Here we are with another selection of classics and premières. Just occasionally, I am tempted to focus on films at the other end of the spectrum. A case in point would have been Sunday’s George Montgomery western Indian Uprising (1951). This was so low budget they didn’t reshoot a fight scene, when an actor fell through a backdrop! Composer Neil Brand, who has enhanced silent films so much with his playing, turns his attention to TV in a new series (Friday 4 December, BBC 4). Now, there’s an idea – I feel a list of classic TV themes coming on . . . .
HIGH SOCIETY (1956) Saturday 28 November 11.30am-1.30pm BBC 2
Also showing Thursday evening, BBC 4 (see later notes).
THE SPIDER AND THE FLY (1949) Saturday 28 November 3.30-5.30pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Eric Portman and Guy Rolfe are trying to obtain top secret German plans in this rare, highly regarded thriller. If it’s as good as Corridor of Mirrors (1948) was, then it is well worth your time.
EARTH: ONE AMAZING DAY (2017) Saturday 28 November 8.30-10.00pm BBC 2
You have another opportunity to see the superbly photographed documentary that was a sequel to Earth (2007). Robert Redford narrates.
MONSOON (2019) Saturday 28 November 10.00-11.20pm BBC 2 P
In the now regular first-view slot, Monsoon is the story of Kit, a young man travelling to Saigon with his parents’ ashes, who forms a romantic attachment to a backpacker whose father fought there.
FOREVER AND A DAY (1943) Sunday 29 November 12 noon-2.10pm Channel 55
All-star portmanteau films were in vogue during the war years, when industry personnel were keen to contribute to the war effort. This one charts the history of a London house from 1804 to the Blitz; the tremendous cast includes Anna Neagle, Ray Milland, Charles Laughton and Buster Keaton.
BALLOON (2018) Sunday 29 November 10.00pm-12.05am BBC 4 P
It looks like, following on from Amundsen last Sunday, we now have a regular slot for good subtitled films. Two East German families build a balloon in secret to escape to the West – and, incredibly, it is based on true events.
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE (1958) Monday 30 November 1.35-4.15pm TP (Channel 81)
Virginia McKenna is very good as Violette Szabo who parachuted into France, as a spy, in the Second World War. Michael Caine has a tiny role - see Random Glimpses, below!
LOCKED IN: BREAKING THE SILENCE (2020) Monday 30 November 10.00-11.15pm BBC 4 P
Do you remember the very moving The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2008-09 season, 86%)? This Storyville documentary follows film-maker Xavier Alford, as he comes to terms with “locked-in” syndrome.
BAD BLOOD (1982) Tuesday 1 December 6.00-8.15am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
The time slot seems a little odd for such a dramatic story, set in New Zealand, about a farmer who refused to give up his weapons during the Second World War and the subsequent manhunt. Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981), with an imported George Peppard, was a much more anodyne product of that time. Mike Newell’s direction helped make the difference, pre-Four Weddings and a Funeral.
SPARE A COPPER (1940) Tuesday 1 December 1.45-3.20pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
George Formby is the special constable who outwits a gang of Nazi saboteurs. Although inferior to Trouble Brewing (1939), it was still very popular and passes a pleasant 90 minutes or so.
EMA (2019) Wednesday 2 December 1.20-3.35am Film Four P
A quite shattering emotional drama in which Ema, a dancer, tries to regain custody of the child she gave up for adoption. Both Pablo Larraín’s Jackie and No had a mixed reception with members; nevertheless, we need these cutting-edge directors!
THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (1966) Wednesday 2 December 10.00pm-12.10am TP (Ch 81)
Mostly, we would think of George Segal’s light-comedy years in the 1970s; here, he’s an undercover agent trying to crack a neo-Nazi network. He’s fine, there’s a strong cast around him and a clever script by Harold Pinter.
A WINDOW IN LONDON (1939) Thursday 3 December 2.30-4.05pm TP (Channel 81)
Here we have a very brisk, satisfying mystery thriller in which Michael Redgrave thinks he has seen a murder from a train window. Deanna Durbin’s Lady on a Train (1945) has a similar plot and is also very good.
HIGH SOCIETY (1956) Thursday 3 December 8.00-9.45pm BBC 4
This week’s Film Club offering is the remake of The Philadelphia Story (1940). The original was better (and funnier), but this version does have the songs (including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) and Louis Armstrong. Bing and Frank Sinatra are fine too and Grace Kelly would soon be saying “I take this man” for real.
THE DAM BUSTERS (1954) Friday 4 December 11.00am-1.35pm Film Four
An all-time classic that still looked good on its recent cinema re-release. Richard Todd is Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave the inventor Barnes Wallis – and Eric Coates gave us the immortal theme.
HANG ‘EM HIGH (1968) Friday 4 December 9.00pm-11.30pm Channel 5
This was tailor-made for Eastwood’s formal entry into major American distribution. His newly-formed company, Malpaso, co-produced; Ted Post, who had directed some of the Rawhide episodes that had showcased best the young actor’s talents, was at the helm – and his salary had increased tenfold as befitted his new status. The supporting cast was chosen carefully with several well-known faces that included Pat Hingle, Ben Johnson and Bruce Dern. The story: Jed Cooper is a rancher, left for dead by vigilantes, who becomes a deputy and hunts down his assailants. So (again) it’s classic Clint rather than an outright classic, but was popular enough to still be on double bills in the 1970s and is now, perhaps, one of those guilty pleasures.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
It’s pretty rare that a new star is up-and-running from their very first film although Gregory Peck managed it with Days of Glory (1944) and so did Marlon Brando with The Men (1950). Most actors serve some kind of apprenticeship before achieving that all-important breakthrough; I was reminded of this when I caught the end credits of an episode of The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes from 1991 and Jude Law was second from bottom of the cast list. I’m sure we have all had one of those ‘hey, isn’t that . . .’ moments. Here’s a selection from my files:
STANLEY BAKER – as we all know - had an uncredited appearance in All Over the Town.
CLINT EASTWOOD made his debut in Revenge of the Creature (1955) as a lab technician who misplaces some white mice.
JUDI DENCH made an appearance in a 1963 episode of Z Cars.
DANIEL CRAIG was interviewed on Newsroom South East in 1989.
SIGOURNEY WEAVER – if you watched the film Annie Hall (1977) with us, she was on screen for about six seconds, outside a theatre, as Woody Allen’s date.
BEN AFFLECK and MATT DAMON both appeared as extras in Field of Dreams (1990-91 season, 77%)
JAMIE LEE CURTIS was billed as ‘Woman in Changing Room’ in an episode of Quincy M.E. entitled ‘Visitors in Paradise’.
BURT REYNOLDS was the villain in a 1960 episode of Johnny Ringo called ‘The Stranger’. His bullying ways were ended by a karate expert – an unusual touch in a TV western of the period!
MICHAEL CAINE - had a small role (sporting black hair!) in an episode of The Adventures of William Tell called ‘The Prisoner’.
CAROLYN JONES – much of her screen time in the 1953 War of the Worlds was cut, but she can be glimpsed in the kitchen during a party scene (with blond hair).
NICHOLAS PARSONS was cast as Sir Walter of the Glen in ‘Trial by Battle’, an episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood that was directed by Terence Fisher. He put in a lot of appearances over the years and was also very good at voice-over work (this included Tex Tucker in Gerry Anderson’s Four Feather Falls). I reckon his is the voice emanating from a TV set in a 1961 episode of No Hiding Place called ‘The Widower’, very much in Sale of the Century mode, but this is not in the databases to the best of my knowledge. Just think, last season we might have seen a future star/award-winning actor – and been blissfully unaware!
Is it a new week already – where does the time go? In my case, some of it is spent watching a few films, of course. I still get a thrill out of seeing something I haven’t seen before (17 and counting, this month, including shorts). Well, as they say, someone has to . . . .
BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945) Saturday 21 November 4.50-6.15pm BBC 2
Also showing Thursday evening, BBC 4 (see later notes) and preceded by two Talking Pictures on David Lean and Noel Coward
LYNN + LUCY (2019) Saturday 21 November 10.55pm-12.20am BBC 2 P
Lynn and Lucy have been best friends since childhood and now both will be mothers. However, the depth of their friendship is to be sorely tested. It’s another welcome première that showcases potential new British talent.
A TASTE OF HONEY (1961) Sunday 22 November 9.55am-12 noon Channel 55
There are two British classics showing back-to-back today and Tony Richardson directed both. A Taste is superb: Rita Tushingham (fantastic debut) is made pregnant by a black sailor, leaves her mum (and mum’s ‘fancy man’) and sets up ‘home’ with her homosexual friend – in 1961 and with the Leeds-Liverpool canal as a backdrop! It’s followed immediately by THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER (1962) in which Tom Courtney (another fantastic debut) is a borstal boy who tries to get one over the system that is suffocating him.
THE APARTMENT (1960) Sunday 22 November 3.10-5.10pm BBC 2
There are those that say this super Billy Wilder comedy is better than Some Like It Hot (1959) and it certainly grabbed the Oscars (five, including Best Film). Jack Lemmon is the lowly clerk who lets the bosses use his pad for ‘entertaining’. Shirley MacLaine co-stars and the film is preceded, and followed, by a Talking Pictures on each actor.
AMUNDSEN (2019) Sunday 22 November 10.00pm-12 midnight BBC 4 P
Another Norwegian treat for our members: Pal Sverre Hagen is the legendary explorer, Roald Amundsen, who is determined to be the first man to reach the South Pole.
MAN IN THE SADDLE (1951) Monday 23 November 3.15-5.00pm Film Four
Although the opinion isn’t unanimous, some critics do regard this Randolph Scott western as a cut above. He’s lost his gal to rancher Alexander Knox, John (Lawman) Russell is effective in an early role and source-novelist Ernest Haycox had provided the story for Stagecoach (1939).
THE HIJACKER WHO VANISHED (2020) Monday 23 November 9.00-10.25pm BBC 4 P
This documentary in the Storyville strand is most intriguing. You might remember the 1971 event: “DB Cooper” claimed to have a bomb, was paid $200,000, parachuted from the airliner and was never seen again. To date, the crime is unsolved.
THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955) Tuesday 24 November 4.50-6.55pm Film Four
This is possibly (by the breadth of a hair) the best of the Anthony Mann-James Stewart westerns. Here, he’s after the villains who caused his brother’s death. The one scene with a sadistic edge was shocking in its day, but is quite tame now.
‘71 (2014) Tuesday 24 November 11.10pm-1.15am Film four
We put ’71 on our questionnaire after its cinema release, but members were not keen. A shame – Jack O’Connell, as the soldier separated from his patrol during a tour of duty in Belfast, is quite striking and deserved the praise he received.
THE NAKED KISS (1964) Wednesday 25 November 12.05-1.55am TP (Channel 81)
As directed by Samuel Fuller, this is in the cult classic plus category. Constance Towers (in a brave role) is the prostitute who wants to be a nurse; the pretty town is riddled with corruption; attempts at romance are decidedly off-kilter; luridly sharp images jar. Wonderful!
FISH TANK (2009) Wednesday 25 November 11.00pm-1.00am BBC 4
Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold, helps to make this the second unusual Wednesday in a row! Mia is a lonely and troubled teenager, excluded from school, who feels drawn towards her mother’s new boyfriend. Another film we nearly booked – it won the Jury Prize at Cannes – but it was a likely audience splitter, so . . . all the more reason to catch it now!
PORK CHOP HILL (1959) Thursday 26 November 12.10-2.10pm Channel 32
Lewis Milestone could never quite match All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), but he came close with A Walk in the Sun (1945) and this film, set in the Korean War. The cast is a nicely balanced mix of experience (Gregory Peck and cowboy star Bob Steele) and newcomers (George Peppard and Martin Landau).
BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945) Thursday 26 November 8.30-10.00pm BBC 4
Can a modestly-made love story, directed by David Lean early in his career, bear comparison with his mighty epic Lawrence of Arabia? Yes it can, because perfection is, well, perfection. Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard deliver immaculate performances; the script, music and settings (including Carnforth station, of course) are spot on. Not a moment is wasted and it remains – and always will remain – one of the great achievements of British cinema.
WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) Friday 27 November 4.30-6.50pm Film Four
Heck, surely it’s too early, but if this is a film that jingles your bells . . . Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen do well enough and Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) directs. Personally, I’d rather watch White Heat, but enjoy!
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966) Friday 27 November 9.00pm-12.40am Channel 5
For many film fans, the director’s cut is Sergio Leone’s masterpiece although to decide, I’d need to watch it (again) back-to-back with Once Upon a Time in the West, using an intermission with tea for dissection and discussions. I was half way there a couple of years ago with my film buff friend Andy as, assisted by several glasses of Venezuelan rum, we discussed (until 2am) the revelatory moment where Clint takes up the poncho, thereby suggesting that it is the first film in the trilogy not the last. Two things are pretty well cut-and-dried: the Civil War section is the best sequence that Leone ever filmed, and Ennio Morricone’s iconic score would be recognised anywhere in the world.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
A RANDOM TOP 20!
As I was writing last week’s notes on the 2020 Blu-ray releases – more specifically, those concerning the film Trapped – the thought came to me ‘hmm, films that share their title with a song’. Not the obvious connection between film and song, such as Yellow Submarine and Nine to Five (although it hurt to ignore Kevin the Gerbil covering Summer Holiday in 1984), but something more coincidental or that became an inspiration for a song years later. So, here we are pop pickers - this week’s Top 20 countdown for film and music buffs, as fond memories of Alan “Fluff” Freeman and, currently, Paul Gambaccini invade my thought processes:
Sitting outside the Top 20 this week is the German group Propaganda who charted in 1984 with the song ‘Dr Mabuse’; Dr Mabuse the Gambler (1922) was, of course, the first in Fritz Lang’s legendary trilogy. The arch-criminal had surfaced again!
20. ‘Rasputin’ by Boney M in 1978; the 1996 film starred Alan Rickman and was an Emmy winner.
19. ‘The Magnificent Seven’ was a Clash song in 1981; the 1960 western was hugely entertaining.
18. ‘Platinum Blonde’ was a mild success for Prelude in 1980; it had been a bigger one for Jean Harlow in 1931.
17. ‘Runaway Train’ arrived courtesy of Eric Clapton in 1992; Jon Voight was on board in 1985.
16. ‘Message in a Bottle’ was delivered by The Police in 1979 and by Kevin Costner in 1998.
15. ‘Photograph’ was taken by Ringo Starr in 1973. Ritesh Batra’s 2019 film was on our list for this season, until the corona virus intervened.
14. We’ll have a double ‘A’ side with Squeeze’s ‘Up the Junction’ (1978) and ‘Annie get Your Gun’ (1982); the films (from 1967 and 1950) were markedly different, of course.
13. ‘Fire’ was done beautifully by The Pointer Sisters in 1979. There was a groundbreaking Indian film in 1996 and the more traditional TVM Fire! from Irwin Allen in 1977.
12. The Dave Clark Five floated ‘The Red Balloon’ in 1968, but I should think it is the 1956 French classic that most of us remember.
11. Blondie performed ‘Rapture’ in 1981. If you haven’t seen the 1965 film with Melvyn Douglas and Dean Stockwell, don’t worry – I haven’t either!
10. Iggy Pop could give us a very interesting EP containing the songs ‘Candy’ (1990), ‘Lust for Life’ (1996) and ‘The Passenger’; the films came out in 1968, 1956 and 1975.
9. A-Ha reached no. 5 with ‘Cry Wolf’ in 1986; the 1947 film with Barbara Stanwyck and Errol Flynn was a disappointment, though.
8. Tunnel of Love starred Doris Day and Richard Widmark in 1958; the song and album charted in 1987 and Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love Express hit these shores in ’88. I still have my ticket!
7. Kenny did a song called ‘Fancy Pants’ in 1975 and it had been a Bob Hope comedy western in 1950.
6. The Julian Cope song ‘China Doll’ lasted for two weeks in 1989; sad to say, the 1958 film didn’t make much impression either, despite direction by Frank Borzage.
5. ‘Dynamite’ was a Top 20 entry for The Shadows in 1959. Cecil B. DeMille’s 1929 film offered brief glimpses of both Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott. Mind you, The Shadows could give us an album’s worth: ‘Apache’, ‘The Savage’ and ‘On the Beach’ were all films in the 1950s.
4. John Lee Hooker took ‘Dimples’ to no. 23 in 1964; the 1936 film helped to make Shirley Temple the most popular star in the world.
3. Trapped (1949) is a very good B-movie; the song didn’t chart for Jimmy Cliff, but has since become a live classic performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
2. I’m chuffed about this one! UB 40 reached no. 10 with ‘The Earth Dies Screaming’ 40 years ago this month. The film (late night viewing, a long time ago) was a 1964 ‘B’ (directed by Terence Fisher) that starred Willard Parker. He was known best for the TV series Tales of the Texas Rangers. I don’t think it has been shown on British television; however, bizarrely, the original radio series (with Joel McCrea) was transmitted on Radio 5 in 1992.
1. Thunder Road (1958) was a moonshiner cult classic starring Robert Mitchum who also sang the title song (and rather well, too). It inspired Bruce Springsteen to write his song ‘Thunder Road’ which is regarded by some as the best rock song of all. It has my vote; hence its lofty position!
Welcome to a new week. For a little while now, the quiet days have been Mondays and Tuesdays and, on occasion, a Wednesday. I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising that there is a mid-week lull and, usually, I will find something to avoid a blank day with only a marginal relaxation of standards! Having said that, tastes vary, moods change and, from the outset, a key element has been to highlight modest films that wouldn’t normally draw your attention.
EASTER PARADE (1948) Saturday 14 November 3.15-4.55pm BBC 2
Also showing Thursday evening, BBC 4 (see later notes).
JOURNEY’S END (2017) Saturday 14 November 9.00-10.40pm BBC 2 P
First filmed by James Whale in 1930, RC Sheriff’s renowned play of an officer’s life in the trenches still resonates. Sam Claflin takes on the role originally played by Colin Clive.
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) Sunday 15 November 12.10-2.15am BBC 2
We did pretty well with the Denzel Washington remake (2005-06 season, 71%), but the original is even better. Laurence Harvey is the brainwashed Korean War veteran, Frank Sinatra his superior officer and Angela Lansbury his not-so-sweet mother.
SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (1960) Sunday 15 November 12.10-2.00pm Ch 55
Karel Reisz (The French Lieutenant’s Woman) directs one of the best of the British New Wave films; Albert Finney is the factory worker, Shirley Anne Field his girlfriend and Rachel Roberts the married woman he seduces. They are all superb (as is Hylda Baker in a telling supporting role).
DOCTOR AT SEA (1955) Sunday 15 November 6.00-8.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Dirk Bogarde wasn’t especially fond of his matinee idol years, but he was very good as Dr Simon Sparrow and the Doctor series was ever so popular. The bonus here is Brigitte Bardot just before she became a worldwide sensation. The film was at the Regent for an entire week from Monday October 3rd 1955 (“a wonderful entertainment” - the Sunday Chronicle) with The Great Adventure in support.
TWO THOUSAND WOMEN (1944) Monday 16 November 3.05-4.55pm Film Four
In essence it’s a propaganda piece, but the writing and cast (including Phyllis Calvert and Flora Robson) lift it a notch or two. The imprisoned women try and help three RAF airmen to escape.
SHOPLIFTERS (2018) Monday 16 November 11.10pm-1.30am Film Four
If you missed it with us last season (reaction: 79%), now is your chance to see why this unusual family created such a stir amongst the critics.
THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH (1947) Tuesday 17 November 7.20-8.45am Channel 41
Critical opinion is divided on Jean Renoir’s last Hollywood venture: poor concept and dialogue or a clever film noir where the triangle consists of femme fatale, blind husband and a coastguard suffering from PTS.
GOODBYE, COLUMBUS (1969) Tuesday 17 November 10.pm-12.05am Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
This adaptation of Philip Roth’s comic novel (set in a 1950’s Jewish community in New York) introduced two engaging new stars in Ali MacGraw and Richard Benjamin. It had a post-The Graduate smartness and sexual openness that was still new in Hollywood pictures.
HAPPY AS LAZZARO (2018) Wednesday 18 November 2.05-4.15am Channel 4
Here we have an entertaining fantasy drama centred on a naive young Italian peasant with a good heart. It was a near miss for us, so you might like to give it a whirl.
SEX & DRUGS & ROCK & ROLL (2009) Wednesday 18 November 10.00-11.50pm BBC 4
Let’s dust off the rhythm sticks and complete a different kind of Wednesday with this biopic of Ian Dury. Andy Serkis is perfectly cast as the punk pioneer.
THE DAY WILL DAWN (1942) Thursday 19 November 2.25-4.25pm Film Four
An interesting contemporary-to-events companion to The 12th Man: a journalist (Hugh Williams) works with the Norwegian Resistance (Deborah Kerr) to destroy a U-boat base. It’s effective, and moving at times, but don’t expect the nail-biting tension of last season!
EASTER PARADE (1948) Thursday 19 November 8.00-9.40pm BBC 4
Film Club brings us another classic musical: a dancer (Fred Astaire) loses his regular partner (Ann Miller) so decides to make a chorus girl into a new star – who just happens to be Judy Garland. The songs are by Irving Berlin and the score won an Oscar. Originally, Gene Kelly was slated to play the lead; he broke an ankle and the rest, as they say, is history.
THE MILLION POUND NOTE (1954) Friday 20 November 12.50-2.40pm Film Four
As part of a wager between two gamblers, Gregory Peck is given the note, but must avoid spending it for one month. Edwardian London is welcoming and it is particularly well-scripted by Jill Craigie, documentary film-maker and wife of Michael Foot. I can remember, vaguely, Stuart Damon doing a TVM version, although the records show that this was a 4-part BBC serial in 1968.
THE ARRIVAL (1996) Friday 20 November 9.00-11.15pm Channel 68
This sci-fi thriller is really a B-movie with top-dressing in the form of some decent effects, but it’s not half-bad. Charlie Sheen is the astronomer who stumbles across an alien plot to change the world’s climate. The truth will out eventually, I suppose . . . .
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
RANDOM GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS
All the main distributors release films to DVD and Blu-ray. You might need to check that they will play on your machine (i.e. are Region 2 or Region B, as Region 1 or Region A – US and Canada – might not work in the UK). And remember, a DVD will play on both a DVD player and a Blu-ray player, but a Blu-ray disc won’t be read by a DVD player! There are some very good specialist labels: the BFI (who also have an online shop), Criterion, Eureka/Masters of Cinema and Vintage World Cinema to name just a few. Studio Canal and Renown put out lots of British classics and minor or ‘lost’ films. All of these labels almost always do restored new transfers from the best available materials often with really good extras. The only downside is that they tend to hold their price, but you might find a special offer or two. The bargain labels are useful if you want to catch a Gene Autry western (like me) or an obscure film that is in the public domain, but the transfers are usually of poor picture quality (print defects intact) and without extras.
Here is a selection of films that have been reviewed in 2020, in quality magazines such as Sight & Sound, and that reflect, I hope, what we have been highlighting in the weekly listings (or random memories). Mostly, the focus is on the Blu-ray release; it is highly likely that they are also on DVD, but the DVD would not include the same range of extras.
BLACK ANGEL (1946) ARROW BLU-RAY
This film noir from Universal is a real treasure: rare, top-notch cast and a director (Roy William Neill) who’d been sharpening his skills on the studio’s Sherlock Holmes series with Basil Rathbone.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a commentary that, apparently, is ‘to die for’!
CLOAK AND DAGGER (1946) MASTERS OF CINEMA BLU-RAY
We highlighted this Fritz Lang/Gary Cooper thriller in our listings. It’s a very good transfer.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: adaptations done for American radio networks.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC (1990) BFI BLU-RAY
Gérard Depardieu is superb in one of our early hits (1991-92 season, reaction: 91%). This is a top-of-the range 4K transfer.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a commentary track and interviews.
DANCE, GIRL, DANCE (1940) CRITERION BLU-RAY
On the surface, this is a RKO programmer with Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball both on fine form. However, think back to when we listed Beware, My Lovely starring Ida Lupino (also distributed by RKO) when I bemoaned the lack of women directors in Hollywood. Well, Dorothy Arzner directed this one and there is a welcome feminist tract at its heart.
A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE (1971) MASTERS OF CINEMA BLU-RAY
This was Sergio Leone’s final western with Rod Steiger and James Coburn.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: (of course) a commentary by spaghetti western expert Sir Christopher Frayling.
THE HALFWAY HOUSE (1944) STUDIO CANAL BLU-RAY
Here is a very unusual fantasy/wartime drama with Devon and Somerset passing for Wales!
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a commentary by British cinema expert Matthew Sweet.
HIROSHIMA (1953) ARROW BLU-RAY
A rare Japanese feature that became possible only after the American occupation had ended.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a 2011 documentary.
PICKUP ALLEY (1957) ARROW BLU-RAY
An ultra-rare British narcotics thriller made by Warwick Films with Victor Mature and Trevor Howard. John Gilling, who did some good work at Hammer, directs.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a video essay.
RAGTIME (1946) ARTE BLU-RAY & DVD
James Cagney’s last cinema release, directed by Milos Forman, is a very special treat: Arte is a French company, so the booklet and interviews are in French or have French subtitles. Alors, si tu veux essayer le français . . . .
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a booklet and interviews.
RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN (1979) MASTERS OF CINEMA BLU-RAY & DVD
Restored by the Taiwan Film Institute, this is a comedy/adventure set in a Buddhist monastery. Reminder: I must try and find my copy of Dragon Inn (1967) during lockdown.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a commentary and booklet.
SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY (1971) BFI BLU-RAY
Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch are two sides of a bisexual love triangle.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a commentary and a 1981 blood donor appeal by Ms Jackson and Ernie Wise!!
TOTO LE HERO (1991) ARROW BLU-RAY
In the early 1990s, this was a popular option on the film society circuit, but we chose not to book it in Lyme. It is inventive, funny and worth catching up with now.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: an essay booklet
TRAPPED (1949) FLICKER ALLEY REGION FREE BLU-RAY & DVD
I thought this was a cracking little thriller even on my poor ‘three forgotten films on one disc’ copy, so this sparkling new edition should be great! Made by the short-lived Eagle-Lion studio and coming in at a lean 78 minutes, Lloyd Bridges plays a counterfeiter used by Treasury agents to catch a bigger fish. Director Richard Fleischer is often underrated – he made, in my estimation, some 20 films that are well worth your time.
EXTRAS INCLUDE: a booklet and two documentaries.
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