Dated farce about two professional co-respondents (Laurence Olivier and Jill Esmond) who mistake each other for clients. Sadly prophetic title. Gertrude Lawrence is also along for the ride.
Script: Victor Hanbury, Frank Vosper
Director: John Stafford, Victor Hanbury
Players: Edmond Breon, Gibb McLaughlin, Muriel Aked
A civil engineer realises the plane in which he is travelling is about to fall apart from metal fatigue.
More than a little unlikely, but with a cast like this you can't help but believe.
Script adapt.: Oscar Milland, R.C. Sherriff, Alec Coppel. (o.a. Nevil Shute)
Director: Henry Koster
Players: James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins, Elizabeth Allen, Janette Scott, Ronald Squire, Niall MacGinnis, Kenneth More, Wilfrid Hyde White, Maurice Denham, David Hutcheson, Dora Bryan, Ben Williams, Hector MacGregor, Basil Appleby, Michael Kingsley, Peter Murray, Jill Clifford
George Formby in leather. A dream come true for us all I'm sure.
Here he plays George Shuttleworth, whose dream is to win the Isle of Man TT race. He's rebuilt an ancient bike and has applied repeatedly to the Rainbow race team for a job. But they just think he's a gormless berk and keep turning him down. His mother steals his grandfather's nest egg in order to finance his trip
On board he saves the life of Florrie (Florence Desmond) who is a secretary for the Rainbow team and who has read all his letters. In the process he loses all his money overboard. Florrie gets him into a boarding house and helps him pay his bill by getting him into blackface to busk on the beach (My little Wigan garden) but that goes wrong. During the TT trials his brakes fail and he not only breaks the course record but avoids hitting a child which has wondered into the road (what sort of parent lets their three year old play on the side of the road during the TT!). This breaks his nerve and he accepts a £50 bribe not to compete in the race.
Florrie is disgusted and when his main race- and love-rival Jack Hobbs taunts him George socks him one and gets into the race. The race is well shot for its time but we all know who'll win.
It's great entertainment. This is Formby's third film and his first for a big studio (ATP - soon to be Ealing). He still hasn't quite developed the charm he would later have, and whoever did his eye make-up should have been shot, but he's certainly on his way to being a star. Florence Desmond is also great: she's strong and mean and witty. She doesn't get to show off the range of talents that made her one of revue's biggest draws (try "Hoots Mon!" for a sample of her stage act) but she certainly makes you regret that she didn't make many films. The most charming number is hers: "Riding Around on a Rainbow"; sung on the ferry and accompanied by those "Types" British films seemed to have an unlimited supply of.
Formby also sings "Riding in the TT Races" and duets with Desmond on "Your way is my way". The film was competently directed by Monty Banks who obviously had a way with Lancashire talent since he would go on to marry Gracie Fields.
Script: Tom Geraghty, Fred Thompson
Director: Monty Banks
Players: Edward Rigby, Peter Gawthorne, Alf Goddard
"The most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen."
With a recommendation like that, it's no wonder audiences flocked to see No Orchids for Miss Blandish. Critics seem to have taken the film's massive box office receipts as a personal insult, because ever since its release it's been held up as an example of British film making at its worst: a cheap amateurish production, badly-acted with an embarrassing collection of phoney American accents. They lied.
James Hadley Chase's story tells of how rich, bored heiress Miss Blandish is kidnapped by a mob of gangsters. Another mob takes over the kidnapping; wiping out the first. Their leader, Slim Grissom, already has an obsession with the heiress. She falls for him and the kidnapping is abandoned. But fate isn't going to give the lovers a happy ending.
Linden Travers, as Miss Blandish, is well worth losing your head over. She's effortlessly classy. She'd played the role on stage in the West End a few years earlier and convinces both as the frigid beauty and as the blissed-out gangster's moll.
American import Jack La Rue plays Slim Grissom. He gives the best performance of his career – though that's not saying much. He was an early example of the many no-career Yanks brought in to give marquee value to British films optimistic producers hoped would go over in America.
The most of the rest of the cast are British – and that's where the problem with accents comes in. Some of the cast can't hack it. Others, such as Sid James, do quite well; but Sid James is just too familiar, and no matter how good his accent is he just sounds wrong.
The standout from the supporting cast is Lily Molnar. She plays Slim's mother: an even tougher gangster than her son. She's one of the most monstrous mothers in cinema. The other characters are just stereotypes from half-remembered old Warner Brothers pics.
No Orchids For Miss Blandish had a profound effect on British cinema. The BBFC passed the film with scarcely a thought: they were far less sensitive about tales of American criminals than British ones. The storm of protest over the film when it was released made them hyper-careful from then on. This helped usher in a period of blandness which didn't get shattered until Hammer hit horror paydirt.
Looked at today, No Orchids still seems violent. There's a crudity and vigour to it that's ahead of its time. Maybe it's time to forgive it its faults, and enjoy it as its original audience did.
Script adapt.: St John L. Clowes (o.a. James Hadley Chase)
Director: St John L. Clowes
Players: Hugh McDermott, Walter Crisham, Leslie Bradley, Zoe Gail, Charles Goldner, MacDonald Parke, Danny Green, Percy Marmont, Michael Balfour, Frances Marsden, Irene Prador, Jack Lester, Bart Norman, Bill O'Connor, Gibb McLaughlin, John McLaren, Richard Nelson, Annette Simmonds, Jack Durant, Halama and Konarski, Tony and Wing
Late Anna Neagle vehicle and one of the few not directed by her husband Herbert Wilcox. It's set in a children's hospital and she's a Matron surrounded by the problems of patients and staff including nurse Sylvia Syms besotted with hunky doctor George Baker. Not bad as these things go.
Script: Anne Burnaby
Director: Cyril Frankel
Players: Anthony Quayle, Alan White, Daphne Anderson, Michael Horden, Flora Robson, Joan Hickson, Patricia Marmont, Sophie Stewart, Rosalie Crutchley, Joan Sims, Angela Baddeley, Marjorie Rhodes, Adrienne Poster, Richard O'Sullivan
Silly, dreary, low-life saga. A capable cast (Herbert Lom, Sylvia Syms, Stanley Holloway) is lost under the direction of J. Lee Thompson.
Script adapt.: (o.a.) Ted Willis
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Players: Joan Miller, Melvyn Hayes, Ronald Howard, Liam Redmond, Marianne Stone, Campbell Singer, David Hemmings, Rita Webb
After damaging his sight in the ring, a young boxer gets involved with racketeers.
Script adapt.: Stefan Osiecki, Derrick de Marney. (o.a. Thomas Burke)
Director: Stefan Osiecki
Players: Terence de Marney, Eleanor Summerfield, Jack Raine, John Salew, Shirley Quentin, Denys Val Norton, Gerald C. Lawson, Tommy McGovern
Penniless dancer Jennie Carr gets a helping hand from a New York lawyer, but he is murdered by gangsters. She is the only one who can identify the killers, but she knows nothing about it. On the boat home she is framed for theft and it's only when she gets out of jail that she realises what has happened, and that an innocent man is due to be executed for the murder. Will anyone believe her story, and can she get to New York before the death sentence is carried out?
Anna Lee, as Jennie, makes an agreeably sparky heroine. Some of the scenes show up the limitations of her acting, but she looks so fabulous and has so much energy that it really doesn't matter. John Loder, as Scotland Yard Man and Handsome Hero does remarkably well. He's a great lump of granite in most of his films, but here shows glimmers of the sense of humour that made him so popular with his fellow actors.
The first half of the film is rather plot-bound. But once Jennie is on her way to New York the script takes off. She sneaks aboard a transatlantic flight and her fellow passengers bicker and banter wonderfully until the inevitable catastrophe.
Technically speaking, Non-Stop New York is Science Fiction. It's set in the near future (New Year's Eve 1939) though little has changed apart from the possibility of transatlantic flight. The film imagines life on board a plane to be similar to the great transatlantic liners of the period, and not at all like the cattle trucks of modern day flight. The plane is charming and comes complete with that most essential of aeronautical features - the outside balcony! It's a little windy, but perfect for romantic trysts or attempted murder.
Non-Stop New York is really a variation on such classic train movies as Rome Express and as such works very well.
Script adapt.: Kurt Siodmak, Roland Pertwee, J.O.C. Orton, Derek Twist. (o.a. Ken Attiwill)
Director: Robert Stephenson
Players: Francis L. Sullivan, Frank Cellier, Desmond Tester, William Dewhurst, James Pirrie, Drusilla Wills, Jerry Verno, Athene Seyler, Ellen Pollock, Arthur Goullet, Peter Bull, Tony Quinn, Danny Green, Bryan Herbert, Tom Scott, Aubrey Pollock, Sam Wilkinson, Atholl Fleming, Alf Goddard, H.G. Stoker, Jack Lester, Hal Walters, Albert Chevalier, Phyllis Morris, Andrea Malandrinos, Roy Smith, Billy Watts, Frederick Piper, Edward Ryan, Percy Parsons, Alexander Sarner
Carole Landis is the girl reporter on the trail of spivs and gangsters in Soho.
Neat look at 40s spiv culture with the director putting everything he's got into it. The last reel slips too far into comedy (and borders on farce), but up until then it's rather good. The actors all give a good account of themselves, particularly Stanley Holloway in a rare serious role as a rather sinister policeman.
Script adapt.: (o.a.) Richard Llewellyn, Edward Dryhurst
Director: Edmond T. Greville
Players: Derek Farr, Nigel Patrick, Joseph Calleia, John Slater, Edward Rigby, Ruth Nixon, Leslie Bradley, Reginald Tate, Hay Petrie, John Salew, Carol Van Derman, Brenda Hogan, Robert Adair, Ella Retford, Michael Golden, Sydney Monckton, Howard Douglas, Uriel Porter, John Harvey, Michael Ripper, Michael Brennan, Arthur Lovegrove, Monte de Lyle, W.E. Hodge, Dennis Harkin, Diana Hope, Arthur Gomez, Kenneth Buckley, Ben Williams, Vi Kaley, John Martell, Ernest Metcalfe, Maria Berry, Ronald Boyer and Jeanne Ravel, Olive Lucius
Belinda Lee is the pen-friend looking for romance in Africa, but finding it with her correspondent's brother.
Not worth the journey.
Script adapt.: Guy Elmes. (o.a. Joy Packer)
Director: Ken Annakin
Players: Michael Craig, Patrick McGoohan, Anna Gaylor, Eric Pohlmann, Pamela Stirling, Lionel Ngakane, Joan Brickhill, Ben Heydenrych, Alfred Kumalo, Doreen Hlantie, John Willen, Ken Delofse, Gordon McPherson
India in 1905, and an uprising forces a small group to flee across country in an ancient locomotive.
By treating colonialism as a Western, this is one of the best adventure movies of the 50s.
Script adapt.: Robin Estridge, Frank Nugent, Robert Westerby. (o.a. Patrick Ford)
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Players: Kenneth More, Lauren Bacall, Herbert Lom, Wilfrid Hyde White, I.S. Johar, Ursula Jeans, Ian Hunter, Eugene Deckers, Govind Raja Ross, Jack Gwillim, Basil Hoskins, Moultrie Kelsall, Lionel Murton, S.M. Asgaralli, S.S. Chodhary, Jaron Yalton, Homi Bode, Frank Olegrio
Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels in their first British film investigate a jewel theft on a transatlantic liner. Not a great film by any means, but it's nice to see the Lyons over here.
Script adapt.: Harold Simpson, Charles Lincoln. (o.a. Maurice Messenger)
Director: Emil E. Reinert
Players: Charles Farrell, Tom Helmore, Hay Petrie, Gordon McLeod, James Carew
An early role for Maggie Smith is the main point of interest in this criminal-on-the-run story. It's a bit too depressing to make much of a mark.
Script adapt.: Seth Holt, Kenneth Tynan. (o.a. Donald MacKenzie)
Director: Seth Holt
Players: George Nader, Bernard Lee, Geoffrey Keen, Bessie Love, Andree Melly, Howard Marion Crawford, Harry H. Corbett, Lionel Jeffries
Light, low-budget thriller about a detective trying to prove the empty house of the title is the headquarters of a gang of crooks. Although it doesn't quite come off, it's clear evidence that Hitchcock was beginning to realise what constitutes that Hitchcock touch.
Script adapt.: Alfred Hitchcock, Alma Reville, Rodney Ackland. (o.a. J. Jefferson Farjeon)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Players: John Stuart, Anne Grey, Garry Marsh, Leon M. Lion, Donald Calthrop, Ann Casson, Barry Jones, Henry Caine, Herbert Langley
A playwright and a detective join forces to uncover a kidnap ring.
Good example of the genre.
Script adapt.: Paul Gangelin, Connery Chappell. (o.a. Philip Macdonald)
Director: Arthur Woods
Players: Peter Coke, Arthur Margetson, Lesley Brook, Edward Chapman, Coral Browne, Joyce Kennedy, Dorice Fordred, Martita Hunt, Marion Gerth, Ian Maclean, Ian Fleming, Eliot Makeham, Scott Harold, Phil Ray, Mavis Villiers