Two Thousand Women

Interned by the Germans in a French grand hotel behind barbed wire, no water hot or cold, no men but the guards, the “sector warden” of a corridor is a card-carrying Nazi.

An R.A.F. bomber on its way to Italy is shot down, two ladies break the blackout to guide the plane and are later sent to Germany. Three of the crew make it to the camp and are safely hidden.

The women put on a jolly good show to help them escape, and that is just the point.

“Hardly an outstanding film of its time,” says Halliwell’s Film Guide, “but mildly entertaining.”


I See a Dark Stranger

The rip-roaring adventure of an Irish girl reared on tall tales of 1916 who tries to join the IRA and winds up spying for the Germans out of spite, but nothing will convey the breathlessness of Launder’s deadpan controversies and whiskbroom approach to every damn problem conceived by the muse of cinema, there where he is poised between Hitchcock and The Third Man.

The prize up for grabs is the D-Day invasion, its exact location, and the lesson of it is that Lady Ireland will stoop to all kinds of mischief to have her way, and once having it will not do a wicked thing on any account, but there is a definite absolute limit to her patience after all, its name is Hector Protector or the like.


Captain Boycott

An etymology of the great savings in Irish blood and sweat and tears indicated by the name, a man best not killt exactly but ignored altogether.

Launder has his town in Co. Mayo to film, and goes to the races for the chase, and has a deal to do anywhere and everywhere, what with speaker Charles Stewart Parnell defraying the cost of rotting fruit and vegetables in a town square, and various ways and means of fighting iniquity in the West of Ireland, where the great landlords does just what they wants, and drives a man off his farm if he can’t pay the rent that’s asked, sky-high and arbitrary as the chance meeting of a champion racer and a local mare, yerra.


The Blue Lagoon

Launder traveled a great distance for a great poem, the recognition of beauty springs forth an octopus requiring a spear, the beads one finds everywhere are pearls, one labors in vain for rescue, thieves want beads and the girl and aren’t going to London town, anyway.

On the isle of Manhattan, A.W. of the New York Times considered it picturesque and lacking in “drama”, Variety certainly agreed, Halliwell also. Time Out Film Guide merely blinked.


The Happiest Days of Your Life

In a vaguely wartime context of evacuations and resettlements, St. Swithin’s school for girls is lodged on Nutbourne College for boys, it is simply an error that exposes the battle of the sexes as very near a military campaign on strict sectarian lines that admit no taking of prisoners, though the sports master is appreciative of girls “bang on for seventeen”, it’s a fight for terrain and culture and all of that, not very funny though Dighton and Launder have the command of jokes at a high level to see the thing through, anyway Mallett of Punch thought it “absolutely first rate fun” if Variety did not, and nowadays farce is looked down upon by farcical critics.


Folly to Be Wise

The problem of criticism, critical commentary, critical observation of the artist and his material, put in the bluntest terms possible at an army camp where the new entertainments officer throws off the yoke of soirées that everyone shuns for the local, the Reverend Captain W. Paris institutes a Brains Trust at 1930 hours like the BBC with panelists and all, a sage countess, an aged doctor, the Labour MP, a BBC panelist, his hoped-for mistress the children’s book authoress and her husband, a beleaguered artist.

“Some restrained merriment” (A.W., New York Times), “peters out” (Halliwell’s Film Guide), “ a minimum of flair and ingenuity” (Time Out Film Guide), and so forth.


The Belles of St. Trinian’s

Two Thousand Women, The Happiest Days of Your Life, and the initiation of “the highly enjoyable if hardly sophisticated series” (Geoff Andrew, Time Out Film Guide).

Vitally interested, one might say, in the gentler sex however unsophisticated.

It’s a horse race (Arab Boy and Blue Prince), the school is riding on it.

The belles have gin and nitro for the world, no end of craft, and can shrewdly judge a horse.

Variety thought it started well and didn’t pan out. A.W. of the New York Times was convinced, despite the gaggle of mistresses in the common room, that it was “merely one joke”.

The steady hand at the tiller supervenes with sublime jokes throughout.



The Olympic hammer-thrower from the glens.

A.H. Weiler, a notable idiot, dismissed it in his New York Times review (as Wee Geordie, along with Clayton’s The Bespoke Overcoat), “not nearly as tall and weighty as its hero.” Another idiot, who shall be nameless, has “an affectionate triumph-of-the-underdog fable” (Time Out Film Guide).

Halliwell’s Film Guide sums up the notable idiot, “without the necessary style to follow it through.”


Blue Murder at St. Trinian’s

“Your blue lamp baby” has the Hatton Gardens diamond caper to solve.

St. Trinian’s rififi the UNESCO Competition and travel by Dreadnought bus to Rome for water polo and a marriage-minded prince.

The father of a belle is the incorrigible criminal masquerading as the headmistress up from an Australian “borstal for girls”, kidnapped.

A serene comedy of sheer genius that ends where it all began, with Miss Fritton pocketing the reward.


The Bridal Path

It’s the childhood friend all grown up and the consanguinity on top of that makes one stiff-necked and sends her awa’ to Glasgow and you must leave the wee isle for a wife on the mainland like a white slaver from Latin America with the half of your fortune on your back and the women is so strange and the police want you for an Irish-American poacher using dynamite so that it starts very soon to be Hitchcock in The 39 Steps and worse and leaves even that behind for troubles not looked upon and you go back home to find her there, all bitterly unacknowledged by quaint A.H. Weiler of the New York Times and that most peculiar Time Out Film Guide and silly, silly Halliwell.


The Wildcats of St. Trinian’s

They go on strike, initially for nothing more than a slice of the pie, this requires a closed shop, a Schoolgirls’ Union, and a pretext for action, so they kidnap an Arab oil princess and send a belle to Highdown in her place, she is expelled, the strike is on.

The Ministry get the Left Action Democratic Students (L.A.D.S., a recognized trade union) to take them on, Flash Harry works a side deal with a female private detective formerly employed on Brighton divorce cases.

The Schoolgirls resist and up their demands to Ministerial humiliation.

A rigorous set-up of racketeers and nincompoops well in the St. Trinian’s line and crowning it.

“Should never have been made” (Time Out Film Guide).