Yet another Michael Caine caper film, directed by Bryan Forbes, in which yer man cracks a safe full of diamonds in a millionaire’s chateau while said mogul is away watching a concert (by the John Barry Orchestra, of course), allowing for a decidedly Rififi-esque dialogue-free extended sequence cutting between the concert and the break-in.
G is for…
Nothing to do with Dinenage asking Reg from Havant if he wants to ‘stick’ on 18, this is a caper comedy in which Michael Caine, having dreamt the perfect way to get hold of oriental billionaire Herbert Lom’s priceless sculpture, enlists Shirley MacLaine, a dead ringer for Lom’s former wife, to act as the titular gambit and enable them to case his top security joint.
TV CREAM SAYS: ONCE AGAIN, REALITY GOES NOWHERE NEAR AS SMOOTHLY AS THE DREAM. WELL, THAT'S THE GENRE, EH?
Mob comedy supposedly based on the life of a real mafia boss, though to what extent we’ve no idea as it quickly turns into one brush-daft set piece after another. Old school mafia don Lionel ‘This is my boss, Mrs H. She’s goigeous!’ Stander feuds with young upstart Jerry ‘Detective Lennie Briscoe’ Orbach, whose sister develops a crush on a cycling vicar with a penchant for petty crime (Robert De Niro). Herve ‘De Plane!’ Villechaize takes a lion into a car wash. Best of all, there’s a cartoon title sequence. All would appear to be right with the world.
TV CREAM SAYS: VILLECHAIZE'S VOICE SUSPICIOUSLY UN-FANATSY ISLAND-LIKE. DUBBED, PERHAPS?
The Gregson-Sheridan v. Moore-Kendall death race ’53, and possibly the nearest we’ve got to an It’s A Wonderful Life of our own, in a timeless feelgood dollop of warmth sort of way. Larry Adler and Kenny Baker provide the soundtrack.
TV CREAM SAYS: NOTE TO TOP GEAR FANS - THAT'S YOU, THAT IS
Omar Sharif does Mongol warlord and the inspiration for Python’s Attila The Hun Show is laid bare in this amusingly inept unepic pan-Euro production overseen by Irwin ‘Towering Inferno’ Allen. Also shaming themselves for cheques, James ‘Humbert’ Mason, Eli ‘The Ugly’ Wallach, Telly ‘If’ Savalas, Kenneth ‘Hopkirk’ Cope, Michael “dry bath” Hordern and Robert ‘Worries’ Morley.
TV CREAM SAYS: GENGHIS, GENGHIS THE KHAN, EVERYONE SING HIS NAME
Always seems to do well in the “fondly remembered” stakes, does the TV version of G&M, which we reckon must be mainly down to the (rightly) high levels of affection people have for Brian Murphy and (especially) Yootha Joyce, because the actual programmes themselves were rather lacklustre – little more than a roles-reversed Terry and June with the volume (to say nothing of the colour balance) turned up. Plus we missed the five-way group dynamic of MATH, and the Fourmiles aren’t going to rank in anyone’s list of Top 100 comic characters, are they? That said, it was watchable, thus outdoing this 1980 Hammer film by a country mile, partly due to a heartbreakingly ill-looking Yootha, but mainly due to the thinness of both plot (Mild takes George on a London-based second honeymoon, George gets mistaken for a gangster, landmark-based mishaps ensue) and gags. And the cameo list only stretches to Stratford Johns, Kenneth Cope, Harry Fowler and Vicky Michelle. Now, a film version of Me Mammy, with Yootha and Milo O’Shea rushing around Television Centre trying to stop Anna Manahan puritanically sabotaging a live beauty pageant hosted by Bruce Forsyth – that’d be sweet.
TV CREAM SAYS: STICK WITH THE SERIES OF THIS, AND THE FILM OF MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE
Top quality swinging social comment, as a floppy Lynn Redgrave stumbles about in awe of loose and louche flatmate Charlotte Rampling, lusts after a brilliantly deranged Alan Bates, and eventually succumbs to shabby-but-rich James Mason. And of course, there’s *that* Seekers’ theme song, with Oscar winning lyrics from the one and only Jim ‘Dr Nookie’ Dale, as our Lynn ambles around NW1 looking in shop windows.
JIM DALE CORNER: Time to reflect on what a fine clutch of film theme songs the trolley-surfing one-time possible Dr Who has amassed. Of course, he was a consummate singing star before he ever set foot on a film lot, hosting Six-Five Special and recording a slew of waxings like Be My Girl and the classic Rock Island Line parody Piccadilly Line. Once he got into film (appropriately enough via a Norman Hudis-scripted film spin-off of Six-Five Special, wherein two girls travel to London on the titular train, which conveniently happens to be packed full of pop and skiffle greats, plus Jim, Bernie Winters and the John Barry Seven in the guard’s van) there was no stopping him effortlessly marrying the two disciplines. There was his theme song to Doris Day vamp-in Tread Softly, Stranger; The Ballad of Shalako for the eponymous Sean Connery western; wrote and sang the titular theme to Twinky, the slightly off-colour tale of middle aged pornographer Charles Bronson copping off with a sixteen-year-old Susan George (with Michael ‘Triangle’ Craig and Honor Blackman as George’s parents, and, better still, Paul ‘Bilkooo!’ Ford as Charlie’s dad, and best of all, Jimmy Tarbuck playing a certain ‘Norman Vaughan’, while Norman Vaughan plays a certain ‘Jimmy Tarbuck’); and lent his pipes to various other films he starred in, belting out Milligan’s It’s Gonna Be a Good War for the film of Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, and getting all 18th century for also-romped bawdy second-stringer Joseph Andrews.
TV CREAM SAYS: SEE SMASHING TIME FOR OUR LYN AT THE OTHER END OF THE SWINGING CAPITAL
Chuck ‘Tin Can Alley’ Connors brazenly dons the dubbin and Littleplum broken English to switch sides as the titular Apache. But never mind that, isn’t that Denver ‘Uncle Jessie’ Pyle? And a pre-Batman Adam West? Alas, the opening credit for one ‘James Burke’ is not what you’d hope for.
TV CREAM SAYS: A BIG FAT WHITE VAN OF A FILM FROM BEDFORD PICTURES
The grimmest, bleakest, and most often misquoted Caine film of the lot gets a look-in for its peerless use of locations as much as for its set pieces, although they are fantastic – Caine answering door naked with shotgun as drum majorettes march past, Caine making final delirious despatch with aid of seaside slag tipper, and of course the scene that’s now forever to be known as “the out-of-shape bloke”. Nowadays Old Maurice lives out his dotage on a cheeky chappie rough diamond reputation, but here’s a good example of a man who’s nothing but coal. Ian Hendry, Brian ‘Alf’ Mosley, Glyn ‘Winchester’ Edwards, Alun ‘Underworld’ Armstrong…what more could you want? Oh, and Michael ‘Michael Caine is Michael Caine in…’ Caine is in it too. Apparently Caine plays Cliff Brumby in the Stallone version. But since we never, ever want to see that, that’s pretty academic really.
TV CREAM SAYS: YOU'RE A BIG, SHAPELESS BLOKE! GET OUT!
Top flight Peckinpah caper in which Steve McQueen robs a bank under the watchful eye of sheriff Ben ‘will play grizzled cowboy parts for money’ Johnson. Ali ‘Love Story’ McGraw, Sally ‘Gloria’ Struthers and Slim ‘Winged Colt’ Pickens back them up.
TV CREAM SAYS: QUINCY JONES SCORES A BLINDER ON THE SOUNDTRACK TOO
Big boring American horror with the “prestige” likes of Fred Astaire and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. brought in to shore up a creaky old variant of the old-men-with-shared-guilty-secret-back-to-haunt-them type. Jack ‘genuine real proper genius’ Cardiff and Norman ‘Winter Kills’ Newberry at least make sure the tedium looks good.
TV CREAM SAYS: "DANCE WITH ME, YOU LITTLE TOAD" CHARMING
When he accepted the job of Head of Columbia Pictures David Puttnam, from the very start, was vocal in his dislike of Ghostbusters. No friend of Slimer he. But, quoth the shareholders, how many Istvan Szabo fridge magnets do you expect to sell over the coming twelvemonth? It was a battle he couldn’t win. The sequel had to happen. ‘It’s like a huge cheque sitting in a drawer, waiting to be cashed,’ quoth one bigwig, bluntly but rightly. As his initial haze of Kingship dissipated, Davey sensed this inevitability, and moved from outright Stay-Puft blockage to asserting his own personal ‘stamp’ on the sequel. One especially bright idea mooted an all-black Ghostbusters squad, headed by Bill Cosby. Presumably this a) ticked a ‘morally improving’ box on Puddy’s righteous mental clipboard, and b) handily got nemesis Bill Murray off the books, although it did of course c) bring even greater nemesis Bill Cosby on board, so you might be forgiven for thinking Dave’s logic at this point was well on the wane from ‘searingly insightful’ to ‘all to blinkin’ crock’. Needless to say, after Dave’s rapid departure, an expanded role for Ernie Hudson was all that remained of that little notion. The film itself is, well, as limp as a film that’s guaranteed to gross $100 million even if it consists of two hours of Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray filling in pools coupons was ever going to be. A few good ideas, a couple of good lines, but it stands up to its older brother in much the same way Bobby Brown’s flaccid New Jack Swing theme did to Ray Parker Jr’s original bouncy castle of funk. The premise is getting tired, the wisecracks aren’t nearly as wise, and worst of all it’s forgotten how to be genuinely PG-scary, as the original managed with ease in the haunted library and ‘Zool’ scenes. And as we’ve said before, that final oil painting gag is one of the worst examples of smugly inept ‘Aaaaah!’ humour ever committed to celluloid.
TV CREAM SAYS: I GUESS WE'RE GONNA HAVE TO TAKE CONTROL - OF THE REMOTE
Ah, Tyburn Productions, runt of the Brit-horror litter. They gave us Legend of the Werewolf, and this rather nicely done “something in the attic” chestnut with Peter Cushing, Alexandra ‘Champions’ Bastedo and John Hurt. Hopefully eventually we’ll get daft Ralph Bates/Lana Turner cat-drowning curio Terror of Sheba, which appears to be pretty much all Tyburn ever managed to produce, if you don’t count the Channel Four Holmes adaptation Masks of Death and the anomalous ’82 World Cup documentary G’ole! Which we don’t, for the record.
TV CREAM SAYS: FIND OUT WHAT THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN WERE RIPPING OFF WITH ALL THAT DAVID TATTSYRUP BUSINESS
The word “sweeping” could have been invented for this generation-spanning Texan cattle ‘n’ oil saga, if it hadn’t already been coined to describe the act of tidying things up with a broom. Liz Taylor and Rock Hudson are at the centre of events, Dennis Hopper’s on the periphery, and James Dean, as the improbably named Jet Rink, drills for Texas tea, goes grey and collapses over a table. Other things happen, of course, but then, with three and a half hours to go, they ought to, really. Still, if you can shore up an afternoon to watch it, it’s top entertainment of its kind. Little more than a classier, less silly version of Dallas or Dynasty maybe, but here the characters don’t look like they should come free with a Nat West children’s savings account and have a little slot in the tops of their heads for money.
TV CREAM SAYS: THE DAY AFTER DEAN WAS KILLED, THEY GAVE LIZ THE AFTERNOON OFF. THOSE CARING STUDIOS!
Just an ordinary run of the mill day for Chief Inspector George Gideon – Jack Hawkins, that is – encompassing four murders, two robberies and a suspension. It’s a bind, innit?. Directed by John Ford, would you believe, and with Miles Malleson, James ‘Mr Tebbs, you know, the short-lived, toupeed Mr Grainger replacement off of Are You Being Served?’ Hayter and Cyril ’451′ Cusack.
TV CREAM SAYS: JACK HAWKINS HAD DONE THIS SORT OF THING BEFORE, FUNNILY ENOUGH
Heidi – and that’s yer actual Heidi, up a mountain and all that – learns the true meanings of faith, hope and charity through the gift of three woodcarvings. We wonder what she would have learnt the meaning of if she’d been given a Stretch Armstrong, Crossfire and Tin Can Alley.
TV CREAM SAYS: NO HILARIOUS THEME TUNE TO HUM DOWN THE ALL BAR ONE ON THIS ONE
“There NEVER was a woman like Gilda” Anyway, trouble and strife down South America way with Rita ‘Shawshank’ Hayworth as the eponymous heroine and Glen ‘Superman’ Ford and George ‘Tora! ‘ Macready as the two men who love and hate her though not necessarily at the same time nor in that order. It’s a bit convoluted. And it’s the film that that bit in the Shawshank Redemption where they’re sitting in the cinema and Rita Hayworth appears on screen and throws her hair back comes from, fact fans.