John Joseph Lennon 4th November 1932 – 16th March 2022

Champion golfer, jazz nut, chess player, photographer, opera fan, movie buff, keen
cruciverbalist, quizzer and fervent if frequently disappointed
follower of the nags, John had many interests and pursuits and was
above all an enthusiast, the original fanboy, decades before the term was coined. He appreciated everything from the everyday to the esoteric. His proudest boast of his time at University
College Galway was that he saw 300 films at the cinema in his first
year of alleged studying! He loved a good book and was widely read,
relishing everyone from Lawrence Durrell to Mikhail Sholokhov but
disliked most modern novels because he insisted they were too long and
life was too short. He was eternally devoted to PG Wodehouse and his
tales of Blandings Castle, the Drones Club and Bertie Wooster’s aunts.
He named his son for Gavin Lyall the thriller novelist whose work he
read avidly.
He wore his scholarship lightly. On one occasion when Elaine had
inadvertently given the impression in her workplace that she was
multilingual she called him for a few phrases in Greek during his
lunch hour and he immediately rattled off a list that she could say
phonetically for a TV producer. She thereby gained an entirely
unearned reputation as a Classics expert thanks to his effortless
recall of a traditional education. He never stopped learning and
passed on that love to his children.
Johnny was born in New York City and spent the first few years of his
life there with his parents James and Helen. He finally returned to
the land of his birth in the 1990s with Elaine when they attended the
New Orleans Mardi Gras. Despite being charmed by everyone he met he
persisted in expounding on his low opinion of ‘Yanks,’ as he insisted
on calling them – when he suddenly found himself talking to the caddy
of his hero, the great American golfer Sam Snead, who couldn’t have
been more delightful company. As a lifelong player himself and
boasting many shelves of trophies from around the clubs and courses of
Ireland, that encounter momentarily stunned him and put an end to his
complaints about his native countrymen!
He loved jazz music and opera and many nights were spent listening to
everyone from Benny Goodman and Count Basie to Jussi Bjorling and Tito
Gobbi. You could set the clock to Humphrey Lyttleton’s show on the
BBC which he recorded every week on cassette.
He was a very witty man with scabrous if occasionally unrepeatable
views on every conceivable subject which were expressed in the most
succinct terms and delivered with his inevitably wry smile which
camouflaged his capacity to shock. His favourite saying in later years
was “You should try everything once, except incest and folk dancing.”
We can confirm he never tried folk dancing. He was more your waltz kind
of guy.
He met Anne sixty-one years ago this week upon his return from Africa
where he spent a very enjoyable three years working for the Crown
Service building roads and bridges and shooting snakes on his days off. He drove a
red VW Beetle and a day after she saw him park it on the streets of
Longford Town he saw her talk to his colleague Maura McGowan in
Longford County Council and asked for an introduction. A lifetime of
golf widowhood and pithy conversation ensued.
Despite his commitment to a career in the civil service he was often
surprising and unconventional. After a brief flirtation with
Thatcherism in the Eighties he became disenchanted with those politics
when they were applied in his workplace where he was required to hire
road crew from the ranks of Fas recruits. His only question to the men
concerned their marital status. Why? Because, he said, any man doing
that kind of job would need a good breakfast and he wouldn’t take food
from the mouths of babies. He was besotted with babies and probably
wished he’d had more of them – he only had issues with children who
talked back to him when they developed minds of their own and
challenged his views – which were however remarkably tolerant and
tempered by his common sense, his travels and his reading.
He loved animals and his man of the twentieth century was David
Attenborough because he educated and informed
people about the real world inhabited by wonderful creatures whose
lives were shaped by the increasingly challenging environment made
by mankind – including young engineers let loose in Nigeria with a
shotgun. He wanted a universe for everyone. Twenty years ago when he
was watching the World Cup he said he wished it were on every summer
because he didn’t think he’d see too many more of them. His
anticipation of an easeful retirement to the golf course was
thwarted by the tricky turns in his health. He took the long view
of issues and understood that things changed slowly and then quickly
and often unexpectedly. A creature of habit, he swore he only bought The Irish Times for
Myles na gCopaleen but after the writer’s death in 1966 he saw no
reason to change his daily paper which sadly carries his
death notice this week. Johnny died the way Hemingway said men go bankrupt – gradually, then suddenly, with good grace and swift
acceptance. He was some kind of man.

Gilbert Lennon 17th April 2003 – 2nd August 2019

Gilbert10 May 05007.jpgGilbert in the Study 16 May 2005001.jpgGilbert 16 May 2005003.jpg

The world’s most charming and cine-literate cat died in my arms at 1120 today following a very short illness. Gilbert was the light of my life and accompanied me everywhere, including my travels on the internet to which he was a keen contributor and editor via this diary. I thought of a lot of things but not this. Now he is on the wild road with his brothers and sister. Vaya con Dios, amigo. You are the best of everything and Mondo Movies and I will not be right without you.

Sundown (2021)

Hotel. Wealthy Englishman Neil Bennett (Tim Roth) is vacationing with a woman Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her teenage daughter Alexa (Albertine Kotting McMillan) and son Colin (Samuel Bottomley) at a resort in Acapulco, Mexico until she receives a phone call. Her mother has been taken ill at home in London and everyone must return home. However en route to the airport Alison takes a call informing her the woman has died. Neil man pretends he’s forgotten his passport and tells the others to go without him, which delays his return home. He checks out of their villa and takes a taxi to a cheap hotel the Camelinas on the wrong side of town and spends his time at the beach, avoiding calls and having sex with a local woman Berenice (Iazua Larios) he picked up at a bodega and has a few dodgy men including taxi driver Jorge (Jesus Godinez) hanging out in his company from time to time. After weeks remaining incommunicado with home, Alice returns with family lawyer Richard (Henry Goodman) and makes Neil an offer. It seems they are brother and sister … You do realise that in signing this you relinquish everything. Fifty minutes into a strangely unsettling study of ennui in a man of a certain age who it appears is tactically withdrawing from his family, his wealth, his life, something awful happens. And it implicates him. Meet the Man Behind the Meat. The steady accretion of vivid animal imagery – particularly pigs; food preparation; eating; picking sunburn off skin; a gangland beach murder with the backwash turning red; sex with a low class Mexican woman who doesn’t appear to speak – prepares us in a hallucinatory fashion for a kind of human processing as it appears Neil’s family’s immense stores of money are attributed to meat rendering. Until then, mostly silence in this life as ellipsis, except those bewildered voice messages from Gainsbourg, playing the man’s sister and we are given the impression she is his wife: What the fuck is wrong with you? And into the unstoppable sunshine the response then comes into play with Roth forced to up the ante of his grief-free existential apathy to mount a legal defence against a hideous crime, a shocking act of violence: his presence is composed, if not entirely glacial, in the teeming heat of this lawless resort where he lies an amoeboid life, eating, drinking, fucking. Stunningly photographed by Yves Cape who engages with the sinister chill imparted by the bigger story in which the viewer is misled from the off and the story unspools revealing the real character and situation. Roth is reuniting for the third time with Mexican writer/director Michel Franco and there is grit to this display of hideously cold don’t give a **** evinced by the actor. This man has everything and nothing in a narrative of bizarrely lugubrious intensity. Very French Existential. If we explain your condition

Strait-Jacket (1964)

When I put those clothes on something happens to me. When she finds her husband (Lee Majors) asleep in bed with his mistress, Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) decapitates them both with an axe. Her three-year-old daughter, Carol (Vicki Cos) witnesses the murders. Lucy is committed to a psychiatric hospital when she’s deemed criminally insane. Twenty years later, when she is found to be mentally sound and reformed, Lucy is released from the institution. She takes up residence at the farm of her brother Bill Cutler (Leif Erickson) and sister-in-law Emily (Rochelle Hudson). Carol (Diane Baker) now an artist and sculptor, also lives on the farm, having been adopted by the Cutlers after Lucy was committed. Carol attempts to bond with her mother, encouraging her to dress and act the way she did in the past. When Carol attempts to introduce her wealthy fiancé, Michael Fields (John Anthony Hayes) to her Lucy is evasive. Her stress is compounded by apparent auditory hallucinations in which she hears children singing a nursery rhyme comparing her to Lizzie Borden, as well as disturbing nightmares in which she finds herself lying in bed with her husband’s and his lover’s severed head. Lucy finally meets Michael at a dinner party and Carol is angry when Lucy flirts with him. Lucy has a subsequent emotional breakdown and her sanity is questioned by Dr. Anderson (Mitchell Cox) the psychologist following her from the asylum. That night, Dr. Anderson is brutally murdered and dismembered in the Cutlers’ barn after visiting with Carol to discuss Lucy’s mental health. When Dr. Anderson is reported missing, Carol hides his car on the farm, as Lucy fears she may have killed him during a blackout episode. Leo Krause (George Kennedy) the handyman on the Cutler farm, sees Carol hiding the car, and subsequently takes it for himself, threatening her with blackmail. He is then decapitated in the barn. Lucy and Carol visit Michael’s parents’ home for dinner and Lucy is harshly judged by Michael’s mother, Allison (Edith Atwater) who believes Carol is low class and not fit to marry into the family. This results in a confrontation leading to Lucy storming out of the house in a rage. She is pursued by Carol and Michael, leaving Michael’s parents alone at their home. Then Michael’s father, Raymond (Howard St John) is butchered by the killer while alone in his closet … Carol and Michael are going to be married and nobody’s going to stop it! Devotees of Feud: Bette and Joan will recall with relish the Hagsploitation episode due to this startling entry in Joan Crawford’s filmography which caused her immense humiliation when she had to accompany William Castle on the roadshow release and run through cinemas wielding an axe. Maybe she didn’t mind it too much because she had a decent percentage of it. Replacing Joan Blondell, she insisted that Diane Baker be her co-star (they had worked together on The Best of Everything and they would make TVM Della after this.) This is the pleasing result and what could be one of those psycho biddy flicks that gave Crawford et al a rum twilight in cinema it turns out to be a serviceable thriller involving a deal of violence. Everyone is a stranger. It’s a great idea, positing the mother vs. daughter in a scenario of madness and in truth what it plumbs isn’t the lurid depths of absurdity its reputation suggests, rather the maternal melodrama which of course Crawford made her own in Mildred Pierce. Plus the whole plot is really one of gaslighting but it’s who’s behind it that counts. I just hate to see anything caged. What brings it into hag territory is mainly Crawford’s insistence upon her crazy eyebrows. A pity, but it’s a terrific dive into psychology and there’s an enjoyable ‘double’ Joan climactic sequence (putative rival Bette Davis was doing something similar that year in the fabulous Dead Ringer). Written by Robert Psycho Bloch. Produced and directed by William Castle. Mother it’s just your imagination

The Perfect Woman (1949)

She can’t talk, she can’t eat and you can leave her under a dust sheet for weeks at a time. Gentlmen’s butler Ramshead (Stanley Holloway) tells his lazy and currently broke master, Roger Cavendish (Nigel Patrick) that he is broke. They look up the small ads for potential work. Absent-minded Professor Ernest Belman (Miles Malleson) has placed an advert in The Times seeking help. They phone and arrange to meet. The genius professor has created a woman robot called Olga (Pamela Devis) in his lab based on his lonely niece, Penelope (Patricia Roc). Cavendish and Ramshead visit the Professor for the interview. They are given £100 for looking after his robot for a week taking it wherever they would normally go but are told they must never say the word ‘love’ in front of it. When Penelope’s date cancels, the housekeeper Mrs Butters aka Buttercup (Irene Handl) suggests she pretends to be the robot after Belman leaves the house to deliver a lecture he’d forgotten he was due to give. Cavendish and Ramshead take Penelope to the Hotel Splendide and stay in the bridal suite, sparking many rumours among the staff. Cavendish’s rich aunt Lady Diana (Anita Sharp-Bolster) hears about it and arrives from Paris thinking he has married. The robot is sent to help to explain things … If she can’t talk and does exactly as she’s told we’re going to love her! Adapted from Wallace Geoffrey and Basil Mitchell’s play by George Black, J.B. Boothroyd and director Bernard Knowles, this is basically a men’s fantasy story about an ideal woman who does what she’s told and doesn’t talk back. Sexism aside, a cute battle of the sexes screwball romcom premise badly executed mars this somewhat amusing if sketchy satirical projection of domestic robots, late Forties-style. The two central relationships – naive and useless Patrick and snotty Holloway’s Jeeves and Wooster act even has an interfering Wodehousian aunt – and the lovely Roc with Malleson/Handl – provide a lot of jokes and even one surprisingly suggestive exchange; and a very out gay dress shop sales clerk (Jerry Desmonde). But the coming together of all parties is just silly slapstick without too many redeeming clever japes or lines for a cast that can’t really handle the material well. Sometimes when a lady says No, it’s Yes she’s meaning, so No means Yes, No? There is some fun to be had with the robot’s moving parts; and waiter Wolfgang Winkel’s (David Hurst) attempts to learn the language; while hungry Penelope/Olga’s alleged indisposition to the luscious food provides consternation while he talks about his yodelling watchmaker uncle. Director Bernard Knowles had previously worked with Roc on period melodrama Jassy and this was her first film back in Blighty after making Retour/Return to Life and The Man on the Eiffel Tower in France. Watch out for Dora Bryan as a shopfloor model. If he makes them all like this no house will be without one

Joan of Arc (1948)

I’ve never seen a king or an army. During the Hundred Years’ War, fourteen-year old peasant girl Joan of Arc (Ingrid Bergman) hears voices instructing her to save ruined and defeated France from the English. Convinced that these unsummoned murmurings in her ear are divine messages from God, Joan consults the uncrowned Charles VII (Jose Ferrer) who, startled by the accuracy of her clairvoyance, assembles an army and installs her as its leader and spiritual guide against Orleans. Her victorious forces reclaim much of their homeland from the English, but she herself falls into enemy hands when her army is ready to attack Paris, because corrupt Charles sells his country to England and dismisses the army. Joan is arrested, sold to the Burgundians and England and submitted to a shameful political trial in the chateau at Rouen … I had a hundred fathers and a hundred mothers. I could not go back. I must go forward now. John Gielgud famously remarked of Bergman after he directed her in a play, She speaks five languages and she can’t act in any of them. And it’s true that her cinematic affect derives more from her rosy-cheeked appearance and a kind of hesitation or diffidence than any discernible skill (IMHO). However despite her relative elderliness at the age of thirty-three for the role of teenage Jeanne, she inhabits the icon with commitment and had played the part onstage where the original framing mechanism of Maxwell Anderson’s Joan of Lorraine was the effect of the drama on a group of actors getting together to re-enact the story. Anderson himself wrote the screenplay with Andrew Solt and it moves well despite its epic nature, with each stage of Joan’s life depicted straightforwardly by a very charismatic cast with Ferrer making a great impression as the Dauphin. Selena Royle is good as her mother, Isabelle, and Hurd Hatfield has the crucial role of her chaplain. That’s Jeff Corey as her prison guard – he would be blacklisted and then turn to coaching, training several famous Hollywood performers including Jack Nicholson. It proceeds deliberately from the painted world of a basilica and then brings the scenario to life in what Hollywood imagines sparsely populated areas of rural France looked like in the fifteenth century, with the Siege of Orleans a tremendous spectacle in a very dialogue-driven drama in which the family relationship is nicely established, the various parties are distinctive and the conflict and trial before the conflagration moving. The final film directed by Victor Fleming who was having an affair with Bergman during production, the wider theatrical released version was savagely cut from its original two-and-a-half hour running time following the revelation of the star’s extra-marital affair with Roberto Rossellini and Fleming died shortly thereafter from a heart attack. With the voiceover and maps it’s still possible to enjoy a rewarding chronicle of an extraordinary figure. It is not enough that God is on our side, we must be on His side

Brokedown Palace (1999)

You’re a scammer and you’re a manipulator. You think that I don’t know you? You are dead wrong. The only thing that has ever come out of your mouth is lies. Best friends Alice Marano (Claire Danes) and Darlene Davis (Kate Beckinsale) take a trip after graduating from high school, giving their parents the impression that they are going to Hawaii. However, Alice talks Darlene into going to Thailand instead when she compares ticket prices. Once they’re in Thailand, they meet a handsome and charming Aussie, Nick Parks (Daniel Lapaine) who, unknown to them, is a drug smuggler and who saves them from embarrassment when they charge drinks to the wrong room after they sneak into a luxury Bangkok hotel from their $6 a night hostel. Darlene is particularly taken with him and persuades Alice to take him up on his offer to treat them both to a side trip to Hong Kong. While boarding their flight at the girls are detained by the police. Alice and Darlene are shocked to discover that one of their bags contains heroin, which they insist must have been planted by Nick. They are interrogated by the Thai police and Darlene signs a confession written in Thai, believing it to be a transcript of her statement. At their trial, they beg for mercy and are sentenced to 33 years in prison, the judge choosing to show leniency and not issue the standard life sentence. In prison, the girls are advised to seek out Henry Greene (Bill Pullman) aka ‘Yankee Hank’ an expat American lawyer. As the girls try to deal with the violence and squalor of prison, Hank begins work on their case although he has grave doubts that Nick actually exists. He tries getting help from an uncooperative Embassy official Roy Knox (Lou Diamond Phillips) and tracks down another girl who had been used as an unwitting drug mule by a man named Skip K. Carn. Hank figures out that Carn and Parks are the same person, since the names are anagrams, and that he not only planted the drugs but also tipped off the Thai police about the girls as a distraction to make sure his other mules could avoid scrutiny … I am an American citizen. I have a right to an attorney. Playing like a particularly nasty episode of that unsavory television show Banged Up Abroad, this might give anyone pause when they hear someone is off to Thailand (or anywhere in Asia, to be frank) on their gap year. Two dumb girls getting taken in by a charismatic young man is totally plausible and the fetid atmosphere of the filthy jail and elsewhere is so naturalistic that cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel’s screen practically steams up with unpleasantness and teeming sweat. Danes and Beckinsale are convincing leads and the betrayal is well constructed. What it takes to survive imprisonment doesn’t bear thinking about. Lapaine is terrific as Nick and watch out for an uncredited Paul Walker down the cast as Jason. A flawed but persuasive piece of narrative written by David Arata from a story by Arata and producer Adam Fields, this is directed by Jonathan Kaplan who has always had such sympathy for the plight of young people and has those women in prison dramas The Accused and the remake of Reform School Girl under his belt! That’s all freedom is – an illusion

Jurassic World Dominion (2022)

We’re racing toward the extinction of our species. We not only lack dominion over nature, we’re subordinate to it. Four years after the cataclysmic volcano eruption on Isla Nublar and the incident at the Lockwood estate dinosaurs freely roam the earth, causing ecological disasters and animal attacks as an invasive species including crashing wedding videos. With government approval, Biosyn Genetics has established a bioreserve for relocated dinosaurs in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy where they conduct genomics research, ostensibly seeking groundbreaking pharmocological and agronomic applications. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) are still with the Dinosaur Protection Group and investigate illegal dinosaur breeding sites, while Claire’s boyfriend Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) an ethologist and Navy vet now works as a wrangler, helping to relocate stray dinosaurs. At their remote cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountainss, Claire and Owen secretly raise 14-year-old Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), Benjamin Lockwood’s (James Cromwell) cloned granddaughter, while protecting her from genetic research corporations like Biosyn (a rival of InGen), who would like to study her DNA for their villainous schemes. She hates being excluded from the community and rebels by getting on her bike and going to the local town on a regular basis. When Owen’s trained Velociraptor, Blue, unexpectedly arrives with an asexually reproduced hatchling, Maisie names it Beta and relates to his origins. Having grown increasingly frustrated living in seclusion, Maisie sneaks away from Claire and Owen, unaware that Biosyn operatives have located her. They kidnap her and capture Beta. Across the US, formerly extinct giant locusts have inexplicably reappeared in massive swarms, wiping out crops from Iowa to Texas. Palaeobotanist Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) observes that corporate-grown crops using Biosyn seeds are left uneaten, raising suspicions that this is what created the locusts. Why do we dig? Because paleontology is science, and science is about the truth. Believing the locust may date to the Cretaceous period, Ellie approaches her former boyfriend, palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) for help and he learns that she’s now. divorced. She declares she can now live like him! Franklin, now with the CIA’s dinosaur unit, tells Claire and Owen that Maisie and Beta were probably taken to Malta. They travel there and infiltrate a dinosaur black market. When authorities launch a raid, predator dinosaurs are unleashed, causing havoc. Barry Sembene (Omar Sy), a former Jurassic World colleague of Owen’s who is working undercover in Malta, informs Claire and Owen that Maisie and Beta are being transported to Biosyn’s secluded Dolomites HQ. Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) a freelance cargo pilot, flies Claire and Owen there. It’s always darkest just before eternal nothingness. Chaotician Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) working for Biosyn, has sought Ellie’s help to expose CEO Dr Lewis Dodgson’s (Campbell Scott) activities after being tipped off by the company’s communications director Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie). The company’s chief geneticist Dr Henry Wu (BD Wong) engineered the locusts to avoid Biosyn crops as a way to control the world’s food supply. Wu now denounces this plan because it would cause global famine as the locusts spread unchecked. Wu meets Maisie and explains that Charlotte Lockwood (Elva Trill), Benjamin Lockwood’s dead daughter and Wu’s former colleague, used her own DNA to asexually conceive and give birth to the genetically-identical Maisie. However – she altered Maisie’s DNA to prevent her inheriting a fatal disease she had. Wu believes that Maisie and Beta’s asexual conceptions and DNA are key to creating a pathogen that will halt the locust outbreak. Upon reaching Biosyn airspace, a Quetzalcoatlus attacks Kayla’s plane, causing Owen and Kayla to crash land after Claire ejects. Following separate encounters with a Therizonaurus and a Pyroraptor, the three regroup. Inside Biosyn, Ellie and Alan access a restricted lab and steal a locust sample. They encounter Maisie, who recognises them and they leave together with Cole’s help. Discovering the breach, Dodgson incinerates the locusts in the lab to destroy evidence, but some escape and spark a forest fire forcing an evacuation across the site … You’re her mom. Go find her. For a film in which an awful lot happens but never actually gets going until the first hour has elapsed, this proves an endurance test in more ways than one. We’re happier when the original gang is on screen and not just because Dern dresses better than blanket-wearing Bryce. Their stories are spliced via Maisie the alleged clone and the ultimate message of co-existence doesn’t just apply to dinosaurs and the rest of us it’s the two teams and their motivations. Unforeseen consequences occur and every time, every single time we all act surprised, because deep down, I don’t think that any of us actually believe that these dangers are real. In order to instigate revolutionary change, we must transform human consciousness.There are so many dinosaurs by now and we’re so accustomed to them they’ve lost their power to surprise which means we need some new humans to amuse us and the character of Watts is an homage to Indiana Jones/Star Wars while some scenes clearly come from Jaws. None of that bothers us and even within that first loose hour we love the rooftop chase (best since Taken 3) mainly because it gets its chops from a raptor and of course the Gladiator tribute (well, that was shot there too). Part of the fun of course is seeing how Ellie and Alan get along and if her immense humanity can deal with his OCD. Aw! The huge overlength hints at an uncontrolled script and at 147 minutes with a lot of weirdly murky photography (what’s going on, you usually impeccable DoP John Schwartzman?) this doesn’t quite kick like Godzilla vs. Kong for all its cod evolution theory, ethics, parenting, surrogacy, breeding, and identity issues. But those dinosaurs keep growing wings and look like they’re evolving before our every eyes. We’re a bit miffed that the baddie is not very well drawn yet clearly refers to Lewis Carroll. What gives?! A mess but an immensely likeable one that means well and marks the end of an era, pleading with us one and all to learn to live side by side. Directed by Colin Trevorrow who wrote the curiously unenergetic screenplay with Emily Carmichael from a story by Derek Connolly & Trevorrow with an almost blink and you’ll miss it final sequence. After all that!! Can a replica ever truly be an original?

Plaza Suite (1971)

We’ve had nice talking, now we’re gonna have door breaking. Businessman Sam Nash (Walter Matthau) reluctantly joins his wife Karen (Maureen Stapleton), in Suite 719 at New York’s Plaza Hotel where they spent their honeymoon twenty-four – or was it twenty-three? – years ago, hoping to revive their flagging marriage. She suspects he’s having an affair with his secretary Miss McCormack (Louise Sorel) and he confirms it. They showed all your great films – I went both nights. Jesse Kiplinger (Walter Matthau) an aging movie producer, is determined to seduce his old flame, married mother of three Muriel Tate (Barbara Harris). They’re playing Here Comes the Bride downstairs and she’s barricaded herself in the toilet. Finally, beleaguered father Roy Hubley (Walter Matthau) and his wife, Norma (Lee Grant) struggle to get their hysterical daughter Mimsey (Jenny Sullivan) to her own wedding in the Baroque Room downstairs … Promise me you won’t get hysterical. Neil Simon’s screen adaptation of his hit 1968 play (developed with Mike Nichols) doesn’t entirely fly, probably because of Matthau’s mugging and uninspired directing by Arthur Hiller of the confined setting with three unconnected acts and stories. It’s designed as drama, satire and farce in the one location and by the time it was adapted here the play was foolproof and beat-perfect – Nichols guided Simon to making something resembling clockwork on stage but it’s unimaginatively mounted and what works in the theatre and jokes like the phone ringing in the next room don’t always play too well cinematically. Mark Harris’ recent biography of Nichols gives one pause for thought about the wisdom of working with Matthau following his bad behaviour on Broadway with Simon’s Odd Couple which sent his poor upstaged co-star Art Carney into a psychiatric hospital. And for Simon, Matthau should only have been in the last act here, so we know that even Broadway’s biggest playwright had his power diluted in the mix of movie studio politicking. Yet it carries charm and value, not least in informing us about the nature of theatre success in the era and gives an indication as to how the renowned cast (especially Stapleton) obtained their currency on stage and how it transfers onto the big screen. Matthau does well as the movie producer whose constant name-dropping constitutes foreplay; Stapleton is wonderful as the indulgent wife who’s not good at numbers but second guesses her husband’s midlife crisis; Grant impresses as the increasingly dishevelled mother of the bride whose flustered hubby will go to any length to get his money’s worth from their daughter’s expensive wedding. The breezy Maurice Jarre score lends an upbeat tone to light social comedy that at times verges on terror. I had to go into a strange bedroom. There may be a lawsuit

Tonight’s the Night (1954)

Aka Happy Ever After/O’Leary Night/Stranger in Town. All right. Once and for all, I cannot accept responsibility for the deathbed ramblings of an aged lunatic. Aged General O’Leary (A.E. Matthews) is fatally injured trying to jump a wall on his horse at his estate in the west of Ireland. On his deathbed he bequeaths £1,000 each to his cousin and fellow landowner Major Monty McGluskey (Michael Shepley) and to Dr Michael Flynn (Robert Urquhart) and cancels any debts owed him. The rest of the estate goes to his great nephew Jasper O’Leary (David Niven) who has never set foot in the hamlet of Rathbarney. Jasper quickly wears out his warm welcome with the locals, proving to be a cad who had been saved from marrying a rich unattractive woman in Capri by this surprise windfall. He is attracted to lovely Serena McGluskey (Yvonne De Carlo) a beautiful young widow who has just returned to Rathbarney following the death of her husband. Jasper confides his plan to Serena to be off as soon as the money’s hit his account. The new squire is now so unpopular making enemies of everyone from the barman to the bailiff that some disgruntled locals led by the General’s chauffeur Thady O’Heggarty (Barry Fitzgerald) get together in Dooley’s (Joseph Tomelty) Pub and decide to take part in a secret lottery to see who will be given the job of killing him. Dooley’s assistant, Terence (George Cole) faints when he is picked. Lacking confidence in his ability, several groups (without each other’s knowledge), decide to do the job themselves. However, working at cross purposes and sometimes just by being unlucky, none succeeds. I’m next door to a teetotaller. Meanwhile, Dr Flynn is still infatuated with Serena, despite having been jilted by her in the past. He doesn’t see that her sister Kathy (Noelle Middleton) is in love with him. Serena’s interest in Jasper (and vice versa) eventually cures him. When Serena constantly turns down Jasper’s repeated proposals of a dalliance, he asks her to marry him andhe agrees. Finally, on O’Leary Night when supposedly the ghost of one of Jasper’s ancestors walks the halls, all of the various plotters make another try, but once again interfere with each other with both Monty and Thady having the same idea while the poachers are scared off … You’re broke, and I’ve only got that three and four pence my husband left me. What are we going to live on?/I’ll think of someone. Doubtless the example of The Quiet Man inspired this among a small number of successors in the quaint stakes but unlike that fabled Ford production, this never set foot on the Emerald Isle. There’s a knowing screenplay by Jack Davies and Michael Pertwee with additional dialogue by L. A. G. Strong, tipping a nod, wink and a twinkle to foibles and tics supposedly Oirish with a particularly good use of the trickster character played by (who else) Barry Fitzgerald. It’s quite charming and funny and Niven does well as the shallow unscrupulous bounder (something of a forerunner of his Academy Award-winning role in Separate Tables) with De Carlo making the most of an opportunity in a comic role: the rom in this com clearly comes at a price. Cole is hilarious however and he delivers a scene-stealing performance but there’s a raft of familiar Irish and British faces in the ensemble and plenty of verbal jousting and donnybrooking to keep them busy. It’s nicely shot in Technicolor by Stanley Pavey with Forty Hall in Enfield doubling for the O’Leary hunting estate and the railway station in Braughing, Herts. is made up as Rathbarney. Zesty, charming fun produced and directed by Mario Zampi. I’ve not lived long enough in Ireland to appreciate the logic of that remark