HAVE you noticed that thc
British public arc slowly beim divided into two categories? I mean the entertainment seekers.
There are the folk who say: "I couldn't tell you when I saw a film last". 1 say to them, "I expect you stay home at nights watching television". And they say yes, they do. The second category either haven't got a "telly" or don't like it. And these I find are fairly regular einemagoers.
The tellyviewers sometimes annoy me by saying: "Oh, I saw a bit of that new film on TV the other night and I didn't think much of it". And for this I blame the studios that allow their films to be shown in snippets. , They deserve empty seats in their theatres. If they must show films on the home screen let them stick to old stuff and allow the new films to be judged whole.
The big novels
NOW' for those of you who do go to the films, here are a few flashbacks for the year that is just about to vanish.
It's not easy to draw national demarcation lines these days when there is so much to-ing and Having of actors and directors all over the world and when casts tend more and more to be multi-racial.
All the same it is still possible to spot national characteristics. For instance—the great American novel continues to provide material for many an American film— cleaned up, of course, for while the printed word is allowed all sorts of licence, people rise in their wrath if the films overstep the line.
Do you remember the schoolboy who went to see "Peyton Place" and liked it so much that when he was asked by his headmaster what book he would like for a prize he said: "I'd like 'Peyton Place'"?
When his mother had a look at her son's prize (for the school willingly gave the boy what he asked for), she was horrified, and took it back. And the headmaster, who hadn't read it, was full of apologies.
"Peyton Place" and many others like it is in most public libraries for any adolescent to take out— but no one ever says a word.
This is not a plea for book censorship, only for a sense of proportion among all those people who see the mote in the cinema's eye and miss all the beams in books, the theatre and television.
ANYWAY, once these novels are cleaned up they make good films—this year the accent was on crazy, mixed up families—"Cat on
a Hot Tin Roof", "God's Little Acre", "Peyton Place", "Ten North Frederick", "The Long, Hot Summer", and so on. Those
Looks back at the films of 1958
and the new Westerns are 100 per cent American No other country could make them.
What about Britain? Well, it is still an all male affair. Our men are magnificent and our girls are still lagging behind. So the films that come easily to mind are "Ice Cold in Alex" (war in the desert), "I was Monty's Double", "Dunkirk", "Two Headed Spy"—and lots like them.
True, the year has produced three good films with a social background—"A Cry from the Streets", "Innocent Sinners" and "Violent Playground" —where both women and children got a look in and gave a very good account of themselves.
reR1TAIN has one magnificent
production to remember the year by—"A Night to Remember" —the night the Titanic sank. An American director, Mark Robson,
has given us one more in the super-class—"The Inn of the Sixth Happiness"—which I believe even some of the telly addicts will leave the warm parlour for when it conies round to the local.
In a class by itself, too, was Hollywood's "The Defiant Ones". We won't soon forget Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in that one.
The big names
THAT brings roe to names. What are the big names that have helped make the year notable?
To mention just a few who conic to mind—Trevor Howard ("The Key"), Ingrid Bergman ("The Inn of the Sixth Happiness"), John Mills ("Ice Cold in Alex"), Kenneth More, Spencer Tracy ("Old Man and the Sea"), James Stewart, John Gregson ("Rooney"), Danny Kaye, Gary Cooper (perennial). Stewart Granger (that best yet African film "Harry Black"), Jack Hawkins. Oh yes, and Norman Wisdom who makes us laugh.
As for the Latin countries, they are really in the doldrums. I can think of no really worthwhile film they have sent us this year.
But Sweden and Russia have certainly made their contributions. "Wild Strawberries" still at the Academy is a delight and earlier in the year we also had another prestige film from Sweden—"The Seventh Seal".
And what a delight is the Russian "The Cranes are Flying" which seems to have settled down permanently at the Curzon. Of course, these are the cream of Russia and Sweden. No doubt they have their mediocrities like the rest of us.
Horror 'ham WE hear a lot about the censor relaxing standards and I am wondering if the Legion of Decency in America is as powerful as it was
Make no mistake—the reason the cinema trade in the United States has paid so much attention to this unofficial censorship body is that it was able to hit the trade where it hurt most—in the box office. If British films discard the "code" will it affect their American market?
One would like the Legion of Decency to widen its scope and tell us what it thinks of sadism, savagery and horror, although I really think the horror films are fast becoming "ham"--and you can't say anything unkinder than that. Once people start to laugh at them—they've had it.