As the title suggests, the film is a sort of update of the Chaucer book, giving us four WWII-era pilgrims taking the train along the "old road" through southern England which winds up in Canterbury. The action begins with American soldier Bob Johnson (Sergeant John Sweet, credited thusly because he was a real sergeant) getting off at the wrong station on a foggy night. Turns out Canterbury is up the road a bit, and he's stuck in Chillingbourne for the evening, along with land girl Alison (Sheila Sim), and British soldier Peter (Dennis Price). The make out for the hotel but are soon waylaid by this small town's sole criminal enterprise: The Glue Man, who puts glue in women's hair and runs away unseen.
Continue reading: A Canterbury Tale Review
This very British film features a successful surprise ending and a strong supporting cast, especially Joan Greenwood as the bad girl who threatens to be Mazzini's undoing. But Dennis Price is not Guinness' match as a screen presence, and his character is too amoral to be believable, even for a farce, so the film doesn't quite work. It could also have used more Alec Guinness -- in spite of playing eight roles, Guinness doesn't actually get enough screen time. And when Sir Alec is not on screen, the whole thing is a little too slow and contrived.
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It would be hard to tell the story of Victim without it. This film broke serious ground in 1961 by addressing homosexuality in Britain full-on. At the time, Britain had laws against sodomy, which let blackmailers run rampant against gays. The police didn't seem to care, which made things all the worse. Victim tells the story of just such a case, with a gay lawyer investigating the death of one blackmailer's victim, eventually uncovering a number of men under his thumb and finally taking him to court. The catch: our lawyer (played by the semi-closeted-in-real-life Dirk Bogarde) is also gay (or at least was gay), and the trial will ruin his career as he gets his man. (No pun intended.)
Continue reading: Victim Review