Thursday, April 27, 2017

Apr 26th
The Scarlet and the Black**

(US/Ita TVM 1983)                                  

In 1943 a senior Vatican priest helps fleeing prisoners of war to find refuge from the German occupation of Rome.
Gripping but rather basically filmed historical thriller with a strong cast, lacking a certain amount of historical depth, settling into a simple melodrama of good priests versus evil Nazis.

Written by: David Butler, from the book "The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican" by J.P. Gallagher.
Producer: Bill McCutchen.
Director: Jerry London.
Starring: Gregory Peck, Christopher Plummer, John Gielgud (as Pope Pius XII), Raf Vallone, Kenneth Colley, Walter Gotell, T.P. McKenna (as Himmler), John Terry, Barbara Bouchet, Julian Holloway.
Photography: Giuseppe Rotunno.
Music: Ennio Morricone.

Preceded by:
Tom and Jerry in
The Missing Mouse**
(US 1951. 6m.; Jerry is mistaken for a deadly explosive white mouse.; w,d: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; p: Fred Quimby.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Apr 25th   
Collateral Beauty* (12A)            
(Odeon Colchester)                                  

(US 2016)                              

An advertising executive cuts himself off emotionally from friends and writes letters of grief to Love, Time and Death  - who then meet him in human form.
Initially intriguing but ultimately over-ambitious piece of whimsy with no real central focus (its main star only partly appears and is crowded out by his equally famous co-stars), which gets mawkish after the first hour, and the twists in the tale are easily identifiable.

Written by: Allan Loeb.
Producers: Bard Docros, Michael Sugar, Allan Loeb, Anthony Bregman, Kevin Frakes.
Director: David Frankel.
Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Naomie Harris, Michael Pena, Jacob Latimore.
Photography: Maryse Alberti.
Music: Theodore Shapiro.

COLLATERAL BEAUTY. The premiere at Leicester Square on December 15th 2016 - the same day as the general release of Rogue One . As a result, in spite of its stars, it became another victim of collateral box office.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Apr 22nd
The Bells of St. Mary's**

(US 1945)                        

Singing priest Father O'Malley takes a new post at a struggling convent school and comes into friendly conflict with the beautiful but secretly unwell Mother Superior.
All very watered down and pleasantly sentimental series of vignettes with occasional songs, which goes on for a while but never drags, even if most of the potential drama soon disappears into a feelgood family film, with the stars able to carry it off successfully.

Written by: Dudley Nichols.
Producer/Director: Leo McCarey.
Starring: Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, Henry Travers, William Gargan, Ruth Donnelly, Joan Carroll, Martha Sleeper, Una O'Connor.
Photography: George Barnes.
Music: Robert Emmett Dolan.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Apr 19th  
Mary of Scotland**      

(US 1936)                            

Mary Stuart returns from France to resume her reign despite opposition from the clan leaders and her own cousin Elizabeth I.
Hollywoodized history imbued also with Ford's own Celtic bravado - not his most ideal of material, nor some of its stars', but all give it plenty of gusto.

Written by: Dudley Nichols, from the play by Maxwell Anderson.
Producer: Pandro S. Berman.
Director: John Ford.
Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge (as Elizabeth), Douglas Walton, John Carradine, Alan Mowbray, Ian Keith, Donald Crisp.
Photography: Joseph H. August.
Music: Nathaniel Shillkret.
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase, Carroll Clark.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Apr 18th    
Shock Waves*         

(US 1976)                            

Stranded survivors at sea are menaced and murdered on a remote island by zombified German death squad soldiers.
Another variation on Ten Little Indians, cheap and nasty but quite effective within its means.

Written by: Ken Wiederhorn, John Kent Harrison.
Producer/Photography: Reuben Trane.
Director: Ken Wiederhorn.
Starring: Brooke Adams, John Carradine, Peter Cushing, Luke Halpin, Don Stout.
Music: Richard Einhorn.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Apr 10th   
Their Finest* (12A)          
(Cineworld Braintree)                                  

(GB 2016)

In 1940 a spirited artist's wife who writes newspaper strips is recruited to co-write a propaganda drama that will encourage American participation.
Parochial but pleasant wartime romantic drama, not quite going all the way with its romantic and dramatic developments, and also lacking some of the focus and economy of the semi-documentary films themselves that the story is semi-based on. What is left are some typically good frustratingly brief cameos from good actors, and a general level of technical competence.

Written by: Gaby Chiappe, from the novel "Their Finest Hour and a Half" by Lissa Evans.
Producers: Elizabeth Karlse, Amanda Posey, Stephen Woolley.
Director: Lone Scherfig.
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Richard E. Grant, Henry Goodman, Jeremy Irons, Helen McCrory, Rachael Stirling, Jake Lacy.
Photography: Sebastian Blenkov.
Music: Rachel Portman.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Apr 4th   
Kong: Skull Island* (12A)                    
(Odeon Colchester)          

(US/Australia 2017)

Scientists persuade the US Army towards the end of the Vietnam War (for some reason) to visit a secret island full of monsters.
Kong himself only appears for a few welcome moments, in some at times revolting action scenes and a barrel-load of American war and monster movie cliches, with the film makers delighting in their dream combination of Jurassic Park and Apocalypse Now. Fine in concept, but what it sadly lacks is a decent story to hold it all together, with no discernible point beyond vague pretensions to Man versus Beast.

d: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
s: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell (who also modeled for Kong together with Terry Notary)

Time to return to the stuff that childhood nightmares are made of.

100 Favourite Films: King Kong