Archive G

Going Gay (1933)

Two Brits in Austria fall for a girl. One wants to make her an opera star and the other wants her for revue.    

Charm is an illusive quality. It's hard to see why one film charms but another falls flat. It's certainly dangerous to rely on it keeping a film afloat. Going Gay relies heavily on charm, and luckily it succeeds.

The charm comes almost solely from Magda Schneider. She doesn't get to do much more than sing a few songs and be the object of other people's machinations, but what she does she does delightfully. It's a great example of the power of some stars to just be there and be interesting. Arthur Riscoe and Naunton Wayne were adequate light comedians but, let's face it, short of sex appeal. They were also already a tad long in the tooth for romantic duties, but in the presence of Miss Schneider they do become sexual beings, albeit only slightly.

Other pleasures come from the Bauhaus-inspired production design trying to replicate German architecture in a British studio. It's a handsome film and doesn't stint on sets or extras. It does however stint on memorable songs and lines. Without those, it really does need Miss Schneider's charm to keep it going.    

Script: Selwyn Jepson, Jack Marks, KRG Browne

Director: Carmine Gallone

Players: Arthur Riscoe, Naunton Wayne, Magda Schneider, Grete Natzler, Joe Hyman, Wilfred Noy, Ruth Maitland, Bertha Belmore, Brenda Senton, Victor Fairley, Richard Wyder

The Golden Disc (1957)

Hip young kids (Lee Patterson and Mary Steele) open a trendy coffee bar and discover a star (Terry Dene) in their midst. As pop musicals go this is one of the worst with no real star performers to give it interest between the plot parts.

Script: Don Sharp, Don Nicholl

Director: Don Sharp

Players: Linda Gray, Ronald Adam, Peter Dyneley, David Jacobs, David Williams, Richard Turner, Marianne Stone

The Golden Salamander (1949)

Archaeologist gets mixed up with gun smugglers.

Not one of Trevor Howard's finest.

Script adapt.: Victor Canning (o.a.), Ronald Neame, Lesley Storm

Director: Ronald Neame

Players: Walter Rilla, Anouk (Aimee), Herbert Lom, Miles Malleson, Jacques Sernas, Wilfrid Hyde White, Peter Copley, Marcel Poncin, Kathleen Boutall, Eugene Deckers, Sybilla Binder, Henry Edwards, Percy Walsh, Valentine Dyall

Gone to Earth (1950)

A big disaster from Powell and Pressburger. This is the rather stupid tale of a Victorian peasant girl (Jennifer Jones) who half the men in the village want to shag. She's more interested in saving foxes from the hunt. It's all very allegorical and all very silly. It was mucked about a lot by producer David O. Selznick (Jones' husband) and virtually re-shot for its American release. The restored version shows what a unique film it was. All its faults are clearly visible and yet there is enough magic here to make watching it an unforgettable experience.

Still from Gone to Earth

Written, Produced and Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. (o.a. Mary Webb)

Players: David Farrar, Cyril Cusack, Sybil Thorndike, Edward Chapman, Esmond Knight, Hugh Griffith, George Cole

The Good Companions (1933)

When J.B. Priestley's novel The Good Companions was published in 1929 it was hailed as an instant classic. His tale of a theatrical troupe touring the provinces is one of the most satisfying reads in English lit. It was such a hit with the public that it was natural that it be brought to the screen.

It tells the tale of three unhappy people fleeing from their old lives: Joss Oakroyd (Edmund Gwenn), fed up with his job and home life in a Northern factory town; Inigo Jollifant (John Gielgud), sick of teaching music in a boys school; and Miss Trant (Mary Glynne), who spent her youth looking after her ageing parents and now finds herself alone. They meet up in a Midlands roadside cafe where they also meet The Dinky-dos - a run-down concert party endlessly touring the country.

The Dinky-dos are stranded. Their manager has skipped with all their money. Miss Trant decides to have a go at managing them, Joss works backstage and Inigo plays the piano. After a quick change of name to The Good Companions we're off on a tour of seedy theatres and seaside resorts, with all the triumphs and disasters you would expect.

The main attraction of The Good Companions is young Susie Dean. She's energetic and bubbly, a star in the making. Who better to play her than Jessie Matthews? She has all the faults you would associate with British actresses of the thirties: over-theatricality, a tendency to be arch, and that awful fake Mayfair accent. Yet somehow she's delightful. Star Power at its most dazzling.

John Gielgud comes off less well. He's much too gloomy to make a good Inigo Jollifant, though he played the part on stage. Most of the time he looks like he's slumming and wishing he was back at the Old Vic. As far as films were concerned he was never Leading Man material, far less suited to musical comedy.

The rest of the players fill their roles well, particularly Max Millar in his brief bit as a record scout. One of the faults of the film is that we never get to know the Dinky-dos as well as we do in the book, but at least the actors manage to give the impression of having backstories worth knowing.

Director Victor Saville does well by his material, and although the tour of the country is largely represented by stock footage and a blaze of theatre posters, he still manages to convey a sense of the nation as it was in 1933. This film gives you everything you could want from a backstage drama: laughter, tears and the odd catchy tune. In his book, Priestley tried to get "the clean, open air of the genuine tale". In his film, Saville achieves the same.

Still from The Good CompanionsStill from The Good CompanionsPicture of Marjory Binner in costume from The Good CompanionsPoster for The Good Companions

Script adapt.: W.P. Lipscomb, Angus Macphail, Ian Dalrymple. (o.a. J.B. Priestley)

Director: Victor Saville

Players: Percy Parsons, A.W. Baskcomb, Dennis Hoey, Viola Compton, Richard Dolman, Margery Binner, Frank Pettingell, Finlay Currie, Olive Sloane, Muriel Aked, Jack Hawkins, George Zucco, Wally Patch, Frederick Piper

The Good Companions (1956)

The story of a struggling concert party.

This isn't a patch on the original adaptation of Priestley's novel, but as a rare attempt at a musical in 50s British cinema it's worth a look.

Script adapt.: T.J. Morrison, John Whiting, J.L. Hodson. (o.a. J.B. Priestly)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Players: Celia Johnson, Eric Portman, Janette Scott, John Fraser, Hugh Griffith, Bobby Howes, Paddy Stone, Joyce Grenfell, Rachel Roberts, Thora Hird, Mona Washbourne, Irving Davies, John Salew, Beatrice Varley, Alec McCowan, John le Mesurier, Fabia Drake, Anthony Newley, Shirley Anne Field, Margaret Simons, Kim Parker, Beryl Kaye, Jimmy Caroll, Jeremy Burnham, Anna Turner, Brian Oulton, Lloyd Pearson, Ralph Truman, Agnes Bernelle, Lloyd Lamble, Campbell Cotts, Carole Lesley, Larry Cross, Marianne Stone, Marjorie Rhodes, Ian Wilson, Melvyn Hayes, George Woodbridge

The Good Die Young (1954)

A mail-van robbery goes wrong.

The cast is first rate but can only come up with a standard film.

Script adapt.: Lewis Gilbert, Vernon Harris. (o.a. Richard Macauley)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Players: Laurence Harvey, Gloria Grahame, Richard Basehart, Joan Collins, John Ireland, René Ray, Stanley Baker, Margaret Leighton, Robert Morley, Freda Jackson, James Kenney, Susan Shaw, Lee Patterson, Sandra Dorne, Leslie Dwyer, Walter Hudd, Macdonald Parke, Edward Judd

Good Morning, Boys (1937)

With his job on the line, a hopeless teacher strikes lucky after his charges cheat win a trip to France as an examination prize. Once there, they get involved with a crook's plan to steal the Mona Lisa.

You can't go wrong if you put Will Hay in front of a class of suspiciously-elderly kids, though much of the plot seems over-familiar thanks to its being reused in countless school films since. Lilli Palmer brings a surprising touch of sex appeal to the proceedings.

 Script: Marriott Edgar, Val Guest

Director: Marcel Varnel

Players: Will Hay, Lilli Palmer, Graham Moffatt, Charles Hawtrey, Will Hay Jr., Martita Hunt, Mark Daly, Peter Gawthorne, Basil McGrail, Peter Godfrey, Fewlass Llewellyn, C Denier Warren, Charles McBain, Terry Richardson

Good Time Girl (1948)

Gwen Rawlings is sweet sixteen and looking for a good time. After losing her job at a pawnbroker's for borrowing jewellery, she is given a beating by her brutal father. She leaves home and gets a job as a hatcheck girl in a night club. An ex-boyfriend frames her for theft and she is sent to a reform school. After absconding from there she is caught in a spiral of crime that leads to murder.

This film was part of the great moral debate that followed the case of Elizabeth Jones who took up with a G.I. deserter and went on trial for the murder of a taxi driver they robbed. This case also inspired (if that's the right word) Chicago Joe and the Showgirl (1989).

Jean Kent does well in the role of Gwen, though she does now describe her as a wide-eyed little pest. She was twenty seven when she took the part and looks it, but there is a witty moment in the script when she complains that a newspaper description of her puts her between twenty five and thirty.

The actors she plays against are not well chosen. Dennis Price, Herbert Lom, Griffith Jones, Peter Glenville: none of them could turn a young girl's head. Only Bonar Colleano and Hugh McDermott as the two deserters she takes up with look like fun - but only because there's two of them.

The actresses, though there are fewer of them, are better chosen. Jill Balcon, as the rough Top Dog of the reform school, makes a big impression, particularly in the cat fight she has with Kent. Ms Balcon is now a highly respectable stage actress, though she is best known for being Daniel Day Lewis' mother.

The script from Muriel Box, Sydney Box and Ted Willis gives plenty of space to chart Gwen's decline. There are signs of the difficulty they had getting the subject matter past the censor. This is particularly evident in bookends which surround Gwen's story. Magistrate Flora Robson tells Gwen's story to a young woman who might be taking the same path as Gwen in order to dissuade her. Since the young girl is Diana Dors these scenes are full of irony. When she says "I work all day and I work darn hard, so why shouldn't I have a good time?" you just want to cheer "Go, girl, go!". At the end of the film, when she sees the error of her ways and vows to reform, even Flora Robson looks unconvinced.

Good Time Girl is a fascinating social document that is also quite entertaining. It doesn't get near to being a classic, because the narration and tone distance us from Gwen. Once it was the last word in tough, torn-from-the-headlines realism, now it's a quaint period piece.

Pressbook cover for Good Time Girl

Script adapt.: Sydney Box, Muriel Box, Ted Willis. (o.a. Arthur la Bern)

Director: David Macdonald

Players: Nora Swinburne, Elwyn Brook-Jones, Beatrice Varley, Margaret Barton, Gerry Marsh, John Blythe, George Carney, Amy Veness, Zena Marshall, Jack Raine, Michael Horden, George Merritt, Renee Gadd, Joan Young, Phyllis Stanley, Betty Nelson, Danny Green

Goodbye Mr Chips (1939)

Aging teacher looks back at his life at a public school. Robert Donat's Oscar-winning performance is the heart of this brilliant weepy.

Script adapt.: R.C. Sherriff, Claudine West, Eric Maschwitz, Sidney Franklin. (o.a. James Hilton)

Director: Sam Wood

Players: Greer Garson, Terry Kilburn, John Mills, Paul von Henried, Judith Furse, Lyn Harding

Goodnight Vienna (1932)

Romance blossoms between a florist and a high-born soldier in Vienna. However, his father disapproves. There's only one thing for it – an elopement. Sadly, they decide to do it on the same day that the rest of Europe decide to start World War I. Thanks to an undelivered letter, she thinks she's been dumped. After the war, life has changed. He's now reduced to working in a shoe shop while she has become a famous singer. Can he rekindle their love?

Tales of Old Europe are usually light on plot, but this one makes The Student Prince seem like War and Peace. Never mind; we're not here for plot, we're here for pretty dresses, smart uniforms and lots of romancing under the linden trees and there's bags of that in Goodnight Vienna. And just to add to the atmosphere, there's that title song, which became one of Jack Buchanan's biggest hits.

The film was also one of Buchanan's biggest hits. Now, however, it's almost totally faded from the collective memory. Viennese trifles such as this just aren't fashionable any more. But, Goodnight Vienna does have a place in film history. This is where Herbert Wilcox and Anna Neagle first worked together, and forged a partnership that would dominate the film industry for the best part of twenty years.

Script: (o.a.) Holt Marvel, George Posford

Director: Herbert Wilcox

Players: Gina Malo, Clive Currie, William Kendall, Joyce Bland, Gibb McLaughin, Herbert Carrick, Clifford Heatherley, O.B. Clarence, Peggy Cartwright, Muriel Aked, Aubrey Fitzgerald

The Goose Steps Out (1942)

Will Hay versus the Nazis - no contest!

Hay is the incompetent schoolteacher William Potts who bears an uncanny resemblance to a recently captured German spy. Luckily Potts teaches German, and British Intelligence persuades him to parachute into Germany in the spy's place to teach at a training school for spies, and gather information about the secret laboratory next door. 

There's a lot of fun to be had here and Hay milks the situation for all it's worth. Best scene has to be the lesson when Hay teaches his pupils to stick two fingers up at a portrait of Hitler. It's never less than watchable, and yet it's not up to the standard of the best of Hay. Part of the difficulty is that he is mostly on his own without sidekicks to hinder his every move. He does acquire three assistants but they are a dull lot with only young Charles Hawtrey standing out. 

Another problem is that he is up against the Nazis rather than the usual forces of respectability. This shifts the balance of his clowning away from seedy anarchy and towards a sort of cheerful invulnerability like a middle-aged Harold Lloyd. Still, a below-par Hay is still streets ahead of most of the competition.

Still from The Goose Steps Out

Script: John Dighton, Angus Macphail

Director: Will Hay, Basil Dearden

Players: Julien Mitchell, Frank Pettingell, Anne Firth, Raymond Lovell, Leslie Harcourt, Barry Morse, Peter Ustinov, Jeremy Hawk, Aubrey Mallalieu, Lawrence O'Madden, Peter Croft

The Gorbals Story (1949)

Life in the tenements of Glasgow.

Film version of Glasgow Unity Players stage play.

Script adapt.: David MacKane. (o.a. Robert McLeish)

Director: David MacKane

Players: Howard Connell, Betty Henderson, Russell Hunter, Marjorie Thompson, Roddy McMillan, Isobel Campbell, Jack Stuart, Archie Duncan, Sybil Thompson, Eveline Garrett, Lothar Lewinsohn