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First and foremost, a Happy New Year from everyone on the committee and we hope that, somehow, you had a restful and pleasant Christmas. In film terms, week no. 1 of 2021 is quite promising, with a couple of very good documentaries, some premières, plus some other films of interest. Good though they are, I wouldn’t usually include the Bond films, but if you want to watch them in chronological order, this could be your chance. By the time you read this who knows where we will be in terms of lockdown, but we will endeavour to keep the weekly lists fresh and interesting.
AMAZING GRACE (2018/1972) Saturday 2 January 8.30-9.55pm BBC 2 P
The BBC is showing (without adverts!) an absolutely electrifying film of an Aretha Franklin gospel concert that was held over two nights in 1972. For much of the last 50 years, it was thought lost or unusable, but modern technology has resurrected it. How good was Ms Franklin’s singing? Well, when word of the concert got around, Mick Jagger slipped in to watch from the back of the hall.
ENTEBBE (2018) Saturday 2 January 10.25pm-12.05am BBC 2 P
We have enjoyed good performances from Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl over the years; here they team up to play the terrorists who, in 1976, hijacked an Air France Airbus and instructed the pilot to fly to Uganda. It presents a more downbeat study than the two made shortly thereafter.
HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962) Sunday 3 January 12.35-3.00pm BBC 2
Let’s be clear: this isn’t a revisionist ‘how the west was lost’ and wouldn’t be made in this style today. That aside, visually it is superb, has one of the best soundtracks of any western, 13 stars (plus an impressive supporting cast) and a brilliant climax atop a train. It was filmed in three-camera Cinerama, but modern restoration processes have removed the dividing lines that used to be visible.
SAVING MR BANKS (2013) Sunday 3 January 5.00-7.00pm BBC 2
Not surprisingly, Mr Banks was very popular with Lyme cinemagoers: Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney and Emma Thompson PL Travers, as they clash over the filming of one Mary Poppins . . .
MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS (1971) Monday 4 January 3.10-5.45pm Film Four
Two of our best actors of the period – Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson – combine to splendid effect in a well-mounted historical epic. Patrick McGoohan and Timothy Dalton head a strong supporting cast.
DR NO (1962) Monday 4 January 5.45-8.00pm ITV 4 (Channel 25)
I’m breaking with our established procedures here and highlighting a well-known and hugely popular film that created the idea of a global franchise. But, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with the original – and best – Bond, see how the character was moulded and developed and, no doubt, watch the entire franchise in chronological order. (From Russia with Love is on Tuesday evening; others follow.)
EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE (1986) Tuesday 5 January 4.35-6.25pm Channel 33
Similarly, if you are curious to see a young Tom Hanks pre-superstardom, this fits the bill. He is a young pilot, stationed near Jerusalem during World War II, who falls in love with a Sephardic Jew. It intrigues me that, so early in his career, he was willing to chance something unconventional.
HUD (1963) Tuesday 5 January 10.00pm-12.15am Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
One of the best American films of the 1960s, from an early Larry McMurtry novel: Paul Newman is the rancher’s son and ne’er-do-well at odds with everyone and everything. Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas won Oscars for their acting and James Wong Howe for his superb, b/w cinematography. Paul Newman lost out to Sidney Poitier, rewarded for his role in Lilies of the Field.
A SCREAM IN THE DARK (1943) Wednesday 6 January 4.20-5.30pm TP (Channel 81)
Me thinks that TP have bought the rights to some more of the Republic Studios library! Here we are treated to a neat little murder-mystery featuring death by umbrella. Don’t expect to recognise any of the cast on this occasion. After his debut in 1937, George Sherman had directed another 40 B-westerns by 1943, so must have been pleased to see a pavement or two through the viewfinder.
I AM GRETA (2020) Wednesday 6 January 10.45pm-12.15am BBC 1 P
Of the two new films scheduled opposite each other tonight, it’s likely that this absorbing documentary will appeal most to members. The director (Nathan Grossman) gives us an intimate account of the activist from childhood to the present day.
TRESPASS AGAINST US (2016) Wednesday 6 January 11.15pm-1.20am Film Four P
Despite having two fine actors (Brendan Gleeson and Michael Fassbender) playing father and son it was another one of those near misses for LRFS, so you might like to catch it now. They are both “travellers” accustomed to a life of crime, but the son now wants his child to have a chance at something better.
SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1942) Thursday 7 January 9.05-11.20am Channel 41
Deservedly still held to be one of Hitchcock’s best thrillers; it was also the director’s personal favourite. An adoring young Charlie (Teresa Wright) meets Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) at the station, excited that he has come to stay. Surely, he cannot be the killer of rich widows from back east?
LAST HOLIDAY (1950) Thursday 7 January 7.15-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Alec Guinness stars as a ‘Mr Everyman’ who, having been diagnosed with a fatal illness, decides to go out in unaccustomed style. JB Priestley provided the script and it’s a rather droll, impish comedy with the expected cast of British eccentrics. In his biography on Alastair Sim, Mark Simpson posits the idea that the ‘kitchen sink’ dramas of the late 1950s put paid to this style of comedy and it is certainly worthy of debate.
DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) Friday 8 January 10.50am-1.05pm Channel 41
If a better example of film noir exists, one would be hard-pressed to name it. Fred MacMurray is seduced by Barbara Stanwyck in to murdering her husband for the insurance money; Edward G Robinson is determined to catch them. It was somewhat of a comeback for MacMurray and his ‘ordinary Joe’ persona was perfect for the sap who knew he should say no, but couldn’t.
THE WIFE (2017) Friday 8 January 9.00-10.35pm BBC 2 P
Our 2019-20 season opener (audience reaction: 84%) makes its Freeview debut this evening. Author Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) is on a trip to Sweden to collect his Nobel Prize, accompanied by his wife Joan (Glenn Close) and shadowed by a journalist who is hoping to find something salacious for his proposed biography.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
THE CLOCK IS TICKING!
As my thoughts turned to the incoming New Year and the traditional countdown that goes with it, they then had to include (of course) titles that have used ‘Times on the Clock’. What films have I seen over the years that would rise to this particular challenge?
By way of preliminaries, I would recommend The Big Clock (1948), a clever thriller in which a magazine publisher (Charles Laughton) commits murder and his editor (Ray Milland) finds that the clues point to him. Then there is tick...tick...tick (1970), Fredric March’s final cinema release, a racial drama set in a small Southern town. So, here we go:
The Dawn (1936) was, I believe, the first Irish sound feature. The sound quality is poor and the scenes static, but the topic (Fenians/the IRA) is interesting. Several films have the word ‘dawn’ in their title including The Dawn Rider (1935), a Lone Star B-western that was still popping up in UK cinemas in the 1950s.
Nine to Five (1980) was an enjoyable comedy with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton (plus the catchy hit song, of course).
Tomorrow at Ten (1962) has been appearing on Talking Pictures; Robert Shaw is a ruthless child kidnapper and John Gregson is the inspector trying to stop him. It’s worth a look!
Bomb at 10:10 (1967) – not so good is this drama featuring an American POW (George Montgomery) and Yugoslav partisans. In truth it is from the dim and distant past and that is just about all I can recall!
The word ‘noon’ features prominently: High Noon, of course, Jackie Chan’s Shanghai Noon (2000), The Man Called Noon (1973) – all westerns – and a really good British film Seven Days to Noon (1950), in which a scientist threatens to explode an atomic device in London.
12 0’Clock High (1949): Gregory Peck and Dean Jagger star in one of the best dramas about the pressures of command in wartime.
12:01PM is a clever sci-fi short from 1991. In 1993 the idea (changing events within a timeline) was expanded into a feature that is also well-regarded.
12:08 East of Bucharest was a 2006 Romanian comedy that pleased the critics.
Lunch Hour (1962) pops up from time to time; it’s a British comedy from a John Mortimer play.
The 15:17 to Paris is Clint Eastwood’s tribute to the brave passengers who foiled a terrorist attack, although the consensus is that he shouldn’t have cast the actual participants.
The Devil at 4 0’Clock (1961) – the devil is, in this case, a volcano which is erupting. Frank Sinatra is the convict and Spencer Tracy the priest helping others to escape. The critics’ response was muted, but Spence could make walking down the street significant (literally – check out an early scene in Judgement at Nuremberg).
Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (2011) seems to want to have its cake and eat it!
10 to Midnight (1983) has Charles Bronson on a violent mission again.
Midnight (1939) is a delightful comedy with Claudette Colbert: others using the word include Midnight Cowboy (1969) and an obscure film that Burt Lancaster co-directed and starred in, The Midnight Man (1974). Long-serving members might also remember the thought-provoking war film A Midnight Clear (1993-94 season, audience reaction 83%). It was Barry Norman’s enthusiastic review that first brought it to our attention.
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