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Jeannie (1941)

Barbara Mullen is Jeannie who is left some money by her father and decides to spend it all on a once in a lifetime trip to Vienna where she finds romance (and Michael Redgrave).

Script adapt.: Anatole de Grunwald, Roland Pertwee. (o.a. Aimee Stuart)

Director: Harold French

Players: Wilfrid Lawson, Kay Hammond, Albert Lieven, Edward Chapman, Googie Withers, Gus McNaughton, Marjorie Fielding, Frank Cellier, Anne Shelton, Esme Percy, Rachel Kempson, Katie Johnson, Ian Fleming

Jericho (1937)

World War One. Paul Robeson is court-martialled following the accidental death of his sergeant. He escapes to North Africa and is followed by Henry Wilcoxon who is determined to bring him back to "justice".  

Script: Frances Marion, George Barraud, Robert N. Lee, Peter Ruric

Director: Thornton Freeland

Players: Wallace Ford, Princess Kouka, John Laurie, George Barraud

The Jest (1921)

A man waits half a lifetime for the return of his errant wife. Then fellow residents at his guest house decide to play a prank.

An episode from Fred Paul's Grand Guignol series.

Script: Norman Ramsey

Director: Fred Paul

Players: Leo Carelli, Margaret Dennistown, George Turner

A Job in a Million (1937) Available in the We Live in Two Worlds DVD set

A young lad gets his first job as a Post Office messenger boy.

At this point in its history, the GPO documentary unit concentrated on films more directly concerned with its business. Thus this is little more than a glorified training film with no pretension to be art. Within those parameters it's a gem, and it tells you far more about life in 30s Britain than most of the classics of the genre. Director Evelyn Spice gets natural performances from the participants and the film gives a fascinating insight into the paternalism of large organisations in the 30s.

Director: Evelyn Spice

Joe Macbeth (1955)

It's the Macbeth plot done with American gangsters. The Yank imports in this film are Paul Douglas and Ruth Roman and are given something worth doing instead of the usual dross Hollywood has-beens get in British films. Roman actually looks better in this film than she does in her Hollywood movies and Lady Macbeth is the part she was born to play. This was never going to be a smash-hit, but it does work in a strange sort of way. Worth a look.

Still from Joe MacbethStill from Joe Macbeth

Script: Philip Yordan

Director: Ken Hughes

Players: Sidney James, Bonar Colleano, Gregoire Aslan, Harry Green, Kay Callard

John and Julie (1955)

Two youngsters run away to see the coronation.

Sweet, charming and instantly nostalgic - this is one of Group 3's most-fondly remembered films.

Still from John and Julie

Script: William Fairchild

Director: William Fairchild

Players: Colin Gibson, Lesley Dudley, Moira Lister, Noele Middleton, Constance Cummins, Megs Jenkins, Sidney James, Peter Sellars, Wilfrid Hyde White, Joseph Tomelty, Patric Doonan, Andrew Cruickshank, Colin Gordon, Peter Jones, Mona Washbourne, Richard Dimbleby, Wynford Vaughan Thomas

Johnny Frenchman (1945)

Cornish fishermen and their Breton counterparts poach in each others fishing grounds. Their rivalries come to an end when WWII breaks out. The unusual background and a great performance by Francoise Rosay as the Breton matriarch make this a cut above the average.

Script: T.E.B. Clarke

Director: Charles Frend

Players: Tom Walls, Patricia Roc, Paul Dupuis, Ralph Michael, Frederick Piper

Johnny, You're Wanted (1955)

A lorry driver gives a lift to a girl who is later found murdered. His attempts to investigate puts him in the frame for the crime.

 A rare starring role for John Slater is the main attraction here - he even gets to sing a snatch of a song he wrote himself - and he's an engaging everyman. However the plot soon focuses on two police investigations which don't even have the merit of procedural realism to hold interest. The sparks of humour keep it going until the action climax.

Script adapt.: Michael Leighton, Frank Driscoll. (o.a. Maurice McLoughlin)

Director: Vernon Sewell

Players: John Slater, Alfred Marks, Garry Marsh, Chris Halward, Joan Rhodes, John Stuart, Thelma Ruby, Jack Stewart, John Helier, Joan Carol,  Ann Lynn, Frank Thornton, Peter Burton, Eric Corrie, Jimmy Vyvyan,  

Josephine and Men (1955)

A woman with a need to nurture helpless men throws over her successful fiancÚ in favour of his best friend, a struggling playwright. A few years on, the playwright is a big hit, she's bored and the previous lover is on the run from the cops...

A Boulting Brothers misfire which wastes a talented cast. The only interest lies in Glynis Johns' lovely frocks.

Script: Nigel Balchin, Roy Boulting, Frank Harvey

Director: Roy Boulting

Players: Glynis Johns, Jack Buchanan, Peter Finch, Donald Sinden, William Hartnell, Heather Thatcher, Ronald Squire, Victor Maddern, Thorley Walters, Hugh Moxey, Lawrence Naismith, John le Mesurier, Lisa Gastoni, Leo Ciceri, Pauline David, Sam Kydd 

Josser in the Army (1932)

The eve of World War One, and the head of a German spy ring is about to marry an English girl to help his cover. The wedding goes ahead despite the efforts of her father's works foreman, Josser, to disrupt it. Come the war, and the spy finds himself in command of a British unit which contains that very foreman.

The character Josser was created by comic Ernie Lotinga and featured in numerous low-budget films in the early days of talkies. Lotinga was a product of the music halls - he was allegedly T.S. Eliot's favourite comedian - though unusually for a British comic he also had success in the US. His comedy was sketch based and Josser, with his mixture of slapstick and crosstalk, was at the heart of it.

Josser in the Army shows the character in all his glory. Anarchic would do him scant justice. He's cheeky, dishonest, disruptive and has absolutely no respect for the upper classes. The word deference is not in his vocabulary. He's every posh person's worst nightmare. The criticism most often applied to the character was vulgar and he certainly justifies that. From a modern perspective he's closest in character to Frank Randle than George Formby - there's no stopping him and certainly no shaming him.

As a film, Josser in the Army is as crude as its lead character. The plot is perfunctory and director Norman Lee does little more than point a camera at Lotinga. The one unexpected moment is when Josser maneuvers some Germans to stand in front of a time bomb that's about to go off. The resultant explosion is surprisingly graphic for this period and seems unnecessarily callous.

The big question: is Josser funny? With so few of Lotinga's films available it's hard to say when so much of the power of comedy comes from its familiarity. Certainly, on this showing, he's a character worth exploring further.

Script: Frank Launder

Director: Norman Lee

Players: Betty Norton, Jack Hobbs, Hal Gordon, Jack Frost, Arnold Bell, Harold Wilkinson

Journey Together (1945)

Working-class Richard Attenborough wants to fly for the RAF and gets to achieve his dream (though he has to go to Canada to make it happen!)

Script: John Boulting, Terrence Rattigan

Director: John Boulting

Players: Edward G. Robinson, Bessie Love, Jack Watling, David Tomlinson, John Justin, George Cole, Ronald Squire, Hugh Wakefield, Stuart Latham, Sid Rider, Bromley Challoner, Z. Persankski, Sebastian Shaw, Leslie Nixon, Norvell Crutcher, Patrick Waddington, Miles Malleson

Joy Ride (1935)

Two young men take their actress girlfriends on a night time joy ride. Car trouble forces them to take refuge at the home of one of the young men's uncle. Which is fine, because they know uncle is away. Only he isn't. Never mind, at least they'll be well away before the domineering aunt turns up in the morning. Won't they?

Joy Ride straddles the line between comedy and out-and-out farce - not altogether successfully. The action moves from a night club to a country house at night, then the following morning and concludes at a country fair. It's far too diffuse to work as the farce it clearly wants to be. The character comedy works better though it produces more smiles than laughs.

Star Gene Gerrard does his usual aging juvenile act. Paul Blake as his drawling silly-ass companion takes a bit of getting used to but he manages to produce a few chuckles. The lead women are less successful. Betty Ann Davies has little to do and Zelma O'Neal is a gurning pain in the arse. They're meant to be sisters, though Zelda has an unexplained American accent, and play off each other quite well when they're together. But when Davies disappears for a chunk of the film we're left with Zelda's back-of-the-stalls gesturing which gets wearing.

The supporting characters are the usual collection of baffled butlers, lovestruck vicars, starchy spinsters, henpecked husbands and terrifying battleaxes. Pick of the bunch is Violet Vanburgh as a very grand duchess whose failed attempt at giving the fete's opening speech provides the film's best laughs. She doesn't say much - but oh those eyes!

You can file Joy Ride under watchable but forgettable. With a better comedy director than Harry Hughes it might have reached higher, but it'll do to pass the time.

Script: Vernon Harris

Director: Harry Hughes

Players: Gene Gerrard, Paul Blake, Zelma O'Neal, Betty Ann Davies, Gus McNaughton, Charles Sewell, Amy Veness, Violet Vanburgh, Cynthia Stock, W.G. Saunders, Vernon Harris, Bryan Powley, Molly Hamley Clifford, Robert Maclachlan, Ian Wilson, Jeanne d'Arcy, The Buddy Bradley's Rhythm Girls

Jumping for Joy (1955)

Frankie Howerd guides a greyhound to track success and rounds up a gang of dog dopers. This is one of a handful of attempts in the mid-fifties to turn Howerd into a film star. It's no more successful than the others.

Script: Jack Davies, Henry E. Blyth

Director: John Paddy Carstairs

Players: Stanley Holloway, A.E. Matthews, Joan Hickson, Tony Wright, Alfie Bass, Lionel Jeffries, Susan Beaumont, Terence Longden, Colin Gordon, Richard Wattis, Danny Green, Ewen Solon, A.J. "Man Mountain" Dean, Jack Lambert, John Warren, Barbara Archer, William Kendall, Reginald Beckwith, Bill Fraser, Michael Ward, Beatrice Varley, Tom Gill, Charles Hawtrey, David Hannaford

Juno and the Paycock (1929)

Hitchcock's version of O'Casey's play was liked at the time largely due to the strong cast which includes Sara Allgood and Edward Chapman. Now, more than any Hitchcock, it suffers from the constraints of the primitive sound system and comes across as a badly photographed stage play.

Script adapt.: Alma Reville, Alfred Hitchcock, (o.a.) Sean O'Casey

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Players: John Laurie, Barry Fitzgerald, Kathleen O'Regan, John Longden, Donald Calthrop, Sydney Morgan, Maire O'Neill, Dave Morris, Fred Schwartz, Dennis Wyndham

Just My Luck (1957)

Norman Wisdom wants to scrape together enough money to marry his girl (maybe he needs to buy her a lobotomy). Thank goodness Margaret Rutherford puts in an appearance to give this film some interest for non-Wisdom fans. 

Script: Alfred Shaughnessy, Peter Blackmore

Director: John Paddy Carstairs

Players: Jill Dixon, Leslie Phillips, Delphi Lawrence, Edward Chapman, Joan Sims, Peter Copley, Michael Ward, Bill Fraser, Campbell Cotts, Robin Bailey, Sabrina, Marjorie Rhodes, Sam Kydd, Stringer Davis

Just William's Luck (1947)

Cheeky scamp gets into mischief with his gang but uncovers a bunch of crooks.

Jolly adaptation of the much-loved Richmal Crompton books. A cut above most of the films of the era aimed at children.

Script adapt.: Val Guest. (o.a. Richmal Crompton)

Director: Val Guest

Players: William Graham, Brian Roper, James Crabbe, Brian Weske, Garry Marsh, Jane Welsh, Leslie Bradley, A.E. Matthews, Muriel Aked, Hugh Cross, Kathleen Stuart, Jack Raine, Hy Hazell, Audrey Manning, Ivan Hyde, Michael Balfour, Michael Medwin, Patricia Cutts, John Powe, Leslie Hazell, Peter Davis, John O'Hara, Joan Hickson, Anna Marie, John Martel, Ivan Craig and Jumble the dog