Archive A

The Abominable Snowman (1957)

An expedition goes in search of the elusive Yeti, but the Yeti doesn't want to be bothered.

Hammer had huge hits with their versions of Nigel Kneale's Quatermass TV series, but couldn't replicate the same success with his play The Creature.

Script adapt.: (o.a.) Nigel Kneale

Director: Val Guest

Players: Peter Cushing, Forrest Tucker, Maureen Connell, Richard Wattis, Robert Brown, Michael Brill, Wolfe Morris, Arnold Marle, Anthony Chinn

Above Us the Waves (1955)

John Mills and a job-lot of stiff-upper-lipped character actors in a midget submarine blowing up German shipping. Well made but just another British war film.

Script adapt.: Robin Estridge. (o.a. C.E.T. Warren, John Benson)

Director: Ralph Thomas

Players: Donald Sinden, John Gregson, James Robertson Justice, Michael Medwin, James Kenney, Lee Patterson, William Russell, Harry Towb, Anthony Newley, Cyril Chamberlain, William Franklyn

The Ace of Spades (1935)

During a by-election, a candidate thinks he accidentally killed the main obstacle to his vote-winning railway scheme - and so does an unknown blackmailer.

Standard-issue posh people melodrama lifted slightly by a witty script and the election background.

Script adapt.: Gerard Fairlie. (o.a. John Crawford)

Director: George Pearson

Players: Michael Hogan, Dorothy Boyd, Jane Car, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Michael Shepley, Felix Aylmer, Sebastian Shaw, Richard Cooper, Bobbie Comber

Adam and Evelyne (1949)

Jean Simmons is the orphan who believes Stewart Granger is her dad. A dubious basis for a romantic comedy but the stars pull it off.

Script: Noel Langley, Lesley Storm, George Barraud, Nicholas Phipps

Director: Harold French

Players: Helen Cherry, Joan Swinstead, Edwin Styles, Raymond Young, Beatrice Varley, Wilfrid Hyde White, Peter Reynolds, Irene Handl, Fred Johnson, Geoffrey Denton, John Forrest, Sally Newson, Jimmy Holland, Keith Falkner, Lionel Grose, Anthony Eustrel, Francis de Wolff, Brenda Hogan, Dora Bryan, Betty Blackler, Joy Harrington, Mona Washbourne, Dino Galvani, Patrick Barr, Johnnie Schofield, Edie Martin

The Admirable Crichton (1957)

When an Edwardian family are shipwrecked on a desert island, only practical butler Kenneth More can keep them from starvation.

Lovely version of the J.M. Barrie play.

Script adapt.: Vernon Harris. (o.a. J.M. Barrie)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Players: Cecil Parker, Sally Ann Howes, Diane Cilento, Martita Hunt, Jack Watling, Peter Graves, Miles Malleson, Eddie Byrne, Gerald Harper, Mercy Haystead, Miranda Connell, Toke Townley, Joan Young, Beth Rogan, Peter Welsh, Ronald Curran, Brenda Hogan, John le Mesurier

The Admiral's Secret (1934)

A gang of Spanish crooks gather to relieve a retired admiral of a jewel he'd nicked from them.

Stage-bound farce that has a few nice moments of business but doesn't add up to much of a film.

Script adapt.: H. Fowler Mear

Director: Guy Newall

Players: Edmund Gwenn, Hope Davey, James Raglan, Aubrey Mather, Edgar Driver, Abraham Sofaer, Dorothy Black, Andrea Malandrinos, D.J. Williams, Agnes Imlay

Adventure in the Hopfields (1954)

After breaking her mother's beloved china dog, a young girl sneaks away with the neighbour's annual trip to the Kent hopfields in order to earn some money to replace it.

One of the CFF's best productions. The story's simple but the nostalgic look at a way of life that was already passing is invaluable. 

Script adapt.: John Cresswell (o.a. Nora Lavin, Molly Thorp)

Director: John Guillermin

Players: Mandy Miller, Malvyn Hayes, Leon Garcia, Hilda Fenemore, Harold Lang, Russell Waters, Mona Washbourne, Molly Osborne, Wallas Eaton, Jane Asher, Edward Judd

The Adventurers (1950)

Jack Hawkins and Dennis Price are part of the group in search of hidden diamonds in a post-Boer War South Africa. But greed and mistrust destroy them. 

This desperately wants to be The Treasure of the Sierra Madre but it doesn't even come close. The extensive location footage might as well have been shot in a Home Counties quarry and Siobhan McKenna is totally wasted as the woman torn between two of the group.

Script: Robert Westerby

Director: David Macdonald

Players: Peter Hammond, Gregoire Aslan, Siobhan McKenna, Bernard Lee, Ronald Adam, Charles Paton, Martin Boddey, Philip Ray, Walter Horsbrugh, Cyril Chamberlain

The Adventures of Jane (1949)

An artist's model is set up to be the innocent dupe of jewel smugglers.

Norman Pett's comic strip Jane ran in the Daily Mirror from 1932 to 1959. It featured the mishaps of a beautiful young lady whose scrapes and adventures frequently resulted in her ending up in her underwear. The strip was at the height of its popularity during the war years and the rumour spread that Jane would finally lose all her garments once the war was over. On VE Day, Pett obliged. His model for Jane, Christabel Leighton-Porter, became a celebrity and did nicely out of personal appearances. She also appeared as Jane in this film.

To call the plot simple-minded would be a complement. Jane, a model who makes personal appearances at theatres throughout the country, is given a bracelet by an admirer. Another admirer takes her out boating, but an accident means they have to be rescued by a cross channel ferry. This is a complicated ruse to replace the fake gems on her bracelet with real gems and evade customs. She is then kidnapped, but manages to tie a note to her pet dog's collar and send him off for help. The gang are rounded up and Jane is reunited with her sweetheart.

Of course, audiences of the day weren't attracted to the film for its plot but for the sight of Miss Leighton-Porter in her underwear and she doesn't disappoint. Whether changing in her dressing room or getting out of a train, somehow she ends up showing off her figure - and a very nice one it is too. Her acting is as basic as the plot and she lacks the spark to make much of her lines, but her authenticity makes up for it. She really does look like the drawings come to life.

The other actors hardly rise to the occasion. Peter Butterworth as a drunk makes an impression but the others sink without trace. As a film, The Adventures of Jane isn't up to much, but as a slice of nostalgia it has a certain awful charm.    

Script: Edward G Whiting, Alfred Goulding

Director: Edward G Whiting, Alfred Goulding

Players: Michael Hogarth, Ian Colin, Stanelli, Wally Patch, Sebastian Cabot, Sonya O'Shea, Sidney Benson, Charles Irwin, George Crawford, Joan Grindley

The Adventures of Quentin Durward (1955)

Rousing version of the Scott novel, with slightly-too-old Robert Taylor surrounded by the cream of British actors to create one of the best swashbuckling films.

Script adapt.: Robert Ardrey, George Froeschel. (o.a. Sir Walter Scott)

Director: Richard Thorpe

Players: Kay Kendall, Robert Morley, Alec Clunes, Ernest Thesiger, Duncan Lamont, George Cole, Marius Goring, Laya Raki, Wilfrid Hyde White, Eric Pohlmann, Michael Goodliffe, Harcourt Williams, Nicholas Hannen, John Carson, Moultrie Kelsall, Frank Tickle, Bill Shine, Arthur Howard

The African Queen (1951)

Classic romantic adventure with Humphrey Bogart as the drunken skipper of a rotting river boat and Katherine Hepburn as the missionary spinster determined to destroy a German gunboat.

Poster for The African Queen

Script adapt.: John Huston, James Agee. (o.a. C.S. Forrester)

Director: John Huston

Players: Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Theodore Bikel, Walter Gotell, Peter Swanswick, Richard Marner, Gerald Onn

Against the Wind (1948)

A bunch of spies are parachuted into war-time Belgium in order to rescue a colleague. But one of them is a traitor. It's got a solid script by T.E.B. Clarke and a great cast which includes Simone Signoret, Jack Warner and Gordon Jackson but director Charles Crichton doesn't pull off a classic.

Script: T.E.B. Clarke, Michael Pertwee, P. Vincent Carroll

Director: Charles Crichton

Players: Robert Beatty, Paul Dupuis, Gisele Preville, John Slater, Peter Illing, James Robertson Justice, Andre Morell, Olaf Olsen

The Agitator (1945)

A rabble-rousing mechanic finds his boss has left the business to him, and discovers it's not so easy being boss.  

Pre-war, Britain's rather prissy censors would immediately reach for the stamp marked "Banned" if ever a script came their way dealing with trades union activity. With the General Strike still fresh in people's memories and industrial relations still fraught, stirring that particular pot seemed unwise, particularly in the cinema which was perceived as being consumed by simple, easily-lead folk. With the coming of the war, attitudes changed with the realisation that an all-in-it-together effort required at least an acknowledgement of past troubles and a promise that things would improve. So scripts previously rejected, such as Love on the Dole, were passed albeit in neutered form.

The Agitator comes towards the end of the war. By now cinema's dominant rhetoric was "Never Again". We weren't going to back to slum housing, low wages and high unemployment. We'd seen off Hitler by all pulling together and we could see off Poverty too. That New Jerusalem was just around the corner and we were going to build it. The Agitator totally ignores all that.

The world of The Agitator is a pre-war/post-war world in which factories are at capacity, bosses are paternalistic and workers only have grievances if an agitator stirs them up. And here the agitator is William Hartnell, nursing a grudge against the boss and too busy griping to be much use as a worker. With his Mussolini-like gestures and spivvy suits it's clear the film is not on his side. It's worth comparing him with Michael Redgrave's character in Fame is the Spur - someone whose righteous anger at working conditions propels him to political action. You can't imagine Redgrave dressing like he's about to sell you some black market nylons.

The problems he faces are the usual ones: workers don't trust him, other bosses won't deal with him, and his loved ones complain he's changed. There's a class element to some of those complaints but it's mostly due to his character that he steers the firm towards ruin. Even his historic grievance turns out to be false.

Hartnell seizes the role and gives it all he's got. He's ably supported by the rest of the cast most memorably by Moore Marriott. Marriott had a great line in portraying old loons for comic effect but here he plays the dementia for real - and it's heartbreaking.

Though The Agitator is pretty predictable, it holds its audience efficiently. And it's certainly worth seeking out as one of those unexpected oddities British cinema throws up once in a while. 

Script adapt.: Edward Dryhurst. (o.a. William Riley)

Director: John Harlow

Players: William Hartnell, Mary Morris, John Laurie, Frederick Leister, Moore Marriott, George Carney, Edward Rigby, Elliot Mason, JH Roberts, Cathleen Nesbitt, Moira Lister

Alf's Button Afloat (1938)

Six brothers are accidentally enlisted in the Marines. The discovery of part of Aladdin's Lamp, forged into a button complete with genie, looks like their route out; but the genie causes more trouble than they can handle.

The Crazy Gang meet Alastair Sim: how can it possibly fail! Add in Britain's top comedy writers and director and you have a little piece of heaven for comedy film fans.

Still from Alf's Button Afloat

Script adapt.: Marriott Edgar, Val Guest. (o.a. W. A. Darlington)

Director: Marcel Varnel

Players: The Crazy Gang (Nervo and Knox, Flanagan and Allen, Naughton and Gold), Glennis Lorimer, Wally Patch, Peter Gawthorne, James Carney, Agnes Laughlin, Bruce Winston, Wilson Coleman, J.H. Roberts, B. John Slater

Alibi (1931)

Austin Trevor is Hercule Poirot investigating The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Interesting for Christie fans, but the novel's great coup can't be reproduced on screen.

Script adapt.: H. Fowler Mead. (o.a. Agatha Christie)

Director: Leslie Hiscott

Players: Elizabeth Allan, Franklin Dyall, J.H. Roberts, John Deverell, Mary Jerrold, Ronald Ward, Mercia Swinburne, Harvey Braban, Clare Greet, Diana Beaumont, Earle Gray

Alive and Kicking (1958)

On the run from an old folks home, Sybil Thorndike, Kathleen Harrison and Estelle Winwood take over some cottages from an absentee landlord (Stanley Holloway) on a remote Irish island. A tad Oirish but fun. Richard Harris' first film role.

Script adapt.: Denis Cannan (o.a. William Dinner, William Morum)

Director: Cyril Frankel

Players: Marjorie Rhodes, Joyce Carey

All for Mary (1955)

Jill Day has the title role and Nigel Patrick and David Tomlinson are her suitors in this minor comedy, notable only for Kathleen Harrison's presence in front of the camera and director Wendy Toye's behind it.

Script adapt.: Paul Soskin, Peter Blackmore, Alan Melville. (o.a. Harold Brock, Kay Bannerman)

Director: Wendy Toye

Players: Leo McKern, Joan Young, Lionel Jeffries, David Hurst, Nicholas Phipps, Paul Hardtmuth, Fabia Drake, Tommy Farr, Shirley Ann Field

All Over the Town (1948)

A man becomes part-owner of a local newspaper and vows to shake things up.

 Dramatically slack, but a pleasant way to spend 90 minutes and an interesting view of post-war middle-class Britain.

Pressbook for All Over the Town

Script adapt.: Derek Twist, Michael Gordon, Inez Holden, Stafford Byrne. (o.a. RF Delderfield)

Director: Derek Twist

Players: Normal Wooland, Sarah Churchill, Cyril Cusack, Fabia Drake, James Hayter, Edward Rigby, Patric Doonan, Eleanor Summerfield, Bryan Forbes, John Salew, Henry Edwards, Sandra Dorne, Frederick Leister, Ronald Adam, Trefor Jones, Anthony Oliver, J Hubert Leslie, Erik Chitty, patrick Macnee, Walter horsbrugh, Lydia Bilbrook, Stanley Baker

An Alligator Named Daisy (1955)

Donald Sinden has to look after an alligator and girlfriend Diana Dors isn't happy about it. Okay musical comedy.

Script adapt.: Jack Davies. (o.a. Charles Terrot)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Players: James Robertson Justice, Margaret Rutherford, Stanley Holloway, Roland Culver, Jean Carson, Stephen Boyd, Avice Landone, Richard Wattis, Henry Kendall, Michael Shepley, Charles Victor, Ernest Thesiger, Wilfrid Lawson, George Moon, Jimmy Edwards, Gilbert Harding, Frankie Howerd, Martin Miller, Colin Freer, Bill Shine, Harry Green, Maurice Kaufman, George Woodbridge, Patrick Cargill, Ronnie Stevens, Don Cameron, Arnold Bell, Charles Carson, Myrette Morven, Joan Young, John Vere

The Alley Cat (1929)

Cockney girl helps clear a composer of murder - and makes his song a West End hit into the bargain.

A fabulous performance from Mabel Poulton keeps the film moving and carries us over the plot holes. 

Script adapt.: Joan Morgan. (o.a.) Anthony Carlisle

Director: Hans Steinhoff

Players: Mabel Poulton, Jack Trevor, Clifford McLaglan, Shayle Gardner, Margit Manstead, Marie Ault

Angels One Five (1952)

John Gregson is the enthusiastic volunteer reserve pilot waiting for his big break but coming up against Jack Hawkins' more careful approach to regulations. It was a popular WWII film in its day but looks nothing special now.

Still from Angels One Five

Script: Derek Twist

Director: George More O'Farrell

Players: Michael Denison, Dulcie Gray, Veronica Hurst, Cyril Raymond, Andrew Osborn, Harold Goodwin, Geoffrey Keen, Harry Locke, Vida Hope, Amy Veness, Russell Hunter, Sam Kydd, Peter Jones, Marianne Stone, Harry Fowler, Victor Maddern

Animal Farm (1954)

Halas and Batchelor do Orwell with Maurice Denham supplying all the animal voices. If they'd hoped to rival Disney then they should have chosen a cheerier subject - even with a softened ending it's still a bit grim for kiddies. It's also aged worse than Disney; although as time goes by, and it looks more and more of a period piece, that's becoming an advantage.

Script adapt.: John Halas, Joy Batchelor, Lothar Wolff, Borden Mace, Philip Stapp. (o.a. George Orwell)

Directors: John Halas, Joy Batchelor

Players: Gordon Heath (narrator), Maurice Denham

Anna Karenina (1948)

Vivien Leigh gets the title role and never looked lovelier. Ralph Richardson gives a great performance as the dull husband. Shame Kieron Moore is a lump as Vronsky, the man for whom Anna sacrifices everything. Shame too that director Julien Duvivier is unable to handle high emotion. Still, it's watchable and has the best production design money can buy.

Script adapt.: Julien Duvivier, Jean Anouilh, Guy Morgan. (o.a. Leo Tolstoy)

Director: Julien Duvivier

Players: Sally Ann Howes, Niall MacGinnis, Martita Hunt, Marie Lohr, Michael Gough, Heather Thatcher, John Longden, Michael Medwin

Another Shore (1948)

In Dublin a skiver dreams of a life on a South Sea island. His plan to get there involves standing on a busy street corner in the hope of rescuing a millionaire in the event of an accident.

Ealing Studios ran for over twenty five years and its major contribution to cinema is the Ealing Comedy. However, the films that are included in the Ealing Comedy category only represent a small proportion of the studio's comedy output and only cover a period of less than ten years. Another Shore's release falls in this period, but is still one of the films that get excluded from the category. Why is this? Maybe because it declares itself to be a tragi-comedy. Maybe because it's set in Ireland. Most likely because it's not very funny.

The lead is taken by Canadian Robert Beatty. He makes a fair stab at an Irish-ish accent, but he's still miscast. He would go on to have a decent career as two-fisted second leads in 50s B movies but the part of a fey dreamer is really beyond him.

Moira Lister plays the woman who disrupts his plan. She's beautiful, rich and unpredictable. Basically she's an early version of a character which is now known as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Lister does her best but she's hampered by a script that gives her little to work on and a collection of some of the most hideous outfits ever inflicted on a star.

Stanley Holloway pops up as the millionaire who's clearly going to be at the heart of the film's resolution. He keeps things chirpy, though his character's an alcoholic which the script can't make funny enough to overcome the distasteful idea. He's joined by a collection of character actors to up the film's quota of Oirish whimsy. Though these sort of characters seem compulsory in any film set in Ireland, this lot aren't too annoying and provide a welcome relief from the plot.

The film's chief interest these days is the location shooting which gives us a rare glimpse of 40s Dublin. It's not notably less drab than Austerity Britain, but at least there's no rationing in evidence so there's plenty of food and booze.

Another Shore is not without its charms, but they are too few to make watching it a rewarding experience. And that's why it's not an Ealing Comedy.

Script adapt.: Walter Meade. (o.a. Kenneth Reddin)

Director: Charles Crichton

Players: Michael Medwin, Maureen Delany, Fred O'Donovan, Sheila Manahan, Desmond Keane, Dermot Kelly, Michael Golden, W.A. Kelley, Wilfrid Brambell, Irene Worth, Bill Shine, Edie Martin, Michael Dolon, Michael O'Mahoney, Madame Kirkwood Hackett 

Anything to Declare? (1938)

An intelligence officer investigates a spy ring on the hunt for an anti-gas formula.

Adequate thriller in its day, but rather faded now. 

Script: Hayter Preston

Director: Redd Davis

Players: John Loder, Belle Chrystall, Leonora Corbett, Jerry Verno, Davina Craig, Eliot Makeham, Noel Madison, Alexander Saarner, Nigel Barrie, Carl Melene, Gordon Hall, Reginald Fox, Melville Crawford