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I Live in the Kent area
Went to Reading Uni Took Politics 72-76 Worked on various Tech Support lines for Internet access (Cable Modem-best! but Virgin took the support line to India) ADSL and Dial-up.
Was 1st line support IT on the Reuters (which has now been transferred to Portugal) and lastly on the FSA which is now based in Stevenage. Made redundant in July 09.
The Likely Lads (1976)
Oddly contrasting film combining sharp dialogue& depth with bouts of farce
An uneven though interesting film still watchable for the most part with sharply observed dialogue especially between the two protagonists contrasting with occasional bouts of Carry On voyeuristic titillation & Whitehall farce humour & oddly misappropriate parachuting of crude language all of which I found excruciatingly embarrassing in 2017 (though wonder if I would have done in 1976).
Carry on films despite the crudity can still produce good one-liners (Infamy Infamy they've all got in in for me) and this one has a brilliant one delivered most amazingly by Thelma Bob's wife the most "respectable" character in the film but to be worth a review the film does have a life at the crossroads where do we go from here in a vastly changed world from our youth feel that makes it interesting and is sustained despite slipping into cul-de-sacs of crudity both visual and verbal at times which spoil the film.
I was quite amazed at something else I saw in this film which would never be allowed these days and that is the car pulling the caravan for the winter wonderland holiday (was it a deliberate decision to shoot the film in winter or did it just happen to be convenient/necessary at that time) had no wing mirrors and yet the characters were shown on the open highway driving a car from the block of flats where Terry Collier and his girl friend lived over the Tyne bridge onto duel carriageways and into the countryside.
The most poignant scene in the film is the drinking session the two Likely Lads characters have near the end of the film before Terry's departure on board a ship he had signed up to sail in which reflected well each of the personalities depth or lack of it with Bob searching his soul for a meaning to his life which he hadn't found (nor ever will) quoting from the John Masefield poem "Cargoes"
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack, then Bob goes on
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
recalling school days of "recitation" where pupils had to recite chunks of poetry (which needless to say Terry doesn't relate to or remember) though strangely considering the location no further quote
With a cargo of Tyne coal, Road-rails, pig-lead, Firewood, iron- ware, and cheap tin trays.
Trying to find meaning to his life which Middle-Class respectability had not brought to it and trying to find orientation whilst the physical fabric of his childhood and youth was physically being destroyed from the graphic shots earlier in the film of districts of their old neighbourhood being destroyed.
Terry as ever non reflective but a survivor on his wits very much the live for today as yesterday has gone and you can do nothing about it and tomorrow will bring pretty much what yesterday brought so live with it. Terry isn't a rebel but sees himself as a realist in a world which only gives what you can make out of it which isn't in his working class case amounting to very much so make what you can of what you have and take pleasure where you can find it which in his case is very much booze and women. In the case of women he will always be adrift like Bob attempting to find meaning beyond respectability in that his short term selfishness will always eventually trump the restraint required to keep a long term relationship alive and always worth saving (like Bob's with Thelma)
The characters were both supposed to be born in 1941 though I see that James Bolam was born June 1935 and Rodney Bewes in Nov 1937 so both were supposed to be 34/35 when this film was made in 1975/6 which for Bolam was stretching it a bit though as no one said very much at the time he could obviously carry it off back then.
The Debt Collector (1999)
The victim and those who loved them are the real "lifer" of a violent crime
This could have been a great film as the four protagonists each put in a strong performance especially Francesca Annis who is brilliant.
It attempts to be a serious examination about whether a man's abhorrent violent past can ever be forgiven by his victims and whether those who take their duty to serve to protect seriously, like the police officer Gary Keltie,(Ken Stott) (who had been instrumental in taking him off the streets some 18 years ago) who don't believe Nickie Dryden (Billy Connolly) is a changed man. Haunting all those directly involved are the harrowing past images of the torture and mayhem he inflicted on his victims.
The film makes a well made contrast between those who can easily forgive because it is but a remote experience which happened to others of which they know little and those who have suffered either as victims or as those who were emotionally related to those victims. To the Edinburgh arty literati he had paid his price according to the official judicial system by serving a long jail sentence for murder and by appearing reformed through his talent developed in prison which squares his past and placates their easy conscience to forgive.
Their easy forgiveness is contrasted to those who actually suffered whose still open wounds are articulated by the police detective Keltie character. The scepticism and disbelief of these silent witnesses is passionately articulated by the Gary Keltie,(Ken Stott)character.
It is unusual for a film to show so clearly this demarcation and divergence between the two views depending on where you are standing.
Objectivity and forgiveness is easy if you are not a victim yourself and this is wonderfully brought out later in the film when one of those to whom he is now close but to whom past is another country has to live through the same torments when someone dear to them is murdered in a similarly bloody and brutal way to that by which Nickie Dryden had dispatched his earlier victim for which he had served his 18 years.
Despite all the fancy surroundings which Dryden's talent and infamy combined have brought him, including his very "uptown girl" writer wife Val, played by Francesca Annis (who Keltie believes is partly attracted by the aura of his past infamy) Keltie believes him to be a fake: as also interestingly does the wannabe thug Flipper (Iain Robertson) who hero worships Dryden's past image.
If it had stuck to portraying in a more realistic way the central theme of which, if either, of the 3 views (1) whether or not Dryden's debt "to society" is repaid by serving the officially sanctioned sentence and coming out a seemingly reformed character and accepted in official society or (2) whether he really is faking at being a changed man and (3) whether his debt can ever repaid and forgiven by his real victims (or those close to them) and those whose job it is to protect them, then this would have been a great film.
As it is where it all falls apart into disbelief are several volcanic graphic, outrageous, completely over the top scenes, where the Gary Keltie,(Ken Stott) character himself commits violent acts which go way beyond angst and disbelief over demonstrating to himself and those he seeks to protect, that Nickie Dryden (Billy Connolly) can ever be anything but the psychopath he knew and put away.
The only purpose of two of these scenes, the one at the art gallery and the other at a wedding that I can think of is that it contrasts the real difficulty which those who were or witnessed at 1st hand his victims suffering have in forgiving someone who harmed them with those to whom the remote experience of his perpetrated violence means very little.
The 3rd scene is just so ridiculous and outrageous as it descends from an advocacy by Keltie by public challenges to the legitimacy of official forgiveness to that of private and personal revenge thereby descending to the similar level of depravity as the criminals whose behaviour he hates so much.
The script seems to be saying that by Keltie being unable to contemplate a reformed perpetrator he sets in motion his own destruction being unable to shake off his "lifer" grudge against Dryden.
I find it difficult for even the most conscientious detective, 18 years on, to be so obsessed to the point of near insanity with one particular past criminal given the number of hard cases he would have come across in the meantime especially one who is no longer trying to reestablish himself on old stomping grounds (literally) that he would jeopardise not only his career but put his life on the line to pursue a current non-criminal even if he is completely convinced that Nickie Dryden is a fraud.
Brass Target (1978)
Slices of good parts giving food for thought about the great man's demise
This film tackles a very serious subject of the sudden and violent post- war (Dec 45) death of General George Patton.
The film builds up to the denouement of showing this death to be an assassination, something I have thought was a distinct probability given the enemies he made during and post the Allied victory over Germany. The story line of the motivations behind the assassination is built up around the theft a huge quantity of the gold that the National-Socialist government had accumulated that went "missing in action" so to speak. The film shows a train hi-jack of the gold , though not sure if that happened, but huge quantities of gold did disappear post-war Germany and was never found.
Whether this was really the route (and the root) of the motivations behind the events which led to his sudden death is debatable but I am very intrigued as to whether or not the death of Patton as shown here was a reasonable accurate re-creation of that death, something which sadly appears not to worry too many of the previous reviewers. The build-up to the set-up so that his vehicle came round a bend and hit a parked lorry seemed to be well done and just how you would expect an "accident" to be pre-arranged.
Kennedy's portrayal of Patton's aggressive Anti-Soviet, anti-communism, with the post-war Red Army command's behaviour having no difficulty coming right down to meet the low expectations Patton had of them seemed well done.
Patton had many enemies in the US. One of the things that he did to infuriate those who wanted to use the Allied victory to unleash a vindictive payback over and against the defeated enemy was to release the Post-War POW's under his jurisdiction, the only set of Post-war POW's to be set free during that time to go back home instead of suffering and dying of starvation and disease in unsheltered open fields surrounded by barbed-wire and shot at by guards as was the fate of others German solders in these post-war death camps.
These Germans were to be made to pay time and again for their collective sin, with a usurious rate of interest, so that punishment and retribution was to be their fate. Patton wasn't interested in such policies once the victory had been won but his internal enemies were.
He was recalled to the US and was due to go home imminently and had already been stripped of his executive powers but Patton's enemies could well have thought that they needed to get their pay-back time in quickly before he did get back to the US and start to interfere with their plans against post-war Germany because of his high-status in the US despite their incessant campaigns to undermine his credibility.
So an uneven film methinks with some good parts and some bad but the slices of good parts giving food for thought about the great man's demise.
Die Vier im Jeep (1951)
Cyrillic Writer changes to Latin Alphabet
This movie is currently being shown on a pretty regular basis in the GB on the Movies4Men or Movies4Men2 channels.
"In post WW2 Vienna, four soldiers have to deal with various tragic stories, in particular, a woman whose POW husband has escaped. Ralph Meeker & Michael Medwin star, 1951.
Length: 97 mins Year: 1951 "Stars: Ralph Meeker, Vivece Lindfors Genre: War Director: Leopold Lindtberg Class: PG
Next Airing: Friday 28th December 2007 at 3:15pm
May contain spoilers
At the start of the Movie introducing the characters the Russian asks the French and the English sergeants for their names and writes them down in a notebook which we then see and can then read the names as it is shot in close up. He doesn't ask the American to whom he just looks at and this indicates that he knows the American from earlier times which is the point of dwelling on the close-up shot.
The problem with this is that we have been able to read the names he wrote in his notebook but of course he wouldn't write in the Latin alphabet but would use the Cyrillic which is unfortunate for the plot, but for most viewers this would mean the script would be indecipherable.
Presumably the director had to make a decision which had to kick-start one of the film's 2 intertwined story lines. Strange though that the director was not consistent as later in the film in a Flashback sequence it told the tale of how the Soviet and the American first met. After the elation of meeting the Russian carves his name on a tree but this time in how he really would: in Cyrillic characters.
The other main interrelated thread of the film intertwines the story of a missing Austrian POW who goes AWOL from a POW train. The Austrian POW cannot wait for his release from captivity in Soviet hands and goes AWOL in order to be reunited with his beautiful Austrian wife (Vivece Lindfors). The story line interplays between the love interest of the woman to the American and the Russian who is prompted by both a duty to recapture an "enemy" and fear of the consequences of knowing things which could land him in deep trouble if he were to be silent and then found out are charted in the growing animosity between the American and Russian, presumably an allegory of the then increasing tensions of Post-WWII Europe.
We don't quite know if or when the missing husband will appear or not but if he doesn't then the American Sergeant spends much of his time trying to ingratiate himself with her to try to book his place at the head of the queue if he doesn't.
In many ways the actions he takes and the reaction of the Russian are quite believable and the story line rings true: who could blamer him with a woman who looked like that and the Russian with a Government like he had. I just thought though that in the end for the American beauty or no she was rather too much of a whiner or maybe perhaps too loyal...well maybe women were more likely to behave like that in those days.
That Hamilton Woman (1941)
Vivien and Emma: "Twins" with a twin fate
From the Liverpool Museums web site: "Lady Emma Hamilton ( was born Amy Lyon on 26 April 1765, the daughter of a Cheshire blacksmith) first met Admiral Nelson briefly in August 1793 when his ship The Agammemnon docked in the Bay of Naples." (So aged 28) "Emma continued with her 'Attitudes' and musical performances but depression and indulgence saw her grow immensely fat. She was perhaps already pining for Nelson, her hero. She did not see him again until 1798, after his defeat of the French at Aboukir Bay." " For the next 18 months, Nelson lived in a manage a trois with the Hamiltons"
The Liverpool Museums website contains a good selection of George Romney's portraits of Emma when she was at her most radiant. A kind of eating the camera up kind of painting if you see what I mean and very similar to the effect Vivien had in her films. Irradiate I think is the word.
Vivien Leigh (November 5, 1913 - July 8, 1967) was 27 when she made the film and at the height of her both her physical beauty and prowess as a femme fatale actress but with an openness, honesty and vivacity that must have excited all around her just like Emma Hamilton obviously did a century and a half or so earlier.
Neither were just purely cynical operators with an eye for the main chance exploiting men's weakness for a beautiful woman but someone capable of giving love as well as receiving love and adoration. This is the reason why Vivien makes such a good Emma. They both had very much the same personality strengths and weaknesses. Both were strong characters but at the same time extremely vulnerable.
Yet just like Emma this wonder that beholds us in this film would have a similar fate of a small number of years of intense happiness with a man followed by a downward spiral of diminishing mental and physical health and illness dosed with a huge amount of self-destruction thrown in.
Emma died at 50 and Vivien at 53. There fates were not just of the individuals making with the hand of fate and chance thrown in. The age within which each lived and the morality, for want of a better word, imposed on their behaviour both had a huge bearing but the 150 years between had seen this change significantly ( and I think very much for the better).
Their respective social and financial positions were not the same, Emma being incredibly vulnerable though by no means helpless had she been capable of simplifying her lifestyle once Nelson was killed in battle.
But for all that they were both very similar personality types who loved and derived meaning to their lives by being the centre the focal point of attention and once the intense love of their lives had died or disappeared the rest of their lives was like an anti-climax hence the rather prophetic lines at the end of the film.
The Streetgirl: And then? Emma: Then what? The Streetgirl: What happened after? Emma: There is no "then". There is no "after".
Took off the blindfold and saw de-light
Channel 5 TV in Britain showed this film today 09/12/05 and I was very taken and surprised what a delightful and deftly made film it was/is. It was entertaining and though not deep you always sensed that all was not what it appeared to be and there would be a sting in the "tale".
Being blindfolded would never seem to portend a good omen a would always be an indication of undergoing a pretty serious experience though it's a way of you not seeing too much so that it may possibly portend eventual survival .
Seeing blindfolded men these days seem to be a prelude for having your head sawn off whilst still alive, a la Iraq, so there is always in this situation which carries a serious thread even it is interwoven with a comic touch and a dry sense of humour as is this film and the film is a success: an accomplished weave of dynamic and contrasting interplay of humour and seriousness: walking that particular tightrope is an act were you can easily fall off long before you reach the finish at the other end: too much rope for some films but this one skips there easily.
Mrs Brown (1997)
"Ageing" Queen was in her early 40's
Some contributors have written as if Victoria was already some ageing figure but she was born in 1819 and so was only in her early 40's at the time that John Brown came into her life.
She still would have been very much pre change of life so there was always the real possibility or potential of emotions going beyond friendship and mutual respect.
Supposedly an incredibly stuffy woman she defied social and family pressure to be seen to find delight in the company of a man of low-ish social status.
It would be ridiculous to even contemplate that our current Queen could and would find the psychological strength to enter into this kind of "forbidden" relationship and friendship had she been made a widow like Victoria in her late 30's.
In fact I find it impossible to think that she would be capable of finding delight and be able to appreciate the warmth of a rough and ready but obviously sharp and proud figure like John Brown and fall, for a time at least, like Victoria, under the spell of such a dominating but low-status personality.
The current Queen is definitely of the upstairs-downstairs personality and is/has been capable of only appreciating company inside her own narrow social circle, so if she had have faced widowhood at the same age as Victoria, we could automatically discount anything beyond the strictest formality in her relationship with her staff.
Both women were/are quite adept and had/have a native intelligence and were/are fools to no one yet we live in an age when snobbery is supposedly dead or at least laying low and that Victorian Britain was this incredibly uptight place, yet Victoria, in her time and place finds both the personal strength and the imagination to defy convention.
Wouldn't such behaviour contradicting such pre-conceived images about the up tight nature of Victorian society make such assertions over-simplistic and indicate that the rather shallow and partial perspective we are taught to hold on such an age needs a corrective (UMM always wary of using THAT word these days) change on the rudder?
Some of the scenes would seem to beg some explanation.
Brown was apparently beaten up and then Victoria was told he had been in a fight through having had too much to drink and at the same time Prince Edward was trying to get Brown the sack. Though this type of semi-biographical film always has scenes and events inserted from a certain perspective for dramatic effect I would imagine that the beating up was real enough and not dramatic license. If this event did happen then was Prince Edward behind the planning of the beating? The "fortuitous" timing would certainly point to that conclusion.
This relationship had tragedy built in. We can only surmise if it is worth someone like Brown to live in the limelight knowing very much in his heart that he is like a moth attracted to a flame and that he was due, after a period of being a essential companion, to suffer years of benign neglect.
From what I can gather from the film he was by her side for 4 years at the very most and that he then spent the entire 1870's and early 80's in obscurity once she had re-entered her role of monarch to the British public.
In fact the scene with Disraeli on the mountain top shows that he knows that once she is out of the Balmoral & the Highlands that his time as crucial companion will come to an end yet he is unable to refuse Disraeli clear invitation to use his influence to make her re-enter the orbit of being the public monarch.
Again I think the Disrali-Brown meeting, whatever it's location, the substance of that discussion, though given dramatic license, must logically have taken place, though the film portrays that the single "momentous", as it happen, event that brought Victoria back from the role of grieving widow into the role of Queen one again was Prince Edward falling ill with Cholera.
The film is quite brilliant at bringing out that moment which began the marginalisation and eventual elimination of John Brown's reign of influence over Victoria and his eventual psychological and physical destruction.
It would be a spoiler to describe the actual scene but it is exceedingly well done and you are left in no doubt that this is the end for John Brown if not for Victoria. So who really then was the tragic figure in all of this???
Had he "saved" her only to be led inexorably on the road to eventual self-destruction?
Maybe the main reason why I related so much to the JB character: highly intelligent man who has a commanding presence who is forced to suffer from being subordinate to those of inferior intellect from an inability to kow-tow but is afflicted with a fatal weakness whose consumption dominates his whole life: so closely echoes the memory of a Scotsman with whom I was a student 35 years ago.
I saw him occasionally in the years after as he failed to rise up the greasy hierarchy and each time, as I saw the physical evidence of his decline, wondered what it is that drives a seemingly immensely strong personality onwards into an inevitable self-destruction and death.
Alcoholic oblivion is a temporary fix which enables you to neutralised those feelings of unfulfilled status but whose inevitable result is your own demise.
Whilst it may not be an exclusively Scottish way to live and die the culture of heavy drinking seems an incredibly destructive force on otherwise unstoppable charismatic personalities through the generations.
Comfort and Joy (1984)
Male & Female unarmed combat: Global Warming meets the Ice Queen
Brian Leonard from Williamsport, PA says "This film's main plot ingredient is ice cream...but until it gets there (10 - 20 minutes in), it's surprisingly bland for a Bill Forsyth movie." Not Forsyth's best, but still a charmer, 5 January 1999 8/10 I couldn't disagree more. The most interesting dialogue by far is the female/male "dialogue" when the main character Alan "Dicky" Bird's "bird" is flying from their little nest.
He had imagined that Maddy, this gorgeous "femme fatale" character who had temporarily alighted and attached herself upon his life was somehow a "permanent" fixture but this had been pure illusion on his part.
When the alighted bird had grown bored with his little nest she flew, first mentally and in an unforgettable scene, she upped and left physically, as precipitously, no doubt, as she had arrived.
Such is the way with many a woman of today, even more likely a behaviour if she has beauty.
The male character is disorientated by this sudden event and at first responds as if he cannot really believe it is happening. When it dawns on him that this "bad dream" really is for real he then gets into a "Why?" and then is dragged into a "what is whose", then on into the downward spiral the full wonderful inversion on just who is behaving badly.
Needless to say that, irrespective of actual behaviour, the "culprit" just has to be the male: verbally the male comes off not just worse but, as usual, worsted.
No matter how outrageously a woman behaves she is quite capable of a neat verbal inversion and in this case the Maddy character plays a blinder with some classic and deftly delivered put downs.
Playing the hurt and victimised party who is able to sync and think herself into responding into the role of the one who has been hard done by and is merely responding, in a perfectly natural defensive manner, to untoward male behaviour.
Thus a precipitous dumping of her partner is seen by her as something that was his fault: he hadn't the emotional intelligence to see what she was going through so somehow he is to blame.
She is only saving herself and not acting in a selfish and narcissistic manner; of course not; she's a woman.
A trip down to the delicatessen of male/female battle lines, those (mostly) unarmed combats, those misunderstandings of the parallel universe which male and female find themselves in each knowing they are right.
The Maddy leaving scene is a classic little vignette of the warfare-welfare nuclear reaction that out of control damaging "free radical" behaviour can have on our nervous system, the males especially.
Personally I don't think the woman finds much happiness in this ultimately destructive "free radical" approach to life either, atomistic egoism is never much of match for complementary synchronizing and symbiosis well if you can find it.
This is the equivalent to the search for the "Holy Grail" these days perhaps, well in terms of finding and keeping anyway. It's more easily lost than found due to the antagonism that overrides and eventually buries, in many cases, the synchronizing that relationships are meant to provide each partner.