Archive L

Laburnum Grove (1936)

Respectable Edmund Gwenn drops a bombshell on his family: their dull suburban life is paid for by his membership of a counterfeiting gang.

An enjoyable version of the J.B. Priestley trifle, enlivened by Gwenn's knowing performance and by the teaming of Cedric Hardwicke and Ethel Coleridge as a couple of sponging relatives.

Script adapt.: Gordon Wellesley, Anthony Kimmins. (o.a. J.B. Priestley)

Director: Carol Reed

Players:  Victoria Hopper, Ethel Coleridge, Katie Johnson, Francis James, James Harcourt, David Hawthorne, Frederick Burtwell, Terence Conlin, Norman Walker, Tom Gill, Arnold Lucy

Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951)

Launder and Gilliat's comedy about a beauty contest winner hasn't really aged well but it does have its compensations. The title role is taken by Pauline Stroud, but the real interest today lies in spotting future stars Diana Dors, Dana Wynter, Joan Collins and Kay Kendall as well as a host of established names such as Dennis Price and Stanley Holloway and many others. Best of all is Alastair Sim in his single scene as a has-been producer ruminating on the state of the British Film Industry. It's four minutes of sheer magic and makes it worth sitting through the rest of the movie.

Script: Frank Launder, Val Valentine

Director: Frank Launder

Players: John McCallum, Gladys Henson, George Cole, Bernadette O'Farrell, Eddie Byrne, Renee Houston, Dora Bryan, Sidney James, Michael Ripper, Charlotte Mitchell, Toke Townley, Richard Wattis, Googie Withers 

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Classic train thriller with Margaret Lockwood trying to convince fellow passengers that a little old lady has been abducted. Hitchcock was a late arrival on the project but he made the most of Launder and Gilliat's surprisingly saucy script.

Set photo of The Lady VanishesStill from The Lady VanishesStill from The Lady VanishesPoster of The Lady Vanishes

Script adapt.: Sydney Gilliat, Frank Launder. (o.a. Ethel Lina White)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Players: Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Cecil Parker, Linden Travers, Dame May Whitty, Naunton Wayne, Basil Radford, Mary Clare, Emil Boreo, Googie Withers, Philip Leaver, Catherine Lacey, Sally Stewart, Josephine Wilson

The Lady with a Lamp (1951)

Anna Neagle adds Florence Nightingale to her gallery of British heroines, and does the usual thorough job.

Script adapt.: Warren Chetham Strode. (Reginald Berkeley)

Director: Herbert Wilcox

Players: Michael Wilding, Gladys Young, Felix Aylmer, Sybil Thorndike, Peter Graves, Julian d'Albie, Arthur Young, Edwin Styles, Barbara Couper, Helen Shingler, Helena Pickard, Rosalie Crutchley, Maureen Pryor, Henry Edwards, Andrew Osborn

The Ladykillers (1955)

Classic Ealing comedy, but am I the only one who thinks it over-rated? Little old lady accidentally outwits a gang of thugs and ends up with the loot. Katie Johnson is the old lady and Alec Guinness (overplaying) is the leader of the gang. 

Poster for The Ladykillers

Script: William Rose

Director: Alexander Mackendrick

Players: Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner, Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Connor, Edie Martin, Stratford Johns, Sam Kydd, Lucy Griffiths

The Lambeth Walk (1939)

Film version of the stage show Me and My Girl, taking its title from the show's most famous song. Lupino Lane recreates his original role.

Script adapt.: Clifford Grey, Robert Edmunds, John Paddy Carstairs. (o.a. Louis Rose, Douglas Furber, Noel Gay)

Director: Albert de Courville

Players: Sally Gray, Enid Stamp Taylor, Seymour Hicks, Norah Howard, Wallace Lupino, Wilfrid Hyde White

The Lamp Still Burns (1943)

Wartime tribute to the nursing profession. Rosamund John gives up architecture in order to look after the sick, and finds romance with patient Stewart Granger.

Still from The Lamp Still Burns  

Script adapt.: Elizabeth Baron, Roland Pertwee, Major Neilson. (o.a. Monica Dickens)

Director: Maurice Elvey

Players: Margaret Vyner, Godfrey Tearle, Sophie Stewart, John Laurie, Cathleen Nesbitt, Joyce Grenfell, Megs Jenkins, Wylie Watson, Ernest Thesiger, Brefni O'Rorke, Leslie Dwyer, Aubrey Mallalieu

Landfall (1949)

An aircraft pilot sinks what he believes is a German U-boat, but evidence emerges that it might have been one of our own.

Rather grim drama which the efforts of a great many fine people can't lift into something memorable.

Script adapt.: Talbot Jennings, Gilbert Gunn, Anne Burnaby. (o.a. Neville Shute)

Director: Ken Annakin

Players: Michael Dennison, Patricia Plunkett, Kathleen Harrison, David Tomlinson, Joan Dowling, Maurice Denham, AE Matthews, Denis O'Dea, Margaretta Scott, Sebastian Shaw, Nora Swinburne, Charles Victor, Laurence Harvey, Paul Carpenter, Frederick Leister, Hubert Gregg, Walter Hudd, Margaret Barton, Edith Sharpe, Stanley Rose, Ivan Samson, Gerald Case, Bryan Coleman, Norman Watson, James Carney, Moultrie Kelsall, Dennis Vance, Caven Watson, Andrew Leigh, Harry Fowler, Andrea Lea 

Landslide (1936)

A failing touring group of actors struggle to engage an audience in a mid-Wales town. After the audience has left, the actors discover their cashier murdered - just as a landslide hits the theatre.

It's not much of a murder mystery, but as a proto-Disaster Movie (on a budget) it's worth a look.

Script: Donvan Pedelty

Director: Donovan Pedelty

Players: Jimmy Hanley, Dinah Sheridan, Jimmy Mageean, Ann Cavanagh, Elizabeth Inglis, Bruno Barnardo, David Arnold, Dora Mayfield, Ernie Tate, Robert Moore, Ben Williams, Edward Kennedy, Jean Scott

The Lash (1934)

A millionaire tries to give his son nothing but the best, but finds he's created a waster.

The cast do their best with the material given, but this hoary melodrama is unsaveable. The climax where Lyn Harding takes the lash to John Mills is sure to raise a laugh.

Script adapt.: Brock Williams. (o.a. Owen Davis, Sewell Collins)

Director: Henry Edwards

Players: Lyn Harding, John Mills, Leslie Perrins, Peggy Blythe, Aubrey Mther, Roy Emerton, S Victor Stanley, Mary Jerrold

Lassie from Lancashire (1938)

When a young woman and her father lose their jobs, they take off to the Isle of Man to stop at her aunt's boarding house. There she hopes to start a singing career by winning a talent contest. 

And if that isn't a Gracie Fields plot then I don't know what one is! However, this doesn't star Fields, it stars Marjorie Browne, one of the many young Northern singers producers thrust before cinema audiences in the hope that lightning would strike twice. Sadly it didn't. Not that Browne is to blame; she's engaging, good-looking, and has a lovely voice. Maybe with a major publicity push from a studio and a few more films behind her she could have been a big star, but it was not to be.

Maybe, also, it might have been better for her prospects to surround her with the cream of British supporting talent rather than the obscure players here. However, their relative obscurity gives us a opportunity to see acts that might otherwise never have been given a decent chance before the cameras. None of them are earth-shatteringly wonderful, but they are pleasant to watch. Their nearest equivalent are the non-headline acts in an episode of The Good Old Days. Decent professionals doing their best to entertain.

Lurking uncredited amongst the cast is someone who did go on to become a star: Leslie Philips, in his first screen role. He was only around 14 and you wouldn't tag him instantly, but trying to spot him is one of the other pleasures of the film.

Lassie from Lancashire entertains like an end-of-the-pier show: modestly but pleasantly and you won't begrudge it the time it takes up.  

Script: Doreen Montgomery, Ernest Dudley

Director: John Paddy Carstairs

Players: Marjorie Browne, Mark Daly, Hal Thompson, Marjorie Sandford, Vera Lennox, Elsie Wagstaffe, Johnnie Schofield, Billy Caryll, Hilda Mundy, Joe Mott, Leslie Philips.

The Last Appeal (1921)

With her son about to be hanged for murdering his girlfriend, a mother tries to make a last-minute appeal to the judge who sentenced him.

Part of Fred Paul's Grand Guinol series, overly dependent on the last-minute twist.

Script: George Saxon

Director: Fred Paul

Players: Jack Raymond, Jeanne di Ramo, Henry Doughty

The Last Chance (1937)

A gunrunner is convicted for murder but escapes and heads for his fiancée's house to find the real killer.

Other than the unconventional choice of hero, there's nothing of note about this tolerable whodunit.

Script adapt.: Harry Hughes. (o.a. Frank Stayton)

Director: Thomas Bentley

Players: Frank Leighton, Judy Kelly, Wyndham Goldie, Billy Milton, Aubrey Mallalieu, Jenny Laird, Franklyn Bellamy, Lawrence Hanray, Alfred Welesley, Charles Sewell, Charles Paton, Harry Hutchinson, Arthur Hambling, Edgar Driver

The Last Curtain (1937)

The businesses of a theatrical company and a jewel robbery gang get entangled.

Mild but entertaining comedy thriller which rather muffs what should have been a thrilling last ten minutes. At least there's fun watching Campbell Gullan shamelessly taking off Jack Buchanan.

Script: A.R. Rawlinson

Director: David Macdonald

Players: Campbell Gullan, John Wickham, Greta Gynt, Sara Seager, Joss Ambler, W.G. Fay, Eric Haes, Evan John, Arthur Sinclair

The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949)

Actor, writer, director Emlyn Williams is the local yob who returns to his hated Welsh village in order to flood it for a new reservoir. Edith Evans is the old woman who stands in his way. It's all a bit too slow moving to be the Victorian melodrama it wants to be, but Evans milks every scene she's in for all it's got. 

Script: Emlyn Williams

Director: Emlyn Williams

Players: Richard Burton, Anthony James, Barbara Couper, Hugh Griffith, Roddy Hughes

Last Holiday (1950)

Minor Alec Guinness in which he plays a dying man who decides to have one last fling at a seaside resort. Written by J.B. Priestley (a rare original film script), this is pleasant enough film but with an unnecessary twist ending.

Script: J.B. Priestly

Director: Henry Cass

Players: Beatrice Campbell, Kay Walsh, Bernard Lee, Wilfrid Hyde White, Muriel George, Helen Cherry, Sidney James, Ernest Thesiger, Esma Cannon

The Last Journey (1935)

What is it with the British and trains? There are so many memorable movies that feature them. The Lady Vanishes, Murder on the Orient Express, Sleeping Car to Trieste, Rome Express, Oh, Mr Porter!, even Night Mail. Add The Last Journey to the list in a place of honour.

The story is simple. A train driver (Julian Mitchell) on his last journey before retirement thinks his fireman is seeing his wife and decides to run the train into the buffers when they reach the terminus. Well, that plot was old-hat even before Gance made La Roue, but it's still serviceable here. The train has the usual cross-section of society on board: con-artist, bigamist, cute children, funny foreigners. All heading for the big smash. 

For a Julius Hagen quota-quickie, the film looks remarkably expensive. Maybe that's because GWR gave a lot of co-operation and we're spared the embarrassing models that mar a lot of Hitchcock's films. Only rarely does the footage look speeded up for dramatic effect.

Vorhaus gets some wonderful sequences out of his trains. The most memorable is when the train first speeds through a station and the air-blast knocks flat the people standing on the platform. This sequence is repeated at the next station but this time is played for laughs.

The performances are mostly adequate. Julian Mitchell overplays the cackling madness bit in a manner that Tod Slaughter would find excessive, but the rest of the cast are good without being outstanding. Mention should go to Hugh Williams playing a villain for a change, and Sydney Fairbrother as the temperance worker leafleting the passengers.

It's fast and entertaining, using virtually every filmic device Vorhaus could squeeze in, and deserves to be rescued from the quota-quickie ghetto it's been placed in.

Script adapt.: H Fowler Mear, John Soutar. (o.a. J. Jefferson Farjeon)

Director: Bernard Vorhaus

Players: Godfrey Tearle, Judy Gunn, Nelson Keys, Mickey Brantford, Frank Pettingell, Olga Lindo

Laugh It Off (1939)

An entertainer is called up on the outbreak of war and makes himself useful organising a concert party.

As ever with John Baxter, the plot is just an excuse for a roll-call of popular entertainers doing their stuff.

Poster for Laugh It Off

Script: Bridget Boland, Austin Melford

Director: John Baxter

Players: Tommy Trinder, Jean Colin, Edward Lexy, Anthony Hulme, Marjorie Browne, Ida Barr, Charles Victor, Peter Gawthorne, Wally Patch, Warren Jenkins, John Laurie, Leonard Morris, Henry Lytton, Billy Percy, Geraldo and his orchestra, Darville and Shires, The Three Maxwells, The Joan Davies Dancers, Sudney Burchell, The Julias Ladies' Choir, The Georgian Singers, The Scottish Sextette

Laughter in Paradise (1951)

When an elderly prankster dies he leaves £50,000 to four of his relatives providing they perform some ridiculous tasks. Alastair Sim is the standout as the novelist who has to spend a month in jail, but still wants to keep the affections of his fiancée: judge's daughter Joyce Grenfell. It's a delightful comedy with wonderful moments and some nicely judged serious bits from Fay Compton as the domestic tyrant who has to become a maid.

Script: Michael Pertwee, Jack Davies

Director: Mario Zampi

Players: Guy Middleton, George Cole, Beatrice Campbell, Veronica Hurst, A.E. Matthews, Anthony Steele, John Laurie, Eleanor Summerfield, Ronald Adam, Leslie Dwyer, Ernest Thesiger, Hugh Griffith, Michael Pertwee, Audrey Hepburn, Charlotte Mitchell, Noel Howlett

Laughing Lady (1946)

The French Revolution. A young aristo can save his mother's life if he returns a necklace to France. But its current owner is a beautiful English lady.

A late entry in cinema's operetta cycle is a surprisingly good vehicle for singing duo Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

Script adapt.: Jack Worthington. (o.a. Ingram d'Abbes)

Director: Paul L. Stein

Players: Peter Graves, Felix Aylmer, Francis L. Sullivan, Paul Dupuis, Chili Bouchier, Ralph Truman, Charles Goldner, John Ruddock, Jack Melford, Hay Petrie, Frederick Burtwell, Anthony Nicholls, D. Whittingham, George de Warfz, John Serret, Clare Lindsay, Harry Fine, Griffiths Moss, Mary Martlew, Geoffrey Wilmer, Laurence Archer, James Hayter, John Clifford, Andre Belhomme, Hugh Owens, Harry Terry, Beatrice Campbell, Robert Conner, George Dudley, Maurice Bannister

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Mild-mannered bank clerk Alec Guinness and novelty gift manufacturer Stanley Holloway plan a gold bullion robbery and to sneak the loot out of the country disguised as Eiffel Towers. One of Ealing's most joyous comedies, with an Oscar-winning script and perfect performances. Watch out for Audrey Hepburn's bit part.

On the set of The Lavender Hill MobStill from The Lavender Hill Mob

Script: T.E.B. Clarke

Director: Charles Crichton

Players: Sidney James, Alfie Bass, Marjorie Fielding, John Gregson, Clive Morton, Ronald Adam, Sydney Tafler, Edie Martin, Arthur Mullard

Law and Disorder (1958)

Michael Redgrave is the ex-crook desperate to keep his lawyer son from finding out about his wicked past. Sounds like the plot of a po-faced melodrama, but it's actually a joyous comedy.

Script adapt.: T.E.B. Clarke, Patrick Campbell, Vivienne Knight. (o.a. Denys Roberts)

Director: Charles Crichton

Players: Jeremy Burnham, Elizabeth Sellars, Ronald Squire, George Coulouris, Joan Hickson, Lionel Jeffries, Harold Goodwin, Meredith Edwards, Brenda Bruce, David Hutcheson, John le Mesurier, Michael Trubshaw, Reginald Beckwith, Moultrie Kelsall, Mary Kerridge, Irene Handl, Allan Cuthbertson, Sam Kydd, John Hewer, John Warwick 

Lazybones (1935)

Ian Hunter, penniless and idle, goes in search of a heiress.

Script adapt.: (o.a.) Gerard Fairlie

Director: Michael Powell

Players: Claire Luce, Bernard Nedell, Bobbie Comber, Denys Blakelock, Marjorie Gaskell, Pamela Carme, Harold Warrender, Sara Allgood, Michael Shepley, Miles Malleson, Fred Withers, Frank Morgan, Fewlass Llewellyn, Paul Blake