. . . . . . . . Dinosaur Films - July 2017
Welcome to my monthly magazine on the byways of British cinema.
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On the Run (1968, directed by Pat Jackson, Marylebone Studios, 4*)
This film from the 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 runs all the way to the police station. So on the beach, bad Uncle Joseph is rounded up

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Bray Studios

Reviews of films made at these studios.

THE BLACK GLOVE aka FACE THE MUSIC
(1954, directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 5*)

Top American trumpeter Brad (Alex Nicol) makes music with Maxine but then lands in big trouble when she's done in.
A clue is a record made by Maxine accompanied by famous Jeff Colt, though he claims he never made this disc. Was the real pianist Johnny (Paul Carpenter)? The track had been cut at the Maida Vale studio of Maurie Green (Geoffrey Keen) though he denies any knowledge of these artists.
Lots of moody jazz music and sets that even in the bright like of day look dark and sinister.
A typical line, might be any aspiring film noir, is Brad's description of the wily Maurie, "he could hear a pound note hit a plush carpet a mile away"

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Each month- a review of a film from the Children's Film Foundation

THE GLITTERBALL (CFF)
(1976, directed by Harley Cokliss, EMI Elstree Studios, 6*)

In Max's house a real UFO has landed, actually it is a small silver ball that most have cost the props department zilch. It creates untold problems, mostly because it is so hungry it eats all the food in the house.
"What is it?" With his new friend Pete, Max feeds it, since that is what it asks him. "Where's he put it all?"
They help the ball to be reunited with its spaceship, while Max's dad, who works for the RAF vainly tries to track down the mysterious object which has materialised on their radar.
More fun is the character of George 'Filthy' Potter, a crooked window cleaner, who on the basis of Finders Keepers, grabs the object knowing it's "worth a fortune." He uses it for the more mundane job of robbing the local supermarket, but thanks to an ice cream salesman, who else?, the lads catch Filthy trying to open the safe using the ball. They enjoy an unusual punchup with him, but with help from the ball and his numerous extra terrestrial pals, Potter is throroughly put to shame.
Then it's time for the ball to return home, "I wonder where the spaceship's gone?" That's something the grown ups will never know, for they never even get a look at the thing

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Reviews of a few B films

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

MARK OF THE PHOENIX (1957, directed by Maclean Rogers, Walton Studios, 3*)- Chuck Martin, the world's greatest jewel thief sells his latest loot to Pierre, a Belgian jeweller. Next he is to steal the celebrated collection of Maurice Duser. But complications ensue, including Petra, Duser's pretty wife, as well as a stolen formula that will revolutionise warfare. Not to mention Pierre's murder, and that of another spy. "Chuck Martin, now there's a man!" So says Petra, and soon the whole world

THE GILDED CAGE (1955 directed by John Gilling 3*)- this is one of Tempean's few poor films, a lack of strong characters is its weakness though Trevor Reid can always be relied on for some dry wit in his role as the police inspector. The mystery surrounds The Gilded Cage, a Degas painting- but is it a fake? Cpt Steve Anderson (Alex Nicol) meets Marcia at an art gallery on behalf of his brother Harry, and becomes sucked into Harry's shady acquaintances. Steve has to find Harry who strangely disappears. (For another Alex Nicol film, see this month's Bray Studios review, and for a better Tempean film see My Favourites)

POLICE DOG (1955, directed by Derek Twist, National Studios, 4*)- two coppers on the beat chase a suspicious character. Ken is shot, his partner PC Frank Mason (Tim Turner) vows to catch the villain. As he has "a way with dogs," he helps train Rex before the dog joins him on patrol. First 'capture' is a courting couple, but more usefully at closing time, "I'll come quietly, take that dog away!" The one cloud on Mason's horizon is that his sweetheart Pat (Joan Rice) is jealous of Rex! Otherwise it's all nice and cosy, especially with the sympathetic police sergeant (Charles Victor in an ideal role). Rex comes into his own during a factory robbery. It is perpetrated by Ken's killer, "you've got it coming to you," cries Mason, very unPC

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Profile :

REGINALD LONG

He began his career as a musician, first becoming involved with the theatre when he conducted and arranged the music for an Australian tour of Shakespearean plays.
This lead him into films, and he appeared in some silent films as an actor as well as scriptwriter and director.
But he became best known as a screen writer, collaborating on the scripts for, among others, Second Bureau (1936), Ball at the Savoy (1936), and The Wife of General Ling (1937).
Plays he wrote included A Star Comes Home, Almost in Confidence, and Said the Spider.
After the war his film scripts included contributions to The Shop at Sly Corner (1947), Look Before you Love (1948), To Have and To Hold (1951), Death of an Angel (1952) and his final effort The Limping Man in 1953.
However though he hadn't acted in post war films, he did return to a few acting roles on tv in the 1960s, including Crossroads.

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MISSING BRITISH FEATURE FILMS

Blind Man's Bluff

This 1952 crime drama was shown on British TV in early 1957.
But where is it now?

Script was by that doyen of the British crime noir, John Gilling.

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My Favourite B Films:
A series on films I love.
No 4 Tiger By The Tail (1955, directed by John Gilling, Nettlefold Studios, 8*)
I am a bit of a fan of Robert Baker and Monty Berman's output, and this film, issued under their 'Tempean' banner, while not their best, has plenty of pace and a nice smattering of humour.
There is the mandatory American star, this time Larry Parks, who doesn't look as sleepy as many of his compatriots, managing to inject some fun into his role as a reporter for Word Wide News. He's in London on an assignment, and naturally we see him flying in to London Airport in a scene that must have been repeated hundreds of times in films of the era. However this is a story told in flashback, and we already know that as John Desmond, he is staggering along London's ill-lit streets badly wounded, in a film noir opening that is of the best.
I liked the early narration which draws us into the story. How he is bored alone in his London hotel, visits a seedy nightclub, picks up the enigmatic Anna Ray (Lisa Daniely), and falls badly for her, "I was always there when she wanted me." But never otherwise, and when he delves into her life she refuses to see him again. He goes to see her anyway, they argue over her diary, he accidentally shoots her.
That sucks him into the mystery, as Foster (Bruce Seton) and his cronies are desperate to retrieve the diary, which appears to contain coded messages. John is tortured, but escapes. In hospital he breaks the code, but Foster, posing as a doctor, hoodwinks staff and wheels John away for more torture.
In all this, he has been loyally helped by his temporary secretary Miss Jane Claymore (Constance Smith), who covers for him, even hides the diary for him, but when she is threatened, John has to yield.
I liked their relationship, they sparked a little off each other and they end back on the dark streets where it had all begun
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