We quite like this poorly received update of the whole Shane thing. Firstly it’s got Crint ‘Clint’ Eastwood in it and not Alan ‘TINY’S PATIO NOW OPEN FOR JERKBURGERS AND GRITS! (Teas 20p)’ Ladd and secondly it’s also got Michael Moriarty, who we hoped would have taken some time to try and talk Eastwood into doing a big budget remake of Q: The Winged Serpent.
P is for…
The first outing for Painless Potter, directed by Norman ‘The Right Kind of Monkey Business’ MacLeod and with plenty of input from ex-Warner cartoon gagman Frank Tashlin. Secret agent Jane Russell drags hapless Bob Hope into injun intrigue, resulting in tree-based sight gags aplenty and that song about “French perfume that rocks the room”. Perfect afternoon fluff, in other words. Worth it if only for the sublime dentist scene.
TV CREAM SAYS: HE SHOULD HAVE GOT AN OSCAR FOR THIS
Charles Laughton and Gregory Peck don the wigs and take to a bloody massive Old Bailey set to prosecute suspected spouse poisoner Alida ‘Suspiria’ Valli in this mid-period courtroom drama directed by everyone’s favourite master of suspense. He’s carrying a cello in his cameo for this one, by the way, as distinct from Strangers on a Train, in which he carried a double bass. Think harder, Alfie!
TV CREAM SAYS: NOTHING TO DO WITH DAVID FROST'S LUGGAGE
All conspiracy theory films made between 1965 and 1980 are great, even the dire ones, but Alan J Pakula’s gloriously shot journey of ‘outsider’ journo Warren Beatty into an assassination cover up complete with subliminal brainwashing montage and Kenneth ‘CyKill never said “baby”!’ Mars is quite possibly the best.
TV CREAM SAYS: CHEERLEADERS + MONTAGE OF VIETNAM WARFARE AND '50S DOMESTIC APPLIANCE ADS = BRAINWASHING
Take a trip back to when the British film industry did period drama because they were good at it, not just because they couldn’t think of anything else that didn’t involve pretend cockneys. We recall how in the early ’90s – 1990 itself, we think – this was the big film at Easter weekend, raising a wave of apathy rarely encountered other than at election time. It’s certainly a *BIG* film, cos David Lean made it and he didn’t make little ‘uns, but by Jove, it drags like a knackered elephant’s foot. Most entertaining of course, is Alec Guinness in full Curry and Chips mode as Professor Godbole but there’s also Richard ‘H.A.P.P.Y.’ Wilson and Saeed ‘Tandoori Nights’ Jaffrey.
TV CREAM SAYS: PARODIED IN A STANLEY BAXTER SPECIAL, FEATURING A SOOTHSAYER WITH THE ODDLY UN-INDIAN SURNAME 'PAGE'. "I AM PAGE THE ORACLE!"
Margaret Rutherford gets another place in the list as the unintentional star of this great Ealing comedy. Pimlico turns out to be – thanks to Rutherford’s research – part of the ancient Duchy of Burgundy and therefore the residents, amongst other things, are not subject to rationing. All sorts of problems arise as the residents, their neighbours in London, who are not so fortunate, and the government, who are less than pleased, try to deal with the situation. Like the best Ealing comedies this is concerned with ordinary people pushed into extraordinary circumstances and how they use their innate character and instinct to cope. Stanley Holloway is to the fore here as he struggles to try and find a way to find a compromise between all the parties that works. Against the backdrop of the war and the plight of London in that conflict the story is given another dimension as the issues of personal freedom – the threat to it from both aggression and the restrictions upon it that flow from resistance to that aggression – are dealt with, subtly, with humour and not a little charm.
TV CREAM SAYS: NOT FORGETTING LES NORMAN AND HIS BETHNAL GREEN BAMBINOS
Dirk Bogarde and Corrie’s Alan Bradley predate McQueen and co. with this strikingly similar great escape adventure. Apropos nothing at all, we often wonder which Corrie stars we’d choose for an all-Weatherfield remake of The Great Escape. Eddie Yates as the Cooler King and Fred Elliot as Donald Pleasance’s forger are shoo-ins, obviously, but what about Gordon Jackson’s character? Reg Holdsworth? And the Nazis – surely you couldn’t beat Ena Sharples for Colonel von Luger? Unless of course, you know better.
TV CREAM SAYS: AND ANYWAY, SURELY IT IS, AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN, 'SWORDFISH'?
We’ve never been Kubrick fans, it is fair to say. Quite what all the fuss is about is rather beyond us. Does this make us artistic troglodytes? Probably, but there’s only so much allegory and symbolism we can take between monkeys eating their dinner and Nicole Kidman counting the cracks in the ceiling. Exceptions are Lolita because, because of Peter Sellers, The Shining, because of Scatman Crothers and Philip Stone and this masterful piece starring Kirk ‘snails’ Douglas. Of course, there’s always Spartacus as well, but by now we know that was pretty much Douglas’ show anyhow. This black and white number concerns Douglas and his attempts to come to grips with the slaughter of the trenches of the Great War, it’s sadistic commanders and their cruel actions not as an American but as a Frenchman. Atmospheric, bleak, stark, appalling and many other adjectives too numerous to mention make it a very great film, from a very great star and, okay, quite a good director.
TV CREAM SAYS: PUT YOUR SHINING BOX SETS AWAY, THAT'S AS FAR AS WE'RE GOING DOWN THIS ROUTE
This isn’t the dodgy Euro-sexcom with Ingmar Bergman’s daughter flogging hooky paintings, but yet another caper comedy, in which dissatisfied wife Natalie Wood robs various business pals of hubby Ian ‘The bloke with the indeterminate Celtic accent off of Thriller episode Death in Deep Water’ Bannen, confesses all to psychiatrist Dick ‘That’s our Hitler!’ Shawn, but gets away with it by dint of being butter-wouldn’t-melt Natalie Wood, until she arouses the interest of detective Peter ‘Compadres’ Falk. All good fun, but a flop at the time meaning Wood shied off from films for a while afterwards.
TV CREAM SAYS: BEST WATCHED IN A DOUBLE BILL WITH 2008 STUDENT ROMANCE 'KEITH'.
High gloss comedy caper with a very British crew. Stanley Baker is the bank insider with the scheme, and louche, decadent but cash-strapped upper-crust couple David Warner (in pinstripe suit and footballer’s blow-wave) and Ursula Andress (in a big floppy hat) are roped in to help him make off with 200 grand from the deposit boxes. Chase scenes are dropped here for character- based humour (the tension between stiffo middle-class Baker and outlandishly dressed Warner, plus a sprinkling of sexual intrigue between both vis-a-vis Andress) and plenty of-their-time crash zooms and jump cuts from director ‘Very’ Peter Hall, while Johnny Dankworth parps away in the background.
TV CREAM SAYS: OLD SCHOOL JET-SET GLAMOUR APLENTY
Give us this camped-up Faust over Rocky Horror any day. Paul ‘Evergreen’ Williams performs copyright theft on William ‘Eaten Alive’ Finlay, who tries to blow him up, gets disfigured, then lures Williams into a devilish contract to pen a glammed-up musical for love interest Jessica ‘Suspiria’ Harper. Then a deranged Gerrit Graham turns up, and things go a bit bizarre. Fantastic foil and plastic sets from Jack ‘man pulling levers in Eraserhead’ Fisk (abetted by Sissy ‘Carrie’ Spacek), and for once Brian De Palma’s ‘trademark’ split screen obsession is bang on the money and actually aids the storytelling, especially in the brilliant bomb countdown double tracking shot.
TV CREAM SAYS: THAT MENTAL, BAKELITE-KNOB-STUFFED RECORDING STUDIO WAS ACTUALLY A REAL STUDIO, FULL OF REAL SYNTHS
‘What *are* ants?’ King of the ant attack movies (until, of course, we get Ant Attack: the Movie, filmed entirely in one single take from a helicopter constantly hovering at 45 degrees to the gound) this is what you get when Saul ‘Halibut or sea’ Bass, the bloke who did many a head in with his op-art title sequences, gets a whole film to himself. It’s great, with a really off-key ’70s queasiness enhanced by loads of Horizon-style close-up photgraphy of ants demolishing giant spiders and building enormous skyscrapers with the powdery remnants, after some kind of poorly-explained cosmic alignment turns them super smart. Amidst all this trickery, human questers Nigel ‘News-Benders’ Davenport and Lynne ‘Mrs Peter Sellers Phase IV’ Frederick do what they can to look concerned at the latest developments, before things go a tad abstract in the inevitably self-indulgent finale. A throbbing, gristly electronic score from Brian ‘Cherry 2000′ Gascoigne adds to the scarily foreboding atmosphere, similar to that produced by a late night combination of The World About Us and half a pound of Cathedral City.
TV CREAM SAYS: HOORAY FOR VISUALLY PRECISE APOCALYPTO-BOLLOCKS!
It’s a British International Picture! Coming before Hitchcock’s famed Blackmail but after Week-End Wives with Peter Dandy George, this silent classic is set in the titular jazz club, in which Anna May ‘Tiger Bay’ Wong dances on a table while Charles Laughton complains loudly about a dirty plate.
TV CREAM SAYS: SEEDY!
The Cosmic Wheels really were coming off Donovan’s wagon by the early seventies. His run of hits ground to an abrupt halt after an oddly-named collaboration with The Jeff Beck Group, he was more or less fired by producer Mickie Most and subsequently ‘persuaded’ into recording a contract-fulfilling album of songs for children, and finally made his headline acting debut in Jacques Demy’s rather quite sinister retelling of the rather quite sinister to begin with folk tale. Joining a slightly more experienced cast which included Diana Dors, Donald Pleasance (they really weren’t trying very hard to make this a cuddly family-friendly effort, were they?), Jack Wild, Michael Hordern, Roy Kinnear, Sammie Winmill (presumably in a display of that ‘serious acting’ that she quit The Tomorrow People for), Peter Vaughan and seventies bit-part standby Harry Fielder, the There Is A Mountain hitmaker predictably occupied the title role, which handily allowed him to chime in with a couple of his trademark musical numbers. Shot somewhere between Monty Python And The Holy Grail and a Public Information Film (and, lest we forget, an opening caption placing the action in the “Year Of The Black Death”), and festooned with creepy medieval religious iconography, all in all the film is almost unprecedentedly unsuitable for the child audience it was aimed at, and doubtless inspired a few floods of tears during its many ‘fling it out at the tail-end of the school holidays’ outings on ITV. Meanwhile, for Donovan, the game was well and truly up acting-wise, and a humble pie-eating reunion with New Faces’ Mr Nasty was fair near inevitable.
TV CREAM SAYS: NOT PARTICULARLY GOOD AT LURING PUNTERS INTO CINEMAS
Doris and Rock exercise their chance to be Famous on the Phone. Boasting a lot of telephonic conversations, this inevitably has lashings of split screen scenes, a device long-standing readers will know we think is great, despite the best efforts of 24 to prove otherwise. We love its inherent pointlessness, and even more the rare occasions where there is actually a thoughtful deployment of it. Outside the purely expedient likes of this film’s use of it, what fun’s been had with the multi-picture fiddling over the years? Film historians will point you toward Abel Gance’s arse-numbing silent epic Napoleon as the first great example of the technique, but we’d naturally lead your eye elsewhere, to Tex Avery’s Goldilocks parody The Bear’s Tale in fact, where the classic gag of someone reaching over from one half of the split to another first manifested itself. Other than that, it was largely restricted to ‘gee whiz’ documentary films of the type they used to show at Expos, until 1966 and the overground success of Chelsea Girls, a collection of tedious interviews with dreary fools strung together with a big black line down the middle. Suddenly split screen was somehow artful and a bit rebellious. The Woodstock film used it, understandably, to give a vague sort of sense of lots of things going on at once, even when they happened ages apart. Genuinely weird stuff like Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, where a director cons actors into thinking they’re making a film, then films the resultant kerfuffle, used it for the hell of it. Innovative director John Frankenheimer, who’d come up trumps with Seconds in ’66, came up tramps in the same year with rubbish, rubbish, boring and rubbish James Garner racing drama Grand Prix, notable mainly – and indeed only – for upping the previous split screen count from a maximum of three to half a dozen or more simultaneous little windows of stuff. So profligate was this (every single working Panavision film camera that existed at the time was roped in) it was bound to catch on with the rest of the late ’60s self-indulgent Hollywood folk. The Thomas Crown Affair has to be the Household Name of the splitters’ club, and indeed it lays it on with such brazen abandon (along with x amount of additional of-their-time visual gimmicks) you can’t help but sit back and grin inanely at the resulting mess. At one point we get something like twenty-odd images at once, but as they’re all the same image (McQueen on a horse) that’s cheating a bit, we feel. Slightly more efficient use of the technique came from The Boston Strangler, which used it to a) represent the confused nature of media coverage of the titular New England throat-knobbler (loads of shots of reporters chatting at once – cf the opening and closing scenes of Network) and b) actually help with suspense – a scene where the police close in on what they think is their man is shown from both sides of the door at once, and is all the better for it. Otherwise there was a great deal of cross-location tension building (rogue nuclear missile suspenser Twilight’s Last Gleaming), and easy overlaying of stuff to give an illusion of sophistication – The Andromeda Strain had a scene where paramedics opened doorways in a plague-hit town, and what they saw through each of them was revealed in a little advent calendar-style window, complete with comedy “ding!” noise. By the early ’70s, it had been reduced to illustrating the musical interludes in Willy Wonka (complete with electronic animation from wall-sized computer system Scanimate, Thriller alternate US title sequence fans!) Interest was all but killed off in ’73 with gimmicky exploitation effort Wicked, Wicked which showed a detective hunt for a serial killer via the not-at-all tedious method of having a permanent two-point-of-view split screen (one cop, one culprit) throughout the entire film. It didn’t do well, and the device would probably have fallen completely out of use were it not for one man who bravely kept its frame-flipping flame alive throughout the following two decades. Yes, Brian De Palma, for all his many annoyances, is undeniably the king of bifurcated cinema, whether observing a blood-drenched Sissy Spacek from various angles in Carrie, pointlessly augmenting another pointless Hitchcock homage in Dressed to Kill or, in Phantom of the Paradise, being rather good indeed. Our favourite spilt screen scene is in this film, where the planting of a bomb, its journey to a stage rehearsal and its subsequent devastation are shown in a deftly-planned sequence which starts nips between front and back of stage in a way the accursed splitting revivalists in all their their DVD Box Set Watch Next Episode Now on Red Button Five Stars in Guardian Guide pomp can only dream about. He may be a pain in the arse half the time, but good on old Brian for splitting with confidence.
TV CREAM SAYS: TECHNICAL BLATHER, THERE
Mid-period mad scientist slapstick of Sellers vs. Lom – stand by to tick off Lesley-Anne Down, Burt Kwouk, Leonard Rossiter, Richard ‘Slartibartfast’ Vernon, Geoffrey ‘Catweazle’ Bayldon, Graham Stark, Gordon Rawlings, Omar Sharif, Dudley ‘CFF’ Sutton, a very young Chris Langham, and that’s Mrs. Director Julie Andrews overdubbing Michael ‘On The Buses’ Robbins.
TV CREAM SAYS: A RHEUM?
Here’s the first of the films, with David Niven as Sir Charles Phantom (the notorious pink Litton), Robert Wagner and John Le Mesurier. It’s always good to see, as it’s slower, subtler and really quite different to all the other PP films.
TV CREAM SAYS: WHERE'S MY SURÉTÉ/SCOTLAND YARD-TYPE MACKINTOSH?
Slightly too clever Brit version of The Dirty Dozen, with Michael Caine leading a rag-tag band of ex-cons through North Africa to blow up an oil reserve. Didn’t we have one of these last week? Melvyn ‘yes, we all know the “rumour”, no dreary Popbitch gossip on the email please’ Bragg scripts (badly, as ever), and House of Wax maestro Andre De Toth directs (boringly, for a change).
TV CREAM SAYS: NOTHING TO - COUGH - 'BRAGG' ABOUT! OH, MY STARS
5C’s well-meaning and liberal form teacher Hedges (John Alderton) has his work cut out convincing senior teaching staff, head teacher Mr. Cromwell (Noel Howlett) and Deputy Doris Ewell (Joan Sanderson) that his form won’t cock around too much in rural Woodbridge. A planned year group trip to the Woodbridge Rural Centre is approaching and the kids are keen to go, to the extent where they’ll fake parental signatures to secure a seat on a Jack Crump coach but the problem is, as regular watchers of the series know, they’re right little ‘erberts and the question remains, can they be trusted?
Hedges, (or ‘chief’) whose crowd control solely consists of shouting quite a lot, falls in love on the trip with a woman who gives the young black kid (none other than Brinsley Forde, soon-to-be lead singer in the reggae group Aswad) in the class a lift after he tells her Hedges has thrown him off the coach for being black. Hedges has yet more work cut out convincing her that he’s no racist, but eventually she sees him for the sweetie he is. Religion and Hedges obsessed Maureen (Liz Gebhardt) isn’t too pleased meanwhile but Maureen in turn is the object of lust by a young gypsy kid they befriend, credibly called, erm, Nobbler.
The pleasure in watching the film comes with innocent sneaking-out-of-the-room-after-dark japes and genial piss-taking about other classmate’s attempts at creativity. During an outdoor art lesson: ‘Hur hur, double cubist that is mate!’ And in an al fresco ballet class: ‘Oh look, ‘ere comes the Bolshy Ballet’… and all to the soundtrack of Cilla’s La La La Lu.See post
Now that Kim Cattrall’s fully ensconced as an international taboo-breaking doyenne of sophisticated comedy, what better time to show this? Apparently that bloke who made the funny noises was originally a shoo-in for the role of Niles in Frasier. “Look Niles, this is utterly preposterous! How can you possibly deign to lecture me on the state of my relationships when you and Maris haven’t so much as spoken to each other since that Gore Vidal evening at the Tennenbaums’?” “Prrrrrkkkp! Frrrrit! Pyoyyyng! Awoowoowoowoowoo!”