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So, as established in my WIDAWTW post earlier on, last week was long and busy on the work front for me. I have a huge list of unwritten LJ reviews nagging at my conscience - I'm six Doctor Who episodes behind now, and have also read six books this year that have yet to be mentioned in these pages. But all of those reviews require thinkiness, and the last thing I want to do today is think hard about anything. Meanwhile, fresh from watching Christopher Lee in one film about war-time resistance movements on Thursday evening, I found myself cuing up another this afternoon. These films are very undemanding to me, because I have so little invested in them, so writing up my vague half-formed thoughts afterwards is no great burden. And each one is another tick on my list.

This one was produced about a year after The Traitor (the one I saw on Thursday), but between the two Lee had appeared as the monster in The Curse of Frankenstein, and the change in his status is very clear. His role in The Traitor is far more substantial than his role in Battle of the V-1, but in spite of that by the time the latter was released his name was both higher up the opening credits and in larger type in relation to his co-stars. He plays a Nazi labour-camp guard who mainly shouts at people and points guns at them, which is of course a very typical Lee role, and one which he performs very nicely (not to mention looking hella sexy while he is at it).

The role is small, though, and irritatingly it became clear when I picked up my Christopher Lee filmography reference books that it had been made even smaller by the channel I was watching it on (More Than Movies), because the books all referred to a death scene for his character which I couldn't remember seeing. Had I somehow missed it amidst a confusing action scene, I wondered? Nope - when I went back to the right part of the recording, I could see quite clearly that it had simply been edited out. The same books also revealed that this had happened with the death scene for another character as well, so between the two that becomes a bit of a lesson in trusting TV channels to broadcast films as they were originally released. At the very least, I should clearly be aiming to record post-watershed broadcasts wherever possible.

The plot concerns Polish underground resistance agents finding and reporting information to the British about the German development of V-1 flying bombs - aka Doodlebugs, or early unmanned guided missiles. It's OK, with some decent moments of tension and drama towards the end as our plucky gang take considerable risks in order to send a full, unexploded V-1 to the British so that they can see what they're up against. I enjoyed a scene in which several hundred very ordinary-looking Polish people stood in lines in a field with flaming torches so that a British plane could land and collect the bomb - a great depiction of bravery and resourcefulness in the face of brutal oppression. But for all that the early sections set in the labour-camp were the bits with Christopher Lee in them, they did go on rather long for the sake of the film's overall pacing.

The main star is Michael Rennie, whom you're sure to have seen in something - probably a thriller, possibly a secondary role in one of several Classical or Biblical epics. His character was Polish, but he spoke in his normal English accent, just as his side-kick David Knight similarly used his native American tones, while everyone else had clearly been briefed to put on Polish or German accents as appropriate. I found the American accent particularly difficult to suspend my disbelief about, I suppose because my cultural context makes an English accent easier for me to accept as 'neutral' or default, but both seemed odd, especially when characters who were actually meant to be English showed up as well. I guess that's what you do with your big-name stars, though.

I was also struck by the fact that, just like The Traitor, this film has very few female characters in it (two this time; an advance on one I suppose), but since the ones it does have are underground resistance fighters, they are nonetheless absolutely awesome. One is captured by the Nazis, but basically laughs in the face of their questioning, even when they use water torture on her, while the other successfully removes the detonator from the unexploded V-1, knowing full well that it could explode at any moment. I don't actually think that's typical of 1950s war films, judging from the other ones I have seen - not even of the particular sub-set of war films which deal with underground resistance movements. But it was welcome, all the same.

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:52 am (UTC)
Have you filtered me off WIDAWTW posts to spare the feelings of Teaching Boss lady? Eek!
Nov. 23rd, 2015 11:06 am (UTC)
Oh, yes I have, actually, for both of our sakes. They were never meant to be formal reports to someone actually in a line-management position over me, and a while back you started responding to some of them as though they were. You shouldn't have to do that, and nor should I have to worry that you might.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 11:49 am (UTC)
Eek, apols about that! And you're absolutely right x
Nov. 23rd, 2015 12:00 pm (UTC)
It's all right - you don't need to apologise. You were trying to be helpful and supportive. (I think it was about whole thing with the newsletters not happening last year.) But it just felt like an undesirable blurring of professional and personal spaces for both of us, hence the filter.

I did mean to say I'd done it at the time, BTW, and explain why. But it turns out there's almost no way of saying to someone "I have filtered you out of some of my LJ posts" that doesn't sound drama-llamaish, so I avoided the issue, and of course have now had to explain retrospectively anyway! Oh well, glad you know now.

Full disclosure - Mary is filtered out of the same posts, because you live in the same house so obviously are bound to see each other's computer screens a fair amount. And that's the only LJ filter I use for any purpose, apart from the standard friends vs. public distinction.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 08:29 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh, that does sound v. awkward- you're right that I would also feel very dramalamaish about making such an announcement. But look, I have only just noticed the filter, so you have managed it with suave aplomb. Totally understand why xxx
Nov. 23rd, 2015 10:41 am (UTC)
I've seen this film a few times - but it's actually rare that the recoloured version gets shown. It's usually the original black and white. It's quite interesting to see which bits have been painted in, and which left original - very convenient that German soldiers wear grey uniforms for example, just need to do their faces and red armbands :)

Great film though, but maybe didn't need quite so much explanation of how the V1 worked in the first half.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 11:09 am (UTC)
Oh, this explains a lot! It was indeed a colourised version that I saw, but I thought all along that the colour seemed odd. I assumed it was just a poor-quality print, but recolourising would also explain much of the oddness. It also explains why, when I found one of the edited-out death scene on Youtube (though sadly not Christopher Lee's), that was in black and white.

And yes, I agree about the first half.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 10:52 am (UTC)
Michael Rennie is wonderful - he's fabulous in The Day The Earth Stood Still and as the narrator in The Desert Fox in which James Mason plays Rommel.

I can highly recommend both if you haven't already seen them.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 11:09 am (UTC)
I'd definitely like to see The Day The Earth Stood Still - that looks well up my street.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 12:25 pm (UTC)
It's a fabulous film - got it on dvd.

Whatever you do - DO NOT watch the remake with Keanu Reeves - even out of an idle sense of curiosity. It is absolutely appalling.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 12:27 pm (UTC)
Haha, OK! I'll consider myself warned.
Nov. 26th, 2015 01:49 pm (UTC)
I seem to recall being told that 'Michael Rennie was ill, the Day the Earth Stood Still' :)
Nov. 23rd, 2015 12:07 pm (UTC)
> I'm six Doctor Who episodes behind now

Yes, you are! And some of those have been real crackers too!

No pressure or anything :)
Nov. 23rd, 2015 12:10 pm (UTC)
I have seen them all, and wrote notes as I did so, and thought they were great. Just... typing it up into coherent prose is quite a thing. :-/ I'll get there, though!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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