Category Archives: DVD Review

Revisiting Ealing with new book and DVDs

George Nader as Paul Gregory in Nowhere to Go

George Nader as Paul Gregory in Nowhere to Go

It’s buildings may still be in use, housing productions such as Downton Abbey and the upcoming Bridget Jones’ Baby, but it’s fair to say that Ealing Studios heyday was back in the 1940s, when its output included titles such as Whisky Galore! (1949) and Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and The Man in the White Suit (1951).

Numerous films from the Ealing archive have found there way to DVD and Blu-ray in recent years, with rarer titles finally being awarded pride of place on collectors’ shelves, while a major celebration at London’s BFI in 2012 raised awareness of its output even more.

Ealing RevisitedOver the last few months I’ve been trying to brush up on my Ealing, starting with one piece of lasting evidence from the BFI season, Ealing Revisited. The book aims to reassess the studio, its films and its people through a number of essays curated by editor Mark Duguid.

Beginning with George Formby and Gracie Fields’ films which were made at Ealing but which could hardly be called “Ealing films”, the book takes us through the studio’s formative years as Michael Balcon took over as studio head and things started to take shape behind and in front of the cameras.

Whether you’re interested in the people behind Ealing’s promotional material, costumes, scripts or actors, Ealing Revisited wends its way through the years offering insight into the success and failures of each.

Joseph Botting’s take on Ealing’s more fantastical films and Andrew Moor’s look at “queerness” in films such as Kind Hearts and Coronets widens the discussion from the standard topics, though there’s still much to find of interest in chapters such as Catherine A Surowiec’s look at Anthony Mendelson’s costume designs.

Surowiec notes that expensive ballgowns were just as likely to feature in an Ealing film as a Cockney spiv’s wide lapelled suit or a working man’s bunnet.

Don’t expect an exhaustive encyclopaedia of Ealing as some films receive a sentence or two if they’re lucky. While the regular change in contributor between essays does mean there’s little continuity in style, the end result is still a fascinating overview of the inner working of Ealing which may lead readers to head off in search of more in-depth books on the subject, or at the very least some of the films themselves.

Two such titles recently made it to DVD from StudioCanal, namely Nowhere to Go (1958) and Dance Hall (1950), the former set in a London of low morals and high crime rates while the latter looks at the love lives of young people shortly after the war.

Nowhere to GoAdapted from Donald Mackenzie’s novel and scripted by film critic Kenneth Tynan, Nowhere to Go stars George Nader as Paul Gregory, a smarter-than-most thief who has back-up plans for back-up plans but who one day finds his luck running out.

When he’s broken out of prison by accomplice Sloane (Bernard Lee), Gregory sets about retrieving the cash he hid from the police a few years earlier, only for his world to spin out of control.

Eschewing the perceived characteristics of a typical Ealing – a cosy community, the little man against the odds – Nowhere to Go instead borrows heavily from film noir as Gregory attempts to see his plan to the bitter end.

With fine support from Lee and a young Maggie Smith as his potential love interest, Nowhere to Go may not quite be a classic British thriller but it’s a welcome return for a film which has been, like Gregory, out in the cold for too long.

Another exhumation from the vaults is Dance Hall, director Charles Crichton’s diversion from the Ealing norm which focussed on the relationships of a group of young woman whose main link is their love of the local Palais.

The cast includes Natasha Parry and Petula Clark as Eve and Georgie, two dance hall regulars with personal issues that affect their leisure time. While Eve’s husband (Donald Houston) doesn’t want his wife dancing with other men (namely Bonar Colleano’s Alec), Georgie must try to convince her parents that she can triumph in a dance competition.

Though some other stories are weaved into the story, including that of Diana Dors who shines in a smaller role, it’s not a film which encourages much emotional investment from the viewer. Dance Hall does depict the era well, a time when women were about to be given more opportunities in the workplace, meaning it’s a valuable snapshot of a Britain fast disappearing.

ealing-rarities-collection-the-volume-1More lesser-known Ealing films are about to be released into the world with the release of Network’s Ealing Rarities Collection Volume 1, a collection of four titles on two discs which are rarely discussed in overviews of the studios output.

Basil Dean’s Escape! (1930) is the tale of a toff (Gerald du Maurier) who is imprisoned in Dartmoor following the death of a policeman, only to find himself on the run across the moors when the opportunity arises. Harry Watt’s West of Zanzibar (1954) finds the white man interfering in the lives of native Africans as Bob Payton (Anthony Steel) doles out advice to anyone who’ll listen.

A young Betty Driver, many years away from The Rover’s Return, stars in 1938’s Penny Paradise from director Carol Reed, a slight tale of tugboat captain Joe Higgins (Edmund Gwenn) who believes he’s won the pools and the reaction from those around him to his news. Finally, 1936’s Cheer Up! is from director Leo Mittler and finds two hapless composers trying to drum up support for their work, with hilarious consequences.

Of the four films, Penny Paradise is perhaps the most Ealing-like, with typical working class folk muddling through and helping each other when the going gets tough. Escape! is very much of its time, a slow and stagey production which is nevertheless an important example of post-silent era filmmaking as actors and crew find their feet.

With its location filming giving it a much needed gloss, West of Zanzibar stands out on this set as the only colour production. It also stands out because it’s the film that says the most about the time it was made, with Bob Payton seemingly a saviour of the black man in their own country. The problems caused by colonialism were never likely to be overtly stated by a British film of the era, meaning there’s something rather uncomfortable about the whole thing, even if one does try to take it as simply an adventure film.

Finally, Cheer Up! takes Ealing off into another direction entirely, with song and dance routines liberally sprinkled through the film, coming across like a kind of extended Morecambe and Wise sketch at times.

These four releases have been bundled together into a low-cost package designed to appeal to the completist and Network should be applauded for their efforts. While it’s only fair that Ealing’s higher quality ventures are remembered fondly, it’s difficult to put them into their proper context without books such as Ealing Revisited or titles such as these.

Look out for future volumes in the Ealing Rarities series, with sets two and three now listed on the Network site.

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DVD Reviews: The Lost Weekend, Double Indemnity and Giorgio Moroder’s Metropolis

Powerful! Terrifying! Unforgettable! Superb! Brilliant! No, I’m not describing the quality of the upcoming reviews but quoting from the trailer for Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend (1945), recently unleashed onto Blu-ray by Masters of Cinema here in the UK.

Ray Milland stars as Don Birnam, a New York author whose life is ruled by the bottle. We’re introduced to Don as he and his brother, Wick (Phillip Terry), are packing for a weekend away following weeks of sobriety for the former. Don’s girlfriend, Helen (Jane Wyman), is convinced he’s turned a corner in his alcoholism and is rooting for him to come back the man she wants him to be.

Don’s inability to avoid alcohol for a day leads to his brother abandoning him and his life spiralling into the gutter, his world becoming a kind of hell.

If all that sounds a bit heavy for an evening’s entertainment, well, it is. From the opening moments, as we see a bottle of whisky hanging out of Don’s bedroom window, it’s clear that our “hero” is a troubled and very ill man surrounded by people who don’t seem to know how to handle him.

Wick’s attempts to make Don go cold turkey are laudable, as is Helen’s determination to love him no matter what, but they all seem to be doing him more harm than good, something that becomes apparent when he winds up in an institution, cared for by the less-than-tactful Bim (Frank Faylen).

Wilder’s direction ensures Don’s world is suitably shadow-filled and claustrophobic, his tiny apartment hardly the kind of place likely to inspire recuperation. The script, co-written by Wilder with Charles Brackett, manages to make Don a sympathetic character, mainly becuase it is so clear that his alcoholism can’t be cured by talking or wishful thinking.

Milland manages the character’s descent well as he’s called on to portray various states of anguish and guilt. Wyman gets the raw deal here, Helen’s inability to grasp the severity of the situation making her appear more stupid than saintly.

Still packing a punch today, The Lost Weekend will hopefully find a new audience on Blu-ray, particularly for those who want to see another side to Billy Wilder.

Some exemplary extras on this release include a three-part Arena special from 1992, featuring a three-hour interview with Wilder in which he discusses his lengthy life and career, a radio adaptation of the film and an introduction from director Alex Cox.

Joining The Lost Weekend on Blu-ray from Masters of Cinema’s is Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944), the archetypal film noir starring Fred MacMurray as insurance salesman Walter Neff, who finds himself caught in a web of deceit when he meets the beautiful Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck).

Determined that her husband should die so that she can claim his inheritance, Dietrichson convinces Neff to collude with her and to ensure a plan is formed that will mean the new insurance policy is paid out to her.

Although the plan seems to be foolproof, the pair don’t reckon of Neff’s boss’ interference, Keyes (Edward G Robinson), who finds the death suspicious.

Told in flashback by an injured Neff, Double Indemnity is an ingenious tale of deception, lust and greed that has more twists than the roads above Los Angeles. MacMurray’s switch from upstanding citizen to lowly murderer is believable thanks to the chemistry between the two leads. Stanwyck sets the tone from her first appearance, adding a touch of glamorous sleaze that the film never loses.

Wilder again shows his skill at keeping the main narrative moving forward while dropping in interesting camera angles and drawing fine performances from his cast, including Robinson who seems to be a template for Lieutenant Columbo some 30 years later.

Extras include the trademark Masters of Cinema booklet, a commentary from film historian Nick Redman and screenwriter Lem Dobbs, a 2006 documentary on the making of the film and more.

Any subtlety or class evident in the above films is long forgotten in Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 take on Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic, Metropolis, out now on DVD.

Lang’s story of a dystopian future ruled by the nasty piece of work that is Joh Frederson (Alfred Abel) and a love story between his son, Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), and a poor factory worker, Maria (Brigitte Helm), is given a novel twist with the addition of a tinted film stock and a rock score.

Moroder’s controversial decision to impose his own vision upon Lang’s work has been both criticised and praised over the years, the naysayers arguing that Queen, Adam Ant and Bonnie Tyler aren’t exactly sympathetic to the film’s style (for more on the debate, head over to the Movie Morlocks site for David Kalat’s view).

What hampers Moroder’s Metropolis more than the jarring soundtrack is that the version he had to work with wasn’t the complete one we can enjoy elsewhere in the Masters of Cinema library. The recently restored 150 minute version we can now access was only 83 minutes long in 1984, meaning we have the bare bones of the story but none of the meat.

We’re left with a kind of ‘beginner’s guide’ to Metropolis that could either intrigue new viewers and send them off in search of the newer edition or put them off for life. In fairness to Moroder, the music isn’t as offensive as some claim and he should be applauded for bringing the film to the attention of 1980s audiences who had perhaps forgotten Lang’s legacy.

Today the film is a diverting curio that can’t be said to be essential viewing, particularly for those who perhaps can’t afford to buy both versions of the film, but it’s still nice to finally have it looking and sounding so good.

The solitary extra on this DVD is a documentary from 1984 following Moroder’s mission to restore Metropolis.

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DVD Round-up: Lifeboat, Island of Lost Souls and Ruggles of Red Gap

Alfred Hitchcock was always one for challenges. Whether he was attempting a series of long takes to suggest a single shot, as in 1948’s Rope, or making 1960’s Psycho with the crew of his TV show on a modest budget, Hitch wasn’t one for taking the easy option.

Lifeboat (1943) finds a cast of assorted characters, led by Connie Porter (Tallulah Bankhead) and Gus Smith (William Bendix), all at sea as their ship is sunk by a German U-boat in the North Atlantic and they’re left to drift towards an uncertain fate in the titular craft.

As the tiny vessel quickly fills with its motley crew, they drag on board a German sailor, Willy (Walter Slezak), who could be either be an innocent U-boat sailor or the captain whose decision it was to sink the ship.

The script, ostensibly by John Steinbeck’s but with input from various figures including Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville, may be lean and its dialogue punchy but it’s the director’s inspired shooting technique that has drawn the most plaudits over the years.

Confined to the small boat that could be cut in half and moved to various positions, Hitchcock is forced to be creative with his angles. Constantly moving around the boat and into the cast’s faces, the tension mounts as the days pass and the doubts about who is responsible for what increase.

Bankhead is a force of nature as Porter, more interested in her camera than those around her, but it’s Slezak who steals the film from her. The audience is as much in the dark as the survivors for much of the picture, sympathies moving from one person to the next as their stories emerge.

This may be a lesser known Hitchcock, at least compared to the usual suspects which fill up the box sets, but it’s still as taught and compelling as his later work and a welcome arrival on Blu-ray.

This new DVD and Blu-ray from Masters of Cinema also comes with two short films made by Hitchcock in France during the Second World War, Bon Voyage (1944) Adventure Malgache (1944), along with a featurette on the making of the film and a clip of the famous Hitchcock/Truffaut interview.

The first of two new Charles Laughton releases from Masters of Cinema in May, 1932’s Island of Lost Souls is Universal’s take on HG Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau, a film that was banned by the British Board of Film Classification on its release for being “against nature”. Gulp.

Souls finds us somewhere in the hot and steamy South Seas, where Edward Parker (Richard Arlen) is left in the capable hands of Dr Moreau (Laughton), a scientist with a penchant for vivisecting animals and trying to change them into humans.

Also on the island is the Panther Woman (Kathleen Burke), a poor creature who has spent some time under Moreau’s knife and ended up a glamorous half-woman who wants to get her teeth in Parker, so to speak.

This is a heady concoction that may not appear as nasty to modern audiences as it did back in the 1930s but which still causes the occasional flinch. Moreau’s experiments litter the island, men turned into strange abominations that cower in the bushes as Bela Lugosi’s “Sayer of the Law” tries to keep them in order.

Laughton is mesmerising as Moreau, his scientific curiosity now as mutated as his creatures as he plays God with anyone he comes into contact with. Combined with the atmospheric set design that works perfectly in black and white and you have a horror that stands up to repeated viewing along with its other classic Universal stablemates.

Looking stunning on Blu-ray, this dual format release includes new interviews with Laughton biographer Simon Callow and an informative video essay from critic Jonathan Rigsby, along with a fascinating booklet containing various essays. There’s also a smart limited edition steelbook edition of the set that is crying out for a place on your shelf.

The second Laughton escapade is thankfully on the lighter side, as he heads from the safety of Paris to the Wild West in Leon McCarey’s 1935 comedy, Ruggles of Red Gap.

When his employer, Lord Burnstead (Roland Young), gambles away his butler, Ruggles (Laughton), to a newly monied American couple, Egbert and Effie Floud (Charlie Ruggles and Mary Boland), the bemused manservant must adjust to a very different life.

While Egbert is happy for Ruggles to be one of the guys, Ruggles is disgusted at the concept, and through various unfortunate escapades he attracts Effie’s scorn as her husband is returned to her in states of inebriation.

Although the centred on the unfortunate Ruggles, who we follow as he adjusts to his new world, rolling his eyes as he goes, there’s still plenty of room for Boland’s Effie to make herself heard at every opportunity. Boland and Laughton make for a fine double act, as do Charlie Ruggles and Laughton, particularly towards the end as the butler decides his fate.

Watched in tandem with Island of Lost Souls, Ruggles of Red Gap is a welcome change of pace and an opportunity to appreciate the many sides of Charles Laughton. It’s also another welcome addition to the growing library of Leo McCarey titles making it to DVD and Blu-ray, a director with a major influence on the Golden Age of Hollywood.

This new dual format release looks good for its age, restored from the original negative. The set also includes radio plays featuring Ruggles and Laughton, a recording of Laughton’s Gettysburg Address from the film and an informative booklet.

Lifeboat is out now. Island of Lost Souls and Ruggles of Red Gap will be released on 28 May, 2012.

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DVD Review: Voice Over (1983)

Voice Over

Does the fact that a film is about a misogynist make it a misogynistic film? That’s the question that plagued Voice Over director, Christopher Monger, on the film’s initial release and which helped hasten its relegation to relative obscurity.

Ian McNeice stars as “Fats” Bannerman, the writer of a radio drama for women set in the 19th Century which has attracted a loyal following, much to everyone’s amusement.

When he’s faced with some home truths about his show by a local journalist, before being taunted by two women whom he meets in a bar, Fats’ career starts to take a new direction. Then he stumbles upon one of the women in an alley, bloodied and bruised, and things go into freefall.

Shot on a miniscule budget in less than a month, Voice Over is a rough and ready piece of filmmaking with a terrific central performance from McNeice as a man with a seemingly violent past.

Voice OverBemused by the opposite sex, Fats’ discovery of “Bitch” (Bish Nethercote) is never adequately explained, the viewer left to wonder if he did indeed find her post-attack or if he carried it out himself.

Not having a reliable central character to relate to does leave the viewer detached from his plight, though that’s no slight on McNeice. In fact, Fats is the warmest character in a cast of vaguely sketched characters, his radio station colleagues required to do little more than react to situations.

The central “relationship” between Fats and Bitch is one of the oddest to be put on film, her silence juxtaposed by his inability to shut up. Fats’ decision to take on the role of guardian angel can equally be said to be an act of extreme cruelty towards a clearly damaged individual, but the film doesn’t make excuses for him and his descent is fascinating to watch, though hardly comfortable viewing.

Thirty years on from the controversies which dogged Voice Over’s Edinburgh International Film Festival debut, detailed at length in the liner notes, the film’s stance on misogyny can hopefully be put into perspective while the central drama still remains potent.

The transfer on this new Dual Format release may not be perfect but it’s the best we’re going to get thanks to issues with the original prints. Extras include two other Christopher Monger films, including 1976’s film noir homage, Repeater.


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DVD Review: Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs (1974)

Recent years may have seen John Hurt take his place as one of the elder statesmen of British cinema, but back in the 1970s he was still best known for his television and stage work, the latter seeing him cast as the eponymous character of Little Malcolm and His Struggles Against the Eunuchs at London’s Garrick Theatre.

That was in 1965 but it would take a further nine years for David Halliwell’s play to make it to the big screen, mainly thanks to the efforts of George Harrison who saw merit in the political and sexual intricacies of the script.

Hurt returned as Malcolm Scrawdyke, recently made an “ex-student” having been booted out of art college and left to wallow in his room. Initially depicted as something of an Everyman contemplating getting out of bed on a bleak winter’s day, Malcolm soon mutates into something far less likeable as his political leanings are brought to the fore when his sexual prowess is thrown into doubt.

Surrounded by lackeys who aren’t entirely sure why they’re agreeing to join his newly formed Party of Dynamic Erection, a fascistic organisation whose ideals are made up to suit any given situation, Malcolm has an opportunity to divert his energy into a relationship with Anne (Rosalind Ayres), but he instead veers off into more dangerous territory.

Hurt is a powerful presence as the repressed Malcolm, his speeches to both his followers and to himself showing how easy it is to convince oneself that wrong is right, but there’s equally strong support from John McEnery, Raymond Platt and David Warner as Dennis Nipple.

Describing Little Malcolm as “Last of the Summer Wine meets Downfall” may not be completely accurate, but a sequence involving the Erectionists plotting a kidnap while wearing old vests over their heads, which segues into a frighteningly believable interrogation of McEnery’s Wick, encapsulates the humour and the horror that director Stuart Cooper manages to balance.

Mention must also go to Ayres, whose character weaves in and out of the story before becoming a key part of the shocking climax.

Little Malcolm is an odd little film which manages to both mock and highlight the dangers of disaffected youth, something as relevant today as it was almost 40 years ago.

Winning the Silver Bear at Berlin in 1975, Little Malcolm subsequently fell out of sight, meaning the BFI Flipside’s decision to issue it on DVD and Blu-ray is a welcome one. Restored from the original negative, the film looks and sounds as good as new, with two short films, Put Yourself in My Place (1974) and The Contraption (1977) offered as extras.


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DVD Review: New York Confidential (1955)

An ageing New York mob boss receives constant grief from his employees, family and doctor. The mother of said mob boss is still a major part of his life, imparting wisdom that he fails to heed. Corruption and double-crossing are a way of life.

The above may read like a synopsis for 1990s TV drama, The Sopranos, but rewind 40-or-so years and you’ve got the set-up to Russell Rouse’s long lost 1955 noir, New York Confidential, a film based on the book by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer which goes beyond the standard scenario of tough guys and their molls so beloved of the genre.

A sonorous voiceover and shots of the New York sky line introduce us to The Syndicate, a crime organisation headed up by Charlie Lupo (Broderick Crawford). A member of Lupo’s business empire has performed an illegal hit on a rival, resulting in him signing his own death warrant as Nick Magellan (Richard Conte) is flown in from Chicago by Lupo and his number two, Ben Dagajanian (J Carroll Naish).

Eager to please and comfortable doling out violence as required, Magellan seems the perfect addition to Lupo’s organisation, at least until the latter’s beautiful-yet-troubled daughter, Kathy (Anne Bancroft), is introduced and Magellan’s relatively straightforward job starts to get complicated.

New York Confidential

Restricted somewhat by the production code, which meant that some of the more violent sequences had to be implied rather than seen by impressionable viewers who may go out and organise a mob hit of their own, New York Confidential still manages to pack more than a few punches.

Watching the great Mike Mazurki follow his prey into a bedroom, we see him beat him up a little before the camera cuts away and returns as he’s folding up his pocket knife. No blood is seen, but we know the result of his handywork.

Crawford’s fast-talking and hilariously no-nonsense Lupo is tired of being surrounded by incompetents (to him, everyone is a pig or illiterate) and sees his operation as merely the lower rung of an America that is inherantly corrupt and corruptable. When his daughter argues that she lives on blood money, Lupo’s response is that she’s “spoiled”, not that he’s done any real wrong.

The view of the USA’s political ecosystem is one which still resonates today, and it’s hard not to empathise with Lupo, even if gunning down the opposition hasn’t quite become a way of life for politicians (that we know of).

While Crawford is a hugely entertaining presence, it’s the pairing of Conte and Bancroft that is the most interesting aspect of the film. Magellan knows he needs to avoid getting romantically involved with his boss’ self-destructing daughter, but it’s not easy. The pair should be a couple but we know that if they do it would mean trouble for everyone.

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DVD Round-up: Witchfinder General, The Clairvoyant and Blackbeard the Pirate

Notorious in its day for its gore and violence, Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General (Odeon Entertainment) revels in its copious amounts of blood as it arrives on UK Blu-ray.

Vincent Price is Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General of the title, roaming the country lanes of 17th Century England as the Civil War rages around him. With his able assistant at his side, Hopkins is the judge, jury and executioner of poor unfortunates labelled witches or friends of the Devil by their those in their respective villages.

When Hopkins picks on the wrong victim, in the shape of Richard Marshall’s (Ian Ogilvy) girlfriend, Sara (Hilary Dwyer), Marshall sets out to serve his justice to the Witchfinder, whatever the cost.

Looking stunning in its new transfer, Reeves’ film is both a joy to behold and a fascinating slice of 1960 British horror, the addition of Price giving a touch of gravitas to an otherwise workmanlike cast.

The horror of the story is more to be found in the morals of Hopkins and the British establishment towards religion rather than anything supernatural, but that’s enough to make it a chilling watch. A fine set of extras, including a commentary, documentaries and alternate sequences, make this a choice purchase.

Speaking of the supernatural, 1934’s The Clairvoyant (Odeon Entertainment), toys with the subject as its lead character, Maximus (Claude Rains), discovers that his powers of mind reading which were previously faked have now become real.

Dubbed “King of the Mid Readers”, Maximus’ music hall routine is interrupted when he correctly predicts that a train will crash, killing members of the public. When he’s proved correct, he’s thrust into the limelight and his life changes, though not necessarily for the better.

Rains, still a few years away from his triumphant Hollywood years, makes for a suitably moody Maximus, initially keen to exploit his new-found skills for money, before he starts to wonder just what is happening to him.

Thanks to Rains being supported by a fine cast of character actors, including King Kong’s Fay Wray as Maximus’ wife, and unexpectedly dark script from Charles Bennett and Bryan Edgar Wallace’s, The Clairvoyant is no mere potboiler, but a fascinating curio which deserves wider exposure.

This week’s final classic title is Blackbeard the Pirate (Odeon Entertainment), an RKO romp featuring Robert Newton as the titular scourge of the seas who comes into contact with Edward Maynard (Keith Andes) as he attempts to prove that Henry Morgan (Torin Thatcher) is a pirate as well as a businessman.

Though screenwriter Alan Le May manages to squeeze in sword fighting, galleons, derring do and even the odd hero and heroine in the shape of Andes and the stunning Linda Darnell, all brought to vivid life by director Raoul Walsh, it’s Newton who unbalances everything with his over-the-top portrayal of Blackbeard.

A combination of every stereotyped pirate ever put on screen, Newton’s performance is impossible to take seriously, even in this already heightened reality. If you can overlook Newton for a little while, you should have a good time, and at only 99 minutes it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome like the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

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