THE CAPTAIN'S TABLE Certificate U: Odeon, Marble Arch Director: Jack Lee
THE last English-speaking film
of 1958—and it ends the year on a mild laugh, which I suppose Is better than a whimper. Richard Gordon, on whose book it is based. having exhausted the doctor cycle now sees what fun is to be got out of a tough captain, 22 years in command of a cargo vessel, getting his first appointment as captain of a luxury liner bound for Australia.
Maybe you have read the book —I haven't—and so will know that strange things happen on this voyage. For instance, the crew are engaged in making some extra income " on the side."
Sides of bacon are carted off from the ship's stores in ambulances; there is a lively trade at the various ports of call in cigarettes; on the last night of the voyage scores of bottles of cider are sold to the "merry" passengers as champagne—the bar taking the rakeoff.
In the meantime the new captain (played by John Gregson, who struggles with a part calling for a much older man) is having a tough time learning that being captain of a luxury liner means long sessions away from the bridge. being socialable, holding cocktail parties, and being foisted with guests at his table who are not chosen by him but wished on him by head office. (I really wonder that any shipping company agreed to lend their aid to such a film — but a foreword assures us they really disappoved of the whole thing.)
Not so much a story as a procession of "characters": the First Officer "wolf" (Donald Sinden); the designing widow (Peggy Cummins); the amorous grass widow (Nadia Gray); the "smooth" purser (Richard Wattis); and Reginald Beckwith — who all but runs off with the show as the captain's personal steward.
Custard pie addicts will have a glorious time watching the jelly, cream and custard pie sequence at the ship's children's party. Certificate A: Metropole Director: Nathan Juran
ALTHOUGH this is a panto" mime and should have been for children, it has an "A" certificate, probably because of the horrific looking Cyclops that bestrides the island of Colossa and scares the living daylights out of everyone—including me.
Some expert trick photography and a juvenile script. Kerwin Mathews as Sinbad and Kathryn Grant as the lovely princess.
* * *
I now hand over to Guest Critic John Miles, who saw last week's films while I was away on an island somewhere off the coast of Brittany. But, before I do. 1 must thank a reader in Bridport who points out more in sorrow than in anger that in my summing up of the year's films last week I piaillt " Harry Black " in Africa instead of India. In the original notice he was in India all right, hut I've got so used to the wild animals of Africa stealing all the thunder that my typewriter just "slipped out of me 'and." As Mrs. Crcagh says: " Tigers in Africa!"
THE LAST HURRAH Certificate U: Gaumont Director: John Ford
R ASED on the novel by Edwin " O'Connor, "The Last Hurrah" is the story of an Irish American politician nearing the end of a long and somewhat unscrupulous career whose last campaign for reelection as Mayor ends in unexpected defeat at the hands of a political novice. It is a measure of John Ford's skill as a director and Spencer Tracy's as an actor that this twohour drama of American local politics holds our attention almost to the bitter end. Only in the unduly protracted death bed scene does interest begin to pall.
Though the audience's sympathies are always with Tracy. Ford never lets us forget the other side of the picture, and among the excellent supporting cast Donald Crisp gives an interesting performance as the Cardinal, a fellow Irishman and childhood friend of the mayor who has reluctantly opposed his political career on moral grounds.
This is essentially a one-man film, and Spencer Tracy, who is seldom off the screen. acts magnificently in a role which really suits him. It is 'pleasant to welcome a success from John Ford after several rather disappointing films.
PARISIENNE Certificate A: Curzon Director: Michel Boisrond
IT is not, perhaps, very high praise to say that this is the best film Brigitte Bardot has appeared in, as her standards previously have been so low. It is, however, a very enjoyable comedy in which Bardot plays the daughter of the Prime Minister of France. The rest of the plot is equally improbable.