The Birthday Present (1957)

The Birthday Present dvd poster.jpg

 

 

Ah, the 1950s. When smuggling in Europe was yet to become eased through Duty Free shops, now known as Airport Shopping.  Tony Britton is the star toy salesman who buys his wife a lovely watch in Germany and is nabbed by Customs (think of what they miss nowadays …). His solicitor messes up the defence, he doesn’t have the money for an appeal plus the various fines, so he winds up doing three months in the clink. And word begins to leak out … Very proper low-budgeter with the gorgeous Sylvia Syms as his beautiful, loyal wife, a photographic model.  There are a lot of familiar faces playing the roles of Ex-RAF officers now on company boards hiding their own drink drive convictions and nobody really wants to do right by him when he finally re-enters society. Geoffrey Keen is Colonel Wilson, the boss who tries to defy his board of directors and re-hire him. Not bad but hardly thrilling drama, directed by the venerable Pat Jackson. Written and produced by Jack Whittingham.

Advertisements

Brandy for the Parson (1952)

Brandy_for_the_Parson-_(1952).jpg

Author Geoffrey Household described himself as “sort of bastard by Stevenson out of Conrad” and this was evident in his most famous works, Rogue Male and A Rough Shoot, in which landscape and an upright sort of  Englishness are so important. This is one of his milder stories from Tales of Adventurers, and it has a terrific piquancy about it. Bill (James Donald) and his fiancee Petronilla (the immensely stylish Jean Lodge), head off on their sailboat off the Kent coast where they bump into a young man Tony (Kenneth More) , literally, destroying his boat in the process. They agree to take him to France where unbeknownst to them he’s smuggling back kegs of brandy to a vintner’s in St James’ London (I guess with Brexit this sort of thing will be happening again in a few years!). A pre-dawn collision with a female yachter up a creek leads a customs man to start following them as their collective plans to sell the cargo get more and more complicated and knotty and more people are involved:  boy scouts, a laundryman, a circus, a farmer, a pub landlord. More is the least likely spiv you’ll ever meet, which is a lot of the fun here, as he leaves Bill and Petronilla to lead packponies up a Roman road to their chosen meeting point.Charles Hawtrey, Michael Trubshawe, Frederick Piper and Alfie Bass round out a wonderful ensemble in a film which makes brilliant use of locations.  Adapted by John Dighton and Walter Mead with additions by associate producer Alfred Shaughnessy, who was married to the impressive Lodge. There’s an unexpectedly exciting score by the brilliant John Addison, who would later win the Academy Award for Tom Jones. (He also scored another Kenneth More film, Reach for the Sky.) A different kind of afternoon delight! Who knew? (And the title is from Kipling.)