Archive N

No Funny Business (1932)

Dated farce about two professional co-respondents (Laurence Olivier and Jill Esmond) who mistake each other for clients. Sadly prophetic title. Gertrude Lawrence is also along for the ride. 

Script: Victor Hanbury, Frank Vosper

Director: John Stafford, Victor Hanbury

Players: Edmond Breon, Gibb McLaughlin, Muriel Aked

No Highway (1951)

A civil engineer realises the plane in which he is travelling is about to fall apart from metal fatigue.

More than a little unlikely, but with a cast like this you can't help but believe.

Script adapt.: Oscar Milland, R.C. Sherriff, Alec Coppel. (o.a. Nevil Shute)

Director: Henry Koster

Players: James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins, Elizabeth Allen, Janette Scott, Ronald Squire, Niall MacGinnis, Kenneth More, Wilfrid Hyde White, Maurice Denham, David Hutcheson, Dora Bryan, Ben Williams, Hector MacGregor, Basil Appleby, Michael Kingsley, Peter Murray, Jill Clifford

No Lady (1931)

Hen-pecked father takes the family to Blackpool and gets mixed up with a foreign spy ring out to sabotage a British glider.

It creaks a bit, but there a still a few laughs to be had here. And oodles of location footage of Blackpool in its prime makes it a feast of nostalgia.

Script: George Dewhurst

Director: Lupino Lane

Players: Lupino Lane, Renee Clama, Sari Maritza, Lola Hunt, Cyril McLaglen, Wallace Lupino, Charles Stone, Roy Carey, Eddie Jay, Sam Lee, Denis O'Neil, Herman Darewski and the Blackpool Tower Band

No Limit (1935)

George Formby in leather. A dream come true for us all I'm sure.

Here he plays George Shuttleworth, whose dream is to win the Isle of Man TT race. He's rebuilt an ancient bike and has applied repeatedly to the Rainbow race team for a job. But they just think he's a gormless berk and keep turning him down. His mother steals his grandfather's nest egg in order to finance his trip

On board he saves the life of Florrie (Florence Desmond) who is a secretary for the Rainbow team and who has read all his letters. In the process he loses all his money overboard. Florrie gets him into a boarding house and helps him pay his bill by getting him into blackface to busk on the beach (My little Wigan garden) but that goes wrong. During the TT trials his brakes fail and he not only breaks the course record but avoids hitting a child which has wondered into the road (what sort of parent lets their three year old play on the side of the road during the TT!). This breaks his nerve and he accepts a 50 bribe not to compete in the race.

Florrie is disgusted and when his main race- and love-rival Jack Hobbs taunts him George socks him one and gets into the race. The race is well shot for its time but we all know who'll win.

It's great entertainment. This is Formby's third film and his first for a big studio (ATP - soon to be Ealing). He still hasn't quite developed the charm he would later have, and whoever did his eye make-up should have been shot, but he's certainly on his way to being a star. Florence Desmond is also great: she's strong and mean and witty. She doesn't get to show off the range of talents that made her one of revue's biggest draws (try "Hoots Mon!" for a sample of her stage act) but she certainly makes you regret that she didn't make many films. The most charming number is hers: "Riding Around on a Rainbow"; sung on the ferry and accompanied by those "Types" British films seemed to have an unlimited supply of.

Formby also sings "Riding in the TT Races" and duets with Desmond on "Your way is my way". The film was competently directed by Monty Banks who obviously had a way with Lancashire talent since he would go on to marry Gracie Fields

Script: Tom Geraghty, Fred Thompson

Director: Monty Banks

Players: Edward Rigby, Peter Gawthorne, Alf Goddard

No Monkey Business (1935)

When a music-hall performer loses his monkey, and hence his act, a friend is persuaded to pretend to be the ape.

Plenty of comedy japes though it does rather outstay its welcome. 

Script: Roger Burford, Val Guest

Director: Marcel Varnel.

Players: Gene Gerrard, June Clyde, Renee Houston, Richard Hearne, Claude Dampier, Hugh Wakefield, Peter Haddon, Fred Duprez, Clifford Heatherley, O.B. Clarence, Alexander Field, Robert Nainby, Charles Paton, Hal Gordon

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948)

"The most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen."

With a recommendation like that, it's no wonder audiences flocked to see No Orchids for Miss Blandish. Critics seem to have taken the film's massive box office receipts as a personal insult, because ever since its release it's been held up as an example of British film making at its worst: a cheap amateurish production, badly-acted with an embarrassing collection of phoney American accents. They lied.

James Hadley Chase's story tells of how rich, bored heiress Miss Blandish is kidnapped by a mob of gangsters. Another mob takes over the kidnapping; wiping out the first. Their leader, Slim Grissom, already has an obsession with the heiress. She falls for him and the kidnapping is abandoned. But fate isn't going to give the lovers a happy ending.

Linden Travers, as Miss Blandish, is well worth losing your head over. She's effortlessly classy. She'd played the role on stage in the West End a few years earlier and convinces both as the frigid beauty and as the blissed-out gangster's moll.

American import Jack La Rue plays Slim Grissom. He gives the best performance of his career – though that's not saying much. He was an early example of the many no-career Yanks brought in to give marquee value to British films optimistic producers hoped would go over in America.  

The most of the rest of the cast are British – and that's where the problem with accents comes in. Some of the cast can't hack it. Others, such as Sid James, do quite well; but Sid James is just too familiar, and no matter how good his accent is he just sounds wrong.

The standout from the supporting cast is Lily Molnar. She plays Slim's mother: an even tougher gangster than her son. She's one of the most monstrous mothers in cinema. The other characters are just stereotypes from half-remembered old Warner Brothers pics.

No Orchids For Miss Blandish had a profound effect on British cinema. The BBFC passed the film with scarcely a thought: they were far less sensitive about tales of American criminals than British ones. The storm of protest over the film when it was released made them hyper-careful from then on. This helped usher in a period of blandness which didn't get shattered until Hammer hit horror paydirt.

Looked at today, No Orchids still seems violent. There's a crudity and vigour to it that's ahead of its time. Maybe it's time to forgive it its faults, and enjoy it as its original audience did.  

Script adapt.: St John L. Clowes (o.a. James Hadley Chase)

Director: St John L. Clowes

Players: Hugh McDermott, Walter Crisham, Leslie Bradley, Zoe Gail, Charles Goldner, MacDonald Parke, Danny Green, Percy Marmont, Michael Balfour, Frances Marsden, Irene Prador, Jack Lester, Bart Norman, Bill O'Connor, Gibb McLaughlin, John McLaren, Richard Nelson, Annette Simmonds, Jack Durant, Halama and Konarski, Tony and Wing

No Room at the Inn (1948)

Evacuees are mistreated by their slatternly carer.

Freda Jackson grabs the role of the drunken monster in charge of the kiddies and gives it all she's got in a film that's more fairy tale than social realism. Child star Ann Stephens more than holds her own as the posh kid corrupted by Jackson's influence.

Script: Ivan Foxwell, Dylan Thomas. (o.a. Dan Birt)

Director: Dan Birt

Players: Freda Jackson, Ann Stephens, Joy Shelton, Hermione Baddeley, Joan Dowling, Niall MacGinnis, Harcourt Williams, Sydney Tafler, Frank Pettingell, Robin Netscher, Betty Blackler, Jill Gibbs, Wylie Watson, Beatrice Varley, Cyril Smith, James Hayter, Eliot Makeham, Billy Howard, Jack Melford, Bartlett Mullins, Frederick Morant, Dora Bryan, Harry Locke, Bee Adams, Marie Ault, Vera Bogetti, Basil Cunard, O.B. Clarence, Eleanor Hallam, Jack May, Robert McLachlan, Ernie Price, Vi Kaley, Stanley Escane, Joyce Martyn, Pamela Deacon, Veronica Haley

No Smoking (1955)

A village chemist invents a pill that stops people smoking and comes close to wreaking the economy.

Good-natured comedy which plays like a low-budget Man in the White Suit

Script adapt.: Kenneth R Hayles. (o.a. Rex Rienits, George Moody-White)

Director: Henry Cass

Players: Reg Dixon, Belinda Lee, Lionel Jeffries, Ruth Trouncer, Myrtle Rowe, Peter Martyn

No Time For Tears (1957)

Late Anna Neagle vehicle and one of the few not directed by her husband Herbert Wilcox. It's set in a children's hospital and she's a Matron surrounded by the problems of patients and staff including nurse Sylvia Syms besotted with hunky doctor George Baker. Not bad as these things go. 

Script: Anne Burnaby

Director: Cyril Frankel

Players: Anthony Quayle, Alan White, Daphne Anderson, Michael Horden, Flora Robson, Joan Hickson, Patricia Marmont, Sophie Stewart, Rosalie Crutchley, Joan Sims, Angela Baddeley, Marjorie Rhodes, Adrienne Poster, Richard O'Sullivan

No Trace (1950)

Faced with a blackmailer, an author turns to one of his novels to produce the perfect murder.

A few nice touches enlivens a pretty standard crime thriller.

Script: John Gilling

 Director: John Gilling

Players: Hugh Sinclair, Dinah Sheridan, John Laurie, Barry Morse, Dora Bryan, Michael Brennan, Beatrice Varley, Michael Ward, Michael Evans, Madeleine Thomas, Sam Kydd

No Trees in the Street (1958)

Silly, dreary, low-life saga. A capable cast (Herbert Lom, Sylvia Syms, Stanley Holloway) is lost under the direction of J. Lee Thompson.

Script adapt.: (o.a.) Ted Willis

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Players: Joan Miller, Melvyn Hayes, Ronald Howard, Liam Redmond, Marianne Stone, Campbell Singer, David Hemmings, Rita Webb

No Way Back (1949)

After damaging his sight in the ring, a young boxer gets involved with racketeers.

Script adapt.: Stefan Osiecki, Derrick de Marney. (o.a. Thomas Burke)

Director: Stefan Osiecki

Players: Terence de Marney, Eleanor Summerfield, Jack Raine, John Salew, Shirley Quentin, Denys Val Norton, Gerald C. Lawson, Tommy McGovern

Non-Stop New York (1937)

Penniless dancer Jennie Carr gets a helping hand from a New York lawyer, but he is murdered by gangsters. She is the only one who can identify the killers, but she knows nothing about it. On the boat home she is framed for theft and it's only when she gets out of jail that she realises what has happened, and that an innocent man is due to be executed for the murder. Will anyone believe her story, and can she get to New York before the death sentence is carried out? 

Anna Lee, as Jennie, makes an agreeably sparky heroine. Some of the scenes show up the limitations of her acting, but she looks so fabulous and has so much energy that it really doesn't matter. John Loder, as Scotland Yard Man and Handsome Hero does remarkably well. He's a great lump of granite in most of his films, but here shows glimmers of the sense of humour that made him so popular with his fellow actors.

The first half of the film is rather plot-bound. But once Jennie is on her way to New York the script takes off. She sneaks aboard a transatlantic flight and her fellow passengers bicker and banter wonderfully until the inevitable catastrophe. 

Technically speaking, Non-Stop New York is Science Fiction. It's set in the near future (New Year's Eve 1939) though little has changed apart from the possibility of transatlantic flight. The film imagines life on board a plane to be similar to the great transatlantic liners of the period, and not at all like the cattle trucks of modern day flight. The plane is charming and comes complete with that most essential of aeronautical features - the outside balcony! It's a little windy, but perfect for romantic trysts or attempted murder. 

Non-Stop New York is really a variation on such classic train movies as Rome Express and as such works very well.

Poster for Non-stop New York

Script adapt.: Kurt Siodmak, Roland Pertwee, J.O.C. Orton, Derek Twist. (o.a. Ken Attiwill)

Director: Robert Stevenson

Players: Francis L. Sullivan, Frank Cellier, Desmond Tester, William Dewhurst, James Pirrie, Drusilla Wills, Jerry Verno, Athene Seyler, Ellen Pollock, Arthur Goullet, Peter Bull, Tony Quinn, Danny Green, Bryan Herbert, Tom Scott, Aubrey Pollock, Sam Wilkinson, Atholl Fleming, Alf Goddard, H.G. Stoker, Jack Lester, Hal Walters, Albert Chevalier, Phyllis Morris, Andrea Malandrinos, Roy Smith, Billy Watts, Frederick Piper, Edward Ryan, Percy Parsons, Alexander Sarner

Noose (1948)

Carole Landis is the girl reporter on the trail of spivs and gangsters in Soho.

Neat look at 40s spiv culture with the director putting everything he's got into it. The last reel slips too far into comedy (and borders on farce), but up until then it's rather good. The actors all give a good account of themselves, including Stanley Holloway in a rare serious role as a rather sinister policeman, though the stand-out is Nigel Patrick as the cheeky cockney fixer for the main villain.

Script adapt.: (o.a.) Richard Llewellyn, Edward Dryhurst

Director: Edmond T. Greville

Players: Derek Farr, Nigel Patrick, Joseph Calleia, John Slater, Edward Rigby, Ruth Nixon, Leslie Bradley, Reginald Tate, Hay Petrie, John Salew, Carol Van Derman, Brenda Hogan, Robert Adair, Ella Retford, Michael Golden, Sydney Monckton, Howard Douglas, Uriel Porter, John Harvey, Michael Ripper, Michael Brennan, Arthur Lovegrove, Monte de Lyle, W.E. Hodge, Dennis Harkin, Diana Hope, Arthur Gomez, Kenneth Buckley, Ben Williams, Vi Kaley, John Martell, Ernest Metcalfe, Maria Berry, Ronald Boyer and Jeanne Ravel, Olive Lucius

Noose for a Lady (1953)

With his cousin convicted of the murder of her husband and time running out before the hanging, a man tries to find out the real killer.

Standard low-budget whodunit. Star Dennis Price is phoning it in, but some of the character players are giving it their all. And though it's hard to care whodunit, it does have a neat ending.

Script adapt.: Rex Reinits (o.a. Gerald Verner)

Director: Wolf Rilla

Players: Dennis Price, Rona Anderson, Ronald Howard, Melissa Stribling, Pamela Alan, Charles Lloyd Pack, Colin Tapley, Alison Leggatt, George Merritt, Robert Brown, Doris York, Esma Cannon, Joe Linane, Ian Wallace, Gabriel Blount, <arguetite Young, Millicent Wolf, Alexis Milne

Nor the Moon by Night (1958)

Belinda Lee is the pen-friend looking for romance in Africa, but finding it with her correspondent's brother.

Not worth the journey.

Script adapt.: Guy Elmes. (o.a. Joy Packer)

Director: Ken Annakin

Players: Michael Craig, Patrick McGoohan, Anna Gaylor, Eric Pohlmann, Pamela Stirling, Lionel Ngakane, Joan Brickhill, Ben Heydenrych, Alfred Kumalo, Doreen Hlantie, John Willen, Ken Delofse, Gordon McPherson

North West Frontier (1959)

India in 1905, and an uprising forces a small group to flee across country in an ancient locomotive.

By treating colonialism as a Western, this is one of the best adventure movies of the 50s.

Still from Northwest FrontierStill from North West Frontier

Script adapt.: Robin Estridge, Frank Nugent, Robert Westerby. (o.a. Patrick Ford)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

PlayersKenneth More, Lauren Bacall, Herbert Lom, Wilfrid Hyde White, I.S. Johar, Ursula Jeans, Ian Hunter, Eugene Deckers, Govind Raja Ross, Jack Gwillim, Basil Hoskins, Moultrie Kelsall, Lionel Murton, S.M. Asgaralli, S.S. Chodhary, Jaron Yalton, Homi Bode, Frank Olegrio

Not For Sale (1924)

A young aristocrat is cut off by his dad and forced to live in a boarding house peopled by a colourful range of characters.

Enjoyable comedy.

Script: Lydia Hayward

Director: Will Kellino

Players: Mary Odette, Ian Hunter, Gladys Hamer, Jack Trevor, Phyllis Lytton, Lionelle Howard, Mary Brough, Maud gill, Edward O'Neill, Moore Marriott, Julie Keene, Mickey Brantford, George Bellamy, W.G. Saunders, Minna Leslie, Robert Vallis

Not So Dusty (1956)

Two dustmen acquire a valuable book which other people want.

Minor working-class comedy which seems slightly out of place in the aspirational 50s until you realise it's a remake of a 30s original.

Script adapt.: Maclean Rogers, Kathleen Butler, H.F. Maltby. (o.a. Wally Patch)

Director: Maclean Rogers

Players: Bill Owen, Leslie Dwyer, Joy Nichols, Ellen Pollock, Dandy Nichols, Harold Berens, William Simons, Totti Truman Taylor, tony Quinn, Roddy Hughes, Bill Shine, Wally Patch

Not Wanted on Voyage (1937)

Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels in their first British film investigate a jewel theft on a transatlantic liner. Not a great film by any means, but it's nice to see the Lyons over here.

Script adapt.: Harold Simpson, Charles Lincoln. (o.a. Maurice Messenger)

Director: Emil E. Reinert

Players: Charles Farrell, Tom Helmore, Hay Petrie, Gordon McLeod, James Carew

Nowhere to Go (1958)

An early role for Maggie Smith is the main point of interest in this criminal-on-the-run story. It's a bit too depressing to make much of a mark.

Still from Nowhere to GoStill from Nowhere to Go

Script adapt.: Seth Holt, Kenneth Tynan. (o.a. Donald MacKenzie)

Director: Seth Holt

Players: George Nader, Bernard Lee, Geoffrey Keen, Bessie Love, Andree Melly, Howard Marion Crawford, Harry H. Corbett, Lionel Jeffries

Number Seventeen (1932)

Light, low-budget thriller about a detective trying to prove the empty house of the title is the headquarters of a gang of crooks. Although it doesn't quite come off, it's clear evidence that Hitchcock was beginning to realise what constitutes that Hitchcock touch.

Script adapt.: Alfred Hitchcock, Alma Reville, Rodney Ackland. (o.a. J. Jefferson Farjeon)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Players: John Stuart, Anne Grey, Garry Marsh, Leon M. Lion, Donald Calthrop, Ann Casson, Barry Jones, Henry Caine, Herbert Langley

The Nursemaid Who Disappeared (1939)

A playwright and a detective join forces to uncover a kidnap ring.

Good example of the genre.

Script adapt.: Paul Gangelin, Connery Chappell. (o.a. Philip Macdonald)

Director: Arthur Woods

Players: Peter Coke, Arthur Margetson, Lesley Brook, Edward Chapman, Coral Browne, Joyce Kennedy, Dorice Fordred, Martita Hunt, Marion Gerth, Ian Maclean, Ian Fleming, Eliot Makeham, Scott Harold, Phil Ray, Mavis Villiers