Charles Laughton in one of the few good roles of his later career as the domestic tyrant tamed by his eldest daughter. David Lean gets the best from a cast that includes Brenda de Banzie, John Mills and an impossibly young Prunella Scales.
Script adapt.: David Lean, Norman Spencer, Wynyarde Browne. (o.a. Harold Brighouse)
Director: David Lean
Players: Daphne Anderson, Richard Wattis, Derek Blomfield, Helen Haye, Joseph Tomelty, Jack Howarth, Julien Mitchell, Gibb McLaughlin, John Laurie, Raymond Huntley
If Holiday Camp is mentioned at all in film reference books it is for introducing The Huggett family to us and starting their brief screen career. Yet it was a huge hit in its day and is a valuable record of a long-lost British institution.
Of course, holiday camps still exist but they aren't as central to the British experience as they were in the immediate post-war years; and they certainly aren't the great social melting pots where characters that could be played by Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison could be found holidaying with characters that could be played by Dennis Price and Flora Robson. Writers Sydney and Muriel Box, Peter Rogers and (addit. dialogue) Mabel and Denis Constanduros make the most of the opportunity to produce a cross-section of society.
Everyone, it seems, has a story and anything can happen in this carefree, yet regimented, atmosphere. Spinster Flora Robson meets her long-lost love and helps a young couple get married, Peter Hammond as the Huggett lad gets taken by a couple of card sharks while sister Hazel Court finds romance with Jimmy Hanley.
Most noticeable among this crowd is man-hungry Esma Cannon, largely because, while everyone else is playing for gentle laughs or sympathy, she's going for panto. With her curls and make-up she looks like Albert Steptoe in drag and is way too old and over-the-top to be believable. Yet her death at the hands of serial killer Dennis Price strikes the only real note of tragedy in this otherwise sunny film, and it's sad that her death is regarded as so unimportant by the film-makers that they don't even bother to let her body be discovered.
Through all these dramas run the inevitable camp entertainments: Punch and Judy, callisthenics on the beach, beauty contests, dances. Cheerful Charlie Chester pops in to do his act and Patricia Roc judges the beauty contest. Diana Dors can be spotted doing a wild boogie-woogie dance that's only on screen for about five seconds but shows why she was soon to be Britain's sexiest star.
Some fun is poked at life in the camp (the word prison is used on more than one occasion) but it's largely good-natured. The film makers knew better than to offend their audiences by sneering. The critics didn't, but they don't always get things right. If you're in the mood, Holiday Camp is a feast of nostalgia which might not be a major artistic achievement but rarely puts a foot wrong when it comes to entertainment.
Script: Sydney Box, Muriel Box, Peter Rogers, Mabel Constanduros, Denis Constanduros, Ted Willis
Director: Ken Annakin
Players: Hazel Court, Emrys Jones, Yvonne Owen, Esmond Knight, Jimmy Hanley, Peter Hammond, John Blythe, Dennis Harkin, Beatrice Varley, Jeanette Tregarthen, Susan Shaw, Maurice Denham, Jane Hylton, Jack Raine, Alfie Bass
A family's secrets come out when it gathers for Christmas.
It's a touch too much of a filmed play to hit the heights, but with this cast you can't really go wrong.
Script adapt.: Anatole de Grunwald (o.a. Wynyard Browne)
Director: George More O'Ferrall
Players: Ralph Richardson, Celia Johnson, John Gregson, Margaret Leighton, Denholm Elliott, Hugh Williams, William Hartnell, Robert Flemyng, Margaret Halstan, Maureen Delany, Roland Culver, John Barry, Dandy Nichols
Frank Randle acts as Mr Fixit for a pair of lovers (Nicolette Roeg and Tony Pendrell) in this cut-price musical comedy.
Script: Roney Parsons, Anthony Toner, Frank Randle
Director: John E. Blakeley
Players: H.F. Maltby, Hilda Bailey, Cecil Fredericks, Stan Little, Bunty Meadows
Max Miler and Florence Desmond are rivals on the variety circuit. Things come to a head when he rashly accepts her dare to appear on her home turf: Scotland
Enjoyable comedy which shows its stars' acts at their best.
Script: Roy William Neill, Jack Henley, John Dighton
Director: Roy William Neill
Players: Max Miller, Florence Desmond, Hal Walters, Davina Craig, Gary Marsh, Edmund Willard, Gordon McLeod, Mark Daly, Robert Gall
A disreputable artist causes trouble for everyone around him.
Curious comedy (more wry smile than laugh-out-loud) dominated by its star who got an Oscar nomination for his script.
Script adapt.: Alec Guinness. (o.a. Joyce Cary)
Director: Ronald Neame
Players: Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Renee Houston, Mike Morgan, Robert Coote, Arthur Macrae, Veronica Turleigh, Michael Gough, Reginald Beckwith, Ernest Thesiger, Gillian Vaughan, Richard Caldicot, Richard Leech, Elton Olivierre, May Hallatt, Rose Howlett, Jeremy Judge
The sea wall may have been breached, but mail still has to be delivered to a Norfolk village.
Pat Jackson's first short takes advantage of a topical event to bolster the image of the GPO and its workers. His depiction of ordinary people getting the job done with humour and decency would provide the template for many a war documentary in the years to come.
Director: Pat Jackson
A tourist gets mixed up in spying in pre-war France. It's not much cop, but since it stars James Mason there's plenty for fans.
Script adapt.: John Davenport. (o.a. Eric Ambler)
Director: Victor Hanbury, Lance Comfort, Max Green
Players: Lucie Mannheim, Raymond Lovell, Julien Mitchell, Clare Hamilton, Martin Miller, Herbert Lom, Frederick Valk, Ivor Bernard, Valentine Dyall, Patricia Medina, David Ward, Hella Kurty, Anthony Shaw, Lawrence Hanray, Patricia Hayes, Josef Ulmas, Ernest Ulman, Mike Johnson, Hugo Schuster, Henry T. Russell, John Baker
Peter Ustinov has one of his best roles as the proprietor of a Saharan hotel which changes hands several times during the war. It's now reminiscent of 'Allo 'Allo with its wartime stereotypes and farcical manner. It's a jolly romp.
Script: George H. Brown, Patrick Kirwan
Director: Ken Annakin
Players: Yvonne de Carlo, David Tomlinson, Albert Lieven, Ronald Culver, Bill Owen, Sydney Tafler, Anton Differing
Jerry Verno is the manager of the hotel which was built over the loot a gang of crooks have stashed. The flip-side of A Fire Has Been Arranged is an undercast and poorly-conceived comedy.
Script: Ralph Smart
Director: Michael Powell
Players: Vera Sherbourne, Antony Holles, Edgar Norfolk, Sybil Grove, Philip Morant, Paddy Browne