Escape (1948)

It’s my birthday today, the 8th of January. Every year, on this day, I post a review of a film that features someone born on January 8. This year, it’s William Hartnell. Born on January 8, 1908 in London, Hartnell was best-known, in the early decades of his career, for his role as Sergeant Grimshaw from the popular Carry On films. In 1963, however, came a breakthrough that was to immortalize Hartnell on screen: he became the first Doctor Who.

In 1948, however, Hartnell acted in this somewhat unusual film about a fugitive, the girl who helps him, and the police inspector who’s on his trail. Hartnell was not the protagonist; that role went to Rex Harrison—but Hartnell put in a nuanced and restrained performance as a cop who’s not infallible, not hard-bitten and cynical, not incompetent or corrupt. A human being, and a cop.

William Hartnell as Inspector Harris in Escape

Continue reading

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

One of the good things about growing up in a family that loved reading was that even as a child, I was surrounded by books—novels, of course; and treatises on everything from Wordsworth’s poetry (thanks to my mother) to gardening and homoeopathy (thanks to my father). Those books, big tomes that were all words and no pictures, were of no interest to a 6-year old who wasn’t too deeply into literature.

My favourite book from my parents’ vast collection was a large Readers’ Digest coffee table book called Family Treasury of Great Painters and Great Paintings. This one was a fascinating book. You didn’t need to be able to read much to be able to enjoy it, because it was full of the most amazing paintings. That was where I first saw The Music Lesson, La Grande Jatte, The Arnolfini Wedding, Sunflowers… and The Creation of Man. I don’t even need to open that book now to see what The Creation of Man looked like, spread across the top half of two pages. It took my breath away.

Continue reading

Midnight Lace (1960)

“Racy stuff, eh?” said my husband, when I told him the name of the film I was going to review next.

No. Not at all. In fact, Midnight Lace has nothing steamy about it except a rather stylish black top that Doris Day wears in the climactic scene.


Continue reading