the story. Great films of plays are rare (see Wait Until Dark or Sleuth), but this is definitely one of the exceptions and a fine showcase of Priestley's salute to the dispossessed.
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