AMONG holiday attractions are two rare treasures: Jacques Tad's renovated version of his perfect summer seaside comedy, Monsieur Hu'nt's Holiday ("U", Prince Charles Theatre) and an enchanting, though ill-named Anglo-American-Indian co-production, Shakespeare Wallah ("A", Academy Cinema Two).
Like Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Tati is author, star and director of his own movies, which he wants to make as freely as if painting motion pictures. He explains why he has given Monsieur Hulot's Holiday a new sound track. Tati uses words poetically, as symbols in the sound track.
When these idle nothings exchanged between guests at the Normandy holiday pension had to he translated into English sub-titles, the captions cluttered up his essential visual designs. Nearly all speech on the new soundtrack is in English, including radio bulletins monotonously confined to production statistics, wage claims and weather.
Tad's humour keeps the audience in a gentle ripple of delight rather than an uproar of guffaws at the unselfconscious absurdity into which most people relapse on happy holiday. Even Tati's own image of the elongated, clumsy, solitary tripper dropping everything from bricks to shrimping nets, is hardly an exaggeration. Monsieur Hulot's Holiday is a delight nobody should miss.
So, in its different way, is Shakespeare Wallah. The handsome hero (Sashi Kapoor) divides his attentions between a beautiful Indian film star (Madhur Jaffrey) who emulates the worst Western standards of film star publicity, and the ingenue (Felicity Kendal) in a touring Shakespeare company much like one in which both Miss Kendal and Mr. Kapoor have worked.
Out of a comparatively simple story of strolling players, James Ivory's film gives us, in agreeably leisured style, an affectionately mocking glimpse of immediately postindependence Indian life, an immensely attractive movie, and presents at least one, if not three, potential stars.
The War Lord ("A", Odeon, Leicester Square) is Hollywood's notion of an epic romance of medieval chivalry, with Charlton Heston as the Duke of Normandy's warrior.
Up Came a Swagman ("LP, Carlton), is one of those eminently cheerful British musicals with accent on youth, from the same house as the Cliff Richard hits. This one celebrates the Australian pop singer Frank 'field's popularity.
After Christmas, I hope to review more fully Four in the Morning ("X", Cameo Royal). Meanwhile I compliment Anthony Simmons on writing and directing this off-beat British picture about angry young people-and Ann Lynn. Judi Dench, Brian Phelan and Norman Rodway on their exciting performances. AT THIS time of the year, most critics are reflecting on what has happened in their partitular field of interest during the past twelve months. Next week I shall discuss the trends that have become evident in television during 1965.
But in case space runs short, I want to mention now some of the smaller points that come to mind as I recall the hours spent in front of the square screen.
Here then is my list for 1965:
• To both channels, top marks for coverage of current affairs. News programmes have been consistently good and so have the weekly features such as This Week and Panorama. It is to be regretted that political parties have sought to bring the whole field of television journalism down to a level where the most important thing is not who said what but how many more seconds did he have than we had? One final small point—get-well-soon Richard Dimblebv.
• To both channels, 65 marks out of 100 for television drama. We have seen some very good plays, but when they are had they are unspeakably bad. One quibble-1 am still oldfashioned enough to like a play to have a beginning and an end. So many these days do not. And please, must we really wait for five minutes of "action" before the credits are run?
• The BBC would get a higher rating than commercial channels from me for its sports coverage, 1 am forced to wonder, however, whether boxing has a following which justifies the amount of time it gets on the air.
• In the case of religious broadcasting neither channel deserves an award. There have been some good programmes—notably from ABC television—but religious television as a whole still fails as an exercise in communication. Radio broadcasts on religious subjects are better.
• In the field of comedy the BBC has made some very worthwhile breakthroughs. They were intelligent enough to see that people might prefer laughter to horror and this has paid off in viewing figures. But without being a prude I must suggest that some of the best comedy shows—I have in mind particularly Steptoe—have been getting a little bit suggestive in recent weeks, • Light entertainment—by which I mean anything from the personality running his own show to the weekly pop-record sessions—has been heavy on names but light on new ideas. The new Palladium Show must be the year's greatest disppointment. if only someone on one of these shows would do something different . . In this category of television my top hate of the year must go to those fleeting groups which perform dance numbers.
My greatest hopes for 1966 arc: that BBC3 will get a new chairman, new permanent guests. a new producer and a very new look; that all comperes who use the words "and now I want to introduce so-and-so who is a great mate of mine" will be sacked; that Perry Mason loses a case; that Eamonn Andrews will tell one of his guests to stop talking and give someone else a chance; that Jimmy Tarbuck gets a new team of scriptwriters; that someone loses the key to the vaults where all the old "feature films" are stored; that the girl who dresses up to talk about the weather on ITV is gracefully retired; and that Sir Hugh Greene and Mrs. Mary Whitehouse can forget their rivalry and begin to work together for the good of television.