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Shoestring (1979–1980)
Excellent- deserves re-visiting
14 May 2010
Lasting only for 2 seasons in 1979-80, Shoestring follows the adventures of former computer programmer turned private eye, Eddie shoestring. Following a period in a mental institution after he had a breakdown and smashed up computer equipment, he gets recruited to "radio west" a fictional (at the time) local radio station to be a "private ear". People who need detective services call him up and he attempts to solve the case for them, using the story in his radio show. The show is in my opinion much greater than the sum of its parts- and its all due to the wonderful characterisation of Trevor Eve. He really developed Eddie Shoestring as a likable and flawed character, he deliberately isn't a "super cool" type of P.I. He wears pyjama tops instead of shirts, drives an ageing (even then) orange cortina estate (which he managed to get on his expenses from radio west after his own Hillman hunter was smashed up on a case early on in the series) and as a method of stress relief, makes very accurate caricatures of his adversaries in a little doodle pad he carries with him. when this isn't enough he takes time off to potter around on his boat which is permanently moored on dry land. he has an on-off sexual relationship with his landlady, who as a barrister, provides plenty of legal assistance with her many contacts. He is spontaneous, witty, intelligent and has a ready sense of humour. all this makes the show far superior to its successor, Bergerac- No offence to Mr Nettles, but you just didn't give two hoots about the character of Jim Bergerac, a man totally lacking in any charisma whatsoever. The programme is of its time, but this serves as a superb snapshot of late '70s west country locations, which if you are local, you will enjoy spotting. (weston super mare sea front, Aust ferry terminal at Beachley, the old severn bridge, severn beach, etc etc) Older viewers may recognise Michael Medwin from the 1950's show "the army game" who plays the Radio station boss who always seems to have a problem with Eddie, be it expense claims or legal issues, whilst the delectable Liz Crowther is the friendly,efficient and helpful receptionist who seems to be an invaluable character in the running of the station. This deserves to be released on DVD- its far more popular than people might think, so come on and release it!
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Villain (1971)
a decent gangster romp
3 April 2010
If you like '70s blagger type films like "sweeney" this will probably be right up your street. One gets the impression that Richard Burton is punching well below his weight here- maybe he needed the money? but nonetheless it's an enjoyable film, in which Burton does play a very convincing mentally unhinged, sadistic, mother obsessed, homosexual gang boss planning a job that's not normally his style, just to prove that he can. times have changed however and the police are closer than he realises. Plenty of period street scenes with car chases featuring S type jaguars and ford zodiacs, and its surprisingly violent and graphic for such an old film. well worth a look, and its on DVD too.
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superb, a classic British comedy.
21 April 2007
My younger brother and I watched this endlessly as kids and it has lost none of the appeal. as others have stated, the trio of hay, moffat and marriot work very well together and it remains a shame that the on-screen chemistry was not exploited further in subsequent films. apparently will hay was the possessor of quite a sizeable ego and did not want to be upstaged by anyone, preferring to remain a solo name. a useless piece of trivia is that although the arbottle character was portrayed as an octegenarian he was in fact only a year or so older than hay himself, and made a career out of looking old for most of his life. "Oh Mr porter" remains a classic of British comedy and shows that big budgets are not necessary if the script and actors are the right sort. A glimpse of a long-vanished Britain, I never tire of watching it.
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simply dreadful
16 October 2005
Hmm. as most people who are goons fans have probably done, I watched this film purely out of curiosity having never seen the format "on screen". It didn't work. There is nothing whatsoever to recommend this film, boring, unfunny and unwatchable. as the goons huge popularity in later years goes to show, that's not to say that their talent is in any way called into question, I just think they really hadnt quite decided on which comedic routines would work and which wouldn't as early as 1952. Far better to watch something like "the muckinese battle horn" from 1957, which although doesn't feature secombe, is far nearer the mark to the goons madcap fast moving humour, and fans of the radio show will feel more at home. "z men" is quite frankly embarrassingly bad.
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The Sweeney (1975–1978)
great non-PC action
19 May 2005
Don your kipper tie and bell bottoms, chug yer glass of scotch and screech off in yer Mk1 Granada (ok, consul GT) and take a trip back to the '70s. This series was Brilliant.

and the actual catchphrase is "we're the sweeney, son, and we haven't had any dinner." NOT "we haven't had out dinner yet." it's in the episode "ringer" with Ian Hendry and Brian "shouty bloke" Blessed.

John Thaw was born to play this role, I could not fault his performance at all;

I did start to wonder if a remake would be a good idea, but no, they don't make granadas any more. wouldn't be the same with a mondeo.
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Catch-22 (1970)
not bad, but you need to read the book first
12 March 2005
The book "catch-22" is in my opinion one of the greatest works of the 20th century, not only as a satire on war but also as a comedy in itself. There are not that many books that make the successful transition to celluloid and this is one of them unfortunately, some of the best comedic dialogue being left out of the film and some of the choices of actor being perhaps not exactly inspired. However, given the depth of the story itself the limitations of what can be achieved in the length of a film must be taken into consideration and bearing that in mind the end result is not as bad as it could have been. If you read only one book this year, make it catch-22. I promise you will enjoy it.
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The Last Train (1999– )
not bad if you like apocalyptic stuff
14 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I thought parts of this were a little far fetched, I mean they went to the lock up to collect the van after 50 years, not only does it have tyres that haven't perished, an engine that hasn't seized, and a magic battery that is still able to take a charge after 50 years, but also a special type of diesel fuel that doesn't separate into waxy compounds over the years..however, as the man says-come doomsday the last vehicle running will be a Mercedes benz also they find a supply of fuel has been left for them to reach the convenient it wasn't petrol? why didn't they use motorways to reach their destination instead of bumping along dirt tracks? How come that pub still had food and drink left and the jukebox and generator still work perfectly? that aside, it was a great twist as you see them driving off past a gravestone that clearly shows they have been asleep a lot longer than the 14 years they originally thought
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Hell Drivers (1957)
star studded and eminently watchable
20 November 2004
Although the film belongs to Baker and mcgoohan there are plenty of other famous faces to spot. yes, sid james only ever played one character in all his films- that of sid james- but its an interesting romp nonetheless. I have it on good authority it was filmed around Stanwell moor, west London, and the trucks are "kew" dodges. something no-one has picked up on is that the sequences showing the trucks traveling at speed are obviously speeded up, these old motors were incapable of exceeding 45 mph, even more so carrying 10 tons o gravel (they were only 7 ton design weight) The plot is believable though, the practice of paying drivers "per trip" was and still is a common practice, especially in the tipper sector (obviously to encourage more runs) I know, I worked for a firm remarkably similar to Hawletts. someone has commented on the "coincidence" that all the drivers sleep at the same lodgings- this too was common in the 50's, before the advent of sleeper cabs, drivers would simply find "digs" for the night. also fewer people had their own car in those days, so wouldn't it make sense to sleep close to the job? Made on a small budget in an era where you would need to watch your Ps and Qs and also tone down any scenes of violence, its a classic in my opinion. In those days you'd actually probably be very grateful to be behind one of these wagons, the speed limit for trucks was only 20mph back then!
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