Bourton & District

Film Reviews

Nov: Pleasantville
"Honey I'm Home"- the life of a 1950's apple pie and motherhood sitcom is turned upside down when 2 teenagers from 1990's America are magically transported into the black and white life of Pleasantville. Directed by Gary Ross and starring Reese Witherspoon and Tobie Maguire.

Jul: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie
1972 Surrealist fantasy about a group of French friends trying to arrange a dinner party. Directed by Luis Bunuel.

Jun: Gosford Park
Written by Julian Fellowes and directed by Robert Altman. Upstairs/Downstairs drama set in English country house in 1930s. Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith,Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon.....

May: Midnight in Paris
Written and directed by Woody Allen. Californian script writer on a trip to Paris meets some unexpected people from the past after midnight.

Mar: Le Boucher
Directed by Claude Chabrol, this 1970 film starred Stephane Audran as a school headmistress and Jean Yanne as a butcher.

Feb: The Quiet Man Set in rural Ireland in the 1920's the film made in 1952 tells the story of an Irish born American (John Wayne) returning to his birthplace where he meets a lively and beautiful Irish girl (Maureen O'Hara). A romantic comedy directed by John Ford.

Nov: Witness
Directed by Australian Peter Weir, this 1985 film about a young Amish boy (Lukas Haas) witness to a murder also starred Kelly McGillis as his mother and Harrison Ford as the policeman trying to protect them.

Oct: The Third Man
Clive Dellow gave an interesting introduction to this 1949 British classic directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard and Alida Valli. Set in post war Vienna, with a screen play by Graham Greene and zither music by Anton Karas.

Sep: The Hunt (Jagten)
A departure from the films we have seen so far. Our first Danish film, our first modern film (2012) and the first film none of us had seen previously. A powerful and bleak film in the tradition of "Nordic Noir" it is set in rural Denmark and deals with a difficult subject (false accusation of child molestation). The frank and uncompromising way the film tackles the storyline made uncomfortable viewing for some. Some great acting from all the cast especially Mads Mikkelsen and Annika Wedderkop.

Jul: The Postman only Rings Twice ***
This time Malcolm showed us Tay Garnett’s classic 1946 black and white movie, which made Lana Turner’s name, playing the sensuous young wife of the owner of a hamburger joint. Enter handsome John Garfield, down on his luck, who is hired as the general help. The plot is based on the thriller by James M Cain, who also wrote Double Indemnity, on a very similar theme of murder and courtroom intrigue.
A classic piece of film noir, notwithstanding a string of improbabilities and clunky legal procedures. Notable for a California with hardly a car on the road, constant cigarette smoking even at a patient’s bedside, and casual acceptance of drunken driving. The motor cycle cop wears a soft cap, and East Los Angeles train station is just a shack. An important piece of cinema history. rvd

Censorship standards of the era meant that the more racy elements from the book had to be adapted. Partly as a sop to the censors, the director (Tay Garnett) decided to dress Turner almost entirely in white. As he explained later, "There was a problem getting any story with that much sex past the censors. We figured that dressing Lana in white somehow made everything she did less sensuous." A remake of the film (with no such censorship worries) was made in 1981 starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. Other films it influenced were Body Heat (1981), Final Analysis (1992) and The Last Seduction (1994). The final pay-off, in which the protagonist who has escaped punishment for one crime is executed for something he didn't do, turns up again in the Coen Brothers The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).

Jun: The Manchurian Candidate 1962 ***
A good attendance for The Manchurian Candidate, an important film from the America of the Cold War and the McCarthy witch hunt era. It was hard to believe this thriller was made more than half a century ago.
The story is of an Army officer, sensitively and sympathetically played by Frank Sinatra, returning from the Korean war where he had been taken prisoner. It transpires that he has been brainwashed into idolising a fellow officer,
(played by Laurence Harvey without the slightest attempt at an American accent.) He is being manipulated by his evil mother - Angela Lansbury on venomous form - into assassinating the President. Janet Leigh plays his dim but attractive wife.
The film uncannily predicted the murder of JFK only a year later, and is said to have been withdrawn subsequently from circulation subsequently for over twenty five years by Sinatra, who held a controlling financial interest, so sensitive was the subject matter. Beautifully shot and directed by John Frankenheimer, who only occasionally lets the pace slacken. rvd

May: Les Diabolique 1955 Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

April: Vertigo 1958 Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

At our first meeting film enthusiast Malcolm Ford gave an illustrated talk showing clips from a variety of films so that we had a good overview of the different approaches that we could take to explore films and film making. The talk covered Genres such as Film Noir, Comedy and Thrillers; directors such as Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks and Claude Charbrol; stars such as Bogart, Monroe and Dietrich. We looked at excerpts from Silent films, French films and from iconic films.