Monthly Archives: March 2010

DVD Round-up, 29 March 2010

Mighty Boosh fans rejoice! The director and stars of the cult comedy have finally banded together to make a movie in the shape of Bunny and the Bull (Optimum). And, while Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt may not be the leads of this particular adventure, it still has enough Booshisms to make a decent substitute until the real thing comes along.

Set in the living room of Stephen Turnbull (Ed Hogg), who hasn’t left his house for months, a series of events causes him to recall a round-Europe trip he took with his flatmate, Bunny (Simon Farnaby).

However, because of Stephen’s refusal to leave the front room, his flat becomes a recreation of his original trip, his sofa a gateway to another world and the dinner table a series of railway tracks, motorways and other locations too distant to go to physically.

As Stephen and Bunny move onwards on their journey, encountering odd characters (including Fielding and Barratt) and a love interest in the shape of Veronica Echegui, Bunny becomes more annoying and the reason for their trip less clear, the viewer wondering just who their loyalties should lie with.

Stunning visuals accompany them throughout, the backdrops getting more elaborate as they progress. With the story losing its grip at times, it’s the film’s look which is perhaps the most interesting, though a bittersweet ending does go some way to putting the rest of the piece into perspective. A frustrating watch.

A commentary, making-of documentary and other material help give some context to the film.

Controversial in its native South Korea, Breathless (Terracotta Distribution) comes to DVD in a features-packed 2 disc edition which attempts to get beneath the surface of this violent, yet rewarding, film which is written by, directed and stars Yang Ik-une.

Sang-hoon (Yang Ik-june) is a debt collector with a violent temper, one who likes to fight first and ask questions…never. Thanks to a brutal upbringing involving domestic violence, Sang-hoon’s view of the world is fuelled by the need to exact pain on anyone he feels he can, until he meets a schoolgirl with a similar story.

Though its budget may be tiny, the fact that Breathless takes place mainly on the backstreets and interiors of offices and houses means that it’s never meant to be glossy, Yang Ik-june never glorifying the violence at its centre.

With a gradual build up of tension and impressive interaction between characters, this is an absorbing and often difficult watch that rewards the persistent viewer.

Also out today is 1957’s The Man in the Sky (Optimum), an Ealing Studio film starring Jack Hawkins as pilot John Mitchell who is living a less than fulfilled suburban lifestyle with his wife (Elizabeth Sellars) and their two children.

While taking a new plane on a test flight one day, his passengers including Donald Pleasance and Lionel Jeffries in minor roles, Mitchell realises something is wrong with the engines and orders his crew to parachute to safety. Remaining on board and unable to land, Mitchell must decide the best course of action while the town below, including his wife, watches.

Directed by Ealing regular Charles Crichton and featuring a strong performance from Hawkins, this is still a sub-par Ealing film, even if it does entertain for its short run time. Mitchell’s reasons for wanting to remain on board may be admirable but there’s not enough character there to make the audience sympathetic with him, the film falling rather flat when he does return to terra firma.

Still, as a lesser-known entry to the Ealing canon this is an important release, a good chance to see the recently-deceased Jeffries in a small part.

DVD Round-up, 22 March 2010

Forget remakes of 1970s slasher films, big budgets and star names: 2009’s Paranormal Activity (Paramount) cost only $10,000 to make but has already grossed over $100 million in its native America, features a couple of unknown actors and has enough chills to make you think twice about any noises you hear in the night.

The plot is simple: when a young couple, Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston), move into their new home they are soon bothered by strange sounds around the house as they try to sleep.

When Katie admits she’s felt haunted all her life, Micah decides to take control by buying video recording equipment and filming their days in the house, setting it up in their bedroom to try and capture footage of what’s happening around them.

Soon the pair are being tormented by something they can only hear but which is determined to cause them both pain, mental and physical.

While the all-American couple of Micah and Katie can be irritating at times, the actors do well to at least make them realistic, director Oren Peli adding layers of tension to each night’s happenings.

Watched at home with the lights out it’s a seasoned horror fan who won’t feel at least a few hairs raising on the back of the neck during the film, though it perhaps loses some of the thrills that might be felt during a visit to the cinema.

A UK-exclusive director’s commentary and making of documentary add to the package on the DVD and Blu-ray.

Another recent horror release is the latest in George A Romero’s series of zombie allegories which began way back in 1968 with the now-classic Night of the Living Dead.

Now, in Survival of the Dead (Optimum), Romero maintains the low budget but moves location to a small US island inhabited, for no apparent reason, by two Irish families brought into contact with the undead as well as a rogue military unit intent on destroying every zombie in sight.

Though the plot makes little sense, the actors, led by Kenneth Walsh as Patrick O’Flynn and Seamus Fitzpatrick as Seamus Muldoon, at least seem to be having some fun, hamming it up throughout. With zombies taken out by single bullets, there’s little actual horror here, the only real enjoyment to be had from the ridiculous plot and dialogue.

From modern horror we turn the clock back a few decades, Odeon Entertainment bringing us two gems in the shape of 1965’s Dr Terror’s House of Horrors and 1971’s Blood on Satan’s Claw.

Starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and directed by horror veteran Freddie Francis, Dr Terror opens in the carriage of an old fashioned train where five men are joined by Doctor Shreck (Peter Cushing) as he starts to tell them their destinies using a deck of Tarot cards.

Each man’s fate, involving werewolf legends, killer plants and voodoo curses, is described in detail by the Doctor as each one tries to work out how to avoid their fate.

Actors such as Donald Sutherland, Roy Castle and Bernard Lee pop up to add some class to proceedings, while Christopher Lee is brilliantly OTT as the art critic with a terrible temper who is having none of it. Original, creepy and blessed with a killer twist ending, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors is must-see.

Blood on Satan’s Claw is an odd beast, the tale of a 17th century English village which is slowly possessed by by the Devil.

When a skull is found in a field by a local farmworker, a Judge (Patrick Wymark) is brought to see it, only to discover it has vanished.

As strange goings-on occur over the next few days, including fur growing on areas of people’s bodies and a change in temperament for many of the young, the suspicions of the elders grow.

Starring a number of familiar faces, from Upstairs Downstairs’ Simon Williams and Doctor Who’s Wendy Padbury, and backed by a terrific musical score, the film has plenty to offer the jaded horror fan who might despair at modern day offerings.

Away from the world of blood and curses, 1950’s The Clouded Yellow (Eureka) is an overlooked British thriller which deserves some reappraisal, especially as it stars two great actors in Trevor Howard and Jean Simmons.

Ex-spy David Somers (Howard) decides to take a break from the world of espionage by retreating to the English countryside to catalogue butterflies for a rich family.

Attracted to his employers troubled young niece, Sophie (Simmons), Somers is embroiled in a murder mystery which will see the pair go on the run from the authorities across the UK.

Taking its cue from John Buchan’s The 39 Steps in its man-on-the-run plot, the film makes up for its slightly pedestrian nature with fine performances from its two leads and a fun cameo from Kenneth More as Somers’ always-eating ex-colleague.

Winning the P’alme D’Or at Cannes in 1987, Sous le soleil de Satan (Under the Sun of Satan) (Eureka) is a story of religion and murder starring Gerard Depardieu as priest caught up in events which may or may not involve the Devil.

Set in 1926 rural France, the film follows young priest, Donissan (Depardieu) who meets a young woman who has had many affairs and carried out an act of murder. On his way to meet her, Donissan encounters visions of the Devil which tempt and taunt him.

This is a dark tale which is hugely rewarding thanks to Depardieu’s stunning performance as a man warring with himself and his God, a bleak story which says some interesting things about religion and humanity.

Cast your mind Back to the Future

Here’s a tricky question for you: what’s your earliest film memory? Is it watching a Disney film on TV? Or maybe it’s going to the cinema with your parents as a child and being enchanted or even terrified by what was going on up there on the silver screen?

Perhaps it’s easier to name the film which had the biggest impact on you, making you view the world in a new way or think about things differently?

That’s the central premise of new book Screen Epiphanies (BFI/Palgrave Macmillan), in which author Geoffrey Macnab has interviewed 32 leading film-makers with the aim of finding out which film inspired them to pursue a career in the industry.

Who’d have thought that Taxi Driver and Goodfellas director Martin Scorsese would nominate 1948 ballet film The Red Shoes as the one which he’s “continually and obsessively” drawn to? He saw it first aged nine and it never left him.

Scottish director Kevin Macdonald, director of The Last King of Scotland and State of Play, plumped for 1943’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, partly because his grandfather, Emeric Pressburger, directed it and he could see so much of him in the film.

Oscar winner Danny Boyle, he of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting fame, claims that he’s still “haunted” by Apocalypse Now while Chariots of Fire director David Puttnam goes for the slightly-less-violent 1940 version of Pinocchio by Disney, saying that after seeing it in 1948 he left the cinema thinking “that’s what I want to do.”

The choices are many and varied, but what stands out is a deep love of the cinema-going experience, even those who saw the films first on TV trying hard to see them on the big screen later on.

My first cinema memory is queuing outside the old Odeon on South Clerk Street at the age of five to see The Empire Strikes Back with my cousin, but my most vivid recollection is watching Back to the Future for the first time in 1985.

Back to the Future fanned the flames of my love for science fiction and of high concept movies which are both intelligent and entertaining, something I’ve looked for in films ever since.

What’s your earliest film memory?

DVD Round-up, 8 March 2010

With Tim Burton’s version of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale taking the cinema by storm, there’s now a chance to revisit an earlier adaptation in the shape of 1972’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Fiona Fullerton takes on the role of Alice, tempted by the White Rabbit’s (Michael Crawford) into Wonderland where she meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and a host of weird and wonderful characters.

As with many British fantasy films of the past, the look of the magical land is less Hollywood technicolor and more low budget soundstage, but that’s not to say it looks cheap. Director William Sterling takes his cue from Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations to build his bizarre dreamscape.

Using impressive visual techniques to shrink and grow Alice, and inserting well known actors such as Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore and Spike Milligan alongside a feisty Fullerton, Sterling gives us a memorable Wonderland, one where parents and children should feel slight trepidation once they make it to the bottom of that hole.

Little remarked upon on its 2009 release, Just Like the Son (Bounty) is a road trip with a difference, in which a young thief takes a boy across America to find his mum using ill-gotten gains to fund the journey.

Mark Webber stars as Daniel Carter, a petty criminal sent to work at a primary school in Greenwich Village where he meets 8-year-old Boone (Antonio Ortiz). Finding out that Boone’s mother has been taken ill and the boy sent away to a foster school, Daniel decides to save him and reunite him with his family.

Managing to avoid sentimentality, director Morgan J Freeman has a lightness of touch which ensures the potentially cloying nature of the story is avoided. The rapport between Webber and Ortiz is also refreshingly real, time given over to establishing their relationship.

With its straightforward narrative and appealing actors, Just Like the Son is a gentle enough tale with enough rough edges to ensure it doesn’t become too predictable.

English history gets a kick-up the ramparts in 1939’s Tower of London (Optimum Classic), a gothic-tinged retelling of the Richard III story, Basil Rathbone giving it his all as the murderous King hell-bent on attaining the throne by any means necessary.

Starting out as the Duke of Gloucester, brother to King Edward IV, Richard doesn’t suffer fools, or failure, gladly. Assisted by the fictional executioner, Mord (Boris Karloff), Richard, cons, swindles, fights and murders his way through the ranks to place himself as King of England.

Made by Universal, the studio that brought Frankenstein and Dracula to the big screen, Tower of London has all the darkness of those movies along with its own sense of morbidity that is inevitable in such a doom-laden tale.

Rathbone is a strong lead, always on the look out for his next opportunity for success, and much of the fun her can be found in trying to second guess his next move.

Karloff is also on good form, his thoroughly evil Mord showing the odd glimpse of humanity when he’s not drowning Vincent Price in a vat of wine or torturing unfortunate peasants.

While a bit of historical knowledge might help your enjoyment of the film, and the odd American accent does distract, Tower of London is never dull and adds a touch of colour to historical events.

Awaking in a small Welsh fishing village and unsure how he got there, Rex Harrison finds himself embroiled in a series of unfortunate events in The Constant Husband (Optimum Classic), the upshot of which being that he’s married…to seven different women.

Taking it upon himself to investigate his own life, Harrison uncovers false names, occupations and love affairs, becoming increasingly unsure of why he did what he did or how to get out of the mess.

Written by The Lady Vanishes Sydney Gilliat, The Constant Husband is clearly a lesser affair for Harrison compared to Doctor Doolittle or My Fair Lady, but this doesn’t stop him having a ball as the uptight cad, a kind of 1950s Hugh Grant.

The story rattles along at a fair lick, with few signs of reality bothering the script, cameos from the likes of George Cole helping to make it a frothy concoction that lovers of romantic comedies should find appealing.

Finally this week, Optimum have pulled another little known British film out of the archives by the scruff of the neck in the shape of 1954’s The Rainbow Jacket.

Last of the Summer Wine’s Compo, Bill Owen, stars as disgraced champion jockey Sam who discovers a potential protege in the form of young Georgie (Fella Edmonds) and encourages him to take up riding.

With the promise of riches and fame,Georgie and his mother jump at the chance, the boy discovering that there’s more to training than just sitting on a horse as he’s put through various trials by the owners of Lord Logan’s (Robert Morley) stables.

Beginning as a comedy with an appearance by Sid James in the opening scene, Rainbow Jacket switches direction somewhat during the film’s run, Sam’s history clearly troubling him as he tries to mould Georgie into an honest jockey.

As Sam schools the boy, telling him to always do the right thing, Bill Owen portrays his clapped out character with empathy in a role which would usually be shown by way of a simple cheeky chap routine.

With the emphasis placed on the need for morals and dignity at all times, The Rainbow Jacket has elements not expected in these type of films and as such marks it out as something that little bit different, thanks mainly to a strong turn from Owen.

Don’t worry about David: David Morrissey interview

David Morrissey can lay claim to being one of Britain’s best loved actors, with a string of TV and film roles, including State of Play and Doctor Who, to his name.

Now, after a few forays into directing for television, Morrissey has made his first feature film, Don’t Worry About Me, a small-scale love story set in his home town of Liverpool which manages to be both touching and thought-provoking.

I recently caught up with Morrissey in Inverness following a screening of Don’t Worry About Me and began by asking him to tell me about the film’s plot.

It’s about a London guy called David who has a one night stand with a Liverpool girl in London and he thinks in his mad romantic way that this is the girl for him. He follows her up to Liverpool and she’s not as single as she led him to believe, and her boyfriend kicks-off.

David gets drunk, gets his wallet stolen and he’s stranded in this city. So he goes to make bet on a dog in order to get some money to get home and in the bookies he meets another girl and they spend the day together through various circumstances.

It’s about two incompatible people who decide to tell each other their secrets and share their pain with each other.

How did you come to get involved with the script?

I had spent about three years trying to raise money for another film which had a budget of around £5 million and I kept getting close to it and then it wouldn’t happen and it was quite tortuous. So I decided to find out how much money I could raise without a script.

My brother’s a businessman in Liverpool so he set-up something called an EIS, a tax incentive initiative and combined it with another Government tax initiative. We then went to the business community in Liverpool and brought together four guys who were very interested in low-level investment and I ended up knowing I could probably get around £100,000 by just saying it was a film but not what it was about or who was in it.

Then I had to find the film. I sat with lots of writers, lots of people who had ideas, read lots of books and they would either be too long, not good enough, short films or too expensive. So I was stuck up a gum tree really.

Then I read a review for a play at the Arts Theatre in London so I went to see it. At first I didn’t think it was going to work, far too complicated, it was in rhyming couplets so I left the theatre but the story stayed with me about this guy going up to Liverpool.

I went to meet the two writers, who were also the two actors in the play, and asked if they’d work with me to make a feature out of it and they said yes. I bought the rights to it and we went to work from there.

You’ve directed before for television, including Passer By with James Nesbitt, but what was it that inspired you to direct a film?

I really wanted to direct, to go on a full journey with a project, like I had with Passer By and Sweet Revenge, but I wanted it to be a feature film as I felt that TV had its own rules and I watch films but don’t watch TV. I watch European cinema not American cinema and I wanted to make those types of movies, but nobody would give me the money to do it.

I was getting increasingly frustrated while going to the cinema and seeing film I thought were crap so I thought “I want to make a film.” So that’s what I did.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make the film I originally wanted to make, though I hope to make that at another point, but I was able to make this film which I’m really proud of and everything just fitted in: it had the sensibilities I wanted to have, it was set in my home town and it just worked.

One thing I notice with British films, particularly low budget British films, is the desire to show a Britain with drink and drug problems. Was it important to you that you avoided that depiction?

It wasn’t important but I was glad it did take me away from that. Drug abuse and violence has become a bit of a cliché in British films and I’m trying, though not for any conscious reason, to find a new way into a story.

I was interested in a story about two people who had things to live with that were very recognisable to most people, the line between being a family member but also a carer, and trying to live and deal with that. I didn’t set out to make a film that didn’t have elements of drug abuse or whatever, it was more that this story needed to be told in a certain way.

One film this reminded me of was an American film from a few years ago, In Search of a Midnight Kiss…

It was really weird. I’d made my film and went away and made a film as an actor, then came back and was re-editing it and after about a month he phoned me up to say I had to see this film and I thought: “They’ve made my film” and everyone’s going to think I ripped it off.

I was in a real state watching it with my wife and at the end of it I turned to my wife and said “I’ve just wasted two years of my life.” She told me they were very different but I had to go away and really re-examine myself and look at the film again before I could say to myself that it is different and there are so many films out there that are similar that it’s OK to make two films which have similar themes, but it took me a long time to come down from that ledge.

How would you describe your directorial style? Have you found yourself borrowing elements from directors you’ve worked with?

I’m inspired by directors I’ve worked with and also from those I’ve not. You have to be careful because you have an ambition for something but when you get on the floor or you get your budget, to execute those plans takes a certain amount of skill, equipment or whatever so you’ve got to really know what your capabilities are.

I knew we couldn’t do a lot of trick shots on this, we didn’t have a lot of equipment and weren’t able to afford some of the things we’d have liked such as steadicams, cranes or even tracks, so I knew I had to rely on the actors and that it was an actors story and I knew I could do that.

My “thing” is that my films are full of strong performances because I know actors and how to treat them and get inside their head and if there’s a style I have then it’s to do with making actors brave and giving them an atmosphere they can create in, but you hand it to them.

Sometimes on a set directors don’t hand a set over to you because they’re too busy with this, that and the other that they forget that what is coming out of you is important and creating that atmosphere is important and I think I can do that and know that’s a discipline a director has to have.

I’m currently reading the autobiography of actor Ray Brooks, someone who’s scathing of soap operas and their production techniques after a stint on EastEnders. How do they affect the acting process?

[Their style is to] say your lines in the right order and get out. It’s a terrible way to work because what you want is to give an actor time and also mess with their head a bit. Sometimes you’ll hit a plateau with some scenes and you want to have a chance to come through that. You might have done something yesterday that when you come in the next day you think you’ve got to change them because something else you’ve shot changes it.

The old maxim that you set out on the first day to make one film, you shoot a completely different film and edit a third film is true and you have to be alive to the possibility. With my film things were changing around us as were going, the actors were warming up and getting relaxed with their characters and with the camera and I had to start using that and enjoy letting them improvise a bit and if your schedule is bang, bang, bang you don’t have time for that.

But I’d say that’s not just soap but TV in general, it’s tough.

Are your actors new to film?

Completely, they’ve not done anything before.

How much ad-libbing was there?

Quite a bit on the beach, I let them just go for it, or walking down the street. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t.

You mentioned before that the BBC have bought the film for transmission but how important was it that it was a film and not made for TV? How different is it?

It was very important and it’s a very different thing. You framing is different, your sensibilities are different. I always feel with TV there’s a need to keep things going because you don’t want people to turn over, you’re worried about them using their remote control. With film you know you’ve got more of a captive audience and you’re hoping you’ve got time for the the story and characters to develop and that the audience will stay with it to find out what’s happening.

TV audiences tend to get bored faster and turn over. It was always made for film. The BBC have been very supportive of new filmmakers and do show their things quite often so it’s been very good for me.

We hear a lot about the shiny floor shows such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing and how they’re being made instead of new one-off dramas. How do you think it’s going?

Not good. One-off dramas are the hardest things to do because they’re so hard to sell. TV executives want a growing audience, its first episode to get 5 million, its second to get 6 and for it to grow in that way so people go to work and discuss it, which is why one night it’ll be on BBC One, the next on BBC Three, on iPlayer and so they can catch it.

One-off dramas don’t have that because they can’t build an audience, which is a shame because I loved all those Play for Today and Screen One dramas. How some people have got around that, which is brilliant, is you’ll have a series such as Clocking Off or The Street which have a precinct thing such as the workplace or the street, but they’re basically one-off dramas, and that is genius.

They have completely different teams and actors but the same set. I did a Clocking Off for Paul Abbott and it was brilliant, a great script but inside this TV series.

What to you means the film is a success? If it goes to number one in the Box Office or if people see it and take something away from it?

The answer to that is that the film is a success. For me standing on Crosby Beach with the rain coming in wondering when we were going to finish this and thinking it would never happen, to sitting it thinking nobody’s ever going to watch this to standing here tonight standing in front of an audience, that’s a success.

Getting from A to B, that’s the success. I can’t tell you the amount of scripts I get and jobs I’ve started that never get finished. I had an idea to make a film and I’m here now talking about it: that’s success.

I’ve also paid my people back, so in that respect it’s a success. The short answer is it’s already a success and anything else is a bonus. It’s been a real ride making it and I hope people enjoy watching it.

Don’t Worry About Me is out on DVD on Monday 8 March.

DVD Round-up, 1 March 2010

Prepare to travel through another dimension, one of sight and sound…and odd happenings on the sea which you’ll be scratching your head over for a long time after.

Taking it’s cue from the much-loved 1960s anthology series The Twilight Zone, Triangle (Icon Home Entertainment) takes a seemingly innocuous situation – a young mum going on a sailing trip with friends – and spins it off in an entirely unexpected direction.

Heading to the harbour after getting an odd ring at her doorbell, Jess (Melissa George), sets sail with love interest Greg (Michael Dorman) and his friends, their journey soon interrupted by a storm which nearly kills them and the appearance of an ocean liner which could be their saviour.

Boarding the ship, Jess starts to feel something isn’t quite right, a fact proven when future version of the visitors start appearing on the ship, leading to a cat-and-mouse game through the vessel…and through time. Looping back on itself and threatening to tie both the viewer and the characters in knots, writer Christopher Smith’s script is never less than great fun, his high concept idea played out with a strong cast and tight direction.

Melissa George gets much of the screen time as the multiple versions of Jess and holds everything together thanks to her mix of beauty and brawn, which sees her take on a very physical role with ease. The only problem watching Triangle for the first time is that the looped events play havoc with the brain, demanding a re-watch soon after and a desire to consume the director’s commentary and making-of documentary.

While Triangle was filmed in Australia (standing in for America), 1959’s The Siege of Pinchgut (Optimum) was both made and set in Sydney, a thriller perhaps best remembered for being the final film to emerge from the very British Ealing Studios.

Escaping from a Sydney prison via a small boat, Matt Kirk (Aldo Ray) and his gang of cronies, including younger brother Johnny (Neil McCallum), are stranded in Sydney Harbour when the vessel’s engine dies. Pitching up on Pinchgut Island, a nearby fortress, Kirk takes a family hostage as he tries to prove his innocence to authorities who discover his whereabouts.

Trapped on the island, with the army training their guns on him, Kirk must take desperate measures to ensure his plan goes smoothly. Making good use of its location, with Sydney appearing on-screen in many sequences, the film preceded Sean Connery’s turn in The Rock by around 40 years, the convicts’ decision to take out as much of Sydney as possible by force sharing a plot strand with the 90s actioner.

Filmed in black and white and featuring a host of British character actors in smaller roles, Pinchgut is in turns tense and darkly funny, a curio that deserves rediscovery.

The great Bob Hope is at the centre of two new releases from Optimum, 1941’s Caught in the Draft, in which he attempts to dodge being drafted into the US army, and 1942’s Star Spangled Rhythm, an attempt at US propaganda also featuring a host of Paramount Studio stars.

Caught in the Draft sees Hope star as cowardly actor Don Bolton, happy to play at soldiers on screen but terrified of giving up his cosy lifestyle for life in army. When he meets the daughter of a real-life Colonel, Antoinette (Dorothy Lamour), who believes in men signing up to fight, Don decides to fool her into thinking he’s joining the army.

Meanwhile, Star Spangled Rhythm allows Hope to play an exaggerated version of himself, banding together with 1940s stars such as Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Lamour and Veronika Lake to help Paramount guard Pop Webster (Victor Moore) to fool his son into thinking he’s the studio’s Executive Vice President.

Deciding to stage a variety show for the Navy, Pop is delighted when his friends agree to take part, each one showcasing their talents for free. While neither film is quite up to the standard of Hope and Crosby’s ‘Road To…’ movies, the chance to see the former in action is always a treat.

Hope may not have written a word of his own dialogue, but he knew how to deliver a line, his repartee with Lamour in Caught in the Draft a highlight of an otherwise medium effort.

Of the two, Star Spangled Rhythm has more energy to it, a sequence where Hope ends up hiding out in a shower while someone else actually takes the shower proving his comedy mettle. Made as something of a PR piece for the US military, showing the boys fighting abroad a good time when a smile was hard to come by, Rhythm is a patchy production but it has enough flair to make it a more than the sum of its parts.