Archive for Petula Clark

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;

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‘Tec Ritter

Posted in Comics, FILM with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2016 by dcairns

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Good things on TV — BBC4 had Petula Clark presenting a guide to chanson Francaise, and THE GREATEST SHOWS ON EARTH, a phantasmagorical assemblage of circus footage — FREAKS fans will spot a couple of familiar fizzogs.

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Also watched — all thirteen episodes of Jessica Jones, a Marvel superhero series that isn’t, almost. Krysten Ritter, whom we like has the punching-through-walls strength (best wall-punching ever — unlike THE AVENGERS, it all seems to be physical) and the leaping-almost-flying (“It’s more like controlled falling”) but no costume or secret identity, and the other characters she meets from the Marvel Universe are similarly down-to-earth. So, did the showrunner Melissa Rosenberg really want to do a show about a self-destructive female private eye, and were they forced to accommodate superpowers to get it made? Ritter appeared in the wonderful Veronica Mars, and aspects of this show are comparable — both heroines have sexual assault backstories, and both are introduced spying on cheating couples fora living, a job which confirms their misanthropic, untrusting worldviews.

Where the show owns its fantasy element is the character of Kilgrave, essentially an evil hypnotist — everyone is compelled to obey his commands, and he has absolutely no conscience, combined with a devilish imagination for cruelty. Every episode pretty much features him committing some insanely hateful act using his powers of persuasion (like if Don Draper got caught in Bruce Banner’s gamma radiation shed, maybe?) and every episode thus amps up the overall series arc, which can be crudely defined as “Kill David Tennant! Punch his smirking head off!”

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Lee Marvin shrewdly defined the role of the Hollywood villain as being to do something so awful the audience wants to see you killed. Not since Andy Robinson in DIRTY HARRY has a screen bad guy chalked up so many outrageous offenses, stacking the viewer’s homicidal imperative so high you can feel the bloodlust coating your throat like Gaviscon.

I liked Tennant as an actor when he first appeared, but got tired of his bag of tricks — he was probably my least favourite modern Doctor Who because of the sense of strain and artifice (“You can smell the sweat,” complained Fiona) but he’s really good here — maybe letting go of the need to be liked has liberated him. He’s still tricksy, but we expect that in our villains — they have to be entertainers to compensate for our not being able to root for them, or not wholeheartedly. And, thank God, he’s not tricksier than usual — playing rapists and sadists, many actors feel the need to erect a wall of artifice so we won’t think it’s THEM up there — Robert Mitchum in CAPE FEAR (version 0.1) is unusual in seeming not to care about separating himself as actor from the scumbag he’s playing. Tennant isn’t as laid-back as that, obviously, but by his standards he’s pretty chilled.

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The show looks nice — cool greys, saturated neons and woozy focus — has a great supporting cast with good relationships — maybe has to spin its central conflict out a few episodes too far, without enough compelling subplots to take up the strain — has episodes directed by John Dahl and Michael Rymer — also three women directors, S.J. Clarkson, Uta Briesewtiz and Rosemary Rodriguez, plus a lot of women writers, which matters.

I could have watched ten pre-codes, but that wouldn’t have the compulsive more-ish-ness… TV or pre-codes? I think a break from TV to soak up more movies would be good…