Thursday, October 08, 2015

Oct 7th       
Yield to the Night**   

(GB 1956)

A woman murders her dead lover's ex-girlfriend, and spends a sleepless few weeks in prison after being sentenced to the death penalty.
Vividly depicted within the claustrophobia of the prison walls, although with a slight lack of chemistry between the romantic leads and some archaic music and dialogue, this notable drama of the time, a plea for the abolition of the death penalty (based in part on Ruth Ellis) still makes for arresting entertainment and showcased its sexy star with an excellent dramatic vehicle.

Written by: John Cresswell, Joan Henry, from her novel.
Producer: Kenneth Harper.
Director: J. Lee Thompson.
Starring: Diana Dors, Yvonne Mitchell, Michael Craig, Marie Ney, Athene Seyler, Geoffrey Keen, Dandy Nichols, Liam Redmond, Harry Locke, Michael Ripper.
Photography: Gilbert Taylor.
Music: Ray Martin.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sep 28th  
Elephant Walk*   

(US 1953)
A girl marries a tea plantation owner but is overwhelmed by the influence of his dead father who built the estate, directly over the path to the river where the elephants roam.
Luscious colonial melodrama, a sort of Rebecca set overseas with stampeding elephants instead of a burning Manderlay climax, and one dimensional characters given grand settings and attractive costumes.

Written by: John Lee Mahin, from the novel by Robert Standish.
Producer: Irving Asher.
Director: William Dieterle.
Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Finch, Dana Andrews, Abraham Sofaer, Abner Biberman.
Photography: Loyal Griggs.
Music: Franz Waxman.
Art Direction: Hal Pereira, Joseph MacMillan Johnson.
Costume: Edith Head.

+ Elizabeth Taylor replaced Vivien Leigh, who fell ill during filming but is still visible in some long shots

Preceded by:
Pathe News (1953)
(Nuremberg Bomb Scare -- Margate: Socialists Confer -- Atlantic Rescue -- Silverstone: "Hutchinson Hundred" -- Loco-Spotters' "Special" -- Lithgow's Air Record.)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sep 16th  
The Clairvoyant**  

(GB 1934)

A mind reading act meets a woman who enables him to foresee disasters.
Effective and quite well shot British supernatural thriller, with slightly melodramatic acting but with lots of enjoyable moments.

Written by: Charles Bennett, Bryan Edgar Wallace, Robert Edmunds, from the novel by Ernst Lothar.
Producer: Michael Balcon.
Director: Maurice Elvey.
Starring: Claude Rains, Fay Wray, Jane Baxter, Mary Clare, Athole Stewart, Felix Aylmer, Donald Calthrop, Graham Moffatt.
Photography: Glen MacWilliams.
Musical Direction: Louis Levy.

Preceded by:
The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film*
(GB; Surreal Goonish take on Un Chien Andalou which only occasionally justifies its reputation as a classic comedy short. It impressed the Beatles enough to hire the director for A Hard Day's Night. d: Richard Lester; s: Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Graham Stark, Leo McKern, Richard Lester.)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sep 11th  
Everest* (12A)
(Showcase De Lux, Derby)

(GB/US/Iceland/Ita 2015) 3-D X-Plus

Mountain climbers on a corporate expedition to Everest stay too long on the famous mountain and some get caught in one of its worst storms.
Another film about the perils of mountain climbing seems routine (after the likes of K2, Touching the Void, 127 HoursNorth Face, and others), even when based on true events. The mixture of star names and unknown faces make for variable semi-documentary entertainment, of emotional power, although the earlier build-up scenes are actually more interesting, when the later scenes of hardship have confused identities and no definite idea of which main character to follow.

w: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy, based on the book:
d: Balthasar Kormakur
s: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright, Keira Knightley
ph: Savlatore Totino
m: Dario Marianelli

+ see also The Epic of Everest (qv)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sep 9th   

(GB 1965)                                

A young explorer is lured towards a lost city in the Valley of the Kings by a mysterious immortal queen who believes he is the reincarnation of her lost love.
One of Hammer's biggest productions but sadly not one of its best: its star lacks the ability to carry a film of this nature, and the style seems rather distant from Rider Haggard, more a mixture of Sixties extravagance and flimsy romance (and some Lawrence of Arabia pastiche). The Hammer regulars do their best but remain in the margins.

Written by: David T. Chantler, based on the novel by H. Rider Haggard.
Producer: Michael Carreras.
Director: Robert Day.
Starring: Ursula Andress, Peter Cushing, John Richardson, Bernard Cribbins, Christopher Lee, Rosenda Monteros, Andre Morell.
Photography: Harry Waxman.
Music: James Bernard.

Hammer employed the services of the two sexiest stars of the time - for that one purpose only

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Sep 4th       
633 Squadron*   

(GB 1963)

An RAF Mosquito squadron executes a daring raid to attack a deadly German enclave for rocket fuel in Norway.
Nearly every British war film cliche is used in airborne WWII thriller, taking a good deal of its cue (but less of its wit and intelligence) from The Dam Busters, complete with equally catchy theme tune, and some accomplished aerial photography and model work at the climax.

Written by:  James Clavell, Howard Koch, from the novel by Frederick E. Smith.
Producer: Cecil F. Ford.
Director: Walter Grauman.
Starring: Cliff Robertson, George Chakiris, Harry Andrews, Donald Houston, Michael Goodliffe, Maria Perschy, John Meillon, Angus Lennie, Drewe Henley, Suzan Farmer, Johnny Briggs.
Photography: Ted Scaife, John Wilcox.
Music: Ron Goodwin.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Aug 28th    
The Sound of Fury*
(Regent Street Cinema, London)    

(GB TVM 2015)

Documentary celebration of the life of British singer/songwriter Ronnie Wycherley, aka. Billy Fury, from humdrum beginnings in Liverpool to teenage idol, then subsequent tragic illness.
The incident rivalry of The Beatles and Cliff Richard is only fleetingly covered in what is otherwise a very well contextualised history of British rock 'n' roll in the 60s, and a timely reminder of Fury's slightly forgotten influence on that music era, whilst also offering a touching portrait of the shy, self-effacing man behind the music.

Directed by: Alan Bryan, Mark Sloper.
With Contributions by: Vince Eager, Jean Wycherley, Alvin Stardust, Amanda Barrie, John Leyton, David Puttnam, Ray Connolly, and others.

+ screened as an exlusive preview to its DVD release at the wonderful Regent Street Cinema