WE'RE NO ANGELS Certificate U Plaza, Piccadilly Director : Ken Curtiz
TDIDN'T know the carol about three angels dropping from among the stars on Christmas night, but it is the key to the title of this American film based on a play. In fact, what drops from among the stars on Christmas night, Devil's Island, 1895, are Messrs. Peter Ustinov, Humphrey Bogart and Aldo Ray, three dangerous criminals on the run.
They drop into the wholesale establishment of an unsuccessful little shopkeeper with a pretty wife Sloan Bennetti and an 18-year-old daughter (Gloria Talbott).
Jules. Joseph and Albert, as the convicts are called, intend to beat up and rob the shopkeeper and his family, but before Christmas night is out they have played the part of angels.
This is an extraordinary film which could have been sentimental. It is redeemed by an outstanding script and two outstanding performances, those of Peter Ustinov and Humphrey Bogart.
Ustinov plays the part of a wife killer, in for a long term, who answers quite seriously when he hears of some minor unkindness: " That sort of thing makes you stop believing in Santa Claus." With his sleepy eyes and pout and his deep voice one cannot quite believe in him as a serious criminal.
Humphrey Bogart, however, is only too easy to identify with the professional swindler and forger who sees his work as artistry and whose fingers absolutely itch to get at the shopkeeper's badly set-out books. showing a loss which. with a little red ink, could so easily be turned into a profit.
The third member of the trio, played by Aldo Ray, is a more ordinary kind of gangster, a thinmouthed thug, with a sideline in assault, who was sent to prison for killing his uncle by hitting him on the head 14 times with a poker. He forms a protective and rather touching affection for the shopkeeper's little daughter, although it is judged advisable by Jules
Weser Ustinov) that he should be saved from his worse self by being constantly chaperoned.
It is these wry exchanges between the convicts. each aware of the other's weaknesses, that make the film. I hesitated over whether the " U " certificate was really justified in view of occasional lines in the dialogue, but came to the conclusion that. as a good book means different things to different readers, so a script as subtle as this one would be interpreted in different ways. I don't think a child would see anything beyond the essential humour of Humphrey Bogart in a frilly pink apron cooking the Christmas turkey. And no one, child or adult, could fail to be edified by the convicts' affection for their pet adder, Adolphe, who
plays a vital part in the story and, quite literally, earns his own little halo in the end.
VALUE FOR MONEY Certificate A: Gaumont, Haymarket Director: Ken Annakin JOHN GREGSON brings a u breath of rain-sodden sanity to this very silly British
comedy which has to do with a solid North-country money
spinner dazzled by a girl from the Folies Bergere. The girl is Diana Dors. blonde and curvacious as ever, out to marry money.
" Don't be a fool. lad," says the memory of the young manufacturer's father. " Your brass'll roll off every curve of her."
Much of the film's humour is like this, tasteless enough to be unsuitable for a young audience and dull enough to exacerbate all but MissDors' most ardent admirers. The one bright spot of the whole thing is the fact that the film's chief star appears as bored as his audience.
Throughout, Mr. Gregson gives the impression of a man who has taken one look, pulled the cloak of a strong (and reasonably convincing) North-country accent over himself. and decided not to come back until the whole thing's over.
The other stars are Susan Stephen and Derek Farr. The film is in Technicolor and R. F. Delderfield, who wrote Reluctant Heroes and Worm's Eye Vier,' is partly responsible for the script.
CONFIDENTIAL REPORT Certificate A : Warner, Leicester Square Director: Orson Wells " TT'S a dreadful thing to have a -I-conscience and no memory." says Gregory Arkadin, self-made millionaire, and so he hires a Third Man-type crook to investigate exactly what did happen to Arkadin before the winter of 1927, when he found himself wandering about Zurich with no memory and 200.000 francs in his pocket.
The mystery leads across Europe and into an exciting finish. This is a film directed, written and starred in by Orson Welles, so naturally we see a lot of Mr. Welles behind a thick beard. There are also touches of his genius in the crowd of eccentrics peopling the film. the nicest of which, I thought, was a Polish fleatrainer, complete with pets.