Mr Norris Changes Trains (Christopher Isherwood)

“He had an animal innocence,” Isherwood sums up Mr Norris — no, I mean Gerald Hamilton (1890-1970), the flamboyant and flabby rogue who inspired Mr Norris. The two met, presumably, in Berlin where Isherwood lived from 1929 to 1933. The author had gone to that city because of the favourable money-exchange. He caught the tormented, self-destructive spirit of Berlin which Broadway excised in favour of un-zippered frolics and Doctor Rugs (yes, I mean….drugs, not hugs and definitely not rugs). Coming from a strangulating British environment where you faced jail if caught in the bushes with a boy, he read that anything went on in Berlin. As Gerald Hamilton said, “We live in stirring times. Tea-stirring times.” [Read more…]

Advertisements

4:50 From Paddington (Agatha Christie)

One of the major joys of Christie’s books is that they manage the difficult feat of being full of corpses and yet free of angst – a trick the Golden Age authors excelled in and modern authors seem to have forgotten. Miss Marple (our “old pussy” as she’s referred to in the book) is at the absolute top of her game. She gives us some nice village parallels to shed light on the characters of the suspects; she twinkles affectionately at both young Inspector Craddock and Lucy; she does a bit of gentle match-making; and she gives us some very ambiguous pronouncements that leave the reader as beautifully baffled as the other characters. [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…]

The First Great Train Robbery (1979 UK)

first-great-train-robbery-6 During the 1950s, censors in most countries either forbade or strongly discouraged films which glamourized crime, but the relaxation of censorship in the 1960s lead to the emergence of a new genre – the “heist” movie. These were films which told the story of a robbery from the viewpoint of the criminals, and were generally light-hearted in tone. “The Thomas Crown Affair” & “The Italian Job”, both from the late 60s are good examples of this immoral form of story telling. “The First Great Train Robbery” fits into this category, although it was unusual in having a period setting and in being based, albeit loosely, on a real-life event. [Read more…]

Incident At Victoria Falls (1992 Europe/International)

incidentIf you didn’t know better, you’d take this for one of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories. Just add twenty years and make the hero short and squat instead of so tall and narrow that he seems to be on stilts. Imagine Holmes and Watson in pith helmets and white suits, tramping through the jungle in an exotic location. But really, this TV movie is not to be taken seriously. Its a light-hearted romp with an enjoyable train journey as the highlight. [Read more…]

Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mystery & Other Stories

railwayWritten by John Taylor, a well known writer and radio producer, Dr Watson introduces and recounts four `new’ stories that have up till now remained a mere collection of random notes. The link to the originals is a locked cedar wood chest that Dr Watson discovers in his bureau. Benedict Cumberbatch is the enthusiastic narrator and what a good job he does. [Read more…]

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Paula Hawkins) Book Review

9780857522313-largeAnyone who’s ridden trains in and out of London (or any large city) knows that feeling of getting window-glimpses of people inside the dwellings you pass. You wonder who they are, what their lives are like. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: