Archive R

Radio Cab Murder (1954)

An ex-safecracker now working as a cabby is persuaded by the police to join a gang planning a big robbery.

Enjoyable B-movie with a bit more fast-faced action that some of its rivals.

Script: Vernon Sewell

Director: Vernon Sewell

Players: Jimmy Hanley, Lana Morris, Sonia Holm, Jack Allen, Sam Kydd, Pat McGrath, Bruce Booby, Elizabeth Seal, Rupert Evans, Michael Mellinger, Jack Stewart, Frank Thornton, Ian Wilson 

Radio Parade of 1935 (1934)

A dull radio station gets the audiences listening by providing popular entertainment.

Though station NBG is commercial, there's no doubt that the BBC is the target. Will Hay, in his strangest role, is the Lord Reith figure trying to keep the station highbrow. The film is just an excuse to showcase many of the acts of the period, but those acts are definitely A-list. The stand-outs for modern audiences are Ronald Frankau, Ted Ray (with his violin act) and the pairing of Lily Morris and Nellie Wallace as a couple of singing chars. 

It also contains two colour sequences which are the first use of the Dufaycolor system. 

Script: Jack Davies, Paul Perez, James Bunting, Arthur Woods

Director: Arthur Woods

Players: Clifford Mollison, Helen Chandler, Davy Burnaby, Alfred Drayton, Billy Bennett, The Western Brothers, Clapham and Dwyer, The Three Sailors, Haver and Lee, The Carlyle Cousins, Gerry Fitzgerald, Claude Dampier, Ted Ray, Eve Becke, Georgie Harris, Arthur Young, Hugh E. Wright, Robert Nainby, Jimmy Godden, Basil Foster, Ivor McLaren, Fay Carroll, Peggy Cochrane, Yvette Darnac, Teddy Joyce and His Band, Alberta Hunter, Joyce Richardson, Beryl Orde, Fred Conyngham, Sybil Grove, The Buddy Bradley Girls, Stanelli and His Hornchestra

Raise the Roof (1930)

A well-off bloke with dreams of becoming an actor, is persuaded to take over a threadbare touring company. His father, determined to thwart his ambition, bribes the leading man to sabotage the enterprise, but the leading lady has other ideas.

Enjoyable musical with its star, Betty Balfour, effortlessly coping with the new demands of the Talkies.

Script: Walter Summers, Philip MacDonald

Director: Walter Summers

Players: Betty Balfour, Maurice Evans, Jack Raine, Sam Livesey, Ellis Jeffreys, Arthur Hardy, Dorothy Minto, Charles Garry, Mike Johnson, Louis Emery, Plaza Tiller Girls

The Rake's Progress (1945)

Launder and Gilliat's star vehicle for Rex Harrison. He plays a ne'er-do-well who cheats and seduces his way through the thirties before being (partly) rehabilitated by the war. It's a great role for Harrison and he's as charming as the script.

Still from The Rake's Progress

Script: Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder

Director: Sidney Gilliat

Players: Griffith Jones, Jean Kent, Lilli Palmer, Margaret Johnston, Godfrey Tearle, Guy Middleton, Marie Lohr, Brefni O'Rorke, Howard Marion Crawford, John Salew, Olga Lindo, Kynaston Reeves

The Rat (1937)

A seductive criminal falls for an innocent.

Adequate talkie version of the silent hit.

Script adapt.: Hans Rameau, Marjorie Gaffney, Miles Malleson, Romney Brent. (o.a. Ivor Novello, Constance Collier)

Director: Jack Raymond

Players: Anton Walbrook, Ruth Chatterton, René Ray, Beatrix Lehmann, Mary Clare, Felix Aylmer, Hugh Miller, Gordon McLeod, Frederick Culley, Nadine March, George Merritt, Leo Genn, Fanny Wright, Bob Gregory, Ivan Wilmot, J.H. Roberts, Aubrey Mallalieu, Paul Sheridan, Walter Schofield, Stanley lathbury, Betty Marsden

Reach for the Sky (1956)

Kenneth More is Douglas Bader in probably his best-remembered performance. He's the cocky pilot who loses both legs in an accident but still manages to become a war hero. It's full of the sort of clichéd understated dialogue that can be very silly in the wrong hands but here becomes the basis of a moving example of stiff-upper-lipped myth making.

Poster for Reach for the Sky

Script adapt.: Lewis Gilbert, Vernon Harris. (o.a. Paul Brickhill)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Players: Muriel Pavlow, Lyndon Brook, Lee Patterson, Alexander Knox, Dorothy Alison, Sydney Tafler, Howard Marion Crawford, Jack Watling, Michael Warre, Nigel Green, Anne Leon, Walter Hudd, Eddie Byrne, Charles Carson, Ronald Adam, Eric Pohlmann, Michael Gough, Michael Ripper, Sam Kydd, Anton Diffring

The Rebel (1960)

Not strictly speaking eligible for inclusion on this site, but who can leave out Hancock's best film comedy? It wasn't liked much at the time, but it's now one of those films you feel such affection for you forgive its faults. Hancock chucks his job in and goes to Paris to be an artist. He is acclaimed as a great artist, but realises too late that it's his flatmate's work that has been seen.

Script: Alan Simpson, Ray Galton

Director: Robert Day

Players: Tony Hancock, George Sanders, Paul Massie, Margit Saad, Gregoire Aslan, Dennis Price, Irene Handl, Mervyn Johns, Peter Bull, John Le Mesurier, Nanette Newman, Oliver Reed

The Red Beret (1953)

Alan Ladd is the visiting Yank who enlists in a British parachute regiment in WWII. Totally forgettable tale apart from Ladd's presence.

Script adapt.: Richard Maibaum, Frank Nugent. (o.a. Hilary St. George Saunders)

Director: Terence Young

Players: Susan Shaw, Leo Genn, Harry Andrews, Donald Houston, Anthony Bushell, Patric Doonan, Stanley Baker, Lana Morris, Anton Diffring, Harry Locke 

Red Ensign (1934)

Leslie Banks is the shipbuilder determined to get his new vessel built. This film shows the first glimmerings of talent from Powell.

Script: L. duGarde Peach

Director: Michael Powell

Players: Alfred Drayton, Carol Goodner, Frank Vosper, Donald Calthrop, Allan Jeayes, Campbell Gullan, Percy Parsons, Fewlass Llewellyn, Henry Oscar

The Red Shoes (1948)

The classic ballet film. A young ballerina is torn between her dancing career and her love for a young composer. Okay, since the composer is Marius Goring at his least gorgeous, where's the conflict for anyone sane? But this is a film about ballet folk so you don't expect rational behaviour from anyone. Moira Shearer is the ballet dancer and Anton Walbrook is the impresario. It looks great and the central ballet is one of the best ever filmed.

Written, Produced and Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

(Script: Emeric Pressburger, additional dialogue Keith Wilbur. Red Shoes story: Hans Christian Anderson)

Players: Robert Helpmann, Leonide Massine, Albert Basserman, Ludmilla Tcherina, Esmond Knight, Jerry Verno, Hay Petrie  

The Reluctant Widow (1950)

When pretty young orphan Jean Kent goes off to become a governess, little does she realise that she is about to become embroiled in a web of intrigue and suspicion. But these are Napoleonic times and life can get very complicated for an unprotected female.

After fleeing from an inn in order to protect her honour, she gets into the wrong carriage and arrives at a grim house where Guy Rolfe is waiting to tell her to leave at once before she can marry the owner of the house. When the mistake is sorted out he accompanies her to her true address but they are waylaid with the news that the prospective bridegroom has been stabbed in the inn and is in fact the man who molested her. She marries him on his deathbed in order to stop him accusing Peter Hammond of murder and because he might have a bit of money.

Now a widow, she is plagued by a number of mysterious visitors who are searching the house for a mysterious something. Chief of these is Julian Dallas as a hunky fop. Meanwhile, Guy Rolfe is getting cashiered in order to go undercover and flush out some French spies. Somewhere along the line Kent secretly marries Rolfe for some plot reason but also because they love each other (but can't tell each other). And then things get really complicated!

This adaptation of a Georgette Heyer novel never really gets on solid ground. Part of the reason for this is casting. Jean Kent is lovely and has a very fetching hairdo, but can't quite get into the spirit of the thing. She's game, but she's a bit too stately. The words "Jean Kent" and "romp" just don't go together. The part needed someone like Glynis Johns to give it the required lift. Guy Rolfe as the handsome hero isn't handsome enough in a part that would have been perfect for Stewart Granger. Only Kathleen Byron hits the right note in her brief appearance as a villainous French adventuress.

Director Bernard Knowles must take most of the blame for the film's misfire. Only in two sequences does he rise to the occasion: the climactic duel between Dallas and Rolfe, and a wonderful moment when Jean Kent explores her husband's bedroom which is full of rude pictures and indelicate statues.

All in all, a bit of a disappointment. It's not a terrible picture, it just could have been a lot better.

Still from The Reluctant Widow

Script adapt.: Gordon Wellesley, J.B. Boothroyd. (o.a. Georgette Heyer)

Director: Bernard Knowles

Players: Paul Dupuis, Lana Morris, Anthony Tancred, Jean Cadell, Andrew Cruickshank, Noel Howlett, Peter Bull

Rembrandt (1936)

Despite a meandering plot, this bio-pic is truly memorable. The central performance by Charles Laughton is probably his finest and the supporting cast is perfect. The feeling of Rembrandt's painting is recreated by the most wonderful set design, even though the film is in Black and White.

Poster for Rembrandt

Script: Carl Zuckmayer, Lajos Biro, June Head, Arthur Wimperis

Director: Alexander Korda 

Players: Gertrude Lawrence, Elsa Lanchester, Edward Chapman, Walter Hudd, Roger Livesey, John Bryning, Sam Livesey, Herbert Lomas, Allan Jeayes, John Clements, Raymond Huntley

Return of a Stranger (1936)

The Stranger is disfigured scientist Griffith Jones trying to get back with ex-bride-to-be Rosalyn Boulter and solve the murder that drove them apart. Quota-quickie nonsense which has a great lab explosion scene but an awful lot of stiff-upper-lip chat.

Script adapt.: Akos Tolnay, Reginald Long. (o.a. Rudolph Lothar)

Director: Victor Hanbury

Players: Ellis Jeffreys, Athole Stewart, Constance Godridge, Cecil Ramage, Sylvia Marriott

The Return of Carol Deane (1938)

An artist's "muse" marries a Lord, but gets accused of the artist's murder.

Officially, this is a remake of the 1933 Hollywood tale The House on 56th Street starring Kay Francis, but it's actually an amalgam of those old favourites Stella Dallas and Madam X. There's therefore a lot of plot to pack into 76 minutes, probably too much for comfort.

In the lead, Bebe Daniels is way too old for the early part of the film. The 1912 fashions do nothing for her and she's completely outshone by her love rival, a blonde Chili Bouchier. Once we reach the modern part of the story she looks far better and a lot happier.

Arthur Woods' direction makes the plot feel a lot less snappy than it is, and he can't get much mileage from the big emotional set-pieces. This is mainly due to casting nonentities to play opposite Miss Daniels. She does her best (one would expect no less from such a seasoned pro) but her loves seem an unattractive bunch and it's hard to believe any woman would consider suffering for their sake. 

Script: John Meehan, Tommy Phipps. (o.a.) Joseph Santley

Director: Arthur Woods

Players: Arthur Margetson, Zena Dare, Michael Drake, Wyndham Goldie, Peter Coke, David Burns, Lesley Brook, Ian MacLean, Aubrey Mallalieu, Ian Fleming, Syd Crossley, André Morell

Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1937)

Sequel to the Leslie Howard film with the title role taken this time by Barry K Barnes (who's he?). Not a patch on the original or even Leslie Howard's modern dress version Pimpernel Smith four years later.

Script adapt.: Lajos Biro, Arthur Wimperis, Adrian Brunel. (o.a. Baroness Orczy)

Director: Hans Schwartz

Players: Francis Lister, Sophie Stewart, Margaretta Scott, James Mason, Anthony Bushell, Patrick Barr, Esme Percy

Return to Yesterday (1940)

Fading film star returns to his roots and joins a seaside rep company.

Mild, rather melancholy, comedy most notable as the last British film by its director before the war. Thanks to his pacifism, Stevenson was soon on a boat to the US taking his wife and star Anna Lee with him. This predicament is mirrored in Clive Brook's dilemma of whether to stay with the rep company or return to Hollywood. So there's a lot to interest academics, but for the rest of us it's not very funny.

Script adapt.: Robert Stevenson, Roland Pertwee, Angus McPhail, Margaret Kennedy. (o.a. Robert Morley)

Director: Robert Stevenson

Players: Dame May Whitty, Hartley Power, Milton Rosmer, David Tree, Arthur Margetson, Olga Lindo, Garry Marsh, Elliot Mason, O.B. Clarence, Frank Pettingell, David Horne, Wally Patch, Alf Goddard, John Turnbull, Elliot Makeham, H.F. Maltby, Ludwig Stossel

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)

Hammer's follow-up to their smash hit The Curse of Frankenstein. It's not as good. Reasoning that the public liked the gore in the original, they upped the quota in this one. They also upped the stupidity quota as the doctor uses his position in a clinic to get the bits he needs, but still puts in a brain from someone with more than his fair share of grudges to work out.

Script: Jimmy Sangster, Hurford Janes

Director: Terence Fisher

Players: Peter Cushing, Eunice Gayson, Francis Matthews, Michael Gwynn, John Welsh, Lionel Jeffries, Michael Ripper