March 2nd, 2020

Talking Pictures

If the old movies my mother "watches" on Channel 81 are even a little bit famous I find I can identify them from watching a few frames. Yesterday I rightly guessed that a scene involving kids bickering in a blitzed warehouse had to be from Hue and Cry- even though I'd never see it.

Hue and Cry is a rough and ready comedy thriller notable for the following reasons

1. It is generally regarded as the first Ealing Comedy

2. It is an early work by the director Charles Crichton who went on to make The Lavender Hill Mob and A Fish Called Wanda.

3. It was largely shot on location among the bombsites and building sites of post-war London- which gives it documentary value with a premonitory whiff of nouveau vague.

4. It features the great Jack Warner- who made a career of playing straight up working class stiffs like P.C. George Dixon- in a rare outing as a brilcreemed heavy and the equally great Alastair Sim overacting like a mad thing.

Today's early afternoon offering was easy: Sim (again), Margaret Rutherford, Joyce Grenfell- so it had to be The Best Years of Our Lives. Whoops, I mean The Happiest Years Of Your Life. The Happiest Days of Your Life is a farce about single-sex education which is now more than a little foxed about the edges- and The Best Years of Our Lives is- er- something else...

And the film that's showing now is Passport to Pimlico. "What's that awful old thing?" asks Ailz- who is only aware of the soundtrack- and I could tell her if I thought she really wanted to know. I wander in and out of the TV room, pausing to watch a scene here and there. Oh look, there's a young Charles Hawtrey- as camp as a field full of tents...

Hawtrey was a bit part player who became a star of the Carry On films. He had no range whatsoever, but was awfully good at being Charles Hawtrey. He was out and proud- and the buttoned up Kenneth Williams envied him his shamelessness- and...

Why do I retain all this information?

More to the point, why should I care?

But I do.