January 2, 2017

Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957)

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Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957) is in many ways a ground-breaking film for British cinema in the 1950s. It deals with themes which prefigure the New Wave movement of the following decade, which made big stars out of the likes of Albert Finney, Richard Harris and Tom Courtenay among others; yet unlike the majority of these it is set in London rather than the North or Midlands, and features women as characters who, ultimately, prove strong and acquire self-knowledge. Leading lady Yvonne Mitchell, … [Read more...]

Went the Day Well? (1942)

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� �Went the day well? We died and never knew; But well or ill, England, we died for you.� This quote from John Maxwell Edmond�s epitaph appears at the beginning of Went the Day Well?, accompanying images of the peaceful, idyllic Buckinghamshire countryside as we assume the point of view of a vehicle travelling towards the small village of Bramley End. Our journey comes to a halt at the churchyard, where we are greeted by the affable figure of sexton Charles Sims (Mervyn Johns) who doffs his … [Read more...]

Spring and Port Wine (1970)

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Spring and Port Wine (1970) is a film which can be viewed on several levels. It speaks volumes about the changes in British society occurring during the sixties, and in ways which are much more real than in some of the �Swinging London� films of the same era. Although set in Bolton, it is not a gritty realist work in the mould of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning or This Sporting Life. It can be seen as a family-based comedy, and it certainly contains elements of that; the presence of Likely Lads … [Read more...]

Gainsborough Melodramas: A Unique Phenomenon

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The films known as the Gainsborough Melodramas are generally taken to be the series of costume dramas, based on popular novels, beginning with The Man in Grey (1943) and ending with Jassy (1947). Typically these are characterised as high-flown, unbelievable and formulaic, although they have a more respectable reputation amongst students of film history. They still receive the occasional airing on television, but are not generally as well-known as other landmarks of British cinema � notably the … [Read more...]