Frida (2002)

I like you this way – you’re easier to keep up with. Young Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) is a rambunctious teenager who lives riotously and has an active sex life with her teenage boyfriend Alejandro (Diego Luna). When a tram accident lays her up with potentially life-threatening and crippling injuries she fights back and during all the months encased in plaster discovers a talent for painting, beginning with self-portraits. When she tries to interest people in her paintings she seeks out Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) whom she taunted as a student. Despite his womanising ways she falls for him and they begin an affair which his wife knows about. They end up living in an apartment above hers. Rivera continues to sleep with his models and Frida paints and her surrealist work attracts attention. In New York in 1934 where Diego has been commissioned to create a mural for Nelson Rockefeller (Edward Norton) his work is censored and both he and Frida have affairs with Tina Modotti (Ashley Judd) and Frida suffers a heartbreaking miscarriage. Back in Mexico her sister Cristina (Mia Maestro) becomes his assistant and Frida finds them in bed together. She returns to her parents’ home and descends into alcoholism. After meeting Diego again at a Day of the Dead celebration he introduces her to Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush) who falls for her when he moves into her house when he is granted political asylum and Frida leaves for Paris when Trotksy’s wife finds out. She returns to Mexico and Diego asks for a divorce then Trotsky is murdered … I should never have put you in a room with him. Adapted by Clancy Sigal, Diane Lake, Gregory Nava & Anna Thomas (and Antonio Banderas and Edward Norton, uncredited) from the 1983 book Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera, this is a beautiful, reverential and somewhat stolid biopic despite the talents, the artistry and the protagonist herself, memorably played by Hayek (who shepherded the production) especially as a teenager. However the episodic nature contrives to mitigate against momentum in this cosmopolitan tale, despite the wonderful aesthetic embellishments – with scenes melting out of Kahlo’s paintings, animations bringing still lifes to fast-moving existence and the use of costume as signifier. As is so often the case in these historical stories, it seems the people around the main character are more interesting and the circumstances more stimulating – and here it’s Diego Rivera who controls the narrative: Frida’s life and fate are basically a reaction to him and that both unbalances the characters and tilts the story in a different direction than it wants to go. It really succeeds as a portrait of a country in a kind of turmoil and exercising fascination for artists, bohemians and the international left. It’s not a failure but more a near miss that ironically really comes to life in the music scenes when Hayek is singing those mournful Mexican songs that make the hairs stand up in thrall to the passions this woman conjures. Beautifully shot by Rodrigo Prieto and there’s a wonderful score by Elliot Goldenthal. Directed by theatre great Julie Taymor. A communist generous enough to pay off our mortgage

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (2020)

Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in. As Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) ages and has a place of respect in society having divested himself of his casinos, he finds that being the head of the Corleone crime family isn’t getting any easier. He wants out of the Mafia and buys his way into the Vatican Bank but NYC mob kingpin Altobello (Eli Wallach) isn’t eager to let one of the most powerful and wealthy families go legit. Making matters even worse is Michael’s nephew, Vincent (Andy Garcia) the illegitimate son of his late brother, hothead Sonny. Not only does Vincent want out from under smalltime mobster Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna) who’s now got the Corleones’ New York business, he wants a piece of the Corleone family’s criminal empire, as well as Michael’s teenage daughter, Mary (Sofia Coppola) who’s crushing on him. Ex-wife Kay (Diane Keaton) appeals to Michael to allow their son Anthony (Franc D’Ambrosio) quit law school to pursue a career as an opera singer.  A trip to Sicily looms as all the threads of the Corleone family start to be pieced together after a massacre in Atlantic City and scores need to be settled … Why did they fear me so much and love you so much? Francis Ford Coppola revisited the scene of arguably his greatest triumph, The Godfather Saga, with writer Mario Puzo and yet he viewed it as a separate entity to that two-headed masterpiece. That was thirty years ago. Now he’s felt the need to re-edit it and it holds together better than the original release. The beginning is altered and it’s all the better to direct the material towards the theme of faith. Pacino is doing it all for his children and it’s his legacy he cares about more than money or respect: the symbolism writ large in the concluding sequence, a performance of Cavalleria Rusticana in which the weakness of our own central Christ figure is punished with the greatest violence – the death of close family.  This story then mutates from a pastiche of its previous triumphs to a a pastiche of an opera. The shocking and intentional contrast with the Cuban sex show in Part II couldn’t be starker yet it’s there for the comparison as Michael does penance for the death of Fredo, his dumb older brother who betrayed the family. He is physically weak from diabetes and the accompanying stroke;  his efforts to go totally legitimate have angered his Mafia rivals from whose ties he cannot fully break and they want in on the deal with the Vatican where Archbishop Gilday (Donal Donnelly) is the contact with Lucchesi (Enzo Robutti) who has a strange way of getting to everyone in the manner of old school Sicilians.  The Christ analogy is also about family sacrifice as his brother Sonny’s bastard son Vincent is nipping at his heels while sleeping with his own besotted daughter; he finds he is still in love with a remarried Kay, whom he finally introduces to Sicily when Tony is set to make his opera debut;  he is in bed with God’s own gangsters and the one good man Lamberto (Raf Vallone) is revealed as the short-lived Pope John Paul I. The references to the cinema of Luchino Visconti (and The Leopard) are rendered ever clearer while Carmine Coppola’s musical phrasing even drops in a bit of a spaghetti western music. It’s a sweeping canvas which gradually reveals itself even if the setup is awkward:  we no longer open on the windows at the Lake Tahoe house with their inlaid spider webs, instead we’re straight into the Vatican deal. It takes us out of the world of Godfather II. But we still see that sister Connie (Talia Shire) is the wicked crone behind the throne in her widow’s weeds, her flightiness long behind her but her song at the family celebration echoes her mother’s song at the wedding in the earlier film. The same acting problems remain in this cut. Like Wallach, her performance is cut from the finest prosciutto as she encourages Vincent in his ruthless ride to the top of the crime world. Mantegna isn’t a lot better as Joey Zasa. The Atlantic City massacre at the Trump Casino isn’t particularly well done – we’re reminded of a cut price Scarface. Wrapped into real life events at the Vatican in the late 70s/early 80s which give Donnelly, Raf Vallone and Helmut Berger (another nod to Visconti) some fine supporting roles, with an almost wordless John Savage as Tom Hagen’s priest son Andrew, this has the ring of truth but not quite the touch of classicism even with that marvellous cast reunited, something of a miracle in itself:  it feels like the gang’s almost all here. I cheered when I saw Richard Bright back as Al Neri! So sue me! And good grief Enzo the Baker is back too! Duvall’s salary wouldn’t be met by Paramount sadly and he is replaced by George Hamilton as consigliere. Even Martin Scorsese’s mother shows up! That’s Little Italy for ya! Pacino is filled with regret in this unspooling tragedy. And there we have it: the coda to a form of Italian American storytelling, the parallels with the earlier films expressed in flashbacks, as if to say, This was a life. Scorsese’s work is acknowledged but the narrative is forced forward to the inevitable tragedy. Life as opera – filled with crazy melodrama, betrayals, love, violence and murderous death. Garcia’s role makes far more sense in this version – we meet him quicker, his relationship clearly cultivated by Connie to ensure a passing of the guard. Yet what this cut also reinforces is that Coppola’s filmmaking wasn’t as confident, there are too many close ups – where is that surefooted widescreen composition? There are some awkward transitions and frankly bad writing. It’s long but it’s a farewell to a kind of cinema. And the death of Sofia Coppola as Mary was the price she had to pay for being her father’s daughter, non e vero? Now she’s the film world’s godmother. Gangster wrap. Finance is the gun, politics is the trigger.

Pixie (2020)

She won’t just break you she’ll take a Kalashnikov to your heart. Sligo, Ireland. Wannabe photographer Pixie O’Brien (Olivia Cooke) uses her ex-boyfriends Fergus (Fra Fee) and Colin (Rory Fleck Byrne ) to stage an elaborate drug heist on gangster priests which winds up with the men of the cloth murdered, and Colin kills Fergus with a bullet to the head. Two smitten local boys Frank (Ben Hardy) and Harland (Daryl McCormack) join her on the run from the hit man Seamus (Ned Dennehy) her gangster stepfather (Colm Meaney) has set on them when they try to sell 15kg of MDMA back to the priest Father Hector McGrath (Alec Baldwin) who runs the drug scene on the west coast. It turns out Pixie has a very personal motivation beyond money – revenge for the death of her mother who was helped along by her psycho step brother Mickey (Turlough Convery) … These guns won’t shoot themselves. Father and son team Barnaby and Preston Thompson direct and write respectively and this road trip down Ireland’s west coast (rechristened the Wild Atlantic Way to attract tourists) is bloody and violent and very funny, played by a well cast ensemble who revel in the opportunity to get up to Tarntino-esque antics in a picturesque setting shot rather niftily by John de Borman. There are some zingers but they’re often let down by the sound which prioritises a crazily effective set of songs curated by David Holmes and punch lines get lost in the mix (which does not include any songs by Pixies …). Cooke is fantastic in what is likely her best role to date as the amoral (not manic) pixie dream girl but there is also effective characterisation by Meaney and Baldwin as well as her companions Hardy and McCormack whom she seduces into a homoerotic scene that definitely was not on their cards. It’s got references from all over the shop, it’s rackety and fun with a very spirited tone. Dylan Moran appears as a very nasty piece of work indeed. You’ll cheer when you see what Pixie does to him. Naturally there’s a shootout that features nuns with guns. A great bit of craic altogether. I’m sorry we didn’t fucking cover body disposal in our economics course

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

My interest is energy – transference of energy. Humanoid alien Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) comes to Earth from a distant planet on a mission to take water back to his home planet,which is experiencing a catastrophic drought. He uses the advanced technology of his home planet to patent many inventions on Earth, and acquires tremendous wealth as the head of a technology-based conglomerate, World Enterprises Corporation, aided by leading patent attorney Oliver Farnsworth (Buck Henry) who carries out all the interactions with people. His wealth is needed to construct a space vehicle with the intention of shipping water back to his home planet. While revisiting New Mexico he meets lonely Mary-Lou (Candy Clark) who works as a maid, bell-hop, and elevator operator in the small hotel where he’s staying. He tells her he is English. Mary-Lou introduces Newton to many customs of Earth, including church-going, alcohol, and sex. She and Newton live together in a house Newton has built close to where he first landed in New Mexico many years earlier. Womanising college lecturer Dr. Nathan Bryce (Rip Torn) lands a job as a fuel technician with World Enterprises and slowly becomes Newton’s confidant. He senses Newton’s alien nature and arranges a meeting with Newton at his home where he has hidden a special X-ray camera. When he steals a picture of Newton it reveals alien physiology. Newton’s appetite for alcohol and television becomes crippling and he and Mary-Lou fight. Realising that Bryce has learnt his secret, Newton reveals his alien form to Mary-Lou. Her initial reaction is one of pure shock and horror. She tries to accept what she sees but then panics and flees. Newton completes the spaceship and attempts to take it on its maiden voyage amid intense press exposure. However, just before his scheduled take-off, he is seized and detained, apparently by the government and a rival company while Farnsworth, is murdered. The government had been monitoring Newton via his driver and he is now held captive in a locked luxury apartment, constructed deep within a hotel. He is kept sedated with alcohol (to which he has become addicted) and continuously subject him to rigorous medical tests, cutting into the artificial applications which make him appear human. Eventually, one examination, involving X-rays, causes the contact lenses he wears as part of his human disguise to permanently affix themselves to his eyes … It happened literally overnight. Paul Mayersberg’s adaptation of Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel is rigorous and finely attuned to the surreal. Bowie was living on milk and cocaine at the time, if his own admissions are to be believed, and his detachment and appearance are central to the success of probably the greatest science fiction film of the Seventies, an exploration of fragility and trust and rotten human behaviour. And it’s also about the alien nation of America, alienation and sex, feeding into contemporary paranoia about the political establishment. The flashbacks to Newton’s home and family are strange and lovely, his arrival in the nineteenth century simply dramatised for extra effectiveness in a narrative based on juxtaposition of the modern and the unknowable. Beautifully constructed, shot (by Anthony Richmond) and edited (by Graeme Clifford), this may well be director Nicolas Roeg’s greatest achievement with a wondrous soundtrack co-ordinated by John Phillips and featuring compositions by Stomu Yamashta. Stunning. I realise you’ve made certain assumptions about me

Nothing But the Night (1973)

I dislike being put in my placefor you or anyone else. Three wealthy trustees of the Van Traylen fund, which supports a school for orphans on the Scottish island of Bala, are murdered but their deaths are clearly staged as suicide or accident. Three other trustees are on a bus carrying children from the school when the driver suddenly catches on fire, but he is the only one to die. One of the girls Mary Valley (Gwyneth Strong) is taken to a London hospital where she has strange seizures and recounts stories which she couldn’t possibly have experienced. Psychiatrist Dr Haynes (Keith Barron) and tabloid journalist Joan Foster (Georgia Brown) interview the girl’s mother Anna Harb (Diana Dors), a prostitute who’s done ten years in Broadmoor for murdering three people. They hope to enlist the aid of the hospital’s senior member, Sir Mark Ashley (Peter Cushing). When Haynes is brutally murdered following a visit from Harb, Ashley enlists the aid of old friend and police inspector Colonel Charles Bingham (Christopher Lee). They take their investigation to Bala where precautions have been taken to protect the children and the remaining trustees by the local police headed by Cameron (Fulton Mackay). In the meantime, Anna Harb travels secretly to Bala, hoping to find Mary, although she is now suspected of the murders and an explosion on a boat that apparently kills several others of the trustees. Ashley and Bingham then uncover the sinister truth behind the murders … Blasted reporters – never let you get on with your work. An intriguing premise rather undone by a sloppy screenplay from Brian Hayles adapting John Blackburn’s novel. It’s wonderful to see Lee and Cushing uniting in a contemporary story that doesn’t involve vampirism and it’s certainly odd that by the end of that year Lee would be ensconced in another Scottish island folk horror shocker, The Wicker Man. He produced this under his own company banner Charlemagne Films which he formed with producer Anthony Nelson Keys – their only production as it didn’t make money. What a shame that Dors is reduced to so little dialogue and spending half the film grubbing about in the undergrowth – then getting the old pyro treatment. And yes, that is Michael Gambon playing Inspector Grant; Kathleen Byron (the mad nun from Black Narcissus) plays Dr Rose; while young Strong is making her screen debut and would go on to become a much loved TV performer in shows like Only Fools and Horses. The ending is literally a cliffhanger but it’s practically thrown away: you might find similarities with the recent Get Out. Directed by Peter Sasdy. You burned your own mother alive!

Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)

You and Marie are nothing but a couple of sluts. Twenty years after their shotgun marriage, their child dead and their little dog lost for months, dowdy Lola Delaney (Shirley Booth) rents out a room in the house she shares with her recovering alcoholic husband, chiropractor Doc (Burt Lancaster). The pretty college student Marie Buckholder (Terry Moore) does life drawings in the living room of track star jock Turk Fisher (Richard Jaeckel) and Lola enjoys watching them fall in love. Their carry on aggravates Doc who infers that they are engaged in sexual shenanigans despite being told that Marie is engaged to someone else. He compares Lola to Marie and his obsession ultimately drives him back to the bottle despite his two year membership of Alcoholics Anonymous which had got him back on track … I can’t spend my time kissing all the girls. Booth was recreating her acclaimed stage role (and it won her an Academy Award in her screen debut at 54) and Lancaster gives a great, mature performance in a William Inge play that reads like a suburban take on A Streetcar Named Desire: just how big is this house and how long is this woman going to stay in the spare room? Adapted by Ketti Frings, Lola is slatternly and useless but enormously endearing, Doc is remote and difficult but somehow admirable. His paranoia is not far from the surface and peppy Marie gets under his skin. His concealed passion destroys his resolve but Lola treats Marie like a daughter, unaware of his conflict until she opens the cupboard to make cocktails. He has never forgiven her for the forced marriage that stopped him training as a proper doctor and then Lola lost the baby. When his pent-up violent anger finally erupts it’s shocking. It’s a persuasive picture of long-festering marital resentments, fixation on the brevity of youthful beauty and loss and a signature film of kitchen sink realism. Directed by Delbert Mann. Alcoholics are mostly disappointed men

Last Christmas (2019)

I’m a part of you. Take care of my heart. Katarina ‘Kate’ Andrich (Emilia Clarke) an aspiring singer, works as an elf at a year-round Christmas shop in Central London where the humorless owner (Michelle Yeoh) calls herself ‘Santa’. Kate is homeless after being forced out by her flatmate for her typically unreasonable behaviour. While at work, she notices a man (Henry Golding) outside staring upwards. She talks with him, learning that his name is Tom. After an unsuccessful singing audition, Kate sees Tom again and they go for a walk, where he charms her with his unusual observations of London. Upon isolating herself from her oldest friend Jenna (Ritu Arya) who is pregnant by her boyfriend Rufus (Ansu Kabia) and who Kate has alienated with her carelessness, Kate is forced to return to her parents’ home where her Yugoslav immigrants, her mother, Petra (Emma Thompson) suffers from depression and her father, Ivan, a former lawyer, works as a minicab driver. Kate feels suffocated by her mother, who dotes on her while ignoring Kate’s sister, Marta (Lydia Leonard) a successful lawyer. Kate begins spending more time with Tom, who rides a bike and volunteers at a homeless shelter, which she initially mocks. Tom disappears for days at a time and Kate begins helping at the shelter in the hope of running into him, but finds that the staff have never met him. While celebrating Marta’s promotion, Kate spitefully outs Marta as Lesbian to their parents then she runs into Tom. She reveals that, a year earlier, she had to have heart transplant. She tries to initiate sex, but he declines and they part. She then sets about making amends to those she has wronged. After a few days she runs into Tom again and he says he has something important to tell her, but she presume he’s a commitment phobe and walks away. Finally, wanting to make amends with Tom, she returns to his apartment only to realise who he is …There’s no such thing as normal. It’s a stupid word. Does a lot of damage. Excruciating in that very special way that truly terrible films are, this is an unprecedented fail for the amazing Paul Feig who is the most female-centric filmmaker out there. Golding returns to work with him after the sublime Hitchcock pastiche A Simple Favor, while Clarke gurns her way through what is basically a turkey-flavoured multicultural comic tragedy – in every sense. With songs. That she sings. And there are awkward structural similarities to Frozen for which theatre production Kate fails her audition. She is having a quarter-life crisis with one-night stands, a lot of accidents and standoffs with friends and family. And a heart condition. George Michael must be turning in his grave if this is what he inspired co-writers Emma Thompson and her husband Greg Wise and Bryony Kimmings to create. Some lines sound as if Thompson had written them for herself: you can just hear her in them. Some scenes are so forced as to be physically difficult to endure. Mystifying and with a political subtext that is as subtle as a hammer, yet there are very pretty pictures of London including the narrowest alley, the most decorated council house and the oldest pub. Maybe. Up there with Love Actually for the distinction of most dreadful Christmas film ever. God rest ye all. I will nail you to my dick

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

I’m not in love with you any more. Ex-litigator Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) leaves his three gifted children in their adolescent years and winds up in prison for fraud then returns to them after they have grown, falsely claiming he has a terminal illness when he’s thrown out of the hotel whose bills he cannot meet. He insinuates himself back into the family home where his archaeologist wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston) is dating accountant Henry Sherman (Danny Glover). Maths whiz and business genius Chas (Ben Stiller) is a widower who survived the plane crash that killed his wife the previous year and moves his sons Ari (Grant Rosenmeyer) and Uzi (Jonah Meyerson) back to the family home convinced their apartment is too dangerous. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a depressive playwright who hasn’t had a play produced in seven years. She is married to older neurologist Raleigh St Clair (Bill Murray) who doesn’t know any of her secrets. Formerly successful tennis player Richie (Luke Wilson) is on a neverending world cruise following a disaster on court. When he realises he’s in love with Margot, his adopted sister he contacts their neighbour Eli Cash (Owen Wilson) a lecturer and popular novelist who himself starts romancing Margot but dabbles in drugs. Royal’s arrival coincides with each family member enduring a crisis that seems insurmountable and living together again brings things to a head …  This illness, this closeness to death… it’s had a profound affect on me. I feel like a different person, I really do. Flat symmetrical compositions with intricate production design and little camera movement. Ironic soundtracks. Blunt wit. At first glance Wes Anderson’s films might feel too contrived:  highly stylised yet with an inimitable tone, destined forever for the shelf labelled Quirk. This is reminiscent of Salinger with its NYC setting, big brownstones, a dysfunctional family full of supposed eccentrics and is openly influenced by Le feu follet and The Magnificent Ambersons. At first glance it’s rambling and lacking construction. But at the centre of it is a performance of paternal dysfunction by Gene Hackman that’s genuinely great – but even that appears to deflect from the roles played by his children.  They are a prism by which this deceitful man’s life is viewed. Hence the title.  It was written for him against his wishes, says Anderson. There is an undertow of sadness reflected by the repetition of Vince Guaraldi’s theme from TV’s Charlie Brown series (and what an extraordinary soundtrack underpins this bittersweet comic drama, with everyone from The Clash to Elliott Smith busy expressing those sentiments the characters refuse). It’s a determinedly literary experience with Alec Baldwin’s voiceover ensuring that even if we miss the beautiful Chapter Titles (because this is based on a non-existent book…) we are always anchored in a sprawling narrative with its endearing cast of characters. In truth these are people who are unsuccessful adults, mired in grief, lost in unrequited love (inspiring two suicide attempts), depression and psychological problems, constantly beset by memories of childhood achievements they cannot reproduce in the real world.  Faking it. It is a work of profound sadness and understanding. Just look at the pictures. Written by Anderson and Owen Wilson. I wish you’d’ve done this for me when I was a kid

Z (1969)

He is alive. Greece, the 1960s. Doctor Gregorios Lambrakis (Yves Montand) leader of the opposition is injured during an anti-military/nuclear demonstration in an incident that causes his death. The government and army are trying to suppress the truth – their involvement with a right-wing organisation in a covert assassination. But they don’t control the hospital where Lambrakis is brought and the autopsy reveals the cause of death. Then tenacious Examining Magistrate (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is determined to not to let them get away with it despite every witness getting beaten up en route to his office … Always blame the Americans. Even if you’re wrong. Adapted from Vassilis Vassilikos’ 1966 novel by Greek-born director Costa-Gavras and Jorge Semprun (with uncredited work by blacklisted Ben Barzman), this political thriller gained its frisson and urgency from its lightly fictionalised portrayal of recent events in Greece which this more or less accurately depicts. Nowadays its style is commonplace but its skill in evoking the dangers of the official version and the suppression of free speech is more important than ever. Inspired by real-life events, including the ‘disappearing’ of opposition Moroccan politician Mehdi Ben Barka in Paris in 1965, with a surgical reference to JFK, the beauty of the construction is in having Montand’s experiences including with wife Helene (Irene Papas) dominating the first half, while the second is about the steady work of investigation carried out by Trintignant, who winds up unmasking a conspiracy at the highest level. Beautifully shot by Raoul Coutard and scored by Mikis Theodorakis. Tough, taut, suspenseful filmmaking that is exciting and dreadful simultaneously, speaking truth to power about corruption, passionate engagement and the casual use of street thugs to commit murder for the state. There is even room for humour as Trintignant insists on treating the officers like anyone else when they are indicted and each one of them believes him to be a Communist when in fact his right wing credentials are impeccable. In real life the military junta came to power and banned the venerable Papas, who was a member of the Communist Party:  she wasn’t the only one of course but she survived to celebrate her 94th birthday on 3rd September last. Essential cinema. Why do the ideas we stand for incite such violence?

Miranda (1948)

There’s a dreadful shortage of men below sea. With his wife Clare (Googie Withers) uninterested in fishing, Dr. Paul Martin (Griffith Jones) goes on holiday in Cornwall.  There he snags mermaid Miranda Trewella (Glynis Johns) and is pulled into the water. She keeps him prisoner in her underwater cavern and only lets him go after he agrees to show her London. He disguises her as an invalid patient in a wheelchair and takes her to his flat for a month-long stay. Clare reluctantly agrees to the arrangement, but gets him to hire someone to look after their house guest and he selects Nurse Carey (Margaret Rutherford) for the eccentric nature that previously caused him to get rid of her and takes her into his confidence. To Paul’s relief, Carey is delighted to be working for a mermaid as she always believed they exist. Miranda’s seductive nature earns her the admiration of not only Paul, but also his chauffeur Charles (David Tomlinson), as well as Nigel (John McCallum), the artist fiancé of Clare’s friend and upstairs neighbour Isobel (Sonia Holm) arousing the jealousy of the women in their lives. Clare starts to follow her instincts and starts reading up on her suspicions. Nigel breaks off his engagement, but then he and Charles discover that Miranda has been flirting with both of them ….  You’ve hated me ever since I set tail in this house. The delightful Johns has fun as the beguiling mermaid who insinuates herself into the life of a doctor living quite the de luxe life in his well appointed London apartment with his lovely wife Withers. And then she drives every man mad with desire. There are lovely moments when she can’t help herself – snacking on the goldfish straight from the bowl, scarfing cockles at the fish market and depriving a sea lion of his lunch on a trip to the zoo. Witty and surprising, this wastes no time in introducing Johns – two minutes – and once she fishes Paul out of the water and into her cave she wastes no time in telling him she had to throw the last two men back because their legs were too short. She has a disarming way of critiquing men’s physiques to their face. Withers plays opposite offscreen husband McCallum while the redoubtable Rutherford has an amusing scene in a museum with a mummy and off-screen husband Stringer Davis. Witty, charming fluff with Johns as bewitching as ever as the flirty fish out of water and some timely references including the novel Forever Amber – which plants the suggestive conclusion. Adapted from his play by Peter Blackmore with additional dialogue by Denis Waldock, this was produced by Betty Box and directed by Ken Annakin. Tail by Dunlop. There is a sequel, made 6 years later, Mad About Men. If you ask me there’s something very fishy about this case