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55 years old but still very relevant
"Heart to Heart" takes us a long way back to a technically primitive era of television, with its cumbersome cameras and rather low definition black and white pictures. On the other hand, television was a novelty and a program could often have a viewing audience in the millions; this was at a time when there were only a handful of broadcast channels in the UK.
Terence Rattigan's theme is 100% up-to-date, namely the psychological pressures and the moral dilemmas of people who are overexposed to public view. Kenneth More does an excellent job in his role as the interviewer who faces personal problems as well as the stress of his job. The play is recommended viewing for today's troubled times in the media.
Cone of Silence (1960)
The McGuffin is weak
This film had good actors and good direction, and it was worth the few dollars that I spent on the DVD. However I was disappointed by the weak McGuffin.
That is the term invented by Alfred Hitchcock for the key ingredient in the plot that everyone is chasing -- the jewels, the microfilm, the beautiful princess or whatever. In this case the McGuffin was the rather obvious fact that under hot and humid conditions the air is less dense and therefore a higher speed is needed to take off a plane. It seems incredible that all those talented designers and skilled pilots seem to have missed the McGuffin until the final scene.
Quiet Weekend (1946)
The way we were
For anyone born in the UK before about 1935 (as I was) this movie will bring back memories of austerity, such as very few cars and very little food and primitive plumbing. We all had to make do with what we had; the top rate of income tax was around 95%. Nevertheless the middle classes had those delicious cut-glass English accents; "thanks" was pronounced "thenks". The lower classes such as the old poacher, spoke their lines in broad accents and were usually considered to be comic characters.
That has all changed now. This movie is good entertainment but also of value to the social historians. It is the way the British coped with the rigors of victory after WW II, i.e. paying off the huge loans owed to the USA while trying to become a socialist society.
The Band Wagon (1953)
Jack Buchanan and the Faust legend
This is one of my favorite movie musicals partly because one of the stars, Jack Buchanan, was an old friend of my family. I met him once, backstage in a London theater, in the fall of 1945.
Thereby hangs a tale. The Bandwagon plot centers around a musical production of the Faust legend which was a flop and had to be completely rewritten; then, it was a hit. It is little known that 32 years earlier, in 1921, Jack Buchanan took part in a revue entitled "Faust on Toast" which did not do well, so it was taken off for a month and then restaged in a new version. It certainly looks as if Jack had a word in the ears of the writers of "The Bandwagon". It was his last major picture and he died in 1957.
Margery and Gladys (2003)
A gem among the trash
It is easy for the frequent viewer of television to become pessimistic about the future of the medium. The proliferation of channels has led to fragmentation of the audience and a general shortage of money for quality programs. But then, along comes a gem like "Margery and Gladys". The story and the humanistic style remind me strongly of the comedy/spy production "Sleepers" (1990) and it comes as no surprise that one of the writers, Andrew McCulloch, contributed to both productions. The direction, camera-work and acting were first rate and the editing (i.e. cutting from scene to scene) was just right for maintaining attention. As a person over 60 with UK background, I was delighted by the snatches of George Formby songs towards the end. Formby was to the 1940s what the Beatles were to the 1960s.
Anyway, the TV industry is not doomed as long as movies like this can be produced. I'm delighted to see that it is liked in the USA despite its rather British flavor.
Alan, you are right.
The previews of this movie looked interesting, so I started watching it on PBS. The plot could have been written as a combined parody of The Mousetrap, the Hound of the Baskervilles and Blithe Spirit. It was the kind of old style drama that was mocked 30 years ago by Monty Python's Flying Circus and for a while I expected John Cleese to make an appearance as the Man from Scotland Yard. After 30 minutes I was having difficulty staying awake, so I made myself a strong coffee. By then I had entirely lost track of who the characters were, and the confusion was deepened by abrupt flashbacks to the Egyptian tomb. There were some good actors in the cast, but the Sittaford job will not help their reputations. There is supposed to be heavy competition for audience share in the television industry, but you'd never know it from Sittaford.