It's a day in the life of Inspector Jack Hawkins. Nothing special, but it's directed by John Ford and has a script by T.E.B. Clarke. Should have been better.
The main problem for today's audience is that television has done the same thing a thousand times since. Still, there are incidental pleasures: a nice collection of character actors doing cameos (including Anna Massey's debut), it looks good, has a fine sense of the day's rhythm, and there's a lot of fun to be had with lines like "Chummy's for the drop" and other period chat.
Script adapt.: T.E.B. Clarke (o.a. J.J. Marric (a.k.a. John Creasey))
Director: John Ford
Players: Anna Lee, Andrew Ray, Dianne Foster, Cyril Cusack, James Hayter, John Loder, Ronald Howard, Frank Lawton, Derek Bond, Howard Marion Crawford, Laurence Naismith, Miles Malleson, Marjorie Rhodes, Jack Watling, Billie Whitelaw, John le Mesurier
Another fifties war film. It's the Navy and it has Trevor Howard, Jack Hawkins, Richard Attenborough, Bernard Lee... Make your own plot.
Script: William Fairchild, Hugh Hastings, William Rose
Director: Compton Bennett
Players: Sonny Tufts, James Donald, Joan Rice, Dora Bryan, Hugh Williams, Robin Bailey, Meredith Edwards, Sidney James, Russell Enoch (William Russell), Harry Towb, Glyn Houston, Tony Quinn, Charles Lloyd Pack, Olaf Pooley
A Welsh undertaker hides his money in his wife's girdle. When she runs off with the milkman, he has to get her back.
This might just have worked as a 70s sex comedy, but in the staid 50s all they can do is rely on mentions of undergarments to get laughs.
Script: Jack Dawe
Director: Montgomery Tully
Players: Meredith Edwards, Maudie Edwards, Esmond Knight, Petra Davies, Glyn Houston, tonie MacMillan, Kenneth Evans
A young nurse is acquitted of murder - but history repeats itself.
Script adapt.: Sidney Gilliat. (o.a. Roy Vickers)
Director: Carol Reed
Players: Margaret Lockwood, Barry K. Barnes, Emlyn Williams, Roger Livesey, Margaretta Scott, Wyndham Goldie, Basil Radford, Irene Handle, Mervyn Johns, Betty Jardine, Kathleen Harrison, Felix Aylmer, Roland Culver, Edward Rigby, Jerry Verno, Allan Jeayes, Richard Bird, Michael Horden, V.R. Bateson
A street scene entered into a newspaper's photographic competition puts a reporter on the trail of an unsolved murder.
Unremarkable crime thriller.
Script: Paul Rogers
Director: Don Chaffey
Players: Donald Houston, Patrick Holt, Junia Crawford, Maurice Kaufman, Paddy Joyce, John Miller, Tom Chatto, Colin Cleminson, Lloyd Lamble
A backstage tale of chorus girls with nothing on their mind except parting gullible men from their cash. Surely this can't be a British film? Oh, yes it is - and a bloomin' good one too!
The film opens in an expensive Swiss finishing school run by those formidable harridans Martita Hunt and Muriel Aked. They're roused by the tell-tale sight of a knotted-sheet rope snaking its way from a dormitory window. They dash to the village to catch the escapee, but it's a bluff and young Margaret Lockwood makes good her getaway. Armed only with her few possessions, the borrowed name of a fellow schoolgirl (daughter of a former star), and the address of a theatrical boarding house she makes it to London. Soon she's in a night club chorus line with a couple of her fellow paying guests, Renee Houston and Lilli Palmer.
Houston and Palmer are room mates and rivals - ready to fleece any old fool of his money using whatever weapons a couple of good-looking girls have at their disposal. When innocent young lord Hugh Sinclair arrives back in England after five years on a rubber plantation, they each decide to take him for all they can get. It's all-out war and the cue for the best bitch-fest in British cinema.
Though Lockwood is the star, she's lumbered with the sensible role; and despite the fact that her character is not quite as naive as she appears, she still gets outshone by Houston and Palmer. They scheme and wisecrack and roughhouse their way through the picture in a remarkable display of comic talent. Neither of them got roles this good again though they both had long careers in entertainment.
What sets this film apart from its contemporaries is the script which fires on all cylinders. It takes a standard Hollywood tale and twists it in a way to make it very British. It also provides a crack team of British scene stealers every possible opportunity to make us laugh. Helen Haye, as the lord's suspicious mother, gets to insult her son's new friends so politely they assume they're being complimented. Drucilla Wills has a small but unforgettable cameo as "the woman who does the animal impressions for the BBC" - not a guest you would want at your dinner table.
Where the film can't compete with Hollywood is in great production numbers - in fact it doesn't even try. The big show amounts to ten attractive ladies cart-horsing their way about a tiny stage while singing. Still, any show that employs Margaret Lockwood as a dancer can't have much ambition.
Somehow A Girl Must Live slipped through the net when the British Cinema canon was formed. It's lurked in near-obscurity for years. But if you're lucky enough to get a chance to see it - grab it! You won't be disappointed.
Script: Frank Launder, Austen Melford, Michael Pertwee
Director: Carol Reed
Players: George Robey, Naunton Wayne, Moore Marriott, Mary Clare, David Burns, Kathleen Harrison, Wilson Coleman, Frederick Burtwell, Kathleen Blunt, Merle Tottenham
Two girls get their partners mixed-up in this neat romantic comedy. Includes an early role for Stewart Granger.
Script adapt.: Clifford Grey, Ernst Wolff, Marjorie Deans, Wolfgang Wilhelm. (o.a. H. Rosenfeld)
Director: Arthur Woods
Players: Wendy Barrie, Clifford Mollison, Erik Rhodes, Zelma O'Neal, Bertha Belmore, Olive Blakeney, Nadine March, Jimmy Godden, Syd Crossley, Richard Hearne, The Diamond Brothers, Maurice Winnick and His Ciro's Club Band
Curious comedy about possible post-war life from a novel by Brahms and Simon. Peter Graves stumbles into a club called the Elephants for those who choose to ignore work. Margaret Lockwood is the East European woman who runs the club.
Lockwood is lumbered with a role that even Carol Lombard in her prime would have found difficult, and Graves isn't much use. Jean Simmons steals every scene as the sort of girl who would be at home at St Trinians'. The only other person to come out with any credit is Ronald Culver as the idlest Elephant.
Script adapt.: Val Guest. (o.a. Caryl Brahms, S. J. Simon)
Director: Val Guest
Players: Vic Oliver, Max Bacon, Frank Cellier, Eliot Makeham, Iris Lang, George Relph, Gibb McLaughlin, Irene Handl, Henry Hewitt, Jonathon Field, John Salew, Rosamund Greenwood, Patricia Owens, Harry Fowler
This is one of the most fondly remembered romantic films from the forties for those who saw it at the time but is now half-forgotten by the rest of us. Composer Michael Denison falls for Valentina Cortesa despite having wife Dulcie Gray waiting for him at home. In his pain he writes a hit opera. The theme tune was a big hit in its day too.
Script: Joseph Janni, Henry Cass
Director: Henry Cass
Players: Tito Gobbi, Sebastian Shaw, Antonio Centa, Sidney King