Marcel Varnel – King Arthur Was a Gentleman (1942)

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King Arthur Was a Gentleman is a 1942 British musical comedy film, directed by Marcel Varnel, starring Arthur Askey as Arthur King. Set during World War II, the plot involves the diminutive Arthur joining the army to prove himself to his girlfriend Susan (Evelyn Dall), who is in the same unit as him. Here, his idealistic notions about King Arthur prompt his messmates to trick him into believing that a sword they have dug up is the fabled Excaliber. Armed with this talisman Arthur strides forth to deal with the Wehrmacht. Continue reading

Stanley Kubrick – Barry Lyndon (1975)

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Synopsis
BARRY LYNDON is Stanley Kubrick’s epic costume drama based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s picaresque novel. It tells the story of a young rogue who wanders through life getting lost in various adventures, meeting his share of women and oddball characters. When Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal, trying desperately to maintain an Irish brogue) becomes jealous of Captain Quin’s advances on Barry’s beloved cousin, he challenges the man to a duel. Winning the duel, young Barry is forced to leave his home and his mother, and off on his adventures he goes. He meets thieves, lonely soldier brides, Prussian army leaders, and British widows, inventing new stories about himself at every turn of the road. BARRY LYNDON is lush and magnificent, sparkling with color, every frame reminiscent of the finest European art. The blues of the Prussian army uniforms and the reds of the British contrast sharply with the majestic green land and mountains in nearly every background. Kubrick often begins a shot close in, then zooms out to reveal the beautiful natural landscape and ornate rooms surrounding the now seemingly insignificant characters. With rousing performances from O’Neal, Marisa Berenson, Hardy Kruger, and Leonard Rossiter, jaw-dropping camerawork, spectacular natural lighting, and a marvelous classical-music soundtrack painstakingly put together by Kubrick, BARRY LYNDON is a dramatic romantic epic that may be Kubrick’s most beautiful film. Continue reading

Christopher Morahan – All Neat in Black Stockings (1968)

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A small comedy drama about the life and sex adventures of an amorous window cleaner, in the hip and swingin’ London of the 60’s. Ginger (Victor Henry) divides his time between picking up the cleaning rag and picking up women in the London pubs. One girl he meets is the pretty and demure Jill (Susan George), who his best friend Dwyer (Jack Shephard) takes a shine to. When Ginger agrees to becomes a caretaker at an old man’s mansion and a wild party results, he asks Dwyer to look after Jill. Dwyer takes that invitation as a chance to seduce Jill. Later, when Ginger is informed by Jill that she is pregnant. Continue reading

David Lean – Oliver Twist (1948)

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Expressionistic noir photography suffuses David Lean’s Oliver Twist with a nightmarish quality, fitting its bleak, industrial setting. In Dickens’ classic tale, an orphan wends his way from cruel apprenticeship to den of thieves in search of a true home. Here Alec Guinness is the quintessential Fagin, his controversial performance fully restored in Criterion’s new digital transfer.

Links:
Criterion
All Movie Guide Continue reading

Basil Dearden – Cage of Gold (1950)

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Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson

Cage of Gold was a rare non-comic effort from Britain’s Ealing Studios. Jean Simmons stars as Judith, who awakens the morning after her wedding to discover that her new husband has deserted her. Later on, she is told that her husband is dead. After a period of mourning, Judith remarries–only to be subjected to blackmail by husband number one. It’s all a racket, of course, but Judith doesn’t go to the police until it’s almost too late. Featured in the cast of Cage of Gold as a slimy smuggler is Herbert Lom, who later gained worldwide fame as Inspector Dreyfus in the “Pink Panther” comedies. Continue reading

Basil Dearden – All Night Long (1962)

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Synopsis:

“At an East London warehouse jazz party, a drummer plots his revenge on the people who thwarted his ambitions by spreading rumours and lies amongst them.”
– Screenonline

“The film, based on Othello, is neatly positioned as a vehicle to showcase some of the best Jazz musicians of the period – including Dave Brubeck and Charlie Mingus.”
– IMDb Continue reading