Archive T

Take My Life (1947)

Thriller in which Hugh Williams is accused of bumping off violinist Rosalie Crutchley. Wife and opera singer Greta Gynt tries to prove his innocence by investigating the missing years in Crutchley's life. This was Ronald Neame's first attempt at directing and a very good job he made of it too.

Still from Take My Life 

Script: Winston Graham, Valerie Taylor, Margaret Kennedy

Director: Ronald Neame

Players: Leo Beibner, Marjorie Mars, David Wallbridge, Francis L. Sullivan, Herbert C. Walton, Marius Goring, D.A. Mehan, Henry Edwards, Hugh Kelly, Dorothy Bramhall, Nelly Arno, Frederick Morant, Grace Denbigh-Russell, Eleanor Summerfield, Olive Walter, Pat Susands, Henry Morrell, Maurice Denham, Leo Britt, Keith Lloyd, Margaret Boyd, J. Hubert Leslie, Deirdre Doyle, Ronald Adam

Take My Tip (1937)

When a titled couple get swindled they go to any lengths to get their money back. 

Great star comedy from Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge, playing an actual married couple for a change.

Script: Sidney Gilliat, Michael Hogan, Jack Hulbert

Director: Herbert Mason

Players: Harold Huth, Frank Cellier, Frank Pettingell, Robb Wilton, H.F. Maltby, Eliot Makeham, Philip Buchel, Paul Sheridan

A Tale of Two Cities (1958)

Say what you like about Dirk Bogarde, but he never played for sympathy. This makes him the perfect Sydney Carton doing that far, far better thing on the scaffold. T.E.B. Clarke's adaptation of the Dickens classic is a respectable job and the film is good without reaching the heights of Great Expectations or Oliver Twist. The stand-out performance is that of Rosalie Crutchley as Madame Defarge: the bitterest woman in cinema.

Script: T.E.B. Clarke

Director: Ralph Thomas

Players: Dorothy Tutin, Paul Guers, Cecil Parker, Stephen Murrey, Athene Seyler, Ian Bannen, Alfie Bass, Ernest Clark, Christopher Lee, Freda Jackson, Leo McKern, Donald Pleasence, Eric Pohlmann

The Tales of Hoffman (1951)

It wasn't rated highly on release, but this opera/ballet combination by the Archers has a growing reputation. It's not a patch on The Red Shoes though. The structure is muddled and despite some nice moments it just doesn't stand up as a whole. The Festival-of-Britain style design makes it worth a look.

Poster for The Tales of Hoffman

Written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Players: Moira Shearer, Ludmilla Tcherina, Robert Rounseville, Pamela Brown, Leonide Massine, Frederick Ashton

Talk of a Million (1951)

In a gossipy Irish village, a feckless man takes advantage of the rumour that he's come into a fortune to make himself and his family financially secure.

It's hard to approach an Irish-set film without a certain degree of trepidation. When British Cinema does Ireland you can expect a fair degree of whimsy, blarney, talk of the little people and a wide variety of accents, some of them never heard before or since. Talk of a Million doesn't go overboard with this but if you really can't stand that stuff, it's best avoided.

Now if you were going to cast a twinkly, blarney-stone-kissing, feckless Irish rogue it's possible that Jack Warner won't be too high on your list. In fact he's probably well down the list, somewhere between Ernest Thesiger and Esma Cannon. He doesn't do too bad a job in his stolid way. He's got a cushion down his front to bulk him up a bit and a rather curious wave in his hair to make him look artistic. It looks like it's been dyed red too, but it's hard to be certain in black and white. As for the accent, it's almost as if he didn't bother. There's a faint something in there but his accent is more a matter of suppressing any cockney and hoping for the best. As a strategy it's surprisingly effective.

Most of his fellow cast members are Irish or at least have Irish ancestry. The major exception to this is Alfie Bass who scarcely has two lines but manages to destroy both of them with his terrible accent. Bass's natural home is the East End of London, so every time he pops up you wonder if he's missed his way and wandered in from the film set next door.

The plot, such as it is, is the standard one of loser finds a way to be a winner and then goes overboard with the winning until a setback makes him realise he was happier as a loser. It's nicely enough done, though it's easy to get lost in the machinations. There are a couple of choice performances from Michael Dolan and Noel Purcell, and it's nice to see Anita Sharp-Bolster have a chance to smile in a film rather than play yet another hatchet-faced battleaxe.

Talk of a Million is worth a look, and could have been a lot worse.

Script adapt.: Frederick Gotfurt. (o.a. Louis d'Alton)

Director: John Paddy Carstairs

Players: Jack Warner, Barbara Mullen, Noel Purcell, Ronan O'Casey, Niall MacGinnis, Michael Dolan, Sidney James, Alfie Bass, Elizabeth Erskine, Joan Kenney, Vincent Ball, Milo O'Shea, Anita Sharp-Bolster, Tony Quinn, Paul Connell, John McDerby, Fred Johnson, E.J. Kennedy, John Kelly, Joe Linnane, Gordon Tanner, Bill Shine, Christie Humphrey

Talk of the Devil (1936)

When a shipping magnate kills himself, his ward comes under suspicion.

Convoluted thriller

Script: Carol Reed, George Barraud, Anthony Kimmins

Director: Carol Reed

Players: Sally Eilers, Ricardo Cortez, Basil Sydney, Frederick Culley, Charles Carson, Gordon McLeod, Dennis Cowles, Quinton McPherson, Randle Ayrton, Margaret Rutherford, Moore Marriott, Langley Howard, Pam Downing, Anne Daniels, Stafford Hilliard, Aubrey Mallalieu, Mac Callaghan

Tangled Evidence (1934)

A man is found stabbed in his library - but a lot of people have motive to muddy the trail of evidence.

Typical stately manor murder mystery peopled with Julius Hagen's familiar roster of players.

Script adapt.: H. Fowler Mere. (o.a. Mrs Champion de Crespigny)

 Director: George A Cooper

Players: Sam Livesey, Joan Marion, Michael Hogan, Michael Shepley, Reginald Tate, Dick Francis, Edgar Norfolk, John Turnbull, Davina Craig, Gillian Maude

Tansy (1921)

A shepherdess is torn between two brothers.

Pastoral melodrama which benefits from sensitive location shooting.

Script adapt.: George W Dewhurst. (o.a. Tickner Edwards)

Director: Cecil Hepworth

Players: Alma Taylor, Teddy Royce, Hugh Clifton, James Carew, Gerald Ames, George Dewhurst, Eileen Dennes, Rolf Leslie

Tawny Pipit (1944)

A pair of rare birds nest in the English countryside, and locals and evacuees unite to protect the nest from disturbance and egg stealers.

There are two ways of looking at this film and which way you choose will largely depend on your attitude to British cinema. The first way is to see a collection of bloodless stereotypes pottering their way through a meandering script based about something completely unimportant. It's cosy, undemanding and faintly patronising.

The other way is to see a film that tries to be about people's real lives. It may lack the gritty realism of a Ken Loach film, but it does show ordinary people in the way they might prefer to be seen. 

Either way, your response is going to come down to the phrase "Don't you know there's a war on!" Yes, with bombs raining down on half of Europe and the Nazis doing God knows what to the poor souls in their power, British Cinema makes a film about bird watching. 

Blame/praise for this enterprise must go to star, producer, co-writer and co-director Bernard Miles. Sadly Bernard Miles (producer) couldn't stop Bernard Miles (actor) from taking a part for which he was wildly unsuited, and Bernard Miles (director) couldn't get a decent performance from him. He's playing an old buffer in thick make-up and thicker whiskers. His presence undermines every scene he's in.

The England depicted here is a curious one to present to an audience in need of a dose of patriotism. The countryside is glorious and they seemed to have filmed in one of those great summers we don't get any more. However, this is a land where influence is more powerful than justice; where only posh people are allowed military command, and where an RAF pilot and his nurse can deliberately sabotage food production because they think they know better than other folk. It all adds up to a good reason to vote Labour when elections resume.

Whether you're pro or anti Tawny Pipit you have to admit there's something heroic about making this film. It's hard to think of any other country that would be so mad. It's made in the same spirit in which the RAF pilot compares the Battle of Britain to a cricket match. It reduces something enormous to a tiny scale and somehow describes it more clearly than any grand rhetoric could convey.

Script: Bernard Miles, Charles Saunders

Director: Bernard Miles, Charles Saunders

Players: Rosamund John, Niall MacGinnis, Jean Gillie, Christopher Steele, Lucie Mannheim, Brefni O'Rorke, George Carney, Wylie Watson, John Salew, Marjorie Rhodes, Ernest Butcher, Grey Blake, Joan Sterndale-Bennett, Lionel Watson, Scott Harrold, Arthur Burne, Billy Bridget, John Rea, Ann Wilton, Stuart Latham, Johnnie Schofield, Katie Johnson, Ian Fleming, Sam Wilkinson, David Keir, Sydney Benson, Jenny Weaver

Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959)

Gordon Scott is the hunky jungle-man battling against diamond-hunting bad guys who include Anthony Quayle and Sean Connery.

Script adapt.: Berne Giller, John Guillermin. (o.a. Edgar Rice Burroughs)

Director: John Guillermin

Players: Sara Shane, Scilla Gabel, Niall MacGinnis, Al Mulock

The Tell-Tale Heart (1934)

A man's perfect murder is ruined by his guilty conscience.

Retelling of the Poe classic which put its director on the map.

Script adapt.: David Plunkett Greene. (o.a. Edgar Allan Poe)

Director: Brian Desmond Hurst

Players: Norman Dryden, John Kelt, Yolande Terrell, Thomas Shenton, James Fleck, Colonel Cameron

Tell England (1931)

Two public school chums enlist for World War One and find themselves at Gallipoli.

The production struggles a little with the primitive sound technology available, but it still impresses.

Script adapt.: Anthony Asquith. (o.a. Ernest Raymond)

Director: Anthony Asquith, Geoffrey Barkas

Players: Fay Compton, Tony Bruce, Carl Harbord, Dennis Hoey, C.M. Mallard, Gerald Rawlinson, Frederick Lloyd, Sam Wilkinson, Wally Patch, Hubert Harben, Lionel Hedges

Tell Me Tonight (1932)

An opera singer tires of life on the celebrity circuit. When his assistant is mistaken for him, he goes along with the mistake in order to have a rest, not knowing the assistant is a conman on the run.

Sparkling musical remake/remount of a German original. Magda Schneider doesn't have too much to do except look pretty, but everyone else is handed solid material they can work with. Edmund Gwenn and Athene Seyler are particularly good as the star-struck mayor and his wife.  

Script: Albrecht Joseph, J.O.C. Orton, Irma von Cube

Director: Anatole Litvak

Players: Jan Keipura, Sonnie Hale, Magda Schneider, Edmund Gwenn, Athene Seyler, Betty Chester, Aubrey Mather

Temptation Harbour (1947)

Robert Newton finds a suitcase full of money, but the real owner wants it back.

Entertaining thriller.

Script adapt.: Victor Skutezky, Frederic Gotfurt, Rodney Ackland. (o.a. Georges Simenon)

Director: Lance Comfort

Players: Simone Simon, William Hartnell, Marcel Dalio, Edward Rigby, Margaret Barton, Joan Hopkins, Charles Victor, Kathleen Harrison, Irene Handl, Wylie Watson, Leslie Dwyer, WG Fay, Edward Lexy, George Woodbridge, Kathleen Boutall, Dave Crowley, Gladys Henson, John Salew

The Tenth Man (1936)

A businessman and politician likes to sail too close to the wind, particularly when it comes to his marriage, but when his wife threatens to leave him he resorts to blackmail to keep her.

There's a curious little coda at the end of the DVD release of The Tenth Man:

You have just seen JOHN LODGE in his second important British film. His first, of course was 'OURSELVES ALONE'. YOU have made him a star WE have signed him on a long term contract Watch for his next film "SENSATION"

It's a little glimpse into the effort put into developing stars in the 30s, something the British industry was never terribly systematic at doing. Lodge was a rising star in Hollywood having just played opposite Dietrich in The Scarlet Empress, though the box office failure of that film may have damaged his chances. Still, he was a "name" and they were in short supply and BIP still had hopes of breaking into the US market in a big way. For much of Britain's cinema history, importing American actors to help sales there was often seen as helpful, though it wasn't until the 50s that the policy really became ubiquitous.

The Tenth Man really is a star vehicle for John Lodge. The rest of the cast have little to do but slot into their various "types" efficiently. Lodge is given little more than a Yank-on-the-make stereotype to work with but at least it's all about him and he acquits himself well, having both the looks and the energy necessary to persuade us he could get away with what he does.  

The basis of the plot is the businessman's belief that nine out of ten men are either fools or knaves; then he meets the tenth man and his schemes unravel. Clifford Evans plays the tenth man but his role is insufficiently developed, with the film skewed towards Lodge's disintegrating marriage. Therefore the climax focusing on the two men feels unearned.

One interesting facet of the film is its glimpse at 30s politics. Of course, being the 1930s, the censors wouldn't allow any actual politics to be seen and we have no idea to which party Lodge's character is meant to belong. However the film does seem to capture the atmosphere of a provincial election.

Lodge never became a massive star and his career ended with the war. He then became a politician and Governor of Connecticut. I doubt if he often showed The Tenth Man to his supporters. 

Script adapt.: Geoffrey Kerr, Dudley Leslie, Marjorie Deans, Jack Davies. (o.a. Somerset Maugham)

Director: Brian Desmond Hurst

Players: John Lodge, Antoinette Cellier, Aileen Marson, Clifford Evans, George Graves, Frank Cochrane, Athole Stewart, Iris Hoey, Bruce Lister, Barry Sinclair, Anthony Holles, Hindle Edgar, Edith Sharpe, John Harwood, Aubrey Mallalieu, Kathleen Harrison, Mavis Clair

The Terror (1938)

The Terror is the disguise used by a criminal mastermind, but a lot of people are out to unmask him. Cracking spooky thriller.

Script adapt.: William Freshman. (o.a. Edgar Wallace)

Director: Richard Bird

Players: Wilfrid Lawson, Linden Travers, Henry Oscar, Alastair Sim, Arthur Wontner, Bernard Lee, Iris Hoey, Lesley Wareing, Edward Lexy, Richard Murdoch, John Turnbull, John H. Vyvyan, Jack Lambert, Stanley Lathbury

Tesha (1928)

After five childless years with her war-traumatised husband a wife has a one-night stand with a stranger and falls pregnant. She then discovers the stranger is her husband's best friend from his war years. 

Delicately-handled drama. The silent version no longer exists but the talkie version just has a music soundtrack and one rather clunky talkie scene which slightly detracts from the drama. Otherwise, it's a beautiful example of how sophisticated late silent era films could be. 

Script: Victor Saville, Walter C. Mycroft

Director: Victor Saville

Players: Maria Corda, Jameson Thomas, Paul Cavanagh, Clifford Heatherley, Daisy Campbell, Mickey Brantford, Espinosa, Bunty Fosse, Boris Ranevsky