The Night My Number Came Up

A supreme allegory of the Pacific War ending, all the details are there in a plane trip from Hong Kong to Tokyo by way of Okinawa.

Nagasaki and Hiroshima figure in it, of course, and the title refers to the high Allied losses projected in an invasion.

It’s a dream that nearly comes true, until the pilot takes a hand, and at that it’s equipped with an analysis of Wellman’s The High and the Mighty on “dear Brutus” (Richard Matheson’s “Nick of Time”, directed by Richard L. Bare for The Twilight Zone, is closely related).

Bosley Crowther, New York Times, thought it was a thrilling scare-ride. George Perry, in his remarkably uninsightful book, Forever Ealing, typically slights it as “somewhat thin... stereotypical”, etc.


X the Unknown

Radioactive mud rises to the earth’s surface, feeding on energy like itself at every source in the vicinity of its Scottish fissure, where the Army is on Geiger counter exercises.

Losey was set to direct or actually began it, the story goes, but he went on to The Damned instead.



The very bitter and fucked-round correspondent takes his boat over and dies there, not before receiving an illumination of the circumstances. It was guns and butter, he realizes, the Nazis chose guns, his side went with butter.

The foolishness on the home front makes up half of Hamilton’s Battle of Britain.

Norman’s work belongs on a double bill with The Longest Day.


The Long and the Short and the Tall

All there is by way of inculcation is the opening credit sequence that might have inspired Leone’s in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Even training films that show how bad it can get also show the right way, but the intent here is only a feature-length horror of the wrong way in battle.

“Sonic warfare” in the jungle, green troops on exercise, ill-equipped, a surprising development, a prisoner of war, a makeshift retreat, jangling all the way.

The disaster in the making is already enough before the first Jap is seen, and the small unit goes to death and capture in a literal shower out of nowhere, it would seem.

Critics (Variety, Time Out Film Guide, Halliwell’s Film Guide) have never taken stock of this.


Spare The Rod

The title is a non sequitur for most of the length, then it comes crashing home on wayward educationalists to show the whole point.

This structure, which rather resembles Cyril Frankel’s It’s Great to Be Young!, is just the thing to express one of Norman’s themes as plainly and unobtrusively as possible, whether or not any notice was taken by reviewers.


Mix Me a Person

A rather complex mystery explicated by Ian Dalrymple from the author of The Trouble with Harry. Coffee-bar youth out joyriding attends the murder of a policeman, set to hang he’s freed on the car owner’s murder by Irish rebels who’ve taken over the plant for arms theft.

This did not put critics wise by any means. “A routine suspense thriller,” says Halliwell, “not a very good one, though.”


The Saint: The Loving Brothers

Sydney property men who won’t throw a dollar into Pop’s silver mine.

The theme goes very far, into Bryan Forbes’ The Wrong Box, Edwin Sherin’s Valdez Is Coming, and “Double Shock” for Columbo (dir. Robert Butler), this is a supremely elegant example of it.

They quarrel like opposing parties, Wally and Willie, Pop wants to build a hospital in Stony Creek, Queensland, a little place just this side of nowhere, with his first million.