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La ragazza con la pistola (1968)
Not bad comedy/drama
After looking for a long time I was finally able to get a decent VHS copy of this movie which I had never seen.For me it completes my collection of all of Stanley Baker's theatrical movies.
Sicilian Monica Vitti is "wronged" by her boyfriend who then decamps from her to London.Monica gets a pistol and pursues him with revenge on her mind.
The movie is then a series of encounters with various characters who help her find then lose then find the debaucher.Stanley Baker, who turns up about halfway through the movie as a surgeon is her last connection. The denouement is a little twisty and provides a satisfactory ending.
This is an odd film in which to find Baker. He was a major star but he probably just did it for the money if he wasn't being offered more substantial roles. As a point of interest, the first full length biography of Baker is up for preorder at Amazon UK.
Never Look Back (1952)
So so courtroom drama
I was recently able to buy this obscurity online being always on the lookout for minor British movies, particularly of the fifties.
Rosamund John has recently been given silk which means in British legal jargon she is now a more senior barrister and entitled to add KC (King's Council) to her name. It would be QC nowadays.This is quite an honor for any lawyer.
At a celebratory party, her long time admirer Hugh Sinclair proposes yet again only to be rejected in favor of her career; shocking stuff for the early sixties. He takes her home still pleading his case but eventually leaves.
She starts playing some nostalgic music and lo and behold she hears piano music which she soon finds out is being played by an old flame who is returning his front door key. His current girlfriend has thrown him out so she allows him to stay the night on the sofa.He leaves the next morning.
He finds that his girlfriend has been murdered and he is the prime suspect so eventually the new KC agrees to defend him without telling anyone he spent the night with her-platonically.
At the trial her current suitor is the prosecutor.It's a fairly familiar story after that but at least it's a cast of pros who lend credibility to the movie. Worth watching if you get a chance to see it.
Man Accused (1959)
The Danziger Brothers were a much maligned production group making what used to be called Quota Quickies. Not all of their films were that bad and this is one of the better ones.
The movie opens with the engagement party of a rich,just coming of age, heiress to an engineer who is a bit of a stranger in town.Also attending the party is the old family lawyer who brings along a friend, an insurance investigator.
The insurance guy recognises the groom to be as a notorious jewel thief who operated in Latin America. And yes, the bride will be inheriting some fabulous jewels and the groom to be did indeed work in Latin America.
From then on the production is not particularly original but certainly entertaining enough to keep you occcupied for the hour or so the movie lasts.
The Trojan Brothers (1946)
Although I can't be absolutely certain, I'd bet the farm that this is the only movie whose plot evolves because of the break up of a pantomime horse.
The guy in the front of the horse and the guy in the rear end have a major disagreement over fronts relationship with a married woman and rears wife, who has just discovered she is pregnant, makes matters worse.
There are accusations and counter accusations of murder and madness and the whole business moves along at a lively clip.
It is not a complete waste of time and it is nice to see a young Barbara Mullen later of Dr. Finlay fame.
Pepita Jiménez (1975)
Old story, different setting
Stanley Baker plays a rich Spanish land owner in what is about turn of century (1900) Andalucia. He has a relationship with the title character played by Sarah Miles which has not quite reached the engagement stage.
He decides to ask his son to visit. His son is in a seminary just about to become a priest. Baker want's to consult his son about the lady.
One hardly needs to give a spoiler warning since anyone watching the beginning of the movie will see a story that has been filmed many times before with pretty obvious developments to come. The film is never boring, sticks in a couple of dream sequences and rolls on to it's not wholly unexpected conclusion.
The version I saw was on a deleted Canadian tape and ran 88 mins.
Headless Horseman (2007)
They don't get much worse than this.
This, broadcast last weekend was the latest entry in the SciFi channels efforts to make the worst movies of all time. When I am watching a movie like this I'm perfectly able to suspend my belief in the "Real World" and accept the premises of the film. What I can't accept is, within the aforementioned premises, the complete abandonment of normalish standards of behaviour. That's the problem here. The story is an old one and has been told before. In this case a group of kids end up in a mysterious village and the malevolent townspeople don't intend letting them leave. I don't know any of the cast but if normally playing idiots is their thing, they succeed here.All sorts of glaringly obvious escapes are just ignored and stupidity rules the day. Only watch this if you have recorded it so you can liberally use the FF button.
The Key Man (1957)
Not a complete waste of time
Growing up in England in the fifties, this type of film seemed to show up every week on a provincial double bill. Lee Patterson seemed to be in lots of them; Danziger piccies I called them although the brothers did not produce this particular item.
Patterson plays a radio crime reporter looking into who has the loot from an old robbery. One of the robbers has just been released from prison and assorted bad guys are trying to find where he stashed the proceeds.The picture moves along at a decent clip and there is one pretty good car chase. Not inspirational but not a waste of time.
The movie is not available on DVD but Nostalgia Family Video have a good quality VHS version.
Child in the House (1956)
Nice little drama
This is an entertaining little drama, the child in the house being Mandy Miller of "Mandy" fame.
Mandy, playing a child by the name of Elizabeth, has been left with childless relatives while her mother is hospitalised. Her father, Stanley Baker is separated from the mother and is a character of shady background.He makes contact with his daughter who adores him but swears her to secrecy about the contact. Once again he is involved in another shady deal and indeed the police are looking for him.
The movie revolves around the loyalty of the little girl,the dislike of the lady of the house for kids and Baker, and the sympathetic man of the house character.
The movie is available on VHS and is well worth a look.
50's British B picture
I got this movie because it was one of three Honor Blackman movies that I did not own. It's just been released as an R2 DVD, part of a series called "The Best of British Collection". The disc rated U runs 71 minutes and is of course PAL format.The quality of the print is excellent.
The movie is about the search for a formula to combat metal fatigue, an important issue at the time following the Comet disasters. It's not particularly good with a couple of so so car chases and contrived fights. I'd rent it rather than buy it.
Honor Blackman has smallish part, Freddie Mills is a friend of the hero and Michael Balfour, who seems to pop up in bits in just about every British movie of the period has his longest part that I have ever seen as the lovable, dumb factotum of the hero Tom Conway.
Not much here even as historical interest.
To Have and to Hold (1951)
Old school drama
By old school drama I mean this is the sort of British upper class movie that does not get made anymore, but it does nevertheless represent an era.
It was made by Hammer, Jimmy Sangster has a credit as an assistant director.
It concerns a progressive, aristocratic farmer who, with his wife, run a large estate. He has (the usual) hangers on sister and brother-in-law who convinces him to ride a skittish horse whence he falls and is subsequently paralysed.
A cattle buying friend from the Argentine of similar views is staying with him and having a chaste affair with his wife. They decide they will tell him then the accident happens.
The rest of this short movie is not the usual run of the mill stuff and is well worth the time spent watching it.
The opening credits announce "introducing Eunice Gayson" although this was not her first movie, much more famous from her James Bond role.She sings a song in a nice soprano, if it is actually her.
A Prize of Arms (1962)
Good thriller with some nice twists.
I was surprised that this film has not yet been reviewed here since it stars a major British talent, the late Sir Stanley Baker.
The film is set against a background of a Suez type military action. The main protagonists including Tom Bell of later Prime Suspect fame, decide this would be a perfect time to rob an army camp where there is lots of cash for the deployment and an overall atmosphere of confusion.
The plan is well thought out and feasible but, inevitably small things start to go wrong. The film is quite gripping and the whole business is resolved in a more than competent fashion.
The screenplay of the movie was co-written by Nicholas Roeg. The version I watched, a PAL disc viewed NTSC ran 102 minutes.
The Jack of Diamonds (1949)
Passable little drama.
A couple, Cyril Raymond and Joan Carroll are down on their luck and decide to try and make some money by chartering their last remaining asset, a yacht.
They are approached by Nigel Patrick (who also co-wrote the screenplay his only such endeavor) who wishes to hire the boat to search for treasure.
It seems that when evacuating Belgium when it was being occupied in 1940 he had been entrusted with taking a family's jewels to safekeeping until the war was over.His boat was sunk with the jewels but he was able to get an accurate bearing before escaping.
From then on there are some twists and turns which keep the movie interesting until it's conclusion.
The whole of the movie is filmed on location which adds to the authenticity. The tape I watched ran 65mins.
Lilli Marlene (1950)
Not a very interesting movie.
I had been looking for this somewhat obscure little movie because it is an early film of Stanley Baker.
The picture is set in North Africa before El Alamein when the British and German armies moved backwards and forwards across the same territory on several occasions. The story is partially narrated by an American radio man who keeps the story moving.
Stanley Baker has a small part playing a Welshman....surprise! Anyway when the Germans retake the "pub" in which so much of the action takes place they find on interrogating the staff that the daughter of the house is called Lilly Marlene and is none other than the original on whom the song is based.
This seems like a big coup for the Nazis until they find she is a very patriotic Frenchwoman who refuses to sing the song in German until her parents are threatened.
Well the Brits retake the place and Lilly is momentarily saved but there are still hidden dangers. The movie unspools in a predictable fashion and before the end we are treated to a couple of Vera Lynn songs (not sung by her).
The movie is available on an NTSC VHS.
An odd film
This is definitely a rather peculiar film. It concerns the crew of a bomber who once a year get together to remind themselves of the good old days and discuss what they have been up to of late.That being said it is obviously a very talky film.Almost the whole of the movie is shot on a single set, the dining room where the crew are to eat and drink.It's a very professionally acted movie as would be expected with the likes of Alfred Burke and Michael Gough. The climax of the movie presents a plot twist which I thought was rather nifty and caught me by surprise. It is the sort of thing Rod Serling delighted in and did very successfully for years. The movie is available as an R1 DVD and is also on VHS.
A product of it's time.
This movie has just been issued on an R4 PAL disc available through Australian retailers so it's nice to see a pristine copy of it at last rather than a very well worn Beta tape. It has come in for some unfair criticism as a racist tract which it isn't at all. The good or bad old Colonial days existed, like it or not, and its just anachronistic to apply todays values to life some 50 years ago.The film makes the Mau Mau out to be the villains, the Hamas of their day,and so thought the settlers. Only the most prescient of them saw independence ahead; this is set several years before McMillan's Winds of Change speech. Rank stalwarts Borgade and McKenna give good performances as lovers and besieged farmers and Donald Sinden looks great as the local police chief. View it for what it is. We can't erase history, good or bad, like we can airbrush cigarettes from old photos.
Grand National Night (1953)
More than I expected
This is a nifty little movie that surprised me, having come to it without great expectations. It centers about a racehorse owner and his playgirl type wife who doesn't even like horses. The Grand National for those that don't know is probably the worlds most famous steeplechase type race which is held every year at Aintree near Liverpool.Its a very demanding race bringing great kudos to the winner. The marriage of the principals and the wife storms off to a party on Grand National night and what develops from then on is a more than decent thriller with a couple of slick twists. It has a rather unexpected ending for its time, and is well worth watching if you get the chance.
Typical Ealing wartime morale booster.
This Ealing film about the exploits of Yugoslav partisans fighting the occupying Nazis provides 90minutes or so of harmless entertainment. Filmed, I believe in Wales, where the mountains are not that high it's most notable feature for me is that it is Stanley Baker's first film appearance. 16 years old at the time he plays a schoolboy who aspires to be a guerrilla along with several of his schoolmates. He has a decent amount of screen time and lines. The plot is pretty much standard for this type of film; two brothers one a fighter, the other an apparent (although not to the audience) collaborator.There is sabotage, general mayhem and executions which fit nicely and keep the film moving along apace.Certainly worth watching if you get a chance to see it.