Archive C


Coal Face (1935) Available as part of the Addressing the Nation DVD set

A look at the coal industry in Britain. This documentary was cobbled together from footage taken over several years. The footage is great, but the commentary is rudimentary. Although the facts given are astounding, the narrator is dreary and tends to kill the drama. It's also saddled with a score by Benjamin Britten full of strange shrieks which provokes more giggles than awe.  

Director: Alberto Cavalcanti

The Cockleshell Heroes (1955)

Troops undergo rigorous training in order to break the blockade of Bordeaux. Jose Ferrer pushes them to the edge despite Trevor Howard's opposition. Another in the long line of true war stories British cinema produced in the Fifties. It's a good one but not overly memorable.

Still from Cockleshell HeroesStill from Cockleshell HeroesStill from Cockleshell Heroes

Script adapt.: Bryan Forbes, Richard Maibaum. (o.a. George Kent)

Director: Jose Ferrer

Players: Victor Maddern, Anthony Newley, David Lodge, Peter Arne, Percy Herbert, Dora Bryan, Sydney Tafler, Gladys Henson, Judith Furse, Christopher Lee

The Colditz Story (1954)

The story of the escape from the "impregnable" POW camp was a natural for the cinema. John Mills and Eric Portman head the cast in a fine, though now slightly clichéd, movie.

Script adapt.: Guy Hamilton, Ivan Foxwell, William Douglas Home. (o.a. P.R. Reid)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Players: Christopher Rhodes, Lionel Jeffries, Bryan Forbes, Ian Carmichael, Richard Wattis, David Yates, Frederick Valk, Denis Shaw, Anton Diffring, Ludwig Lawinsky, Carl Duering, Theodore Bikel

The Common Touch (1941)

A young man goes undercover to investigate the slums his company is about the pull down.

The flimsy story acts as an excuse for John Baxter to indulge his love of minor character actors and sentimentalising working class life. A remake of Doss House.

Script: Barbara K. Emery, Geoffrey Orme

Director John Baxter

Players: Geoffrey Hibbert, Raymond Lovell, Greta Gynt, Joyce Howard, Harry Welchman, Edward Rigby, George Carney, Bransby Williams, Wally Patch, Eliot Makeham, John Longden, Percy Walsh, Bernard Miles, Charles Carson, Bill Fraser, Arthur Maude, Jerry Verno

Concerning Mr Martin (1937)

A gentleman crook tries out his own brand of justice.

Script: Ernest Dudley

Director: Roy Kellino

Players: William Barrett, William Devlin, Marjorie Peacock, Derek Williams, Lionel Montgomery, Herbert Cameron, Madge Somers, Bombardier Billy Wells, Dominick Sterlini

Conquest of the Air (1936)

Korda's docu-drama on the history of flight turned out to be a total mess no matter how many times they edited it. It only got a proper release in 1940 when it could benefit from W.W.I.I. patriotism. Now it's only of interest if you're into planes or want to see what form the documentary genre could have taken. For anyone else it's a dull pageant.

Script: Hugh Gray, Peter Bezencenet

Director: Zoltan Korda, Alexander Esway, Donald Taylor, Alexander Shaw, John Monk Saunders, William Cameron Menzies

Players: Laurence Olivier, Franklyn Dyall, Henry Victor, Hay Petrie, John Turnbull, Charles Lefaux, Bryan Powley

Conspiracy of Hearts (1960)

Catholic nuns hide Jewish children from the Nazis. It sounds perfectly horrible but the whole thing is so well handled and the performances are so nicely judged that it works magnificently.

Script: Robert Presnell Jr.

Director: Ralph Thomas

Players: Lilli Palmer, Sylvia Syms, Yvonne Mitchell, Albert Lieven, Ronald Lewis, Peter Arne, Nora Swinburne, Michael Goodliffe, Megs Jenkins, David Kossoff 

The Constant Husband (1955)

Rex Harrison is the charmer who recovers from amnesia to discover he's a serial bigamist. Luckily he's married to the cream of British actresses, including Ursula Howells and Kay Kendall. His defending barrister Margaret Leighton also has a yen for him.

Launder and Gilliat's comedy wasn't liked on release but the patina of nostalgia has turned it into a pleasant way of spending 90 minutes.

Script: Sidney Gilliat, Val Valentine

Director: Sidney Gilliat

Players: Nicole Maurey, Cecil Parker, George Cole, Raymond Huntley, Michael Horden, Robert Coote, Eric Pohlmann, Jill Adams, Valerie French, Muriel Young, Sam Kydd, Michael Ripper, Alfred Burke, George Woodbridge

The Constant Nymph (1928)

A young composer goes to the Tyrol to stay with an older composer and his family. While there, he marries a woman who can help his career, but later falls for the old composer's schoolgirl daughter.

A tale of doomed love (the daughter has a heart condition) set against lovely scenery and starring the hottest British actor of the day was almost bound to be a smash. Indeed it was one of Ivor Novello's greatest film successes, and voted most popular film of 1928. Today Mabel Poulton's child-woman might be a bit dubious but her performance still works; and she's nowhere near as irritating as the one in Margaret Kennedy's other success Escape Me Never.

Script adapt.: Alma Reville, Basil Dean, (o.a.) Margaret Kennedy

Director: Adrian Brunel

Players: Frances Doble, Mary Clare, Heinrich George, Dorothy Boyd, Tony De Lungo, Benita Hume, Peter Evan, Yvonne Thomas, J.H. Roberts, Clifford Heatherley, Elsa Lanchester, Erma Sturm, Robert Garrison, Anne Grey 

Contraband (1940)

A Danish seaman, smuggling Contraband, falls for a British agent and gets involved with a German spy ring.

Powell and Pressburger reunite Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson fresh from the big success of The Spy in Black, and come up with an equally exciting thriller.

Script: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Brock Williams

Director: Michael Powell

Players: Esmond Knight, Hay Petrie, Raymond Lovell, Harold Warrender, Charles Victor, Manning Whiley, Peter Bull, Stuart Latham, Leo Genn, Dennis Arundell, Julien Vedey, Paddy Browne, Henry Wolsten, Sydney Monckton, Molly Hamley Clifford, Eric Berry, Olga Edwards

Contraband Spain (1955)

Richard Greene and Michael Denison team up to uncover a Pyrenean smuggling ring.

Usual dull stuff, only worth watching to see just how much Anouk Aimee was wasted in 50s films.

Script: Lawrence Huntington

Director: Lawrence Huntington

Players: Jose Nieto, John Warwick, Philip Saville, Antonio Almoros, Alfonso Estella, Arnold Bell, George (G.H.) Mulcaster, Conrado San Martin, Olive Milbourne, Robert Ayres

Convict 99 (1938)

Will Hay specialised in characters doing jobs they are hopelessly ill-equipped to do. This time he's accidentally appointed as a prison governor. With Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt co-starring, this is a typical Hay vehicle. It doesn't hit the heights of the previous year's Oh Mr Porter but it's still good fun. Look out for 10 year old Roddy McDowall.

Script: Marriott Edgar, Val Guest, Jack Davies JR., Ralph Smart

Director: Marcel Varnel

Players: Googie Withers, Basil Radford, Alf Goddard, Kathleen Harrison, Ben Soutten

Cosh Boy (1952)

By itself, the "Cosh" is the cowardly implement of a contemporary evil, in association with "Boy", it marks a post-war tragedy - the juvenile delinquent.

"Cosh Boy" portrays starkly the development of a young criminal, an enemy of society at sixteen.

Our Judges and Magistrates, and the Police, whose stern duty it is to resolve the problem, agree that its origins lie mainly in the lack of parental control and early discipline.

The problem exists - and we cannot escape it by closing our eyes. This film is presented in the hope that it will contribute towards stamping out this social evil.

With a dire warning like that, you know a film's either going to be hopelessly prissy or packed full of guilty pleasures. Luckily, it's the latter.

Chief among the guilty pleasures has to be Joan Collins. She shares above-the-title billing with the Cosh Boy himself: James Kenney. To begin with, she's a nice girl; but once he's had his wicked way with her, she wears way too much makeup and starts dressing like a tramp. Of course, there's only one way this relationship can end - she chucks herself in the Thames after getting up the duff. 

James Kenney makes quite an impression as the thug, and acts Collins off the screen. So why did he not become a star while Collins did? It's one of the mysteries of movies: some people just have it. After all these years it's hard to tell if she's the one you have to watch because she's now so well known, but she is definitely the one you have to watch.

The other memorable youngsters include Joe Pasquale look- and sound-alike Ian Whittaker (now an Oscar-wining art director) and TV's Mike Baldwin, Johnny Briggs back in the days when he could credibly play a character called Slim.

With a world-view that youngsters are out of control because of the absence of father-figures, it's only natural that the older men in this film are bland ciphers and it's the women who are fully-formed characters. Or maybe, in any film featuring both Hermione Baddeley and Hermione Gingold the women are going to have a head start. Whatever the reason, Baddeley and Gingold get the best lines as respectively Collins' battle-axe mother, and the local tart. Indeed Gingold's the most blatant tart in 50s cinema - and the least erotic.

Cosh Boy was ahead of its time in its portrayal of post-war teenage tearaways. It might just have kick-started the 50s teenage film genre two years early, but it flopped.

There is considerable irony in the way a film that was conceived as being torn-from-the-headlines was overtaken by events. The makers carefully steered it through the censor's office, but between certification and release, the Derek Bentley case hit the country. 19-year old Bentley and 16-year old Christopher Craig were caught robbing a warehouse. Craig shot a policeman. Though Bentley was being held by another policeman at the time he was found guilty of the murder. He was hanged while the under-age Craig got a gaol sentence.

The wave of moral outrage that surrounded the case made many local authorities ban Cosh Boy so few people had the chance to see it. Because the film is firmly on the side of Society rather than Youth, it's never gone on to develop a cult following like The Wild Ones.

Script adapt.: Lewis Gilbert, Vernon Harris. (o.a. Bruce Walker)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Players: Betty Ann Davies, Robert Ayres, Nancy Roberts, Stanley Escane, Sean Lynch, Michael McKeag, Edward Evans, Laurence Naismith, Frederick Piper, Walter Hudd, Sidney James, Cameron Hall, Arthur Howard, Peter Swanwick, Toke Townley, Anthony Oliver, Sheila McCormack, Vi Kaley, Marian Chapman, Fred Powell, Roy Bentley, G. Crossman

A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929)

Escaped convict is sheltered by his ex-girlfriend.

Impressive late silent. There was a sound version but the sound track is lost.

Script: Anthony Asquith

Director: Anthony Asquith

Players: Norah Baring, Uno Henning, Hans Schlettow, Judd Green 

Cottage to Let (1941)

Comedy thriller, slightly stage-bound, where virtually everyone is an agent trying to get hold of the new bombsight Leslie Banks and Michael Wilding are working on.

Script adapt.: Anatole de Grunwald, J.O.C. Orton. (o.a. Geoffrey Kerr)

Director: Anthony Asquith

Players: Alastair Sim, John Mills, Carla Lehmann, Jeanne de Casalis, George Cole, Frank Cellier, Catherine Lacey, Wally Patch, Hay Petrie, Muriel Aked, Muriel George

Counterblast (1948)

Nazi scientist wants to restart the war by unleashing a deadly virus.

Adequate thriller with good performances.

Script: Jack Whittingham

Director: Paul L Stein

Players: Robert Beatty, Mervyn Johns, Nova Pilbeam, Margaretta Scott, Sybilla Binder, Marie Lohr, Karel Stepanek, Alan Wheatley, Gladys Henson, John salew, Anthony Eustrel, Carl Jaffe, Ronald Adam, Martin Miller, Aubrey Mallalieu, Kynaston Reeves, Jack Melford, Olive Sloane, Horace Kenney

The Countrywomen (1942) Available on the Land of Promise DVD set

An evacuee is introduced to the work of the Women's Institute.

Minor MOI film showing how the WI contributed to the war effort. Naturally there's lots of jam making on show - and some fabulous hats - but there's also a glimpse at the sort of political engagement that would fuel the creation of the post-war state.

Director: John Page

A Couple of Down and Outs (1923)

An ex-soldier risks all to save his old artillery horse from the knackers yard.

Remarkably moving tale of the difficulties ordinary people found themselves in after World War One.

Script: Walter Summers

Director: Walter Summers

Players: Rex Cavis, Edna Best, Philip Hewland, George Foley

The Courtneys of Curzon Street (1947)

Toff Michael Wilding marries maid Anna Neagle but Victorian society drives them apart. Star Power and vigorous production made this the number one hit of the year.

Script: Nicholas Phipps

Director: Herbert Wilcox

Players: Gladys Young, Coral Browne, Michael Medwin, Daphne Slater, Jack Watling, Helen Cherry, Bernard Lee, Thora Hird

Cover Girl Killer (1959)

A serial killer is working his way through a magazine's cover girls. A girl offers herself as bait in an attempt to catch the murderer. Quite enjoyable but only really of note because the killer is Harry H. Corbett. It's also interesting to speculate what a remake would do with the material.

Script: Terry Bishop

Director: Terry Bishop

Players: Spencer Teakle, Felicity Young, Victor Brooks, Charles Lloyd-Pack