Sammy Going Sideways

I’ve always tried to convert my unseemly love for CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (not pictured) into a wider admiration for director Ken Hughes. but have never quite managed to see the film that will clinch it. Now, with this edition of The Forgotten, I at last have done so.

THE SMALL WORLD OF SAMMY LEE.

14 Responses to “Sammy Going Sideways”

  1. Tony Williams Says:

    WIDE BOY featured Sydney Tafler in the title tole, a very prolific and underrated actor who became Sid James’s straight man in the series CITIZEN JAMES. As for Newley, we await HIERONYMOUS MERKIN – unless you’ve alreadt covered it?.

  2. Follow the links! I wrote about HM for a very early Forgotten.

  3. ehrenstein47 Says:

    This was released stateside as “The Small Violent World of Sammy Lee, Small-Time Hustler”

  4. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Hughes also helmed Mae West’s lamentable swan song “Sextette” and he was one of the five directors of Charlie Feldman’s insane 1967 “Casino Royale”

  5. Judy Dean Says:

    I saw this film on its release in 1963 when, as a teenager, I was a huge Newley fan. (The year before I’d seen him on stage in Stop the World, I Want to Get Off but he’d first come to my attention with The Strange World of Gurney Slade in 1960.) For decades The Small World …. existed only in my memory until it was issued as part of the Optimum Classic London Collection in 2009. I was relieved to find it still as realistically sleazy as you describe. The location footage – Soho, Victoria Coach Station, Whitechapel – is wonderful. By the way, the thing that made Newley unique as a singer was his use of a London, rather than an American, accent – a novelty that did not escape the notice of the lad in Bromley who later became David Bowie.

  6. Yes!

    Only just discovered that the film started as a 1958 TV play, written and directed by Hughes and starring Newley, telling the same story without leaving the single set of Sammy’s rented room. The movie’s expansion brings a lot to it.

    My Hughes exploration ought to now take in The Trials of Oscar Wilde, which must be at least interesting, and maybe Cromwell, which maybe isn’t. His version of Of Human Bondage is terrible, and it’s not Kim Novak’s fault, it’s Hughes’.

  7. Tony Williams Says:

    Yes, Hughes’s Wilde is worth looking at. It appeared the same year as another starring Robert Morley and I’ve seen both on youtube. Again, it will be interesting to read your observations as well as two readings of “bad Bosie”.

  8. Hughes made Robert Morley look bad by comparison TWICE: once by casting Peter Finch as Wilde while Morley was playing the part for Gregory Ratoff the same year, and once by casting Morley in Of Human Bondage as the nasty doctor who makes the hero display his club foot in class. In the 1934 classic, Desmond Roberts plays the man as cold. Morley does it with lip-smacking sadistic relish, and it’s moronic.

    Morley is great, but usually only as a kind of George Bull cartoon.

  9. ehrenstein47 Says:

  10. “The movie never worries, you see, about giving us a good reason to care about Sammy’s plight.” I caught this on Talking Movies a few nights back, and was absolutely transfixed, but completely missed the part where he sold the chair. I’d assumed it was there precisely to make us care, a weirdly post-McKee strategy. And what a great film about running!

  11. Yeah, it’s more complicated than I allow: they use the chair to demonstrate that he does have feelings (though not for anyone living) and he gets a kind of grudging respect for holding out — but then he gives in and so his last shred of dignity is gone.

  12. John Seal Says:

    Jazz Boat (1959) recently showed up on TCM US in a gorgeous widescreen print. Hughes and Newley together again, along with a gang of motorcycle riding petty criminals and a scene at Chislehurst Caves…hard to beat! Even if you’re not keen on Ted Heath and His Orchestra.

  13. I think I recorded it. I hope so…

  14. John Seal Says:

    It’s really strange but really engaging: the world’s first/only musical-comedy-crime drama? Lionel Jeffries is particularly good and there’s some terrific London and Margate location photography, as well as a nifty ‘hall of mirrors’ finale. I liked Bernie Winters a lot (sort of a spivvy, London-born variant on Ken Dodd, as far as I can tell) and there’s a ton of rather bold (for the time) homoerotic humor. At a minimum, you will not be bored.

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