Archive I

It Always Rains on Sunday (1947)

Gloomy tale of Googie Withers trapped in a dull marriage to Edward Chapman until ex-boyfriend John McCallum breaks out of prison and needs a refuge. When it first came out this was the last word in realism, now it looks beautifully artificial.

Still from It Always Rains on Sunday

Script: Angus Macphail, Robert Hamer, Henry Cornelius

Director: Robert Hamer

Players: Jack Warner, Jimmy Hanley, John Carol, John Slater, Susan Shaw, Patricia Plunkett, David Lines, Sydney Tafler, Alfie Bass, Jane Hylton, Frederick Piper, Hermione Baddeley, Gladys Henson, Nigel Stock, Vida Hope

It Happened in Paris (1935)

Posh John Loder tries to win the hand of an impoverished French girl.

Unconvincing romantic comedy.

Script adapt.: John Huston, H.F. Maltby. (o.a. Yves Mirande)

Director: Robert Wyler, Carol Reed

Players: Nancy Burne, Esme Percy, Edward H. Robbins, Dorothy Boyd, Lawrence Grossmith, Jean Gillie, Bernard Ansell

It's a Boy! (1933)

Groom Edward Everett Horton is confronted by a young man claiming to be his long lost son. Best man Leslie Henson tries to cover up the scandal and get him to the church on time.

Lovely farce with more than its fair quota of misunderstandings, men in drag and Robertson Hare in his underpants.

Still from It's a Boy!Still from It's a Boy!Still from It's a Boy!

Script adapt.: Austin Melford, Leslie Howard Gordon, John Paddy Carstairs (o.a. Austin Melford, Franz Arnold, Ernest Bach)

Director: Tim Whelan

Players: Albert Burdon, Heather Thatcher, Alfred Drayton, Wendy Barrie, Helen Haye, Joyce Kirby, J.H. Roberts

It's a Grand Life (1953)

Frank Randle is an accident-prone soldier playing cupid for Diana Dors in this ropey mix of comedy and music from Mancunian films.

Script: H.F. Maltby

Director: John E. Blakely

Players: Dan Young, Ian Fleming, Winifred Atwell, Jack Pye   

It's a Great Day (1955)

The Grove Family (1953-1956) was the first great soap opera of the television age. No doubt precious little of it remains in the BBC's archives, so we'll have to make do with the film version. It wasn't much of a film even when it first came out but for TV addicts it's a must-see.

The plot, if you care, concerns the impending visit of minor royalty to open a housing estate on which father Grove has worked and how the day might be ruined by a false accusation of receiving stolen property. It's all very twee with only Nancy Roberts as the truly poisonous Gran to enliven the blandness.

Script: Roland Pertwee, Michael Pertwee

Director: John Warrington

Players: Edward Evans, Ruth Dunning, Peter Bryant, Sheila Sweet, Christopher Beeny, Sidney James, Vera Day, Victor Maddern, Marjorie Rhodes, Peggy Ann Clifford

It's Great to be Young (1956)

John Mills is the teacher who inspires his kids with jazz, much to headmaster Cecil Parker's disapproval. If you can suspend your cynicism then this is a fun comedy/musical.

Script: Ted Willis

Director: Cyril Frankel

Players: Jeremy Spencer, Dorothy Bromily, Eleanor Summerfield, John Salew, Brian Smith, Dawson France, Wilfred Dowling, Carole Shelley, Richard O'Sullivan, Mona Washbourne, Bryan Forbes, Marjorie Rhodes, Eddie Byrne, Russell Waters, Ruby Murray

It's Love Again (1936)

It's Love Again is a lighter than air musical which relies almost exclusively on the charm of its star Jessie Matthews. Luckily she's at the height of her career and has bags of it.

She's a struggling dancer who can't get a break because producers are only interested in promoting a "big name". Robert Young and Sonnie Hale play the reporters who are also struggling and who invent a character Mrs Smythe-Smythe whose wild exploits they can exclusively cover. Since Mrs Smythe-Smythe is reported as staying in a harem for a few months, Jessie decides to impersonate her and cash in on the publicity.

So much for the plot. It's pretty flimsy, but as an excuse to show off Jessie's dancing every now and then it's more than adequate. Director Victor Saville handles the action well and keeps this soufflé from going flat. What he can't do is stop the feeling that this is little more than a rehash of Evergreen, where the star impersonates her famous mother to get ahead.

There's also a sense of deja vu about the musical numbers. None of the songs are memorable and the dances consist of Jessie floating about in something chiffony. There's no attempt to be inventive about what she does, or use the space she's in or the props to hand to create something new. The supporting cast (which includes Robb Wilton, Sara Allgood and Athene Seyler) is underused but then it was always going to be a one woman show even with Hollywood import Young on board.

Despite these problems, It's Love Again is a very entertaining film. If you don't like musicals then this isn't going to change your mind; but if you do, it's a treat.

Script: Lesser Samuels, Marian Dix, Austin Melford

Director: Victor Saville

Players: Ernest Wilton, Warren Jenkins, Glennis Lorimer, Cyril Raymond

It's Never Too Late (1956)

Phyllis Calvert is the housewife turned scriptwriter who goes to Hollywood but realises she needs her demanding family in order to be able to write. And if that's not a fifties homily, I don't know what is. Still, it's a pleasing enough comedy.

Script adapt.: Edward Dryhurst. (o.a. Felicity Douglas)

Director: Michael McCarthy

Players: Patrick Barr, Jean Taylor-Smith, Susan Stephen, Guy Rolfe, Sarah Lawson, Irene Handl, Shirley Ann Field

It's Not Cricket (1948)

Radford and Wayne are chucked back to Civvy Street for failing to catch Nazi Maurice Denham. They set up as private eyes but Denham seems to be at the bottom of every case they investigate.

It's a reliable comedy with an early role of Diana Dors and a jolly climax.

Script: Bernard McNab, Gerard Bryant, Lyn Lockwood

Director: Alfred Roome, Roy Rich

Players: Susan Shaw, Alan Wheatley, Nigel Buchanan, Jane Carr, Leslie Dwyer, Frederick Piper

It's That Man Again (1943)

The mayor of Foaming-at-the-Mouth (Tommy Handley) has spent the town's rate money gambling, and all he has to show for it are the deeds to a London theatre, the Olympia. When he goes to look at the theatre he finds a bombed-out shell. He also finds a Theatrical School in the remains of the theatre, and its pupils want their money back. Hanley manages to sell a play by an alcoholic playwright to the theatre next door, but the pupils are determined to have their moment in the spotlight and force their way into the production, wreaking it in the process. All's well when someone offers to buy the land the Olympia stood on.  

As plots go, it's all pretty basic; but that's not the point. For this is the film version of ITMA - the most famous radio comedy of the war.

ITMA ran on radio between 1939 and 1949 and at its height it had over 20 million listeners. It became as much a part of wartime Britain as rationing and Vera Lynn. It only ended with the death of Tommy Handley. After a shaky start as a Band Waggon imitation it developed its own style and became the ultimate catchphrase comedy. It's this development (charted in Andy Foster's and Steve Furst's book Radio Comedy 1938-1968) that makes ITMA so difficult for modern audiences to understand. It was also extremely topical which makes many of the jokes meaningless today.

The film version, stripped of most of its topical references, is now much more accessible than the original broadcasts that remain. The plot is just an excuse to shoe in as many of the radio characters as possible. Within the first four minutes we've had a phone call from Funf ("This is Funf speaking"), a visit from Ali-Oop ("I go - I come back") and a quick clean around from Mrs Mopp ("Can I do you now Sir?"). Other catchphrases include "It's me noives", "After you Claude - No, after you Cecil" and, most bafflingly of all, "Don't forget the Diver". Many of these phrases entered the language.

The regular ITMA team which included Jack Train, Dorothy Summers, Horace Percival, Dino Galvani and Sidney Keith are joined by Greta Gynt, Vera Frances and an uncredited Jean Kent. It's a fascinating social document which is occasionally very funny.

Script: Howard Irving Young, Ted Kavanagh

Director: Walter Forde

Players: Leonard Sharp, Claude Bailey, Richard George, Raymond Glendenning, Peter Noble, Franklin Bennett

Ivanhoe (1952)

MGM threw everything it had into this good version of the Scott classic. Robert Taylor looks a bit too peevish to a swashbuckling hero, but Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine make lovely heroines and George Sanders is a cracking villain.

Script adapt.: Aeneas Mackenzie, Noel Lanley. (o.a. Sir Walter Scott)

Director: Richard Thorpe

Players: Guy Rolfe, Emlyn Williams, Finlay Currie, Robert Douglas, Felix Aylmer, Megs Jenkins, Valentine Dyall, Sebastian Cabot, Carl Jaffe