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His Girl Friday (1940)

Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) was the star reporter on The Morning Post, the newspaper edited by her former husband, Walter Burns (Cary Grant). Burns and Hildy are now divorced and Hildy is marrying again, and this time she's giving up her career as a reporter as well. Hildy intends to settle down to a life of domesticity with Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), a solid, dependable type, who works in insurance and lives with his mother in Albany in upstate New York.

But the scheming Walter Burns doesn't want to lose his best reporter and he isn't going to let a little thing like Hildy's divorce, remarriage and retirement from the newspaper game get in his way. The city's newspapers are covering a big story, a mixed up guy, Earl Williams (John Qualen), who lost his job, lost his mind (maybe) and killed a cop. To get Hildy back on the team, Burns emotionally blackmails her into covering the story and writing a sympathetic interview that could help Williams get committ…
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3 'Careless Talk Costs Lives' Short Films From Ealing Studios

'Careless Talk Costs Lives' was a famous campaign run in Britain during World War II. It was aimed at stopping the unwitting spread of information that might be useful to the enemy. The campaign was accompanied by a series of iconic posters, including the cartoons of 'Fougasse' (Cyril Bird), and by a series of informational films, including three short films made by Ealing Studios.

Ealing would later produce a feature length film related to this campaign and directed by Thorold Dickinson, Next of Kin in 1942. That film told the story of a British raid on a German-held port in France. The raid almost goes disastrously wrong, because the enemy have pieced together information about the operation in advance from their spies in Britain.

Before Next of Kin, Ealing made three short films to accompany the 'Careless Talk Costs Lives' campaign in the first year of the war. The three films were all released in May 1940, and each film was aimed at a different socio-econo…

Some Will, Some Won't (1969)

Some Will, Some Won't is a remake of the 1951 comedy Laughter in Paradise. The story centres on four people who are all beneficiaries in the will of a recently deceased relative, Henry Russell (Wilfrid Brambell).

Russell was a famous prankster, and was hanging from the clock tower of Big Ben, trying to add some extra bongs to the chimes, when he fell into the River Thames to a watery grave. His not-too-distressed relatives gather for the reading of the will, which the forward-thinking Russell has arranged to deliver from beyond the grave, via a recorded message.

Russell tells the four that they will each inherit £150,000, not a bad sum for 1969. They are all ecstatic - until he spells out the conditions. Meek and mild bank clerk Herbert (Ronnie Corbett) will have to stage an armed hold up at his bank and put the frighteners on his imperious boss, Mr Wagstaff (John Nettleton). Lurid pulp fiction author Deniston (Michael Hordern) will have to commit a real crime and go to prison for…

Cinema Essentials CMBA interview

Every month the Classic Movie Blog Association profiles one of its members. This month it's the turn of Jay, author of the esteemed film website known as Cinema Essentials, to be interviewed. Thanks to the CMBA's John Greco for organising this. You can read the profile here

Dracula (1931)

The first English language film of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, this 1931 version was produced by Universal Pictures, and was significant for setting both the studio and its star Bela Lugosi onto long running horror careers.

Dracula begins with the arrival of Renfield (Dwight Frye) in Transylvania. He is presumably a solicitor or an estate agent, and has travelled from England to help Count Dracula in his move to London.

Renfield is dropped off by the stagecoach at an inn, where he explains he is on his way to Castle Dracula. Even mention of the name of the feared Count Dracula sets the locals off crossing themselves and widening their eyes in fear. Surely you don't want to go there! They are undead, vampires, they drink the blood of their victims.

Well, Renfield isn't one to be put off by that kind of superstitious nonsense. So he heads to the castle anyway, where he finds the charming but strangely mesmerising Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) surrounded by his cobwebs and can…

Squadron 992 (1940)

Squadron 992 is a British propaganda film from 1940, and it's all about the Royal Air Force. So buckle up everyone, because it's going to be wall-to-wall aerial action, with Brylcreemed chaps leaping into their Spitfires and Hurricanes to do battle in the air with Jerry. Or maybe not. Because it turns out that Squadron 992 doesn't fly Spitfires or Hurricanes but looks after ... barrage balloons. Oh well.

Barrage balloons were huge blimps tethered to the ground by a suitably sturdy cable. They were introduced as a defensive measure for use against aerial bombing, designed to force enemy bombers to fly higher and so make them less effective. The huge balloons became a familiar sight during the war, floating above towns, cities and other possible targets for air raids.

The day-to-day operations of barrage balloons is a tough subject to make exciting, but Squadron 992 does its best anyway. The film actually starts out amusingly enough, and there's even some wit in the scri…

Who Dares Wins (1982)

On 5th May 1980, the six day siege at the Iranian Embassy in London was ended when special forces soldiers of the SAS stormed the embassy building, released the hostages, killed 5 terrorists and captured the sixth. The terrorists had already killed one hostage, and were threatening to slaughter the rest at half-hour intervals, when the go ahead was given for the rescue mission, codenamed Operation Nimrod.

Not only was the operation a stunning success but, crucially, it took place under the gaze of the world's news media. Television news crews were camped outside the embassy awaiting the latest developments, with their cameras trained on the building. The rescue mission was captured on camera and streamed on live television around the world, causing a media sensation.

The Special Air Service (SAS) was one of several British special forces units formed in the desert campaign in North Africa during WWII. Unusually, it was also one that had survived into the Cold War era, being refor…

2019: The Year in Review

As it's almost the beginning of a new year and a new decade, I thought I'd do a round-up of what's been happening at Cinema Essentials over the past 12 months.

Cinema Essentials is 2 (and a bit) years old

It's hard to believe, but this website is now more than 2 years old. Fortunately, it's now past the crawling and dribbling stage (well, mostly) and is managing to totter along without too much adult supervision.

Cinema Essentials actually celebrated its 2nd birthday back in July. But I decided not to make a big thing of it, as I wasn't sure if I wanted the inevitable street parties and rounds of media interviews. Actually, I didn't think anyone would really care, which is sad I know, but probably true.

This is me, dictating this post to my secretary.  And yes, it's amazing how much I look like James Mason.


I signed up for the Large Association of Movie Blogs in October this year. It takes time for membership to go through, but assuming it…