Archive L

Loyal Heart (1946)

Two farmer squabble over the ownership of a sheepdog.

Essentially a reworking of Owd Bob, though since the dog is owned by a kiddie you know it's not going to the darker places that film went. Indeed the resolution is so unbelievable even Pollyanna would get cynical about it. Still, there's a lot of lovely scenery as compensation.

Script adapt.: George A Cooper, Ernest Lewis (o.a.)

Director: Oswald Mitchell

Players: Percy Marmont, Harry Welchmann, Patricia Marmont, Philip Kay, Eleanor Hallam, Beckett Bould, Valentine Dunn, Cameron Hall, Alexander Field, James Knight, Sydney Bromley, Fleet the dog

Loyalties (1933)

Film version of Galsworthy's play about class and anti-Semitism starring Basil Rathbone and Miles Mander. Rathbone plays a wealthy Jew who loses £1000 during a house party. When he accuses Miles Mander of the theft he finds that Society's tolerance of Jews is only paper-thin.

This didn't make much of an impact when it first came out and has made even less over the sixty-odd years that have since passed, but there does seem to be a movement towards recognising it as a minor masterpiece. This is partly due to its behind-the-scenes credits - assistant director Carol Reed and editor Thorold Dickinson. It also has a lot to do with the restless camerawork which tries to inject some movement into a stagebound adaptation. That, and a remarkable shot of the climactic suicide gives Loyalties the feel of a student film.

However it has too many of the faults of the period to be able to claim greatness. There's a lot of badly done stiff-upper-lip-ness going on which pushes it dangerously near a parody. The women are particularly prone to this: swanning around in nice frocks saying how thrilling or beastly it all is. The sound track is primitive and it's very studio-bound. In its favour are a rare film look at anti-Semitism and a wonderful courtroom scene in which most of the officials are bored stupid. It's not a film you could use to persuade people of the merits of 30s British cinema.

Still from Loyalties       

Script adapt.: W.P. Lipscomb. (o.a. John Galsworthy)

Director: Basil Dean

Players: Heather Thatcher, Joan Wyndham, Philip Strange, Alan Napier, Algernon West, Cecily Byrne, Athole Stewart, Patric Curwen, Ben Field, Marcus Barron, Griffith Humphreys, Patrick Waddington, Lawrence Hanray, Arnold Lucy, Robert Mawdesley, Mike Johnson, Antony Holles, Stafford Hilliard, Robert Coote, Aubrey Dexter, Maxine Sandra

Lucky Girl (1932)

Ruritanian king goes incognito in England, but problems arise.

Pleasant musical comedy that does nothing to stand out from the crowd of similar films.

Script adapt.: Gene Gerrard, Frank Miller. (o.a. Reginald Berkley, Douglas Furber, RP Weston, Bert Lee)

Director: Gene Gerrard, Frank Miller

Players: Gene Gerrard, Molly Lamont, Gus McNaughton, Spencer Trevor, Tonie Edgar Bruce, Ian Fleming, Hal Gordon

Lucky Jim (1957)

Ian Carmichael is Kingsley Amis's hero stuck in a small town college and trying to join the smart set.

Slightly muffed version of the novel. Still, it has its good moments. 

Script adapt.: Patrick Campbell, Jeffrey Dell. (o.a. Kingsley Amis)

Director: John Boulting

Players: Terry-Thomas, Hugh Griffith, Sharon Acker, Maureen Connell, Kenneth Griffith, Jean Anderson, Clive Morton, Reginald Beckwith, Harry Fowler

The Lucky Number (1933)

When disgraced footballer Percy Gibbs returns from a year's exile he brings with him a French lottery ticket. A pick-pocket relieves him of his money and he's forced to use the ticket to pay for a round of drinks. The number, surprise surprise, comes up. Can he get the ticket back and get to Paris in time to claim £12,000? 

The Lucky Number, despite having Anthony Asquith as director, isn't part of the Canon of British Film Classics. Yet it can hold its own against any film of the period. 

Much of the success of the film comes from the actors. Clifford Mollison gives a career-best performance as Percy. Joan Wyndham, though far too posh to be working in a fairground, is a great, sensible ingénue and is well worth falling in love with. Best of all though, naturally, is Gordon Harker as a grumpy landlord who gets caught up in the madness. 

The film is set in a world of pubs, dog tracks and fairgrounds. This is the working class culture of the 1930s, and it's not seen as some quaint background against which the action occurs. The milieu is taken for granted as part of living in Britain in the 30s. This is seen most clearly in the football sequences, which feature the great Arsenal team of the period.

Asquith brings the best of his silent cinema technique to this film. Every cinematic trick is used to give the production as much visual interest as possible. Without his input The Lucky Number could have ended up as just another bland comedy.

Unfortunately, it's Asquith's input that stopped The Lucky Number from being a success. Producer C.M. Woolf loathed Asquith and this film for being too arty (famously, he felt the same about The Lodger). Therefore the film didn't get the publicity push it deserved. The film failed and Asquith spent another five years in the cinematic wilderness before coming back with Pygmalion.

It's a shame 30s audiences never got properly acquainted with The Lucky Number. With hindsight, we can see the film as one of the most charming comedies of the period, and uniquely British in tone. A few more films like this one and British cinema would have had the same cultural kudos as French cinema. 

Script.: Franz Schultz 

Director: Anthony Asquith

Players: Joe Hayman, Frank Pettingell, Esme Percy, Alfred Wellesley, D. Hay Petrie, Betty Hartley

The Lure of Crooning Water (1920)

An actress, staying in the country for her health, tempts a farmer to stray from his wife.

The plot's not unlike that of the classic Sunrise and the film can stand the comparison. This is one of the finest dramas of the period.

Script adapt.: Guy Newall (o.a. Marion Hill)

Director: Arthur Rooke

Players: Guy Newall, Ivy Duke, Douglas Munro, Hugh C Buckler, Mary Dibley, Arthur Chesney, Lawford Davidson, The Hood Children

The Lyons in Paris (1955)

Further misadventures of the Lyons family this time in Paris, with the children suspecting their father of dallying with a fast Frenchwoman.

Script: Val Guest

Director: Val Guest

Players: Ben Lyons, Bebe Daniels, Barbara Lyons, Richard Lyons, Reginald Beckwith, Pierre Dudan, Dino Galvani, Horace Percival, Molly Weir, Doris Rogers, Gwen Lewis, Hugh Morton