January 2, 2017

Night Train to Murder (1983)

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So, another year passes. Which means only one thing- the seasonal Britmovie double-whammy is upon me, and, charged with the unenviable task of reviewing two suitably Yulesque flicks for the site, I find myself once again asking �what exactly constitutes a Christmas film?� It�s a fair question�.. Does it have to be set at Christmas? No. Does it have to be something regularly shown on TV during that season? Possibly. But most of all, does it have to have some kind of innate warmth, something … [Read more...]

Crime Over London (1936)

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"Listen Jim, our job is to behave ourselves like perfect little gentlemen." So says Joker Finnegan (Basil Sydney), ringleader of a Chicago gang who decides to take a break from the underworld with his cohorts in London, England in �Crime Over London.� London seems like the perfect place to get away from it all, being in a country that is seemingly� �too normal and too healthy minded� according to one of the gangsters. Yet as peaceful as London appears, there is also the opportunity to pull … [Read more...]

The Ruling Class (1972)

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This isn�t going to be easy. You see, I realised the other day, after having watched this film for the umpteenth time, that whilst it remains not only my all-time favourite British movie but my favourite flick per se, I had never thought before of reviewing it for this site. Strange, possibly, when you put it like that, but at the same time understandable, as we journo types are supposed to approach these things from a certain degree of unbiased objectivity (or so they keep telling us) … [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...]

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

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"Sherlock Holmes' Most Terrifying Adventure!" I have always found it somewhat ironic that in his most famous case, Sherlock Holmes is largely absent from The Hound of the Baskervilles. However, despite the enduring popularity of the world's greatest consulting detective, I would argue that the story owes much of its standing to the "horror" elements of the plot and that it is the Hound, rather than Holmes, that features as the main attraction for many readers or viewers. Indeed, if we assume … [Read more...]

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...]