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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This Week's Films: 7

Whilst we have watched quite a few films of late we have bought rather more than we have watched over the last week or so which means that  we are not really eroding the mountain very much!


The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950)




The story

Due to a mix up by the Ministry of Education a girls' school is co-located with a boy's school.  Havoc ensues when parents of the girls and governors of the boys' school headmaster (Alastair Sim) is trying to move to arrive simultaneously.

Seen it before?

Several times on TV in the seventies.


Guy Middleton shows his appreciation


Any good?

Easily the best of the comedy school films from the fifties and sixties.  Alastair Sim and Margaret Rutherford, as the girls' school's headmistress, spark off each other delightfully and there is a great cast of character actors backing them up.  Richard Wattis plays slightly against his later baffled civil servant type roles with an acidic turn as a cynical teacher.  Joyce Grenfell steals all her scenes as the prototypical daffy games mistress.  Triple P's favourite is Guy Middleton as the rakish games master.  Regaling some of the older girls with his wartime exploits he pauses as the impressed lovelies saunter through a gate and says: "I say, you girls are bang on for seventeen!"  Probably couldn't get away with that now!

Notable for...

Being a dry run for the later St Trinians films including many of the same cast (Sim, Wattis, Middleton and Grenfell all appeared in various St Trinians films).




Any good girlies?

Unlike the later St Trinians films the schoolgirls look like schoolgirls not models although we have to confess that nineteen fifties gym gear is quite effective.



Pulp (1972)



The story

Mickey King (Michael Caine), a writer of lurid pulp novels, is asked by a former star of gangster films (Mickey Rooney) to ghost write his memoirs.  But then the film star is murdered...

Seen it before?

Yes, a couple of times on TV.

Any good?

Caine (who was co-producer) is on fine wisecracking form and the Mediterranean (Malta standing in for southern Italy) setting is picturesque. Its almost an atmosphere piece and what story there is comes to a rather sudden halt. Still, a reasonably enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half.


Nadia Cassini in Malta
Notable for...

Being Mike Hodges and Caine's follow up to Get Carter (1971).  This film is best describes as quirky. Also features a great soundtrack by the Beatles' producer George Martin.


La Cassini on location in Malta


Any good girlies?

It was through watching this film that we discovered the goddess that is Nadia Cassini, who slinks through the film in a succession of eye-popping seventies fashions: thigh length boots, miniskirts, hotpants etc.  Gorgeous!



Waterloo (1970)




The story

Napoleon (Rod Steiger - miscast) escapes from exile on the Island of Elba and returns to Paris in triumph before attempting to wipe out the Prussian and Anglo-allied armies in Belgium.

Seen it before?

We first saw this when it came out with our father who was very interested in the Napoleonic wars.

Any good?




As an Italian-Russian co-production with an international cast it suffers from annoying dubbing syndrome which also means that there is quite a lot of physical over-acting.  Rather a lot of Vietnam era anti-war peace movement attitudes and some very inappropriate seventies hair cuts.  Steiger method acts as though he was in a different film.  The film is saved by Christopher Plummer as Wellington, a great score from Nino Rota and the depiction of the battle itself.

Notable for...

Using 20,000 extras from the Red Army, including an entire brigade of Soviet cavalry, to produce battle scenes the like of which will never be seen again.
Any good girlies?

Virginia McKenna as the Duchess of Richmond looks elegant and there is a token attempt to inject some love interest using a couple of actresses but really this is about the boys.


The Pure Hell of St Trinians (1960)



 
The story

The schoolgirls burn down their school and end up in court.  The Judge (Raymond Huntley), infatuated with one of the sixth formers (Julie Alexander), sets them free to the charge of an academic (Cecil Parker) who promptly takes the sixth formers to Arabia so as to sell them to a sheikh.  Can the redoubtable fourth form rescue them from capitivity?


Julie Alexander in the dock

Seen it before?

Once, back in the mists of time.

Any good?

Not quite as good as the first two and it has a very convoluted plot focussing more on the adults than the girls but the opening scenes at the trial are very good and lots of British character actors (Eric Barker, Irene Handl, Dennis Price, John Le Mesurier) turn up to good effect.

Notable for...

An uncredited appearance by young actress Edina Ronay (in her first film) who would go on to found a famous fashion house.




Any good girlies?

With each successive film the amount of sixth form totty on display increased.  Pure Hell was blessed by the luminous presence of former top model Julie Alexander who is seen as a nightclub dancer doing a belly dance striptease to great effect.

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