Archive I

I Didn't Do It (1945)

Innocent entertainer gets mixed up in a murder at his lodging house. Lots of fun for Formby Fans.

Script: Norman Lee, Peter Fraser, Howard Irving Young, Stephen Black, Michael Vaughan

Director: Marcel Varnel

Players: Marjorie Browne, Billy Caryll, Hilda Mundy, Gaston Palmer, Jack Daly, Carl Jaffe, Wally Patch, Ian Fleming, Vincent Holman, Dennis Wyndham, Jack Raine, Gordon McLeod, Merle Tottenham, Georgina Cookson, The Boswell Twins

I Give My Heart (1935)

Operetta based on the career of Madame Dubarry.

Handsomely-mounted production showcasing the charms of Hungarian soprano Gitta Alpar. She survives the attempt to turn her into a discount Marlene Dietrich and can certainly handle the songs.

Script: Frank Launder, Roger Burford, Kurt Siodmak, Paul Perez. (o.a. Paul Knepler)

 Director: Marcel Varnel

Players: Gitta Alpar, Patrick Waddington, Arthur Margetson, Owen Nares, Margaret Bannerman, Hugh Miller, Gibb McLaughlin, Iris Ashley, Hay Petrie, Helen Haye, Ellen Pollock, Dinah Sheridan  

I Know Where I'm Going (1945)

The Archers' bit of Scots whimsy is a delight even though it doesn't completely hang together. The last scene in the tower pushes the film just a bit too far but who cares as long as Wendy Hiller gets Roger Livesey at the end.

Written, Produced and Directed: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Players: Pamela Brown, Nancy Price, Finlay Currie, John Laurie, George Carney, Jean Cadell, Petula Clark, Norman Shelley, Valentine Dyall, Catherine Lacey, Herbert Lomas, Graham Moffatt, Kitty Kirwan

I Lived with You (1933)

Exiled Russian prince Ivor Novello falls for his landlady's daughter.

Enjoyable restaging of one of Novello's greatest stage hits. His Russian accent is closer to Merthyr Tydfil than Moscow, but that's rather part of the fun. Novello's timing of the gags is spot on and this is the film that most shows off why he was adored by a generation of West End audiences. 

Script: H. Fowler Mear. (o.a. Ivor Novello)

Director: Maurice Elvey

Players: Ivor Novello, Ursula Jeans, Ida Lupino, Minnie Rayner, Eliot Makeham, Jack Hawkins, Cicely Oates, Davina Craig, Douglas Beaumont, Molly Fisher, Beryl Harrison

I See a Dark Stranger (1946)

Deborah Kerr is the Irish lass whose IRA sympathies are used by the Germans to make her a Nazi spy.

Fascinating comedy-thriller from Launder and Gilliat which is almost impossible to imagine being made now.

Script: Frank Launder, Sydney Gilliat

Director: Frank Launder

Players: Trevor Howard, Raymond Huntley, Michael Howard, Norman Shelley, Liam Redmond, Brefni O'Rorke, James Harcourt, W.G. O'Gorman, George Woodbridge, Olga Lindo, Kathleen Harrison, David Tomlinson, Everley Gregg, Torin Thatcher, Katie Johnson, Joan Hickson

I See Ice (1938)

When a photographer's assistant gets the push for being too friendly he decides to follow his dream and try to break into the world of the Fleet Street paparazzi. But since the lad is George Formby, the road ahead is far from smooth. Still, with a bit of pluck and determination and the help of a beautiful girl, we know he'll win through in the end.

The beautiful girl in this film is Kay Walsh. She's part of a ice-dancing troupe which George takes up with on his way to the big city. He woos her in a guards van by letting her share his pig's trotter. This isn't a technique Cary Grant ever used, but it does the trick. She has cad Cyril Raymond sniffing around who naturally takes an instant dislike to our George and takes every opportunity to thwart him.

George's secret weapon is a camera hidden in his bowtie. With the assistance of his girl, he gets a picture of a famous explorer who should be off exploring instead of gallivanting about town. Looks like he's on his way to fame and fortune, but a series of mishaps and a spell in prison means he has to prove himself at a big ice hockey event. This leads to a climax in which he gets substituted for the referee and causes havoc.

I See Ice is standard Formby fare: a pleasant night out at the pictures rather than a comedy classic. He sings some nice songs (In My Little Snapshot Album, Mother What'll I Do Now?, Noughts and Crosses) and clowns about effectively. The final comic set-piece is a bit disappointing due to the difficulties of filming on location (an ice rink). Most of the action is filmed from the sideline and doesn't have the editing needed to time film comedy correctly.  

Still from I See Ice

Script: Anthony Kimmins, Austin Melford

Director: Anthony Kimmins

Players: Garry Marsh, Betty Stockfeld, Frederick Burtwell, Gordon McLeod, Gavin Gordon, Ernest Sefton, Archibald Batty, Frank Leighton, Ernest Jay, Ernest Barron, Sterlini, Laura Smithson, Andrea Malandrinos, Esma Cannon, R. Meadows White, Jack Vyvyan, Roddy McDowall

I Thank You (1941)

Two struggling artistes try to persuade a former star to back their new show by pretending to be her housekeepers.

Oh, look it's Arthur Askey - and he's sleeping next to a beautiful woman! No, two! Good heavens, what's happened? He's sleeping down a tube station to avoid the bombs and taking advantage of the camaraderie. But there are worse horrors to face than Hitler's bombs - Askey is about to sing. After he's done with "Hello to the Sun", he heads for his agent's in search of work only to find that his new job depends on the participation of Lady Randall (Lily Morris) who is refusing to play ball. Soon Askey's in drag with Richard Murdoch in tow being butler and maid for the lady and hoping to put in a good word for the show before they get rumbled.

Among their problems are the lady's mad father Moore Marriott, stuffy brother-in-law Felix Aylmer, and Askey's total inability to cook. Luckily the last of these problems is solved by stealing meals from the house next door and annoying cook Kathleen Harrison. Her fury when she finds out what's been going on is one of the highlights of the film.

The high quality of the performers involved in the film helps make it more entertaining than the script deserves. This doesn't include the trio of Forsythe, Seamon and Farrell whose brand of vaudeville backtalk gets very wearing very quickly. Still, let's just be charitable and give them credit for staying this side of the Atlantic during the Blitz.

Naturally, the film ends with a singsong. Two in fact since we first get the jolly "Let's Get Hold of Hitler - String Him Up On High", before the inevitable happens and Lily Morris is persuaded to perform. And what else could she sing but her classic "Waiting at the Church". It's a crowd-pleasing moment that sends everyone home happy.

I Thank You doesn't have much in the way of classic scenes or one-liners, but it does have a plucky charm.

Script: Howard Irving Young, Val Guest, Marriott Edgar

Director: Marcel Varnel

Players: Graham Moffat, Wally Patch, Cameron Hall, Peter Gawthorne, Roberta Huby, Issy Bonn, Phyllis Morris

I Was Monty's Double (1958)

And he was too! He's played by real-life double M.E. Clifton James and the story has been adapted from his autobiography. It's a fun telling of one of the most unusual stories of the war, and packed with stars.

Script adapt.: Bryan Forbes. (o.a. M.E. Clifton James)

Director: John Guillermin

Players: John Mills, Cecil Parker, Marius Goring, Michael Horden, Patrick Allen, Bryan Forbes, Leslie Phillips, James Hayter, Barbara Hicks, Sidney James, Vera Day, Victor Maddern, Marne Maitland, Alfie Bass, MacDonald Parke, Duncan Lamont, Patrick Holt, John le Mesurier, Harry Fowler, Bill Nagy, Edward Judd, David Lodge, Sam Kydd, Allan Cuthbertson, Ronnie Stevens  

I'm All Right Jack (1959)

Though it is best remembered for Peter Sellers' portrayal of the bolshie shop steward Fred Kite, this is a wonderfully even-handed look at the class struggle. Funny and nasty - and though Trades Unionism may have changed, human nature certainly hasn't.

Still from I'm All Right JackStill from I'm All Right Jack

Script: Frank Harvey, John Boulting

Director: John Boulting

Players: Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas, Dennis Price, Liz Frazer, Richard Attenborough, Margaret Rutherford, Irene Handl, Miles Malleson, Victor Maddern, Marne Maitland, John le Mesurier, Raymond Huntley, Kenneth Griffith, Cardew Robinson, Terry Scott, Malcolm Muggeridge, Muriel Young, Sam Kydd, Stringer Davis, Esma Cannon, Marianne Stone, Edie Martin