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I saw this last night at the Cottage Road cinema with ms_siobhan, planet_andy and Rachel WINOLJ (AFAIK). It was another of the Cottage's Classic film nights, like when we went to see Meet Me in St. Louis before Christmas, so once again we were treated to adverts from the 1950s to the 1980s before the film - though not, alas, a Pathé news reel this time. We got instructions on how to behave at a drive-in movie, two Hamlet cigar adverts, a very surreal cereal advert featuring a couple dressed as the people in the American Gothic painting singing about how great their cornflakes were, and a seductive soft-focus advert all about the pleasures of eating Wall's ice-cream in the sun, with a heavy emphasis on the posterior of a female bicyclist wearing tight blue satin hot-pants.

The film itself is an Ealing comedy. I didn't think I knew it, but recognised the plot point about trying to smuggle gold bullion out of the country disguised as souvenir Eiffel towers, so maybe I have seen snippets of it on TV at some point. Anyway, it was great, especially on the big screen, with lots of comic misdemeanours, farcical chase scenes and cracking characters. I especially liked the game old lady in the boarding house who had picked up loads of criminals' slang from reading detective novels; and the scene with Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway desperately attempting to leap on a cross-channel ferry, but having to work their way through a series of bureaucratic ticket officials, passport controllers, customs officers and foreign exchange dealers first. It reminded me painfully of some of my experiences in Schiphol airport, which it seems to be impossible to negotiate via anything other than a painful combination of mad dashes and frustratingly-slow queues.

The end credits threw up a surprising link with the last film I watched, too. I'd thought one of the characters in the opening scene looked rather like Audrey Hepburn, but assumed that it couldn't be, since her role was so minimal - all of about 10 seconds and two lines. But, sure enough, the credit list confirmed that it was indeed her, two years before she shot to fame in Roman Holiday. Her very brief scene is in this Youtube clip if any of you would like to see it for yourselves.

Finally, we were once again invited to stand and salute for the national anthem - but this time it was George VI who was projected on the screen in front of us, rather than a youthful QEII like last time. The film stock was clearly very old, as you could hardly make him out through the dust and scratches, but there he was in glorious technicolor with a Union Jack flying proudly behind him.

Another brilliant evening out, and once again I can't wait for the next time.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Surely it would have been more authentic to the period to have a mad rush for the exit before the National Anthem began playing? ;)
Feb. 18th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
Hehe, yes, I suppose so. You would have a job to get out in time, though, as half the credits for films of that period were at the beginning, so there isn't much time at the end before they're over and you're face to face with royalty.
Feb. 18th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC)
It was fab wasn't it? I read the wikipedia article on the film today and apparently Valerie Singleton is one of the uncredited schoolgirls in it.

I want to see more films with Stanley Holloway in.
Feb. 18th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, so I see (about Valerie). Would've been fun to try to spot her if we'd known. And yes, Stanley Holloway was great. He seems to have been in quite a few Ealing comedies. Hopefully the Cottage Road will show some more of them in due course.
Feb. 19th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
What a thoroughly splendid concept for an evening. I'm quite jealous.
Feb. 19th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's fantastic. Other charming features which I see I have not mentioned above include an enthusiastic cinema manager telling you a few things about the film you are about to see at the beginning, and a proper intermission (as in part-way through the film, not between the trailers and the main feature) complete with a lady selling ice-creams from a tray.

In fact, and again very charmingly, the Classic film nights are actually WAY more popular than the ordinary screenings which happen at the same cinema. OK, it probably helps that the nostalgia-fests only take place once a month, so that they are more of an occasion. But it's still quite common to find an audience in single figures for ordinary screenings, while the Classic nights are usually at or near full capacity. I'm pretty sure the cinema wouldn't be able to stay open without them.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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