Archive F

The Face at the Window (1939)

Paris, 1880. There's a killer on the loose, stabbing his victims in the back. Who can it be? Tod Slaughter, of course! With George King directing as well as producing and non-actress Marjorie Taylor along for the ride this is a bad-film buff's treat.

Script adapt.: A.R. Rawlinson, Randall Faye (o.a. F. Brooke Warren)

Director: George King

Players: John Warwick, Leonard Henry, Aubrey Mallalieu, Robert Adair, Wallace Evennett, Kay Lewis, Margaret Yarde, Harry Terry, Billy Shine

The Fairy of the Phone (1936) Available in the We Live in Two Worlds DVD set

The Fairy of the Phone tries to teach us telephone manners with the help of the all-singing girls from the telephone exchange.

A daft slice of 30s whimsy that still charms.

Director: William Coldstream

Players: Charlotte Leigh

The Fallen Idol (1948)

Bobby Henrey is the ambassador's son who looks up to the butler Baines (Ralph Richardson). When the horrible Mrs Baines (Sonia Dresdel) accidentally falls down stairs, the lad tries to protect his friend.

Carol Reed's version of a Graham Greene short story is completely enthralling.   

Script adapt.: (o.a.) Graham Greene, Lesley Storm, William Templeton

Director: Carol Reed

Players: Michele Morgan, Denis O'Day, Jack Hawkins, Dora Bryan, Walter Fitzgerald, Bernard Lee, Karel Stepanek, James Hayter, Hay Petrie, Torin Thatcher, George Woodbridge, Dandy Nichols

Fame is the Spur (1947)

Michael Redgrave plays a politician who sells out all his ideals in this thinly disguised portrait of Ramsey MacDonald. Well-made film and it's fascinating to see just how painful the wounds left by MacDonald still were in the forties.

Still from Fame is the Spur

Script adapt.: Nigel Balchin. (o.a. Howard Spring)

Director: Roy Boulting

Players: Rosamund John, Bernard Miles, Carla Lehmann, Hugh Burden, Marjorie Fielding, Seymore Hicks, David Tomlinson, Wylie Watson, Kenneth Griffith, Honor Blackman

Family Portrait (1950) Available on the Land of Promise DVD set

Humphrey Jennings' last film was commissioned for the Festival of Britain and is an optimistic look at the contribution Britain made over the previous 100 years.

Director: Humphrey Jennings

Fanny by Gaslight (1944)

Poor old Phyllis Calvert is the Victorian bastard suffering at the hands of evil James Mason and awaiting rescue from a fate worse than death by Stewart Granger. One of the best Gainsborough melodramas and a big smash hit of its day.

Script adapt.: Doreen Montgomery, Aimee Stuart. (o.a. Michael Sadleir)

Director: Anthony Asquith

Players: Wilfrid Lawson, Margaretta Scott, Jean Kent, John Laurie, Stuart Lindsell, Nora Swinburne, Amy Veness, Ann Wilton, Helen Haye, Cathleen Nesbitt, Ann Stephens, Peter Jones

Farewell Again (1937)

On a voyage back to England after five years in India, a regiment learns it will only have 6 hours in Southampton before being sent to the Near East.

Farewell Again is virtually forgotten now, but in its day it did decent business and the plot resonated enough with audiences for it to be reissued twice during the war years. It's a handsome production as one would expect from London films and producer Erich Pommer. It's perhaps a little low on star power but a multi-strand story like this would be unlikely to attract major stars.

The stories are fairly predictable. The colonel's wife, Flora Robson, is unable to tell her husband she's got a major illness and will probably have to remain in England; Sebastian Shaw falls for a nurse though he has a girlfriend waiting at home for him; Robert Newton works himself up into a state convinced his girl back home is cheating on him; etc. The only major surprise is Maire O'Neil's pregnancy and that's only because she was in her 50s then and looked considerably older. These stories follow the familiar path of upper class dramas get treated seriously, lower class ones get played for laughs - apart from the downright creepy Robert Newton one - but they are all given their due.

It's interesting to contrast Farewell Again with similar post-war films featuring returning soldiers. The main difference here is of course an absence of danger. The troops have seen enough action for some of them to have obtained medals but there's no sense that they have been part of a struggle of historical proportions and, of course, no one at home has had to face the Blitz. Perhaps the most startling scene here is the one in which they receive a telegram from the King thanking them for their service. Somewhere during the war the emphasis shifted from King and Empire to England and building a better future. This scene is very much tied to the 1930s.

Another aspect that's dated is the sexual politics depicted in the Robert Newton scenes. He attempts to murder his girlfriend René Ray and is only prevented from doing so by having the knife he's raised grappled from his grasp by a last moment intervention by his commanding officer. Rene's response? Basically: he tried to kill me so he must really love me. It's a cheerful "I can well wait now that I know what'll happen to me if I don't".

Despite this, Farewell Again still entertains and is well worth seeking out.

Script: Clemence Dane, Patrick Kirwan

Director: Tim Whelan

PlayersFlora Robson, Leslie Banks, Patricia Hilliard, Sebastian Shaw, René Ray, Anthony Bushell, Robert Newton, Edward Lexy, Leonora Corbett, Wally Patch, Eliot Makeham, Robert Cochran, Edmund Willard, Alf Goddard, Jerry Verno, Martita Hunt, Maire O'Neil, John Laurie, David Horne, JJ Roberts, Margaret Moffatt, Gertrude Musgrove, Billy Shine, Edie Martin, Phil Ray, Janet Burwell

Farewell Topsails (1937) Available on the Land of Promise DVD set

The dying days of the age of sail as shown by the ships transporting china clay.

Nostalgic documentary short only notable for its director and for being filmed in Dufaycolour.

Director: Humphrey Jennings

The Farmer's Wife (1928)

Widower James Thomas has a few disastrous attempts to find a new wife before he realises his housekeeper, Lillian Hall-Davis, is the woman for him. A rare attempt at a comedy by Hitchcock is blessed by some good performances, particularly from Gordon Harker.

Script adapt.: Alfred Hitchcock. (o.a. Eden Philpotts)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Players: Maud Gill, Louise Pounds, Olga Slade, Antonia Brough

Father Brown (1954)

Priest turns detective to recover a stolen cross - and to rescue the soul of the thief.

Chesterton's great detective is brought to life by Alec Guinness in a handsome production.

Script adapt.: Thelma Schnee, Robert Hamer. (o.a. G.K. Chesterton)

Director: Robert Hamer

Players: Peter Finch, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Bernard Lee, Sidney James, Gerard Oury, Ernest Thesiger, Ernest Clark, Everley Gregg, Austin Trevor, Marne Maitland, Eugene Deckers, Jim Gerald, Noel Howlett, John Salew, John Horsley, Launce Marschal, Daniel Clerice, Guido Lorraine, Sam Kydd, Hugh Dempster, Betty Baskcomb, Jak McNaughton, Diana von Prosody, Dino Galvani

Feather Your Nest (1937)

Clumsy record company employee drops a new recording and substitutes his own.

Not Formby at his best, but he does do Leaning on a Lamppost.

Script: Austin Melford, Robert Edmunds, Anthony Kimmins

Director: William Beaudine

Players: Polly Ward, Enid Stamp-Taylor, Davy Burnaby, Moore Marriott, Val Rosing, Jack Barty, Clifford Heatherley, Frederick Burtwell, Ethel Coleridge, Jimmy Godden, Syd Crossley, Frank Perfitt, Frederick Piper, Mike Johnson, The Three R-Rhythm Sisters

The Feminine Touch (1956)

The story of five women as they train to be nurses. They are played by Belinda Lee, Delphi Lawrence, Adrienne Corri, Henryetta Edwards and Barbara Archer. Predictable stuff, and most eyes will be on hunky young doctor George Baker or seen-it-all-before matron Diana Wynyard (in her last British film). 

It's a very fifties product, though it does acknowledge that people might actually shit and puke in hospitals. It also acknowledges that nurses might actually have sex before marriage, though the one who does turns out have gone through the ceremony in secret first. There are some stirrings of feminism among the women and at the end it looks like they might have got rid of the rule preventing married women continuing their training (although to do this they first have to sit through a lengthy homily from Diana Wynyard about how they might be of more use looking after their doctor husbands).

Still from The Feminine Touch

Script adapt.: Ian McCormick. (o.a. Sheila Mackay Russell)

Director: Pat Jackson

Players: Christopher Rhodes, Joan Haythorne, Dandy Nichols, Mandy Miller

Ferry to Hong Kong (1958)

Orson Welles is the captain of a ferry, Curt Jurgens is the drunk who won't get off the boat. Even Sylvia Syms can't save this one.

Still from Ferry to Hong Kong

Script adapt.: Vernon Harris, Lewis Gilbert (o.a. Max Catto)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Players: Jeremy Spenser, Noel Purcell, Margaret Withers

Fiddlers Three (1944)

Two sailors and a Wren are transported back to ancient Rome by a freak lightning strike.

Jolly nonsense with some decent musical numbers, Tommy Trinder dragging up as Carmen Miranda, and Francis L Sullivan hamming it up delightfully as Nero.

Script: Harry Watt, Diana Morgan, Angus Macphail

Director: Harry Watt

Players: Tommy Trinder, Sonnie Hale, Diana Decker, Frances Day, Francis L Sullivan, Elisabeth Welsh, Mary Clare, Ernest Milton, Frederick Piper, Robert Wyndham, Russell Thorndyke, Alec mango, Danny Green, James Robertson Justice, Kay Kendall, Frank Tickle

Fiend without a Face (1958)

Something is stalking a military base in Canada and sucking its victims' brains out.

Yes, it's the one with the killer brains, moving about with a lash of the spinal column. The first half is dull, but once those brains appear the grisly special effects make this truly memorable.

US Poster for Fiend Without a Face

Script adapt.: Herbert J. Leder. (o.a. Amelia Reynolds Long)

Director: Arthur Crabtree

Players: Marshall Thompson, Kim Parker, Terence Kilburn, Kynaston Reeves, Stanley Maxted, James Dyrenforth

Fighting Mad (1956)

After killing someone in the ring for a second time, a boxer decides to quit the fight game and emigrate to Canada to join his uncle. But uncle has discovered oil and people are prepared to kill to get their hands on his claim.

In essence, this is the sort of low, low budget Western Hollywood's Poverty Row churned out in the 30s. Joe Robinson is decorative but he's no actor and fails to make this film seem anything other than a cheap was of screen time.

Script: Jennifer Wyatt

Director: Denis Kavanagh

Players: Joe Robinson, Adrienne Scott, Jack Taylor, Beckett Bould, Colin Cleminson

Final Appointment (1954)

A reporter uncovers a series of killings linked to an old court-martial.

Comedy/thriller that's just a cut above the usual B-movie dross mainly thanks to Eleanor Summerfield making the most of what she's given to do.

Script: Kenneth R. Hayes

Director: Terence Fisher

Players: John Bentley, Eleanor Summerfield, Hubert Gregg, Liam Redmond, Jean Lodge, Meredith Edwards, Sam Kydd, Charles Farrell, Peter Bathurst

The Final Test (1953)

Jack Warner is the old cricket star playing in his last test match, Ray Jackson is his son who has no interest in the game. For fans of the game the real interest lies in the presence of old heroes like Len Hutton, Denis Compton and Alec Bedser.

Script adapt.: (o.a.) Terence Rattigan

Director: Anthony Asquith

Players: Robert Morley, Brenda Bruce, George Relph, Valentine Dyall, Richard Wattis

Fire Down Below (1957)

Partners in a small boat working the Caribbean islands fall out when they both fall for the mysterious woman they agree to transport.

Hard to believe you can take Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitcham and Jack Lemmon to fabulous Caribbean locations and come back with such a dull movie.

Script adapt.: Irwin Shaw. (o.a. Mat Catto)

Director: Ronald Parrish

Players: Herbert Lom, Bernard Lee, Bonar Colleano, Edric Connor, Anthony Newley, Peter Illing, Joan Miller, Eric Pohlmann, Lionel Murton, Maya Koumani, Murray Kash, Vivian Matalan, Gordon Tanner, Maurice Kaufman, Philip Bond, Keith Banks 

A Fire Has Been Arranged (1935)

Flanagan and Allen are the crooks who come out of prison to find their loot stash is under a new department store. Fun comedy with Robb Wilton stealing every scene he's in.

Script: H. Fowler Mead, Michael Barringer

Director: Leslie Hiscott

Players: Mary Lawson, Harold French, C. Denier Warren, Alastair Sim, Hal Walters, The Buddy Bradley Girls

Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956)

Astronauts land on a moon of Jupiter. They find a place almost exclusively populated by glamorous women - refugees from Atlantis.

This is the stuff that legends are made of - as bad a film as a film can get. With its carefree attitude to science and medieval attitude to gender politics it's everything a bad-film buff could ask for. Plus it has one of cinema's least frightening monsters, and one of those blissfully unerotic dance sequences where nicely brought up English gals try to whip themselves up into a sexual frenzy worshiping some old God or other. A laugh a minute.

Script: Cy Roth

Director: Cy Roth

Players: Anthony Dexter, Susan Shaw, Harry Fowler, Owen Barry, Paul Carpenter, Sydney Tafler, Rodney Diak, Jacqueline Curtis

Fire Over England (1936)

Elizabethan swashbuckling in the run up to the Armada invasion.

Rousing period fun now most notable for the first teaming of Olivier and Leigh

Script: Clemence Dane, Sergei Nollbandov. (o.a. A.E.W. Mason)

Director: William K Howard

Players: Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Flora Robson, Raymond Massey, Leslie Banks, Tamara Desni, Morton Selten, Lyn Harding, James Mason, Herbert Lomas, George Thirlwell, Henry Oscar, Robert Newton, Donald Calthrop, Robert Rendell, Howard Douglas, Charles Carson, Lawrence Hanray, Roy Russell, Howard Doublas, Cecil Mainwaring, Francis de Wolff, Graham Chesewright, A Corney Grain, Evelyn Ankers 

The Fire Raisers (1933)

Leslie Banks is the insurance investigator lured into joining a gang of arsonists.

Still from The Fire Raisers

Script: Jerome Jackson, Michael Powell

Director: Michael Powell

Players: Anne Grey, Carol Goodner, Frank Cellier, Francis L. Sullivan, Joyce Kirby, Laurence Anderson, Henry Caine, George Merritt

Fires Were Started (1943)

Classic docu-drama about firemen in the blitz. It has its faults -  what pioneering work doesn't - but once you get past some of the amateur actors you get one of the most stunning glimpses into our past ever put on film. 

Director: Humphrey Jennings

Players: Commanding Officer George Gravett, Leading Fireman Philip Wilson-Dickson, Leading Fireman Fred Griffiths, Leading Fireman Loris Rey, fireman Johnny Houghton, Fireman T.P. Smith, Fireman John Barker, Fireman William Sansom, Assistant Group Officer Green, Firewoman Betty Martin, Firewoman Eileen White

First a Girl (1935)

Jessie Matthews stars in this version of the Victor/Victoria story as a woman pretending to be a female impersonator. Director Victor Saville brings out the best in Matthews and creates one of the classiest British musicals. It also features an excellent performance by Sonnie Hale as the old Drag Queen.

Still from First a Girl

Script adapt.: Marjorie Gaffney. (o.a. Rheinhold Schunzel)

Director: Victor Saville

Players: Griffith Jones, Anna Lee, Alfred Drayton, Constance Goodridge, Martita Hunt, Eddie Gray, Donald Stewart

The First Born (1928)

A lord's wife passes off an adopted child as her own, but her husband comes to believe it was fathered by her lover.

Writer Miles Mander is far too fond of credulity-stretching coincidences, star Michael Mander overdoes the upper-class-cad shtick, but director Miles Mander lifts the material above the level of the trite society melodrama it should be.

Script adapt.: (o.a.) Miles Mander, Alma Reville, Ian Dalrymple

Director: Miles Mander

Players: Madeleine Carroll, John Loder, Ella Atherton, Margot Armand, Ivo Dawson, Marjorie Roach, John St. John, Naomi Jacob, Bernard Vaughan, Walter Wichelow, Theodore Mander

The First of the Few (1942)

Stirring wartime tribute to the man who invented the Spitfire. With Leslie Howard directing, producing and starring this could easily have turned into a vanity project, but Howard manages to create a memorable film. This is the last film he appeared in before his death.

Script: Anatole de Grunwald

Director: Leslie Howard

Players: David Niven, Rosamund John, Roland Culver, Anne Firth, David Horne, J.H. Roberts, Filippo del Guidice, Derrick de Marney, Rosalyn Boulter, Tonie Edgar Bruce, Gordon McLeod, Erik Freund, Brefni O'Rorke, Bernard Miles, Miles Malleson, Gerry Wilmott, Patricia Medina, Herbert Cameron, George Skillan, F.R. Wendhausen, John Chandos, Victor Beaumont, Suzanne Clair, Robert Beatty, Jack Peach