Comic Cutts

Some kind person rejoicing in the name of nogorecords has helpfully uploaded the entirety of CAR OF DREAMS, directed by Graham Cutts and Austin Melford.

Since Cutts is enjoying probably his first bout of fashionability since shooting his last movie in 1940, I thought it’d be nice to link to this. Also, because my late friend Lawrie remembered it fondly, and could still hum the theme tune after about seventy years.

The title song is at 16:50.

Cutts is getting some attention because half of a film of his, THE WHITE SHADOW, was rediscovered after being lost for decades. Unfortunately for Cutts, the excitement this caused was all because of a novice filmmaker called Alfred Hitchcock, who wrote the script, art directed, designed the sets, edited the film and served as assistant director. Cutts seems to have found his young assistant a trifle uppish, so I imagine he might not be pleased at being usurped all over again.

CAR OF DREAMS is a very mild musical comedy, of some interest for the performance of John Mills, a former Noel Coward chorus boy (and I’m sure none of us have any idea what THAT entailed) who rarely got to exercise his musical comedy chops on screen.

British musicals, asides from Jessie Matthews, George Formby and a few wonderful one-offs like BUGSY MALONE and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, have never really been a great thing on the screen. So this is an intriguing novelty.

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22 Responses to “Comic Cutts”

  1. David Boxwell Says:

    This is a nice picture, so am watching despite the Dutch subtitles. So far: teddiby charming.

    Struck by how Mills eventually learned to lower his voice an octave, and how dependent on refugee talent the flim is (Spoliansky, Greenbaum, Junge, and Mosheim, a huge operetta star in Berlin in the early 30s).

  2. She’s rather winning. There was a window between the coming of sound and the coming of war when German accents seem to have been chic in Britain.

    Nearly every British leading man seems to have cultivated a high voice in the early days. With Mills, either it was an affectation he dropped, or perhaps cigarettes took their toll.

  3. All of Ken Russell’s films are musicals.

  4. True, as befits the unnatural child of Busby Berkeley and Sergei Eisenstein.

  5. [...] Over at Shadowplay, David Cairns is given the neglected director of our project film some attention. He reviews Graham Cutts’ musical comedy Car of Dreams. [...]

  6. David Boxwell Says:

    Adjusted my Youtube translation setting, so this was a treat. I need to work more random rear projection of 1930s Britain into _my_ dreams.

    Best element: Junge’s sets, especially the car show room and the hotel lobby.

  7. Yeah, British films were every bit as art deco as their Hollywood counterparts. And a lot of British industry really WAS housed in marvelous moderne white constructions like the one in the film.

  8. Fun. I’ll watch in its entirety after the blogathon. Thanks for your usual, wonderful support, David.

  9. Thank you for putting together such a great show!

  10. It startled me how deco British musicals were when I saw Radio Parade of 1935.

  11. I saw this on DVD, and wrote about it, a few months back. Do you think the ending, with the car flying off into the horizon, was the inspiration for ending of the film version of Grease?

  12. Radio Parade of 1935 is not a very good film, but it has terrific bits (and terrible ones) and INCREDIBLE design.

    Peter, it would be lovely to think so. And it might also have inspired that most ineffably bloated of Brit musicals, my adored Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

  13. Yes, Radio Parade of 1935, with its ersatz Ritz Brothers, a comic stutterer, and a grown woman doing impersonations that would have horrified Mitzi Green, is a tough slog. A few good songs though. I liked seeing Will Hay in a Boris Karloff wig.

  14. It’s one of those films which conclusively answer the question “Which is lighter, a ton of lead or a ton of feathers?”

  15. Tony Williams Says:

    How charming: RADA and Rosedean cut-glass accents! But some of those camera movements were really superb. Another interesting 30s musical is OK FOR SOUND featuring The crazy Gang.

  16. I was always curious about that one. I find some of those music hall guys slightly hard to take, but I love that title!

  17. Some day when I am near high-speed internet I’ll watch this thing. It sounds delightful. Thanks for doing Graham proud……

  18. But in real fairness to him, I should watch and review his Rat sequels, which involve numerous Hitch collaborators: Novello, Angus MacPhail, Gordon Harker, Marie Ault…

  19. That was interesting. I skipped around a bit, looking at the title number and the finale. The tune sounds familiar. John Mills was speaking in a way that seems to have been common in early British talkies. I think he learned to relax later. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Tony Williams Says:

    Future Squadron Leader Johnny Mills does a tap dance routine briefly in THE GREEN COCKATOO (1937) directed by William Cameron Menzies from a story by Graham Greene and photography by Mutz Greenbaum. Even two decades later Michael Caine remarked that when he and Sean Connery were in drama school they had the pick of the ladies since the men were mstly gay. It may be interesting to compare Mills’s performance with that of Jessie Matthews in those 1930s musicals in terms of accent.

  21. Jessie was a cockney lass who trained herself to talk as far back in the mouth as possible, to the point where even the real posh people thought she was overdoing it, whereas her husband was a rich kid whose act consisted of pretending to be a cockney barrow boy.

    Never found a decent copy of The Green Cockatoo to watch, alas.

  22. Tony Williams Says:

    Cor! Blimee! However, Gracie kept her Lancashire accent. So did George.

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