Three of my all-time favourite visionary futuristic films :
'Metropolis' and 'Things to Come'
I think these films also heavily influenced my love of the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers Film serials, which although produced in the 1930s were still being shown in British cinemas in the 1950s which is when we first came across them. Eventually they migrated to the television screen and now happily are available on DVD.
'The Day the Earth Stood Still'
Gort the Robot (Lock Martin) and Klaatu as played by Michael Rennie
The three main characters Gort, Helen Benson (Patricial Neale) and Klaatu
A 1951 film starring Michael Rennie and Patricial Neale which had the feel of the 1930s classics and which wasn't done any justice with its 21st century remake (which will not have a place on this page - other than as part of a review written in the Radio Times). Earth was being delivered of a warning and the posters are pretty scary and not a little risqué in some of them - the females being carried by Gort (the Robot) bear no resemblance to the prim Patricial Neale!
More King Kong than The Day the Earth Stood Still - monkey paws and déshabillé females.
I particularly like this review for a variety of reasons. The style it is written in points to a very masculine dominance in the world of Hollywood in the 1950s (and let's not forget the McCarthy era) there are many references to the male lead or writer or even scene painter! Today this type of review would be censured so let us be happy it has survived. That isn't important other than it is a preservation of a way of life which these days is frowned upon (and look where that got us!) - But I also like the fact that it is a positively written article about a new emerging genre that I have always enjoyed and it acknowledges 'Metropolis' which is now, of course, enjoying cult status in the 21st century. I have reproduced the article for easier reading here.
I am also delighted that this article mentions 'When Worlds Collide' which was not the greatest of pictures but it was the third film of four on a 'Disaster Night' at the NFT that we attended in the late 1970s. The others were 'Krakatoa, East of Java', 'Atlantis' and washing up (the pun is intentional) with 'When the Rains Came'. I still don't know if Trevor bought the tickets on purpose or whether the Bette Davis all-nighter really had sold out but all I can and will say is that it was definitely 'A Night to Remember' and may feature in the 6 degrees section ......
From a recent Radio Times preview of the re-make: "Robert Wise's alien-invasion original, released in 1951, is an iconic entry in the canon of 1950s sci-fi, thanks in part to its muted parable of Christian redemption. Fifty-seven years on (2008), this fatuous remake ditched the Cold War/religious subtext - and even the flying saucers - in its attempt to deliver a more contemporary allegory, as spaceman Kanu Reeves arrives with a warning for humanity. It's a pointmess remake that would be passable on its own terms but suffers terribly in comparison with its source material."
Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers 1930s-style
Following his successes as Olympic Swimming Champion in 1928 and 1932, Clarence Linden 'Buster' Crabbe II then moved to the world of make-believe starring in, the iconic and bringing, the best interpreation (in my humble opinion) of the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers cartoon characters to the silver screen.
'Who must be Obeyed' written by H Rider Haggard one of my all-time favourite authors and in particular I have always loved his Ayesha saga of which there are four books. 'Wisdom's Daughter' is a sort of prequel showing the mystic side of Ayesha before she joined the mortals (prior to becoming an immortal again). 'She' begins the story we are ll familiar with ending in tragedy, the sequal being 'Ayesha' the return of 'She' and completing the cycle. 'She and Allen' bring together Ayesha and Alan Quartermain- however hungry we may be for more information about these two characters - Rider Haggard must have been having a joke with us or maybe he needed a quick fix of money? However the films of 'She' are many and plentiful starting with a very early silent version in 1908 starring Florence Auer, in 1911 Marguerite Snow portrayed Ayesha, 1916 welcomed Alice Delysia into the role, Valeska Surratt played the eponymous heroine in 1917, the 1925 version gave us Betty Blythe , the 1935 version starring Helen Gahagan gave us a clone of Disney's Wicked Queen in Snow White in one scene, but other than that this is the definitive version even though it did not follow the whole story through starting it in the de Medici's time instead of Ancient Egypt. The there was a bit of a pause for 30 years when Ursula Andress portrayed Ayesha in a Hammer production and set the pulses running in many a male of the period, a sequel in 1968 (and not really based on Haggards 'Ayesha') entitled 'Vengeance of She' starred a typical 1960s starlet Olinka Berova (now known as Olga Schoberová) in the role of Ayesha looking like a clone of Ursula Andress. 1982 brought us Sandahl Bergman in the title role and finally in 2001 Ophélie Winter is seen in yet another version.
Basil Rathbone's 'Sherlock Holmes'
Another series of films that heavily influenced my formative viewing and which I love to this day and am delighted to have on DVD - there were 14 films made in total between the years of 1939 and 1946. Some stayed close to the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle in some of the later ones an element of war-time spying was introduced replacing Moriarty as the arch-enemy with Reich-Nazis. This also served to reinforce the great British spirit and belief in victory during the war years.
The Hound Of the Baskervilles 
The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes 
Sherlock Holmes and The Voice Of Terror 
Sherlock Holmes and The Secret Weapon 
Sherlock Holmes in Washington 
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death 
The Spider Woman 
The Scarlet Claw 
The Pearl Of Death 
The House Of Fear 
The Woman In Green 
Pursuit To Algiers 
Terror By Night 
Dressed To Kill 
This full-length film is based on a little known semi-autobiographical short story found in the 'Pentimento' compendium. A story without a conclusion but beautifully portrayed in this version by two of my least favourite actresses - Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave - but they and the film were riveting and I will admit that it is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. Set in the period 1920s to 1940s following the friendship of the mysterious 'Julia' and the author Lillian Hellman as both grew from puberty into the 'bright young things' of that period as women started to assert themselves in the hitherto all-white male bastion. Lillian Hellman was, throughout the reminiscing of this story, in a relationship with Dashiell Hammett (look at all those double letters in his name!) who wrote 'The Maltese Falcon' which became the basis for another favourite film of mine, and who encouraged her in her writing. Hammett was played by Jason Robards, Lauren Bacall's second husband. The film conveys the sinister menace and appeal of Nazism in its early pre-war days - the adventurous Hellman did not seem to pick up on the dangers to herself, although her friend Julia, was only too aware of what was happening in Europe to the intelligentsia (of which she was a part) and the tragedy that was unfolding for anyone of Jewish origin.
The Maltese Falcon
Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet - who could ask for anything more. Based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett
The instantly recognisable iconic movie poster of The Maltese Falcon (1941)
An alternative version of the film (1931)
1931 version unknown to me - adore the font used and layout of this poster
Another of my particular favourites and 2012 sees its 70th Anniversary. There are some glorious moments - the singing of the 'Marseillaise' and strolling of Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains into the runway lights pondering on the start of their 'beautiful friendship.' Now that's iconic!
Viktor Laszlo (Paul Heinreid) leading the Marseillaise in defiance of the Nazi Occupation.
L to R - The films principals at the airport prior to escape Claude Raines, Paul Heinreid, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman / Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains beginning their 'beautiful friendship.'
Iconic Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in front of his Café Américaine and joined in a 'colourised' version with (l to r) Paul Heinreid and Ingrid Bergman
And who could forget Sam?
Such a joyous picture of Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Sam (Dooley Wilson) at the piano
And I couldn't resist sharing the colourised version - what a find!
The Children's Hour
Another of my favourite films - Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Maclaine were superb in this adaptation of Lilian Hellmans stageplay.
Margaret Rutherford's Miss Marple
How could the cinema world have survived without the Margaret Rutherford interpretation of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple (with no disrespect to the marvellous Joan Dickson who starred in the television serialisation) - but it very nearly happened! On his website Shadowlocked, Mike Iveson refers to ten (almost) miscastings.
He says "Miscasting in films has always been a problem. A producer hires an actor thinking that he or she is perfect for a movie role only to find the opposite is true. Other times a star is hired for his box office draw but ruins an otherwise good movie because he looks completely out of place." Goes on to say "In rare cases, a miscast actor defies the odds by giving a memorable film performance. Perhaps it was the daunting acting challenge that prompted them to work twice as hard or maybe it was their first starring role and they had to prove themselves worthy of their new found status. Sean Connery was not Ian Fleming’s choice for James Bond and Peter Cushing could not be further from the literary versions of Professor Van Helsing and Baron Frankenstein, but yet they made the roles their own." And includes Margaret Rutherford in the sixth slot stating "Margaret Rutherford (Murder She Said – 1961): It seems a bit of a shame to include this most beloved eccentric of the British cinema, but the fans of Agatha Christie’s amateur sleuth have stated many times that Margaret Rutherford does not fit the description of Miss Marple. Even the author didn’t care much for the actress’ performance. True the film relies more on Rutherford’s dotty persona; but let’s face it, she is, as she was in every film, a delight from start to finish. She is a brilliant Marple because she maintains the character’s razor sharp intelligence and deductive reasoning throughout, dominating every scene with unquestionable authority. And while the film does not follow the original story, it’s a fun ride for all concerned.
On the strength of her performance, Rutherford played Marple in three more movies, and even Agatha Christie dedicated her novel The Mirror Cracked From Side to Side to this most popular of actresses. Rutherford made an uncredited appearance as Marple in The Alphabet Murders (1965), which was intended to be the first of a series of films to feature Christie’s other sleuth Hercule Poirot. But if you want to talk about bad miscastings, you could not do worse than Tony Randal, who is an absolutely atrocious Poirot. Apparently Christie was so horrified at the movie she refused permission for further Poirot novels to be filmed for several years."
The four Miss Marple films made by Margaret Rutherford were:
Murder She Said - 1961
Murder at the Gallop - 1963
Murder Most Foul - 1964
Murder Ahoy - 1964
Four alternative posters for the second film 'Murder at the Gallop'
This second film continues to take the lion's share of publicity, possibly because of her co-stars and theatrical giants Flora Robson and Robert Morley
Read about a real-life mystery surrounding Margaret Rutherford here
An affectionate rendering of Miss Marple for a project by Paul Hallewell
This is a film my sister and I went to see recently and was my choice in the first instance although Marysia had also been interested by the write-ups. I had also seen write-ups and previews and was interested on various planes - this was based on a true story, it had John Malkovich in the cast, not to mention Angelina Jolie and it was set in my favourite decade. I was curious to see how Jolie would handle herself as I haven't seen much of her work but have read much about her tattoos and various relationships. This film reinforced her, to me, as a fine actress and she does indeed have the old-fashioned glamour of a real movie star as well as being a pretty much in your face humanitarian. It's a shame that the film poster seems to focus on one of Angelina's particular assets rather than the storyline, but then the powers that be obviously needed to sell the film as its subject matter is pretty harrowing. The French put together a much more atmospheric poster which can be seen in the sidebar. This was a thought-provoking film which emphasized that in the 1930s women were still very much second class citizens and any single mother was a pariah or mentally defective. We were very impressed with the film and the content sustained our interest throughout.
St. Trinians - the Saga
Although I adore the original series, starring Alistair Sim, without reservation and feel they cannot be bettered, the two follow up films made in 2007 and 2009 are worthy successors in an updated manner! And of course there is that fabulous Union Jack (BMW) Mini that makes a spectacular entrance in 'The Legend of Fritton's Gold'.
St. Trinian's the Remake
Although this is not the actual film poster it looks like someone had a lot of fun creating the artwork for the second successful film!
Not a Classic Mini, a BMW mini - but a mini nevertheless ...... and it did make a great entrance.
Page updated : 16th May 2016