This week, the mix has quite a nice balance, I feel: a couple of premières, some classics, a couple of oldies and one or two surprises – for which I take full responsibility! If you would like to catch them, I have calculated that the Scotland Yard featurettes directed by Peter Duffell, at the start of his career, are due to be shown over three nights from Tuesday 9 February at 6pm. The titles to look out for are The Secret Weapon, The Grand Junction Case and The Never Never Murder.
THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR (1947) Saturday 30 January 2.10-4.10pm TP (Channel 81)
Rex Harrison was always good value as a light comedian and he is excellent here, as the ghost of a sea captain who romances Gene Tierney (equally good) after she buys his cottage. The film is quite delightful. You might also remember the TV series, which ran for 50 episodes and was on British television in the early 1970s.
BEAUTIFUL BOY (2018) Saturday 30 January 10.00-11.55pm BBC 2 P
The subject matter – a father helps his son in a years-long battle against drug addiction – might be something we would look to shy away from. However, it is a genuine, sincere drama with poignant performances from Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet and deserves an audience.
LOOK BACK IN ANGER (1959) Sunday 31 January 1.45-3.20am BBC 2
John Osborne’s superb, ground-breaking play was transferred quickly to the screen – and, directed by Tony Richardson, created a vivid, realistic style of film-making that, for just a few years, produced some of our very best films. Richard Burton is Jimmy Porter and Mary Ure his long-suffering wife; interestingly, Nigel Kneale (creator of Quatermass) co-wrote the screenplay with Mr Osborne.
THE TRAIN (1964) Sunday 31 January 2.45-4.55pm BBC 2
The Train is a gripping war film that manages to be a little different. (Yes, it is possible!) A railway worker tries to prevent a German officer from looting some of France’s national treasures. It is quite an exceptional drama and this is due mostly to the director, John Frankenheimer, and the sparring of Burt Lancaster and Paul Scofield.
LAW AND ORDER (1936) Monday 1 February 10.30-11.55am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Oh, joy – we have a bona fide B-western (from Reliable) this morning! The question is which one? Tom Tyler’s filmography doesn’t include one with this title. I expect it to be Fast Bullets, which wasn’t released in the UK until 1945 and so this would be a retitled print. Whatever, we can expect the usual Texas Ranger shenanigans with the occasional off-the-wall surprise – western expert Phil Hardy described it once as “a surprisingly elegant piece of trash”. Tom Tyler (a former weightlifter) made an athletic hero before being reduced to bit parts that included Luke Plummer in the 1939 Stagecoach. He averaged about six B-westerns a year in the 1930s; in 1932, two of them were Two Fisted Justice and Single-Handed Sanders – confusing in the extreme, if they ever played on the same double bill!
ROBOCOP (1987) Monday 1 February 9.00-11.05pm Channel 25
Still delirious after the above entry, I shall recommend Robocop – but, pandering to stereotypes, probably not if you prefer Jane Austen/Judi Dench. Peter Weller is the cop who is shot to pieces (literally, it is cert. 18) and returns as a half-man/half-machine to find those responsible. Outrageous (usually) director Paul Verhoeven does take satirical swipes at corporate America and consumerism but, mostly, it’s just a blast (literally, he says again). On release, I think I saw it at the ABC in Taunton (not long before LRFS was born and saved my film soul). I don’t remember shouting “5-star classic” as I left and I am still not convinced it deserves that rating. Presumably, a watching Donald Trump would implode – how would he ‘support’ law enforcement whilst it took down big business?
MY MAN GODFREY (1936) Tuesday 2 February 3.00-4.50pm Film Four
Unlike yesterday’s very modest offering from 1936, Godfrey is a peach of a film – a proper screwball comedy classic. William Powell is a tramp hired by an eccentric family (chiefly, the young daughter, a wonderful Carole Lombard) as their new butler. The whole cast is faultless, but a special mention for Alice Brady and Eugene Pallette (soon to be Friar Tuck) as the parents.
FOREVER FEMALE (1953) Tuesday 2 February 11.10pm-1.10am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Whilst not quite in the same league as Godfrey, it is still a witty comedy that bears a resemblance to All About Eve (1950). In her last role of any note, Ginger Rogers is an ageing Broadway star still hoping to compete with those on the way up; William Holden is the writer of a new play.
BREATHE (2017) Wednesday 3 February 9.00-10.50pm BBC 2 P
Following his success in the visceral war film Hacksaw Ridge (2016), Andrew Garfield made this gentle romantic drama. He plays a young (and actual) father-to-be that, in 1958, contracted a severe case of polio. Supported by his wife (played by Claire Foy), he remained determined to pursue his ambitions.
THIS SPORTING LIFE (1963) Wednesday 3 February 11.25pm-2.10am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
The last film of the British New Wave is, arguably, the best and possibly the best purely British film of the 1960s. (Lawrence of Arabia had an international cast, international locations and so on.) Richard Harris is the ex-miner who now plays professional rugby for a living and Rachel Roberts the widowed landlady who becomes his lover. Harris turned in other fine performances, including in The Field (1991-92 season, audience reaction 87%), but he never matched this. Incredibly, not all the reviews were positive, but it is a tremendous film. Grab the Network DVD if you find it – it has a PDF script and a commemorative booklet.
HANGMAN’S KNOT (1952) Thursday 4 February 12.35-2.15pm Channel 32
It is a quiet afternoon, so our matinée will have to be a decent Randolph Scott western. He’s a Confederate officer who hijacks a Union gold shipment, but his men get other ideas when they learn that the War of the Secession has ended. Donna Reed and Lee Marvin offer good support. It is the only cinema film directed by Roy Huggins, who later created Maverick, The Fugitive and The Rockford Files for American television.
QUARTET (2012) Thursday 4 February 9.00-10.30pm BBC 4
Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut was a popular booking at the Regent, as the cast includes Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay and Billy Connolly. All is relatively calm at the Beecham House home for retired opera singers – until a particularly awkward grande dame makes up the numbers . . .
OLD MOTHER RILEY JOINS UP (1939) Friday 5 February 9.25-10.55am TP (Channel 81)
If you are a fan of the comic creation Mrs Brown, you might like to reacquaint yourself with her music hall predecessor. There were about 15 films, crudely made but popular with the masses, and TP have acquired at least some of the rights to show. When I remember where I have put it, it would be a good time to read Robert V. Kenny’s book on Arthur Lucan and Kitty McShane!
JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE (2015) Friday 5 February 10.00pm-12 midnight Sky Arts (Ch 11)
The legendary blues and soul singer might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it makes for a fascinating documentary. She had an extraordinary presence, but drink and drugs took their toll (was it really 50 years ago?) and her only no. 1, ‘Me and Bobby McGee’, was a posthumous one.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
RANDOM DORSET (AND BEYOND)
In my introduction a week ago, I wrote that a film (or TV episode) always attracts more interest if there is a local aspect to it. We live in a lovely part of the world, here in the south-west, and so we have been a popular location with film makers from all around the world for over a hundred years. Steven Spielberg filmed some of War Horse (2011) in Devon and some scenes for Restoration (1995) were filmed just across the border at Forde Abbey. Cornwall’s rugged landscape has also been used. Parts of Robert Taylor’s Knights of the Round Table (1953) were shot at Tintagel (showcasing MGM’s first use of CinemaScope) and there has been a dramatic Cornish resurgence in recent years, with all of Summer in February (2013), Bait and Fisherman’s Friends (both 2019) filmed there.
As for Dorset, it has been estimated that over 300 films and TV episodes have been enhanced by location shooting in the county. As early as 1913, film pioneer Cecil Hepworth came here to make Hamlet and a mock-up of Elsinore castle was built on the cliffs above Lulworth Cove. Both The Heroes of Telemark (1965) and The Ship that Died of Shame (1955) had scenes filmed in Poole Harbour. The production companies of The Key (1958) and The Damned (1961) came to Weymouth; movies that are likely to turn up again on Talking Pictures, or other channels, if you are patient. A much rarer film – not televised for years and not on Region 2 DVD, to my knowledge – is Rough Shoot (1952), a thriller with a script by Eric Ambler and starring Joel McCrea (hence its American title Shoot First). We have shots of the Dorset countryside, a mention of Dorchester prison, a signpost saying Wood Lane and other examples of local colour. Also quite rare is the 1957 CFF serial Five on a Treasure Island, filmed at Corfe castle and in Wareham; this is available from the BFI in a nice HD transfer. The most prestigious film made in the county, would be Tom Jones (1963) which won the Oscar for Best Picture; its other claim to fame (I have been told many times!) is that the Regent’s long-serving manager, Alec Orme, worked on it as an extra. Then, in August 1966, MGM’s expensive Far from the Madding Crowd began shooting here, with occasional forays over the border into Wiltshire. Once again, local citizens were employed as extras.
Coming closer to home, The Boat that Rocked (2009) had scenes shot in Lyme Bay and was a popular booking at the Regent; as was Tamara Drewe (2010) with nearby locations that included Yetminster and Salwayash. This brings us, finally, to Lyme Regis itself. In storage at the Regent, we used to have two Universal newsreels from the early 1930s that showed the town criers of the day and Langmoor Gardens. My memory is that they were shown last at the cinema’s 60th birthday celebrations. Their current whereabouts are unknown and it is likely they were destroyed in the 2016 fire. When I gave a talk to the U3A a few years ago, I ended it by focussing on ‘The Big Three’. Two of these are, of course, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and All Over the Town; the third, at the time, was the CFF film Wreck Raisers, released 23 October 1972. There are clear shots of the Cobb and harbour, the RNLI and Langmore Gardens. I still hope to bring it, one day, to a newly-built Regent; in the meantime, we will replace it with Ammonite (2020), the new film about Mary Anning, whose release has been scheduled for March 2021 – but don’t be surprised if that date is subject to further revision.
It is always a good thing when there is a point of local (or semi-local) interest in something we are watching, as several performances of The French Lieutenant’s Woman have borne out over the years. This can be minor, or unexpected, as in the 1941 Fritz Lang film Man Hunt, when we catch a brief glimpse of a signpost to Lyme Regis. Anyway, last Saturday, I just had to take a look at The Adventures of Sir Lancelot episode ‘Maid of Somerset’. In it, the dastardly King Meliot was selling all the young, in-their-prime, male cheddar makers into slavery. He and his henchmen got their comeuppance, of course, in a cave/cold storage facility that, in colour this time, seemed to foretell of the psychedelia that was still a thousand years away. I have to say, the moment when Lancelot (William Russell) shouted “the weapons are behind the cheese” made my day!
NIGHT WILL FALL (2014) Saturday 23 January 9.00-10.20pm Channel 18
Showing to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, this is an absorbing – at times chilling – documentary on an Allied project to record, for posterity, the Nazi atrocities and why the project was never completed.
THE WHITE CROW (2018) Saturday 23 January 9.30-11.30pm BBC 2 P
Ralph Fiennes directs Ukranian dancer Oleg Ivenko in a biopic of Rudolf Nureyev. Focussing on Nureyev’s 1961 defection to the West gives it some dramatic heft and the return of some quality premières this week is most welcome.
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950) Sunday 24 January 3.45-5.30pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Perhaps inspired by the success of Meet Me in St Louis (selected last year), or (more likely) by the desire of Americans to remember a time that wasn’t so riven by conflict, from about 1946-1953 there was a plethora of early 20th-century dramas from thrillers to musicals. This is a light, enjoyable comedy in which Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy try to keep their 12 children in some kind of order.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (2016) Sunday 24 January 11.35pm-1.40am BBC 2
Tom (Michael Fassbender) returns to Australia after surviving the First World War. After marrying Isabel (Alicia Vikander), they opt for the solitude of a remote lighthouse and, hopefully, a new family. Whilst it doesn’t quite do the novel justice, there are several strong performances and it looks splendid.
TEN TALL MEN (1951) Monday 25 January 1.20-3.30pm Film Four
Burt Lancaster certainly travelled the world in the early stage of his career with The Flame and the Arrow (1950, Italy), this film (the Foreign Legion) and The Crimson Pirate (1952, the Mediterranean) all making use of his athleticism and devil-may-care persona. It is very entertaining and much superior to Alan Ladd’s Desert Legion (1953) – which is on Channel 41 at 5.20, if you would like confirmation.
SCORE: CINEMA’S GREATEST SOUNDTRACKS (2017) Monday 25 January 10.00-11.30pm BBC
How wonderful is this, for lovers of film and the music written especially for them? It covers almost a hundred years and some of the very best composers including Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann and John Williams.
RIDE BEYOND VENGEANCE (1966) Tuesday 26 January 12.05-2.00pm Channel 32
These quiet Tuesdays are becoming a habit, so we’ll select a couple of oddities today. If you used to enjoy Chuck Connors in his TV series The Rifleman and Branded, then you might like to give this a try. Flashbacks abound as he returns home and seeks vengeance on those who have wronged him. It was put together by the Branded production team; there is a little extra violence for the cinema and, typically for the period, a combination of veterans (Joan Blondell and Michael Rennie) and newcomers (Kathryn Hays and Bill Bixby) in the supporting cast.
AMERICAN ANIMALS (2018) Tuesday 26 January 9.00pm-11.20pm Film Four P
American Animals had a number of 5-star reviews on release, but any success with us would have been problematic. Ostensibly about an arts heist with actors (or not) and actual participants (or not), its blend of both fact and fiction (or not) is a challenge that could be very rewarding.
COTTAGE TO LET (1941) Wednesday 27 January 1.05-2.55pm Film Four
The first thing that might strike you is that the casting seems to be back-to-front with Leslie Banks as the scientist whose invention is under threat, Alastair Sim as the detective and John Mills under suspicion. Anthony Asquith directs reliably, George Cole is notable in his film debut and it all makes for an entertaining propaganda piece.
THE GUILTY (2018) Wednesday 27 January 9.00-10.50pm Film Four P
It’s looking like a quiet night in a police call centre, until one of the officers takes a call from an abducted woman. The bare-bones settings and the imaginative sound design help immeasurably – this Danish thriller is a real nail-biter!
THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS (2018) Thursday 28 January 8.00-9.30pm BBC 4
John Boyne’s novel was perfect for encouraging discussions of the Holocaust in schools and Mark Herman (Brassed Off) turns it into a good film. Young Bruno (Asa Butterfield, showing much early promise), the son of a Nazi officer, is curious about the neighbouring ‘farm’ and soon makes friends with a boy his own age. Whilst not a film, strictly speaking, it is followed immediately by a very good TV drama THE EICHMANN SHOW. It tells the story of how a blacklisted TV director Leo Hurwitz (Anthony La Paglia) somehow gained permission to film the 1961 trial.
SEARCHING (2018) Thursday 28 January 9.00-11.05pm Film Four P
This is a novel and clever thriller that follows a father’s investigation of his daughter’s disappearance. The conceit is that he conducts it entirely on her laptop.
ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS (1969) Friday 29 January 11.00-2.00pm Film Four
This sumptuous epic had a flamboyance that the later TV series The Six Wives of Henry VIII couldn’t match. Geneviève Bujold is Anne Boleyn and Richard Burton is the king. Whilst even an actor of his magnitude couldn’t match Keith Michell’s interpretation, he was nominated for an Oscar (again). He lost to John Wayne for True Grit, but at least had the consolation of several drinks with the winner afterwards.
FADE-IN (1968/1973) Friday 29 January 8.05-9.55pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
To end the week, we have an ultra-rare presentation! The story is routine – a film editor has a love affair with a cowboy (Burt Reynolds) whilst on location – but it is the background to it that fascinates. Some of the cast of the western Blue (1968) agreed to do bit parts, the director Allen (or Alan) Smithee is a Hollywood pseudonym used when the director disowns the final product, and it was shelved without a cinema release before appearing on American TV in 1973. The actual director was Jud Taylor who worked exclusively for television and did some decent work with Oscar winners Shelley Winters, Susan Hayward and Cliff Robertson.
YOUNG GUNS (1988) Friday 29 January 11.35pm-1.15am BBC 1
In its own way, this too was a rarity – a 1980s western that drew an audience. Its young cast, led by Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid, caused it to be labelled a ‘Brat Pack’ western. I found it brash, vigorous and rather refreshing – and the film’s success led to a sequel Young Guns II.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
Finally, we have a peaceful transition of power and a new President of the United States. It should be a while before anyone rushes to make a film about Donald Trump (produced, directed by and starring himself, no doubt), but it won’t surprise you to learn that American presidents have been considered ‘good material’ for the silver screen. With the exception, oddly, of the early ones: revolutionary wars and such have never been good box office. (Although Anthony Hopkins has played George Washington, John Quincy Adams - in Amistad, you might remember – and then came up-to-date with Richard Nixon which must be a record!) Charlton Heston was Andrew Jackson in The President’s Lady (1953, average at best) and in The Buccaneer (1958). Ulysses S. Grant has tended to appear in his Civil War guise (as in How the West Was Won) and The Three Mesquiteers wrote to President Garfield, on behalf of some dispossessed ranchers, in The Night Riders (1939).
Abraham Lincoln is something else again, of course. Walter Huston starred in a 1930 DW Griffith film of that name (it’s okay, but stagey), Henry Fonda took on the role in the excellent Young Mr Lincoln (1939) and Raymond Massey almost made a career out of it (Abe Lincoln in Illinois, 1940 and on four more occasions). More recently, Daniel Day Lewis was awarded an Oscar for his portrayal in Lincoln (2012).
Alexander Knox took on the title role in Wilson (1944) – it was a very good film, won five Oscars, but did not bring in the crowds. We presented Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) as a Silver Screen, with Bill Murray as Franklin D Roosevelt; he was fine, but the film less so. Much better was the 1976 TVM Eleanor and Franklin; its 208m running time enabled Jane Alexander and Edward Herrmann to really do them justice. Indeed, it was so successful a sequel subtitled the White House Years followed immediately. Similarly, the year before, Give ‘Em Hell, Harry had a brilliant performance from James Whitmore as Harry S. Truman in what was, effectively, a filmed stage performance. I would also recommend Tom Selleck (the Kevin Costner of TV movies, always reliable) in Ike: Countdown to D-Day (2004), although the focus is entirely on Eisenhower during the Second World War.
President Kennedy is probably second only to Lincoln in terms of screen portrayals. Cliff Robertson, in PT 109 (1963), portrayed him doing his war service, members enjoyed Thirteen Days (2000), set during the Cuban Missile Crisis and we witnessed his assassination in Jackie. Pride of place, however, ought to go to Martin Sheen for the 1983 TV mini-series.
Here we are, another week, and we hope you are all safe and well. It is one of the weakest weeks we have had for a while – there are no premières and on a couple of days it was a struggle to find a film to recommend. My own best picks would be the two films on Saturday, plus All the President’s Men – but they all offer something of interest which is the name of the game, of course!
THE NUN’S STORY (1959) Saturday 16 January 1.15-3.40pm BBC 2
Audrey Hepburn gives a wonderful performance as the nun who questions her faith, whilst dedicating herself to the service of others. It is a wonderful movie, too, but this was the year of Ben-Hur, so its 8 Oscar nominations came to naught (or nought, even).
THE BOSTON STRANGLER (1968) Saturday 16 January 9.35-11.55pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
As you know, I love it when an actor-star steps outside his comfort zone and, as serial killer Albert DeSalvo, Tony Curtis certainly does that here. He is brilliant in a documentary-style thriller that uses split screen to great effect and has sterling work from the likes of Henry Fonda and George Kennedy.
WATERFRONT (1950) Sunday 17 January 11.00am-12.35pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Set in Liverpool during the Depression, Robert Newton is unusually restrained – and very good – as the seaman who likes a drink or three; Kathleen Harrison is his long-suffering wife and Richard Burton shows promise in his third film. Michael Anderson achieves an honest, respectable sense of reality that served him well when directing The Dambusters four years later.
MISSISSIPPI GRIND (2015) Sunday 17 January 10.30pm-12.10am BBC 2
A decent drama that sees Ben Mendelsohn’s gambler, in an attempt to avoid a not-very-nice loan shark, team up with Ryan Reynolds’s poker player. Perhaps a trip to New Orleans will benefit them both?
IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY (1947) Monday 18 January 2.25-4.15pm TP (Channel 81)
The title is a bit of a giveaway: Googie Withers is shocked when her ex-lover turns up, as he is supposed to be in prison. Up to this point, most British films had featured posh people with posh accents, so this uncharacteristic effort from Ealing Studios, set in the East End, was quite a revelation – and a very good one, too.
BOOK CLUB (2018) Monday 18 January 9.00-11.05pm Film Four
If you would like a light, enjoyable change, then this ensemble comedy is for you. The cast includes Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen and they are a joy to watch.
ALBERT, RN (1950) Tuesday 19 January 12.30-2.20pm Channel 32
Escaping POW dramas were in vogue for a decade or so and this one (and the same year’s The Wooden Horse) established their credentials and popularity. Anthony Steel appeared in both and his star burned quite brightly for roughly the same period.
VICTORIA & ABDUL (2017) Wednesday 20 January 9.00-10.45pm BBC 4
This evening, you will have to choose between two films scheduled opposite each other (unless you can record): Victoria & Abdul has Judi Dench playing the monarch for a second time (Mrs Brown was on last week), forging an unlikely friendship at the time of her Golden Jubilee.
TRANSSIBERIAN (2008) Wednesday 20 January 9.00-11.15pm Channel 33
Transsiberian is, perhaps, the more intriguing offering: Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are on their way from China to Moscow; there are some drug smugglers and Ben Kingsley as a Russian cop. The plot doesn’t always make sense, but it is an exciting trip and the contrast between the train’s interior and the spectacular snowscapes of the exterior is done very well.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976) Thursday 21 January 9.00-11.10pm BBC 4
The Post was popular with members, but All the President’s Men remains the Hollywood political thriller that every other one needs to beat. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are tremendous as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the journalists who investigated the Watergate break-in (alluded to at the close of The Post, you might recall).
NURSE ON WHEELS (1963) Friday 22 January 11.55am-1.40pm TP (Channel 81)
Following the success of 1962’s Twice Round the Daffodils, the Carry On producer (Peter Rogers) and director (Gerald Thomas) reteamed with Juliet Mills and other cast members. This is the better of the two films – it is all rather charming and the village eccentrics are well-drawn. Indeed, it could almost be taking place in deepest Dorset!
THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (1974) Friday 22 January 11.10pm-1.30am Film Four
Clint Eastwood let Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter) take the directorial reins for the first time, after he had co-written Magnum Force, and he turned in an impressive film. (Not that you would think so, if you were to believe Rex Reed’s original review in The New York Daily News.) Clint is a retired thief and conman looking for some stolen money; Jeff Bridges (Oscar nominated) is the impressionable young ‘un he takes under his wing. It is a first showing on free-to-air channels for many years, so recommending it is a nice way to end the week.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?
Almost certainly we all have a film or TV series that we enjoy rather a lot, but wouldn’t include in a serious – dare I say intellectual – discussion. One of mine is the BBC’s Death in Paradise which has been running for 10 years now and started a new 8-part series on 7 January. The regularity and timing are part of its appeal, of course: every January, come what may (including lockdowns), when it is wet, cold and grey, we are transported to a Caribbean island, where the sun sits high in a cloudless sky. Guessing ‘who did it’ can be fun and the cast and guest stars are engaging. (Although, I have to say, I thought it worked less well with Ardal O’Hanlon as the detective and with the changes in the supporting cast during his tenure; this has been rectified.)
It isn’t the first time the word paradise has figured in a title – I mentioned elsewhere the western series Paradise (aka Guns of Paradise) that the BBC ran twenty years ago. Has anyone, though, seen the American ABC-TV series Adventures in Paradise (1959-62)? This was quite an oddity and its star, Gardner McKay, disappeared from the screen soon afterwards. It was based on stories by James Michener and lasted for 91 episodes.
In the cinema, and ignoring the fact that The Admirable Crichton (1957) – an enjoyable comedy – was later re-titled Paradise Lagoon in the US, the word hasn’t brought much luck or good fortune to those who have used it. 1932’s Bird of Paradise, in which Joel McCrea falls in love with ‘native’ girl Dolores Del Rio, was barely average, as was the 1952 remake with Louis Jourdan and Debra Paget. Paradise Canyon (1935) was the weakest of John Wayne’s 16 Lone Star westerns. Paradise Alley (1978), the story of three New York brothers, marked Sylvester Stallone’s debut as a director, but the results were disappointing.
More recently, the balance has been redressed, particularly if we include Cinema Paradiso (95% reaction); you might also have joined us for the Second World War drama Paradise Road (1998-99 season, audience reaction 87%). Highly recommended would be the 2005 release Paradise Now, a gripping drama about two young Palestinians who are recruited for a suicide-bombing mission in Tel Aviv. Incidentally, a new film with the title Birds of Paradise is currently in post-production; in this case the story concerns two young ballet dancers trying to make the grade.
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