January 2, 2017

The Crown Film Unit at War

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Commuters picking their way through rubble-strewn streets; an upended double-decker bus; a woman sweeping bomb debris from her doorstep. These indelible images of the Blitz were captured in 1940 by the newly-formed Crown Film Unit (CFU). Contained in the short film London Can Take It! they helped to convey the �blitz spirit�, and showed audiences in the United States that Britain was far from beaten. It was a very successful start for the CFU, and one that they would repeat and build on … [Read more...]

Lost (1956)

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The first thing that occurs to the viewer when watching this classic thriller is how certain similarities between the events of its plot and a more recent, high-profile British news story concerning a missing child may have been the reason you haven't seen it on the small screen often in the last seven or so years. Let's face it, when I myself was a child, it was on fairly regularly: but then again, so were a lot of things that they can't be bothered to show these days. On closer viewing, … [Read more...]

Let George Do It! (1940)

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What do you get when you combine George Formby, Nazi spies, missing British merchant ships, and good old fashioned patriotism? You get a fun comedy-Britnoir film titled �Let George Do It!� The well known ukulele player from the 1940's takes on Adolf Hitler in what is possibly his best film and showcases his musical in addition to his natural comedic talent. Directed by Marcel Varnel, George animatedly transforms from his naturally shy persona into the courageous hero his mother would be proud … [Read more...]

Requiem for a Village (1975)

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OO AAR, OO AAR, OO AAR... I be from the countryzoide. Actually, I bain't, I'm from Leyton, E10, via Ilford, Birmingham, Glasgow, and various other parts of North and South London...but you have to start these reviews with an eye-catching line, and, like many of my contemporaries, I do still have a hankering, at least from an observer's perspective (I tried living outside major cities twice and failed on both occasions), for rurality and bucolic life, which is why I eagerly awaited the release of … [Read more...]

Lunch Hour (1961)

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If monochrome British cinema of the mid 50s to early 60s is the hidden 'holy grail' of our cultural heritage, then Lunch Hour, a film which literally defies categorisation, is the diamond of untraceable origin somewhere to the rear of the stem, and James Hill (a man of impeccable pedigree whose contributions are still largely unrecognised) its architect. Listed in some reference texts as a comedy, in others as drama, it is both and neither, and stands, for me personally, as one of the earliest … [Read more...]

I See a Dark Stranger (1946)

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One of the Britnoir films of the late 1940's, �I See a Dark Stranger� is one of intrigue, espionage, feminism, and romance the main character of the film, portrayed by Deborah Kerr, finds herself involved with but feels she could have done without the romance part. As Bridie Quilty, she is able to successfully communicate the plot from her view, sometimes through the power of thought alone. Ireland was no longer under the republican commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell when Bridie Quilty decides … [Read more...]

The Medusa Touch (1978)

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�I am the man with the power to create catastrophe�..� Some people will never understand true greatness, even though they think they do. Self-appointed arbiters, tastemakers and naysayers (all of whom believe their word should be taken as gospel) are everywhere- particularly in the field of cinematic criticism-and probably have been since day one. Two of the things they love to sneer at, for some obscure reason best-known only to them, are British films and horror films: put them together to … [Read more...]