Reviews

19 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Top of the Pops: Episode #11.40 (1974)
Season 11, Episode 40
6/10
Not Quite TOP Of The Pops
28 June 2017
Introduced by Jimmy Savile, the Top 30 chart rundown is shown over the 'Whole Lotta Love' theme tune and kicks off with Pilot miming to what was soon to be their first hit, 'Magic' then Peter Shelley sings his #6, 'Gee Baby', live. Next up is Pan's People wearing silver style tops and shiny miniskirts dancing to the Tymes 'You Little Trustmaker' (#28) then David Essex does a live vocal over another vocal track with live backing on 'Gonna Make You A Star'. Live in the studio are some people in Womble costumes dancing slowly to the single of 'Minuetto Allegretto' then Jimmy Savile dances in the same style with a girl from the audience while incorrectly introducing that week's #6, Andy Kim who is in the studio singing 'Rock Me Gently' live which fades into Roxy Music doing 'All I Want Is You' with Bryan Ferry looking like the coolest guy on the planet. Savile then introduces a video of Paul Anka singing 'You're Having My Baby' (#29) which gets faded out after only 1 minute and 51 seconds to make way for a live rendition of 'Down On The Beach Tonight' by the Drifters. There follows a short film of a girl wandering round London while David Bowie's 'Knock On Wood' (#17) plays, then making his first TOTP appearance for ten years is Adam Faith with his new single 'I Survive'. Jimmy Savile introduces (and puts his arm around) the 1974 'Nurse Of The Year' - whose name we never find out - while introducing Andy Fairweather-Lowe doing 'Reggae Tune' (#18) live, then we cut back to Savile (still entwined with his nurse) who introduces the week's #1, Carl Douglas and a live version of 'Kung Fu Fighting', taken from an earlier TOTP performance. The play-out music is Rod Stewart and 'Farewell' (#27). This edition is strange because the records by Pilot, David Essex, the Wombles, Roxy Music and Adam Faith were all new releases and not yet in the chart. (Adam Faith's track never did chart.) This edition still exists in the BBC archives, but is unlikely to be shown because of the presenter's subsequent scandalous reputation.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Top of the Pops: Episode #11.18 (1974)
Season 11, Episode 18
A Colourful And Catchy Edition
26 June 2017
Introduced by Jimmy Savile, it opens with the instrumental TSOP by MFSB - that week's #29 - playing while the Top 30 chart rundown is shown (complete with Marvin Hamlisch's name being misspelled). The Bay City Rollers mime to 'Shang A Lang (#12) followed by Limme And Family Cooking singing 'A Walking Miracle' live (#6), then Alvin Stardust mimes to 'Red Dress' even though it was only at #42 on the chart. Savile plays a few notes on a white piano before introducing Pan's People looking sexy in their white flared trousers performing to the Osmonds 1967 recording 'I Can't Stop' (#24). Babs, Cherry, Louise, Dee Dee and Ruth are all credited for this routine but Ruth does not appear. And this is followed by an edited clip from the German music show 'Musikladen' from January with Stevie Wonder singing 'He's Misstra Know It All' live (#17). Next up is Roy Wood and Wizzard miming to 'Rock And Roll Winter' (#9). There is a video (directed by Bruce Milliard) to promote Jim Stafford's novelty hit 'Spiders And Snakes' (#28), but it's with actors doing a scenario trying vaguely to connect with the lyrics and doesn't feature Mr Stafford. Savile then starts to introduce a young unnamed DJ from Carlisle then hits him in the chest and gets him to introduce the Stylistics new release 'Only For The Children' which they sing live but which was never a hit because deejays flipped it over and played the b side 'You Make Me Feel Brand New' which became a classic Top 10 number. This takes us up to this week's #1 which was a sparkly and colourful Abba doing 'Waterloo' live in the studio. As the credits roll, this week's #27 'Sugar Baby Love' - a future # 1 is played and when the credits finish the camera concentrates on the girls with their Chelsea Girl tops and the long haired guys with their denim shirts dancing with not a care in the world. This edition of TOTP still exists so catch it if you can.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Nadador (2013)
10/10
Well presented, acted and written short film
8 January 2017
I have seen so many rubbish films of late - films with star names and big budgets and all the razzmatazz that goes with them all, but most of them don't engage,are poorly presented and aim at the lowest common denominator. It was gratifying to stumble across this little gem on YouTube. Someone has remembered that to reach an audience, you have to make a film that will make them experience feelings while watching and during this short film I felt so many emotions. It doesn't matter what language you speak, love, fear and the way we approach life are universal. This is a film that reminded me of my past, my present and my future. Take 15 minutes out of your life to appreciate this little gem.

Jim Doyle - author of "Spies At The ABC – Vampires At The Odeon – Culture At The Cosmo", "Sex At The ABC – Kung Fu At The Odeon – Uncensored At The Tatler" and "Blockbusters At The ABC – Sequels At The Odeon – Video Nasties In Your Livingroom".
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Tired Plot And Over The Top Acting Makes You Wish This Spy Went Out Into The Cold
18 December 2015
'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' had started out as James Bond in your living room with weekly adventures showing how Napoleon and Illya saved the world each week and thwarted THRUSH with the aid of some innocent party. It worked well for the first season then it started getting humorous which worked initially, but it took the edge of the show, and then it completely lost it attempting to be a spoof. (If producers had looked at the James Bond series they would have noticed that they were about to release 'You Only Live Twice' and at no point had the Bond films sank into the camp humour we got from MGM / Arena.) 'The Spy In The Green Hat' was the fifth feature made from the TV show and although it wasn't the worst of the series, it was far from the best. Alongside Robert Vaughn and David McCallum were Jack Palance, Janet Leigh and old timers Joan Blondell and Allen Jenkins. The story is nonsense about THRUSH controlling the weather and there are scenes of Italian stereotypes waving their arms a lot, making pasta and swearing revenge. It doesn't work on any level.

Here's what I wrote about it in my book "What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)".

Interviewed in the 1980s, David McCallum felt that part of the decline of 'The Man From UNCLE' was to start spending the budget on guest stars rather than on good story lines and location filming, and "The Spy In The Green Hat", which was made up of the two-part episode 'The Concrete Overcoat Affair", had Jack Palance and Janet Leigh, and had a story about a scientist diverting the Gulf Stream, but it also had a story thread where Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) is pursued by a bunch of elderly Italian gangsters who feel he has dishonoured one of their girls. It was daft, unfunny and tedious and had fans wondering if it could get worse. The one interesting piece of casting was Will Kuluva as a THRUSH man. He had played the original head of UNCLE in "To Trap A Spy" but was replaced by Leo G Carroll after a misunderstanding at MGM. (Sponsors had said fire 'Kuryakin' and the producer thought they meant Kuluva.) "When The Boys Meet The Girls" with it was MGM's fourth and last attempt to make Connie Francis a movie star in a tepid remake of the 1943 film "Girl Crazy". She was joined by Harve Presnell, Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs, and Hermans Hermits, who sang 'Listen People'.

Adapted with permission from the author from 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)'.

Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
This Is The Worst Of 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Films
11 December 2015
It's interesting that so many of the reviews of the U.N.C.L.E. films are from Brits. The show was incredibly popular here in the 1960s and I can remember joining the U.N.C.L.E. organization set up by MGM (I still remember my number: 10472 Section 2 Operations And Enforcement and I am still at the ready in case I am ever called up for action) and you could also buy novels and annuals. There are a couple of good websites based on the show and there is an excellent book by Jon Heitland published in 1987. So there we were riding along on the crest of a spy wave and just having waved goodbye to "One Spy Too Many" which was released in February and then on 31 July 1966, "One Of Our Spies Is Missing" arrived in Glasgow and suddenly we went crashing to the ground. Here's what I thought...

'The Man From UNCLE' was still being made, but as there were so many imitators, the powers that be decided to change the format and make it more of a spoof (although there is no way they could outspoof TV's 'Get Smart') with the result that the new film at the Regal and Bedford, "One Of Our Spies Is Missing" was nowhere near as sharp and exciting as the previous efforts. It was a compilation of the two part episode 'The Bridge Of Lions Affair" which had been shown on American TV in February but was not going to be shown on British TV. David McCallum as Illya crawls around the streets of a very studio bound Soho looking for cats and Robert Vaughn is on the trail of Vera Miles who seems to know something about the formula that makes people much younger. It was a real disappointment for fans, and the title made no sense whatsoever in relation to the plot. To compound the poor quality, it played with "Hold On", which was a vehicle for Peter No one and Hermans Hermits to be chased by fans and be chosen as the first pop group to be launched into space, and they also launch into song including 'A Must To Avoid' which could describe this double bill. Poor, but their worst film was yet to come.

Adapted with permission from the author from 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)'.

Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
The Best Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Films
11 December 2015
This is the best 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.' film combining humour, action and adventure.

The grittiness of "To Trap A Spy" had gone as the series settled down to be a smooth tongue-in-cheek weekly action adventure. Illya was now Napoleon's fully fledged partner and gets his own good scenes, and there are bonuses with Rip Torn as the megalomaniacal villain 'Alexander The Greater', Dorothy Provine as his dippy blonde former wife who has her own reasons for pursuing him, David Sheiner is alternately scary and funny as a henchman, Yvonne Craig as Napoleon's contact at Channel D and there are some memorable set pieces like the human chess game, the giant blade swinging over its victims, Napoleon's fight with Ingo in the gym, a mummified David McCallum and more. (One of the things I always liked about these films is the way that coloured gas suddenly emits from everyday objects and knocks out anyone who breathes it in.)

Here's what I wrote about it in my book "What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)" when it arrived in Glasgow during week commencing 6th February 1966.

1966 would be the year when the spy craze peaked. Audiences were turning out in their droves for spies in all shapes and sizes, and on Thursday evenings 'The Man From UNCLE' was a Top 10 rated show, which had already provided two successful spin-off films using existing episodes with additional material that may have been too strong for American TV, but the two-part episode - 'The Alexander The Greater Affair' - which kicked off season two in the USA, was released in Britain as "One Spy Too Many", with no additional material, and very good it was too. Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryeakin were after Rip Torn as a modern day Alexander The Great who wants to take over the world and break each of the commandments on his way. His ex-wife Dorothy Provine hinders them as they go all over Europe and the US, which always manages to look like the MGM back lot. The support feature was a made-for-US-TV movie, "Your Cheatin' Heart", which told the story of country singer Hank Williams, ably played by George Hamilton with Williams' son providing the vocals. It was an excellent double-bill at both the ABC Regal and Green's Bedford.

Trivia: In early 1966 this film outperformed the new Bond film "Thunderball". Director Joseph Sargent went on to helm "The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3" in the 1970s.

Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Second 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.' Feature Offers Undemanding Entertainment
10 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
There was more of an expectation for the release of "The Spy With My Face" as it was the first feature released after 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' had established itself as a TV favourite and I must admit, I was pretty pleased with it in 1965 and I find I run it at least three times a year fifty years later.

I saw it on its initial theatrical run with a fairly full house and you can tell the audience were enjoying it all, knowing that when a sign went up saying 'Somewhere In Australia' or 'The Austrian Alps', we were really seeing the back lot of MGM, but we all went along with the joke.

The story wasn't that original – a double being planted in an organization, but it's done with a certain amount of flair and originality (although the scene where Solo meets his double by opening the door is exactly the same as the scene in "Thunderball"), and there are some unintentionally hilarious moments, like no one thinks it's unusual for a man with a completely bandaged head to sit behind Solo in a restaurant, THRUSH headquarters are designed in such a way that they can be blown up by a dying agent flicking one switch, and the other agents who join Napoleon and Illya are from U.N.C.L.E. in Sicily and UNCLE in Africa. So a small island in Italy has its own operation, but there is only one for the entire continent of Africa – and the Sicilian is such a cliché with the sharp suit and when asked how things are going at home he says 'If it's not THRUSH, it's the Mafioso'. But there are some really good moments Donald Harron as the Australian agent, and quite an imaginative sequence where the McGuffin is transferred in the air plane, and we get to see the (rather impractical) agent's entrance to the Washington U.N.C.L.E. office.

So you get all this and Senta Berger who looks gorgeous and Sharon Farrell (in the first of three appearances in 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.') and an exciting breakout then a shootout. Great escapist stuff.

Here's what I wrote about it in my book "What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)" when it arrived in Glasgow during week commencing 26 September 1965.

'The Man From UNCLE' had started quietly on TV in June but was now a staggeringly popular top 10 show, especially with the younger age group, so although the pilot "To Trap A Spy" had arrived without much of a fanfare, the crowds flocked to see "The Spy With My Face", the second feature length spin-off which arrived at the Regal and Bedford. This one was based on 'The Double Affair', an episode not due for broadcast on TV in the UK – with additional footage from 'The Four Steps Affair' and some extra footage mainly of Napoleon solo having romantic liaisons with Senta Berger and Sharon Farrell. Despite being made for TV it didn't seem out of place on a cinema screen and audiences got two Napoleon Solos for the price of one when villains THRUSH make a double of him. "Son Of A Gunfighter" on the same bill was an old fashioned western, but more than adequate and pleasing.

Something to look out for – the sequence where the duplicate Solo enters U.N.C.L.E. HQ and walks through to Mr Waverley's office is re-used under the opening credits of "One Of Our Spies Is Missing".

Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
To Trap a Spy (1964)
9/10
My Love Affair With The MAN From U.N.C.L.E. Affair
10 December 2015
I first saw "To Trap A Spy" at the ABC in Dundee in June 1965 when I was 14. I shouldn't have seen it because it was the b movie to the X rated "The Americanization Of Emily", but my grandmother lied to the commissionaire about my age saying I was a youthful looking 17 (but still tried to negotiate half price for my admission). I was glad she took me because this colourful spy romp which introduced Napoleon Solo and U.N.C.L.E. to Britain was and is first class entertainment with good guys, bad guys, good spies and bad girls with a plot involving an innocent housewife (Pat Crowley) being used as a pawn in a dangerous game of espionage by Napoleon Solo. I was amazed when I settled down in front of the TV the following Thursday (24th June 1965) at 8 o'clock and saw one of the scenes from the movie being used as the opening to a (then) brand new to UK TV show called 'The Man From UNCLE' which was basically James Bond in your living room and this show soon became the talk of the playground every Friday morning.

What I liked about "To Trap A Spy" and the early UNCLE stuff is that the Solo character is tougher and the stories grittier and people get slapped around and threatened. Hard to believe within a season or so they had David McCallum dressing up as the Abominable Snowman and having plots that were too stupid to be true. In this though, Fritz Weaver is a worthy and believable villain and William Marshall with that superb voice of his convinces as the leader of an African nation. Lots of good dialogue e.g. Lucianna Paluzzi starts to take her dress off and says 'What would you like me to change into?' Napoleon replies 'Anything..... but a boy'.

Filmed in November 1963 including location filming at the Lever Brothers plant near Los Angeles, it only gives David McCallum a small part, and Will Kuluva plays what would become the Leo G Carroll role. When the TV episode shows up nowadays it is re-edited so that Mr Waverley appears. Filming was halted on 22nd November when news of the assassination of John F Kennedy was announced.

Even in 2015 every time this film shows up on TV I still watch it and still enjoy it – and look out for Richard Kiel (later to be Jaws on "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker") in a small non speaking part.

Here's what I wrote about it in my book "What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)" when it arrived in Glasgow during week commencing 25 July 1965.

What many may have come to the La Scala and Bedford for was the b movie, "To Trap A Spy", which was the pilot for the TV series 'The Man From UNCLE' which was now gaining a young and loyal following on BBC every Thursday night. Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) has to stop an attempt on the life of an African premiere and find out why spy organization WASP wants to assassinate him. Based on 'The Vulcan Affair' and 'The Four Steps Affair', neither of which was shown on TV, and neatly edited together, and of course it was in colour at the time all British TV transmissions were in black and white.

Soon after, "To Trap A Spy" started picking up bookings as the top feature supported by more family friendly films and on 16 October 1966 it was reissued as a double bill with "The Spy With My Face".

Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Poorly Executed British Exploitation Flick
8 December 2015
British cinema discovered sex late in the 1960s and "The Smashing Bird I Used To Know" took advantage of the more liberal censorship although it only shows one girl topless for a few seconds and a few other quick flashes. (There were no full frontals in the cinema print or in the UK DVD release.) It arrived in Glasgow on 5th October 1969, getting a run on the ABC circuit. Here's what I wrote about it in my book "What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)".

There was more sex in "The Smashing Bird I Used To Know", but it consisted of a couple of semi-nude scenes used to illustrate life in a school for bad girls, one of whom is Madeleine Hinde who shouldn't really be there as she was merely defending herself against an assault by her mother's horrible boyfriend. It's cheap exploitation with nothing going for it, and in his autobiography, Patrick Mower says when he and co-star Dennis Waterman went to see it in the cinema together, they came out with their heads down hoping that no one would realize they had been in it. With it at the ABC 1 and Bedford was "Mission Batangas", a routine war film with Dennis Weaver.

Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
1 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Not Such A Wonderful Life
8 December 2015
When the UK game show 'Pointless' asked contestants to name a Cliff Richard film in 2014, "Wonderful Life" would have won them the jackpot, because no one remembered this – Cliff's fifth film – fifty years on, and yet it was a film that changed things. After the poor reception and disappointing box office results of this one – it only eventually clawing its budget back in 1987 – Cliff abandoned his trademark quiff and instead went for a Beatle style comb forward. His support team of Melvyn Hayes, Richard O'Sullivan and Una Stubbs were dropped (although Una did later co-star with him in a TV adaptation of 'Aladdin') and there was a two year gap before Cliff and the Shadows (who had never been really used properly in his films) returned to the big screen with "Finders Keepers". And yet in 2015 I find myself strangely drawn towards this film despite – or maybe because of – its flaws of overproduction, poor acting, dull and unbelievable story and director Sydney J Furie's obsession with a new zoom lens. Susan Hampshire is so attractive. She bats her eyes and smiles and goes along with it all in a nice playful spirit – knowing it was rubbish bit determined to at least make people enjoy her performance. Cliff is Cliff. He sings some songs, most of which are terrible – but especially good is 'Matter Of Moments' – but Cliff never really looks at ease. Walter Slezak roars and shouts and gets it right. He plays a past it director with a sensitivity he hides until the end.

Many years later when I started writing about old films, I asked a friend to watch it for me and give me an opinion – but he called back a week later to say that although he tried, he had never gotten beyond the opening fifteen minutes.

Here's what I wrote about it in my book "What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)" when it arrived in Glasgow during week commencing 9th August 1964.

When the Beatles started dominating the charts, Cliff Richard's image took a bit of a dent and it certainly wasn't helped with the timing of the release of "Wonderful Life" at the ABC Regal and Green's Bedford. "The Young Ones" had been a breakthrough musical and "Summer Holiday" had seen him at his film peak, but "Wonderful Life" tried to repeat the formula once too often and the plot of a load of old looking youngsters working at a movie location making their own film looked just daft. On top of that coming to town a couple of weeks after "Hard Day's Night" accentuated the gap between what young people wanted to see now, compared to the sort of all-round-entertainment on show here with dance routines that went on too long, show songs like 'Home' which would have been booed off at a music hall and a lengthy sequence on the history of cinema which brings the film to a shuddering halt. The film had been troubled with weather problems in the Canaries and original support choice Dennis Price had been fired allegedly for drinking and replaced by Glasgow born Derek Bond, and the only Cliff hit song was 'On The Beach'. Susan Hampshire (who had had a small part in "Expresso Bongo") and Walter Slezak co-starred, but this put Cliff's film career on hold for a couple of years. "A Woman's Privilege" with it was one of the 'Scales Of Justice' series about a bachelor who sues a girl who dupes him.

Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
An Excellent Capture Of 1964 Britain
7 December 2015
Within two short years, the Beatles had completely changed Britain's musical and cultural landscape. They had consigned solo ballad singers (usually American and called Bobby) to the scrap heap and men started wearing their hair longer, dressing more smartly and becoming fashion conscious. And now with their film "Hard Day's Night" at the Odeon, they were throwing out a challenge to a film industry that had previously made teen musical films with ineptitude and with disdain for the audience. Everyone expected the Fab Four's first film to be a cheap cash in on their perceived short term popularity, but in the hands of director Dick Lester, "Hard Day's Night" came swinging into town with a zing and a freshness and a brash with-it-ness. The story is slight, it's a day in the life of John, Paul, George and Ringo and Paul's grandfather played by Wilfrid Brambell who tags along with them. They weren't actors - so cleverly Dick Lester has captured as best he can the actual personality of each person and each Beatle gets his own little scene (except Paul whose scene with Isla Blair was cut from the final print) and Ringo displays a natural comic talent. Support came from Victor Spinetti, Norman Rossington, John Junkin and Deryck Guyler, and the songs included 'I Should Have Known Better', 'Can't Buy Me Love', 'If I Fell' etc. Believe it or not the BBFC were not too happy about a veiled drug reference when John sniffs a Coke bottle and asked for a dialogue cut when someone says 'get knotted', but this was reinstated in the 1980s for video release. The support at the Odeon in Glasgow was "Bird Man", a 15-minute interest feature about parachutists which meant that the film could be played five times a day at 12:45, 2:50, 5:00, 7:05, and 9:15, and queues were right along to and down West Nile Street.

Adapted from 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema) Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
I Like It, I Like It
7 December 2015
I'm watching this film as I write this!

Every now and again in the cinema the audience as one feels a moment of magic and this for me was one of them. I saw 'Ferry Cross The Mersey' at its world premiere at the Odeon in Glasgow on 20th December 1964. (Held there because Gerry was featuring in a week long gig called Gerry's Christmas Cracker' the following week.) The showing was a sell-out. It was always going to be compared to 'Hard Day's Night', but this film has a rougher feel and captures the grittiness of a long lost Liverpool with its factories, Chinese restaurants and dance halls (complete with a real life fight that the cameras were around to catch). The music is more than pleasant and I played the soundtrack album during much of early 1965 (and bought it again on CD when it came out). The whole thing is carried along by Gerry's personality and although there is support from 'proper' actors like Mona Washbourne as his aunt, the wonderful George A Cooper as an undertaker lodger, Julie Samuel as the love of Gerry's life (although she comes second to his love of music) and that great character actor Thomas Patrick McKenna as the manager who knows the boys have something. From the opening chords of 'It's Gonna Be All Right' to a sweat show in the Cavern through to the iconic performance of a guitar carrying Gerry singing the title song on the ferry, through to the silent film comedy tribute and the band zooming around everywhere on scooters, this is a film that today's audiences would probably dismiss as naïve and unsophisticated – but at the end I came out of the cinema feeling happy and positive and not too many films do that.

It also has Cilla Black (with her husband to be Bobby Willis by her side) doing the rather dull 'Is It Love' which graced the b side of her #1 hit 'You're My World', and a guest appearance by Jimmy Savile will probably make sure it never gets a DVD release, but the real star turn is the city and the wonderful people of Liverpool.

Here's what I said about it in my book 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)' which covers just about every film released in the UK in the 1960s.

'Glasgow didn't get too many world premieres, but the Odeon had one on Sunday and "Ferry Cross The Mersey" starring Gerry And The Pacemakers even managed to get to Scotland some five weeks before Gerry's hometown of Liverpool. In fact business was so good on the Sunday opening, that there was standing room only, and although Gerry's last single 'It's Gonna Be Alright' had stalled outside the Top Ten, the title song was about to give him a big hit and something he would sing right through his very long career. The story (by 'Coronation Street' deviser Tony Warren) is about Gerry and his group trying to win a beat contest and much of the dialogue was improvised, but the songs were catchy and Gerry has an incredible personality, which helped carry the whole thing. "For Those Who Think Young" with it underlined the differences between Britain and America where all the teenagers were driving cars to school and having romantic flings on beaches all in colour. Good fun.'

Post script: I once met Gerry in the 1980s and he looked at me and said loudly 'I know you don't I?' in front of a load of people. He didn't – but it gave me another moment of magic.

Jim Doyle is the author of 'What We Watched In The 1960s (In The Cinema)', 'What We Watched In The 1970s (In The Cinema)" and 'What We Watched In The 1980s (In The Cinema And On Video)'
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Poor
21 May 2014
Every now and again you take a chance on a film you don't know and with Viggo Mortensen's name to the fore and a Patricia Highsmith novel as the source. this looked like a good bet, but sadly, this is the sort of film that put me off going to the cinema with its mumbling dialogue, dull and predictable plot and camera conscious performances. Characters I couldn't care less about wandering around aimlessly with no tension built anywhere - probably because you don't give a rats what happens to anyone, and a stupid ending to top it off. I kept waiting for something to happen, but it never did. Fine if you like lots of close ups of the leading man smoking and drinking, but how I wish I had gone to see something else - anything else instead.
20 out of 45 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
A Bit Of A Let Down
21 January 2012
Oh Dear! Considering the amount of talent involved in making this it's a real disappointment. A dull story about characters I couldn't care less about doing things I wasn't interested in. It's the old chestnut about American politics being a dirty business and how no one can be trusted and all the double dealing and manipulating that goes on. It's been done before and better with films like 'The Best Man'and 'Bulworth'. Many of the characters seem to have been drawn from every political stereotype and none of them seems very believable, and Marisa Tomei's cartoon styled journalist belonged in something like 'The Simpsons'. For fans ofthe particpants only I'm afraid.
17 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Great Expectations (2011– )
3/10
Inferior Dickens
2 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Fairly unimpressive adaptation that simplifies the storyline a little too much, has some very uneven performances and the whole thing plays like a rather dodgy episode of 'Eastenders' complete with the odd swear word and graphic image. Gillian Anderson's Miss Haversham is in a different film from everyone else and there are some laugh out loud moments like Estella thanking the horse and Ray Winstone throwing money everywhere and saying 'This is yours' making it look like one of the bets he advertises has just come up.

On the plus side it is well photographed and Shaun Dooley and David Suchet make their characters real.

Such a shame that the 200th anniversary of Dickens is marked by such inferior product.
11 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Godspell (1973)
7/10
Don't Expect A Regular Narrative Film - GODSPELL is An Off The Wall Blast From The 1970s
20 May 2011
The story of "Godspell" is not one of the Christ's Passion, it's not about the angst among his disciples or the sexual tension he had with Mary Magdalen. It's a positive story focusing on Jesus' teachings and parables, told in a lighthearted way, with some outstanding music and spectacular location photography (particularly in the song "It's All for the Best").

While the hippie-like costuming and the semi-clown makeup seem to outrage some folks, and are admittedly dated today, the movie should be looked at in the context in which it was created. Jesus, in the eyes of those in power during his life, was a radical extremist and a threat to the status quo. He taught lessons of love, empowerment, inclusion, justice--well, you get the idea. Hippie clowns were the logical vehicle to present those lessons at the time "Godspell" hit the big screen.

But when you get past the period set and costume design, and to the basic show, "Godspell" is a wonderful entertainment. First, and most often mentioned by everyone, is the amazing location photography. You have to see it to appreciate it. Next is the music. Although the most commercial song in the show is the repetitive "Day by Day," the one song that most people remember from "Godspell", there are many beautiful melodies. My favourite is "By My Side", the only one with the music NOT written by the composer, Stephen Schwartz. It has beautiful harmonies, and Katie Hanley does a great job on lead vocal. The rest of the songs are nearly as good, and all are quite singable.

And by the way, I'm not a Christian. But if I were, I'd like to be one as portrayed in "Godspell".

You may think you have read the above review before - and yes, it's been on here since 2004, but it's every bit as valid in 2011, and better than anything I could write - especially that last paragraph.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A Billy Graham Sermon Dressed Up As A Film.
23 August 2007
'Conflict Of Souls' has three story threads about typically English characters who find God after attending a Billy Graham mission at Haringay in 1954. It tries hard but keeps stopping to preach and the actors all look like they would rather be doing something else and apart from stock shots and one scene in a churchyard, the whole thing is rather studio-bound. The script is poor and the situations a little too contrived. (Everyone reads the newspaper headlines about Billy Graham aloud in order that a conversation about God can begin.) And the Christians who become converted do so a little too easily and don't ask any questions or understand their motives and they are all a little too twee. Billy Graham is featured delivering a dynamite sermon and you can feel his passion and feeling for his subject – but that makes the other characters look even wimpier than they are. If I were a Christian I would want to shout it from the rooftops like Billy Graham and tell everyone about the benefits I felt from being Christian – instead the converts in this film all drift around all moon-faced, not helped by the garish colour photography, and say they don't really understand, but then I suppose it is meant for an audience who are already worshippers and just want a feeling of comfort. "Wiretapper" took a better approach and "Two A Penny" had Cliff Richard and Dora Bryan, but it does provide a look at a kind of England that no longer exists.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Jane Eyre (2006)
Worth Waiting 50 Years For...
9 October 2006
I am old enough to remember the original JANE EYRE from the 50s and it terrified me. I was too young to understand the subtleties of the plot - and I am glad I waited nearly 50 years to see what I think will be regarded as the definitive version. This is quite simply the best TV production I have ever seen with terrific performances and photography and it sweeps along at an excellent pace, the dialogue sounding fresh and modern enough to understand and be relevant for the 21st century. Some men may be put off by the girly girly Bronte name - but believe me this is a subject that works well for everyone and if I ever write a book called 1000 TV Shows To See Before You Die - this will certainly be in the Top 10.
23 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
British Comedy Gem
11 December 2005
I was lucky enough to discuss this film with David Frost in 2005 and it is a film he is still (he was the producer) very proud of, citing it as one of Peter Cook's best works.

The film was given a very limited release in 1970. I saw it in the Cosmo Cinema in Glasgow in 1970 and fell off my seat laughing - the first time I have ever done that in a cinema - and I was not the only one. The Cosmo by the way (now the Glasgow Film Theatre) was a specialist cinema which attracted intellectuals and serious film students, so they clearly saw the importance of this film from the word go and it is such a shame that Warner Brothers are unable to do the same and recognise this as an important historical film document.

The film disappeared and has only been shown on TV 3 times - originally shown on ITV in 1979 by various channels who usually used it to pad out their late night schedules - and the version I taped then runs about 8 minutes short. It has also been shown on Channel 5 twice and they have made less cuts, but there is still some material missing which is why it needs to be issued on DVD with care and by someone who knows the film well and understands its importance to fans of John Cleese, Peter Cook, Monty Python - and 60s British comedy.

Another perspective is that Michael Rimmer is essentially Tony Blair, so this film predicts presidential style UK politics and spin and contrasts it with old fashioned Labour thud and blunder with Harold Wilson lookalike George A Cooper in his best ever role.

This should be compulsory viewing for all political students and if you liked the "Yes Minister" TV series, chances are you will very much enjoy this.

Post Mortem Since I wrote the initial comment above, the DVD has been released complete with director commentary - and I still find this an incredibly funny film all these years later.
28 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink

Recently Viewed