Quintet of 'II' Certs
By Freda Bruce Lockhart
FIVE " U " certificates in one week might seem occasion for celebration. As a relief from " X ", so it is. But sad to say at least three of the " U's" might stand for Undistinguished, unsophisticated, uninteresting.
The Flying Clipper ("13," Dominion) can only be "U" for unsophisticated. A year or two ago we saw Windjammer, a slightly similar voyage of a Norwegian sailing boat carrying members of a youth expedition. "The Flying Clipper" sails from Malmo with a crew of young Swedes and Germans on a mainly Mediterranean cruise.
Nobody could find its itinerary uninteresting, or the pictorial record of Egypt, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Turkey. Greece, Italy, Spain undistinguished. As a committed advocate—even addict—of travelogues, I am bound to be grateful for the wonderful sunset over Istanbul, the hairpin bends taken by the Damascus bus. the glorious airview of the Acropolis, then coming down to earth among the tourists buying their plaster copies. or the attempt to show Spain's religious passions in Holy Week, Seville.
Only the commentary is vile. even though the voice be that of Burl Ives, and the flattening perspective on Europe a traditional attitude which equates Santa Sophia with the Blue Mosque and gives more time to a revolting camel fight than to either.
Snowclad Lebanese mountains are presented with a sudden burst of rock 'n' roll music, and after taking us with some solemnity and silence to Seville for Holy Week travelogue tradition cannot resist a sickly song about "go to sleep don't toss or turn" and plunges straight into a bulfight, mercifully and perhaps for showing in this country. cut short.
The miracle of getting a sick boy transferred by helicopter to a U.S. aircraft carrier for an appendectomy, is thought worth most time of all.
This undiscriminating, but not unenjoyable, tourism was shown to critics on Monday morning. The strange thing was on the same afternoon to see Follow the Boys ("U." Empire) where American sailors' wives form a corps of so-called "seagulls" (led by Connie Francis and the gangling, engaging Paula Prentiss) pursue almost the same route in reverse in order to provide their boy-husbands with a wife in every port. It was so closely like a continuation of the morning's film that I even thought (but can't confirm) that the helicopter which helped the husband-hunt had the same number as the one for the hospital ship. But whereas the sailing tour skims at high speed over places where one longs to linger, "Follow the Boys" dawdles through the routine changes of partners so witlessly and so slowly it seems impossible it should ever linish.
Forty Pounds of Mischief is again "U" (Odeon, Marble Arch), for unsophisticated. But except for a hero who is a divorcee and alimony-evader it is a pleasant simple story in which Tony Curtis's beaming good nature leads him logically to protect little Claire Windsor
from the orphanage by marrying Suzanne Pleshette and then adopt the child. Phil ("Bilko") Silvers also helps.
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Tothers, however, are decidedly welcome for extremely different reason. In The Wrong Arm of the Law ("U", Warner). it would be tempting to call the "U" for 'Umour. But it is emphatically U for Uniforms; the police uniforms worn by the lugubrious Inspector Parker (one of Lionel Jeffrey's best creations), and his cheerful men, or by the Australian gang of 1.P.O's (impersonating police officer)s, who live off the robberies carried out by other gangs of thieves. Chief of these other gangs is the syndicate run by Pearly Gates (Peter Sellers), who in office hours is a very high French coutourier in Bond Street, and makes his real money through the operations of his gang, led by " Nervous " O'Toole (Bernard Cribbins).
Written by Messrs. Ray Gallon and Alan Simpson (famous first as script-writers for Tony Hancock), with John Antrobus, this is a welcome comedy in the traditional line of British nonsense.
At first the build-up it both slow and uneven, with witticisms spread a little thin. Nor is Pearly, alias Jules, one of Mr. Sellers' greatest creations. But the title has more than punning relevance, and by the time Mr. Sellers' gang and the real cops are driven into combining to catch the I.P.O. gang, enough laughable confusion, is established to produce a very fair final chase and steady supply of laughs. It is far behind Runyon, and even behind Sellers' Two Way Stretch, but it is funny, ard Nanette Newman, as a treacherous girl-friend. contributes to the fun. I am not sure, however, of the innocence where the line between crooks and cops, not to say ordinary business people. is so thin.
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T"only case where "U" stands for anything like Universal (it's intended application). is the Greek film of Antigone ("U". international Film Theatre). Again I am not sure
that Sophocles' necrophilistic theme would rate a "U" certificate if it were not a classic. In spite of Never On Sunday, classical Greek tragedy is about as antiall we expect of movies as the austerity of a Robert Brcsson film.
The laborious, slow solemnity makes hard watching, and I found the chorus of elders. in all their crepe hair, too operatic. But the Antigone of Irene Papas (whom we saw as a partisan in the very different Guns of Navarone) is superbly beautiful. dignified and moving, while the Creon of Memos Katrakis is also a figure of true grief.
In my review last week of I Could Go On Singing, by an inexplicable slip I credited Gregory Philips' delightful schoolboy performance as Judy Garland's son to Leslie Philips, the light comedian, who must be old enough to be Gregory's father.