Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Apr 20th   
The Belles of St. Trinian's**         

(GB 1954)                      

Girls at the diabolical St. Trinian's wage war on each other to save the school after stealing a prize racehorse.
Launder and Gilliat caricature their own superior school comedy The Happiest Days of Your Life with this variation based on Ronald Searle's naughty schoolgirl illustrations, with the main star in drag. The central joke wears thin at times (particularly when stretched through four sequels and a 2007 remake), and the plot merely strings together a series of sketches, but the cast provide some laughs, particularly those already experienced in this field.

Written by: Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat, Val Valentine.
Producer: Sidney Gilliat.
Director: Frank Launder.
Starring: Alastair Sim, Joyce Grenfell, George Cole, Hermione Baddeley, Beryl Reid, Irene Handl, Joan Sims, Lloyd Lamble, Richard Wattis, Sidney James, Eric Pohlmann.
Photography: Stan Pavey.
Music: Malcolm Arnold.

+ MISS FRITTON (Alastair Sim): "You'll find us all one big happy family here. Perhaps just a teeny-weeny bit unorthodox, but there, that's better than being old fashioned, isn't, hmm? You see, in other schools girls are sent out quite unprepared into a merciless world, but when our girls leave here, it is the merciless world that has to be prepared!"

Preceded by:
Tom and Jerry in
Posse Cat**
(US 1954. d: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; p: Fred Quimby.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Apr 15th  
Nothing But the Night*          

(GB 1972)                                

The murders of several wealthy trustees are linked to the peril of a young girl on a Scottish island.
Uneven thriller melodrama with an interesting plot and cast, but also with over-the-top distractions and unpleasant interludes trying to point up the horror element.

Written by: Brian Hayles, from the novel by John Blackburn.
Producer: Anthony Nelson-Keys.
Director: Peter Sasdy.
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Diana Dors, Keith Barron, Georgia Brown, Gwyneth Strong, Fulton Mackay, Shelagh Fraser, Kathleen Byron, Michael Gambon, Duncan Lamont.
Photography: Kenneth Talbot.
Music: Malcolm Williamson.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Apr 13th  
Cinderella* (U)
Odeon Colchester                          

(US 2015)

Refreshingly traditional re-telling trying to relate the fairy tale from a more human perspective, although some of the elements still cloy in a script that if anything sticks too traditionally to the formula (with story book narration which feels hackneyed), and not quite as effective as entertainment as Branagh's adaptation of Thor, but still with some occasionally very moving moments, and performances as good as to be expected.

Written by: Chris Weitz, "based on Disney's Cinderella and Cendrillon by Charles Perrault".
Producers: Simon Kinberg, David Barron, Allison Shearmur.
Director: Kenneth Branagh.
Starring: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Stellan Skarsgaard, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, Nonso Anozie, Rob Brydon.
Photography: Harris Zamborloukos.
Music: Patrick Doyle.
Production Design: Dante Ferretti.

Preceded by:
Frozen Fever*
(US 2015. Walt Disney. 7m.; d: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee; voices of Kirsten Bell, Idina Menzel; m: Christophe Beck.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Apr 12th  
The Robe*   

(US 1953)                                          

A Roman officer is dispatched by Caligula to Jerusalem, but turns Christian after directly witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus.
The first Cinemascope film, a landmark event for the time but horribly dated as a piece of swords-and-sandals melodrama, which is nonetheless still impressive to look at.

Written by: Gina Kaus, Albert Mautz, Philip Dunne, from the novel by Lloyd C. Douglas.
Producer: Frank Ross.
Director: Henry Koster.
Starring: Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Jay Robinson, Michael Rennie, Dean Jagger, Torin Thatcher, Ernest Thesiger, Richard Boone, Dawn Addams.
Photography: Leon Shamroy.
Music: Alfred Newman.
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler, George W. Davis.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Apr 9th  
Four Sided Triangle*     

(GB 1953)
A scientist unlucky in love devises a machine that duplicates the girl who has married his best friend, but the copy makes the same love choices as the original.
Thrifty, often clunky early fantasy drama from the Hammer studio (straight out of the pages of a Fantastic Stories magazine), before they warmed up to bigger things in the 50s, but shows hints of their forceful style to come.

d: Terence Fisher
s: Stephen Murray, Barbara Payton, James Hayter, John Van Eyssen, Percy Marmont, Kynaston Reeves

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Apr 5th   
Selma** (12A)                        
(Electric Palace, Harwich)

(US 2014)

In 1965 Rev. Martin Luther King uses the volatile situation in Selma, Alabama to campaign for the free right for black Americans to vote.
Slightly one dimensional and slightly conventional biopic with a largely stereotypical view of the whites (including Lyndon Johnson) and a lack of definite focus - not even on King himself, which was perhaps why it didn't get the attention as a fine uplifting civil rights drama (in the tradition of Gandhi) that it deserved.

d: Ava Du Vernay
s: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson (as President Johnson), Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey, Dylan Baker, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Martin Sheen (uncredited)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mar 30th   
Sands of Iwo Jima***                   

(US 1949)

Marine recruits are drilled into the toughest theatre of World War II invading the Japanese-occupied Pacific islands.
A suitable 70th anniversary for the Battle of Iwo Jima (see also Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima), with this full-blooded WWII actioner making excellent use of powerful stock footage from the battles themselves, but with reasonable dramatic exposition (and occasional romanticism) in between. One of the best records on film of the sheer dourness of combat.

Written by: Harry Brown, James Edward Grant.
Producer: Edmund Grainger.
Director: Allan Dwan.
Starring: John Wayne, Forrest Tucker, John Agar, Adele Mara, Julie Bishop, Wally Cassell, James Brown, Richard Webb, Arthur Franz.
Photography: Reggie Lanning.
Music: Victor Young.