Journey Together


With Terence Rattigan and Gordon Jacob in the RAF. A film about the education of raw talent, made to illustrate the importance of air navigation. Boulting keys this to precision shots like landmarks amid a welter of difficult gearing in complex articulated sequences like the bombing run. On the other end of the stick is the image, a telling face or, to introduce the young Britons to an American flying school, an unfamiliar landscape reflected in a train window.

The serenity of Boulting’s diction is in the subtle appreciation of American and Canadian distinctions, for example. Kubrick remembered this film in Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Brighton Rock

What is a seaside resort, this one in particular, if not a lark that gets you through what might be sordid surroundings?

Boulting’s masterpiece gets right to it in the end after elegant lashings of silence and violence.

And so you “know the place for the first time,” it’s been there all along throughout the film.

It isn’t the rinky-dink gang preying on turf accountants and brushed aside by a plush mobster nor any hue and cry, it’s a young villain who takes the plunge and a little phrase on a phonograph record.


The Magic Box

The very essence of genius, the very genius of the cinema, from a cranking street-organ to the fire-eaters to the moving pictures, a continuous stream of inspiration, or discontinuous per Bergman. “Turn that light out,” says Friese Greene interrupted in his laboratory, and seeing two ladies, “turn it on again.”

The misery of Friese Greene, “they could have mentioned my name.” Persistence of vision, by Jove.

The mystery of photography as well, and anyone who will see a resemblance to Buster Keaton in this phase of Robert Donat’s performance is welcome.

Fox Talbot, Sir Arthur Sullivan... Hyde Park on a Sunday, the invention of cinematography, “with a life of its own.” The everlasting penury of the truly devoted, in the midst of hardy businessmen, exhibitors, etc., at odds and evens.

“Just the price of a seat at the pictures.”


Crest of the Wave

“What’s this, another British heavyweight in training?” Seagulls over Sorrento in UK, but only in a laughing Caledonian sort of way. “What’s a—what’s a Sassenach?”

Sprog... a Sassenach is anyone from south of the border!”

“Oh, Mexican.The new torpedo sinks its two-man test sub, boffin and all, the Yanks have much the same idea and send their backroom boy over at the Admiralty’s request.

Having one’s prospects at the bottom of the sea is the very lamentable proposition, the directors dwell on it in a memorable image. Is it the warhead carrying an experimental payload, or the mechanism of the torpedo, or perhaps the submarine firing apparatus? “How d’ye spell ‘memento’, Sprog?”

“No use askinme, Lofty.”

“Didn’t they teach you nothing at that orphanage? ‘Ere, m-i-m ‘mim’, e-n, t-o-e ‘toe’, ‘mimentoe’.”

“O’ course, ta, Badger.” The Nero and the Northern Star are in the cryptic and allusive picture, “deflection angle” is the critical factor, anyway there are the mirror themes of hot-tempered Allied rivalry and a hectoring petty officer vis-Ó-vis a veteran sailor with a flash point (cp. The Hill, dir. Sidney Lumet), and throughout there is Doris, an offscreen presence late of Southampton and New York (the structure is comparable to Lean’s The Sound Barrier).

Cinematography Gilbert Taylor, score Miklos Rozsa, directed with Roy Boulting most impressively on location. Gene Kelly perhaps to invoke the dance motif of Eliot’s Four Quartets.

A.W. of the New York Times, “largely a tempest in a teapot,” and that went for the play as well, to his way of thinking. Leonard Maltin, “static account”. TV Guide, “ran three years in London but only a few weeks on Broadway.Halliwell’s Film Guide, “long-running British service comedy... Americanized to little effect... just about watchable.”


Private’s Progress

A history of World War II from the vantage point of a varsity ninny called up in 1942.

“Come then, let us to the task,” though no-one wants any part of it, despite a welcoming address on Britain at war.

What does transpire is a secret mission behind enemy lines to secure plundered works of art, Operation Hatrack, the brainchild of Brigadier Tracepurcel in the War Office, M.I.3.

This floats a war surplus business and nearly a South American honeymoon, but is undone by a fake Holy Family shown up by the ninny.

The question is, “how do you get the Africa Star?” In Which We Serve is a great film to see absent without leave.

Variety liked the Army satire and thought the rest was “an unreal melodramatic adventure,” not noting any congruity with Crichton’s The Lavender Hill Mob. Other reviews are generally unreflective, similarly.


Lucky Jim

The precise terms in which the provincial hell of a junior lectureship in history can be understood as a thing one leaves by train for London with the girl.

Nine months in all are required for this understanding, and a jalopy belonging to the department chair, to get to the station.

The exceptionally acute satire depends upon a critical perception not readily available to film critics, whose accomplishments bear out the assertion of Henry Ford at the Memorial Lecture, “history is bunk.”


I’m All Right Jack

A complete, highly detailed and unfailingly accurate analysis of the capitalist West, and that includes all the Communists.

Therefore it is mandatory, or ought to be, in the schools, so that every student should come to know the lay of the land, or the lie.

Every word of it is true, taken from experience and drawn as it were to the life, not a trifle is omitted, the whole kit ‘n caboodle is there, and the absconding Chairman is Malcolm Muggeridge.


Heavens Above!

The Boultings’ supreme sendup of a “clerical error”, the scouser prison chaplain appointed vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Orbiston Parva (in the same year as Losey’s The Servant, he arrives and departs by dustcart), where the trinity is Tranquilax, stimulant and sedative and laxative in one, the major concern.

He runs the economy ragged, tears the town apart, supports a family of thieves who steal the lead from the church roof, and finally is shot into space.

Bu˝uel’s Viridiana has exactly the same idea.

Shares in Tranquilax Ltd. fall precipitously, the prime minister recommends a name change, his party has had several.

Triple Crown Unction is the new Tranquilax.

Directed with Roy Boulting.


The Family Way

Schlesinger’s A Kind of Loving, expanded into the elephantine stasis of a nightmare, finally prying the young wedded couple free on their honeymoon, with a house in view.

He is a projectionist (Reisz’ Morgan—A Suitable Case for Treatment is on), so there’s Clash by Night amid the comical interpolations, which include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

A savory nightmare satisfactorily realized and awakened from.

Bosley Crowther (New York Times) thought it was deferentially therapeutic, Variety liked the lad’s mum, Halliwell didn’t follow.

Directed with Roy Boulting.