Once a Jolly Swagman

The metaphor is dirt-bike racing on an oval track, speedway, this has its hazards of course and its glories, one desirous of a certain kind of peace and a steady life withdraws, eventually, after endeavoring to organize the racers at the behest of his brother, who comes home from the Spanish Civil War without a scratch but is last heard from in Singapore at the start of the Second World War, of such ironies the film is made (an association already exists).

The champion also serves, so does his grass widow, afterward she still repines at the danger of the track and asks for a divorce, he can hear his name called down from loudspeakers year after year in triumph but the attraction is not so great as an honest life of breadwinning and home and hearth, wearing his leathers and helmet and boots he strides into the empty stands where his wife is waiting.


The Wooden Horse

The first problem is to leave Stalag Luft III, hide a man in a vaulting horse near the fence and dig.

The second is to be a couple of Frenchmen in Lübeck, yet prove to the French one is English.

The Danish underground is up against it, third.

The overriding problem is seen in Göteborg, German higher-ups who “smell the blood of an Englishman.”


A Town Like Alice

The long march of Englishwomen and children under the Japs in Malaya, “every wise man’s son doth know.”

Cross-referenced to Negulesco’s Three Came Home and Renoir’s The River, among other films.

Absurdly reviewed in the New York Times (A.H. Weiler) and Time Out Film Guide and Halliwell’s Film Guide, perhaps less so in Variety.


Robbery Under Arms

A couple of likely lads come to the aid of their cattle-thieving father in a pinch and stay to become bushrangers with his partner, a gentleman self-styled “Captain Starlight”.

The lads pack it in for the gold fields and meet girls and plan for California, but only when one is dead and Captain Starlight and the father and all the mob, the other one peaceably arrested in hopes of returning to his wife and infant son, does the whole caper end at last.

A very great film, partly for its Australian views (as Variety noted) and partly for its essential dullness (“howlingly dull”, says Halliwell), though some have claimed for Peter Finch a glamorous role.

A totally futile Western in the far wilds of South Australia back when Adelaide was a ruckus and a few slats out of nothing, a packet steamer ticket from Melbourne.


Circle of Deception

All the Maquis of Marignan in the Pas de Calais are rounded up or shot save one, the curé, who signals London.

The plan had been to mount diversionary attacks before D-Day.

“Combined Services Catering Research” culls a Canadian volunteer with a weak psychological profile and sends him in to crack with false information.

Two SS men have the job, one a moron, the other blind.

The mission is a success, the film begins with a victory parade. The style before the flashback is meant to convey the period.

The roundup is stark, not so much as the torture scenes.

Bosley Crowther thought it was a practical joke upon the public. It goes into J. Lee Thompson’s The Guns of Navarone.