Alastair Sim

Alastair Sim

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Green for Danger Review


Excellent
You know those old-time British murder mysteries that take place in a manor on a dark and stormy night? One of the aristocrat guests at the manor gets murdered, or his wife does. Upstairs and downstairs, everyone's a suspect, prompting the appearance of an unflappable Scotland Yard inspector who proceeds to snoop out the manor's residents and their goings-on. With wry wit and efficient tact, the inspector nails the perpetrator, evincing much shock and relief from the manor's residents, after which he goes merrily on his way. Now, replace the manor with a rural hospital, its resident aristocrats and staff with a hospital's doctors and nurses, the stormy weather with skies darkened by Nazi bombers, and you've got Green for Danger.

Best known for his screenplay (co-written with Frank Launder) for The Lady Vanishes, one of Hitchcock's '30s era gems, writer Sidney Gilliat also enjoyed a 30-year directing career beginning in the early '40s. Green for Danger is probably Gilliat's best known and regarded effort, and, in its lightness of touch, it feels of a piece with the aforementioned Hitchcock thriller. But, while Hitchcock never cared for whodunits, Gilliat (along with co-writer Claude Guerney) fashioned a nifty and entertaining one in Green for Danger, based on Christianna Brand's novel and using the WWII-besieged English countryside as his backdrop. The physical and psychological toll of the war informs the jaded mood of Danger's hospital staff, the interrelationships among the doctors and nurses, and even their medical ethics.

Continue reading: Green for Danger Review

The Ruling Class Review


OK
Too long, too willfully oddball, too full of obvious critiques of the British upper crust, Peter Medak's 1972 film The Ruling Class is still fairly enjoyable as a showcase for Peter O'Toole. As Jack Gurney, the heir to an earldom, he completely throws himself into the role of a man gone completely mad; convinced he's God, he sleeps on a crucifix, wears his hair at a Christlike length, and make loud and unhinged proclamations about the state of the universe. Jack's mental state troubles his uncle, Sir Charles Gurney (William Mervyn), but only because he's angry that the previous earl left him out of the will, and he plots to have Jack cured, or at least to hook him up with his mistress, Grace (Carolyn Seymour), in the hopes of producing a sane heir.

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A Christmas Carol (1951) Review


Weak
It's probably the best-known version of A Christmas Carol on film, but sadly this 1951 rendition has aged terribly. Watch it today and you'll immediately note the atrocious sound quality and that the special effects aren't any better than the version made in 1938. Alastair Sim is appropriately grumpy as Scrooge, but he adds little to the role that any other actor has brought to it. Frankly, of all the versions of Carol that are out there, this is the first I'd skip.

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The Millionairess Review


Weak
The richest woman in England (Sophia Loren -- an Italian, but no matter) woos an Indian doctor (Peter Sellers -- an Englishman, but no matter) who's a helper to the poor and has forsaken material wealth. The tepid setup continues as they semi-wager one another that she can't live a life of poverty for three months while he can't build a fortune out of a small nest egg. Somehow this a) leads to love and b) is meant to be a comedy.

Stage Fright Review


OK
Alfred Hitchcock might have had a fair-to-good thriller here with Stage Fright had he not blown it with cheap plotting that has made the film one of his most reviled among Hitchcock enthusiasts and historians.

The problem relates to the flashback, a device Hitchcock frequently used to good effect. But here, Hitch deceives us from the get-go with a big (and bold) lie. To explain further would ruin the film more than it already is.

Continue reading: Stage Fright Review

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