Archive F

Four Days (1951)

Following her husband's suicide attempt and subsequent amnesia, a wife dreads the return of his memory of the missing four days - four days in which he found out about her affair and she tried to kill him.

All involved do their best with the material, particularly Kathleen Byron and director John Guillermin, but some scripts are just unsalvagable.  

Script adapt.: Lindsay Galloway, J McLaren Ross (o.a. Monckton Hoffe)

Director: John Guillermin

Players: Hugh McDermott, Kathleen Byron, Peter Reynolds, Gordon McLeod, HG Stoker, John Harvey, Petra Davies, Francis Roberts

The Four Feathers (1939)

John Clements is the soldier who resigns just before being sent to the Sudan and who receives the four white feathers from his girlfriend and three friends. The shame makes him determined to force his former associates to take back the feathers and so he goes off in disguise to do brave deeds of derring-do.

Produced by Alexander Korda and directed by his brother Zoltan, this is the great adventure story. The Technicolor photography brings out the best of the extensive location work and the performances (particularly Ralph Richardson's) are memorable. This is probably the best British Empire film ever made.

Set photo from The Four FeathersScene from The Four Feathers Still from The Four FeathersPoster of The Four Feathers

Script adapt.: R.C. Sherriff, Arthur Wimperis, Lajos Biro. (o.a. A.E.W. Mason)

Director: Zoltan Korda

Players: June Duprez, C. Aubrey Smith, Allan Jeaves, Jack Allen, Donald Gray

Four Sided Triangle (1952)

Two old friends make a scientific breakthrough but their love for the same woman leads to tragedy.

It starts with a quotation: "God hath made Man upright, but they have sought out many inventions". Most film fans know that one of the ironclad rules of cinema is that any film which starts with a biblical quotation will turn out to be trash. Naturally it's not a rule that applies to Biblical epics but it certainly applies here.

We're then treated to ten minutes of scene setting as lovable country doctor James Hayter tells the tale of two local lads (Bill and Robin) who grow up in love with the same girl, Lena. He's full of rather depressing sayings such as "pity is for the living, envy for the dead". Within five minutes of the film starting any sensible audience would be praying for something nasty to happen to him and soon. Sadly, him and his narration survive to the end of the film.

The girl goes off to America while the lads go off to Cambridge. She comes back as Barbara Payton complete with an American accent and the US's entire supply of peroxide in her luggage, while they come back as Stephen Murray and John Van Eyssen with science degrees and a top secret research project they set up in an old barn. The doctor suggests she helps them in order to take her mind off suicide and so she settles down to become, as the doctor would have it, "the most wonderful thing in the world: a woman who is also a companion and a comrade for her menfolk". Maybe it's no wonder she found the prospect of coming back to England so depressing.

After a busy little montage of the three working in harmony, the grand experiment is ready. The doctor and the girl are shown the first demonstration of the project in a blaze of neon light and a frantic bubble of interestingly-shaped beakers: it's a duplicator! Put anything under one cover and its duplicate appears under the other. This could end world famine or bring untold riches.

Everyone's delight in the success of the project is enhanced when Robin and Lena announce their engagement. Everyone except for Bill. However, he has a plan: make a duplicate of Lena for his very own. No doubt you, gentle reader, have already spotted the fatal flaw in his plan but Bill is too clever by half. Indeed, neither the doctor nor Lena spot it either, so they agree to help him out.

Soon there's a duplicate Lena, Helen, on the scene and Bill quickly whisks her off to Ludlow for what can only be described as a pre-wedding honeymoon. The holiday quickly turns sour when Helen attempts suicide because she too loves Robin. Time for Plan B: erase Helen's memories and start again, but presumably since Bill hasn't swotted-up on his brainwashing techniques it all goes wrong, the barn burns down and Bill and Helen perish in the flames.

Barbara Peyton does well enough in the role of femme fatale helped more by her uncanny resemblance to Ruth Ellis than her acting ability. John Van Eyssen isn't on the scene long enough to make much of an impression so it's up to Stephen Murray to take the acting honours as the scientist torn apart by his obsession. He's believably barking, at least in the context of the silly script.

Director Terence Fisher doesn't get too much out of the rather dull script but manages to make a lot out of duplication scenes despite the limited resources at his disposal. These are rather fun and make up for the tedium of some of the domestic scenes.

Four Sided Triangle is watchable without being memorable.

Script adapt.: Paul Tabori, Terence Fisher. (o.a. William F. Temple)

Director: Terence Fisher

Players: Percy Marmont, Jennifer Dearman, Glyn Dearman, Sean Barrett, Kynaston Reeves, John Stuart, Edith Saville

Frail Women (1931)

Left pregnant after a brief wartime romance, a woman has the child adopted. Many years later the secret of the child's past is revealed and she's forbidden to marry her respectable boyfriend by his family. The only person she can turn to is her mother - and she's living in sin with a bookie.

This is the sort of melodrama it's easy to mock these days: both the story's underlying moral certainties and the acting style of the performers are ridiculously dated. Only Edmund Gwenn as the bookie rises above it to give a natural performance, helped immeasurably by not needing to put on a Mayfair accent.

Script: Michael Barringer

Director: Maurice Elvey

Players: Mary Newcomb, Margaret Vines, Owen Nares, Edmund Gwenn, Frederick Peisley, Jane Welsh, Athole Stewart, Frank Pettingell, Herbert Lomas, Miles Malleson

The Franchise Affair (1950)

Josephine Tey's modern day solution to an unsolved eighteenth century mystery is brought to the screen as a vehicle for film land's happiest couple Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray.

A young girl (Ann Stephens) goes missing and, when she is found, swears she was held captive by Gray and her mother Marjorie Fielding. The town turns against the hitherto respectable ladies and only solicitor Dennison is on their side. The film's quite good on the small town hysteria side of things but casting Dennison and Gray means there is never any doubt about the final outcome.

Still from The Franchise Affair

Script adapt.: Lawrence Huntington, Robert Hall. (o.a. Josephine Tey)

Director: Lawrence Hall

Players: Anthony Nicholls, Athene Seyler, John Bailey, Hy Hazell, Kenneth More, Avice Landone, Peter Jones, John Warwick, Patrick Troughton, Everley Gregg, Ambrosine Phillpotts, Jean Anderson, Victor Maddern

Freedom of the Seas (1934)

A clerk gets a navy commission in World War One and ends up rescuing his boss's daughter and rounding up a gang of spies which is guiding U-boats to sink British ships.

Breezy comedy slightly undermined by the unbelievable central romance (she's unpleasant and he's borderline creepy).

Script adapt.: Roger Burford. (o.a. Marcel Walter Hackett)

Director: Marcel Varnel   

Players: Clifford Mollison, Wendy Barrie, H.F. Maltby, Zelma O'Neal, James Carew, Frank Atkinson, Henry Wenman, Tyrell Davis, Cecil Ramage, Charles Paton, Frederick Peisley

Freedom Radio (1941)

Clive Brook tries to run an underground radio station in Germany. Curious attempt at the sort of flag waving Hollywood went in for during the war.

Script: Basil Woon, Gordon Wellesley, Louis Golding, Anatole de Grunwald, Bridget Boland, Jeffrey Dell, Roland Pertwee

Director: Anthony Asquith

Players: Diana Wynyard, Derek Farr, Joyce Howard, Roland Squire, Raymond Huntley, Bernard Miles, Howard Marion Crawford, John Penrose, Morland Graham, Clifford Evans, Reginald Beckwith, Gibb McLaughlin, Muriel George, Martita Hunt, Hay Petrie, Manning Whiley, Abraham Sofaer, Katie Johnson, George Hayes

Friday the Thirteenth (1933)

A rainy night in London and a bus crashes. The headlines scream that two people were killed; but which two? Bus conductor Sonny Hale, wide-boy Max Miller, disenchanted chorus girl Jessie Matthews, bumbling Robertson Hare, blackmailing Emlyn Williams, forgetful Mary Jerrold or cuckold Eliot Makeham? The hands of Big Ben roll backwards and we're presented with the last few hours of our characters.

Director Victor Saville keeps a tight grip on the various stories and the script by G.H. Moresby-White and Sidney Gilliat (with dialogue by Emlyn Williams) gives the cast plenty of opportunity to show what they do best. The initial crash is a bit disappointing but the later reprise is well staged.

Other members of the brilliant cast include Edmund Gwenn as Jerrold's stockbroker husband; Frank Lawton and Belle Chrystall as the couple blackmailed by Williams; and Ralph Richardson as Matthews stuffy boyfriend. Look out too for Martita Hunt, ten years before her definitive Miss Haversham, and a ridiculously young Clive Morton before he cornered the market in bluff, old colonels.

It's an entertaining film, shifting smoothly from drama to comedy. If you can't guess which two cop for it then you should see more movies, but it's not a film which would benefit from an unexpected ending. Well worth watching.

Still from Friday the Thirteenth Still from Friday the Thirteenth

Script: G.H. Moresby-White, Sidney Gilliat (add. dialogue Emlyn Williams)

Director: Victor Saville

Players: Cyril Smith, Muriel Aked, Gordon Harker, Alfred Drayton

Frieda (1947)

David Farrar comes back from the war with a German bride (Mai Zetterling). His family and neighbours are not best pleased. The relentlessly grim post-war atmosphere is leavened slightly by some great performances, particularly from Zetterling in her first English language film.

Still from Frieda

Script: (o.a.) Ronald Millar, Angus Macphail

Director: Basil Dearden

Players: Flora Robson, Glynis Johns, Albert Lieven, Barbara Everest, Gladys Henson, Ray Jackson, Patrick Holt, Milton Rosmer, Barry Letts, Barry Jones, Garry Marsh, Gilbert Davis, Renee Gadd, Eliot Makeham, Aubrey Mallalieu

Friends and Neighbours (1959)

Arthur Askey and Megs Jenkins play host to visiting Russian social workers in a jolly farce.

Script adapt.: Val Valentine, Talbot Rothwell. (o.a. Austin Steele)

Director: Gordon Parry

Players: Reginald Beckwith, June Whitfield, Danny Ross, Peter Illing, Tilda Thamar, Catherine Feller, Jess Conrad, Linda Castle, George Wheeler

The Frightened Man (1951)

The son of a junkshop dealer is sent down from Oxford and gets involved with a gang of thieves.

Standard road to ruin tale given a bit of gravitas by Charles Victor's performance as the father and a bit of humour by Michael Ward's as his camp assistant.

Still from The Frightened Man

Script: John Gilling

Director: John Gilling

Players: Dermot Walsh, Charles Victor, Barbara Murray, John Blyth, Michael Ward, Thora Hird, John Horsley, Annette Simmonds, Martin Benson

The Frog (1937)

The Frog is the mysterious head of a criminal organisation. Cops Jack Hawkins and Gordon Harker try to unmask him.

Standard Edgar Wallace thriller which suffers through being an adaptation of a theatre adaptation (by Ian Hay) of the original novel. Some of the exposition is clunky and at times confusing; and the direction needed someone like Walter Forde to make the most of it. Hawkins and Harker, in the roles they played on stage, hold it together.

Still from The Frog

Script adapt.: Ian Hay, Gerald Elliott. (o.a. Edgar Wallace)

Director: Jack Raymond

Players: Carol Goodner, Noah Beery, Richard Ainley, Cyril Smith, Felix Aylmer, Harold Franklyn, Vivian Gaye, Julien Mitchell, Esme Percy, Alfred Atkins, Gordon McLeod

Front Line Kids (1942)

After getting into trouble a gang of kids are split up - most are evacuated to the countryside while the ringleaders get jobs in a hotel. A hotel which is the headquarters of a gang of jewel thieves.

Simple comedy only really notable for being one of the first films to play into the national anxiety about war time kids getting out of control.

Script: Kathleen Butler

Director: Maclean Rogers

Players: Leslie Fuller, Marion Gerth, Antony Hollis, Gerard Rex, John Singer, George Pughe, Ralph Michael, Eric Clavering, Kay Lewis, OB Clarence, David Keir, Norman Pierce, Vi Kaley, Douglas Stewart, Ben Williams, Vincent Holman, Norah Gordon, Gerald Moore, John Tacchi, David Anthony, Michael John, Brian Fitzpatrick, Derek Prendergast

Front Page Story (1953)

A day in the offices of the Daily World. Quite uneventful really: a scientist passing nuclear secrets gets arrested in the offices, the editor has to tell some kids their mother's dead, his wife leaves him on a plane that crashes and Eva Bartoc gets run over by a bus outside the office. What would they have done if they had to go out to get news! It's less ridiculous than it sounds and Jack Hawkins as the editor holds it all together.

Still from Front Page Story

Script adapt.: Jay Lewis, Jack Howells, William Fairchild, Guy Morgan. (o.a. Robert Gaines)

Director: Gordon Parry

Players: Elizabeth Allan, Martin Miller, Derek Farr, Jenny Jones, Walter Fitzgerald, Patricia Marmont, Joseph Tomelty

Fun at St Fanny's (1956)

At a useless private school, an over-age schoolboy is having too much fun to care that he keeps being failed every year. What he doesn't know is that he is the beneficiary of a large trust fund the income from which goes to the school until he leaves. 

Cardew Robinson developed his naughty public school character "The Cad" on radio in the 1940s. He proved so popular he was even given his own strip in the Radio Fun comic. Some bright spark at Adelphi decided it was suitable for the cinema and so Fun at St Fanny's came to be.

The film features a variety of familiar names all working dutifully to make something out of the script. Miriam Karlin plays a rather Sapphic private eye with a neat line in disguise. Ronnie Corbett, Melvyn Hayes and Gerald Campion turn up as schoolboys. Claude Hulbert pops in as a useless teacher. Best of all is the dominating figure of Fred Emney as the disreputable headmaster, drinking, smoking, canoodling and gambling his way through the school's funds.

The script, however, defeats them all. Those who can remember the comic paper Radio Fun will recognise the collection of bad puns and weak setups and so might get a little nostalgic pleasure from the film. Anyone else is going to struggle. And just as it seems the film might finally be drawing to a close it suddenly turns into Glee as Francis Langford's Singing Scholars massacre a few songs including Mambo Italiano for no better reason than to fill in enough time to qualify as a feature.   

Script: Anthony Verney    

Director: Maurice Elvey

Players: Gabrielle Brune, Vera Day, Aud Johansen, Freddie Mills, Davy Kaye, Johnny Brandon, Roger Avon, Paul Daneman, Kynaston Reeves, Gerald Campion, Dino Galvani, Peter Butterworth, Stuart Saunders, Tom Gill, Stanley Unwin

Further Up the Creek (1958)

Naval crew get sold to a North African country and seize the opportunity to run Mediterranean cruises.

Swift sequel to Up the Creek, but not as good.

Script: Val Guest, John Warren, Len Heath

Director: Val Guest

Players: David Tomlinson, Frankie Howerd, Shirley Eaton, Lionel Jeffries, Thora Hird, Lionel Murton, Sam Kydd, David Lodge, Eric Pohlmann, John Warren, Edwin Richfield, Stanley Unwin, Michael Goodliffe, Patrick Holt, Walter Hudd, Harry Landis, Ian Whittaker, Howard Williams, Peter Collingwood, Amy Dalby, Esma Cannon, Tom Gill, Jack Le White, Max Day, Mary Wilson, Katherine Byrne