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 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
(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
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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
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
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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
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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
(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!
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1 Joan Sims
2 Margaret Lockwood
3 Ronald Shiner
4 Derek Bond
5 Daniel Massey
6 Zena Walker
7 Nadja Regin
8 Ronald Howard
9 Michael Redgrave
10 Albert Finney
11 Donald SinDennis Goodwin
12 James MaSonny Boy
13 Jack WarNerys Hughes
14 Richard HErnest Morris
15 Marcel VarnEllen Terry
16 Tony BriTony Briton
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