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Is Paris Burning? (1966)

Is Paris Burning? is an all-star World War II epic, patterned after the success of the 1962 blockbuster The Longest Day .  The film tells the story of the liberation of Paris by Allied forces in August 1944. The commander of the German forces in the city, General von Choltitz (Gert Fröbe), has been charged by Hitler with defending Paris against the advancing A llied armies in the weeks after the invasion of Normandy. Von Choltitz is ordered to ruthlessly suppress the city and its population. And if the Germans are no longer able to hold off the Allied advance, then they must destroy Paris as they retreat. Meanwhile, the various resistance groups in Paris are growing restless. The Allies have landed in France, but it seems that they have every intention of bypassing the city. Despite its symbolic importance as the French capital, the Allies regard it as of limited strategic significance.  Some of the resistance groups want to start taking over the city themselves, street by street. Oth
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Two Cheers for St. Trinian's: School's Out!

So we've reached the end of our odyssey through the St. Trinian's films. And what have we learned?  Well, if a new teacher arrives at St. Trinian's School and she looks like Joyce Grenfell, then she's definitely a police spy. Also, never go on a foreign holiday or a "cultural tour" if it's organised by Cecil Parker - especially if Sid James is involved. Will they never learn? 

The Wildcats of St. Trinian's (1980)

14 years after the last film in the series, The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery in 1966, Frank Launder returned to write and direct one more film featuring the troublesome girls of St. Trinian's School,  The Wildcats of St. Trinian's in 1980. This time the St. Trinian's girls decide to form a union, so that they can go on strike. To increase their bargaining power, their partner in crime, former school boot boy Harry (Joe Melia), encourages them to infiltrate the top schools in the country, so that they can form a "closed shop" and bring all of the other schools out on strike as well. The St. Trinian's girls begin to infiltrate other schools by kidnapping pupils and replacing them with one of their own. But one girl they kidnap is a princess, the daughter of the ruler of an oil-rich Middle Eastern state, something that threatens a diplomatic incident. So the civil servants at the Department of Women's Education, led by Culpepper Brown (Thorl

Book Review: Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe

  Conversations with Wilder is Cameron Crowe's attempt to do for Billy Wilder what Francois Truffaut did for Alfred Hitchcock in his 1966 book Hitchcock/Truffaut . The young French film maker and the veteran British director had sat down and gone over Hitchcock's film career in a series of interviews for a book that would become a mine of Hitchcock quotes, and probably the best known of the many books on Hitch. At the time that Conversations with Wilder was published, Billy Wilder was one of the last remaining great film directors of the Hollywood studio era. A former journalist, Wilder's film career had begun in Europe, before he moved to the US in the early 1930s to work as a screenwriter.  As with some later writer-directors, it was frustration with the treatment of some of his scripts that prompted him to turn to directing himself, paving the way for other writers to do the same. From the 1940s to the early 1960s, Wilder made a string of films that have gone on to alm

The Fourth Protocol (1987)

This Cold War thriller was based on the novel by Frederick Forsyth and gives an early lead role to future James Bond star Pierce Brosnan. This time, though, Brosnan plays a Soviet spy, working on a plot to detonate a nuclear bomb in Britain, and Michael Caine is the British agent who has to stop him. Caine plays John Preston, an agent of Britain's internal security service MI5. Preston is one of those troublesome mavericks so popular in the movies, who are always breaking rules and clashing with their bosses. Preston is barely tolerated by the acting head of the service, the unctuous Brian Harcourt-Smith (Julian Glover), and when the opportunity arises Preston is shuffled off to the relative backwater department overseeing airports and ports.  In his new post, Preston is sent to investigate when a sailor is killed in an accident while trying to leave a Soviet ship in Glasgow docks at 2 am. The Russian sailor was challenged as he tried to leave and ran into an oncoming lorry. Among

2020: The Year in Review

Yes, it's the end of another year and time to find out what's been happening this year on your favourite website with the words "cinema" and "essentials" in the name. This year we have Top Tens, lame jokes, weird web searches and even some sexy pictures.  So grab your brew of choice, make yourself comfy in your favourite chair, and we'll get started. For me that means slouching decoratively on the sofa, with a decent cup of coffee and a plate of dark chocolate digestives (the king of biscuits!). Are you comfortable? OK then, let's start.

The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery (1966)

The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery is the fourth and penultimate film in the long-running St. Trinian's comedy series. It's the first in the series to be made in colour, and the only one to be directed by both Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat. It's also the final film in the series to star George Cole as "Flash Harry", the last remaining principal character from the original film. The film begins with a gang of crooks carrying out a daring heist. According to the newspaper headlines the next day, the gang have made off with £2.5 million in the biggest ever mail train robbery. They stash the stolen loot under the floorboards of an old country house, Hamingwell Grange. The house is currently standing empty and the gang intend to return to it and recover the money when the coast is clear. Meanwhile, a new Labour Government has just been elected and the civil servants at the Ministry of Schools are ecstatic. It looks like this will mean the end of the nation&#