Email me (David Moore) . . . . . DINOSAUR FILMS - The Page that Reviews Old British B Films
Manchester Bushey Nettlefold Walton Shepperton Highbury Marylebone Southall Beaconsfield Welwyn
Riverside Brighton Islington Carlton Hill St John's Wood Gate Viking Twickenham Merton Park New Elstree

My Star * Rating is based on my own taste: 10 is brilliant, 4 is average, 0 is truly dreadful.

SONG OF THE ROAD (1937, directed by John Baxter, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Made redundant, London cart driver Bill (Bransby Williams) buys his old horse Polly and tries to make a new life out of town. Two episodes follow, the first in Sussex where he works for Dr Dando who flogs liver pills at country fairs. The sentimental nostalgia gradually disappears as Bill helps Mrs Dando overcome the unwelcome attentions of Dan (Tod Slaughter). A second vignette at Hall farm sees Bill sort out unrequited love. Surprisingly Bill sticks up for farm progress, which perhaps explains why Polly fades from the story until the last scene. Before then veteran Ernest Butcher sings his classic Turmut Hoeing

LASSIE FROM LANCASHIRE (1938, directed by John Paddy Carstairs, Welwyn, 5*)- "You wait till I'm a star," the familiar story of film musicals with appealing Marjorie Browne playing Jenny, t' star from oop North. Despite her old cat Aunt Hetty, Jenny succeeds in sneaking off to a talent contest and with her pal Tom wows them with Tom's First Time In Life I'm In Love. Lots of other pleasant songs like A Rainy Day, Algebra, Between You and Me and The Gatepost are intertwined with the old song of the film's title and a tribute to Vesta Tilley. A very corny storyline manages to hold you, and the songs are certainly better than many a British musical

SPARE A COPPER (1940, ditected by John Paddy Carstairs, Ealing, 3*)- A story of shipyard sabotage only gets going when our War Reserve Policeman George Formby ("not such a fool as he looks") breaks into The Ukulele Man. The trouble is the plot starts bittily, offering little more than a series of sketches for George. But enjoyable are the songs, specially On The Beat. He is a suspected saboteur (surely not!) until of course he proves the doubters wrong by rounding up the gang, "perhaps he's not the fool we took him for"

VIOLENT PLAYGROUND (1958, directed by Basil Deardon, Pinewood, 6*)- "maybe I'm getting old," admits Jack a Liverpool police detective. An ideal role for Stanley Baker, who to broaden his experience, is seconded to juvenile liaison, "not my line at all." He becomes involved with 7 year old twins, caught stealing, and their older sister who cares for them, and her no-good brother Johnny (David McCallum), "you bluebottles make my flesh creep." Jack stops "feeling like a detective," as he vainly tries to sort the family out. In the Pat O'Brien role is Peter Cushing as the priest, can he get Johnny back from the brink? The showdown is in the local primary school, Johnny holding a class hostage, a little too melodramatically






Manchester Film Studios
Dickenson Road, Rusholme, owned by John E Blakeley. Phone RUSholme 4025.
2 sound stages. In use from 1947 then taken over by BBC North in 1954.

HOLIDAYS WITH PAY (1948, directed by John E Blakeley, Film Studios Manchester, 5*)- Married bliss for Jack, alias Frank Randle, with Two Ton Tessie O'Shea. He's not got to go to work either, in a happy picture of post war Northern holidaymaking. After chaos with the packing, the family are off to Blackpool- where else? Location frolics in the pool, on the beach etc. The plot then focuses on daughter's romance with rich "too good looking" Michael whose wicked cousin is after Michael's fortune. In his haunted mansion, at dead of night, there are the customary creaking noises, wailings, all good fun, if unrelated to the holiday theme. There are a few unrelated sketches- I liked the daft talking through the nose scene Frank and then Dan Young perform with a neighbour in pigtails. There's also a short Cheating at Cards scene. On location with a cast of seeming thousands on the Blackpool front, there's the hit dance the Hokey Cokey, whilst on stage at the Pier Pavilion, the family provide entertainment including a nice song and acrobatic dance "It's the Natural Thing to Do." There's a western sketch with Josef Locke trying to sing in intervals between the clowning. Frank sums it all up in a classic one-liner: "Next time I come on me 'olidays, I stay at 'ome!"

SCHOOL FOR RANDLE (1949, directed by John E Blakeley, Manchester Studios,2*)- Flatfoot Randle is caretaker at a school for pupils of indeterminate age. Betty Andrews has a crush on Ted, but even more on the stage, and she runs away. Frank finds her and persuades her to return to her parents. A sentimental ending completes a disappointing story. However the compensations are numerous sketches. Frank lectures the girls on how to Milk a Cow, messes around with Dan Young at lunch, and in stoking the boiler. Dan Young prepares rabbit pie and soup, a completely insane sketch, whilst Frank plays Hamlet ("Laurence Olivier had nowt on me") ending with Frank being shovelled with coal. Dressed as Chinese, there's the Three Illusionists act, as well as a sequence in the swimming pool, with the stars inevitably getting pushed in. Jimmy Clitheroe also gets in the way. Best line- A lady making advances to Randle: "You wouldn't be bad looking, if you had another face"

LOVE'S A LUXURY (1952, directed by Francis Searle, Manchester Film Studios, 7*)- Charles' wife Margaret has left him, and this impresario has taken an isolated cottage to forget, with comedian Bobby Bentley. Molly does for them. The cause of all Charles' woes, Fritzy (Zena Marshall) comes by and soon Dick (Michael Medwin), Charles' son is smitten by her. Complications start when Margaret turns up and various false names are handed out. "Why are you supposed to be...?" There's Derek Bond as Bobby in drag, hiding in the coalhouse, and in a less convincing subplot, Charles posing as a Scotland Yard detective. "It's all so complicated." At the heart of the confusion is entirely innocent scoutmaster Mr Mole (Bill Shine). This is a straightforward stage adaptation, a good example of farce, which the competent star Hugh Wakefield co-wrote

IT'S A GRAND LIFE (1953 Manchester Studios, dir John E Blakeney)- Diana Dors is the young damsel amazingly paired with ageing Frank Randle in his last film of army life. There's little of the gawky continuity and poor acting of Randle's earlier films, but enough nonsequiters and daft sketchlets to keep us happy. Among them are: The New Recruit ("there's one born every minute"), On Parade ("politeness for a start"), Colonel Randle's Lecture ("what a shower!"), the good old slapstick Tea Trolley, The Car Mechanic ("it's a bit loose I think"), The Wrestler - grotesque!, and the dramatic Rescuing the Damsel in Distress. After a long finale with the unnecessary Winifred Atwell, a kilted Frank finally bows out: "there's a hell of a draught!"

THOSE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR (1953 directed by John Harlow, Manchester Studios, 3*)- Working class values in the shape of the Twigs (Jack Warner and Marjorie Rhodes) versus the titled Stevens family (Garry Marsh and Grace Arnold): "it's enough to make a parson swear." Though this is a study of the working class in the war, it's also about the wartime spirit as social distinctions are forgotten, culminating in the nervous meeting of the two families, united by their offspring's desire to marry. However the film never quite succeeds on any front, and keeps missing opportunities both for drama and comedy

start of page






Twickenham Studios
The Barons, St Margaret's, Middlesex. Telephone POPesgrove 9063, later 4477.
2 sound stages in the 1960s: 115x62ft and 95x60ft. First operational in 1913.

IN A MONASTERY GARDEN (1932, directed by Maurice Elvey, Twickenham Studios, 2*) - Two musical brothers (Hugh Williams and John Stuart) in an eternal triangle with a desirable Italian (Gina Malo). Michael is the more successful composer, but it's Paul she falls for. The script is plodding, typical of the era, but some compensation is Albert Ketelebey's music. Michael is falsely accused of murder and ends up studying for monastic orders. Paul gets the girl and nicks his brother's compositions. Result: a noble finish as Michael, straight from the top ten corny punchlines, tells Paul: "all I want is Our Happiness." Even if it's based on falsehood apparently

I LIVED WITH YOU (1933, directed by Maurice Elvey, Twickenham 4*)- Felix (Ivor Novello), a poor lonely Russian prince, is befriended by Gladys and taken to live in her suburban home, "this will never crumble." A study in culture clash, but everything alters when he sells his one possession, a diamond. Money does not win happiness. "You're wicked," sister Ada tells Felix, perhaps she should have added 'and over the top.' "You're like an empty vase with no flowers in it," declares Gladys. The theme outstays its welcome, but offers plenty of charm and well observed social climbers, mostly hysterical women. "You can't put an eagle in with a lot of sparrows!"

LAZYBONES (1934, directed by Michael Powell, Twickenham Studios, 3*)- a splendid country house set can't make up for the weak script. Like this film, the Hon Reggie (Ian Hunter) has "no go" and is pushed into marriage for money with Kitty, though she is actually also pennilless, relatively speaking at least. When Kitty's cousin steals Reggie's father's Foreign Office papers, you might say this proves Reggie's making. OK, "you can't make a historic old house pay," but he tries, converting it to a Work Centre for the Wealthy Weary. Some of his clients "haven't got it there" as the film momentarily moves on to a higher plane, specially pleasing was the small role of trainee butler Lord Brockley (Fewgass Llewellyn). A good scenario could have been built around this, instead we revert to the tale of the stolen papers

THE BLACK ABBOT - (1934, directed by George A Cooper, Twickenham Studios, 3*), Frank (John Stuart) has just got engaged to Sylvia. He's architect on renovations in The Old Monk's Hall, "you don't think the ghost will object?" Certainly the gardener Alf and maid Jane are afraid of the "'orrible thing," and after the usual screams, a night of ghost hunting armed with gun and poker ends with Sylvia's dad being kidnapped. It's mostly played for fun, Cyril Smith as Alf with his mispronounciations, the incomparable Davina Craig as Jane with her permanent cold and Richard Cooper as the ultimate in upper crust nobs. An American dick is called in to catch the kidnappers as the film loses its ghostly theme under too much dialogue. Frank falls under suspicion until the real crook is caught red handed in his disguise as The Black Abbot

SAY IT WITH FLOWERS (1934, directed by John Baxter, Twickenham Studios,3*)- The opening ten minutes depict a flower farm (would have been magnificent in colour) and then the many varied characters at a street market, a plotless montage. We focus on Kate (Mary Clare), market matriarch, whose illness forces her hubby Joe (Ben Field) to sell his beloved moke. However a benefit concert for Kate solves all their worries, and this is the attraction of this film, and its excuse. A song from Charles Coborn, aged over 80, his immortal Man Who Broke the Bank, then the lesser known Marie Kendall who is superb, then Florrie Forde with a medley of her hits. The sentimentality is renewed as we fade out to Just Like The Ivy

SQUIBS (1935, directed by Henry Edwards, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- the broad sweep of the opening song One Way Street promises more than the film delivers.A bevy of comic talent includes Stanley Holloway and Gordon Harker, with support from Ronald Shiner, Michael Shepley etc. In the title role as a flower seller is Betty Balfour who is at once appealing, but a mass of contradictory accents. Her good for nothing dad is too heavily devious, clashing impossibly with the law in the shape of Holloway who sings a policeman song, before giving us one of his set pieces, The Beefeater. Yet, Have You Ever Had The Feeling You're Flying, sung by Balfour, lets you forgive nearly all these blemishes- even if it looks amateurish by Hollywood standards, it bears an inventive charm that utterly wins you over. One other large scale number, The Londonola, is less heartwarming, but enjoyable. Such plot there be is about Squibs' romantic on-off affair with said policeman, "stuck up snobs" these northerners, as the plot jumps jarringly from various set piece ideas, from Eliza Dolittle-type improvement to threats of imprisonment. Somehow I find it all worth sitting through, and through again

STREET SONG (1935, directed by Bernard Vorhaus, Twickenham Studios, 3*)- John Garrick is Tom Tucker, a street singer down on his luck, but is Bob the performing dog the real star? Befriended by Lucy (Rene Ray), also broke, Tom persuades his crooked associate Wally (Wally Patch) to reverse the fortunes of her pet shop. The best song In Our Little Noah's Ark accompanies the refurbishment, but when Lucy learns her project is built on tainted money she gets Tom to return the cash. Surely he'll get his reward now from dance band leader 'Roy Hall' (!). But Lucy's young brother Billy, who idolises Wally is run over to bring pathos into the story, causing Wally to turn again to crime. Tom is unjustly arrested, the very stuff of melodrama, the characters' motivation not always easy to fathom out, playing seconf fiddle to the plot. Out of the mouths etc, the ailing Billy gets Wally to exonerate Tom so they all lived...

THE LAST JOURNEY (1936, directed by Bernard Vorhaus, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Bob (Julien Mitchell) doesn't want to retire from his Great Weatern Railway footplate, he lives every boy's dream, why even his home overlooks the engine shed! Castle engine 5004 (but also 5012 and 5023!) is the loco he's driving on his last journey before compulsory retirement, the 3.7pm Paddington to Mulchester arr 5.7, and it's going to be "a record run." Too many passengers are also squeezed into the film making for an unsatisfying mix of drama and comedy snippets. Thinking his fireman is having an affair with his wife, Bob turns it into melodrama, racing through Filby without stopping, faster, faster, looking the panto demon. "Keep her going- shovel!" Non stop past Holmchurch too, panic on board, slow goods ahead. A good doctor (Godfrey Tearle) to the rescue with his hypnotism and we just screech to a halt at the temrinus. Fifteen minutes early. A little less portmanteau and this film would have better kept up its puff

THE EMBEZZLER (1954, directed by John Gilling, Alliance Studios Twickenham, 4*)- Henpecked Henry (Charles Victor), cashier at the Western Bank, is given only two years to live. He "gets out of the rut," by helping hismelf from the safe and heading abroad. Alas! Police are watching The Golden Arrow, so he switches to the Eastbourne train, ending up at the Eastcote Hotel, where the residents are "half dead." It's not the place of his dreams but he mellows, helping a doctor's wife who is being blackmailed by the evil Alec, and a gullible widow being swindled by this same villain. He tries to poison Alec, quite unsuccessfully, but he needn't have bothered, since Alec is arrested for passing Henry's stolen banknotes. The film changes character, never quite succeeding as thriller, nor pulling at the heart strings, but it has its moments

BREAKAWAY (1955, directed by Henry Cass, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Johnny is entrusted with Prof Dohlman's formula, but is attacked and his girl Diane kidnapped. Lucky for her, The Duke (Tom Conway), "drawn to damsels in distress," is first on the scene, "this is really interesting." At The Crystal Jug Club, he meets Diane's sister Paula (Honor Blackman), and together they track Diane down. By some "extravagant" bluffing, he flushes out the whereabouts of the hidden formula. As Johnny confesses in an understatement, "I realise I've caused you a lot of trouble." There is one great fight sequence in an underground car park, with Barney, Duke's sidekick, fighting in his pyjamas

NOT SO DUSTY (1955, directed by MacLean Rogers, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- "Laughter, tears and romance in every dustbin," and this film provides fast paced fun as two dustmen Nobby (Leslie Dwyer) and Dusty (Bill Owen) rescue a diamond from the bin and return it to owner Miss Duncan of Flat 5. As a reward she gives them an old book The Philosophy of Diogenes, but it's worth a lot of money they discover, as Miss Duncan's grasping relatives Alistair and Agatha are out to get it at almost any price. The film is the chase after this book, involving old favourite set pieces like burglary- on the incompetent level- and dodging bailiffs with flour. Perhaps the scene at the Dustman's Annual Ball is too protracted, but there are topical references to Bannister, Chataway and What's My Line. Bill Owen even sings, and Joy Nichols gives us Telling me What To Do

THE HORNET'S NEST (1955, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Two old dears witness the "moronic" Posh hiding the proceeds of a jewel robbery. The place is a rickety Chelsea houseboat, rented out by Bob to two young girls, Terry and Pat. At dead of night, the gang return for their loot, but with typical incompetence only succeed in frightening the girls. Here's a gentle comedy with lovable rogues and endearing characters, if it raises few laughs, at least it tries to please. A sample joke: Terry- "I fell in love with a sea scout." Bob- "Well, don't let him tie you up in knots"

UNDERCOVER GIRL (3*) - A 1957 Twickenham Studios drama. Johnny (Paul Carpenter) investigates his brother-in-law's death. He uncovers a racket where perpetrators of car accidents are blackmailed by an evil gang whose boss is played by Bruce Seton

STRANGERS' MEETING (1957, directed by Robert Day, Twickenham Studios, 1*)- Harry (Peter Arne) fights with fellow trapeze artist Johnny, but though it's Rosie who kills him, it's Harry who is sent to Dartmoor. To find her, he breaks out of prison, is shot in the leg, and has to be treated by Dr David Sanders (Conrad Phillips). "Feels fine, doc," Harry's payment consists in doping him. Here's one of those frustrating storylines in which Harry searches for Rosie, the doctor's distrustful wife (Delphi Lawrence) tries to locate her husband, while he chases after her, the story going round in circles, headless chickens is the phrase, until there is Rosie, no great actress, in a final dubious showdown of cliches. The implausible story is summed up in the question, "why didn't you tell them at the trial?"

DUBLIN NIGHTMARE (1958, directed by John Pomeroy, Twickenham Studios, 2*)- A creaky actress and intrusive music (unusually from Edwin Asdtley) get the story off on the wrong foot, though I liked the early morning shots of the deserted Dublin streets. We see members of 'The Movement' set off on their robbery of a security van. Stephen never comes back, nor does the cash. In the city for a reunion with Stephen is his old buddy John Kevin (William Sylvester) who identifies a body killed in a car crash as that of his friend. With Stephen's girl Anna, he sets out to discover what happened. In an Irish pub, he finds his old pal for a complicated explanation and a showdown, "you must be mad"

WOMANEATER (1958, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham Studios, 3*) - The opening line: "it's a lot of nonsense" is the most believable line in a plot about a doctor (George Coulouris) who sacrifices women to a fearsome plant which then provides him, he hopes, with a serum to bring the dead back to life. Coulouris, with his quiet dignity, tries hard to make it all seem credible, as killing leads to more killing. Sally (Vera Day) is permitted to witness the triumph of his late housewife being returned to the living. In the best tradition, of course she's now only half-human and wreaks her revenge...

THE HEART WITHIN (1958, directed by David Eady, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- Joe, a crooked immigrant in London, is shot after a row over Violet with honest but poor Victor (Earl Cameron). The premise of the film is Victor's belief that "a coloured man is guilty until he's proved innocent," though young Danny (David Hemmings) and his grandfather (James Hayter) show enough faith in him to give him shelter and prove his innocence by exposing the narcotics racket behind the killing. Danny winds up in the clutches of the killer as the film discards its racial overtones in favour of a more conventional crime thriller, and though the Caribbean music is certainly different, I found it wearing. In a novel conclusion, Victor rescues Danny

THE MAN WHO LIKE FUNERALS (1959, directed by David Eady, Twickenham Studios, 5*) - a gentle charm exudes from this unassuming film about the well meaning Simon Hurd (Leslie Phillips), who hits on a novel idea for raising the 4,000 needed to save a Boys' Cub. He attends the funerals of successful people. Firstly General Hunter, then informs his relatives that the general wrote a book on ballet dancing. For a consideration, Simon agrees not to publish. Next a late bishop who wrote intimate love poems, a Commie who had written a capitalist romance, and the headmistress of 'Rowdean' whose book is Sex And How To Get It. Simon comes unstuck with gangster Nick's Fairy Tales, "what would you like to die of?" He spends the rest of the film eluding his own funeral, and there are some pleasing lines on the way

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR WIFE (1959, directed by Anthony Simmons, Twickenham Studios, 2*)- A muddled comedy that at least finishes fairly well, about Gay (Peggy Cummins) who, though she has inherited a small fortune, has to take in paying guests with her husband Pelham (Donald Sinden). There's a dancing mistress (Georgina Cookson) and a lunatic foreigner (overplayed by Peter Reynolds), the former is just plain dull while the latter is merely irritating. What passes for more fun is model Juliet, to whom Pel is more than a little attracted. Now a divorce would enable Gay to get hold of more of her inheritance, so this is the theme of the second part of the film, which has the best moment when the reluctant Pel tries his false seduction of the dancing teacher, "you dear good man," as she starts to seduce him. No, he really can't go through with this, but Juliet makes a much more appealing subject, and look, he's "kissing her like a wild beast"

THE CHALLENGE (1959 directed by John Gilling, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- The opening music with its semi nudity puts this into the 1960s (it was released in 1961), another giveaway being that 'The Boss' (Jayne Mansfield) is a dame planning and getting away with many daring robberies. It's all been done before but the night photography, and the little touches like the cat are well done, as well as the car chase and crash, burying the loot. The fall guy is Jim (Anthony Quayle), but only he knows where the 50,000 is and he is shopped, presumably so the evil Kristy can make off with the Boss. But when Jim comes out, the gang want the cash, so do the police, "they'll break you," simple method kidnap Jim's boy Joey. To repeat, it's all been done before, Jim almost irrationally refusing to give up his money, and he slowly disintegrates, as do the crooks. Several good twists later, and I might include here JM miming the title song, it ends in another chase, "I said I'd come for you." It's a pity the main characters are not more convincing and the ending is very contrived, but I enjoyed it

STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL (1959, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham Studios, 3*)- Two of the idle rich (William Kendall and Richard Murdoch), expert con artists both, are appointed to the board of a successful company by rich widow Maxine. Their brief is to modernise her firm, but in fact it is a case of the biter bit, for she is using their incompetence to undermine her business. The plot meanders along, with William Hartnell providing the spearhead opposition to the "prize buffoons," before they come clean. The script loses its way never exploiting the situation properly, and despite three fine comedy actors, it misses the mark all along the line

WITNESS IN THE DARK (1959, directed by Wolf Rilla, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- Young Don (Richard O'Sullivan) is being helped to learn to read Braille by kind Miss Jane Pringle (Patricia Dainton), who is helping him adjust to his despairing blindness. She's a kindly soul who helps everyone, but she is blind too. One of her friends is old Mrs Temple, whose one treasure is a 2,000 Indian brooch, which an unpleasant thief has set his eyes upon. He fails to discover its hiding place, but kills the old lady. The one witness is bound to be Jane, the classic story of the blind witness to a crime. It's frustrating for the police inspector (Conrad Phillips) who nevertheless persists in painstakingly reenacting the crime in a bid to turn up with a clue- or is he secretly attracted to her? This film also provides sharp observation of human ghoulishness in the slightly macabre. The climax is inevitably the return of the killer to steal the brooch that Jane has now inherited

OPERATION CUPID (1959, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham 4*)- a mild comedy about three punters, led by Charles Farrell in a Ronald Shiner role, aided by Wallas Eaton and Harold Goodwin. Having been swindled into owning a marriage bureau, they attempt to marry off Charles with a rich millionaire (Avice Landone), who is on the fiddle just like them. A wild scene dancing to Take Your Time is a curiosity

DOUBLE BUNK (1960, directed by C Pennington-Richards, Twickenham Studios, 3*)- Sid James and Liz Fraser singing the title song set the mood for this nautical jaunt! On Christmas Island, Jack (Ian Carmichael) and his fiancee Peggy buy an old houseboat, which proves to be dreadfully leaky, like the script, when they begin their honeymoon. Another "catastophe" is Sid who persuades Jack to take his wife on a honeymoon cruise. This is a mildly amusing plot, pleasant, not uproariously funny, but then Jack would have needed an actress wife more suited to comedy, such as Liz Fraser who almost livens up the second half of the film when she accompanies Sid on the cruise. In the fog they end up in France, and some rather forced arguments and misadventures flounder the film, even Liz's stripstease not reviving it. The boat returns to England in a race with rival captain Dennis Price (sadly wasted), with Noel Purcell providing the best humour as a drunken sailor

SHE KNOWS Y'KNOW (1961, directed by Montgomery Tully, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Cyril Smith plays his traditional henpecked husband, a good foil for the great Hylda Baker. The northern setting and storyline seem pure 1950s, though the music like the chacha is more withit. For a while the comedy is drowned by the pop singer made good motif, as Terry is offered his big chance in London- indeed he has talent and does well, though in real life this singer (Tim Connor) didn't make it to the top. Also 1960s is the teenage pregnancy, the best part the sparring between rival grandmothers, Hylda v Joan Sanderson. A victim has to be found to admit paternity, but you feel Hylda isn't quite at home without a live audience, and the fun never finds its potential, though it's pleasing enough

PIT OF DARKNESS (1961, directed by Lance Comfort, Twickenham Studios, 7*)- why is Logan (William Franklyn) lying unconscious on a Wapping bomb site? His wife Julie tells him he has been missing for three weeks. He can't remember anything. He is phoned by Mavis, but who is she? It seems she lives at Nightingale Cottage, so he goes there, and is nearly killed by a bomb. Minor flashes of memory take him to the Blue Baboon Club and a dance with the elusive Mavis. She is soon dead. His business manufactures safes and the mystery clears when he is required to open another safe in this excellent thriller. Footnote: a young Dave Clark can be seen on drums in the nightclub sequence

JUNGLE STREET (1961, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- At the Adam and Eve Club, I'm Only a Girl is the lively song that starts off this film, echoes of MM. "The lovely Sue" (Jill Ireland) has many admirers, including Terry (David McCallum) a yob who attacks a 65 year old man for a few quid. "This is a hanging case." Johnnie (Kenneth Cope) had been his partner in crime until the latter got caught. Now he's out of the Scrubbs and they plan to rob the club, "a pushover." But it's not, since Terry doublecrosses his pal, all on account of Sue. The alarm goes off. It's an exciting showdown- "he's got a gun!"

WHAT A CARVE UP! (1961, directed by Pat Jackson, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- To Blackshaw Towers, remote on the moors, goes Ernie (Kenneth Connor), accompanied by his mate Honest Sid (Sid James) at the behest of late Uncle Gabriel. "There's something creepy about this place," as other relatives are bumped off, in the traditional mix of secret passages, screams and creaking doors. There are even baying hounds a la Baskerville. Yet it's all performed with zest by the principals, ably assisted by the deadpan Dennis Price and the "zombie" Donald Pleasence. All overacting, "nutty as a fruitcake," especially the understated mad butler (Michael Gough) and dear Aunt Emily (Esma Cannon)

STRONGROOM (1961, directed by Vernon Sewell, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Easter Saturday, three crooks wait for the bank to close for the holiday at lunchtime. Mr Spencer the prim manager (Colin Gordon) and his secretary (Miss Taylor) are last to go, and they don't for in walks a postman and the keys are sntached to open the vault. Tensely told, all goes really well until the arrival of two cleaners, the thieves leave their two prisoners locked in the strongroom and escape. They develop a conscience of sorts and their leader Griff (Derren Nesbitt) orders his mate to tip off the police. But he is accidentally killed as the film loses some momentum, and as Griff and Len decide to break back into the bank to rescue their hostages. Good character studies, but a very frustrating storyline

OUT OF THE FOG (1962, directed by Montgomery Tully, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- George Mallon is a "prison regular," kindly Tom Daniels (James Hayter) offers him a room in his hostel for ex-cons. However, this doesn't develop on predictable lines, offering a sad picture of his rejection by a girlfriend when she learns of his past, and even sadder, his own mother spurning him. Though he seems on the path of reform, when a blonde is murdered, he is the top suspect. John Arnatt as Supt Chadwick investigates with his usual dry humour and gets a blonde policewoman to go undercover and befriend George. She ends up alone with him in a foggy isolated place...

THE MAN WHO FINALLY DIED (1962, directed by Quentin Lawrence, Twickensham, 4*)- Kurt Deutsch is dead, but his son Joe says he had died two years previously. "He'll stay dead." A conspiracy keeps the plot moving, Stanley Baker as Joe plays his familiar hard bitten loner, penetrating rather too slowly the mystery. The final revelation keeps you guessing well, "you don't know what you've done," not sure I followed either

DILEMMA (1962, directed by Peter Maxwell, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- One of those frustrating films, well done, about Harry, a teacher embarking on his summer hols. He returns home from school to find Jean his wife has gone, and, worse, a corpse in the bathroom. He has to cover up for her, and does so by digging a hole for it under the floor in the lounge of his modern suburban semi. All along the line he is thwarted by interruptions, particularly his nosey neighbour, but also his mother, two nuns, a blind piano tuner, a piano pupil, and finally the police. They call about a seemingly unrelated matter, "a nasty piece of work," actually the corpse, who has been blackmailing people. Then Jean comes home, though we know she had been intending to flee the country, alone. She claims not to know anything about the dead man, but what is the truth?

TOUCH OF DEATH (1962, directed by Lance Comfort, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- William Lucas is typecast as Pete, the leader of a gang who rob a garage safe. In a dramatic opening, one of the thieves is killed while Pete and Len run off with a cool 17,000. What they don't know is that the notes have been covered with cyanide, stored in the safe. Len starts going downhill, poisoned, as the pair hide on a boat. This is their escape route, taking as hostages the tenant and a little girl. You can guess how it will end as Inspector Maxwell (Ray Barrett) corners them, but there is a twist in the tense chase, even though A Touch of Death lacks A Touch of much Excitement

LADIES WHO DO (1962, direced by CM Pennington-Richards, Twickenham Studios,4*)- The Colonel (Robert Morley) has a gem of a cleaning lady in Mrs Cragg (Peggy Mount), who also happens to work at the offices of Jim Ryder (Harry H Corbett), a flash property developer. Inadvertently she brings The Colonel a scrap of paper relating to a takeover and he buys shares. "It isn't right." But maybe it is since the ruthless Jim's scheme is to demolish the houses where Mrs Cragg and her fellow chars live.Together they rummage in the waste paper baskets of their employers, passing a heap of rubbish on to The Colonel. He moves into posh premises as their business booms. Jim's demolition plans encounter setbacks when "a few old bags" hold up the destruction of the houses, overlong but a fun climax

THE HI-JACKERS (1963, directed by Jim O'Connolly, Twickenham Studios, 5*) - At the Lupin Cafe, a pull-in for lorries, driver Terry picks up Shirley. But crooks, led by uppercrust Jack Carter (Derek Francis) are lying in wait on a lonely stretch of road. So the hijackers can live it up on the proceeds, whilst kindred souls down and out Terry and Shirley get a bit friendly. From her jailbird husband Shirley learns the identity of the criminals, whilst independently Terry has tracked them down too, by extracting the information from his crooked partner. Shirley ends up being kidnapped by the crooks, just as they are about to nick a lorry with 30,000 of cosmetics. But Terry, with the police in tow, smash the gang and rescue Shirley

CALCULATED RISK (1963, directed by Norman Harrison, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- You've seen this opening lots of times, old lag emerging from prison gates. Only in this one, the ground is snowy. Kip is driven straight to his wife's grave. He has "one last job lined up," he informs his brother-in-law Steve (William Lucas), a big bank raid. The usual scenes, gang selected, "here's to crime," then casing the joint, "nothing can go wrong." But as ever it does. It's always Kip the weak link, with his none too good "ticker." There's the familar digging into the bank vault, the novelty here is they stumble on an unexploded bomb. Dare they risk ignoring it? They do, the break in, sacks of money removed, but then panic, the bomb is ticking! One of the gang trapped, Kip has a heart attack, another of the crooks actually calls the cops, then BOOM

GIRL IN THE HEADLINES (1963, directed by Michael Truman, Twickenham Studios, 7*)- Murder of Ursula, a fashion model. The story starts as Chief Inspector Birkett (Ian Hendry) begins his investigation. Ronald Fraser as his assistant provides a stronger than usual second lead. Suspects emerge, including David Dane a snooty tv personality, Hammond Barker and Jordan her boyfriend and his brother, plus the director of a swish club (Kieron Moore). An intriguing revelation of blackmail, drugs, abortion, though that might suggest this is a sleazy film, which it's not. Then a second murder and a chase along the Thames, followed by an arrest in a spooky graveyard before the killer is exposed. Homely touches with the policeman make for a well rounded thriller

THE WILD AFFAIR (1964, directed by John Krish, Twickenham Studios, 1*)- "Respectable" Marjorie is pushed by her alter ego to "go mad" and get "all the men round her like flies." On her last day at work before marrying, her boss (Terry-Thomas) is first to be smitten, then she flirts with other male staff, such as Jimmy Logan, who's neither funny nor romantic. The film can't decide if it's comedy, soon running out of any steam it started with, unless you find drunks at the office party amusing. Yes, a film of its time, lacking any cohesion or appeal, with an interminable ending that forced me to fast forward

ONE WAY PENDULUM (1964, directed by Peter Yates, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- In the era when Saturday was a half holiday, Arthur (Eric Sykes) finishes his work at 12.45 and makes for his modest terrace home. En route he collects an enormous heap of junk and we are left guessing what for. At home, mum does "draw a line at" one thing, but her dysfunctional family are permitted all sorts of liberties, like son Tony in the attic teaching his speaking weighing machines to sing in harmony. Arthur is free to make a hole in the living room ceiling, to fit in a giant statue, his reconstruction of part of The Old Bailey. Now we commence a zany trial, Tony in the dock, "it was a kind of joke, my lord." He is accused of 43 murders, but though much is way out brilliance, the court scene is too protracted, needed editing, and lacks one final twist to finish well

BE MY GUEST (1965, director: Lance Comfort, Twickenham Studios, 4*) - "Home? We've moved into a museum," a bit like this storyline in which acting pros Ivor Salter and Diana King have to mix with predictably bad teenage actors who all anyway become subordinate to the pop music which is mostly in the hands of museum-like groups. The 'Brighton Beat' didn't quite seem to rival the Merseyside Sound which the film invites to "move over," but at least Jerry Lee Lewis incongruously sings, and one can always enjoy the sights of Sixties Brighton

WHO KILLED THE CAT? (1966, directed by Montgomery Tully, Twickenham Studios, 3*) - The will is read, old man Tom Trellington's daughter Mary (Natasha Pyne) will inherit when she is 21. Eleanor (Vanda Godsell), his "mean" wife of the last five years is bitter, "there are going to be changes round here." Her first task is to get the three "potty old" widows out of her house, is that why Miss Goldsworthy's cat Tabitha is poisoned? The trio hatch their own devious retaliation. Though this is no Ladykillers, a curious film ten years behind its time, "isn't it exciting?" Slow is a better word, but Eleanor does die, "is it Providence?" One splendid moment as Inspector Bruton (Conrad Phillips) listens to Miss Goldsworthy's confession, "we didn't do it." The denouement is almost worth waiting for

THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (1967, directed by Freddie Francis, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- Meteors landing in formation in Cornwall- an expert is needed to investigate. Playing the scientist Curtis Temple is old hand the reliable but one dimensional Robert Hutton, what his assistant Lee Mason (Jennifer Jayne) sees in him, who knows? Or maybe she's already been taken over by this alien power, which bends the wills of all who contact it. Curtis fights the Crimson Plague that threatens, yes, "the safety of the whole world." On a positive note, I rate this an absorbing mystery, as Curtis penetrates the impenetrable alien hq, thumps his girl on the face in order to drag her away from the alien power. And all on his own! Electronic optics is the secret, and Curtis does enlist one mate, Farge, to release Lee from her zombification, hurrah, then the trio return to the alien base, have "a free trip" to the moon, there to meet The Master (Michael Gough naturally), "the ultimate evolutionary form." The Master comes in peace, but it takes quite a punch-up to bring real peace- "you need only have asked!" It might have saved a lot of bother. Footnote- What did newsreader Kenneth Kendall think, I wonder, when he saw his name in the credits as Kenneth Kandall?

start of page






Bushey Studios
Melbourne Road, Bushey, Herts. Telephone BUShey Heath 1621.
1 sound stage in 1950s, 2 in 1960s. It opened as early as 1913, and was in use until the mid 1980s.
BLACK MEMORY (1947, directed by Oswald Mitchell, Bushey Studios, 3*)- Michael Cruff is executed for the murder of a moneylender, with the result that, unfairly, his young son Danny is sent to approved school. Now a grown man, Danny (Michael Atkinson) brushes with his old enemy Johnnie Fletcher (Michael Medwin), "I don't fight with rats," he tells him. In fact he'd vowed to his late mum that he would never fight, even when the children of his adoptive family, Sally and Joan, start mixing with the evil Johnnie, who with snack bar owner Eddie (Sydney James) is planning to rob the place where the girls work. A possible interesting study of a lad with a chip on his shoulder is discarded in favour of a more traditional crime caper with well defined spiv types. The robbery is quite tense, our hero saving Sally from her life of crime with a final impressively staged dark confrontation with Johnnie, forcing a confession that exonerates Danny's late father. "I ain't got a soul," concludes Johnnie pathetically

MURDER AT THE GRANGE (1952, 4*) - a short made at Bushey Studios, part of the Inspector Morley tv series. The Grange is in Princes Risborough. Four little Indians - dad was drowned. Three little Indians - brother had masonry fall on him. Then there were two - two old spinsters - and a private eye (Patrick Barr) comes to stay with them. For more

JOHNNY-ON-THE-SPOT (1954, directed by Maclean Rogers, Bushey Studios, 2*)- A typical EJ Fancey prodcution, little tension, little emotion shown by the characters, but a certain naive charm, and this one isn't as amateurishly constructed as some. Johnny (Hugh McDermott) is out of prison, and out for revenge on the swindler Osborne who put him there. But he only finds his enemy already dead, plus a dead girl, Julia. Suspicious is Joan Ingram (Elspet Gray) whom Johnny sees driving away from the scene of the crime with Walter. Another dubious character is a blind pianist who plays Rachmaninoff rather badly just as Johnny finds the corpse. Inspector Beveridge (Ronald Adam) and his sergeant (young Conrad Phillips) is soon asking Johnny some tough questions. Johnny entrusts to his friend Paul (Paul Carpenter) Osborne's diary, but it is stolen. Johnny has a stroke of luck in tracing the pianist, and this leads him to actress Diane, who is holding Joan a prisoner. But what it's really all about as we reach the showdown I have some difficulty in explaining

MISS MacTAGGART WON'T LIE DOWN (1966, directed by Francis Searle, Bushey Studios, 4*)- A modest little film with a brilliant premise that sadly fails to live up to expectations despite a winning star in Barbara Mullen. In a storyline that Dr Finlay himself would have hardly approved, she plays Miss MacTaggart who is buried, only to appear again very much alive. Her nemesis is Stuffy Morrison (Eric Woddburn, another Dr Finlay refugee) who sticks to the letter of the law and cannot rescind her death certificate. Her only recourse is to break the law to be recognised in her own name, so she smashes the window at the police station, awakes Stuffy at dead of night playing bagpipes, and even steals a tiara. At her trial the judge relates other crimes which we would dearly like to have watched. In the end she has to go to The Top, the Prime Minister no less, and her imitation of Guy Fawkes prompts swift action

GOLD IS WHERE YOU FIND IT (1967 directed by Francis Searle, Rayant Studios Bushey, 2*) - Steve (Barry Keegan) is back in his Irish roots having made his fortune in gold. Accidentally he drops some, and the discovery starts a gold rush. Villagers soon realise the error, but prolong the scam, a huge success until a government man O'Regan appears, and Steve returns. Then eureka! The mountain rocks (of polystyrene) shake and there real gold is revealed! Likeable enough, but it's been done so much better before

start of page






Riverside Studios (Hammersmith)
Opened in 1933 and bought in 1954 by the BBC for television programmes. Sold off in 1974.

THE VICAR OF BRAY (1937, directed by Henry Edwards, Riverside Studios, 3*)- "A rare fellow" is this clergyman (Stanley Holloway) loved by all and the story attempts to show how he somehow won favour both with Royalist and Roundhead. The feeble love twixt Lady Nora and Dennis son of Lord Melross is doomed for the family are on opposing sides. However the characters are decidely flat as the story becomes a long potted history, rather poorly compressed. "I'd sooner see my daughter dead, than married to a traitor," swears Nora's dad in the best melodramatic style. There are also three dull songs from the star, and some of the sets, though evidently small are impressively staged. At the Restoration, the vicar uniquely continues in his post "all wounds healed," and his favoured position enables him to save Dennis from the gallows so he can wed Lady Nora

LADY FROM LISBON (1942, directed by Leslie Hiscott, Riverside Studios, 4*)- "A very great millionaire," Sgr Minghetti (Francis L Sullivan) desires the Mona Lisa, and a penniless artist (Wilfred Hyde-White) is happy to oblige. Singer Tamara competes with Nazis to get possession of the painting, while Miss Wellington-Smythe (Martita Hunt) also wants it to prevent Minghetti from having it. Unfortunately "there are many copies," in fact quite "a few Mona Lisas kicking about," and in better hands this could have made a fine comedy. All there is, is an amusing dig or two at the Germans. Naturally the British get the picture, with the Nazis pleading to be arrested for murder to escape the Fuhrer's wrath

GERT AND DAISY CLEAN UP (1942, directed by Maclean Rogers, Hammersmith Studios, 3*)- Gert and Daisy hinder the war effort by working in a restaurant, but their salvage operations are more patriotic, if sometimes wildly drastic, and include the best of the average songs. The plot drifts into a final Christmas exposing of black marketeeers. Perhaps this Cockney duo haven't worn too well, but their humour is always gentle and warm hearted

VARIETY JUBILEE (1943, directed by Maclean Rogers, Riverside 3*)- merely a chance for some legendary music hall turns to give us a final hurrah, starting with 90 year old Charles Coborn and his Man Who Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo. The well worn storyline of Kit is utterly unmemorable, but snatches of great songs make up for it, in a recreation of the music hall with stars like Marie Lloyd Jr and George Robey. Nat Ayer the great composer is at the piano of the big final number, but before this you have you sit through a few naff acts

DEMOBBED (1944, directed by John E Blakeley, Riverside Studios, 4*)- Black by name, Black by nature. His assistant is being courted by the stiff upper lip boss' son, very typical characters in a Blakeley film. He employs a motley crew of demobbed men at his factory, only Frank Randle is missing, "take no notice of them sir, they're daft." The film is overlong for all their great one line gags and madcap "buffoonery," but Nat Jackley adds his own brand of zaniness, specially in an unrelated scene as a ventiloquist's doll. "I'll have you all put in a lunatic asylum," but despite being sacked more than once, they save the firm from the swindler Black. The action, if it be called that, is broken up with a concert in the middle which includes Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth , and again as a finale in which there's a fine parody of a Hawaiian dance

THE FACTS OF LOVE (1945, directed by Henry Cass, Riverside Studios, 2*)- Set in The Nest, 29 Acacia Avenue, here's a cosy domestic story. Peter (Jimmy Hanley) has his two loves, Pepper (Dinah Sheridan) and Galloping Gertie his car, but now there's another beauty, the amorous Faye. Peter's sister Joan is just engaged to Michael, much to dad's annoyance for he (Gordon Harker) and mother (Betty Balfour) are about to go on a cruise in the Med. But they get cold feet and opt for their annual trip to Bognor, and in their absence romance mildly ebbs and flows, and with the comedy so gentle as to be incidental, this film is pleasantly jolly but never very absorbing. While several lovers try to "come it over," mother and dad return to The Nest at the most inopportune moment, though the script incomprehnsibly plays it very low key. So it all ends in smiles after the story has been strung out for far too long

KISS THE BRIDE GOODBYE (1945, directed by Paul Stein, Riverside Studios, 3*)- Greengrocer's boy Jack (Jimmy Hanley) is in the heart of Joan, though her dominant mother talks her into marrying her rich boss.Ellen Pollock as the mum and Wylie Watson as his usual henpecked, provide a lot of the fun, with Jean Simmons livening up the film as Joan's outspoken younger sister. On Joan's wedding day, she chases after Jack on the train up north, and pose as marrieds

THE SMALL VOICE (1946, directed by Fergus McDonnel, Riverside 3*)- Murray an author (James Donald) and his actress wife Eleanor (Valerie Hobson) are planning to split up when they come upon men in a crashed car, and offer them shelter. They turn out to be escaped convicts, their car had crashed into another which contains two frightened children. A good character study of "a rat, "a lout" and a simpleton on the run, without the star quality of The Petrified Forest, Harold/Howard Keel is no Bogie. Michael Balfour has the best moment as "a concert pianist" trying to cheer up one of the kids, showing himself almost human. The ending tries to be dramatic but isn't

GIRL IN A MILLION (1946, directed by Francis Searle, Riverside Studios, 3*)- "I've heard more than enough," states the divorce judge presciently, summing up the start of this film depicting a nagging wife. Ex husband Tony (Hugh Williams) takes a job at an isolated research station, not a woman in sight. Here the idyllic life of Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne give the film a much needed shot in the arm, "I think I'm going to like it here." Into this "bachelors' establishment" arrives Gay (Joan Greenwood) who is dumb, literally. The men fawn over her, except Tony who improbably marries her. Happiness because she cannot nag, but then unaccountably Tony tells her, "I want to hear you talk." The light atmosphere yields to a strange mix of classical music and bombs, repeat the comment at the start. The shock gets her talking, the snag being her talkativeness changes her into a nag and turns him mad. To manufacture a happy ending from here is quite a feat

DICK BARTON STRIKES BACK (1949, directed by Godfrey Grayson, Viking Studios, Hammersmith, 5*)- the last of the three Hammer films about Dick Barton, sadly Don Stannard the star was killed in a car crash. It's the best of the trio with Sebastian Cabot as a nicely acted sinister foreign agent pitting his wits against Barton, who is "meddling in their affairs," an evil plan involving sonic vibrations at a million frequencies per second. Such villainy results in a whole village being wiped out. "The safety of the nation" is in Dick's hands, and even, gasp, "possibly the entire world!" Dick and Snowey face being blown up by a gas explosion, then posioned by snakes. Of course they escape in the proverbial nick of time, making for Blackpool Tower, which is being used "as a giant tuning fork" by the foreigners: "at sunset this city will be destroyed." "You won't get away with it," promises our Dick, as he clambers all over the Tower. Three cheers, the dastardly plot is foiled. Comments Snowey: "wasn't half a near thing!"

ONE WILD OAT (1950 directed by Charles Saunders, Riverside Studios, 5*)- Nouveau riche commoner Alfred Gilbey (Stanley Holloway) locks swords with prim solicitor Humphrey Proudfoot (Robertson Hare). Their offspring want to marry, "I'll never give my consent." The film quietly follows the course of the rather unconvincing true love but thankfully focussing on the two main stars who drag up plenty of skeletons, including Humphrey's incredible guilty moment of indiscretion, "if my wife finds out, I'm finished." Best scene is his reminiscing with Irene Handl, "you haven't got much hair left." Best cameo is from Charles Groves as Gilbey's aged butler, while you feel Vera Pearce as Gilbey's wife deserved a bigger role, especially after the way we see her singing and dancing, knock knees and all

LITTLE BIG SHOT (1952, directed by Jack Raymond, Riverside Studios, 5*)- The Terror of The Yard is no more, his too honest son Harry (Ronald Shiner) succeeds him, but as a safecracker he is far too soft. He is given a last chance to prove himself by robbing Lady Maddox of her jewels. This good lady takes to him in this gentle comedy: I liked the dream sequence, and Harry's heart of gold, much less brash than Shiner's usual persona. Then there is Marie Lohr in an inebriate scene that is one of the best in its class

THE GAY DOG (1954, Riverside Studios, directed by Maurice Elvey, 5*) - Raving Beauty- "the world is run for her benefit," an odds-on favourite at t'Northern greyhound racetracks. A couple of romances and plenty of subterfuge before t' big race--- and a fortune. But as the vicar reminds us: "the love of money" etc etc so the winnings have to go to charity! Those were the days of morality! "I don't know which is worse, you or the dog." The film has some nice comic moments in this portrait of an obsession, for example unsung Noel Dyson in particular provides some lovely touches. Watch her asleep after introducing a First Aid Lecture. Lots of other nostalgic scenes at Whist Drives, and even down Coal Mines. "Oh that blessed dog!"

start of page






Shepperton Studios
In 1950, owned by British Lion, it offered 11 studios. It is still active!
Telephone: Chertsey 2611

DOUBLE EXPOSURES (1937, directed by John Paddy Carstairs, Shepperton, Sound City, Studios, 3*)- Peter is a failed journalist who is reduced to a street photographer. Slightly besotted, he takes 93 photos of Jill, daughter of wealthy industrialist Sir Hector Rodman. One photo enables Peter to solve the mystery of Sir Hector's solictor's death. He had been conspiring with Hector's secretary to swindle him of 20,000, but the pair had fallen out. But this is hardly a crime thriller, the best moments come from Ruby Miller as the effusive Mrs Rodman, and I also liked their butler. Basil Langton as Peter makes a dashing lead and Mavis Clair is the charming object of his attentions

KATE PLUS TEN (1938, directed by Reginald Denham, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Loosely based on an Edgar Wallace drama, this is about Inspector Pemberton who falls for his lordship's secretary, "I've taken a fancy to you." But she is the boss of a gang of crooks and with his usual gauche suaveness Jack Hulbert plays the policeman who wants to reform her. But she's not giving up her plan to rob his lordship's gold bullion worth 600,000 with her gang of compliant gangsters. She toys with him as he tells her "love has swept me off my feet." And he's right to be worried for her, since her underlings are turning like the proverbial worm. The robbery uses a stolen train that vanishes down a disused colliery line. This film is never more than intermittently enjoyable, never quite achieving the right balance of comedy with the thrills. "I said I love you, " so at least romance wins the day somehow

AN IDEAL HUSBAND (1946, directed by Alexander Korda, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- From the lavish opening, you know this aims at superiority. Lord Arthur Goring (Michael Wilding) "leads such an idle life," this eligible bachelor once briefly got engaged to attractive Mrs Cheveley, "genius by day, beauty by night." She is currently engaged in blackmailing upright Sir Robert, and Goring and Robert's spouse sttempt to prevent this woman whose "passion is to listen through keyholes." Mrs Cheveley offers Gordon marriage as an alternative, but the best way to meet blackmail, is a little blackmail yourself. Maybe the film does not utterly live up to its promise, for in the last analysis this is only a glorified play

LADY GODIVA RIDES AGAIN (1951, directed by Frank Launder, Shepperton Studios, 3*)- Marge wins the competition to be Lady Godiva in the Festival pageant. "No vulgar note" in this, victory gives her the chance to enter a Blackpool beauty contest, in competition with a sparkling Diana Dors, "I'd never make a film star anyway." That's DD saying that, but truthfully it's our Marge who is easily eclipsed, how did she land the part? In error, the fixed competition is won by Marge, prize presented by her heartthrob Simon Abott (Dennis Price). After this the film loses such gloss as it had, and offers a synthetic analysis on showbiz, with George Cole offering the brightest laughs, and Alastair Sim a fine cameo as a B film producer, "all I need is a quarter of a million." Marge is down on her luck, winding up in Sid's strip show, "it's not decent." Look who are in the audience on her first night. Her family!

WHO GOES THERE! (1952 directed by Anthony Kimmins Shepperton Studios, 2*)- Miles (Nigel Patrick) thinks he's caught a burglar in his St James' Palace home. But she's only Christina (Peggy Cummins), jilted by guardsman Arthur (George Cole), but as they're alone in the hosue for the night, how can Miles explain this to his sister Alex (Valerie Hobson)? What could have been a promising farce instead veers towards romance with not entirely convincing characters. Trickery from Chris ensures that Arthur's court martial is cancelled and true love, if such it be, thus triumphs. None of the star cast are up to much, outstaged by brief appearances at the start and end by the happily doddering AE Matthews, "I must be going round the bend"

BANG! YOU'RE DEAD (1953 directed by Lance Comfort, Shepperton Studios, 2*)- From the final scene where blame is apportioned, it seems this slow moving film is trying to find reasons for the appalling post war conditions some lived in. Even in those days all was not well, as children were allowed to roam free and even play with guns. Cliff lives with his widowed dad (Jack Warner) in a shack on an old air base, everyone is very matey despite the slum like conditions. As Edmund Hockridge sings on young Willie's gramophone Lazy Day, very aptly for that's the speed the film moves at, Cliff finds a discarded gun and shoots a nasty young man named Ben. It's so unfortunate that in an argument over Hilda, Bob Carter (Michael Medwin) had promised to kill Ben, though Inspector Grey (Derek Farr) is shrewd enough to know he's innocent. As Lazy Day drones for the nth time, you can't blame Cliff for smashing the record as the film looks more and more like a Children's Film Foundation though with bigger stars. A new record, Greensleeves, is at least an improvement, as Cliff runs away after Willie is accidentally injured. The tight community rally round to find the lad until Insp Grey learns it was all an accident, so they all lived etc etc

THE BELLES OF ST TRINIANS (1954, directed by Frank Launder, Shepperton, 6*)- New pupils at the dreadful "dump" include Princess Fatima, and the headmistress' niece, expelled once already. I don't like to say that Alastair Sim is just over the top, but most of this is a joy, from the world weariness of the man from the ministry, Richard Wattis, to dear young Flash Harry (George Cole), and the ever put upon Chloe, Joyce Grenfell that is. The plot itself centres on a cash flow problem and the princess' dad's racehorse, and efforts to nobble the same

THE MOUSE THAT ROARED (1959, directed by Jack Arnold, Shepperton 4*)- The tiny duchy of Grand Fenwick declares war on the USA, the result should be obvious, but somehow a dangerous US bomb is captured, "this is most terribly complicated." Maybe there's a serious point behind the fun, yet it gets lost in a dull ending, "it's a question of whose side are you on." One of the few British films not to kowtow to American superiority. Whether you like this, depends also on your attitude to Peter Sellers, who, even here, in his multiplicity of roles, is allowed to be too self indulgent

THE TECKMAN MYSTERY (1954, directed by Wendy Toye, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- Author Philip Chance (John Justin) is commissioned to write a biography about test pilot Martin Teckman, killed on the F109 project. But did he die? As usual with a Francis Durbridge story, the plot is stirred nicely and thickens, mystery on mystery, murder on murder. "I haven't the faintest idea what's going on." Red herrings abound, "every suspicious detail," making "everything clear as mud," up to the showdown at the Tower of London

AUNT CLARA (1954, directed by Anthony Kimmins, Shepperton Studios, 4*) - The 80th birthday of Uncle Simon will be his last, most of his greedy relatives hope. It is, and he shocks them by leaving his estate to Clara (Margaret Rutherford). She inherits his 'man' Henry (Ronald Shiner), his greyhound, his pub, and other reprobate enterprises. Henry is a vital help in her "sacred trust," as she visits the hostelry, the idea being to contrast her sheltered living and the bawdy lifestyle. It doesn't come off though as the story unwinds, she is much more liberal than Henry expects, indeed she evens calls him "starchy." It's only the natural whimsy Miss Rutherford exudes that keeps the film afloat as she goes to the races, the dogs, and finally a house of tarts. Yet she somehow achieves the reforms her late uncle clearly desired

PROFILE (1954, directed by Francis Searle, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Margo (Kathleen Byron) is the younger wife of Aubrey, "a bit extravagant." He is starting a new magazine for men, Peter Armstrong (John Bentley) the editor. She makes up to Peter, trouble is she has a rival in Susan, her stepdaughter. Also her ex-husband Charlie is blackmailing her. When Aubrey sees her for what she really is, a heart attack finishes him off. Though the first magazine is a big success, Peter has to account for the company cheques he has drawn. He has been framed, and only Margo can prove his innocence- for a price. Marriage. So who kills her? Impressive final chase among the giant printing presses

RAISING A RIOT (1955, directed by Wendy Toye, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Naval officer Tony (Kenneth More) must look after his three "hooligans," in actuality three young children. In their lovely temporary home of a converted windmill, he has the help of his dad (Ronald Squire, underused), who is half a handyman. But then Tony isn't much of a cook, nor is this much of a film. nothing at all objectionable, always pleasant, domestic cosiness. A shot in the arm he needs, as does this film, yet all it does is amble happily along, a touch of a fight, and of romance, even childish communism. But it never really goes places, though it goes nicely enough

THEY CAN'T HANG ME (1955, directed by Val Guest, Shepperton Studios, 6*)- Robert Pitt (Andre Morell) is to be hanged, but claims he can reveal, in return for his freedom, the identity of Leonidas, dangerous masterspy. Inspector Brown (Terence Morgan) of Special Branch investigates the crime for which Pitt has been found guilty, the murder of Yvette. In between times, we see a bit of Brown's private life run by well oiled man Harold, and with his longsuffering incredibly understanding fiancee Jill. This is a well paced thriller as we follow Brown's desperate measures to unmask Leonidas. using the latest technology, like a blackboard, and even a giant walkie-talkie. Brown bets ten bob he can guess the masterspy's identity. I knew too, though I'd have lost my bet

THE GREEN MAN (1956, directed by Robert Day, Shepperton Studios, 6*)- a nice study that might have been even better, of a gentle assassin of "overblown balloons" (Alastair Sim), his latest target is a thoroughly pompous MP. Snags however materialise in the form of Marigold his necessary fiancee, who has to be bumped off, only she isn't. Then there is the imaginative salesman (George Cole) who keeps finding the semi-dead body. Action moves to a seaside hotel, where Charlie (Terry-Thomas) puts in a belated brief appearance, how he gets a starring credit is as mysterious as the dull title. Most memorable is Sim chatting up the enthusiastic amateur musical trio of females in a black comedy, better in its parts than as a whole

THE HIDEOUT (1956, directed by Peter Graham-Scott, Shepperton Studios, 3*)- Steve Curry (Dermot Walsh) accidentally picks up a case belonging to a Miss Grant (Rona Anderson) and gets captured by crooks who want it. Well, it is full of currency notes! Steve ends up on the trail of smuggled furs, en route finding romance with Miss Grant, whose brother Robert (Ronald Howard) is in deep with the villains. All very routine until the furs prove to be contaminated with anthrax, though the possible repercussions are never developed. Instead, Robert is killed with Steve's gun, so Steve has to work fast to catch his best friend and rescue Miss Grant from the crooks. Yes, that's a typical Rona Anderson role! The best line: Tim (Sam Kydd): "Who's going to talk to a copper? Those blue uniforms give people laryngitis." Note: Uncredited is Robert Raikes as hotel receptionist

FIND THE LADY (1956, directed by Charles Saunders, Shepperton Studios, 6*)- Stranded in her car, June is rescued by Dr Bill Craig (Donald Houston). She is spending the new year with her godmother Margaret at Priory Manor, but when she finally gets there she's told by Margaret's archaeologist brother-in-law Hurst (Mervyn Johns) that she's been taken ill and is in a Bournemouth rest home and can't be contacted. Bill says he's no longer her doctor in this pleasing mystery that deepens when June and he follow up a telephone number Hurst had been ringing. It's the Expresso del Roma, where the occupants have "got crook written all over them." Then at dead of night June sees one such dumping dirt in the Priory garden. Perhaps it was a mistake to reveal to us now that Hurst is one of a gang tunnelling under the house to a nearby bank. A mistake for June since she's found out and imprisoned in the cellar, on New Year's Eve too! Thankfully Bill comes to her rescue and the old lady is found safe and well. With Moray Watson adding a touch of comedy, here's a forgotten fifties bit of fun that deserves reviving

SECOND FIDDLE (1957, directed by Maurice Elvey, Shepperton Studios, 4*) - "Dignity, discretion and decorum" is the motto of an advertising agency. In the hands of old timers Bill Fraser and Richard Wattis this story is given a lively start, but the contemporary question of employing married women at the firm is given such stodgy treatment that the film starts to flounder. It picks up again in the hands of the first married couple allowed to work for the company, Charles (Thorley Walters) and Debs (Adrienne Corri) but when He has to play second fiddle to Her burgeoning career, He nearly ends up in the arms of His secretary Pauline (Lisa Gastoni). But of course he doesn't quite, like the film itself, which, though quite fun, never quite hits the mark

FORTUNE IS A WOMAN (1957, directed by Sidney Gilliat, Shepperton Studios, 8*)- One of the best openings to a 50's thriller, accompanied by Jack Hawkins' dry narration. It recurs like a nightmare through the film. Hawkins plays Branwell, an insurance assessor on the case of a fire at Lowis Manor in Sussex, his judgement clouded by the fact that Sarah, wife of the owner is a close friend from his past. He breaks into the empty mansion to expose an art fraud, but stumbles over Sarah's husband's corpse and a second more serious conflagration. Branwell covers for Sarah but then has a typical Jack Hawkins' attack of conscience, "nothing like an old flame to help the new fire along." She however counters his black suspicions with the challenge, "go to the police." So innocent is she, they get married. Blackmail becomes their first obstacle to happiness, but who is behind it? They track down this villain, but conscience always has to get the upper hand. "You can see how mistaken you were." He does the honourable thing

MODEL FOR MURDER (1958, directed by Terry Bishop, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Another weak imported Ameircan star all but puts the dampers on any excitement: he plays David whose brother had died two years ago, he'd been engaged to top model Diane. She is killed when she interrupts a robbery at the ailing fashion house where she works, owner Beauchamp (Michael Gough as smooth and devious as ever) had planned to rob himself. David is accused of her murder, "impossible!" He is being framed of course, and he needs designer Sally (Hazel Court) to help him disentnagle himself

THE NIGHT WE GOT THE BIRD (1960, directed by Darcy Conyers, Shepperton Studios, 10*) - Though not perfect, this is Brian Rix at his best with support from old stooge Leo Franklyn, plus Brighton's finest Dora Bryan. Lovely cameos from Irene Handly as the ma-in-law, dear Reg Beckwith as Champagne Charlie and John le Mesurier and Kynaston Reeves in a travesty of courtroom justice. The story revolves round green Bertie Skidmore who's called in to authenticate Brighton knocker-boy Cecil's fake furniture. When Cecil is killed Bertie marries Cecil's wife only to find his wedding night interrupted by "dementia peacocks" in the form of a parrot, which is Cecil reincarnate. Knocked by many, I just love this absurd piece of farcical nonsense, British cinema at its innocent best

OFFBEAT (1960, directed by Cliff Owen, Shepperton Studios, 6*)- "I'll have the key to your safe please," a daring one man bank robbery, committed by Layton (William Sylvester), actually a policeman undercover. His task- infiltrate a highly organised gang, "I can't afford to make mistakes." But maybe he does just that when, after getting into a "firm," he falls for Ruth (Mai Zetterling). He admires the organisation so much, the interest is whether he will change sides, as the tunnel into Imperial Jewellers. Of course, he's found out, will Ruth expose him after the successful job, clean getaway with three quarters of a million?

A WEEKEND WITH LULU (1961, directed by John Paddy Carstairs, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Lulu is "a mobile love nest," ie an old caravan for Tom (Leslie Phillips) to borrow for use with Deirdre (Shirley Eaton). The caravan is "a bit intimate," ie cramped. The only snag is that her mother (Irene Handl) comes too for "quite an adventure." Stranded in France, the plot becomes a mildly enjoyable romp taking them slowly home, "who's that girl?" Pursued by rozzers, one haven is a chateau owned by an amorous count. Cash is raised by various dubious means, and spent as quickly, including a betting swindle on the Tour de France

SPARE THE ROD (1961, directed by Leslie Norman, Shepperton Studios, 1*)- Worrell Street School would fail an Ofsted inspection. Saunders (Max Bygraves), a new teacher, starts off "the hard way" with the duds of class 2. "Don't give them an inch," warns the cynical head (Donald Pleasence), but Saunders tries the milk of human kindness. If the teenage dialogue at times makes you cringe, I'd liken the atmosphere to more of a prison camp. Indeed was this what was influencing the director? The question posed but not answered is, does corporal punishment work? I found the film entirely unrealistic, drifting towards over sentimentality, more a showpiece to show how wonderful the star is with kids. In fact, he'd never have passed inspection (even though he does), as a teacher, nor as an actor neither. Most laughable is when he is innocently offered a fag in all seriousness by a pupil. A world weary atmosphere ends with a prison riot, Saunders reprimanding his pupils, "you've had your fun!" Not the happiest days of your life

THE PAINTED SMILE- (1961, Shepperton Studios, directed by Lance Comfort, 4*) - Mark (Peter Reynolds) and Jo (Liz Fraser) run a blackmail racket: she picks up a likely man, this time student Tom at a club. But Mark has been knifed, Tom won't be seduced, instead he helps her dispose of the corpse in his car. Not a good idea as he's half drunk. Tom's two pals and his fiancee Mary help trace the killer, the man with the inevitable limp, the sinister Limey, not too tough a task as he's after Tom too. At one point this film is more akin to Room at the Top, but mostly it's a 50s crime chase with 60s music. "We're going to look after you," Limey promises Tom and Jo once he's got them, "you've just got to disappear." Motivation not clear, but there's always the catchy theme song to enjoy, sung by Craig Douglas

INFORMATION RECEIVED (1961, directed by Robert Lynn, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- Stevens is shipped to England for some big job, but police pick him up. Rick (William Sylvester) takes Stevens' place, and is sprung by Vic from jail in a dustbin. Just avoiding a roadblock he reaches a hideout cottage. Here the action slows as Rick gets pally with Sabina, Vic's wife. Soon they are kissing, "gosh, you're beautiful." Vic is to drive Rick to Paterson's garage to meet the boss Harry Drake (Edward Underdown), but Sabina warns him it's a trap, and Rick drives there on his own. She then shoots Vic and claims Rick did it. She seems to be planning a world cruise with Drake when this job's done. An enigmatic character she is, but sadly her part is not well acted and the film falls as a result. Rick's part of the robbery is to open a factory safe and here the action is more straightforward, as a valuable blueprint is nicked. But it is Drake who is nicked, and Sabina is also caught, "a notorious character"

TWO LETTER-ALIBI (1961 directed by Robert Lynn Shepperton Studios, 4*) - Charles Hilary (Peter Williams) is separated from Louise his wife. Now she hates him and won't give him a divorce so he can marry TV personality Kathy. When Louise is shot dead, he is the obvious suspect for the acerbic Supt Bates (Stratford Johns). When Charles is picked out at an identity parade he is arrested. The film moves to his trial, shown in some detail. The verdict... Guilty. In Brighton, Kathy discovers a hotel where Louise had stayed with a male lover. Unwisely Charles makes a break for it but is recaptured. Kathy then proves Charles' questionable alibi so he is happily pardoned and the killer caught. Perhaps the film tries too hard to cover too many bases

THE BREAK (1962, directed by Lance Comfort, Shepperton Studios, 1*)- Prisoner Jacko (William Lucas) has escaped and is holed out in a remote Dartmoor farmhouse hotel. "Expect trouble," but it's very tedious with a dull collection of guests: writer Greg Parker (Tony Britton), private detective Pearson, and Sue, Jacko's brother, who falls for Greg. One dead body later, "the Lord will punish you," says a religious simpleton, but in trying to wreak vengeance on Jacko, only gets killed himself. Greg is made of sterner stuff and after a slightly exciting chase, persuades Sue not to flee abroad with her brother, who almost gets away, but not quite. Revenge all but ends this sick tale which never quite manages to get you hooked

SERENA (1962, directed by Peter Maxwell, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- Det Insp Gregory (Patrick Holt) investigates the murder of an artist's estranged wife. Rogers had separated from her three years ago, his alibi is his model Serena Vaughan, whom we only see in her portrait. She has disappeared. But we do meet Ann, his wife (Honor Blackman) who isn't dead after all! "It's a complicated story," the search for Serena the key to solving the case. A neat little drama with a good final twist

NIGHT OF THE PROWLER (1962, directed by Francis Searle, Shepperton Studios, 2*) - Robert (Patrick Holt) is estranged from his lovely wife Marie (Colette Wilde). His partner in their racing car engineering firm is murdered, and Robert is warned that he is next on the list. It must be the work of Don Lacey, whom the three of them had testified against, getting him sent to jail. Inspector Cameron (good old John Horsley) is on to the criminal almost as soon as I was. The title might imply a tense drama, which this certainly is not

DANGER BY MY SIDE (1962, directed by Charles Saunders, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- There's a fine opening sequence showing a bank robbery, successful except Bernie Hewson trips and is caught. After a spell behind bars, he naturally wants his boss, Nicky Venning (Alan Tilvern at his nasty best) to come good, and Hewson is given a job at Venning's Acme Warehouse. The police are investigating this front, and undercover cop Terry is killed in a hit and run accident. His boss Det Insp Willoughby tries to give Terry's sister Lynne (Maureen Connell) a little help in exposing the gang as she gets a job at Nicky's nightclub, where the catchy title song is sung. Yes, this is very typical early Sixties fare, slightly seedy, redeemed by the electric guitars in the background music. Lynne is befriended by the kind club manager Sam (Bill Nagy) who amazingly knows nothing of Venning's shady activities. But Hewson rumbles Lynne, and she is tied up on Venning's boat Harlequin, where the police hunt ends rather tamely. The best bit for me was the little scene as the crooks are rounded up, and the honest gatekeeper at Acme, played by Wally Patch, is escorted into a police car protesting his innocence

A MATTER OF CHOICE (1963, directed by Vernon Sewell, Shepperton Studios, 3*)- I almost call this a film that gave B films a bad name, about Lisa who is cheating on Charles with her lover John (Anthony Steel). Their fates become entwined with Mike, a smoothie whose chatup line is that old, "I've never met anyone like you before." However it doesn't work, even with his pal Tony at the iconic Hip Bath Club, where Bob Sharples' great beat music rules the roost. They get kicked out and going home along a street get into a row with a policeman who is, perhaps accidentally pushed into the road. Right in front of the car driven by Lisa, with John as passenger. He gives chase after the two hooligans, a brick shied at him fells him. By now the youngsters are in a blind panic, hiding the unconscious man in a nearby garage, a decided error for it belongs to Charles, Lisa's husband. The semi-interest is whether the facts will come to light, and the film nicely sways from one possible ending to another, "we look as though we're getting away with it"

THE YELLOW TEDDY BEARS (1963, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, Shepperton Studios, 5*) -"You know what little girls are," the only problem being that these are sixth formers and they Know more than their parents or teachers want them to. Lin (Annette Whiteley) has become pregnant by window cleaner and local pop singer Kinky (Iain Gregory, who also sings the film's lively title rock song). A heady mix of 60's morals versus the old guard and suburban respectableness. Here's a good summary by David Capey: "it is not a bawdy buttock heaving picture but thinly attempts to be a social document."

EVERY DAY'S A HOLIDAY (1964, directed by James Hill, Shepperton, 3*)- Gerry (John Leyton) offers passable imitations of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, and other pop stars include Mike Sarne. A smattering of comedy is provided by Nicholas Parsons as a camp tv producer at a holiday camp, Liz Frazer with a line in scattiness, and Richard O'Sullivan almost as himself. Regrettably other characters fall flat, some songs are duds, and the plot is so very flimsy so that this turns into an extended pop video. All I Want Is You is nicely filmed, and What's Cooking by Freddie and the Dreamers is plain weird

DO YOU KNOW THIS VOICE? (1964, directed by Frank Nesbitt, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Though this starts as the story of the murder of a schoolboy, it turns into the study of the killer Joe and his distraught wife Anne. She had phoned a ransom demand, in a disguised voice, and a tape of it is played on tv. However though this gives the film a title, it is really about an Italian lady Rosa (Isa Miranda) who had seen Anne making the call, but had not recognised her, even though she was her next door neighbour! She must be eliminated, and Joe tries strangling, poisoning then strangling again. The trouble with the film is that I couldn't get into the dumb bum character of Joe (Dan Dureya), nor could I feel any sorrow for him in the ironic ending

A JOLLY BAD FELLOW (1964, directed by Don Chaffey, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- A science professor (Leo McKern) wants to "clean up" the human race, starting with his obnoxious enemies. A new drug he has discovered is the ideal method. First the proctor (Duncan Macrae), "I hope something nasty happens to him." He dances stark naked on the campus. Next is gossipmonger Mrs Pugh-Smith (Patricia Jessel) who is drunk at a public meeting, "have you taken leave of your senses?" It's a great storyline, though the film neeed tighter treatment since it is far too rambling, with the prof's dirty weekend with his assistant Delia. Next for elimination is the rival for a senior professorship, Dr Hughes (Dennis Price). Delia guesses the truth, "your future depends on me... I'm going to gobble you up." The poetic ending is too obvious, "really very funny"

CATACOMBS (1964, directed by Gordon Hessler, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- "You're lovely," Uncle Raymond tells his niece Alice 35-23-37 (Jane Merrow). The snag with the film is that he is approaching 50, hardly a catch for a young girl, even though all is explained. Is he really "the best looking uncle in town"?! Raymond's powerful executive wife Ellen is in the way. When she catches them actually kissing, she threatens to cut him off penniless from her fortune. He has one option. After burying her in the potting shed, with the help of his man Corbett, he fixes for an actress to impersonate Ellen on holiday abroad. The actress is killed in a manufactured car crash. So what can go wrong? Ellen's presence haunts the couple. Then Raymond finds Ellen's corpse is missing, "she's alive!" The drawn out ending at least provides a clever twist

THE NIGHT CALLER (1965, directed by John Gilling, Shepperton Studios, 5*) - A small missile, more a large football, has landed, and three researchers work out it is an "energy valve," here to lure girls into space, apparently. Thankfully some well chosen moments of humour mingle with the drama which is in two parts, the second nearly a conventional police hunt lead by Inspector Hartley (Alfred Burke) after the thing which abducts the girls to Gannymede, near Jupiter. Two of the researchers wind up vitims of the alien Medra, can Hartley prevent another girl being spirited away? He chases after Medra, yes it is a good old police chase, for Medra is even driving the traditional Jag. With his energy valve he is at a definite advantage

GONKS GO BEAT (1965, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Wilco Roger (Kenneth Connor) is an intergalactic peacekeeper, settling a dispute between "madmen" on Planet Earth. Rival musical traditions clash: Beatland with its way out music to dig, and Balladisle, distinctly "more restful" and square. Steve and Helen are in rival camps, but fall in sort of love, though the plot has wilted even before this. Here's an unashamed feature length pop video of some truly third rate acts, fascinating as they are mostly so awful. You could try and salvage Lulu's two numbers, plus Perry Ford, while the rest sort of grow on you. Terry Scott adds a flicker of comedy, as he marches forth in a musical war full of bizarre noises, Stravinsky eat your heart out. Biggest mystery is how the final song is the only one to get voted a Hit. Certainly a final corny pun about Mars is worth not waiting for

start of page






Viking Studios
1-5 St Mary Abbot's Place, Kensington W8. Telephone WEStern 2516.
3 sound stages. Active from 1947, but mostly began to be devoted to TV and advertising work from the 1950s.
Directors in 1963: Eric Humphries and Monica Ross.

DATE WITH A DREAM (1948, directed by Dicky Leeman, Viking Studios, 3*)- "Absolutely wizard," Terry Thomas tells his army entertainers when they disband after their last wartime concert. A tale of the times, not exactly wizard, though an insight into the variety scene after the war. The story is about Bill and Len Lowe who were a run of the mill act and are adequate in this film. The producers Baker and Berman give us a snatch of young knockabout Norman Wisdom not spotting his potential, and Sandra Dorne is glimpsed as an agent's secretary. But some budding talents are given ;prominence, Jean Carson who sings one tuneless Brazilian number, the more romantic Let Me Dream, and two songs with the Lowes. Elton Hayes sings with his guitar, but T-T is the best, though his monlogue is a bit too over the top except for the French song How About Me for You?

DICK BARTON STRIKES BACK (1949, directed by Godfrey Grayson, Viking Studios, 5*)- the last of the three Hammer films about Dick Barton, sadly Don Stannard the star was killed in a car crash. It's the best of the trio with Sebastian Cabot as a nicely acted sinister foreign agent pitting his wits against Barton, who is "meddling in their affairs," an evil plan involving sonic vibrations at a million frequencies per second. Such villainy results in a whole village being wiped out. "The safety of the nation" is in Dick's hands, and even, gasp, "possibly the entire world!" Dick and Snowey face being blown up by a gas explosion, then posioned by snakes. Of course they escape in the proverbial nick of time, making for Blackpool Tower, which is being used "as a giant tuning fork" by the foreigners: "at sunset this city will be destroyed." "You won't get away with it," promises our Dick, as he clambers all over the Tower. Three cheers, the dastardly plot is foiled. Comments Snowey: "wasn't half a near thing!"

NIGHT WAS OUR FRIEND (1951, directed by Michael Anderson, Viking Studios, 3*)- Did Mrs Sally Rayner (Elizabeth Sellars) poison her husband Martin? She'd fallen in love with John (Ronald Howard) after her husband had been lost in the jungle, presumed dead. But then he returns home, full of nightmares, insomnia, insecure. He wanders the woods at night, Michael Gough playing the deranged man as only he can. The motive for his death is revealed, but is it "lies cheap lies"? At times these characters seem frighteningly real, but too often collapse as the dialogue doesn't always ring true. "There's a lot about this we don't understand," and certainly the motivation of the characters is never entirely convincing

IT'S A STRANGER (1952, directed by Brock Williams, Viking Studios, 5*)- I like the start which introduces Greta Gynt who plays herself, "we go to see all your films," amateur detective Horatio Flowerdew (James Hayter) tells her. They strike up a fine rapport that is sadly mostly lost when a mystery is investigated by Inspector Craddock (Hector Ross), the two stars oddly becoming mere spectators in some scenes. The pair take an injured lady to Dr Westcott, but suspicious, they find a trail of blood leading from the home of a George Westcott, nephew of the doctor, who has just inherited his Uncle Eric's estate ahead of uncle's sister Anna and niece Mary. George had shot the girl mistaking her for an intruder, though it is in fact Mary. The film becomes a search for the missing will with "slippery" solicitor Cringle an enigmatic middleman. A good twist and a fight bring about a satisfying finish

THREE STEPS IN THE DARK (1953, directed by Daniel Birt, Viking Studios, 3*)- It's familiar, Uncle Arnold has summoned his relations to Clarendon, his large mansion, Henry with his new girl friend Mlle Esme Rodin, Philip and his wife, and Sophie (Greta Gynt). His will will have strings, his estate will only go to Henry if he does not marry Esme. Uncle does not like her as she has been on stage, and has already been married. "It'll probably finish in murder." Not probably, inevitably! So who killed him? This is too static with a surfeit of dialogue, straightforward except the usual revelation is hardly predictable

DEVIL'S PASS (1957, directed by Darcy Conyers, Viking Studios, 4*)- Young Jim (Christopher Warbey) has stowed away on board The Cascade, frightened of some of his mates at the Orphan Boys' Home in Brixham. He overhears the captain (Archie Duncan) planning to wreck the 70 year old trawler to claim the insurance. But the former owner Bill Buckle (John Slater) has longed for years to reclaim the vessel for himself. There are pleasing touches of humour and sentiment in the film's plodding way, though not much drama as Bill tries not to go down with his first love, and with help from "Jim boy" The Cascade be a-saved from crashin' on the rocks
start of page








Welwyn Studios Broadwater Road Welwyn Garden City. 3 stages
Active from 1928 to about 1950

SATURDAY NIGHT REVUE (1937, directed by Norman Lee, Welwyn Studios, 3*) - Jimmy (Billy Milton) and Mary (Sally Gray) star at a low night club, whose crooked owner is "poison." If only they could find a "decent" place for their act, the familiar show biz tale, this one offers glimpses of forgotten acts and some barely remembered like Webster Booth. In the usual (manufactured) crisis, Jimmy bows out, until the plot muddles doubtfully through to a final happiness. Pity there were no lively songs, but at least there were plenty of 'em

GERT AND DAISY'S WEEK-END (1942, Directed by Maclean Rogers, Welwyn Studios, 5*) - "I want to stay with mummy." It's the early part of the war, evacuation, Gert and Daisy escort "the poor little blighters" to the country. Other iconic moments include the sing song in Goodge Street underground, the culture clash ("do we talk the same language?"), and Gert and Daisy On Parade. Elsie and Doris Waters are perhaps an acquired taste, but you have to admire how they bounce gags off each other like old pros. The mistake the film makes is the romantic sub plot with John Slater and Wally Patch. The best character is Aubrey Mallalieu as the longsuffering "silly old" butler Barnes, while Lady Plumtree (Annie Esmond) is sadly underutilised. The theft of her diamond necklace is blamed on our cockneys, but it ends happily when the real thieves are exposed. G&D's songs are Won't We Have A Party When It's Over, She's a Lily But Only By Name, and the standard Good Night Children Everywhere, a charming but brief interlude, all too short, nice piano solo by Perceval Mackey

SUSPECTED PERSON (1943, directed by Lawrence Huntington, Welwyn Studios, 3*)- Jim Raynor (Clifford Evans) has stolen $50,000 and his partners Louis (Robert Beatty) and Roxy want their share. But Jim has run away to England with all the cash, gone to stay with his good sister Joan (Patricia Roc) who earns an honest penny running a boarding house. The best parts in the film are the archetypal pair of policemen, here played by David Farrar and William Hartnell. "Sherlock Holmes" couldn't do better as they follow the gangsters who search for Raynor and the money. Inspector Thompson boards at Joan's incognito to watch developments which include of course his falling in love. Little in the way of drama until Raynor boards the Irish Mail, realises he's followed, and so posts the 50,000 in the Travelling Post Office. But when Jim's girl friend Carol is kidnapped, "this is where the money comes to light," as Jim uses the cash to ransom her. However Thompson misses a trick and Raynor finds the 50,000 has somehow transformed into old strips of newpaper before the crooks are rounded up

THE SILVER DARLINGS (1947, directed by Clarence Elder, Welwyn Studios, 4*)- or the title could have been The Adventures of Catrine (Helen Shingler), whose husband is pressganged in the Scottish Highlands. She cannot countenance her son Finn going to sea in the booming herring industry under captain Roddy Sinclair (Clifford Evans), "the best skipper in the north." But a cholera epidemic changes her opposition. Of course she contracts the disease though she is cured by a forward thinking doctor. Despite her misgivings, the herring fleet booms and expands into the dangerous waters of the North Atlantic. Of course Catrine decides after twelve years she must marry Roddy, though Finn cannot countenance this, as the plot drifts onwards towards a final storm at sea in which Finn saves Roddy, so perhaps the title should have been The Sea Shall Not Have Them, or even The Cruel Sea

QUIET WEEK END (1947, directed by Harold French, Welwyn Studios, 7*)- "isn't it romantic?"- a cosy family cottage retreat bathed in the confident glow of the post war middle class. Oh so slight is the plot, mostly romance tinged with a touch of rivalry, held together by a strong cast headed by busy mother (Marjorie Fielding). But the films's origins as a play are well disguised. There are such harmless pursuits as toffee making, blackberry picking, the village concert, oh plus some poaching, all linked by Charles Williams' soft music, nearly all prim, proper and yes, pleasant. Stealing the show as the appealing Miranda is Barbara White

CAIRO ROAD (1950, directed by David Macdonald, Welwyn, 3*)- "Never mind the theory, keep to the facts," thus the major (Eric Portman), in charge of the Cairo narcotics squad, to his keen "green and young" sidekick Lt Mourad (Laurence Harvey). The clash between the two is the main merit of this film, certainly not the usual detective/sergeant relationship. Yet the story revolving round the death of a drug dealer is plodding, the Egyptian scenes provide some local colour, with a chase after criminals on camel. Mourad's greenness nearly proves disastrous when he inadvertently helps the boss to escape, but a more conventional car chase tracks the villain down and Mourad has the chance to redeem himself

MURDER WITHOUT CRIME (1950, directed by J Lee Thompson, Welwyn Studios, 1*)- A curious introduction and narrative maybe disguise the stage origins of this story. Jan falls out with her writer husband Stephen (Derek Farr). He drowns his sorrows with his neighbour Matthew (Dennis Price) in his club The Teneriffe, where Steve picks up Grena. They go to her flat, then his, scattering clues everywhere, and after they row, she is accidentally killed. The supercilious Matthew knows what has happened and toys with the killer, who, after being reunited with his estranged wife, admits "the ghastly jumble." Matthew would like 1500 for his silence. Steve decides suicide is his only way out, but it is Matthew who unwittingly takes the poisoned drink. With his dying breath, he tells why he hated Steve and loved Jan. This is all very wordy and tedious, but there's a final twist which you'd hardly expect

TALK OF A MILLION (1951, directed by John Paddy Carstairs, Welwyn Studios, 6*) - Irish blarney, but charming with it, about poet and philosopher Bartley Monahan (Jack Warner) who has never done a day's work in his life, "every day of his life a holiday." With his family facing poverty, he awakes. Newspapers are speculating on the identity of the person who will inherit the Gilskyre fortune. When Bartley is seen talking with the lawyer (Sid James) seeking to trace the heir, gossip in Clonkeely speculates that Bartley might just be that heir. A lovely study in how attitudes change towards him now he is supposed to be wealthy, credit is suddenly freely available. He uses his perceived position to squeeze money out of grasping old Tubridy and start a business empire based on such flimsy foundations. Every day he has a dozen new schemes it seems for making more money, yet has he changed for the better? His wife Bessie (Barbara Mullen) even sighs for the old lazy husband. "Thanks be to God" when Bartley's castle crumbles, though of course it all ends well

Though the studios were sold in late 1950, the film below was made at Wekwyn Studios:
A LADY MISLAID (1957, directed by David MacDonald, Welwyn Studios, 5*)- Not for cinema purists, since this is a condensed version of a Kenneth Horne play. "Supporter of the unlucky," Esther (Phyllis Calvert) and her sister Jennifer move into lovely Manor Cottage for "peace and quiet." But local gossip suggests Mrs Smith, wife of the previous owner is dead, buried somewhere in the house. The police commence digging. Observes the plaintive Esther of Inspector Bullock "it isn't as though he's any good!" Then Mr Smith appears with an explanation- "everything you say seems so improbable." Whilst there is nearly an element of whodunnit and horror, this remains a gentle and rather nice little comedy.
start of page








St John's Wood Studios
87a St John's Wood Terrace London NW8 phone Primrose 9255.
Open c1957-c1973. Directors in the 1960s were listed as AD Abrahams (chairman), Bertram Montague (manager), ER More O'Ferral, Dennis R Shand.

THE BANK RAIDERS (1958, directed by Maxwell Munden, St John's Wood Studios, 5*)- By the Southern Bank hovers a suspicious man disguised as Arthur Mullard. His boss, old hand at playing such characters Sydney Tafler, has the job carefully planned. The raid is simply filmed with a minimum of music, tension well built up. Pipe smoking Inspector Mason (Lloyd Lamble) calmly investigates, rather helped by the third member of the gang Terry Milligan (Peter Reynolds) who is flashing round his share of the loot, with the help of good time girl Della (Sandra Dorne). An eyewitness could identify Milligan but is nobbled- "my dear, how horrible," the scenes at the home of friends of the eyewitness are the weakest part of the film. Exit Arthur Mullard who has decided Milligan needs silencing, then spurred on by Della, Terry Milligan falls out with his boss. "Terry, put that gun away, don't be a fool." Inspector Mason pounces

THE HOUSE IN THE WOODS (1959, directed by Maxwell Munden, St John's Wood Studios, 4*) - Moody Jeff wants to be Alone, thus this provides an ideal part for Michael Gough. He and his wife Carol find the ideal country retreat but "there's a dark side to every man's heaven," and here the fly is Spencer (Ronald Howard) the owner of the cottage, an artist and an even more tortured soul than Jeff. What's his dark secret? It must be related to his late wife's early death, and that just before she would have inherited her aunt's fortune. "Spencer's going to murder you, "Jeff confides to Carol, and with their car immobilised, it gets quite exciting, ending in violent struggle, but somehow this 40 minute film is over before it has quite got going
start of page








Carlton Hill Studios (latterly Kay-Carlton)
72a Carlton Hill, London N8 phone Maida Vale 1141. 1 sound stage. The property was owned by Ernest G Roy of Nettlefold Studios. The Fabian of the Yard television series was shot here.
Active after the second war until the mid 1960s.

THE MONKEY'S PAW (1948, directed by Norman Lee, Kay Carlton Hill Studios, 3*)- Shopkeeper Trelawne accepts a weird claw in exchange for a rare original painting. His delivery boy Kelly claims the paw is curse, in an overlong flashback we see why. "Utter rot," says the new owner, perhaps a description of this film, which has a few weak actors but somehow builds the tension well. The fairytale quality is evident in the three wishes the paw can grant, and as Trelawne owes his bookie 200, the paw will be his saviour. However his more practical son Tom tries to win the money by racing at a speedway track. He does win the 200 first prize but crashes and dies. A second wish by his mother, restore him to life. as this film turns high melodrama. Some convoluted reasoning and fine photography end the tale

DOWN AMONG THE Z MEN (1952, directed by Maclean Rogers, Carlton Hill Studios, 5*)- HS as Bats of The Yard, MB as a prof "camping it up in a field," SM as Private Eccles "not one of them," and PS as Col Bloodnok. Goons fans might value zany moments such as the laughing gas sketch, HS hoovering during a hush hush meeting and PS's skit as two US soldiers, but for me the film doesn't quite make it as a story about the quest for the prof's missing secret formula- it's all a rather typical EJ Fancey (pleasant) muddle

MR BEAMISH GOES SOUTH (1953, directed by John Wall and Oscar Burn, Carlton Hill Studios, 5*)- A typical EJ Fancey film, but enlivened by an enthusiastic performance from John Laurie as Inspector Potter, the second of two films in which he played this role. Society hostess Lady Amanda Frobisher has disappeared. Potter had been going off on leave for a holiday in Switzerland, but instead makes for Bowville in Sussex, where he books into a hotel with his cat Mr Beamish. This is the latest in a series of murders of rich women, and Potter identifies Mrs Greenswood as the likely next victim. At the hotel she is courted by a major (Peter Bathurst), though Potter's attentions are diverted by another guest Miss Emily Carrington, who takes quite a fancy to poor Potter. He shakes her off and follows Mrs G who also shakes off her major to meet up with a young spiv. He takes her for a cuddle in a derelict hotel where Potter discovers a bath of acid. There are nice moments of humour, as when Potter creeps into Mrs G's bedroom in search of clues, to be caught in flagrante, "it's not at all what you think." The manager (Charles Lloyd Pack) takes a dim view, and Miss Emily is mortally offended. In fact she is nearly mortally killed for in a nice twist it transpires she is a police decoy out to lure the killer and in the shadow of the crumbling hotel, by the acid bath, we reach an enjoyable showdown

WHERE HAS POOR MICKEY GONE? (1964, directed by Gerry Levy, Carlton Hill Studios, 3*)- This starts with singing in a jazz club, from which some yobs get thrown out. They duff up a couple kissing in the street, then mess around in a shop, annoying and tying up the owner (Warren Mitchell). They force him to show them his magic tricks. They get something "you will never forget." As you long for their comeuppance, the denouement, though slow, is satisfying, since one by one the yobs disappear. "There is no answer," and that is the film's weakness, though maybe it's also a comment on the problem of teenage tearways

start of page















Walton Studios
Nettlefold Studios in their final days.

MARK OF THE PHOENIX (1957, directed by Maclean Rogers, Walton Studios, 3*)- The world's greatest jewel thief, Chuck Martin, flies in to Brussels to flog a necklace to Maurice Duser (Eric Pohlmann), A rare stolen alloy is planted in Chuck's hotel room, one that Duser is hoping to sell to a foreign power. Duser's improbable fiancee Petra (Julia Arnall) ditches Duser for Chuck, "now there's a man," while Inspector Schell (Anton Diffring, for once a goodie) tries to thwart the plot which apparently would make a mockery of Western defences. Duser's two cronies (George Margo and Michael Peake) bungle numerous attempts to retrieve the alloy ("what went wrong this time?"), as the story stumbles along until Chuck does the decent thing and stops the Commie plot. Best lines:
Anton Diffring: You don't know much about international crime, mademoiselle. Julia Arnall: But I do know about men

THE NAKED TRUTH (1957, directed by Mario Zampi, Walton Studios, 8*)- A host of fine stars are perhaps upstaged by Terry-Thomas as Lord Mayley, a deserving victim of a suave blackmailer (Dennis Price, ideally cast). In this light black comedy, his Lordship is only one of the many victims who vainly attempt to do away with their nemesis. Miles Malleson as a vicar makes an improbable fiance for Peggy Mount, and Joan Sims is the only one who really hams it up as Peggy Mount's petrified daughter. "Murder is so unEnglish," Terry-Thomas comments after another botched attempt but the film itself is no botch, rather a delightful example of English humour with Lord Mayley finally solving the dilemma: "we've just been killing ourselves trying to murder him!"

THE SPANIARD'S CURSE (1957, directed by Ralph Kemplen, Walton Studios, 5*) - Guy Stevenson is convicted of murdering Zoe Taylor. "I didn't kill her," he swears, also condemning his judge and jury to another trial in the Assize of the Dying. The judge's ward Margaret believes him innocent, as does Mark Brett (Lee Patterson), Zoe's half brother. Though the judge's wayward son Charles (Tony Wright) cannot take life at all seriously, the judge himself (beautifully played by Michael Hordern) takes the threat very calmly, matching the stately pace of the film. The characters are very well drawn, but at the expense of the potential tension from the executed man's promise. There is a slightly sinister shooting in a churchyard as the killer is exposed, "you would find it wouldn't you?" The judge's final dilemma is the best part of the film

BLIND SPOT (1958, directed by Peter Maxwell, Walton Studios, 3*)- This is a disappointing remake of Blackout made eight years previously, lacking any style, using the same basic plot, especially in the first half, but with different outcomes. The star, Robert Mackenzie, sadly exudes no charisma at all. He plays blind Captain Dan Adams who is given a lift by his US Army buddy Harry to Joe's party in Richmond. But he's dropped off in the wrong road where he trips over a dead man. The corpse had lived in the house, Johnny a pilot who had apparently died a while back in a plane crash. His sister June helps Dan, now with his sight restored, to solve the mystery, Dan motivated by the killing of his pal Joe who is done in in mistake for Dan. Johnny's girl friend Yvonne lures Dan into captivity at The Grange.
The plot has the same mix up over addresses at the start in Lindale Square, but the remake fails to have any subtlety in the relationship of the ex-blind man and the pilot's sister, the figure of June sadly watered down from Dinah Sheridan's original. There is an utter absence of any romance. The character of the pilot's best friend (Chalky, played by Gordon Jackson in the remake) comes out very differently, though I felt the remake gave a better motivation for the blind man's pursuit of justice, with the murder of his friend. At least this 1958 remake does boast Michael Caine. Yet for stunning dark settings, and for atmosphere, the original is far superior.

ROOM 43 (1958, directed by Alvin Rakoff, Walton Studios, 3*)- French waitress 'Malou' is tricked by Aggie, so is taxi driver Johnny by the wealthy Nick (Herbert Lom), who runs a house of "working girls" including Vicki (Diana Dors), who "entertains." I don't think the technical term was ever used. Another subterfuge sees Malou having to marry for convenience. Victim- Johnny. But they are actually attracted to each other, and she rebels when she is told by Nick that "she will be reserved for special duties- and me." As she won't comply, she is drugged, more 1960s style this, then tricked into thinking she is a murderess. That's improbable. She is forced on to the streets, where Johnny sees her and saves her from her fate. Nick must have his revenge, but gets his comeuppance in an exaggerated finish. The trouble is the plot tries for realism but fails, and the characters are unconvincing, except maybe Eddie Constantine as Johnny

BEYOND THIS PLACE (1959, directed by Jack Cardiff, Walton Studios, 7*)- Paul has returned to his home city of Liverpool to discover his father whom he has not seen for 20 years is a convicted murderer. The film has the advantage of some fine location shooting, but the disadvantage of an unconvincing star (Van Johnson). The case against his father Patrick Mathry is by no means watertight, fixed according to one drunk ex-copper. The prosecutor, now Sir Matthew, has a lot to lose, and blusters, "I'll stake my career on it." The arresting officer, now Chief Superintendent Dale ditto. But one man, Oswald has fought to obtain Mathry's reprieve from execution. At the seedy Grapevine Club, Paul makes up to owner Louise whose money must have come from blackmailing the real killer. To prove the case, Paul has to elude the aggressive police, "I can't give up," he tells Lena, a librarian with her own problems. It's the power of the press that moves the case to a conclusion, perhaps changing the mood of this film, but it changes again with an unhappy reunion with his embittered dad, "I never did the murder, but it's what murdered me." Paul steals the vital evidence to bring on an emotional scene with the killer, "you are the avenging angel"

COVER GIRL KILLER (1959, directed by Terry Bishop, Walton Studios, 6*)- Harry H Corbett looks sinister in his thick pebble glasses and combed down wig: as Walter Spendoza he lures showgirl Gloria Stark to pose for photographs in the park (see picture). Inspector Brunner (Victor Brooks) plods methodically through the evidence: "we're not completely half-witted, you know." Some help comes from Johnny Mason, owner of the pinup mag Wow. Miss Torquay, on the front cover like Miss Stark is next to be killed: "your nudity means nothing to me," the killer tells her before strangling her. He even has the nerve to call at the Yard with some informnation on the murderer! A trap is set. June, Johnny's girl friend model, poses for Wow. She's then "guarded closer than the Crown Jewels," in this neat little thriller, but naturally June ends up alone with the madman...

LIFE IN DANGER (1959, directed by Terry Bishop, Walton Studios, 4*)- Alec Miller has escaped from a prison for "criminal lunatics." He's a murderer. The film has some good studies of differing reactions to the danger: the calm Insp Bennett (Humphrey Lestocq) has to catch him, while the veteran Major (Howard Marion-Crawford) has his own idea of tracking down the villain, with his gun. Tension builds as The Man (Derren Nesbitt) is sheltered by the naive Hazel (Julie Hopkins- her last film) and her little brother Johnny. They listen to his stories in a barn, not quite like Whistle Down The Wind since the 16 year old girl is making eyes at him. The Major leads his posse to shoot the madman, the expected twist is well prepared

THE NAVY LARK (1959, directed by Gordon Parry, Walton Studios, 4*)- "Underground skullduggery" aboard the Compton minesweeper. Captain Povey, Old Thunderguts, is out to stop it. Stock comedy with routines like the enjoyable Leslie Phillips defusing a mine that he knows is a dud, but isn't actually. Then there's feigning yellow fever, and "a tinpot revolution," only this pseudo battle ain't that funny. Leslie is the only survivor from the original radio series, which has little connection otherwise with this disappointingly bland film. I put it down to Twentieth Century Fox. Cecil Parker as officer in charge, and Ronald Shiner as the fiddler in stores provide adequate support, but look ill at ease, and not just because they're rumbled in the actual story

THE PRICE OF SILENCE (1959, directed by Montgomery Tully, Walton Studios, 7*)- Roger Fenton (Gordon Jackson) has begun a new life after serving a prison sentence for embezzling. Evidently following a novel, the story rushes on, as he gains experience in his new life as an estate agent working for 69 year old H Shipley, whose young bored wife Maria makes eyes at Roger, but he's more interested in recluse Audrey. 'The Slug' (Sam Kydd) is an old lag and Roger "has to keep his filthy trap shut," but his increased demands force Roger to resort to the only way out. The tension builds, but he finally rejects his crazy plan, thankfully, only to find himself charged with the murder of a wealthy client, killed in his office. Supt Wilson (Victor Brooks) untangles events, misled by Marcia's lies, and salvation for Roger comes from an unexpected source, "it's beginning to make sense now." A well worn theme, but well built up to a fine conclusion

AND THE SAME TO YOU (1959, Walton Studios, directed by George Pollock, 3*)- Impressive credits both behind the camera and in front somehow fail to live up to expectation, though the film starts promisingly with Miles Malleson as a bumbling bishop appointing a new vicar who finds his church hall is being used as a boxing venue. Leo Franklyn is the hapless vicar, assisted by his nephew theology student Brian Rix up against second rate boxing promoter William Hartnell and his useless helper Tommy Cooper, completely wasted. Sid James adds a pleasing cameo, though only a cameo, as does Terry Scott, while Dick Bentley is irritating as a bookie. The implausible plot gets too bogged down in the noble art, with William Hartnell, knowing the script is letting him down, overdoes it

THR TROUBLE WITH EVE (1959 Mancunian Films but now made at Walton Studios, directed by Francis Searle, 4*)- The Willow Tree Tea Rooms face a council inspection, during which upright chairman Maitland (Robert Urquhart) sits on some cakes. A policeman sees him in his undies, or rather those of the owner (Hy Hazell). Romance blossoms, until he catches a "glimpse of a modern babylon" as her daughter Eve (Sally Smith) is caught up in a wild party. Gossip ensues, the cafe being less like "cosy teas" more "like striptease". The cunning of Eve ensures it's all patched up.

THE GENTLE TRAP (1960, directed by Charles Saunders, Walton Studios, 2*)- Johnny and Sam collect a nice little haul of diamonds in a safe job but are then attacked by rival crooks. Their boss Ricky (Martin Benson) has had wind of the job via Johnny's girl Sylvia. Old Sam is killed but Johnny gets away. The search is on. He hides with two sisters Jean and Mary: "heads Ricky gets you, tails the cops." If the main lead had been a bit more charismatic, or even convincing, the film might have turned out less seedy: "I never dreamt I'd help a murderer." If only Inspector Stevenson (the wonderful Trevor Reid here oddly billed as Colin Reid) had been given a larger part! He enjoys an acerbic interview with Ricky as the two master actors exchange pleasantries. Then Ricky catches up with Johnny "in a funeral procession", the police not far behind, as a feeble finale is reached

THE HAND (1960, directed by Henry Cass, Walton Studios, 4*)- "Pretty fantastic, not very convincing," but though this threatens to become a grisly horror it never does. Charlie is found drunk in the street, 500 in his pocket, and an amputated hand. Inspector Munyard (Ronald Leigh-Hunt) questions Dr Simon Crawshaw who had performed surgery on Charlies with "gross incompetence." The doctor's cousin (Derek Bond) is behind a sinister plot, something deriving from his wartime cowardice, and he is only tracked down after several witnesses have been silenced. Script was co-written by Ray Cooney who plays the inspector's assistant Dave. The background music is typical early 60's beat, and good to see old favourite police car 892 FPC. I liked the final twist

THE HOUSE IN MARSH ROAD (1960, directed by Montgomery Tully, Walton Studios, 3* aka Invisible Creature) - A penniless writer, David and his wife Jean (typecast Tony Wright and Patricia Dainton) inherit Fourwinds, a large house, surely the ideal retreat for an author who needs peace. But a poltergeist called Patrick is also in residence. David starts an affair with his typist Valerie (Sandra Dorne), "quite a dish." They fall in love and the removal of the wife will complete their happiness. But Patrick has other ideas! When David tries to push Jean, Patrick intervenes, when David tries poison, the bells start wildly ringing. She tells her solicitor who can't fathom her fears. "You make it all sound so silly." Which is perhaps exactly how it is! With Jean away, Valerie and David make love, but the last say is Patrick's, who causes the house to burn down, locking them in to burn to their deaths.

INN FOR TROUBLE (1960, directed by Pennington Richards, Walton Studios, 7*)- For once an improvement on a tv series, a rather touching adventure of The Larkins who are transported to Devon to run a country pub, The Earl Osbourne. It's a failing inn that is put "right back on the map," mainly through the "forceful personality" of Ada (Peggy Mount), conquering the machinations of the likes of Alan Wheatley. A jolly theme tune by Phil Green and plenty of drinks, plus some gems of cameos from the likes of Gerald Campion, Frank Williams, AE Matthews, Irene Handl, Willoughby Goddard, Graham Moffatt and Stanley Unwin, with only Leslie Phillips disappointingly wasted

JACKPOT (1960, directed by Montgomery Tully, Walton Studios, 4*) - Though William Hartnell is billed as the star, he is hardly in it, as the police officer investigating a safe robbery at the Jackpot Club. 6,000 has been stolen, but a vigilant policeman had spotted the thieves and been shot dead for his troubles. The club is run by crooked Sam (Eddie Byrne) who had used Karl to do his dirty work. Karl is now out of prison and wanting his pay, but Sam won't cough up and so Sam, with the help of Lenny, had helped himself from Sam's safe. Sam guesses what's happened and seeks his revenge, and after some rough stuff Karl is chased to the Arsenal football ground, a match v Burnley. This is a routine crime caper, the heist told in good detail, the most interesting character is reformed criminal Lenny (Michael Ripper unusually good), who is tempted by the money into helping Karl, and horrified when he's caught up in a murder hunt, "they hang you for killing coppers." Betty McDowall adds some class as Karl's estranged wife and Hartnell can always be relied upon to put in a few good touches

THREE ON A SPREE (1960 directed by Sidney J Furie, Walton Studios, 3^)- A forgotten version of Brewster's Millions which provides some delightful fun for Jack Watling, but the film, after a lively start, sadly loses its drive in a poor second half. Mike Brewster has been saving for five years to get married to Susan (Carole Lesley). At last he's got enough, but then he's told he will inherit eight million, if he can fulfil his uncle's bequest- spend one million in 60 days- this so he can "learn to hate spending money." With his two bemused ex-work mates (Colin Gordon and John Slater) he starts his spree- "which bank did you rob this morning?" They set up Brewster and Co with schemes to lose money on roulette, horses, shows, anything- but somehow they all win Brewster more money- "everything I touch turns to gold!"

THE BREAKING POINT (1961, directed by Lance Comfort, Walton Studios, 3*)- As Eric Winlater (Peter Reynolds) owes cash, it's rather handy he works in his uncle's engraving firm, which has just won the new currency contract for the Middle Eastern state of Lalvadore. Ripe for blackmail by smooth embassy worker Peter, his wife is two timing him with journalist Robert (Dermot Walsh). The characters are built up well enough, but too slowly for a one hour film. Eric passes details of the contract to Peter who then offers Eric even more for hijacking the van carrying all the cash to Gatwick. Snatching the fortune almost works, only Robert has tailed Eric. "You incompetent fool!" But the fool shows a final spark of decency bringing on an exciting fight outside a plane in flight

DURING ONE NIGHT (1961 directed by Sidney Furie, Walton Studios, 0*)- a modest film that thinks too much of itself, with sickly music that drowns the angst of the actors as well as me. In the war pilot Mike is injured so that, as he puts it, "I'm not a man any more." This is double speak for if I can say it sex, but it turns out he never has been 'a man' anyway. His co-pilot Don hasn't either and proves the point in a salacious scene with a prostitute, where he can't do it. A barmaid (Susan Hampshire) consoles him with "sometimes when you talk about something you feel better," but all this talking in veiled tones about "trying the product" is very wearing and her own motive was perhaps the only interest I could find. "I don't want to die without ever being a man," he tells her, so in a deserted barn at the "don't tell me, show me" point, very unromantically she strips off. However "nothing happened," as she tells her mum later, he really can't. If you can follow this tragedy to the end you get to a discussion about love and the surprisingly moral conclusion for the Sixties that love is the answer, which of course he finds and becomes etc etc, in this film truly of its age and awful

MARY HAD A LITTLE (1961, directed by Edward Buzzell, Walton Studios, 4*)- Failing theatrical agent Scott Raymond (Jack Watling) bets with Dr Mal Nettel (John Bentley) that he can't make a woman produce The Perfect Baby via hypnotism. Really. Scott cheats by persuading a can-can dancer from Cannes, Mary, to be the subject of this improbabe medical experiment. The treatment of this deception is too plodding as Mary is set up in Shakespeare's cottage, with, er, "a better plot than you ever had." Obviously, with scenes such as Scott hypnotised into believing "I'm going to have a beautiful baby." Weirder is Mary's dream when the bard comes to life. But the film finishes with a flourish with Scott hiding Mary in his bedroom to avoid the eyes of his long time fiancee Laurel (Hazel Court). A shotgun wedding nearly follows, with a finale in the police station with Terry Scott sorting out the wild muddle

start of page








Nettlefold Studios
Hurst Grove, Walton on Thams. Telephone Walton 2414. Four stages: 3 approx 120x85ft, 1 85x64ft.
Originally the studios of Cecil Hepworth in 1899, it began life as Nettlefold in 1926. In 1955 TV production of Robin Hood began here, and the studios were eventually renamed Walton Studios. They closed in 1961.

FATHER STEPS OUT (1937, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 2*) - Veteran music hall turn George Carney plays Joe, a down-to-earth northerner who owns a happy family-run cheese factory. His daughter Helen (Dinah Sheridan) is just back from her posh finishing school, now "a real lady." Her new boy friend Philip (David Langton, here as Basil Langton) invites her and her parents to his mansion, where it should be a case of "when in Rome do as the Romanians do." But this comedy of manners gets subsumed by a plot to swindle Joe as Philip tricks Helen into eloping. Luckily Jim's chauffeur, Helen's old pal Johnny (Bruce Seton), cures her of her "swollen head" whilst the penniless Joe fortuitously regains his fortune by investing in an old wreck. Quote of the film from Joe: "what's the good of dignty- it only costs money to keep it up

MERELY MR HAWKINS (1938, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- This film has a bright start, with a nice leading role for Eliot Makeham as a downtrodden bank clerk. Both he and his daughter Betty (Dinah Sheridan) are "under the thumbs" of the formidable Mrs Hawkins (Sybil Grove). But their lot improves when Betty inherits 5,000, but unfortunately the film doesn't make the most of this promising start. Instead we rather get bogged down in a long sketch at the village bazaar, and later at the local amateur dramatics. Betty has a boy friend, shy Richard (Jonathan Field), who "needs bringing up to scratch," but she is now pursued by wealthy John Fuller who has just deposited $250,000 worth of bonds in the bank. Betty does flirt with him, but it's only to try and arouse Richard's jealousy. Of course, though Mrs H decides his money must be worth Betty's hand, Mr H is at last able to get the better of her when he shows Fuller up to be "a wrong 'un"

I'LL TURN TO YOU (1946, directed by Geoffrey Faithfull, Nettlefold Studios, 4*) - The familiar theme of adjusting to life after the war is sandwiched at start and end by long musical extracts. The theme song is sung twice, once by John McHugh, and played by Albert Sandler on his violin. The other songs are That Depends on Me, and a version of Liebestraume. only a shame that ageing singer Harry Welchman has been put out to pasture as grandad, and doesn't oblige. RAF pilot Roger Meredith (Don Stannard) returns to the dump of a flat that his wife Aileen (Terry Randal) has rented, to find her with former admirer Henry, who "has done everything for me." But it's all platonic on her side, and Roger settles in, though his old job at an advertising agency he finds hard to settle to, "Mr Meredith, you've got a lot to learn." Things come to a head at Henry's party where Roger gets drunk and rows with Aileen, but then almost patches it up, "it's all my fault darling." This realisation, the failure of his job and renewed suspicions about Henry cause him to disappear, "I'm baling out." Working as a hotel porter, he happens to meet Henry staying as a guest and everything cleared up, Henry offers him a job. But when Roger returns home, his wife is out! There's relief from all the gloom in the sub plot of the landlady (Irene Handl) and her romance with her milkman, "oo you are a clumsy gump." Several tedious songs later, too many songs that stifle the climax, husband and wife make up

SEND FOR PAUL TEMPLE (1946, directed by John Argyle, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- As the Midland Gang are mysteriously baffling poor Scotland Yard, Paul Temple is unofficially called in to capture this gang of smash and grab raiders. "Greenfingers" is a clue on the mouth of a dying eyewitness, and this turns out to be the old name of the pub where the crooks meet. The murder of a Yard detective deepens the gloom, though the dead man's sister, Miss Trent, does help brighten up the case. But the woodenness of Anthony Hulme in the title role spoils even this, as in this sample exchange: Miss Trent- "I think I can imagine you as Romeo." Temple- "unfortunately I played Juliet." His mediocre acting is occasionally infectious, at his worst he utters "this is the chance we've been waiting for," without the least inflection of enthusiasm. Too much such talk and too little action make this not Francis Durbridge's finest hour

THE HILLS OF DONEGAL (1947, directed by John Argyle, Nettlefold Studios, 1*)- Singer Eileen has given up her career to marry Terry, who seems to us rather a smooth rogue, unlike his cousin Michael, Eileen's former leading man. This film introduced the fine pairing of Dinah Sheridan and John bBentley, though they're not exactly comfortable here, and Eileen's miming is hardly impressive. Further the director seems uncertain of his mix of classical music, Irish folk numbers and gypsy airs. Our couple move into an Irish hillside mansion "not fit for man or beast." Buried treasure is hidden somewhere inside it, and what's the mystery of Eileen's late parents whom she hardly knew? There are altogether too many strands to make a satisfying whole. Then there are Moore Marriott and Irene Handl to add a spot of comedy, young Paddy to add some squirming sentimentality and Carole, Michael's new leading lady to blackmail Terry, who descending to drink kills her, goes beserk. Sure, 'tis melodrama as the treasure is found, Eileen's past revealed and two deaths ensure a happy conclusion

CALLING PAUL TEMPLE (1948, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 5*) - Maniac murderer Rex has killed four women, so Paul and Steve Temple take on the case, John Bentley and Dinah Sheridan giving the film some sparkle. A car crash and a time bomb thwart their investigations into an Egyptian doctor, a tiny Welshman and a blackmail victim as they whisk from London to Canterbury, where Steve is bound and gagged in a monastery. When Paul tries to rescue her, he too is gagged and the vault where they are bound is flooded. "Paul, what are we going to do?" But the couple are just freed in time, and in time to unmask Rex. "Paul, look out, he's got a gun!" My favourite line, very much of its time: "Hotel Waiter: 'If only you had been here before the war, sir.' Paul Temple: 'This cod was!'"

THE GIRL WHO COULDN'T QUITE (1949, directed by Norman Lee, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Miss Ruth (Elizabeth Henson) never laughs. It makes her upper crust life miserable, and she has an "impossible" attitude to her family. Ten years on she might have been called a rebel teenager, as it is, she upsets the cosy domesticity of a house otherwise bathed in the glow of the post war era. But at last she smiles, it's the sight of a man, Tim (Bill Owen), a tramp. After much hesitation on both sides, he is invited to stay, and he teaches her about giving, and everyone else, rich and poor learn the same lesson, though it's to the discomfort of granny and of cook, "me smalls 'ave gone!" The light mood becomes darker when Tim helps her overcome her subconscious fears- a quite credible story now but out of character with the first half of the film. She loses her memory, and only gradually recovers it but has excluded Tim from her mind, so it is a rather mournful if also drawn out last reel

OLD MOTHER RILEY HEADMISTRESS (1950, directed by John Harlow, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- "Out of the ark," Mrs Daphne Snowdrop Riley is a taste you either love or don't. In this film she is sacked from a laundry, so how come she's in charge of St Mildred's School for Young Ladies? Well, Kitty has been sacked from the academy, so mother buys the place, using the money she has acquired from her laundry. Incongruous, but nothing more so, than Old Mother playing a piano in motion, or taking a PT lesson (Physical Torture), in which you're never sure if she's the teacher or a pupil. Then there's her running in an egg and spoon race on Speech Day. Don't ask how, burglars bring out the fire brigade, the police and seem to set the country on a war footing, before it all ends happily of course. Perhaps the corniest of the corn was this: Lawyer- Sic transit gloria mundi. Mother Riley- I'm sorry you were sick last Monday

OLD MOTHER RILEY'S JUNGLE TREASURE (1950, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold, 3*)- Mistress Riley works in an antique shop which is haunted by an old pirate. Her bed hides a treasure map, so starts an expedition, in competition with incompetent crooks. Under a temple is buried the treasure, somehow Old Mother Riley ends up as Queen on the cannibal isle. My problem is that she is so exaggerated, and Kitty is as boring as those song interludes in Marx Brothers films. Garry Marsh has the best role as a dubious airline pilot, with his equally incompetent sidekick Peter Butterworth. When the film veers away from its stars, it's at its best

TAKE ME TO PARIS (1950, directed by Jack Raymond, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- Jockey Albert (Albert Modley) loves his Thunderhead, a horse which is now "practically a joke." But he's entered for a race in France because Gerald (Bruce Seton) needs to go to Paris to sell his forged fivers. So Albert has the chance to "see life," and he does in the shape of the oddly drooling Annette. A fire engine scares Thunderhead who gallops off "like lightning." There's a lot of chasing after the horse and Albert who end up reet at t'top of Eiffel Tower, only Albert of course. But this film never offers Formby fun, or Frank Randle goonery. Thunderhead wins t'race of course, wi' the aid of a strategically placed fire engine, and Albert wins la belle Annette, with a final snog, "kissing in England is still in its infancy!"

MIDNIGHT EPISODE (1950, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- This film is nearly but never quite absorbing- an incident in the life of Mr Prince, busker (Stanley Holloway) changes him, when he happens to find a well filled wallet in Ealing Broadway, fallen out of car JOP861, later found in the Thames. Mystery surrounds the driver Edward Harris, who had a second life as a Mr Arnold. Why are several people attempting to retrieve his wallet? Either by cash or by force, they are determined to get it, to keep its secret. "Every time you tell the truth, it gets more suspicious"

MISTER DRAKE'S DUCK (1951, directed by Val Guest, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Donald Drake and his new bride Penny move in to Green Acres Farm for the idyllic rural life, until the scatty wife accidentally buys five dozen ducks at an auction. The mild fun develops into a more zany genre when one of the ducks is found to lay uranium eggs, "most extraordinary." The army commandeer the farm, "the world's gone mad," more so when the navy and air force move in. There are mild pokes at post war red tape, and the momentum almost turns to a disappointing world fantasy, as you feel the team were getting bored with the ducks, failing to exploit the comedy to the full. However there is compensation in the supporting cast, especially Jon Pertwee as the irascible Reuben, Peter Butterworth as the odd job man, and Reginald Beckwith as the bank manager

ANOTHER MAN'S POISON (1951, directed by Irving Rapper, Nettlefold, 5*)- "the dark recesses" of the mind of Janet Frobisher (Bette Davis), a crime writer who was once Mrs Preston. She has just killed her husband who had been involved in a bank robbery with employee George Bates. He takes on Preston's persona against Janet's wishes, who has designs on Larry the fiance of her secretary. It's all a little stagey, and when George deliberately shoots Janet's beloved horse Fury, rancour leads to an inevitable climax, "no suicides or anything melodramatic," yet what else could it be?

SCARLET THREAD (1951, directed by Lewis Gilbert. Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- Pickpocket Freddie (Laurence Harvey) rescues rich Mr Bellingham (Sydney Tafler) when he's attacked by roughs. So Freddie is offered a job, a smash and grab raid on a Cambridge jewellers. The inexperienced Freddie panics and shoots a passer-by, and after a chase he and Bellingham hide in a don's house, where the frustrated spinster Josephine (Kathleen Byron) entertains them, thinking they are old students. The film is at one moment a travelogue round the university city, as well as an improbable love story as Freddie falls for her. But it never excites our involvement, and dies when she learns her father is the dead eyewitness to the crime. Yes, they are "a couple of cheap crooks," as it finally dawns on us that this is a cheap and rather seedy film. She goads the pair to fall out, then there's a chase around the college to a very abrupt end- possibly the final scene is lost?

THE MADAME GAMBLES (1951, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- A costumier bets her shop on a horse, and loses. Trout (Garry Marsh) the crooked bookie, hides out in the shop from his enemies. In charge here is Mr Pastry whose new three-in-one creation ("is that good?") is the frail reed on which the shop might stave off bankruptcy. After attempting to turn the place into a "gaudy bawdy" boutique, Trout sacks Mr Pastry. The problem is that the film attempts to fit Richard Hearne's character into an existing farce but though we get a lot of his mannerisms there's little slapstick until the end. He has one fine scene where he pretends to be insane and after the usual chase there's a dull protracted sequence with Honest Pastry the Bookie, only helped by Petula Clark who adds some charm to proceedings. In the end it's "Mr Pastry, you're wodnerful," as he wins back the shop finishing with the nice line, "Trout, you lout, you're out!"

THE LONG DARK HALL (1951, directed by Anthony Bushell, Nettlefold, 3*)- Showgirl Rose is murdered, her admirer Arthur is the unlikely suspect. He's an unsympathetic character, though innocent, Rex Harrison plays him with a singular lack of depth. That's the weakness of this film, we don't care enough for the accused. The lighting at Nettlefold was ideal for film noirs, and we are given dark shadows, deep suspicion, and clandestine secret. Yet the second half, Arthur's trial, is too protracted, even if the verdict be in doubt, for his alibi "doesn't ring true." The real killer is only a minor menace, but the ending is original

A TALE OF FIVE CITIES (1951, directed by Montgomery Tully, Nettlefold Studios, 1*)- US flyer Robert Mitchell (Bonar Colleano) gets amnesia and spends the film trying to trace five girlfriends. "The world's prize orphan" visits five cities to trace Maria in Rome, Katalin in Vienna, Charlotta in Berlin, and Janine in Paris. After four disparate and mostly dispiriting vignettes each directed by a different director, Bob is not much wiser as to his identity-while we simply don't care any more. Then in London the search is on for Peggy Brown, who turns out to not be a girl at all. The quest has been "a long way to come," too long indeed. Might have been better as A Tale of 2 Cities, or 1 or even none

TOM BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS (1951, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- Tom Brown is "made of the right stuff" and his encounter with the red hot poker of the unregenerate Flashman is the stuff of legend. In contrast the Good Doctor, reformer of the bad old traditions, is played by Robert Newton with understated integrity. It's a battle betwixt "the decent fellows" and the "contemptible brutality" of the old school characters. The strong religious tone of the book also comes through, the catalyst is Tom Brown's taking care of the sickly orphan George Arthur. "War" is declared on Flashman, Brown and East thrash him, then with Christian charity save him from drowning. He turns the episode on its head, telling the Doctor that the serious fever little Arthur develops is down to Tom's misdemeanors. As Arthur grows worse, Tom prays and East learns a lesson on prayer. John Howard Davies as Tom had his finest moment, at least as an actor- sadly John Charlesworth as his friend East enjoyed a less happy life, as we see them running off into the sunset it's sad to reflect on their future different paths

TALL HEADLINES (1951, directed by Terence Young, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- All very middle class, "I do wish they'd increase the cheese ration," until eldest son Ronnie is arrested and hanged for the Barking Dog Case, a young girl's murder on Putney Heath. This is a study of a family who try a fresh start, but it's impossible, "haven't I seen you some place before?" Maybe it's worst for siblings Frankie (Jane Hylton) and Philip (Michael Denison), who falls for temptress Doris (Mai Zetterling) and starts wondering if he's turning into a killer like his brother. "Nothing more can harm us now," but it can, as the deeply depressing story becomes the stuff of melodrama, deeply misjudged. Of course Philip should have come clean with Doris, "I ought to have told you this." The film then mistakenly adds a forced happy conclusion, which at least has the merit of relieving our gloom

SONG OF PARIS (1952 Nettlefold Studios directed by John Guillermin. 2*)- This isn't quite a comedy or a musical or even a romance. Mischa Auer overacts as so often, but Dennis Price lends his usual dignified charm as the most English of Englishmen facing French high spirits. To sort out a crisis in the Stomach Pills industry, Matthew has to travel to that "sink of inquity," Paris. "But in that sink," he's told, "there are some smashing pieces of crockery" including one Clementine. When she follows him to England along with her self declared fiance, the Count, everyone's lives are in turmoil. Finally it's pistols at dawn, but Matthew will surely be killed. "Do you want his life and his body delivered at your doorstep then, before even the milkman has called?" In amongst the story are four songs: Chanson de Paris, Just a Song of Paris, Mademoiselle Apres-Midi and Let's Stay Home

IS YOUR HONEYMOON REALLY NECESSARY (1952, directed by Maurice Elvey, Nettlefold Studios, 6*)- Wartime ace Laurie 'Skip' Vining (Bonar Colleano) is back in Britain on honeymoon with Gillian (Diana Decker) in a "luxury joint," 63 Grosvenor Square. But his first wife Candy (Diana Dors) turns up and it's up to him and his buddy Hank (Sid James) to keep 'em apart. Get a lawyer, but surely not the gauche Frank (David Tomlinson), "rather awkward isn't it?" Here's a farce with plenty of door juggling, the best moments between DT the reluctant lover and DD allegedly his wife. Perhaps Sid in the lead role would have made a more accomplished comedy, but there are some nice lines, such as "Two wives on one honeymoon?" "One should be ample"

THE LARGE ROPE (1952, directed by Wolf Rilla, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Three years Tom (Donald Houston) served for laying hands on Amy. He was innocent. Now he has returned to his village, where he's not welcome even by his father. The film tries to introduce too many characters- it happens on the very day his ex-girl Susan is to marry Geoff. it's a deeply depressing study of village gossipers. When the flirtatious Amy is strangled, there's a ready made suspect for Inspector Harmer and the zealous new local bobby. Old Ben is a key witness against Tom. It's the old lynch mob tale as the crowd get "restive," it's all too pat. When Tom breaks police custody, the crowd give chase, but he gives them the slip and confronts Geoff, "I've kept my mouth shut too long." Quite why I wasn't sure. Or how the real killer manages to betray himself

GLAD TIDINGS (1952 directed by Wolf Rilla, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- "The finest golf course in the country" faces losing its 13th to airport expansion- quite a modern theme! Here's a project for retired Colonel Tom who's just returned home with his fiancee (Barbara Kelly). But his four children's fraternisation with the RAF undermines his position. Sadly, what begins as a promising comedy in the hands of such experts as Raymond Huntley and Terence Alexander descends to soap opera.

ESCAPE ROUTE (1952, directed by Seymour Friedman and Peter Graham Scott, Nettlefold Studios, 5*) - Steve Rossi (George Raft) creeps into England avoiding airport customs, in order to track down the elusive Michael Grand, who's in charge of a gang smuggling top scientists over to (where else?) Russia. Rossi enlists the help of British agent Joan (Sally Gray in her final film)- "you are a woman after all." Together they spend the film in a long slightly tedious chase across London, occasionally exciting. Raft moves as though he's seen all this many times before, only difference being, this is a British movie

FLANNELFOOT (1952, directed by MacLean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 3*) - "Who is Flannelfoot?" the Yard are asking. A Fascinatin' man perhaps, according to the song sung at the start, a gentleman thief that Inspector Duggan (Ronald Adam) is desperate to arrest, with the aid of his colleague Sgt Harry Fitzgerald (Ronald Howard). Getting some "good copy" on the crook, Mitchell (Jack Watling) of the Daily Comet is hoping "Fleet Street shows Scotland Yard what's what." They all join forces to catch him at a weekend house party at Wexford Court, home of the owner of the Comet. There Duggan makes an arrest, but he's proved wrong when there's another robbery "the game's up... this'll take some explaining." After many plodding scenes, the identity of Flannelfoot is finally revealed after a rooftop chase when the crook goes over the top in traditional fashion. Of course the whole thing, an EJ Fancey production, is over the top, with Fancey's usual slightly inappropriate stock background music and somewhat jarring continutity. But that's all part of the fun

EMERGENCY CALL (1952, directed by Lewis Gilbert, Nettlefold, 2*)- Required: transfusion for a five year old girl, very rare blood group. Inevitably this veers towards sentimentality, but mostly the storyline is lost in the search for donors. The first possible donor, George (Earl Cameron) refuses point blank to help, a second possible has died. None left on the register! So Inspector Lane (Jack Warner) joins the search, frustratingly the sub plots become too much of a focus, before a boxer gives his pint. Then George comes round, and finally Jacko is located, but he is a murderer on the run, three pints at long last, loo long. Some compensation comes from some lively cameos, including Thora Hird and Vida Hope

GIRDLE OF GOLD (1952, directed by Montgomery Tully, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Unassuming film, needing tighter editing in the outdoor scenes. We're in Wales, allegedly. Griffiths the Undertaker keeps his secret nest egg sewn into his wife's corset. It's his bad luck she runs off with Evans the Milk. Griffiths chases after, and disrobes her, discretely in the bushes. The cash has gone. A too long court case can't establish if Evans has stolen the money, there are a plethora of obvious underwear jokes. Mrs G, in honour of the occasion, had bought a new corset, so who has her old one? Mary is in London on honeymoon with Dai, Evans rushes there first and buys the garment for 20. After unseemly scenes, but no cash, the search moves back to Wales where one of the church choir, currently at practice, apparently bought the corset. Another obvious scene, nicely understated, and it all ends in smiles

PAUL TEMPLE RETURNS (1952, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Who is The Marquis? He's killed three times, no obvious motive. Since the Yard detectives are a little slow, Paul Temple and his wife step in, finding one of the Yard men is top of their suspects list! A "prima facie case" can also be made against Sir Felix, especially since he's played by Christopher Lee. However he is found dead, so who is The Marquis? "There could be other suspects." The film rambles pleasantly enough, without undue excitement. "Temple, have you gone mad?"

THE BLUE PARROT (1953, directed by John Harlow, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Supt Chester (the dependable Ballard Berkeley) gets the help of Bob (Dermot Walsh) who's "American, they take over everything," in the Rocks Owen murder case. Sgt Maureen Maguire is a more than useful ally. Their pondersome investigation centres on the Blue Parrot Club, exclusive but awfully cramped. Chester neatly sums it up when he remarks "there's plenty of time, I'm not going to rush things." Ultra suspicious are Carson (John le Mesurier), owner of the club, as well as Taps (Edwin Richfield) and Stevens (Ferdy Mayne). "It's a pity it has to end like this," as Maureen finds herself "in a tough spot." "Sleep well copper," the killer tells her

PARK PLAZA 605 (1953, directed by Bernard Knowles, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Norman Conquest (Tom Conway) accidentally hits a pigeon on the golf course. On the dead bird is a message about a meeting in room 605 in a hotel. Here Norman encoutners the beautiful Nadina (Eva Bartok), plus one corpse. Supt Bill Williams (unusually Sid James) accuses Norman of murder. At the rendezvous, Nadina was expecting him to hand over diamonds, and to get them, Pixie, Norman's girl is kidnapped, then Norman. The film has pretensions of style with its catchy theme tune, nice touches of humour and Norman's Frazer Nash sports car, though it never utterly charms

GRAND NATIONAL NIGHT (1953, directed by Bob McNaught, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- If anyone ever deserved to get bumped off, it is the self centred Babs (Moira Lister), cruel to horses, an outrageous flirt. Her husband Gerry (Nigel Patrick) has to miss the Grand National because of her cruelty to his favourite horse, but his Star Mist wins, a cause for Babs to celebrate. In the early hours, when she returns home, wallowing in self pity, the couple argue. Next day her disappearance causes much speculation and when her body is found. the meticulous Inspector Ayling (Michael Hordern) starts to tighten the net around Gerry. Calmly and systematically, he dismembers Gerry's "plausible story," the accidental discovery of a railway ticket the nail in Gerry's coffin. A fascinating tale, how can a happy ending be manufactured? I remember first watching this when it was screened during the ITV actors' dispute in early 1962, and it remains as absorbing so many years later

OPERATION DIPLOMAT (1953 based on Francis Durbridge's TV serial, directed by John Guillermin, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- A meandering tale that can't quite ignite enthusiasm. Mark Fenton (Guy Rolfe), a surgeon, is virtually kidnapped in order to operate on a rich diplomat. Following a trail of murders, he later conducts extensive enquiries to work out where this operation had been conducted. However when his patient has a relapse he gets a second chance but by the time he does solve the puzzle "they've cleared out." Only a final desperate chase prevents the diplomat from being smuggled to behind the Iron Curtain. Note- William Franklyn appears uncredited as a doctor.

THE DIAMOND (1953, directed by Dennis O'Keefe, Nettlefold Studios, 4*) - today's US arrival at the airport is Joe (Dennis O'Keefe) of the US Treasury Department, who is after recovering $1m, with a little help from Inspector 'Mac' Maclean (Philip Friend). The pair enjoy a few good interchanges and healthy rivalry for Miss Marlene Miller, whose scientist father is missing, inventor of an incredible process that can created perfect diamonds. These are imported into the country, the Yard tailing the smugglers to a Hatton Garden dealer (Alan Wheatley almost inevitably). There is a well photographed shooting on the escalator at St John's Wood station, and a dramatic finale in which Joe rescues Marlene

OLD MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE (1953, directed by John Gilling, Nettlefold Studios, 6*)- Without Mother Riley's usual stooge, this film's better for that, with Dora Bryan a fine comic foil, it creaks and pleases with its sometimes nonsensical eccentricity. A mad scientist is suspected of abducting girls, who's next? "He drinks their blood" and sleeps in a coffin, of course it's Bela Lugosi who nicely hams it up. His latest Frankenstein robot is accidentally delivered to Old Mother Riley, "have I gone mad?" Lugosi asks. The old woman is kidnapped and fed plenty of liver- for elevenses, "I don't get it." But singlehandedly she rescues a maiden in distress, and grapples with the robot

MEET MR CALLAGHAN (1953, directed by Charles Saunders, Nettlefold, 10*)- You don't need to follow this sparkling private eye tale, for Eric Spear's music is catchy enough. Full of herrings, its about 4 nephews that dry detective (Derrick de Marney who relishes this role) blackmails in order to discover which has killed a millionaire. William, who's to marry Cynthis, donates 300, 200 comes from broke Bellamy, and 500 from Jeremy for a fake will. But it all is honourably used to pay off Paul for a fake confession. In between battling with Gringall of the Yard (the splendid Trevor Reid), Slim Callaghan throws away variations on his catchphrase: "Callaghan Investigations never lets its clients down"...then as an aside... "well hardly ever," "Callaghan Investigations never sleeps ... well hardly ever," "Callaghan Investigations never makes bargains with crooks... well hardly ever." Or this variation: "Callaghan Investigations never blackmails its clients-" no addition. And at the end a besotted Cynthis reminds him of his words "Callaghan Investigations never lets its clients down" to which Slim adds "certainly not this time"

THE SCARLET WEB (1953, directed by Charles Saunders, Nettlefold Studios, 7*) -This blonde is waiting for Jake Winter as he is leaving Wormwood Scrubs. She has a proposition, but it's a trap, and he is drugged. When he comes to, he finds a dagger in his hand, a dead woman in the bedroom. He is actually an insurance investigator, and he needs help badly. His new boss 'Honey' is the girl to provide it, and the film perks up as Hazel Court as Honey has some good repartee with Griffith Jones. as Jake. He traces the mystery blonde, name of Laura, as he is pursued for the murder of another witness. By playing off Laura against the murdered woman's husband, Honey nearly gets done in herself. A satisfying film, with good supporting cameos from Ronnie Stevens as Simpson, and David Stoll

JOHNNY ON THE RUN (1953, directed by Lewis Gilbert, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Unhappy orphan Janek/Johnny runs away from his 'auntie' in Edinburgh, resulting in him getting naively mixed up in the theft of a brooch, done by the comedy duo of Harry (Sydney Tafler) and Fingers (Michael Balfour). He lands in a home from home at an International Children's Village, but to return to his native Poland, he steals the children's club funds, but when he realises they trust him, he promptly returns it unnoticed. Harry and Fingers come searching for the stolen brooch, as does auntie in search of Janek, though of course it all ends happily in this superior offering from CFF

THERE WAS A YOUNG LADY (1953, directed by Lawrence Huntington, Nettlefold Studios, 9*)- Miss Elizabeth Foster (Dulcie Gray) is "for the moment just my secretary," according to Mr David Walsh (Michael Denison), but it is she who runs what little jewellery business comes their way. Whatever else, she is efficent. When she is kidnapped by four duff jewel robbers, she takes them in hand: Johnny (Sydney Tafler) the irascible boss, while the most aimiable is the dim Arthur. Him she softens up, and Basher and Joe and sets about reorganising their muddled lives, even pointing out the doubtful aspects of their next planned robbery. Here's a charming piece of dated whimsy, not sparkling but endearing, as at last the helpless David proves his mettle, and comes to her rescue.

THE BROKEN HORSESHOE (1953, directed by Martyn C Webster, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- Mark Fenton (Robert Beatty) is a doctor sucked into a typical Francis Durbridge mystery after he operates on Constance, a hit and run case. "Never hold anything back from the police," his detective brother advises him, but he fails to tell what little he knows of the elusive Miss Freeman (Elizabeth Sellars) as he's infatuated with her, when she presents the patient with flowers in the shape of a broken horseshoe. When Constance is later found murdered, Fenton covers up for her. Constance had given into Fenton's safe keeping a railway ticket from London to Dover, for which a mysterious stranger then offers Fenton 500- rail travel was mighty expensive even in those days! Finally Miss Freeman has to confide in Fenton explaining that The Horseshoe organisation is, she admits to her admirer, the smuggling of illegal but worthy refugees from Poland. But though he swallows this at first, she's only "stringing him along" as it eventually proves to be a vicious racehorse doping ring. Robert Beatty manages to convey the doctor's greenness in a world of crime very well, whilst Elizabeth Sellars makes her usual darkly seductive villainess.

DANGEROUS CARGO (1954, directed by John Harlow, Nettlefold Studios, 4*) - Tim Matthews (Jack Watling) works as a security guard, happily married to Janie (Susan Stephen). When bumps into old POW buddy Harry (Terence Alexander), I thought this might become a love triangle, instead this is a standard thriller. Harry is bent, and when honest Tim sinks into a betting debt the way is open for him to be blackmailed into assisting the gang rob the gold bullion that Tim transports. The naive central character is sympathetically well drawn, though more improbable is Luigi with his dark glasses played by John le Mesurier, "I don't take very kindly to you... you dirty little rat." Rough stuff and the kidnapping of Janie force Tim to sign up to the crime, but he informs the police, who are ready and waiting for the heist. Of course Tim joins in the fracas, getting injured for his troubles

THE GREEN BUDDHA (1954, director John Lemont, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- An 1,800 year old statue is stolen, but one of the gang Tony Scott, doublecrosses his mates, making for Northolt Airport. The pilot is Gary Holden (Wayne Morris) who struggles with the villain, causing his plane to smash. Enigmatic night club singer Vivien Blake helps Gary find Scott at the Battersea funfair. But he is dead. Where is the Buddha? Gary has to elude the cops until he finally recovers the statue on the big dipper

TRACK THE MAN DOWN (1954 directed by RG Springsteen, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- Mary (Ursula Howells) is besotted with Rick Lambert, a petty crook who has just robbed a greyhound track. Her sister June (Petula Clark) has better judgement, not taking to him at all, but the closing police net is slowed down by too many characters. Everything is too formulaic about this film, the stand off a cross between The Ghost Train and The Runaway Bus, without the laughs, and with no thrills either. The only slightly good moment, with some good close up shots, is when Rick and the nervous Ken (Kenneth Griffith) hijack a bus, and hole out in a boathouse

BLACK RIDER (1954, directed by Wolf Rilla, Nettlefold Studios, 6*) - A host of fine character actors gives this film a happy mix of drama and a little humour, with Leslie Dwyer as the irascible newspaper editor Charlie, Jimmy Hanley and Rona Anderson as Jerry and Mary in love, Lionel Jeffries as the smooth foreigner Brenner, a crook of course, and with Edie Morton as, as ever, an elderly lady. Local legend has it that the Black Monk, the devil himself, rides at full moon, and George (Kenneth Connor) has seen him. Foreign spies are using the story as cover to smuggle in parts of an atomic sabotage weapon, being assembled in a castle dungeon. In the best tradition of amateur sleuths, Jerry encourages his girl Mary to look round Brenner's mansion. What's she looking for, she asks him. "Anything suspicious." When she finds that something, she is kidnapped. Charlie however can't believe anything is wrong with Brenner, though Jerry's mum is more perceptive, even though her reasoning is a little illogical: "I don't like his hat." Jerry's motorcycle gang rescue Mary and put paid to the thankfully undefined evil plans of the foreigners

IMPULSE (1954 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Charles du Latour - probably in reality Cy Enfield, 5*)- Is Sussex estate agent Alan Curtis in a rut? Not when he picks up a stranded (female of course) motorist, Lila (Constance Smith), who's being chased by two men, policemen apparently. They want her in connection with her brother Barry who has stolen some jewellery, she says. Alan's "good deed for today" is giving her a lift to her London nightclub, but that's only for starters. Harry (once called Barry) isn't quite what she's claimed and he's not the only one. A typical trait of Baker and Berman films, though here the plot is quite easy to follow. Yes, even poor Alan can realise the police now want him for murder! American guest star is Arthur Kennedy who plays it out with a deadpan disinterest, though his ambivalent character is quite complex for a Tempean film

RADIO CAB MURDER (1954 directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- This starts in quasi-documentary style, showing us ex-safecracker Fred Martin (Jimmy Hanley), at work driving his taxi OLD135. The police persuade him to become a nark to nail a gang of bank robbers. But as Myra (Lana Morris) tells him honestly, "you look more like a friendly bear than a gangster." Ostensibly sacked from his job, Fred is invited by the gang to crack a safe, "no risk at all," at a bank. Certainly the job is well planned, but their blunder is in the getaway car, a stolen taxi, none other than OLD135. Myra is able to listen to the gang's chat on the cab radio. "Fred Martin is in great danger," her boss warns, "to save his life, we must locate that cab." A fix is slowly got on the stolen taxi, but the gang have now tumbled to the fact that Fred is an informer. He is locked in a deep freeze at their headquarters, the Jack Frost Ice Cream Company. The thieves then fall out amongst themselves and the police easily round them up, no exciting chase even. So it all ends happily, Fred and Myra happily married, back working on the taxis.

RIVERBEAT (1954, directed by Guy Green, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Ship radio operative Judy unthinkingly smuggles cigarettes when she steps ashore. In a pub she makes friends with Dan Barker (John Bentley) who happens to be an inspector for the Thames police. Next time she smuggles she's caught, and diamonds are found on her, "that's almost unbelievable." Surely the boss has to elimnate her, "I guess it does look pretty bad." She has identified Charles (Glyn Houston) in Poplar as one of the gang, and she tails him as he tries to get away. He lands in her own ship. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill you Judy." There's a riverboat chase and a good end with Inspector Barker facing the boss standing in the river mud facing his gun

FINAL APPOINTMENT (1954, directed by Terence Fisher, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Mike Billings of the Sunday Star (John Bentley) plays his typical reporter in raincoat. Has he stumbled on a scoop, the link between three unsolved murders? All killed on successive July 10ths, and all served on a wartime court martial tribunal. He can guess who might be killed this coming Saturday, July 10th, the final member of the group, Hartnell, a solicitor. Inspector Corcoran does the legwork, while Mike dates Hartnell's secretary Miss Laura Robins, "just business." Hartnell himself is unconcerned about his possible demise, but he should be. The cunning George Martin is out for revenge, but nearly meets his own end in the shape of a blackmailer who is also on to his evil scheme. An average crime thriller, but with a nice touch of humour. Producer: Francis Searle

TIGER BY THE TAIL (1955, directed by John Gilling, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- Journalist John Desmond (Larry Parks) picks up Anna (Lisa Daniely) in a club and is soon besotted. But after a row over her diary he accidentally shoots her. This diary holds a cypher which lands John and his secretary Jane (Constance Smith) in deeper waters, and that's what this film is so good at showing, John sucked into an unfathomable mystery surrounding Anna's secret life. The code book is wanted back by the gang of counterfeiters, they kidnap John but after tough questioning he escapes. Hiding in a loonybin is a smart move, and here he starts to crack the code. However the crooks are smarter, pose as doctors and get John transferred to a private clinic. With Jane also captured things look very black. This brings us back to the atmospheric opening which showed John staggering down an ill lit street, wounded, the very essence of film noir

ASSIGNMENT REDHEAD (1956, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- Special Flight 402 has landed in London from Berlin, bringing Alexis Scammell, but he's an imposter. Major Keen (Richard Denning) has to track down him and the other four passengers, some are bumped off and then a "red headed Delilah" sidetracks this "man on a mission" so that nothing "makes any sense," even one of the characters admitting they don't know what's going on. So what chance have we? "You're being fooled up to the limit," Keen is warned, as he finally sees thru his phoney romance and uncovers twelve million forged dollars

ROOM IN THE HOUSE (1955, directed by Maurice Elvey, Nettlefold Studios, 5*) - Marjorie Rhodes gets a starring role as lonely Betsy, who leaves her happy home to stay with her rich son David. "From now on everything will be done for you." What with their adminstering her tonics, supper in bed, tucked in at 8.30, she determines to live instead with her son Jack. Here she is able to live a much more active existence, especially as Jack's wife Mary is a hypochondriac. But Betsy puts her foot in it, wisely advising her granddaughter Chris to go, horror of horrors, up North to join her sweetheart Brian. With parting words of wisdom, she departs for her son Hugh. He's a reverend, very busy, and about to go to America on a pulpit exchange. How can he tell her she cannot go? In a sad scene she finds out and returns to home and Mrs Potter (Edie Martin). "I've been a foolish old woman," she tells Benji (Leslie Dwyer), but it's a happy return to her former house, "there's no place like home"

MISS TULIP STAYS THE NIGHT (1955, directed by Leslie Arliss, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Crime writer Andrew Dax (Patrick Holt) settles with his wife Kate (Diana Dors) in Wood Cottage. Their wedded bliss is interrupted by a stranger, the eccentric Miss Millicent Tulip, who claims she is being blackmailed. "Do you think she's mad?" Whatever else, she is also dead next morning, shot dead. Investigating is PC Feathers (Jack Hulbert), who is a little slow on the uptake, and Inspector Thorn, "without one grain of commonsense." It needs Andrew and even Kate to help the "halfwit" solve this crime, in a film that is half comedy, quarter mystery and a bit of a detective story. Perhaps it is too "ridiculous," but the stars do their best and on the way enjoy a few happy moments, as "the brilliant amateur solves the mystery that baffled the police"

KEEP IT CLEAN (1955 Nettlefold Studios, directed by David Paltenghi)- A rambling muddled, but pleasantly muddled, film about advertising executive Bert Lane (Ronald Shiner), who's attempting to persude Mrs Anstey of the Women's Purity League to promote The Demon, a wonder machine that "cleans everything." To impress her, Bert has to send her the cast-offs of stripper Colette of the Follies and then rescue her in court when she's accused of interrupting the Follies' lewd proceedings, and finally he has to persuade a window cleaner who falls into her bath not to sue! For no good reason, there is then a frantic chase all over the theatre. James Hayter as Bert's boss provides a good foil even if he is over the top, but Jean Cadell as prim Mrs Anstey steals the show.

THE DELAVINE AFFAIR (1955, directed by Douglas Peirce, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Reporter Rex Banner (Peter Reynolds) investigates the death of Gospel Joe, who seems to have stumbled on the secret of the theft of the Delavine jewels. 'Tea at Ethringham' is the clue that brings Rex to jewel dealer Meyerling, "I shall have to call you a liar." Rex finds he has a double of sorts, actually a friend of his wife Maxine, Peter (Gordon Jackson), and he is the wanted criminal. At Wilson's Farm where the jewels are hidden, there's a showdown. All pretty wooden, the best moment is when Maxine (Honor Blackman) threatens to flirt with Rex's rival

STOCK CAR (1955, Nettlefold Studios, directed by Wolf Rilla, 3*) - Monty nicks a car, taking it to a garage his boss McNeil is about to foreclose on. The owner had died in a stock car crash, and his daughter Katie, a nurse (Rona Anderson) is vainly trying to keep the business afloat. Her dad's "buddy" Larry Duke (Paul Carpenter) helps her, but then swans off with McNeil's girl Gina (Susan Shaw) when she accuses him of causing her father's accident. Larry enters a race to pay off the mortgage, but of course he is nobbled and crashes...

WHERE THERE'S A WILL (1955, directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- This endearing film starts with a marvellous evocation of rural England, I always felt it must be Devon. Bob Sharples' wistful score accompanies three Cockneys who have inherited Windrush Farm,. There's Alfie (Leslie Dwyer's best role) who falls for this "communing with nature," while wide boy Fred (George Cole) and Maud (Dandy Nichols) are all for selling "the dump." And Stokes is offering 2,000 but Alfie won't hear of such a thing, and Maud's daughter June rather turns the head of young Ralph Stokes (Edward Woodward). But Alfie can't raise enough cash to buy the farm himself, not unless Annie (Kathleen Harrison), who served the old master, can lend it him, and that comes with strings, ie her. As Annie says, they talk an awful lot, as the plot gets a little bogged down in the farm mud, but there's a happy contrived ending that brings tears to y

SPIN A DARK WEB (1955, directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 4*) - Betty (Rona Anderson) has falled for this handsome Canadian Jim Bankby (Lee Patterson) who's got a new job through his old army buddy with the crooked gang of Rico (Martin Benson). Rico's sister Bella falls for Jim. Rico has fingers in many pies, protection and fixing betting. One boxer Bill doesn't throw a fight as suggested, and is done in. He's Betty's brother. Rico's next scheme is to get Jim to tap phone lines to fix the odds on a horse race at Ripon to his advantage. "We won!" 10 to 1.But Jim realises he's been "a fourteen carat sap" when he watches Bill's killer being ruthlessly silenced by Rico's henchmen, "like," as Bella grimly puts it, "squashing a fly." Of course Betty hides Jim as he tries to escape the gang's clutches, but she and her dad wind up their prisoners. With Martin Benson in one of his typical villainous roles, and Rona Anderson as ever defenceless, it's only a pity the film has taken so long to get to this tense finish

JOHNNY YOU'RE WANTED (1955, directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Lorry driver Johnny (John Slater) gives a frightened girl a lift, but discovers her body later, run over. She was Anne, assistant to an astrologer (Garry Marsh), who performs his stage act in local music halls. It transpires she had been murdered, and Johnny investigates in between interludes of fairly juvenile humour. The proper police link the case with drug smuggling, and Johnny agrees to help catch the gang. On the Southampton express (loco no 35025), the boss is nailed

SUSPENDED ALIBI (1956, directed by Alfred Shaughnessy, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Paul Pearson (Patrick Holt) "walks like a man with a guilty conscience" over his affair with Diana (Naomi Chance). His young son Bobby's knife is found in the lung of actor Bill, who was giving Paul an alibi while he saw Diana one last time. Paul's wife Lynn is "in for a shock," when Paul has to confess to police. But when Diana, out of spite, refuses to confirm Paul's tale, and the killer Steve, to protect himself, kills her, "it couldn't look blacker" for Paul. He is tried and found guilty. The scenes with Honor Blackman as Lynn are perhaps the best, it's like "some sort of dream." Steve's simple oversight with a pencil thankfully enables Paul's name to be cleared, "your troubles are over"

BOOBY TRAP (1956 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Henry Cass, 2*) -Oh dear, an absent minded professor leaves his "box of tricks," a remote controlled bomb, in a taxi. Sammy a spiv (Harry Fowler) finds it and pawns it, but lured by a 30 reward tries to get it back for the prof. Frustratingly, slowly he tracks it down, with bouts of heavy handed humour not improving matters, worse some cliches, even "you dirty little rat." A gang of dope smugglers is caught up in all this inactivity, though there is a fairly exciting final scene as the villains zoom off down the A3 with the prof's bomb about to explode

PASSPORT TO TREASON (1956, directed by Robert S Baker, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- Private eye Ben Conners is killed, so his friend Mike O'Kelly takes on his current assignment- to weed out the traitor in the League for World Peace. As the London fog descends, he tangles with the president (Clifford Evans), the brusque Dr Randolph (Douglas Wilmer) and Diane Boyd (Lois Maxwell), at once enigmatic and treacherous. O'Kelly stumbles on the secret code- "it always adds up to 27," and after some thrilling chases gets hold of the list of traitors, in this typically British film noir, with Rod Cameron proving a solid, if unspectactular American star, as he rescues the maiden in distress

NO ROAD BACK (1956, directed by Montgomery Tully, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Ma Railton (Margaret Rawlings) runs a gang of robbers even though she's blind and deaf. She has a tender spot for her eyes and ears, adopted daughter Beth (Patricia Dainton), and another soft spot for her son John who's training to be a doctor, ignorant of his mother's thieves' kitchen at the 99 Club. When John finds out the truth, he tries to interrupt their jewel robbery but too late. The ruthless Clem (Paul Carpenter) has killed the nightwatchman, after which the crooks fall out and John finds himself arrested for murder. Beth's character is the most ambivalent, "it takes two to make one person," but the issues take far too long to resolve in a poetic ending that is at least ingeniously wild
A TOUCH OF THE SUN (1956, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold, 4*)- "Darling, you're a marvel"- that's Bill Darling (Frankie Howerd) a hotel porter, loved by one and all since he is so helpful. One grateful guest bequeaths him 10,000 and naturally he wants to quit, but his contract forbids this, so he has to become "dispensible," in a sequence that could have been developed further to advantage. Now he can laze on the Riviera, but the high life is not for him, in a sequence too long and tedious. Returning to London, he buys his old hotel, but needing to improve the place, he has to woo three investors, a well exploited finish with Frankie as The Duchess wooing one "inflamed" backer. Question- which is the naff actress?

A TOUCH OF THE SUN (1956, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold, 4*)- William Darling (Frankie Howerd) is "a perfect darling" of a hotel receptionist, and one guest is so grateful she bequeaths him 10,000. As his contract forbids him to resign, in the best scenes, which could have been expanded, he annoys all the guests by awaking them at 5am. He lives it up in the South of France, but it only makes him miserable, which is reflected in several miserable sketches. So he returns to London to buy his old hotel, which he runs with girl friend Rose, played by Dorothy Bromiley, who produces some inadvertent comedy with her feeble acting. But Howerd rides it all, and dons several characters, in order to impress potential backers of his business, and does one unlikely tango with prim Reginald Beckwith

BEFORE I WAKE (1956, directed by Albert S Rogell, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Miss April Haddon has come back to Dawmouth after her father's accidental death. But she's like "a stranger in her own home," Florence her stepmother (Jean Kent) is the harridan, she the young innocent in this familiar enough plot, but well performed with an exciting climax. In three weeks April will inherit the family fortune, but her suspicion is her own mother had been killed by Florence as well as her father. Her one ally could be Dr Michael Elder (Maxwell Reed) but he seems blind to her fears, the local police sergeant (Alexander Gauge) is no more concerned. Everyone seems taken in by Florence's hypocrisy. "She's got to get rid of me," cries April. First it's the old runaway car trick. Then the poison, finally a drug and a crashed boat

CLOAK WITHOUT DAGGER (1957 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Joseph Sterling, 3*)- Philip Friend was always an ideal B film suave lead- here he's Felix alias Enrico, a waiter in a London hotel. Once a major in the war catching spies, he's now finally about to track down his quarry who eluded him ten years ago. Now, as then, his ex-girl Kyra gets in the way! When she stumbles over a corpse which later is seen alive she realises "something phoney going on here." She breaks into a top secret nuclear base to thwart the spy before learning, what we all guessed, that Felix is going to catch him anyway. Leslie Dwyer as a detective gets the last laugh, literally

YOU PAY YOUR MONEY (1957, directed by MacLean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Steve has a new admirer in Mrs Delgado (Jane Hylton) but his pals Bob and Susie (Honor Blackman) can see she's "the feeblest liar in the business." She's in league with the shadowy League of the Friends of Arabia. Bob is sent by Steve to collect a consignment sent by boat, as the rendezvous is at three in the morning, it's evident some dirty work is afoot. The League grab the goods, valuable books, as well as Susie, and this could allegedly "set the whole of the Middle East aflame." The film moves at a stately pace, nice and straightforward, eking about a half hour plot into an hour, with Hugh McDermott as Bob occasionally threatening to add some spark to proceedings

start of page








Highbury Studios (1937-1956)
Its heyday was just after the war, before it all but closed in 1949, given over to tv production.
98 Highbury New Park N5. Phone CANonbury 3215. One studio 80ftx35ft.

INQUEST (1939, directed by Roy Boulting, Highbury Studios, 5*)- Intriguing opening when a hidden gun in discovered in a roof. Thomas Hamilton had died in this house last year, and now his wife Margaret (Elizabeth Allan) "is so terribly worried," and with good reason, for it was she who had bought the gun, and well studied village gossip is accusing her of murder. Centrepiece of the film is the inquest, presided over by the weak coroner (Herbert Lomas) who has decided Margaret is guilty, not that she's entirely innocent in her relationship with Richard (Philip Friend). Her defending counsel (Hay Petrie) ruffles the coroner even out Perry Masoning that great lawyer, exposing the real murderer after a heavy welter of interrogation. A neat solution, though after the initial poetic scenes of an idyllic rural life just before the war, the film suffers somewhat from a too heavy reliance on dialogue

FLY AWAY PETER (1947, directed by Charles Saunders, Highbury Studios, 6*) - Here's Maple Avenue, cosy suburbia, all very comfy, though now Arthur at age 24 wants to fly the nest. He's been offered a job in Nigeria by his boss John Neilsen (Patrick Holt), who is really only after Arthur's sister Phyllis. "John has asked me to marry him," she announces, and they are to live in Norway. More fun and certainly more innocent is younger sister Myra's rapport with 'Pie Face' (Peter Hammond), they provide the comedy, specially when he awkwardly attempts to kiss her. But the story is more soap opera for mother refuses to countenance Phyll's marriage to a divorcee. The film moves on two years, in time for Arthur's first home leave and Phyll's news, "you're going to be a grandma," and Myra, now 18 is now getting engaged to Pie Face. The happy family reunion ends an old fashioned, heartwarming and somehow rather nice story

A PIECE OF CAKE (1947, directed by John Irwin, Highbury Studios, 5*)- Cashing in on Cyril Fletcher's Odd Odes, this fantasy brings his ode to life. His character Mr Mound (Laurence Naismith) materialises at a party, answering his every need as the pains of rationing are wished away, his dinner party fit for a king, and his wife's wardrobe fir for a queen. After the feast, such apparent extravagance leads him into trouble with the prim Food Officer (Jon Pertwee) who wants to know where his rationing coupons came from, and, perhaps the best part, a reckoning from "great big bully" spiv (Harry Fowler) from whom the food had apparently come. Mound ought to sort it out but he now takes on a mind of his own as he kidnaps Cyril's wife, takes her to a showdown in Doomsday Hall as the film gets wilder and wilder, like a dream, in its pre-Goon-like madness. Made after the end of the war, the film reveals the shackles of the dark years being lifted

TO THE PUBLIC DANGER (1947, directed by Terence Fisher, Highbury Studios, 3*)- Opening music is pure British, rather tuneless, slightly dramatic, pleasantly cosy. Reggie and Captain Cole are two drinkers who have a lesson to learn, as we all still have, for this film failed to get across its message. Cole (Dermot Walsh) picks up bad time girl (Susan Shaw of course) in a pub and rather the worse for booze, they race off in his speedster. From her passenger seat, Nancy is encouraged to take the wheel- "it's dead easy." When a man on his bike is hit, happiness changes to hysteria and the film now explores their consciences in a tedious fashion, with Fred, Nancy's girl, arguing for the right, and being beaten up for his trouble. In an anticlimas, he learns no one has been injured, though for the rest, the drunk, his floosie and the inebriate Reggie, their end is predictable. "I can't drive properly until I am tight." A film only slightly redeemed by Susan Shaw and by Roy Plomley as the most unlikely drunk ever

PENNY AND THE POWNALL CASE (1947, directed by Slim Hand, Highbury Studios, 3*)- "Being drawn in the nude," that's Penny Justin (Peggy Evans), though she's really only a model who hankers after being a detective. She finds the next best thing, getting hitched to Inspector Michael Carson of the Yard (Ralph Michael) whom she meets via her roommate Molly (an unblonde Diana Dors). Penny's boss (a very young Christopher Lee) is the artist who is using his strip cartoon to send messages which relate to the smuggling of war criminals. Penny helps Carson, "might be dangerous," only for him to save her from her boss' clutches. "How'm I doing Michael?" An unambitious little film with a hint of style above its station

TROUBLE IN THE AIR (1948, directed by Charles Saunders, Highbury Studios, 4*)- A mildly enjoyable comedy, pleasant and unambitious, that doesn't develop the comedy potential of the storyline. In sleepy Crumbledon-in-the-Dale, squire Sir Charles is broke, but his wily butler Fred Somers (Freddie Frinton) keeps him afloat- just. Financial worries could be a thing of the past, if Sir Charles sells his land @5 an acre- though it's worth much more if a road development goes ahead. Also, a BBC producer (Jimmy Edwards) is offering fifteen guineas for a bellringing broadcast, but this is a disaster and a baliff appears, though he's actually the man from the pools with a 28,000 win. Perhaps the funniest scene is Freddie doing his drunk routine filling in the pools, whilst the oddest moment is Bill Owen and Sam Costa oversinging We're Gathering Flowers

SONG FOR TOMORROW (1948, directed by Terence Fisher, Highbury, 3*)- Really a vehicle for the forgotten Evelyn McCabe's singing. She plays Helen Maxwell, it's a superficial story of her boyfriend Captain Roger Stanton (Ralph Michael) who treats amnesia victim Flt Lt Derek Wardell. Now it's Helen's voice that helps him regain his confidence. And yes, it seems to be love. This helps Derek, but affects her singing career. And a bit of a blow for Roger. So to the classic dilemma- Dr Roger's op on Derek to help him regain his memory. Success, but has love flown away? Helen's Covent Garden debut comes before we find out. However the climax is awfully tamely done. James Hayer as Helen's singing teacher, according to your viewpoint is either an irritation or provides some necessary light relief

start of page








Marylebone Studios
245 Marylebone Road NW1. Phone AMBassador 1881, PADdington 6201.
Two Studios 56ftx22ft6in. 44ft6x22ft6.

DEATH IN HIGH HEELS (1947, directed by Tommy Tomlinson, Marylebone Studios 4*)- The detective introduces the seven suspects in a novel intro about Death in a Regent Street dress shop. Stilted dialogue, not aided by some weak acting spoil the effective start. Things do improve when the inspector (Don Stannard) questions the staff, one of whom hides the poison "down the who-ha"(!). An odd Laurel and Hardy-like joke with the detectives' trilbies is only one of the pecularities of this oddball short which ends with the usual "your denouement is brilliant inspector." Yes, he spotted that clue on the shoe with the pale green paint!

RIVER PATROL (1948, directed by Ben Hart, Marylebone Studios, 3*)- a curiously primitive early Hammer short. Robbie (John Blythe) is on the trail of smugglers who have, wait for it, shipped in 20,000 nylons. With his redoutable assistant Jean, undercover they meet up with Joe, who has some for sale. That gives a lead to a gambling club, authentic 40s, where the manager buys some black market whiskey, supplied by Robbie. Soon they are intoduced to the ruthless Gov (Wally Patch) who catches Robbie snooping and has him taken to a warehouse for disposal. But Robbie frees himself and gives the Gov a lesson in punch ups, before a nice corny ending, a wink from our hero as he kisses Jean, The End scribbled on his bandaged hand

THE BESPOKE OVERCOAT (1955, directed by Jack Clayton, Marylebone Studios, 1*)- A ghost visits Number One Tailor Morry, asking for justice on his miserly boss who forced him to work in the cold, and refused to give him a warm coat. The ghost had paid Morry 10, but it was too late, "that's how you get dead." Visually impressive with its dark sets, this is too clever by half, a parable, perhaps, on friendship and old age, as far is it's comprehensible. Made around the same time, tv's Douglas Fairbanks Presents story The Awakening offers a more accesible free adaptation of Gogol's short story

MURDER ON THE CAMPUS (1962, Marylebone Studios director Michael Winner 5*)- "Why should he fall out of his own window?" asks reporter Mark Kingston of Tony, his brother, a scholarship student at Leicester College Cambridge. Mark plays "boy detective" while Insp Wills (Donald Gray) holds a nonchalant watching brief as masonry falls on one witness and another is strangled, "he may be on to something." The theft during the war of antiques is behind this run-of-the-mill adventure but Terence Longden as Mark gives it all some integrity, even coping with a couple of dud actresses. There's an odd apppearance "indubitably" unrelated to anything in particular by Robertson Hare, and the location shooting in the university city gives it some credibility

LUNCH HOUR (1962, directed by James Hill, Marylebone Studios, 1*)- A secret tryst in a seedy hotel, the first half of the film shows how this couple have ended up here, the scene is nicely built up, a portrait of two very normal ordinary people, he 13 years older than her. Having got them ensconced in their love nest, the film then fails to build on what it has begun as she changes character. By a devious deception, to protect their innocence he has booked this room, but frustration is all they, and we, receive. Peculiarly, she brings his lies to life, despite his protests, turning the film into the kitchen sink. Sorry, all credibility has gone just as they have lost all hope of fulfilment. "It's all over"- thank goodness

HE WHO RIDES A TIGER (1965, directed by Charles Crichton. Made at Goldhawk, Twickenham, and Marylebone Studios, 3*)- The film attempts to show the human face of Peter (Tom Bell), who is nothing but an unpleasant hardened successful thief. We are shown his soft spots- for Woodley, the crook who taught him all he knows, another spot for an injured vixen, and most of all his weakness for women. He ditches a top model when he falls for single mother Joanne (Judi Dench), but as soon as he reveals he's a corok, she drops him. So it's back to another "big job" for Peter, even though she comes round. This is mostly cliched with a few nods to the problems of single parents, the child scenes are twee and the ending 60s cinema at its not best

ON THE RUN (1968, directed by Pat Jackson, Marylebone Studios, 4*)- This Children's Film Foundation is about three children, "la-di-dah" Ben who helps Prince Thomas Okapi, and the cockney Lil, who ought to be in a home, don't ask which sort. We can tell that Thomas' Uncle Joseph is a wrong 'un, as he has a nasty scar on his face: He's out to kidnap his nephew, but Ben is on to it, and prevents Thomas being doped. Ben hides him in his own flat, but when Uncle traces them there, they move to Lil's. As he can't find them, Uncle appeals to Ben's dad (Gordon Jackson), offering a 500 reward for Ben. But Ben is made of sterner stuff, "I don't know where we go from here." He finds the answer in a removal van that is headed for his old home town of Henstable-on-Sea. The only snag is that Uncle finds this out also. The area looks like Seaford in Sussex. The children make a hideout in a cave in the cliff, where they are trapped by Uncle Joseph. At last Thomas is caught, but Ben has escaped and run all the way to the police station. So on the beach, bad Uncle Joseph is rounded up

top of page








Southall Studios (1924-1958)
Gladstone Road. Two sound stages 125x50ft, 25x50ft. Telephone Southall 3281.

JUST WILLIAM'S LUCK (1948, directed by Val Guest, Southall Studios, 2*)- William's first appearance after seven minutes has been well prepared, but though we get a well defined story line, William and his outlaws are very little like I imagined from the books. Garry Marsh as longsuffering Mr Brown is occasionally entertaining, whilst there is some fun in the brief appearance of "it isn't even a girl, it's Violet Elizabeth." The Nites of the Square Table plan to marry off their elder brothers, Douglas and Henry trying Ethel Brown whilst William approaches an "atomic bombshell" film star (Hy Hazell). To get him a house to live in, the outlaws haunt the old manor house, which just happens to be being used by crooks as a hideout. In a very drawn out wordless sequence, the fur thieves are caught and William is proclaimed a "community hero"

WILLIAM AT THE CIRCUS (1948, directed by Val Guest, Southall Studios, 4*)- The second film with William Graham uses the same formula to start: a glazier, and Muriel Aked as the frustrated maid serving at a grumpy breakfast table. William raises ten shillings to get to London, and at 10 Downing Street breaks in (security officials please watch carefully!) and meets a government treasury official (AE Matthews, a tramp in the last film!), who kindly takes note of William's rambling on the economonic situation. Thus William becomes front page news and letters pour into the Brown home, plus one crate containing a monkey. Though William tries to keep him a secret, there's a lot of chasin and hidin with William ending up in the doghouse. So he returns to the government minister who is visiting Olympia and after more chases round the circus there's one fine moment as AE Matthews sedately drives a dodgem car. Though he's caught, William redeems himself by rescuing the minister's specs, and, with his dad, is guest of honour at the circus. This was an improvement on the earlier william film, with the cast more comfortable in their roles, Garry Marsh in particular is given a more central part, but the over-reliance on silent film-type sequences is obtrusive and William himself never comes near to being the impish rascal of the books

THE TWENTY QUESTIONS MURDER MYSTERY (1949, directed by Paul L Stein, Southall Studios, 4*)- "Nice bit of stuff" Mary (Rona Anderson) is writing about the popular radio series Twenty Questions, whose cast appear in person in this film. Her rival is Bob (Robert Beatty) of The Daily Record. Prompt at 8.30pm we see the broadcast from the Paris Cinema, with one special listener's challenge, Rikitikitavi. The panel guess it, but what is the link between this and the murder of Mr Ricky Tavey? Next week, the panel guess The Hanging Judge, and lo and behold a judge is soon garotted, "I think it's queer, very very queer." Getting too near the truth, Mary is almost the next victim, nearly burnt alive. Killer Strikes Again. The next radio conundrum is Woodcock Jin, and the wrong person is identified as the target! Really it's Mary, "you saw something," and is Bob too late to save her?

CHEER THE BRAVE (1950, directed by Kenneth Hume, Alliance Studios Southall, 1*)- This may have been a comedy once, but surely that fine star Elsie Randolph made a mistake in returning to the big screen in this one. Gossip at the wedding between mild mannered William and widowed Doris. It seems Rose (Vida Hope) still carries a torch for him. And oh yes, as Doris proves a real dragon, it's only a matter of time before he rebels. Even their 'honeymoon,' a day at London Zoo she finds "common," her favourite word. At last the downtrodden one cries, "Doris, shut your face!" when she slams the door on him when he brings home a pup. But despite this he's incredibly patient with her, and her mother and sister who are definitely of the common variety. His only fun, exercising his dog, which Rose has taken in. Finally Rose pops the obvious question, why did you marry her? His chance comes when Fred turns up, Doris' first husband, who had been presumed dead. Neither, to be honest, wants her, "I'm the one that ought to go," in a nice scene that's a sad comment on Doris' character. Bill cleverly leaves Fred in her unloving clutches

THE PAPER GALLOWS (1950, directed by John Guillermin, Southall Studios, 4*) - The eternal triangle with a neat variation: Jim (John Bentley) and Cliff (Dermot Walsh) are both crime writers, sharing the same secretary Joan (Rona Anderson). They make "a pretty unbalanced pair," Cliff's latest novel is to be based on their own lives, is he trying to drive his brother mad? For what has happened to their crime adviser Curly Wilson? It's all down to the fact that Cliff can't have Joan, she is in love with Jim. Cliff taunts his brother and then forms a devious scheme that sends Jim off on a fool's errand to Curly's lodgings, after he has got Joan to write down a suicide note, ostensibly for his novel. This is the prelude to the tensest scene when he locks her in her room, why he doesn't do her in immediately isn't clear. Jim's car has been fixed, and all Cliff has to do is smash in the door that she has barricaded, and murder her. This scene might have been developed, rather than the director opting for the usual shooting showdown. Of course love wins through, though Jim is kind enough to allow Cliff to complete his semi-autobiographical story before calling the police

LAXDALE HALL (1952, directed by John Eldridge, Southall Studios, 5*)- this starts beautifully but doesn't know how to see it through. Bowler hatted MP Pettigrew is appointed to investigate an extraordinary outbreak of "anarchy" in Laxdale, near Skye. The five motorists there, led by The General (Ronald Squire at his most charming) are refusing to pay their road taxes since their road is in such a poor state of repair. The pompous Samuel Pettigrew (Raymond Huntley) takes the mistaken approach of promising to rehouse everyone in a fantastic New Town, and "leave the sinking ship." His suggestion is not well received. Kynaston Reeves as the cleric preaching on the plumb line in Amos chapter seven is fearsome, though over the top in his production of Macbeth. The film offers a lot of nice character studies but which could have been developed much more

YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG TWICE (1952, directed by Terry Bishop, Southall Studios, 4*)- Dated, naive and corny, but with a few pearls of lines in the scriptwriting. Some students, typically looking rather mature, at a Scottish university seem acting on the verge of out of control as they greet their new rector. Heads are turned by new secretary Miss Shaw (Diane Hart) to the principal (Patrick Barr), or to put it more poetically, the place was "like a wet Sunday on Crewe station before you arrived." She's niece of Dan (Joseph Tomelty) who runs a place of "debuachery", The Plough and The Stars. Charles Hawtrey as the unpopular Adolphus, son of the prim even more unpopular clerk Prof Hayman (Duncan Macrae, "two yards of misery") has the best role when he gets drunk at The Plough, gets fresh, and when he comes to, finds himself engaged, "there's a lot of the beast in all of us." After a police raid, the senate, led by Prof Hayman debate this "unruly" affair, while the students meet to plan a protest at "Haywire's" high handed rustication of student Sheltie. It's Adolphus who leads the protest, "this is too much," cries Hayman. Dan is made new rector, "this is an outrage," protests Hayman who resigns and so they all lived....

THE BRAVE DON'T CRY (1952 directed by Philip Leacock, Southall Studios, 3*)- In heavy rain, in a typical coal mining village, tragedy when a tunnel collapses, trapping a hundred miners. Some fine studies of ordinary folk in the crisis, "we're to wait, that's all." Rescue comes, but dangerous gases close the escape route. John Cameron (John Gregson) brings the men this bad news, and averts a riot, "it's our lives we're fighting for." This is a very dour film, even though the rescue is successful

THE FRIGHTENED MAN (1952, directed by John Gilling, Alliance Studios, 5*)- Julius (Dermot Walsh) has been sent down from Oxford, to his doting father's dismay. He's no good, making eyes at a new lodger Amanda (Barbara Murray) luring her with the promise, "I'm going to make money, and I'm going to make it fast." He starts by helping himself to his dad's cash to buy a flash Packard. He works for Alec (Martin Benson) driving a getaway lorry, which he crashes. 10,000 worth of diamonds is the next target for the gang, but a crossed woman is but one flaw, others being a distressed wife and disillusioned dad. "You think I'm a washout," Julius tells Amanda, and he's not far wrong

BRANDY FOR THE PARSON (1952, directed by John Eldridge, Southall Studios, 5*)- Bill and Petronilla's seafaring holiday begins when they crash into "the ruddy boat" of Tony (Kenneth More) who is on a "bit irregular" trip to France. Owing him a favour, they transport him there, pick up his cargo and find themselves unwittingly sucked into his brandy smuggling. English customs officers are on to them, but the trio are always half a jump ahead, hiding the barrels in a creek, where they are joined by downtrodden driver George (Charles Hawtrey). A travelling circus is another refuge- could have made more of this- then "most irregular" the circus' pack horses carry the brandy along the old Roman Road. With the aid of a gallant helpful farmer the brandy is nearly all sold to eager buyers. This is almost Enid Blyton for gentle grown-ups, a meandering mildly amusing and ultimately endearing snapshot of an innocent but just ever so slightly anti-authority post war Britain

TIME GENTLEMEN PLEASE! (1952, directed by Lewis Gilbert, Southall Studios, 3*)- Daniel Dane be the only lazy yokel in a sleepy Essex town. The forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister might about bring "a revolution," but to keep their only unemployed person out of sight, Dan is consigned to an almshouse where 400 year old regulations are still in operation. The problem with the film is that old Dan be a not too likeable tramp, not exactly unlikeable, but perhaps his long beard hides any facial expression he might offer. The changes are rung by a new vicar, who makes Dan suddenly very wealthy. He becomes something of a philanthropist as his character changes. Marjorie Rhodes as a Mata Hari is a sight to behold, and we have the usual fine supporting cast, Sid, Dora et al. A council election brings in the revolution, even a job for the now congenial Dan

MISS ROBIN HOOD (1952, directed by John Guillermin, Southall Studios, 8*)- This fine comedy doesn't quite glow as it ought despite a wonderful cast, maybe it tries to be a black comedy when it's really a children's fantasy. In The Teenager youngsters read the adventures of Miss Robin Hood. Oldest and biggest fan of author Henry Wrigley (Richard Hearne), who has "invented a whole new world for children," is Miss Heather Honey (Margaret Rutherford). She recruits Wrigley to thwart the odious MacAlister (James Robertson Justice), who has stolen her family recipe for whiskey, but she also helps herself to his money, following the principles of robbing the rich to help, at least not the poor, but children. She also helps Wrigley who is sacked from the magazine and replaced by Cyril who introduces an alien intellectual theme into the tale of Miss Robin Hood. But after a mass demo of angry young fans at The Teenager's main office, ("keep your dignity," cries Miss Honey, a dove on her head), Miss Robin Hood is restored to her creator. Sid James and his knitting is just one lovely incongruous touch, as is the police raid on Miss Honey's Hampstead paradise for children. Among those youngsters are Susanne Gibbs and Lesley Dudley, but someone who worked on the film ought to compile a list of all the names

BLACK ORCHID (1953, directed by Charles Saunders, Alliance Studios, 6*)- Dr John (Ronald Howard) is so dedicated that his wife Sophie feels neglected, "she doesn't understand." Much more in common has he with Sophie's sister Christine, but in law they could only ever marry if Sophie died. Inevitably she does, but John is found guilty of poisoning her and it's down to friend Eric (John Bentley) and Christine to prove his innocence. Insp Markham (Russell Napier) proves about as inept as any other Yard film policeman

THE FAKE (1953, directed by Godfrey Grayson, Southall Studios, 3*)- It's only thanks to security agent Paul Mitchell (Dennis O'Keefe) that the priceless Leonardo Madonna and Child in transit to the Tate Gallery is not nicked at the docks. He suspects painter Henry Mason (John Laurie) of painting forgeries of Leonardo's work, which have been substituted for the real article in several galleries. Despite the security, the Leonardo is removed from the Tate, replaced with a good fake. "For a detective, you're not very smart," the reason being he's fallen for Mary, pretty daughter of said painter. "He's a fool." It's a good storyline but the central characters are wooden, except of course for Mr Laurie. So we never really care who is the master thief, or even that he intends to dispose of Mary

DOUBLE EXPOSURE (1954, directed by John Gilling, Southall Studios, 6*) John Bentley plays his usual role in a raincoat, which he rarely takes off, this time Peter Fleming, private eye working for Garry Marsh. The two of them offer a smattering of nice humour together, and Bentley plays deadpan a familiar scene of sleeping in the bath- without his mac. He is after the killer of a female company director, en route picking up Barbara (Rona Anderson) who unknowingly has taken a photo containing vital evidence. She is used as bait to trap the murderer

ONE JUMP AHEAD (1954, Southall Studios, directed by Charles Saunders, 5*)- 'R Snell 1A' is murdered. Reporter Paul (Carpenter) gets to realise Snell's friend ought to have been killed as he's learned the secret of the Ruined Church. "How'd you like to come and see some old ruins with me?" is his novel chat-up line to girlfriend Maxine. There they stumble on a woman's corpse. It appears she's talked of some "buried treasure" in this bombed out church. But Paul soon finds the crooks are always One Jump Ahead of him, mainly because of his two-timing girl Judy. In the ruins there's a dramatic conclusion to a sometimes poignant story (as when the dead child's family are interviewed) and sometimes fun (Paul C smiles through this role), though Jill Adams as Judy is, I'm afraid, unconvincing

THE RELUCTANT BRIDE (1955, directed by Henry Cass, Southall, 3*)- Ladies man Jeff is forced to settle down and care for his late brother-in-law's four kids, with a lot of help from his sister-in-law. The children are simply too precocious, yet the plot manages to amble on until the issue of marriage raises its head. A very mild comedy that needed a better script, the two mandatory American stars are simply too bland

BEHIND THE HEADLINES (1956, directed by Charles Saunders, Southall Studios, 5*) - Paul Carpenter stars, clearly enjoying his role as a freelance reporter on the case of a blonde strangled with her own stocking. With the assistance of Pam, Chelsea 1657 (Adrienne Corri), and some rivalry with secretary Maxine (Hazel Court), Paul traces the girl's contacts- an insurance agent (Trevor Reid), her theatrical agent (Harry Fowler) and her ex-husband. A complex cipher leads them to the killer, but then Paul's car is smashed up before he finally comes face to face with the killer, at the wrong end of a gun!

THERE'S ALWAYS A THURSDAY (1956, directed by Charles Saunders, Southall Studios, 4*)- George Potter leads a most ordinary existence as a stockbroker's clerk, but an enforced drink with Vera (Frances Day in her last film) changes all that. Every week George pays her 20 to keep her quiet, but it's not what you think, he's paying on behalf of his boss (Patrick Holt). It's just bad luck that the police have to know his whereabouts, and loyal George can't give his boss away. When forced to reveal the truth his undeserved reputation as 'Valentino Potter' opens a door for him as manager of Cosy Curves Ltd, 1,000 a year and a third of the profits. The actors try hard, and the storyline is a good one, but the film is a slow starter though Charles Victor as Potter has a dazzle in his eye when he goes up in the world. The last quarter of the film shows him a huge success, but the film doesn't quite achieve this itself, and Vera can topple his empire with but a word

KILL ME TOMORROW (1957, directed by Terence Fisher, Southall Studios, 4*)- Jaded reporter Bart Crosby is a "self pitying drunk," a widower. His life changes when he learns his son has contracted a fatal eye disease, only a delicate and expensive operation can save him. Needing a grand, he leans on the gang whom he knows killed his boss. As he has motive, Bart is ready to take the rap, in exchange for the cash to help his boy. I'm not sure which is the more embarrassing, his twee son Jimmy cuddling his teddy, or Tommy Steele gyrating at the El Rico Club. It also takes some suspension of your faculties to see the iconic but ageing Pat O'Brien as Bart knocking out ex-boxer Freddie Mills single handedly, marginally less believable than his romance with Lois Maxwell

THE BIG CHANCE (1957, directed by Peter Graham Scott, Southall Stduios, 4*)- Bill (William Russell), a disillusioned travel agent takes his chance to start again in Panama, calmly robbing his employer's safe and smuggling his fortune through customs. It all goes so well until he is thwarted by that bad old standby, London fog. His flight postponed, having met up with Diana (Adrienne Corri) who is running away from her rich husband, they seek refuge in an isolated weekender's cottage, "you don't look like a murderer." They are spotted here, police called, and they have to dash away, it's a drama of frustrating problems, a poor man's 39 Steps. Moment of truth for Bill, this life of adventure is not for him. An exciting car chase brings on the crisis, but the ending is well done, not as obvious as I'd expected

ACCOUNT RENDERED (1957, directed by Peter Graham Scott, Southall Studios, 6*) - Well defined main characters with tensions at breaking point. Banker Robert (Griffith Jones) has been tipped off about his wife Lucille's infidelity, and he follows her first to artist Clive's studio, then to a tryst on Hampstead Heath. It's bad luck that he trips up and comes round only to be told his wife has been found strangled. Inspector Marshall (Ewen Solon) sifts through the red herrings as "attractive unmarried" Sarah (Honor Blackman) consoles the widower in this very typical British thriller, done so well. "I'm beyond making sense out of anything any more," cries Robert as he learns of another of his wife's lovers, then another... "This is going to ruin us!"

BLACK TIDE (aka Stormy Crossing- 1957, directed by C Pennington Richards, Alliance Studios Southall, 6*)- Griff (John Ireland) is training his brother Danny (Sheldon Lawrence) for a go at the record on the Cross Channel swim, but improbably, his main rival, appears to be Kitty, a model. They have one thing in common however, wanting "result without the effort." Bad fog thwarts their joint swim, and worse Kitty is drowned, though we know that it's her secret lover, her manager Seymour (Derek Bond) who has murdered her. When Inspector Parry (John Horsley) and the coroner declare Death by Misadventure, Danny turns detective, as he'd fallen for Kitty's charms, though his big mistake is definitely informing Seymour. When he's disposed of too, Griff takes up inquiries, breaking Seymour's alibi by unearthing a speedboat named Hell Cat. But Seymour has now got to silence a third victim, Shelley Baxter (Maureen Connell), who's quietly fallen for Griff, giving us the tensest part when she is kidnapped, "I'm afraid you know too much to be good for you"

A STRANGER IN TOWN (1957 directed by George Pollock, Alliance Studios Southall 4*)- The "row" that a pianist is making as the film starts during a storm deserves to end with his being bumped off. Musician David has allegedly committed suicide, depressed, though unfortunately- for us- his music lives on in his recording of his concerto. Reporter John (Alex Nicol) sets out to disprove the suicide theory, for "life couldn't have been sweeter for him." Snooping, the death of Miss Smith, and a fight lead John to Matthews Farm and the secret od a young girl bewitched by the romantic pianist. That turns out a red herring in this intermittently absorbing film in which another brooding storm ushers in the finale, "you won't leave here again, ever"

THE SUPREME SECRET (1958, directed by Norman Walker, Southall Studios, 3*) - Cockney kids in Liverpool slightly mar a fair drama of Mike who dreams of getting away from his life with sister Tess (Suzan Farmer) and emigrating to Canada. He gets mixed up with the crooked gang of Bluey (Harry Fowler), who are on "a big job," nicking 20 pounds from newsagent Kesson (Meredith Edwards). Police nearly catch them, and frightened, Mike runs off and takes shelter in a mission run by the vicar (Hugh David). Here he listens to Mr Kesson's testimony, but decides he is "crackers." Another job is robbing a wagon but police catch them this time. But a constable is shot. Mike goes into hiding, scared. He tries to pray and tells Tess, "there might be something in it." At the mission he feels "safe," for here, as the vicar tells him, "you've found the Father." He walks to the police station to turn himself in

THE END OF THE LINE (1959, Southall Studios, directed by Charles Saunders, 5*) - Mike Selby, an American writer with a nice narrative line, is staying in a quiet Marlow hotel. He meets an old friend, now Mrs Crawford the manager's wife (Barbara Shelley). Says Mike- "the one thing, when you're close to her, your mind stopped thinking." She persuades him to steal her husband's fenced jewels. So what can go wrong? Well, there's a blackmailing private eye for starters, then Crawford is killed, and with Mike's automatic. Yes, in those days, films did show Crime does not Pay. This slow starting film develops a few pleasing twists. I ought to have known Fredy Mayne shouldn't have been trusted. "All you held," a repentant Mike tells himself," was the joker."

start of page








Beaconsfield Studios (1922-1970)
Station Road. 1 sound stage. Telephone Beaconsfield 1371, later 1563-5.
In 1963: Executive Producers: Julian Wintle and Leslie Parkyn. Publicity Director: John Southwood.

SPORTING LOVE (1936 Beaconsfield Studios directed by J Elder Wills, 3*)- Billed as a 'Hammer Film' the horror here is that the surviving copy has been badly hacked about. So final judgement is a little difficult to provide. What I can say is that some excellent comic support is forthcoming from, as usual, Laddie Cliff, with the addition of Bobby Comber. Musical numbers include a tap dance by Laddie and Stanley. They also sing In the Springtime. Near the end there's a medley of songs commencing with the Victorian After the Ball is Over; then briefly, Stanley reprises his I Lift up My Finger and Laddie his Coal Black Mammy before the chorus render The Derby. And the plot: bankruptcy faces the Brace family, Peter (LC) and Percy "the Prince of Mugs" (SL). That is, unless Aunty Fanny can be persuaded that the brothers are both married. Unless wives can be produced she "won't sign any cheque." Attempts are made, unsuccessfully you can guess, so the only hope seems to lie in Moonbeam who is to run in the Derby. But Moonbeam is impounded until bills are paid. Finally aunty stumps up the money and there's a race, not on Epsom Downs, but to the bank as Percy gets her cheque cashed. The cash goes awol so Moonbeam is scratched. However a bet on a hot tip, the outsider Cold End could put everything to rights, but since Percy forgets the name and bets on Winterbottom will he lose his shirt? Perhaps the best scene is when Percy removes the "sliding roof" (ie toupee) to expose the baldness of his 'wife's' real fiance

THE CASE OF THE FRIGHTENED LADY (1940, directed by George King, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*)- "Nerves going to pieces" in this old priory, "very queer m'lord." The sinister butler, or rather butlers, may have dunnit since they are on the scene for murder number one. Chief Insp Tanner is on the case with a traditional sergeant played by Ronald Shiner. "It's all so frightfully involved" when the chief suspect is done in, Tanner anticipates a third killing leading to a visually inventive murder scene, "I can't believe it." However either as an Old Dark House type of thriller, or as a whodunnit, this doesn't really work

THE CHINESE BUNGALOW (1940 version, directed by George King Beaconsfield Studios 3*) - Chinese Millionaire Marries English Showgirl, read the headlines. Sadie (Kay Walsh) takes up residence in his up-river bungalow, full of ancient treasures: "I know I'm going to be happy," she declares. But loneliness drives her into the arms of the nearest white man, Harold. "I could never hurt you, "her suspicious husband warns her, "unless you deserve it." He starts to prefer Sadie's sister Charlotte (Jane Baxter): "you'll never get her," an embittered Sadie tells her husband. The ending is typical of George King's melodramatic style, using the old poisoned chalice routine

CONFLICT OF WINGS (1954, directed by John Eldridge, Beaconsfield Studio, 4*)- What rotter is buying The Island of Children? No less than the RAF to make it a firing range. Apparently the birds here are the souls of Roman children, so of course we have the old tussle of the locals pitted against authority, though it could hardly be called Conflict. Both sides are depicted, even handedly. An eel catcher put there by Henry VIII nearly decides the issue, then it's all down to this seagull sacrificing his Roman life. Finally the locals stage a sit in, on the lines of a very mini Dunkirk. "You might have been killed." The message seems to be that the little man can win

BURNT EVIDENCE (1954, directed by Daniel Birt, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*) - Financial difficulties for Jack who's "no businessman," being "too soft." Duncan Lamont plays him with his usual sympathy, and he needs it with his wife Diana (Jane Hylton) playing around with Jimmy (Donald Gray). Jack, she has in her hands like putty- "if ever I'm going to run away, I'll give you plenty of warning." In his workshop, Jack has it out with Jimmy and accidentally the place is burned to the ground. The tension builds as we await identification of the charred body inside. Diana identifies it as Jack- but is she lying? Since Donald Gray had only one arm, one would have thought the answer should be obvious. However the police take their time about it. Meredith Edwards gives a nice performance as the new inspector, aided with his usual dry wit by Cyril Smith.
In fact, the early dialogue in this Ted Willis script is often wooden, though it improves as the film goes on. And it's Irene Handl who has the best part of Caroline, with her ultra-posh accent

JOHN AND JULIE (1955, directed by William Fairchild, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*)- "Coronations don't happen every day," so two children run off from Dorset to London to see it, because they want to see it "properly," ie not on television! Watching it today, brought home how much suburban respectability has vanished from the movies since Elizabeth became queen, in those innocent days John and Julie pottered round the country with no idea of any danger. Nice Sir James (Wilfrid Hyde-White) is the first to befriend them, then there's a passing motorist, Judge Davidson (Joseph Tomelty). In London the pair get separated in the vast crowds, and with the story dragging, Julie is befriended by a tart (Moira Lister), whilst John is helped by a youth leader (Colin Gordon). Reunited on the big day, the last quarter of the film shows them arrested, but only so they can have "the best view in London" of the procession. The director gets the best out of Lesley Dudley as Julie, as she at last manages a glimpse of Her Majesty. It's a puzzle why the film wasn't made in 1953 to cash in on the impetus of the coronation, As it is Richard Dimbleby begins by reminding the audience of that summer two years back... and how it rained! Also a puzzle is the route of the children's 150 mile trip. The map shows Julie's school is in North Dorset, though they board their train at Minster- this certainly looks like the station in East Kent- then are seen in a London North Eastern train before ending up at some unspecified town in Wessex, with distances stated to such odd places at Haverfordwest, Penzance, Edinburgh. Nearest to Southampton, but mathematically not possible to be anywhere!

THE LOVE MATCH (1955, directed by David Palentchi, Beaconsfield Studios, 5*)- Bill Brown (Arthur Askey) is driving his train like a lunatic so he can get back in time for City's football match. Evidently hooliganism was rife in those days, for he climbs over the fence to get in, then assaults the ref. A sympathetic magistrate (Robb Wilton) has to fine him, and Bill dips in to railway club funds to pay. However the plot is always secondary to the characters and the light comedy and perhaps even more nostalgic than the steam locomotives is the ballroom where Bill's daughter Rose (Shirley Eaton) competes in the Come Dancing competition with gauche partner (Danny Ross). Even more nostalgic are the terrace houses and the scenes of (fairly) contented family life. I thought William Franklyn's part as the put upon ref could have been developed to good effect, the finale is the City v United derby with Bill running a book, but who does he want to win? Surely City, but what's this, his son Percy is playing for United!

GUILTY? (1956, directed by Edmond Greville, Beaconsfield Studios, 1*)- Frenchwoman Victoria Martin pleads not guilty to killing Julian Welles. She'd been his lover, borne his child but had been separated for years. They'd met up in a hotel room where he is found shot. Thus her "chances aren't very good" in this court case in which flashbacks relating to the murder are jumbled in with lawyer Rumbold (John Justin) turning detective. In France he is pursued by an attractive lady in "underclothes" to Avignon where he encounters "an atmosphere," more hostility in truth. The characters never really engage you, but if you care about the outcome, this is in the best tradition. The jury have returned, about to pronounce their verdict when Rumbold's fresh evidence dramatically arrives

THE VICIOUS CIRCLE (1957, directed by Gerald Thomas, Beaconsfield Studios, 6*)- The body of a German actress is found by mild Dr Latimer (John Mills) in his flat. The blunt instrument of death turns up in the boot of his Daimler: "this is fantastic." Inspector Dane (Roland Culver) receives Latimer's explanations with a deadly calm. "Unless I can prove to the police my story is true, I'm in a jam." Here's the familiar Francis Durbridge plot of an innocent sucked into a cunning frame-up he cannot fathom. "Leave the country now, before it's too late," advises one of his lying patients. But it is too late, for he stumbles over her dead body. Forged passports are behind the subterfuge and the good doctor cooperates with the police to catch the rignleader.
Perhaps this line sums it all up neatly: "suppose you stop talking in riddles and come to the point."

MAN-EATER (1957, directed by Compton Bennett, Beaconsfield Studios, 0*)- Playgirl Betty and her drunken husband George (Lee Patterson) go on safari with "the best" John Hunter (Rhodes Reason). First part of the film with some stock footage, interspersed with the actors crawling round the studio bushes, is almost a travelogue. For patrons who haven't quit the cinema, finally the drunk somehow manages to get lost in the studio and Betty makes eyes at Rick (Patrick Holt): "I aim to please." Still awake?- then see the lion hunt after "a crazed cat," more a dummy actually, but maybe Betty is the real Man Eater. One of the many grimly awful lines is this neat one from Lee Patterson: "If a man is going to go on living, he might be able to do one thing right, even if that's just dying." Incredible, but they made a tv series, White Hunter, on the back of this trash

THE SOLITARY CHILD (1957, directed by Gerald Thomas, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*)- Captain James Random (Philip Friend) has remarried after being acquitted of shooting Eva his first wife. His 16 year old daughter Maggie is the image of her mother, "I'm backward," though she never very convincingly conveys this to us. She draws violent scenes of shooting, the truth surrounding Eva's death gets lost however in a surfeit of dialogue. "Get away from this place, before you run into any more accidents," Maggie warns second wife Harriet (Barbara Shelley), who is finally told all that Maggie witnessed the fateful night of Eva's death. James gives a rather different version. Alone, at home, Harriet is very vulnerable

CAT GIRL (1957, directed by Alfred Shaughnessy, Beaconsfield Studios, 5*)- The doomed Miss Leonora (Barbara Shelley) has been sent for by her uncle to pass on to her the family curse and "a life of horror." This darkly sinister moody film has all the looks of Hammer but isn't, "you cannot escape your destiny!" Possessed by the shadow of a leopard, Leonora is badly in need of a shrink, enter her former admirer Dr Brian (Robert Ayres), now married. He vainly tries to delve her split personality, "the leopard was my other self." She can make it kill her husband, and why not Brian's wife? Along London's ill lit streets stalks the leopard, the ending is poetic,which the doc takes with extraordinary calmness

THE FLYING SCOT (1957, directed by Compton Bennett, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*)- On board the night London express are young newlyweds, but their luggage is unusual: tools to remove parts of their compartment. Target, the adjacent section which is full of bags of money. These are chucked overboard at a pre-arranged point- easy! It is twelve minutes before there is any dialogue, what we have seen is the plan for the job. Inevitably the real thing hits problems: the compartment is slightly different in construction, a drunk interrupts, not to mention the obnoxious boy, and the boss Phil's ulcer perforates. This is one of those films of frustration, just too protracted to enjoy

VIOLENT MOMENT (1958, directed by Sydney Hayers, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*)- 'Moment' is very apt, there's only a brief strangling scene at the start, Daisy Hacker (Jane Hylton) is done in by her boyfriend Doug (Lyndon Brook) after she adopts their two year old son Jiffy, just when the doting Doug had bought him a talking doll for his birthday. The film shows Doug starting a new life, since the police inspector (Bruce Seton) is pretty un-Fabian like in failing to track down the murderer. Doug works his way up the business of garage owner Bert (Rupert Davies) and makes his secretary Janet (Jill Browne) his fiancee. He's a success, but that toy is, indirectly, his undoing. The denouement is slow and inevitable, but well done, for when Janet's flat is burgled, Doug cannot but give himself away, with hardly a whimper

DEADLY RECORD (1959, directed by Lawrence Huntington, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*)- Airline pilot Trevor (Lee Patterson) returns home to discover his wife Jenny, a dancer, is away. Next day police find her corpse at home, stabbed with Trevor's own knife. With help from Sue (Barbara Shelley), he discovers two suspects: Ramon her former dance partner, and her doctor who was having an affair with her. Though Supt Ambrose (Geoffrey Keen) seems sure Trevor is the killer, Jenny's "extremely frank" diary provides a deadly record as to the murderer's identity

THE WHITE TRAP (1959, directed by Sidney Hayers, Beaconsfield Studions, 5*) -Inside for "something I didn't do," Paul Langley (Lee Patterson) is being transferred to Dartmoor, when he yet again makes a break for it. He's desperate to see his wife Joan, who's expecting their child. The contrast between her fear of dying, as her mother did, and his desperation is well done. A friend helps Paul elude the police, but with maternity being closely watched, how can he ever get to see his wife? Answer- pose as a casualty case, his face bandaged! But Sgt Morrison (Conrad Phillips) spots him and there's a chase around the corridors before Paul takes refuge in a doctor's party. But "desperate men make mistakes" and when Paul learns his baby is doing fine but his wife "has not much hope" he frantically dons a doctor's white coat and finds his wife- they smile, but it's only for a moment. "Just lousy" is the only way this can end now

OCTOBER MOTH (1960, directed by John Kruse, Beaconsfield Studios, 2*) - Finlay (Lee Patterson) rescues a woman from a car smash and carries her to his farmhouse bed. He decides she is his dead mother, but he is an utterly demented soul, seriously ill, cared for by his sister Molly (Lana Morris), who is a sympathetc character, though her actions are never entirely plausible. She meets Tom who tries to get the woman to hospital, Molly desperate to get Finlay to admit the truth about his tortured past with his father. The inevitable crisis, as Tom and he come face to face, the unremitting blackness bringing on the inevitable ending, too obvious, implausible, corny too

NEVER LET GO (1960, directed by John Guillermin, Beaconsfield Studios, 8*)- A crooked garage owner, that's the unsual role for Peter Sellers, with Adam Faith as his stooge who steals cars to order. He regrettably is the one weak link, unconvincing, not the accomplished actor he turned into. Into this ruthless world steps mild family man Cummings (Richard Todd) for his brand new Ford Anglia is stolen. This is a breaking point for this salesman, his car essential for his job, now "we couldn't even afford to hire a bicycle." His work suffers in his single minded determination to find his car. He finds an eyewitness, newspaper vendor Alfie who is violently assaulted to keep his mouth shut. But Alfie has pointed Cummings to Tommy (Adam Faith) and his motorcycle gang and thence to Lionel Meadows (Sellers, unexpectedly effective in his evil looks). Cummings' doggedness riles Meadows whose relationship with tart Jackie deteriorates as Cummings in his plight grows closer to Anne his wife (Elizabeth Sellars). "I want my car... I've got to hang on to what's left." Here's the impressive theme as he simply has to "see it through." Jackie can provide the vital lead, bringing on a tense standoff as Meadows bursts into Cummings family home. An ultimatum from Anne as the sense of evil grows, a disintegrating Meadows swearing to kill his nemesis and set fire to his wretched car, him inside. The theme is summed up in the one line from Anne, "so what makes your car so important?" 'Tis the High noon of the final clash, only as this is a film noir, 'tis blackest night. After that bloody showdown will the tortured salesman find his wife at home?

THE MAN IN THE BACK SEAT (1961, directed by Vernon Sewell, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*) - NTE718 is the car. Two tearaways have nicked it, the evil Tony, and his underling Frank. Their victim is Joe, greyhound bookie. They snatch his money bag, but there's one problem, they have to snatch him also, it's chained to his wrist. From hereon this is one long frustration for the crooks, and the audience. No key to unlock it, car parked in someone's way, Frank's wife Jean suspicious, puncture, Joe beaten up, Joe dumped but spotted by a policeman, quack doctor diagnoses a punctured lung, "he's dead." Crooks scarper scared, "you've got yourself into a fine mess." Well does this prove crime does not pay, or what?

HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1961, directed by Vernon Sewell, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*)- Orchard Cottage in Devon for sale at a bargain price. "A big snag we don't know about," is perhaps a ghost. A lady (Jane Hylton) tells the story of late electrical engineer Mark Lemming whose wife Stella disappeared along with their lodger Clive. The house had been purchased by newlyweds Harry (Maurice Kaufmann) and June (Nanette Newman) who see Mark's ghost. "Really shaken," they call in a ghost hunter (the enthusiastic Colin Gordon), who arranges a seance, "how awful." The film winds down to more of a crime thriller than a horror tale. "You can't frighten me," but the director has a fair stab at it

PAYROLL (1961, directed by Sidney Hayers, Beaconsfield Studios, 8*)- Villains are planning to snatch the large payroll from an armoured van. As we meet the van drivers and their families, what follows is moving, as the crooks' Jag forces the van to swerve and crash. It is rammed mercilessly until it yields its contents. Several deaths follow in this tensest of holdups. The aftermath is impressive also, as the villains fall out over the distribution of their dead colleague's share. We see the devastation of ruined lives, except for the insider's wife, who provides "the sex angle," making off with the boss of the gang. Then there's the ice cool widow of the dead driver, who causes the insider to crack up, before she hunts down her late husband's killer. Only thing wrong with the film is the extraordinary lack of any local accent- it is set in Newcastle

SEVEN KEYS (1962, directed by Pat Jackson, Beaconsfield Studios, 2*)- Group Captain James Jefferson is killed in a car crash, coincidentally his father, in jail having robbed 20,000, also dies. Thus prisoner 7866 Fred Russell (Alan Dobie) inherits the dead man's seven keys, obviously a clue to the missing money, and the film moves pedestrianly through the motions as Russell works out what the keys are for, shadowed by rival crooks. Jefferson's loyal secretary Miss Steele (Jeannie Carson) helps him trace one key to a safe deposit, another to his house where Fabia Drake and Robertson Hare give us a moment's comedy relief as the frightened new occupants. ORW120 was Jefferson's car, and new owner Colin Gordon adds another moment of fun, but only a moment in this tedious and very complictaed search. The key to James' flat leads to fiancee Natalie, a model, who had been blackmailing Jefferson after a drink driving road accident. Russell makes love to her before blackmailing her in return, he's no moral hero though somehow, under the gentle influence of Miss Steele he emerges as one

start of page








Islington Studios
The home of Gainsborough Pictures, opened after the first war, finally closing in 1949.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS (1935 Islington Studios, directed by Tom Walls, 5*)- To me, Tom Walls became a little too indulgent when he was directing as well as starring. Compensation in this Ben Travers comedy is the omnipresent Ralph Lynn as Jefferson, one of two relations competing for an aunt's inheritance. As the other is "henpecked" Robertson Hare, there's plenty of enjoyment. When Jefferson loses his last franc to the Captain (Walls) and they try to make ends meet, they somehow end up in court charged with faking jewellery. The delicious Martita Hunt has one uncredited scene as wife of the immortal Basil Radford

WHERE THERE'S A WILL (1936, directed by William Beaudine, Islington Studios, 4*) - Incompetent solicitor Benjamin Stubbins disgraces himself by getting plastered, but redeems himself when three American crooks trick "the mug" into using his office- to gain a quick way into the adjacent bank, "boy, does thay guy slay me!" Will Hay carries the film through its many weak moments, and the dry ones when he is off screen, but the script deficiencies are hard to hide, and the supporting cast disappointing, especially in the tiny part allocated to Graham Moffat. Even the music is stock material, I noticed one scene that utilised the song Where There's You from Jack Hulbert's Jack of All Trades. Suspected of the robbery, Stubbins bumbles out of trouble at a Christmas Party dressed as Santa Claus

GOOD MORNING BOYS (1937, directed by Marcel Varnel, Islington Studios, 6*)- Will Hay plays Dr Benjamin Twist, his stock bumbling schoolmaster, "I know what I'm doing." A new governor rightfully has grave doubts, though Lady Bogshott (Martita Hunt) has every faith in him. To priove his competence he must enter pupils for an exam, which after a lot of dubious practices results in 100% marks, earning a trip to Paris. In the party is one Arty Jones, looking even older than the other schoolboys, he's an art thief who steals the Mona Lisa. The pace slows in the night club scene which resorts to slapstick. but though Twist is found with the stolen picture, somehow his boys see him through, "gosh you are in a mess"

OH MR PORTER (1937, directed by Marcel Varnel, Islington Studios, 8*) - Remote Buggleskelly is where incompetent stationmaster Porter is sent, the sixth to hold this office in the past year. Though the gun running plot is central, all the fun is at the crumbling station with ancient deputy stationmaster Moore Marriott and Albert the boy portrayed by Graham Moffatt, who "plays with the pixies." Not forgetting Gladstone the 1854 locomotive. They make a fine team, never finer than here, where no self respecting train dare stop. The climax is the train for Buggleskelly Wednesday, a wild finish with the gunrunners to a juddering crash at the terminus

CONVICT 99 (1938, directed by Marcel Varnel, Islington Studios, 4*)-despite Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt's support, this is not one of Will Hay's better films. He is Dr Benjamin Twist, sacked headmaster, who is appointed in error as a prison governor. He is mistaken for an inmate, but eventually escapes with Jerry the Mole, "crazy as a coot." After "the ghastly blunder" has been rectified, he institutes a thoroughly liberal regime, funded by a football pools winning, and shrewd investments in the stock market. By the time we reach a party with lots of girls, the charade has worn too thin. However a forged cheque leads to near disaster, solved by breaking into his bank to restore the prisoners' funds IN to that institution. A final farce sees the prisoners dressed as policemen pursued by real policemen

I THANK YOU (1941, directed by Marcel Varnel, Islington Studio, 4*)- Askey and Murdoch go into service as husband and wife, but only to find a backer of their show. Moore Marriott and Graham Chapman offer some support with a healthy dollop of slapstick with things like wet paint. Of course in the end, the show must go on, somehow. Lily Morris sings Waiting at the Church, while the opening song Up With The Lark offers a breezy start which is sadly not maintained

BACK ROOM BOY (1942, directed by Herbert Mason, Islington Studios, 5*)- An uncredited Philip Friend introduces a man performnig a vital function at the BBC, making sure the pips are pressed on time. After he gets the pip, he is transferred to a lonely Scottish lighthouse where "they all go mad." Here are all the traditional ghostly happenings, but it's endearingly done with Arthur finding a cheeky foil in young Jane (Vera Frances). Perhaps it's Arthur's dialogue with his lonely self that makes the charm, until that is the place is overrun with women, and enlivened by Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt. The mystery of the disappearing guests is all to do with the war in a protracted flag waving ending. The running Scottish gag, Och Aye, I liked, plus this snippet of dialogue:
Moore Marriott: "I remember this lighthouse when I was a boy."
Arthur: "Did they have lighthouses then?"

TAWNY PIPIT (1944, directed by Bernard Miles, Gainsborough Studios, 5*)- "proper goings on" in an idyllic village, where a rare bird has been spotted. The locals, headed by the colonel (Bernard Miles) set out in typical British fashion, to see that the nest of their visitors jolly well receives "fair play." Unscrupulous twitchers are not the only enemies, the army want the area for manoeuvres, and a farmer wants to plough up his land, don't you know. Keep off this slice of British life, and even though the plot be thin, a charm of characterisation allows you to forgive much

MIRANDA (1948, directed by Ken Annakin, Islington, 5*)- On a fishing holiday, Dr Paul catches a mermaid, or more exactly she catches him! Though it's "out of the question," Paul takes her home to meet his suspicious wife. The best thing is the complete innocence of it all, quite alien nowadays, stiff upper lip comedy, not milked. Maybe Nurse Carey (Margaret Rutherford) could have been utilised more, she understands mermaids, and might keep Miranda's appetite for men in check. Perhaps the comedy runs a little dry, the interest is which man will she lure away? "There's something very fishy about this case." You vaguely feel the fantasy might be better developed, but the film offers plenty of lovely situations on the way

HELTER SKELTER (1949, directed by Ralph Thomas, Gainsborough Studios, 7*) - A film that grows on you, about Miss Susan Graham who has a plethora of admirers, and an antipathy for radio hero Nick Martin (David Tomlinson), who in real life is but a mother's boy. This zany film attempts plenty of cinematic novelties, not always successfully, following Susan's attempts to get cured of hiccups. These include haunting by a ghost (Richard Hearne) and consulting a mad psychiatrist (Jimmy Edwards). Such a storyline makes for a mighty thin plot, so pastiches are added, one with King Charles II and a maid, another a silent film chase, plus Terry "Toothbury" Thomas on the radio, singing along to records. There are also surprise stills from contemporary films. Here's some pre-Goon humour which would go down well today, with a host of familiar British faces bringing on the laughs. But for unknown Carol Marsh with the malady, this was her finest hour. Perhaps hiccups don't make for stardom

DON'T EVER LEAVE ME (1949, directed by Arthur Crabtree, Gainsborough Studios, 6*)- Old lag Harry (Edward Rigby) attempts one big job, the kidnap of 15 year old Sheila (Petula Clark), daughter of stage star Michael Farlaine. Too late, Harry realises the job is not for him, but she shocks him by saying she actually wants to be kidnapped. Craving some excitement, she makes him take her to his home, the flat of his grandson Jack (Jimmy Hanley). A promising premise that conjures some happy moments as Sheila phones her dad to demand 2,000 ransom, and as she forces Jack to take her out on the town for some excitement. The police can't find her because she's altered her appearance, because her father sees the kidnap as a chance to get much needed publicity, and because neighbour Jimmy (Anthony Newley) has wildly misled police in his description of the desperate gang. "She must be giving them absolute torture," though she's having a "super duper" time herself. But how does Jimmy explain her away to his girl Joan? Pleasant characters they are, though without much bite to the comedy, at least until Jimmy decides to be kidnapped also, "did your father ever slap your head, I hope?" Sheila's stage managed reappearance ensures a "super" ending

A BOY A GIRL AND A BIKE (1949, dir Ralph Smart, Gainsborough Studios, 5*) - T' grand an' healthy outdoor cycling life, men in short trousers, vying over Diana Dors and Honor Blackman. Aye, in't North, wi' Yorksheer accents, aye home life is claustrophobic, a stifle to romance. Honor's pursued by Patrick Holt, but there's a rival in posh John McCallum. As for Diana, playing the improbably named Ada, is she part of the eternal triangle? Another storyline involves Anthony Newley who steals a bike to pay off his gambling debts. There's a lot of trouble at mill sorting out problems, the climax the Whit Monday cycle race, Wakeford Warriors need t' reserve to win t' race through t' cobbled streets, up hill and down dale, "hey, what's t' hurry?" That was actual dialogue, but at least t' romance doesn't quite end as ye meet expect

IT'S NOT CRICKET (1949, directed by Roy Rich/ Alfred Roome, Gainsborough Studios, 5*)- Major Bright and Captain Early (Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne) somehow have been enlisted in the Intelligence Corps. Their failure to capture Otto Fisch (Maurice Denham- too over the top) results in their bowler hatting, so they set up a detective agency. Their first long awaited client is actress Virginia Briscoe, who's lost her dog in the theatre, where they inevitably ruin her performance in the chase. The Rothstein Diamond has been hidden in a cricket ball which is to be used at a country house weekend. After the usual nighttime frolics, "probably burglars," Bright and Early distinguish themselves on the field of play, and also recover the diamond

start of page








Brighton Studios
37 Nicholas Road Brighton (phone 24477, later 29935/8).
Opened about 1948, closed 1966.

CHILDREN GALORE (1954, Brighton Studios, directed by Terence Fisher, 3*) - Must have been a team of men producing this study of a village where the family with the most grandchildren by a set date will win a new house. Whilst the men take it all in their stride, the gossipy women have most of the best lines and all the bitchiness: "all women's queer, one way or t'other." Sadly there's not much fun to be read in the faces of the cast and it's all too starchy and lacking any humour, black or otherwise, a sort of Whisky Galore without any of the spirit

THE FLAW (1955, directed by Terence Fisher, Brighton Studios, 5*)- Monica (Rona Anderson) is rich, and infatuated by ace racing driver Paul (John Bentley), and she ditches steady Jack to marry suddenly. It's all too soon clear he only married her for her money, he has a mistress on the side and when she informs him she is leaving him, he has to resort to baiting Jack with a story of how he is going to poison him. It's "the perfect crime," but, as Jack points out, there must be "a flaw." There certainly is and it provides quite a shock!

THE GELIGNITE GANG (1956 directed by Francis Searle, Brighton Studios. 4*)- The mysterious Mr G is boss of a gang undertaking daring safe robberies. Jimmy Baxter (stodgy Wayne Morris) of Anglo American Investigations is on his trail, or as his boss (Patrick Holt) informs him: "I shall send a wreath to your funeral." Clues lead to the Green Dragon where the manager (Eric Pohlmann) is able to assist Jimmy. Also on the trail is feeble Inspector Felby (Lloyd Lamble) who "wants this lot badly" after the theft of Lady Wilshaw's daimond tiara ends in murder. Says Baxter to him: "As soon as we round up the gang, I'll let you know so you can make the arrest." The showdown is at a pawnbrokers where the crooks send the police a hail of bullets. "Shall we arrest them sir?" Felby is optimistically asked! But naturally it's Baxter who finally tracks Mr G to his lair. This is a routine thriller with perhaps the best part being the role of a 22 year tearaway played by James Kenney.

ROGUE'S YARN (1956, Brighton Studios, directed by Vernon Sewell, 7*)- The old story of the rich invalided wife, her husband John (Derek Bond) infatuated by the younger woman, Michelle. Tired of waiting, Michelle demands "she must die," but vacillating John needs some persuading. Their plans are meticulously laid and perfectly executed. However on the case is Inspector Walker of the Yard (Elwyn Brook-Jones, the real star of the film) who questions everyone efficiently and very thoroughly trying to break down "the obvious suspect" who has his watertight alibi based on an automatic boat pilot. How can John's guilt be proven? "That's very clever," as is this absorbing detective story as Walker desperately searches for that one elusive clue

SHADOW OF FEAR (1963, directed by Ernest Morris, Brighton Studios, 3*)- Oil man Bill Martin (Paul Maxwell) is asked to deliver a message from Baghdad to British Intelligence in London. But after obeying orders- to the enemy- the information is "highly dangerous," and he must be silenced. He gets away from the spies to join his girl Barbara, whose Uncle John puts them in touch with the real MI5. They persuade him to act as decoy to lure the gang into the open. But they are captured at gunpoint, and taken out to the open sea

SMOKESCREEN (1964, directed by Jim O'Connolly, Brighton Studios, 8*)- Over Seaford Head a car descends in flames. Assessor 'Ropey' and insurance salesman Bayliss investigate John Dexter's 100,000 policy. Where's his corpse? In his smart suit and bowler, Peter Vaughan meticulously probes the facts, with some humour too, particularly in his tight fisted attitude towards his expenses, but what makes the film of special note is the scene which reveals the reason for his miserliness, as we glimpse his home life in a scene which speaks volumes. Then there is his unorthodox "hollowleg treatment" of a suspect's secretary Helen (Penny Morrell) at The Grand Brighton, with champagne cocktails, quite out of character. One of many well observed vignettes, great fun with interesting location shooting, particularly at the now defunct Hellingly station with Deryck Guyler, an absorbing little mystery

start of page








Gate Studios
Originally the Whitehill Studios, latterly owned by the Rank Organisation, situated in filmland at Elstree (phone 2080). Two sound stages were available. It opened in 1928 and closed in 1954 after the last film, John Wesley,see below, was completed.

LILLI MARLENE (1950 directed byArthur Crabtree, Gate Studios Elstree, 2*)- American journalist Steve (Hugh McDermott) and his British mates volunteer to capture a Nazi who has come to North Africa to gain a propaganda victory by using the pinup girl who inspired the song Lilli Marlene. Unfortunately this Nazi reminded me too much of Frank Randle, and Lisa Daniely in the title role, though appealing, is no pinup and terribly exaggerates her face in singing the famous song. She becomes a tug of war twixt the Allies and the Nazis, who almost succeed in snatching her during an overlong ENSA concert. So Steve moves her to the relative safety of Cairo, romance follows, before she is captured by the enemy, tortured, brainwashed` and made to broadcast Nazi propaganda, to the dismay of Steve and his buddies, "the end of a dream." In a final scene, after the war, Lilli is vindicated though it stretches ones credulity more than a little

WOMEN OF TWILIGHT (1952, directed by Gordon Parry, Gate Studios Boreham Wood, 5*)- After no-good Jerry is convicted of murder, his pregnant girlfriend Vivianne (Rene Ray) finds herself homeless until she takes refuge in a home for unmarried mothers. "Most of us had something better once." Presiding over it is Mrs Allistair, a typical role for Freda Jackson. At first she appears motivated by kindness, but her veneer soon fades. All the characters are well drawn, particularly Vida Hope as Jess, Allistair's loyal helper, and Christine (Lois Maxwell) who befriends Viv. Dora Bryan is there too, naturally. This is soap opera, dreary but well observed. The main drama is Chris' baby dying, strangely understated. But the death hides a grizzlier tale as the matriarch's empire thankfully crumbles

STREET CORNER (1953, directed by Muriel Box, Gate Studios Elstree, 5*)- What starts as a semi documentary portrait of London's policewomen ends with a less satisfactory focus on the flighty Bridget (Peggy Cummins) who falls in with a jewel thief and general all round bad egg (Terence Morgan). The mistake the film makes is that although the sub plots are well done, the original focus on women's police work is almost lost and we get no deep character studies of them. The policemen seem mere also rans, though I liked the final chase in which no human catches the thief, but a dog. The best of several good scenes is early on, when an innocent but neglected baby is rescued from a narrow ledge atop an old block of flats. And there are plenty of small character roles to please, mostly female and typecast, such as Thora Hird as a nagging mother, Marjorie Rhodes as the brusque landlady, Joyce Carey as a nervous lady being stalked, and Dora Bryan (who else?), "if I have to be pinched, I want to be pinched by a man"

INNOCENTS IN PARIS (1953, directed by Gordon Parry, Gate Studios, 3*)- A disparate collection of passengers on a weekend flight to Paris include: Ronald Shiner as a Cockney bandsman, Alastair Sim as a cold politician, Jimmy Edwards as a know-all English gent, a kilted Scotsman- cue numerous jokes, Claire Bloom as an English Rose picked up by an older Frenchman, all very naive and only faintly believable, plus one old dear of an artist, played by Margaret Rutherford. A host of smaller parts include uncredited Christoper Lee, Kenneth Williams and Sam Kydd. Frankly, most of the montage is wearingly dull, but with a certain, yes innocent charm, with pleasant moments such as Sim plied with vodka. But it's all too obvious, a waste of many talents

JOHN WESLEY (1953, directed by Norman Walker, Gate Studios Elstree, 4*)- The young boy's early experience is dominated by a fire at his home, Epworth vicarage, as he's rescued from the flames like "a brand plucked from the burning." This rather episodic but well written picture of the "idealist" (Leonard Sachs) is never very profound, but shows how Wesley finds a real personal faith when talking earnestly with a condemned criminal (John Slater), confirmed as he listens in Aldersgate to a Luther sermon. "The enthusiast" gathers to him the "riff raff," to the horror of the established church, and in Bristol begins open air preaching and, with his brother Charles' hymns, opens the first Meeting House. Despite opposition, for example in Bath from Beau Nash (Philip Leaver), soon the first building is opened in London, one follower (Patrick Holt) being the first unlicensed preacher. Soon all over the country there is "a new hope, the joy of knowing God," bringing the Good News "into the hearts and homes of ordinary folk." Very dated now, but sadly that is the spirit of our age. John Wesley concludes happily, "how the tide has turned!" An ironic comment today!

start of page