Susannah Straughan
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Entries by Susannah Straughan

The Best of Dirk Bogarde: Accident and The Servant on DVD

(1) Comments | Posted 2 April 2013 | (13:01)


When I watch The Servant, it's always the voice of Cleo Laine singing "All Gone" that echoes around my head for hours. John Dankworth's smoky torch song is as integral to Joseph Losey's haunting psychological drama as Barrett, the unctuous manservant played by Dirk...

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LA Law: David Ayer's End of Watch on DVD

(0) Comments | Posted 17 March 2013 | (22:34)

"Once upon a time in South Central . . ." Opening with police sirens, screeching tyres and the first of innumerable F-words, the aural landscape of David Ayer's End of Watch seems very familiar. This LA-set police drama is not a radical reworking of the genre, but it does provide...

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Hidden Depths: Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone on DVD

(0) Comments | Posted 20 February 2013 | (21:57)


Director Jacques Audiard describes Rust and Bone, his widely acclaimed follow-up to A Prophet, as a "gritty melodrama". I wonder whether something got lost in translation. On paper, there is plenty here that would excite the likes of Pedro Almodóvar and Alejandro González Iñárritu...

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To the Manor Born: The London Group Centenary Exhibition

(0) Comments | Posted 30 January 2013 | (18:24)

A warm welcome and a chilled beer greeted visitors to The London Group's Centenary Exhibition private view at Pitzhanger Manor last week. As snow blanketed the streets of west London, the heating was cranked up a little higher in the Principal Bed Chamber where artist Lydia Julien was...

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Back on Track: The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953)

(0) Comments | Posted 9 January 2013 | (20:33)

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan may have been thinking about The Titfield Thunderbolt when he made his often misquoted "never had it so good" speech in 1957. Released four years earlier, Ealing's first colour film is an unabashed celebration of post-war optimism, community spirit, the glories of rural England, and the...

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René Clément's Forbidden Games (1952)

(0) Comments | Posted 31 December 2012 | (17:00)

Animal lovers will be moved to tears by the opening of René Clément's World War II drama, Forbidden Games. As terrified families flee Paris during the summer of 1940, adorable six-year-old Paulette (Brigitte Fossey) and her parents are caught in the Nazi air bombardment. Amidst the chaos and terror Paulette...

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The Man in the White Suit (1951)

(0) Comments | Posted 13 November 2012 | (15:35)

"Why can't you scientists leave things alone?" Cinema in the 1950s often focused on the dangers caused by experiments that went horribly wrong. But Ealing's The Man in the White Suit isn't a sci-fi movie about marauding giant ants, or a cautionary tale about the nuclear arms race. This is...

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César et Rosalie (1972)

(1) Comments | Posted 4 November 2012 | (23:10)

Is this a love triangle or the perfect screen bromance? Either way, César et Rosalie is a witty and sophisticated romantic drama about the ebb and flow of relationships between a divorcée and the two very different men in her life.

It's not just the coiffures and collars that...

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The Devil Rides Out (1968)

(0) Comments | Posted 14 October 2012 | (12:11)

StudioCanal's mission to buff up our favourite Hammer classics continues with the DVD/Blu-ray release of The Devil Rides Out (1968). In a fast-moving tale about devil worshippers in the leafy Home Counties, the actor best known as Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) goes head to head with the smooth-talker who once...

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Packing a Punch: Hell is a City (1960)

(0) Comments | Posted 28 September 2012 | (18:45)

A pulsating jazz score accompanies shots of a police car speeding through urban streets at night. Hell is a City brassily announces itself as a classic slice of 50s Hollywood film noir, but this co-production from the legendary Hammer Studios turns out to be something rather different. The city here...

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Cloclo Does it His Way

(0) Comments | Posted 30 August 2012 | (10:05)


Films about singers and musicians often chart a predictable course from youthful hedonism into addiction, overindulgence, heartbreak and early death. So it's a relief to report that Cloclo, the stylish biopic of French chanteur Claude François, is not your run-of-the-mill cinematic cautionary tale. Like...

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Poolside Double Act Stars at London 2012

(0) Comments | Posted 30 July 2012 | (12:45)

For years the BBC's voice of swimming was the unfortunately named Hamilton Bland, whose TV career ended in controversy in the late 90s. There's nothing bland about his successors, former Olympians Adrian Moorhouse and Andy Jameson, who sounded as though they'd swallowed several gallons of Red Bull as they jabbered...

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Mind the Gap: BBC Blows the Olympic Road Race

(4) Comments | Posted 28 July 2012 | (21:34)

After the party, the post-mortem. Following the success of Danny Boyle's "an-utterly-British-Olympic-opening-ceremony.html">Brilliant, breathtaking, bonkers" Opening Ceremony for London 2012, we didn't have to wait too long for the Big BBC Balls-up.

For British cycling fans it was disappointing not to see the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish slay the...

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Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957)

(1) Comments | Posted 23 July 2012 | (18:24)


"You work like a horse but you never seem to get anywhere." After decades in the cinematic wilderness, director J Lee Thompson's Woman in a Dressing Gown returns to cinemas this week, reminding us how tough it was to be a desperate housewife in...

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She-Monkeys: Reining in Adolescent Angst

(0) Comments | Posted 17 May 2012 | (13:55)

No previous knowledge of equestrian gymnastics is required to enjoy Lisa Aschan's impressive feature debut, She-Monkeys. Sport is the backdrop for the simmering rivalry and powerful attraction between Swedish teenagers Emma (Mathilda Paradeiser) and Cassandra (Linda Molin). But this ambiguous relationship would probably have played out to equally damaging effect...

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Step Outside Guides: Lions, Loos and London on the Cheap

(0) Comments | Posted 11 May 2012 | (17:05)

Don't ask about the app. I wasn't the first person to enquire whether Step Outside Guides would be coming soon to the iTunes Store. But it turns out that co-creator Margie Skinner has problems just navigating her way around an iPhone home screen. She's much more at home...

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Monsieur Lazhar is Top of the Class

(0) Comments | Posted 3 May 2012 | (13:45)

Beware teachers who come brandishing the works of Balzac. When I was at school we gave short shrift to the mild-mannered French mistress who tried to make us plough through Eugénie Grandet. The 11- and 12-year-old pupils at a Montreal school are far more tolerant of Monsieur Lazhar, the eponymous...

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La Grande Illusion Restores Faith in Humanity

(0) Comments | Posted 1 April 2012 | (15:49)

La Grande Illusion celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, but Jean Renoir's First World War drama isn't really showing its age. The digitally restored DVD I watched was refreshingly free of all the snap, crackle and pop I used to associate with films from the 1930s. But this story also...

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Murder by Decree is a Not-So-Ripping Yarn

(0) Comments | Posted 29 March 2012 | (19:11)

The sight of Sherlock Holmes flirting with a "defrocked" dominatrix or wrestling with his personalised ringtone has proved irresistible to fans of the BBC's Sherlock. Call me a boring old traditionalist, but I prefer the World's Greatest Consulting Detective to be solving mysteries in the pre-3G era of gas lamps,...

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Mastering the Art of Conversation: Andrew Haigh's Weekend

(0) Comments | Posted 15 March 2012 | (13:14)

"So is this some Notting Hill moment?" Perish the thought. Andrew Haigh's Weekend is so far removed from dewy-eyed Hollywood romance, that it's a shock to hear Roger Michell's bland romcom referenced here - even in jest. This is love in Nottingham, not a sanitised and virtually unrecognisable corner of...

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