Penn of Pennsylvania

Mr. Penn passes out from Roman England like a Moses contemporary to Pepys (who appears in a cameo). Deborah Kerr’s lapidary Guli makes the call, shall one say, a pleasure. Noel Coward & David Lean signalled SOS and no mistake, Lance Comfort smokes a peace-pipe with Brother Jonathan, and observes him graciously, with an eye to the Hollywood biopic that he ornaments and advances, pivotally.


Hatter’s Castle

Hitler, a social-climbing nutter, so clearly spelled out that no sane man could miss it.

All the critics did, Bosley Crowther of the New York Times (who saw it in 1948, “a violent and painful film... but too much monstrousness grows weighty toward the end”), Variety, Time Out Film Guide (Tom Milne), Halliwell’s Film Guide.

James Mason as the doctor has the opposite role in Crabtree’s They Were Sisters, exactly misunderstood in the same way, by critics.

Impossible, but it really happened.

Comfort’s style and technique are extremely fine, with a special forte of extreme close-ups brought about by the actors moving fortuitously, as it were.

The ending is famously favored by Hammer.


Old Mother Riley Detective

It opens quite like All the President’s Men (dir. Alan J. Pakula) with a break-in at the Food Offices, a very clever dick from C.I.D. brushes aside the notion that Mrs. Riley the voluntary char (“her war work”) had anything doing and puts her on the scent of the black market, “really, definitely, actually!”

Everything is rationed because of the war, but Comfort and his cast and crew give measure still for measure, there is nothing at all more fun than a barrel full of Old Mother Riley.

“That’s what all my boyfriends tell me.”

TV Guide, “a lifeless effort.”



A fine analytical recognition of Tourneur’s Cat People, witness the jokes, on a murderess who converts men and their way of life into money.

The ending is already foreseen in Hatter’s Castle, the postwar perspective still adds a tang nonetheless.

“Pretty much of a disappointment” (Bosley Crowther, New York Times, who couldn’t make head nor tail of it).

“Dreary upper-class British murder drama,” says Halliwell’s Film Guide, “totally devoid of style or suspense but a big star hit of the time.”


Silent Dust

Three years after the war, three years before Jeux interdits (dir. René Clément), a monument to the fallen in the form of a sports pavilion, erected by his blind parvenu father that “his memory shall live,” a deserter. This is subsequently analyzed in Don Chaffey’s Time Is My Enemy. “At last I limped into Brussels more dead than alive.” The filming recalls Cukor’s Holiday and The Philadelphia Story, two sides of a theme, except the flashback sequence on the Continent belied by the narration, and where Jacques Becker finds resolution in a dream for Antoine et Antoinette, Comfort represents the blind man’s mind as it pieces together its various distant encounters with the party absent to its reason, who must be there.

There is a pivotal spiral staircase (see Siodmak or Collinson), with Auric’s score to complete the image. “The peace hasn’t turned out quite as well as we’d hoped. Since we got back to the manor, my wife’s been doing all the cooking and seldom gets further than the pigsties.”

T.M.P. of the New York Times fell back on the old “stagebound” ploy, a venerable standby for movie reviewers caught napping. “Effective stage melodrama,” says Halliwell’s Film Guide, “quite neatly filmed.”


Make Mine a Million

A perfect work on the work of art that never sees the light of day in the daylight robbery that is the national concern, or so it says, the national concern.

There are two television networks, all depends on them, housewives won’t buy a product if it isn’t advertised on telly, that’s all.

One network takes no adverts at all, the other takes a pile of cash per, it’s impossible, one must organize a “wartime underground movement” on pirated airtime to get anywhere at all.

The product is Bonko, a detergent of many properties, developed over twelve years by a top research scientist and his team of dedicated colleagues, “guarded day and night by the secret police of a country that shall be nameless, you know it.”

Our man on the music halls is now reduced to titivating TV types, he works the caper with a pulled cable there and another plugged-in here, the nation is captivated.

It comes down to him in the back of a mail van driven by two robbers in post office uniforms.


Tomorrow at Ten

London kidnapping case, small boy, large ransom, time bomb in golliwog.

Scotland Yard fails to meet the deadline, however the wee tyke upon waking has decided to give the golliwog a bath, soap and all, bomb defused.

The British Film Institute reports a “lukewarm” critical reception, and latterly commends the film as having plot elements that “subvert generic expectations”.

“Well acted and efficiently done,” says Halliwell’s Film Guide, thereby summing up the significance and the beautiful, concentrated filming of a “terse second feature.”