Archive for Pat Jackson

The Molestibles

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 6, 2019 by dcairns

DON’T TALK TO STRANGE MEN is a late (1962) offering from director Pat “Miss Jackson if you’re nasty” Jackson, and it’s queasily watchable.

I have to use the adverb because there’s something off-putting about it. The story, by actress and one-shot scenarist Gwen Cherrell, is a bald illustration of the title, a cautionary tale/public information film warning teenage girls to beware. It’s hard to imagine any actual t.g.’s not feeling patronised by the whole project, and regarding the winsome protag as unbelievably stupid, even if they might, in reality, behave as foolishly. In the modern real world, the film’s device of the stranger grooming a gullible teen by call box would instead happen via social media.

In picturizing Cherrell’s tale, Jackson has added an ever-so-subtle leering quality, or it may be me that’s done that, I’m not altogether sure. In movies combining suspense and sexual threat there often seems to be a hint of the carnival come-on, a shared understanding between viewer and filmmaker that the very thing we’re supposed to be afraid of happening in this story is also the thing that has been used to entice us to watch, and keep watching.

By casting a well-spoken young model (Christina Gregg, aged twenty-three) in the lead schoolgirl role, Jackson adds a hint of lechery. The pretty but unbelievably stupid female innocent is a slightly sinister movie trope, allowing frustrated men to dream of a woman so dim she’ll sleep with them without knowing it. The little sister, played by Janina Faye, is smarter by far, kind of like Emmy Kockenlocker, and has the advantage of being portrayed by an actual child. Still, both girls are so sweet and innocent and middle-class, they almost have the effect of Mrs. Wilberforce in THE LADYKILLERS — it’s so shockingly unthinkable that the movie might allow anything bad to happen to them.

The entire movie is a big, excited build-up to rape and murder, fortunately averted — suspense really kicks in when Faye, riding to the rescue, becomes the one in danger. You can’t tear your eyes away, even though nothing is terribly convincing. A bus, pulling up in a day-for-night sequence, has no lights on. Fortunately, Dandy Nichols is aboard, lending quality. Mrs. Ethel Shroake dispenses sage advice but is of no practical help to the lemming-like teen.

The movie does have a brilliant punchline, which comes out of the blue (should a film like this even HAVE a punchline?) — when the relieved parents, after all is done and the sex maniac arrested, ask Faye how she even got to the potential crime scene, she shrugs, “I hitch-hiked!”

Eyes and minds boggle. Fade out.

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Ward Bonds

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on December 29, 2018 by dcairns

 

Watching WHITE CORRIDORS, (1951) directed by Pat Jackson (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty), was slightly annoying due to a defective copy that kept drifting out of sync. Fortunately, VLC Media Player has a handy function that lets you adjust, but every five minutes I had to nudge the sound half a second forward, which would put it very slightly ahead, and wait until it got behind again and then nudge it forward again… If the film hadn’t been so engrossing I would definitely have given up.

The movie has no direct connection with Jackson’s later THE GENTLE/FEMININE TOUCH, but it’s another hospital soap opera, following a diverse group of doctors and nurses and their patients through the day. Googie Withers plays a surgeon, and no issue is made of her femininity, other than the question of whether she’ll stay at this midlands backwater to be near her research scientist lover James “Madness!” Donald, or go to London where the action is. She’s in danger of being passed over for promotion here in favour of head surgeon Godfrey Tearle’s smarmy son (champion smarmster Jack Watling). Petula Clark plays a probationary nurse struggling through her first day. Like a lot of British films of the period, the movie eschews a lead character in favour of celebrating community, which has the effect of diffusing close identification somewhat, but gives us a more global view of the story world.

 

One terrifying masterstroke: a little boy (beautifully played by actual little boy Brand Inglis) has been admitted with an infected wound: we’re about to discover that his septicemia does not respond to antibiotics. He’s drawing, and his hands begin to shake. He stares at them, uncomprehendingly.

Then Barker cuts to the nursing staff, but with the kid’s bed visible in the foreground. And his tray begins to shake, uncontrollably. But nobody notices (considerable anxiety/horror is created by this) until the lid falls off a tin on his tray.

This and several other plot strands don’t develop in the expected soap opera ways. When a nurse tells on a negligent medico (her former lover), the other “sympathetic” characters turn on her. There’s a bit of dangerous socialist propaganda about the merits of the National Health Service (Yay!) and some satire of the red tape non-emergency cases still have to struggle with. OK, I’m satisfied that Jackson was a reliable talent with flashes of real cinematic dazzle. Now I have to dig into his early wartime work.

Petula and Bernard Lee. Know him anywhere.

Stars Rose Sandigate; Theo Van Gogh; Sharon McLonergan; Kreacher; Lady Winterbourne;  Mrs Grose; ‘M’, Charters; Melanthius; Dickie Winslow; Becky Driscoll; and Mrs Ethel Shroake of 393A High Street, Leytonstone;

Ealing Hands

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2018 by dcairns

When I think of it, there are a surprisingly large number of Ealing films I haven’t seen. Now that I’m interested in Pat Jackson (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty), my attention focussed on THE GENTLE TOUCH (aka THE FEMININE TOUCH), a typical Ealing group dynamic movie about student nurses. Of course, an Ealing take on this subject is quite a bit from, say, a Roger Corman one, but it’s not exactly devoid of “shocking” material, from suicide to questioning the cruelty of God to some frank talk about virginity and colostomy bags.

And all in luminous Technicolor! It’s a surprising choice of subject to show off the process, but Paul Beeson’s work is radiant, excelling in a sunset scene where the golden light and blue shadows recall Leon Shamroy’s Hollywood work.

Best-known ministering angel is probably flame-haired Adrienne Corri, a Scot cast as an Irishwoman on account of all that red hair. She plays it with her strongest Scottish accent and a couple of notes of stage Irish. But she’s fun! Belinda Lee is the soft-spoken lead, good actor but written insipid; Diana Wynyard is the Matron and she’s AWESOME — good in the original GASLIGHT, but better here, and Mandy Miller from MANDY is a child patient with a dicky heart. Delphi Lawrence marries a doctor (“I thought he was a confirmed bachelor!”) and is automatically fired because nurses aren’t allowed to marry in 1956, apparently (!).

Very glad I saw it. Some of the compositions in group shots are stunning, and there are some snappy montages, but otherwise we don’t see Jackson’s more bold and imaginative choices, which I suspect he only resorted to when working on nonsense he thought was beneath him. Too bad, that.

But hey, Technicolor! 

Jackson did another medical drama, WHITE CORRIDORS, which I’m curious about, and I also want to see his early documentary/quasi-documentary stuff (some with Humphrey Jennings).