Thursday, February 15, 2018

Feb 14th  
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse**                   

(US 1920)                       

Brothers descended from the same Argentine family find themselves meeting several years later on opposite sides of the Western Front.
Grand and lavishly decorated epic melodrama (with slightly disappointing looking horsemen), notable for being the introduction to the world stage of Rudolph Valentino, whose comparatively small presence in the film catches the eye, even if his acting is as ever rather limited.

Written by: June Mathis, from the novel by Vicente Blasco-Ibanez.
Producer/Director: Rex Ingram.
Starring: Rudolph Valentino, Alice Terry, Josef Swickard, Pomeroy Cannon, Alan Hale, Virginia Warwick, John St. Polis, Wallace Beery, Nigel De Brulier.
Photography: John F. Seitz.
Art Direction: Joseph Calder, Amos Myers.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Men O'War Tent - Tiny Sandford evening

Feb 10th
(Manifest Theatre)

A selection of perennial Laurel and Hardy comedy shorts, linked by supporting appearances by Tiny Sandford in each of them. Accompanied by a poignant toast and tribute to former Men O'War tent member Dani Barker, and with a lively audience to enjoy the show, even for a film as unpromising as The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case.

The Second Hundred Years**
(US 1927. 20m. bw; Two long term convicts unwittingly escape back into the same prison as VIP guests. w: H. M. Walker; d: Fred L. Guiol; s: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Tiny Sandford, Eugene Pallette, Dorothy Coburn,)

Below Zero* (qv)

The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case
(US 1930. 20m. bw; Ollie purses a fake inheritance of Stan's at a haunted house where everyone is mysteriously bumped off - the biggest mystery of this case being why Laurel and Hardy should do such stilted and creaky material (even then) without even a decent plot or resolution? ; w: H.M. Walker; d: James Parrott; s: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Fred Kelsey, Del Henderson, Frank Austin, Tiny Sandford.)

Come Clean**
(US 1931. 20m. bw; Stan and Ollie rescue a troublesome woman from suicide, and then have to hide her away from the wives.; w: H.M. Walker; d: James W. Horne; s: Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel, Mae Busch, Gertrude Astor, Linda Loredo, Charlie Hall, Tiny Sandford.)

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Feb 7th   
The Trollenberg Terror*

(GB 1958)                                                   

An alien lifeforce resides at the top of a Swiss mountain.
Thrifty but quite suspenseful British sci-fi, until the monsters start to show up and 50s monster movie cliches set in (the film was titled The Crawling Eye in America).

Written by: Jimmy Sangster, based on the TV series by Peter Key.
Producers: Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman.
Director: Quentin Lawrence.
Starring: Forrest Tucker, Janet Munro, Jennifer Jayne, Laurence Payne, Warren Mitchell, Andrew Faulds.
Photography: Monty Berman.
Music: Stanley Black.

THE TROLLENBERG TERROR. As far back as 1958, Warren Mitchell (centre) was playing eccentric older men, in the days long before Alf Garnett. Janet Munro is the telepathic heroine under the influence of the mysterious aliens outside the laboratory.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Feb 4th          
Darkest Hour** (PG) 
(Vue Romford)                                                 

(GB/US 2017)

In 1940 Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister in spite of the desperate situation in the war and his own unpopularity within his own Government.
Forceful and stylised biopic (a sequel of sorts to TV's The Gathering Storm), with the usual thematic diversions from history, but most of what is told is true and it lives or dies by is central star performance, a tour de force of characterisation and make-up.

Written by: Anthony McCarten.
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten, Douglas Urbanski.
Director: Joe Wright.
Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane (as Lord Halifax), Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn (as George VI), Samuel West,
Photography: Bruno Delbonnel.
Music: Dario Marianelli.
Make-up: Lucy Sibbick.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Feb 1st  
The Post*** (12A)
(Odeon Colchester)         

(US 2017)           

The establishment-oriented owner of The Washington Post and her chief editor risk the newspaper's future to publish the Pentagon papers detailing America's continued failed participation in the Vietnam War.                                       
Rivetingly played Spielberg political thriller, back to his best form since Schindler's List. Despite his characteristic sentimental touches and irritatingly frequent hand-held camera work, it stands up a worthy companion piece to All the President's Men(qv).

Written by: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer.
Producers: Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg, Kirstie Macosko Krieger.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Tracy Letts, Bruce Greenwood (as Robert McNamara), Bob Odendirk, Matthew Rhys, Sarah Paulson, Michael Stuhlbarg.
Photography: Janusz Kaminski.
Music: John Williams.
Production Design: Rick Carter.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Jan 28th  
The Story of Mankind    

(US 1957)                       

The devil and the spirit of Man make their various cases in a celestial trial for the existence of the human race.
A curiously conceived all-star pantomime pageant of semi-comic sketches through history, with occasionally some sincere moments which clash with the comedy, enjoyable as a camp oddity although quickly becoming a bore for its many uses of stock footage from other epics in between the scenes in plastic sets.

Written by: Irwin Allen, Charles Bennett, based on the book by Hendrik van Loon.
Producer/Director: Irwin Allen.
Starring: Ronald Colman, Vincent Price, Cedric Hardwicke, John Carradine, Francis X. Bushman (Moses), Virginia Mayo (Cleopatra), Helmut Dantine (Marc Antony), Peter Lorre (Nero), Hedy Lamarr (Joan of Arc), Henry Daniell, Agnes Moorehead (Elizabeth I), Reginald Gardiner (Shakespeare), Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx (as Newton), Dennis Hopper (Napoleon), Nick Cravat, and others.
Photography: Paul Sawtell.
Music: Nicholas Musuraca.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Jan 20th   
The Men***    

(US 1950)                         

A soldier is shot and paralysed in action, but the real battle is to recover his life with his paraplegia.
Fascinating early use of Brando in films (before ego and self-indulgence took over him) in what is also a slightly sentimentalised but still vivid account of post-war survival for veterans (with real life paraplegics among the cast), although its timing nearer to the start of the Korean War rather than WWII had a bad effect commercially.

Written by: Carl Foreman.
Producer: Stanley Kramer.
Director: Fred Zinnemann.
Starring: Marlon Brando, Teresa Wright, Everett Sloane, Jack Webb, Richard Erdman, Arthur Jurado, Howard St. John, Dorothy Tree.
Photography: Robert De Grasse.
Music: Dmitri Tiomkin.

Preceded by:
How To Make Movies*
(US 1918. 15m. bw. silent; A once discarded but enjoyably revealing staged behind-the-scenes look at Chaplin's newly formed studio, with brief inclusion of The Tramp and the definite air of him enjoying his new surroundings and those he was working with.; d: Charles Chaplin; s: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Albert Austin, and others.)