Archive T

Time Flies (1943)

Bill (George Moon) and Suzie (Evelyn Dall) are Broadway headliners. She hits the roof when she discovers he's given their life savings to their friend Tommy (Tommy Handley). She's even more annoyed when she finds it's been "invested" in a Time Machine invented by Professor Felix Aylmer. The quartet accidentally end up in Elizabethan England and the Professor gets thrown in the tower for making prophecies about the future of the throne.

It's an amiable enough picture, but Handley never really found a screen persona to match his radio one. Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt make a brief appearance (their last in a film together) and Stephane Grappelly gets to play his fiddle in one anachronistic number. Olga Lindo is the standout as Elizabeth though she's helped by a striking resemblance to Flora Robson.

Script: Howard Irving Young, J.O.C. Orton, Ted Kavanagh

Director: Walter Forde

Players: John Salew, Leslie Bradley, Roy Emerton, Iris Lang

Time Gentlemen Please (1952)

The inhabitants of a perfect English village excitedly look forward to the Prime Minister's visit, but then realise they have to do something about the local drunk first.

Sweet little comedy with Eddie Byrne getting a star part for once and giving it all he's got.

Script adapt.: Peter Blackmore. (o.a. R.J. Minney)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Players: Jane Barrett, Raymond Lovell, Hermione Baddley, Marjorie Rhodes, Sidney James, Sydney Tafler, Dora Bryan, Robert Brown, Thora Hird, Ivor Bernard, Patrick McAlinney, Edie Martin, Joan Young, Peter Jones, Marianne Stone, Julian d'Albie, Nigel Clarke, Henry Longhurst, Peter Swanwick, Thomas Gallagher, Freda Bamford, Ian Carmichael, Brian Roper, Harry Herbert, Jack May, Toke Townley, Tristram Rawson

Time Lock (1957)

Little lad trapped in bank vault is the basis of this low budget suspense movie.

It builds up a fair bit of tension, though some of the Canadian accents are a little rough.

Script adapt.: Peter Rogers. (o.a. Arthur Hailey)

Director: Gerald Thomas

Players: Lee Patterson, Betty McDowall, Robert Ayres, Alan Gifford, Larry Cross, Vincent Winter, Robert Beatty, Sandra Francis, Gordon Tanner, Victor Wood, Jack Cunningham, Sean Connery, Murray Kash, John Paul, Don Ewer 

Time Without Pity (1957)

An alcoholic arrives back in Britain with one day left to save his son from the gallows. But his son is happy to die.

Now with that synopsis you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a low-budget B picture, probably starring a Yank whose career has seen better days, but you'd be wrong. Because that word "alcoholic" lifts this into the realm of Important Drama rather than thriller. Another giveaway is the meaningless title. If you're still in any doubt - just look at that cast list! And to cap it all it's directed by Joseph Losey, who couldn't produce a fart without trying to make it important.

The actors are really put through their paces. It would be uncharitable to claim that they're over-acting since there's clearly been an artistic decision to turn things up to the max, but most of the performances verge on the hysterical. Leo McKern's performance is particularly broad and he is genuinely scary when he's in a rage. We know from the off that he's the real murderer - we see him do it before the opening credits - so his rages have consequences. His is the performance you remember, no matter whose name is above the title.

Star Michael Redgrave has as loose a hair-trigger as McKern, though in his case it's his need for the demon drink that's about to break out. He indicates "alcoholic" by sporting 24-hour stubble and an un-ironed mac. He was never the most overt of actors - his strength always lay in hinting at the emotions underneath a repressed Englishman - so this is a challenge that he doesn't quite overcome. Renee Houston relishes a rare dramatic role as a slatternly old sot going from maudlin to raging at the drop of a hat. Alec McCowen as the son provides a welcome moment or two of calm while everyone else is emoting.

That classy cast list is an indication of the decent budget the film had, and it shows on screen. The production design is quietly impressive, particularly in McKern's home and offices. Freddie Francis gets the most out of these spaces with his photography. There's also an interesting modern score from Tristram Cary which helps ratchet up the hysteria from the opening frames. 

At the heart of all this is Joseph Losey, determined to make his mark no matter what. He, and writer Ben Barzman, do a fair job at opening out the play on which the film is based. Indeed, you'd be hard pressed to realise the screenplay started out as a play. The play itself takes place entirely after the execution has taken place, so you can see quite what a pummeling it had at their hands.

How you respond to Time Without Pity depends on your appetite for heightened melodrama. British critics at the time were mostly wedded to a restrained realism, so found the film rather distancing. Later critics have been kinder. On the whole, Time Without Pity contains a lot of good elements, but the melodramatic treatment swamps everything and makes the experience rather wearing.

Script adapt.: Ben Barzman. (o.a. Emlyn Williams)

Director: Joseph Losey

Players: Michael Redgrave, Alec McCowen, Ann Todd, Leo McKern, Peter Cushing, Lois Maxwell, Paul Daneman, Richard Wordsworth, Renee Houston, George Devine, Joan Plowright, Ernest Clark, Dickie Henderson, Peter Copley, Hugh Moxey, Julian Somers, John Chandos, Richard Leech, Christina Lubicz.

Timeslip (1955)

Complicated story about a research scientist who can see a few seconds into the future. Gene Nelson is the token Yank hero investigating his case. Only a British film of the fifties could hire one of Hollywood's best song-and-dance men and cast him in a thriller.

Script adapt.: Ken Hughes, (o.a.) Charles Eric Maine

Director: Ken Hughes

Script: Faith Domergue, Peter Arne, Joseph Tomelty, Donald Gray, Vic Perry, Launce Maraschal, Roland Brand, Charles Hawtrey

The Titfield Thunderbolt (1952)

This cosiest of Ealing comedies concerns the closure by BR of a branch line and some villagers determination to keep it open. It was something of a disappointment at the time and it's not got the bite of the best of Ealing, but it benefits from the nostalgia factor and from having one of the most memorable trains in cinema history.

Poster for The Titfield Thunderbolt

Script: T.E.B. Clarke

Director: Charles Crichton

Players: Stanley Holloway, George Relph, John Gregson, Naunton Wayne, Godfrey Tearle, Gabrielle Brune, Hugh Griffith, Sidney James, Reginald Beckwith, Edie Martin

To Dorothy, a Son (1954)

Shelley Winters is the first wife of John Gregson, who learns she inherits a fortune if he hasn't got a son by a certain date, otherwise he gets the dosh. And second wife Peggy Cummins is about to drop at any moment.

Winters tries to shake the script up but can't really do much with it. Cummins is possibly the first pregnant woman to be stroppy in cinema since Mary Astor got her Oscar for The Great Lie; but grumpy doesn't equal funny and she's just annoying. 

Script adapt.: Peter Rogers. (o.a. Roger Macdougall)

Director: Muriel Box

Players: Wilfrid Hyde White, Mona Washbourne, Hartley Power, Martin Miller, Hal Osmond, Anthony Oliver, Joan Sims, Aubrey Mather, Ronald Adam, Charles Hawtrey, Alfie Bass, Meredith Edwards, Marjorie Rhodes, Maurice Kaufman, John Warren, Dorothy Bramhall, Grace Denbigh Russell, Bartlett Mullins, Joan Newall, Campbell Singer, Joan Hickson, Fred Berger, Nicholas Parsons, Ann Gudrun

To Paris with Love (1954)

Paris looks lovely in Technicolor but this tale of a father and son (Alec Guinness and Vernon Gray) hitting the tourist trail and looking for love isn't up to much.  

Script: Robert Buckner

Director: Robert Hamer

Players: Odile Versois, Elina Labourdette, Claude Romain, Maureen Davis, Austin Trevor

Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951)

Thomas Hughes's classic tale of life at Rugby public school is brought to the screen in an adequate way and as a vehicle for child star John Howard Davies. Casting Robert Newton as benign reformer Matthew Arnold is a bit odd but he does his best.

Script adapt.: Noel Langley. (o.a. Thomas Hughes)

Director: Gordon Parry

Players: Diana Wynyard, James Hayter, Hermione Baddeley, Kathleen Byron, Michael Horden, Francis de Wolff, Any Veness, Brian Worth, Rachel Gurney, John Charlesworth, John Forrest, Glyn Dearman, Geoffrey Goodheart, Michael Ward

tom thumb (1958)

Russ Tamblyn is the teeny-tot a fairy gives to childless couple Bernard Miles and Jessie Matthews in this lovely musical. Peter Sellers and Terry-Thomas are the hissable villains who con him into helping them rob the royal treasury.

Script adapt.: Ladislas Fodor. (o.a. The Brothers Grimm)

Director: George Pal

Players: June Thorburn, Alan Young

The Tommy Steele Story (1957)

Swift bit of exploitation to cash in on the popularity of Britain's favourite rocker. Steele plays himself in a rather sweet version of his rise to fame. Not much of a film, but a remarkable piece of nostalgia.

Script: Norman Hudis

Director: Gerard Bryant

Players: Lisa Daniely, Patrick Westwood, Hilda Fenemore, Mark Daly, Charles Lamb, Peter Lewison, John Boxer, Cyril Chamberlain, Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band, Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group with Nancy Whiskey, Tommy Eytle Calypso Band, Chris O'Brien's Caribbeans, The Steelmen, Dennis Price, Tom Littlewood

To-Morrow We Live (1936)

A financier advertises for people who are tired of life. He gathers twelve of the applicants and suggests they meet the following evening to kill themselves - but first they get one day to do what they want, knowing there's no need to worry about the consequences.

Manning Haynes hasn't gone down in British film history as one of the greats. He provided some of the few bright spots in the industry's mid-20s slump and kept going as the industry rose in the late 20s but his career stalled in the disruption of the early sound era and he was soon in Quota hell. Many of his films are now lost, and those that survive are hard to find, but on the evidence of To-Morrow We Live, that's a pity.

Okay, it's a hokey premise with an unpromising structure: twelve applicants, twelve little stories. Mercifully a handful of them decide the 50 that's also on offer to make their last day special is enough to clear their debts or start a business and so they drop out of the tale immediately. That still leaves seven tales to cram into the 72 minutes running time.

After the first couple of tales it's clear that one by one they're all going to sort their lives out then phone up and decline to attend the second, final session. This means there's a predictability to the tales, but perhaps that's the point. In the depths of the Depression there was surely an audience out there that craved some reassurance that things can get better no matter how dreadful they seem at the time.

The tales themselves are a varied lot, nicely told and well-acted. The actors are a mix of well-known faces and relative unknowns and Haynes gets good performances out of them all. Jessica Black as a battered wife turning the tables on her abusive husband is a stand-out. She seems so familiar it comes as a shock to realise she didn't corner the market in downtrodden cockney chars, and that this is her only film. Her tale illustrates how overly-neat some of these stories are: tying your husband up while he's asleep and beating the crap out of him might work in this sort of film but is unlikely to produce the desired result in the real world.

To-Morrow We Live didn't seem to bother the critics much nor I suspect did it find a massive, receptive audience, but it's worth a look for the solid professionalism of the cast and as a reminder that Manning Haynes could have been one of the greats had the breaks gone his way. 

Script: Manning Haynes

Director: Manning Haynes

Players: Godfrey Tearle, Haidee Wright, Renee Gadd, Sebastian Shaw, Eliot Makeham, Thea Holme, George Carney, Rosalind Atkinson, Jessica Black, Fred Withers, Cyril Raymond, Alfred Wellesley, Hugh Ardale, Juliet Mansell, Judith Nelmes, R.W. Steele

Tomorrow We Live (1942)

Stirring tale of the French Resistance and their hunt for a traitor within. John Clements is the hero and Greta Gynt the chief suspect (not with that billing she's not!). Well-made, low-budget George King endeavour.

Script: Anatole de Grunwald, Katherine Strueby

Director: George King

Players: Hugh Sinclair, Godfrey Tearle, Yvonne Arnaud, Bransby Williams, Judy Kelly, Gabrielle Brune, Karel Stepanek, Brefni O'Rorke, Gibb McLaughlin, Olaf Olsen, Herbert Lom

Toni (1929)

A suggestion by a doctor that two of her clients swap lives in order to be cured of their ailments means trouble for the bored playboy with depression who swaps with an anxious detective in fear of his life.

Daft but engaging silent comedy. Jack Buchanan proves when you're that lovely a mover, you don't need sound. 

Script adapt.: Violet Powell, Douglas Furber. (o.a. Dion Titheradge)

Director: Arthur Maude

Players: Jack Buchanan, Dorothy Boyd, W. Lawson Butt, Moore Marriott, Forrester Harvey, Hayford Hobbs, Henry Vibart, Frank Goldsmith 

Tons of Money (1924)

In order to avoid his inheritance being eaten up by taxes, an inventor fakes his own death and pretends to be the next-in-line to inherit. But the real next-in-line is on his way and so is another imposter.

Very silly stage farce which transfers wel to the screen thanks to Leslie Henson's indefatigable determination to raise a laugh.

Script adapt.: Lucita Squier, Tom Webster. (o.a. Will Evans, 'Valentine')

Director: Frank Crane

Players: Leslie Henson, Flora Le Breton, Mary Brough, Clifford Seyler, Jack Denton, Elsie Fuller, douglas Monroe, Roy Byford, Willie Ward, Ena Mason  

Too Many Crooks (1959)

Incompetent crooks kidnap Terry-Thomas' wife, Brenda de Banzie, but he doesn't want her back. Fun comedy with a few laugh-out-loud moments and a lot of smiles. Terry-Thomas gives his definitive performance and George Cole shines as the gang's useless Mr Big.

Script: Michael Pertwee

Director: Mario Zampi

Players:  Bernard Bresslaw, Sidney James, Joe Melia, Vera Day, Delphi Lawrence, John le Mesurier, Sydney Tafler, Nicholas Parsons, Terry Scott, Edie Martin

Too Young to Love (1959)

A 15 year old girl appears before juvenile court after being caught in bed with a middle-aged man.

An unexpectedly-frank courtroom drama reflecting Muriel Box's social concerns. Presumably keeping the American setting of the original play made it easier to slip references to abortion and syphilis past the censor. However, the setting meant the film didn't find an audience in its day though now it's a fascinating time capsule of 50s attitudes to delinquency.

Script adapt.: Sydney Box, Muriel Box

Director: Muriel Box

Players: Thomas Mitchell, Joan Miller, Pauline Hahn, Austin Willis, Jess Conrad, Cec Linder, Bessie Love, Alan Gifford, Vivian Matalon, Sheila Gallagher, Cal McCord, Miki Iveria, Robert Henderson, Charles Farrell, Ilona Ference, Roma Miller, Bill O'Connor, Ian Hughes, Bee Duffell, Margaret Griffin, Robert Desmond, Tom Gerrard, Michael Bell, Eric Hewitson, Larry Martyn, Nicholas Evans, Malcolm Knight

Tower of Terror (1941)

Off the coast of Germany, a mad lighthouse keeper finds his solitude is interrupted by a concentration camp escapee and a new assistant who's a British agent in disguise.   

Lighthouses have often been a fruitful setting for British films. Cape Forlorn, Back Room Boy, Thunder Rock, The Phantom Light and Tower of Terror to name a few. There's probably a monograph to be written about the symbolism of the island and the way film makers have exploited the unusual topography of the spaces. It's a space both isolated and claustrophobic.

There's probably already several monographs written about disability and the way film makers have used disability to signify monstrousness. The lighthouse keeper is not only insane but he also has his right hand replaced by a hook which he uses as a terrifying weapon. Not that he needs it; the big hulking brute can knock a man out with just his left hand. Wilfrid Lawson as the lighthouse keeper really knows how to brood and threaten. He also knows how to convincingly portray a man who can drink a lot of booze since his own consumption of alcohol was legendary. Michael Rennie as the agent and Movita as the escapee fill their roles adequately, but it's Lawson's show all the way.

Director Laurence Huntington makes the most of the action and produces an enjoyable film. Clearly filming in Germany was out of the question so some of the sets have more than a hint of plasterboard about them, but that's a minor detail. And anyway, there's a surprising amount of outdoor location shooting for a something filmed under wartime restrictions. 

Tower of Terror may not be on the list of must-see British films, but if anyone does produce that lighthouse monograph, it certainly deserves its place.

Still from Tower of Terror    

Script: (o.a.) John Argyle,  John Reinhart

Director: Laurence Huntington

Players: Wilfrid Lawson, Movita, Michael Rennie, Morland Graham, George Woodbridge, Edward Sinclair, Richard George, Charles Rolfe, John Longden, Victor Weske, Olive Sloane, Davina Craig, Noel Dainton, Rita Grant, Eric Clavering, Joe Welch, Charles Minor, Kieran Tunney, Robert Cameron, Sam Lee, Daley Cooper

A Town Like Alice (1956)

Neville Shute's novel about the suffering of Western women interned by the Japanese in the Far East is turned into a memorable film. Virginia McKenna heads the female cast and gives her most memorable performance as she falls for Aussie Peter Finch.

Script adapt.: W.P. Lipscomb, Richard Mason. (o.a. Neville Shute)

Director: Jack Lee

Players: Takagi, Tran Van Khe, Jean Anderson, Marie Lohr, Maureen Swanson, Renee Houston, Nora Nicholson, Eileen Moore, Geoffrey Keen, Vincent Ball

Town on Trial! (1956)

After the local tart is found strangled, Scotland Yard man John Mills is called in to investigate.

Rather a good whodunit. It's the sort of thing that's been seen a million times before and since, but it's done well. Of course, strictly speaking it's the middle class bit of town that's on trial.

Script: Robert Westerby, Ken Hughes

Director: John Guillermin

Players: Charles Coburn, Barbara Bates, Derek Farr, Alec McCowen, Geoffrey Keen, Fay Compton, Margaretta Scott, Meredith Edwards, Elizabeth Seal, Magda Miller, Maureen Connell, Harry Locke, David Quitak, Dandy Nichols, Raymond Huntley