Three people agree to spend the night in a haunted house.
One of the best of the Aldwych farces is transferred to screen with most of the usual crowd present.
Script adapt.: (o.a.) Ben Travers
Director: Tom Walls
Players: Tom Walls, Ralph Lynn, Robertson Hare, Mary Brough, Claude Hulbert, Evelyn Bostock, Joan Brierley, Gordon James, Beryl de Querton, Marjorie Corbett
Olivia de Havilland is the one-eyed Princess of Eboli in this dull historical drama. Paul Scofield is the King she lost and Gilbert Roland is the minister she now loves. It would have taken more than that new-fangled Cinemascope to make this anything other than an expensive bore.
Script Adapt.: Sy Bartlett, Anthony Veiller. (o.a. Kate O'Brien)
Director: Terence Young
Players: Gilbert Roland, Francoise Rosay, Dennis Price, Anthony Dawson, Robert Harris, Peter Illing, Christopher Lee
Sid Field's first film was long thought lost but a print has turned up at last. It wasn't much liked when it first came out and no doubt time has not improved its appeal, but it might be worth a view.
Script: Jack Henley, John Dighton, Sid Field
Director: Redd Davis
Players: Hal Walters, Betty Lynne, Gus McNaughton, Gordon McLeod, Charles Castella, Gibb McLaughlin, Ian Maclean, Ernest Sefton
A young car mechanic gets involved with the professional boxing scene and finds it's not about who can fight best.
The 1930s are seen as a period in which working class culture was rarely depicted outside the rough comedies of Formby and Fields. Though this picture is not entirely fair, there is a certain truth to it. However, towards the end of the 1930s the industry did make a few attempts at developing what would become social realism. There Ain't No Justice was part of this fledgling movement.
The film was based on a novel by James Curtis whose They Drive By Night had been successfully adapted the year before. As in that film, the roughness of There Ain't No Justice was softened to placate the censors - no back-street abortions in this version - and the hard working-class community transformed into a cosier, more-supportive world. Despite this, there is an authenticity to the portrayal of the culture. The production design backs this up though it would be a bit more atmospheric if it wasn't so over-lit.
First time director Pen Tennyson gets the most out of his cast and is particularly impressive handling the action scenes. Jimmy Hanley plays the slightly dim hero with enthusiasm. Michael Wilding plays against what would be his type by portraying a Cockney spiv with a very fetching pencil moustache. Edward Chapman has the most fun as the dodgy fight promoter always looking for a way to cheat.
There Ain't No Justice now creaks a little but it's still well worth a watch.
Script adapt.: Penrose Tennyson, Sergei Nolbandov, (o.a.) James Curtis
Director: Penrose Tennyson
Players: Edward Rigby, Edward Chapman. Mary Clare, Jill Furze, Nan Hopkins, Phyllis Stanley, Richard Ainley, Gus McNaughton, Richard Norris, Mike Johnson, Michael Hogarth, Sue Gawthorne, Patsy Hagate, Alfred Millen, Bombardier Billy Wells
Annette's getting married but she has a problem: she's getting married to her father's choice of groom. However, the groom has to go to Brazil the next day. If she can just stay out of her father's clutches for a day, she'll be free. Should be simple, but when her bag gets stolen she has to rely on the charity of a stranger who thinks she's a bag thief.
Jessie Matthews stars as Annette, and she's as fresh as a daisy. She has a sure touch with this sort of fluffy nonsense, and looks great. This film marks the point at which the industry realised it had something special on its hands. They'd have needed to be blind not to realise.
Co-star Owen Nares is less fresh; indeed, he's well past his sell-by date. For contemporary audiences he probably still carried the aura of his past as a romantic lead; but for audiences today unfamiliar with his previous work, he just looks old and dull.
The rest of the cast fill their roles well though they only exist to fill in the background against which the two leads can spar. Director Albert de Courville conducts the proceedings with skill and keeps things moving.
There Goes the Bride is an early screwball comedy that deserves to be better known.
Script: W.P. Lipscomb, Fred Raymond
Director: Albert de Courville
Players: Jessie Matthews, Owen Nares, Carol Goodner, Jerry Verno, Barbara Everest, Charles Carson, Winifred Oughton, Jack Morrison, Roland Culver, Max Kirby, Gordon McLeod, Lawrence Hanray, George Zucco, Mignon O'Doherty, Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Orchestra
Maxwell Reed is the bike-riding bad influence who gets Laurence Harvey involved in robbery. Susan Shaw's the love interest in this miserable movie.
Script: Guy Morgan
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Players: Hermione Baddeley, Leslie Dwyer, Meredith Edwards, Robert Adair, Earl Cameron, Charles Farrell, Eric Pohlmann, Harry Fowler, Leslie Bradley, Laurence Naismith
A young PA to a diamond merchant stumbles across a smash-and-grab raid and gets bundled into the getaway car by the crooks. Unable to escape from the gang, she decides to organise them along business efficiency lines.
There Was a Young Lady is an amiable comedy with an Ealing vibe. Its nearest equivalent is The Ladykillers, though since it predates that film by three years it can hardly be accused of being a copycat.
As the PA, Dulcie Gray gets most of the fun that's going. On this showing she would have made a great Mary Poppins since she's practically perfect in every way. Of course, in the 1950s a woman didn't need magic to do the housework, just a bit of application and enough self-respect not to want to live in a tip. She soon licks the gang into shape with little more than a duster and some decent pastry.
Michael Denison as the diamond merchant gets top billing, but also gets lumbered with the dull stuff away from the gang. His main sub-plot involves accidentally turning away the man from the Pools with a big cheque. He looks bored and faintly grumpy - maybe he doesn't want to play the sort of person who would do the Pools. It's heresy to say so, but Dulcie's way too good for him.
The gang are more fun. Sidney Tafler gets to do his spiv act as the gang's leader. Bill Owen, Charles Farrell and Robert Adair complete the gang. Naturally, they aren't as memorable as the Ladykillers gang, but they work together nicely. They're at their best when trying to find a jewelers to rob and repeatedly failing.
A young Geraldine McEwan makes an appearance as Dennison's PA. She's not given much to do other than look pretty and inept, but she manages to fill the role well enough to show she's an actress to watch. And she does get to wear some fabulous 50s frocks.
Every so often a close-harmony group called The Tailormaids pop up on the sound track to sing a few verses of the title song. The song comments on the action in a supposedly humorous way. The effect is undermined by the audience's difficulty in hearing the lyrics and there won't be many people who don't wish for them to shut up even before the end of the opening titles.
On the whole, There Was a Young Lady is a pleasing second feature.
Script adapt.: Lawrence Huntington. (Vernon Harris, John Jowett o.a.)
Director: Lawrence Huntington
Players: Bill Shine, Kenneth Connor, Tommy Duggan, Marcel Poncin, Basil Dignam, Ben Williams, Janet Butler, Gerald Rex
Convicted murderer does a deal to give information about a spy ring in return for his life. Various British stalwarts go through the spy-thriller motions.
Script adapt.: Val Valentine. (o.a. Leonard Mosley)
Director: Val Guest
Players: Andre Morell, Terence Morgan, Yolande Donlan, Anthony Oliver, Ursula Howells, Reginald Beckwith, Guido Lorraine, Basil Dignam, Raymond Rollet
A prisoner comes out of the slammer and finds his old flame strangled. As prime suspect he has to find the real culprit before the cops catch up with him.
One of the stunners of low-budget film-making.
Script adapt.: Derek Twist. (o.a. James Curtis)
Director: Arthur Woods
Players: Emlyn Williams, Anna Konstam, Ernest Thesiger, Allan Jeayes, Antony Holles, Ronald Shiner, Yolande Terrell, Julie Barrie, Kitty de Legh, George Merritt, William Hartnell, Jennie Hartley, Joe Cunningham
Amy Johnson breaks flying records but can't stop her marriage falling apart. Anna Neagle was the obvious choice to play this very British heroine, and Herbert Wilcox does his usual careful job behind the camera.
Script: Miles Malleson
Director: Herbert Wilcox
Players: Robert Newton, Edward Chapman, Nora Swinburne, Joan Kemp-Welsh, Charles Carson, Brefni O'Rorke, Muriel George, Martita Hunt, Eliot Makeham, Ronald Shiner, David Horne, Charles Victor, Miles Malleson, Anthony Shaw, Ian Fleming, George Merritt, Arthur Hambling, Aubrey Mallalieu, Hay Petrie, Charles Maxwell, Anne Crawford, Leslie Dwyer, Billy Hartnell, John Slater
Ex-RAF Trevor Howard gets involved with the black market. When he discovers his companions are drug-dealing he wants out but they frame him. He escapes, and hunts down his betrayers. It's a hard film which might have been better as an American film noir.
Script adapt.: Noel Langley. (o.a. Jackson Budd)
Director: Alberto Cavalcanti
Players: Sally Gray, René Ray, Mary Merrall, Vida Hope, Ballard Berkley
When Commander James Mason gets discharged for disobeying orders and getting his convoy sunk, he goes to work uncovering the fifth-columnists who tricked him into trouble. Not only does he succeed in his task, he also finds romance.
After a rather dour court scene the film springs to life with a great spooky sequence in a seemingly deserted house. Joyce Howard plays a Canadian lass (with an impeccably British accent) who makes her way through the blackout to find her uncles' house. They're away, but she does find James Mason and the corpse of Patricia Medina. Naturally she jumps to the wrong conclusion, but manages to lock him out and herself in. In the morning, she reports the incident to the police but the corpse is missing and Mason convinces them she's mad. For the rest of the film, she'll get in the way delightfully to try to prove her innocence.
After this, the plot moves to a theatrical agency and the tension dissipates. The problem is that it's just too complicated. Not only are the gang hypnotising sailors for information, but they're also sending messages via a radio harmonica player, and running several small businesses at the same time. Tom Walls as the head of the agency gives a fascinating performance, but there are too many minor villains cluttering up the action to give him room to really let rip.
James Mason gives a lovely sunny performance. He's rarely without a smile and completely avoids that air of sour menace that was his forte. He sparks off Joyce Howard and brings out the best in her.
They Met in the Dark is almost completely forgotten now, and that's a shame. It's not a classic but it is entertaining and essential viewing for any James Mason fan.
Script adapt.: Anatole de Grunwald, Miles Malleson (o.a.) Anthony Gilbert.
Director: Karel Lamac
Players: David Farrar, Edward Rigby, Phyllis Stanley, Karel Stepanek, Ronald Ward, Betty Warren, Walter Crisham, George Robey, Peggy Dexter, Ronald Chesney, Finlay Currie, Brefni O'Rourke, Jeanne de Casalis, Eric Mason, Herbert Lomas, Charles Victor, Robert Sansom, Alvar Lidell, Ian Fleming
Every regiment, every service, every battle in WWII seemed to have a film dedicated to it in the fifties. Here it's the Welsh Guards, so naturally the film concentrates on an Englishman, Irishman and an American and their relationship through the war. A charitable man might think that maybe they couldn't find enough Welsh stars about to build a film around, but the 'stars' here are Edward Underdown, Ralph Clanton and Michael Brennen so they couldn't have looked very hard.
Script: Terence Young
Director: Terence Young
Players: Stella Andrews, Helen Cherry, Michael Trubshaw, John Wynn, Desmond Llewellyn, Estelle Brody, Christopher Lee
The sisters are Phyllis Calvert, Dulcie Gray and Anne Crawford but it was James Mason as poor little Dulcie's brute of a husband who made this one of the biggest hits of the year. Another in Gainsborough's run of loony melodramas (though in modern dress) and it's still very entertaining. It's pure soap opera but with a more grown-up attitude to life than many of the period.
Script adapt.: Roland Pertwee, Katherine Streuby. (o.a. Dorothy Whipple)
Director: Arthur Crabtree
Players: Hugh Sinclair, Peter Murray Hill, Pamela Kellino, Barry Livesey, Ann Stephens, Helen Stephens, Brefni O'Rorke, Roland Pertwee, Amy Veness, Thorley Walters, Edie Martin
Dirk Bogarde is in the S.B.S. and leading a raid on Rhodes during WWII. Despite being directed by Lewis Milestone (All Quiet On The Western Front) this doesn't stand out from the crowd of 50s war films.
Script: Robert Westerby
Director: Lewis Milestone
Players: Denholm Elliott, Akim Tamiroff, Eric Pohlmann, Alec Mango, Kay Callard, Russell Enoch, David Peel, Sam Kydd, Eileen Way