School For Scoundrels (1960 UK)

Before satire was written by Oxbridge public school boys for Oxbridge public school boys, British comedy writers believed their audience intelligent enough to appreciate gentle irony without stamping on their heads. The English humourist Stephen Potter enjoyed great success in the 1950s with his books “Gamesmanship”, which ironically advised sportsmen on “how to win without actually cheating”, chiefly by using psychological ploys to unsettle their opponents, and “Lifemanship” and “One-upmanship” which advocated a similar attitude to life in general. The central idea is that Potter, not content with merely writing books, has actually opened a College of Lifemanship in Somerset in order to teach his philosophy. [Read more…]

Spring 1968

The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961 United Kingdom)

Remember when Britain produced really great motion pictures? OK, no one is that old who would visit this blog. Lucky for us there is dvd-blu ray to enjoy these hoary relics. Anyway, this was made decades before millions hated and distrusted the lame stream’s media lies that pass for “news.”  It is very rare that a film manages to capture the sweat, stress and panic of the newsroom (ho ho! – alright, I’ll reign in my cynicism for the duration of this post) where the workers gather round for quick meetings and discussions before frantically typing up a new story and making those all – important phone calls. And the decision to tell the whole story from the viewpoint of the Daily Express workers is a refreshing and exciting one. [Read more…]

The Train (1964 France/USA)

The concept of an ‘action’ film is the most curious, as many examples of the genre seem very static – even today where it seems that anything can be shown. A fight, car crash, explosion, etc is rehearsed, staged, simultaneously photographed and edited in a certain way that brings out and sometimes enhances the action. But, as the event is meticulously planned, rigorously controlled, sometimes or always re-shot, spontaneity cannot be part of the action, or plays a small part. The action may be impressive, but still seems unreal, too chaotic, the sense that the action is not integrated into the story and maybe even more importantly, the attitude and motivation of the characters. Most action films are far from achieving all this. [Read more…]

The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964 Britain)

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb is a good-looking film at least, thankfully not having the rushed and made-on-the-quick-and-cheap production values of the Universal Kharis Mummy films. The chilling Hammer atmosphere is present in how the film looks, with the sumptuous Gothic sets, lush photography that does a fine job evoking atmosphere, much tighter editing and rich bold colours. We have the usual well spoken actors, in this case Ronald Howard (the hero)  and Terence Morgan (the villain). The music score is hauntingly stirring, and while this flick is too often dull it really does bring it on home in the final twenty minutes. [Read more…]

Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors (1965 Britain)

The first Amicus anthology movie was a sizeable hit on release, and was also liked by the critics. Producer Milton Subotsky dusted off some scripts he’d had knocking around since the late 1940s, but he didn’t make much of an effort to update them for the swinging 60s.  The linking story sees five seemingly ordinary travellers board a train. A sinister sixth traveller boards the train at the last moment. He carries with him a deck of tarot cards. Each traveller taps the cards three times and their fortunes are told. Unlike later entries in the series where everyone would willingly, without objection, subject themselves to such commitments, this opening film shows characters who have doubts or ridicule the whole thing. [Read more…]

Pete n Dud “The Psychiatrist”

Common Law Cabin (1967 USA)

In Russ Meyer’s world bad taste triumphed over everything and in his first colour picture he doesn’t change the formula. This swamp-like soap opera begins with picturesque imagery of the Colorado river and its banks as a narrator sings its praises as the very best America can offer in its majestic and natural beauty. Then he ends up admitting that the waterway in some places isn’t so salubrious – in fact it smells like garbage. This dual nature sums up the tone of the ensuing 69 minutes, where we are invited to admire the buxom ladies in the cast while seeing them subjected to all kinds of ugly treatment at the hands of the menfolk. [Read more…]

The Essence Of Summer

Before Cat Stevens became a bearded boring git with painful ballads that were overplayed by easy listening radio, he had a former life as a clean-shaven pop singer of upbeat tunes. Like this. Bright and breezy to go with that cool lemonade in the conservatory on a summer’s day.

Poetry In Song

What a lush soundtrack Michel Legrand composed for the Thomas Crown Affair film of 1968. This must have been a big hit – all 2 minutes 20 seconds of it. Noel Harrison’s vocals are very unaffected and natural. He sings as if time is running out, and of course, it is. Its both eerie and sad in a wholesome (not morbid) way.  As someone once pointed out “this song will outlive us all.” Quite! Its already outlived Noel Harrison, Steve McQueen and a few others…

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