Going back to the Fifties with 5 British Movies…
Giving you 5 British lovelies from this time and place.
Now for something completely different, seeing as I’ve already reviewed many of my favourite American made films of this decade. So instead, here are just some of the wonderful British films I watched on the telly as a kid (and one of these films more recently). I’ve only just started watching more films from other prolific genres from this time, such as Cold War and Sci-fi films (any recommendations will be welcome). So tune in to read these posts, as they happen.
Now it’s back to 1950s Britain we go to revisit the five lovely British films I adore… and I promise to not use the words “charming” and “twee” to describe these movies, even though they are.
Genevieve (1953) Sun-2-Sept at 7:15pm / Wed-5-Sept at 9pm, Talking Pictures TV
One of two films in this list starring Kenneth More, this film telling of two pairs of friends who enter a vintage car race between London and Brighton. With Alan McKim (John Gregson) and his wife, Wendy (Dinah Sheridan) – driving Genevieve – vs Ambrose Claverhouse (Kenneth More) and his latest girlfriend in the driving seat(s), Rosalind.
As you’d expect it’s a thrill or a laugh a minute. A bet between these
drivers men on who’ll beat who adds to the suspense. This leading to some cunning skullduggery by both parties to improve their chances. It’s kind of like an early version of the Cannonball Run film but set in fifties England.
Or if you prefer the possible inspiration for many of those street races in the Fast and Furious franchise. But not with a young lady in tight-fitting Daisy Duke shorts (and not because they weren’t invented then) starting the race. Although you don’t have to be a film buff to guess who wins, this still fun and charming British comedy. (Damn, said it already).
Doctor in the House (1954)
Sir Lancelott Spratt – James Robertson Justice, youtyoobawy
I loved Richard Gordon’s Doctor book series as a kid. These books told of Doctor Simon Sparrow and his buddies and their adventures in the medical profession. This film tells about Sparrow’s student days at St. Swithin’s Hospital in London. With a wonderful British cast including Dirk Bogarde in the leading role with Kenneth More, Shirley Eaton and James Gordon Justice supporting fantastically. This film was the first of a long-running franchise and TV series. With a few jokes seemingly a tad inappropriate now.
Like the Carry On franchise, there are lots of hot nurses and doctors, double entendres and comic capers galore. Add to this fun mix, Sparrow’s constant clashing with Sir Lancelot Spratt (James Gordon Justice) with a few comic scenes that never age. Kay Kendall and Joan Sims appearing in this film as potential love interests. This film was made by Rank Productions was it a popular film with a record 15,500,000 people seeing it on release.
The Ladykillers (1955)
The Ladykillers: Trailer (1955), QualityIsNumber1
This Ealing comedy crime film tells of the elderly, genteel Mrs Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) who lives alone near London’s Kings Cross station. She is well-known by the local police, as being a wee bit on the over-imaginative and eccentric side. The seemingly nice but sinister-looking Professor Marcus (Alec Guinness) and his bunch of odd bod friends rent out rooms from her. It appears these men are a group of classical musicians. Then men who often heard practising their pieces.
In reality, this is a charade, with the men planning a bank robbery. The five men playing classical records to keep up the masquerade to their unsuspecting landlady. Once the heinous crime is committed, Mrs Wilberforce is embroiled unwittingly in the final stages of their crime. But once the truth is revealed, she threatens to tell the police…
The film won an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Guinness heads a fabulous British cast including Cecil Parker, Jack Warner, Peter Sellers and their evil ringleader Herbert Lom. With Lom at his most menacing. Guinness’s role was one that was written originally for Alistair Sim. This reflected in Guinness’s appearance and portrayal. Peter Sellers was said to be in awe of Guinness, who was his then film idol. There are also some blink and miss them parts for two Carry on regulars, so keep your eyes peeled.
Carry on Nurse (1959)
Carry On Nurse (1958), Ken Burns
Having seen most of the bawdy British comedy series, this is one of my favourites. The film based on Ring for Catty, a play written by British comedian Patrick Cargill (of Father Dear Father (1968-73) and Jack Beale. The film Twice Around the Daffodils (1962) was also based on this play, with many of the cast and crew in both films. With a cast including Carry on regulars Sid James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Connor and Charles Hawtrey. This list also supported by well-known British comedians including Bill Owen, June Whitfield and Wilfrid Hyde-White.
This film telling of the lives, loves and antics of staff, visitors and patients around a men’s ward in Haven Hospital. Needless to say, the ins and outs of the plot are comically complicated. The film also with the sexual innuendo this film series famed for. But it’s very much of its time. There’s a clumsy student nurse, a few hot nurses (one played by a later Bond girl), a formidable matron and a ward full of men with a variety of ailments. Concluding the film, with that infamous daffodil scene.
Tiger Bay (1959)
Tiger Bay Trailer, MovieTrailer.IO, DAILYMOTION
This list ending with a British crime drama film, which by luck I’ve only recently discovered. This surprisingly as Hayley Mills used to figure quite a lot in my film viewing as a kid. Seeing those films with her child performances almost constantly in the Christmas telly movie listings. Meaning I watched her in Pollyanna (1960), The Parent Trap (1961) and my favourite of her movies Whistle Down the Wind (1961).
In Tiger Bay, Hayley Mills is Gillie, an orphaned English tomboy brought up by her aunt in Cardiff. Gillie wants to get in with the cool kids by getting a cap gun. and is known for being a constant fibber. Meanwhile, a Polish sailor, Bronislav Korchinsky (Horst Buchholz) returns from leave ready to propose to his girl, Anya.
Korchinsky finds out Anya has also moved on in love with a married man, so he goes to her new place. By coincidence, Gillie also lives there. She witnesses the pair fight through Anya’s letterbox, still watching as Korchinsky murders Anya. Then he hides the gun. Gillie takes the gun and lies about where she got it.
This leads to a Hayley Mills character in league with a charming wanted man for the first (and not the last time) in her film career. Despite her famous actor father John Mills in the cast as a police superintendent, Hayley in her debut outshines him with her sweet, natural and convincing acting style. She has an excellent screen rapport with Buchholz and this always evident in their scenes together. Her scenes with her father, just as wonderful.
So that’s just a few of my favourite films. But if you a newbie to my wee blog and in the mood for an American film from the fifties just take a wee look HERE, HERE or HERE. just take a chance and you never know your luck. With this lucky dip, you might just some great new discoveries.
This post was added to Classic Film and TV Cafe’s blogathon. Other films with this cast include Doctor Who (Dinah Sheridan) and The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella (Kenneth More). Kenneth Connor in Carry on England and Kenneth Williams in Carry on Behind. John Mills in Murder with Mirrors and Megs Jenkins in Oliver and The Innocents. Dirk Bogarde in I Could Go On Singing and James Robertson Justice in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Herbert Lom in Asylum, The Man from UNCLE and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Hayley Mills stars in 6 Flicks from the Swinging Sixties, Appointment with Death and Deadly Strangers.