. . . . . . . . Dinosaur Films - May 2017
Welcome to my monthly magazine on the byways of British cinema.
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Missing Films. . Profile . . An American Musical . . Famous 5 . . Brief Reviews . . Bray Studios Review . . Merton Park . . New Elstree . . Southall Studios site
MERELY MR HAWKINS
(1938, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)

This film has a bright beginning, 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."

Some of the best lines:
Mr H to Mrs H: Every worm will have its turn."

Mrs H to Mr H: "You ought to have made me manager here."

Mrs H at the bank: "There's been a burglary." Mr H: "Good heavens. I hope they haven't taken my umbrella."

Pictures: Centre: Eliot Makeham and Dinah Sheridan. From Top left, clockwise: Sybil Grove and DS, Michael Ripper, Titles, Jonathan Field (left), the bazaar scene

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Bray Studios

Reviews of films made at these studios.

THE LADY CRAVED EXCITEMENT
(1950, directed by Francis Searle, Bray Studios, 3*)

Based on characters in a radio serial, Pat (Hy Hazell) and her music hall partner "pinhead" Johnny (Michael Medwin) need publicity to boost their act. As a "she Dick Barton" she gets them involved with a gang of thieves after she accepts an invitation to pose as Anne Boleyn for mad painter Septimus Peterson (Andrew Keir).
There are odd moments of fun, specially with Sid James as manager Carlo, but not much of the Excitement in the title, when first Pat is kidnapped, then Johnny is tied up also.
"What would Dick Barton do?" The plot seems to involve stolen paintings like the "Mona Lousey" and "quite the bottiest celli I ever saw."
As well as a madman's revenge by executing Pat, altogether too many motifs have got muddled up, "that girl'll get her head cut off one of these days"

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Each month- a review of one part of this Children's Film Foundation serial.
Five on a Treasure Island
was released by the Children's Film Foundation in 1957.
It was, of course, an adaptation of a popular Enid Blyton adventure with the Famous Five,
George (Rel Grainer), Julian (Richard Palmer), Ann (Gillian Harrison), and Dick (John Bailey), not forgetting their dog Timmy.
The director was Gerald Landau. Producer: Frank Wells. Screenplay: Michael Barnes.

Episode 7 At The Mercy of The Waves
Luke and Jim easily break out of the bolted room. Dick eludes them by climbing up the well shaft, nearly slipping, but finds himself trapped. The rest of the Five dash off to fetch help, but can't get to their boat. Luke and Jim are dashing about like demented silent film baddies to stop them.
To confuse them, the three children split up. "Oh no you don't." The chase is too long in and out the castle ruins, but by some good fortune they do all reach their boat. But as the oars have been hidden and the engine removed, they face a tough trip back to the mainland. "Currents are dangerous around here," gloat the baddies. Crumbs, the waves start dashing their rowing boat perilously close to the rocks.
Jan is asked by George's mother to check if the children are all right on the island. He sets off for the isle in his boat. I'm not sure why the children's boat can't be seen from the shore.
But Dick has climbed down the shaft and is doing what should have been done before, hiding the ingots. Jim and Luke catch up with him, but Timmy the dog prevents them from shooting Dick. Unfortunately the hidden gold has been spotted and Luke and Jim start to transport it down to their boat. However Dick sabotages their boat.
Will Jan reach the children in time?

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Reviews of a few B films

BEAUTY AND THE BARGE 1937, directed by Henry Edwards, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- "No good ever came from goin' out with girls," advises Captain Barley (Gordon Harker). Certainly not with Ethel, confined to her room by her Victorian father, for refusing to marry the stolid Herbert. So how about the handsome Lieutenant Boyne (Jack Hawkins)? The Captain has his own eyes on Mrs Baldwin (Margaret Rutherford). Though far too wordy, typical of the era, the film offers compensation in the excellent cast, with Ronald Shiner unusually fun in his minor role as the grumbling deck hand, and the splendid Michael Shepley hardly given a chance as Herbert. Ethel runs away and is to be taken by Barley to London, but Boyne has wangled his passage as well, and a stowaway is on board in the shape of Mrs Baldwin. The fun never properly ignites, but it's enjoyable enough while it lasts

ESCAPE FROM BROADMOOR (1948, directed by John Gilling, 4*)- This was the first of an intended series of shorts. The title might mislead, since though it is about a criminal maniac called Pendicost (John Le Mesurier), the action centres on his attempt to rob Twelve Trees, home of Roger Trent (Frank Hawkins) assistant to Inspector Thornton (John Stuart). His first attempt had ended in failure and the murder of a maid. After escaping from his asylum, he plans a second attempt with his gullible assistant Jenkins. They are interrupted by a maid, so is it deja vu or is it Vera returned to haunt them? The film asks us to surmise, it's a well cosntructed film from John Gilling, who was to become one of British cinema's unsung heroes

THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE (1957, directed by Don Chaffey, 4*)- Evening Echo crime reporter John Deering (Donald Houston) is on to the unsolved murder four years ago of PC James Keith. A photo of the stolen car LMM302 is printed in his paper, and in it a girl is waving at the driver. Deering traces the location of the picture, then the girl, a model named Pat Dryden, while Det Insp Bliss (Patrick Holt) is also hot on the trail. Pat leads John to the driver of the stolen vehicle, Bates, whose boss Rod has to silence. That only needs Pat to be done in. A neat little thriller, though the characters are disappointingly colourless

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

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Profile :

Vanda Hudson (1937-2004)

Born in France of Polish parents, she was educated in London and began her acting career with the Danzigers in TV series, though her first feature film was an uncredited cameo in Seven Thunders (1957).
Her first bigger chance came in the 1959 The Heart of a Man, then she got her biggest role in the comedy Bottoms Up! (1960) as the attractive school matron.
This was quickly followed by Circus of Horrors, then more tv roles and what was her first love, singing in cabaret. She returned to the Danzigers for a part in Strip Tease Murder (1961), then had a part in Ticket to Paradise.
But not much more in films, a small part in Father Came Too (1964) and a final film role starring in another sex film A Promise of Bed (1970).

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MISSING BRITISH FEATURE FILMS

Sabotage At Sea

This 1942 film, though set in the war, is a murder mystery.
The star was David Hutcheson as Richard Tracey, the captain of a ship, with comedienne Jane Carr in a starring role, along with Margaretta Scott and the ineffable Martita Hunt.
As can be seen, Felix Aylmer was also in the film, while further down the cast were Ronald Shiner and William Hartnell

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THE AMERICAN FILM

SWEETHEART OF THE CAMPUS (1941) 8*
A lively musical, even though the songs are only average, starring Ozzie Nelson and his band, with their singer Betty Blake, "she's dynamite." Played by Ruby Keeler in her last feature film, she reveals a much sassier side and really makes the film.
The strong story line is old show biz hat, but well done, with some pleasing little comedy cameos thrown in: Victor, the Hamburger King, then there's the sheriff stooge, and the dim professor of the college, Dr Bailey. In charge of this stuffiest of institutions is the redoutable Minnie Sparr, a relic from a bygone era, who demands her students be as prim and proper as her.
No wonder the place is losing students, but Minnie's niece can see a way forward. She rescues Ozzie's band from a "den of inquity," after they have been put in jail- for playing at a gig too near the college. There's one pleasing number with the boys behind bars, Betty tap dancing alone in a cell for females.
"The low grade morons" are enlisted at Lambert Tech, Betty the only female co-ed. But Minnie Sparr does not like her new intake, and orders the hapless Dr Bailey to set a fiendishly difficult examination paper. Despite intensive swotting, only Betty Blake passes.
But the band's broadcasts have been noticed, and Betty is whisked away to stardom on Broadway. The college looks as though it will have to close, or will it?
The best of the songs perhaps is Where O Where sung by Harriet Nelson, but the highlight is Ruby Keeler's tap dancing, Tap Happy is a lively singing dance, but the most memorable is surely the wild boogie with impressive camera work and even more impressive tap dancing

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