British Cinema

Svengali - Film Review

Clive Botting | Posted 19.05.2014 | UK Entertainment
Clive Botting

Dixie (Jonny Owen), a postman from South Wales is a music fanatic and dreams of discovering the best band of all time and then one day, trawling through YouTube, he finds 'The Premature Congratulations'. This will be Dixie's dream come true.

Please Keep Quiet During the Film

Matthew Highton | Posted 01.07.2013 | UK Comedy
Matthew Highton

For the past few years, I have found around one in three trips to the cinema have been disrupted, often entirely ruined by a handful of cretins who haves no concept of other people. Perhaps it's a sign of age, irked by the carelessness of others, but then again perhaps not.

The London Vegan and Vegetarian Film Festival

Andrew Doyle | Posted 06.06.2013 | UK Comedy
Andrew Doyle

In the wake of the horse meat scandal, more and more of us are turning to vegetables. To celebrate this sudden and unexpected shift in the cultural zeitgeist, the British Film Society is launching the first ever Vegan & Vegetarian Film Festival in our nation's capital.

Mark Baxter: Backing A Winner

Jason Holmes | Posted 30.10.2012 | Home
Jason Holmes

Mark is your classic Londoner; loyal to his manor, but equally at home in cosmopolitan Soho and in touch with different cultural spheres.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 95: Passport to Pimlico (1949)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 20.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

And so, it came to an end. Not with a whimper, but with a bang: Passport to Pimlico, one of the best known 'Ealing comedies', one of the films that (it is claimed) speaks for the whole of the studio's output and thematic interests, and one of the films that first sparked my love of Ealing many years ago.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 94: Nowhere to Go (1958)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 19.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Nowhere to Go was the second-last Ealing film produced and, suitably, is also the second-last film to be viewed and written about for this challenge.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 93: The Ware Case (1938)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 14.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

When discussing Young Man's Fancy (1939), it was noted that these early Ealing films act as a bridge between the Basil Dean / Associated Talking Picture films produced at Ealing and the Balcon-produced films that the production company called 'Ealing Studios' would become known for. Yet even using that framework to approach these films, The Ware Case is an odd and generically unstable contribution to the Ealing back catalogue.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 92: His Excellency (1952)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 12.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

His Excellency is one of those films that is difficult to love, partly because it often fails to deliver a coherent experience or meaning: it has moments of jingoism and anti-foreigner attitudes that feel alien to a 21st century audience, yet also goes to great pains to mock the British patriarchal attitude to 'the colonies'; it mocks socialism yet offers a partial celebration of unionism and collective action; ridicules military might but ultimately relies on it to resolve narrative issues; celebrates a particular 'northern' personality within Britain but dilutes that through the imposition of upper class knowledge and restraint.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 91: The Divided Heart (1954)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 09.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

The idea that the mother-child relationship was a recurring one in Ealing might seem a strange observation, even coming from the man who ran the studio between 1938 and 1959.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 90: Mandy (1952)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 08.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Mandy is a film that can be defined in various ways.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 88: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 01.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Re-watching Kind Hearts and Coronets for the sake of this blog post (the film is one of the Ealing films I've seen several times in my life, although admittedly not in recent years), I'd forgotten how sexual a film it is.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 87: The Man in the Sky (1957)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 28.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

In the forthcoming collection Ealing Revisited, Robert Murphy describes The Man in the Sky as a film any national cinema should be proud of.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 85: Convoy (1940)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 25.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

From the opening credits, which dedicate the film to the 'Officers and Men of the Royal and Merchant Navy' and the note that 'many scenes in our film... were taken at sea under actual wartime conditions' Convoy is, in many senses, the archetypal Ealing war film.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 86: Scott of the Antarctic (1948)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 26.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

In the numerous celebrations and commentaries around the 100th anniversary of Scott's expedition in 2012, few mentioned this Ealing hagiography of Captain Scott (John Mills), the studio's big budget Technicolor epic of Antarctic exploration.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 84: Dance Hall (1950)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 22.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Sometimes, when watching one of the Ealing films that make up this challenge, I am reminded of another film.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 82: Barnacle Bill (1957)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 19.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Barnacle Bill (aka All at Sea in the U.S.) has an undeserved critical reputation as a late failure that is more concerned with the studios' past comedy glories than it is in creating something new and innovative. But, based on viewing it for this blog, I can't really agree with them.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 83: I Believe in You (1952)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 18.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

It is hard to know how to react to I Believe in You: in one sense, this could be dismissed as reliable Ealing social problem fodder, where nice upper and middle-class people volunteer to be probation officers to help deal with the problematic working classes, particularly the rebellious youth who frequent dance halls and get in trouble with the police (in that sense the film has been linked to Relph and Dearden's earlier The Blue Lamp, 1950).

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 81: Painted Boats (1945)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 16.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

So, a strange entry for this blog, but one that gestures towards Ealing's other life, as a wartime documentary film studio, more than their known persona.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 80: Eureka Stockade (1949)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 03.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

This historical Western finishes off the coverage of Ealing's five Australian films in this blog and, as that genre description suggests, it has a lot in common with the films it was produced between, namely The Overlanders (1946) and Bitter Springs (1950).

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 79: There Ain't No Justice (1939)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 27.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Michael Balcon often identified this film as an early example of what he believed Ealing films to be capable of: a character study about (allegedly) realistic people and situations, a commentary on modern society, with a focus on community and the representation of British concerns.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 78: Let's Be Famous (1939)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 26.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

The third film produced at Ealing Studios after Michael Balcon arrived (following The Gaunt Stranger and The Ware Case, both 1938), it is both tempting and potentially misleading to try and see the future path of Ealing in the tealeaves of Let's Be Famous.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 77: Hue & Cry

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 21.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Although Charles Barr has "always found the charm of this film very resistible," I think there remains a lot of fun and enjoyment to be found in this often slapstick-laden Ealing comedy: the first of the post-war series that, for many, still defines what we mean by Ealing Studios.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 76: The Night My Number Came Up (1955)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 15.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

This film, late in Ealing's output (one of the last 15 produced by the company), embraces its supernatural conceit and makes it both the pivot around which the narrative revolves, and the central theme the characters debate.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 75; Frieda (1947)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 13.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Frieda remains a strong example of a film from Ealing's back catalogue that challenges the tried and tested community and 'projecting Britain' approaches that have dominated discussions of the studio.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 74: Cage of Gold (1950)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 08.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Given I hadn't see it, my description (in the last blog post) of this film as another of Ealing's women-centred films might not be the most accurate description of this crime / psychological drama.