One of Priestley’s beastly masterpieces (the author mentioned “various depths of irony that London critics seemed to miss as they shrugged it away,” seemed is good). Two years later came Kurosawa’s Ikiru.
“A typical British programmer, funny if you don’t concentrate” (Don Druker, Chicago Reader).
Young Wives’ Tale
The compleat version of an analysis driven to farce in the confines of a house and nanny shared by two families and an evil-minded young virgin called at one point “the little manhater”, a family friend.
The nanny is tyrannical and told-off and gone, another found with difficulty to replace her is practically perfect etc. but scandalized beyond endurance and told-off and gone.
The housewife’s plight, the working mother’s plight, a sudden change of husbands in a storm of emotion, quickly settled, even the evil-minded little virgin.
It ends in a madcap, hectic stretto, the writer’s life at home.
The cast of equals is led by Nigel Patrick and Joan Greenwood (Helen Cherry, Derek Farr, Athene Seyler, Audrey Hepburn, Guy Middleton et al.), a miraculous comedy.
Castle in the Air
The rightful king of Scotland.
The place is costly to keep, the Coal Board wants it for the miners’ recreation, by fiat.
The Denver delicatessen millionairess is a faroff relation and wants to buy.
Thus the postwar account of René Clair’s The Ghost Goes West, from a stage play mind you.
H.H.T. of the New York Times, “slender but thoroughly good-natured... cozy, chucklesome insularities of this featherweight import... as typically British as they come... here again it offers few surprises along the way... while the film meanders it never flounders... this offhand lark almost consistently amusing... the kind of urbane drollery”. Britmovie, “a lacklustre farce... miscast... not without its charm”. TV Guide, “plot, plot, plot, and all of it drab, drab, drab.” Hal Erickson (All Movie Guide), “hectic British comedy”.
The village chemist and tobacconist squabble over a barmaid, an American steps in to promote the chemist’s cure for smoking, it raises an international incident.
The chemist is fearfully shy, the head of the tobacco combine has a secretary who can’t type a word, among others.
A very great comedy, blissfully unknown despite a certain learned appreciation of Laurel and Hardy that is quite characteristic of the studious English who supplied half the team, and the very sharp gag material very fast in the delivery that makes a surface as smooth as the village pond.
The Crooked Sky
Counterfeit pound notes are flying into England on American planes belonging to Globe Link, a passenger and freight service, the mastermind is a Teuton with a gang of killers who also runs a posh “illegal gambling den” in London.
The screenplay is so schematic that a synopsis tells the tale as “a succession of images”, the direction superbly reinforces this rather than running counter, Cass on the airfield for a picnic lunch amongst the aircraft looming expressively in every shot, or in a nursery with a hobbyhorse prominent (the American Treasury agent interviews an ex-con), establishes the elements of the composition throughout and no mistake.
A capital joke has Scotland Yard hushed by spectators at a chamber music recital given by the gang.
Blood of the Vampire
A true nightmare of the rarest sort, the ingenuity of which starts with the fact that there are no vampires in it. Piranesi is suggested somehow, or Kafka, in the simple ornament of a man’s bleeding back and a high iron chandelier with a uniformed keeper at a prison for the criminally insane. Always several elements comprise the single image, weighing it down, distracting and confusing the spectator (in all fairness, be it said Time Out Film Guide takes no notice) in a vision of palpable horror and revulsion that, by degrees, lightens toward the end.
The superstition claims a medical man researching the blood, another doctor is imprisoned for carrying out a fatal transfusion, professional ignorance is the cause, transfusions are unknown or nearly, blood groups not yet understood.
The first, revived by a drunken surgeon whom his disfigured manservant subsequently kills, doctors the evidence in order to convict the second and ultimately bring him to the prison described, run by himself, and there the two bleed every inmate to sustain the dying warden and find a cure for his ailment, blood “antagonistic” to every group (the prisoner-physician knows nothing, merely continues his research, the truth impresses itself upon him).
Erle C. Kenton’s House of Dracula is the great original, Ford’s The Prisoner of Shark Island is called upon, Franju’s Les Yeux sans visage supplies the ending.
A perfect masterpiece, a glory of the cinema.