Skip to main content


Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Witness for the Prosecution is a classic courtroom drama based on the play by Agatha Christie and arguably the best screen adaptation of any of her works. Charles Laughton plays renowned British barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts. Robarts is returning home from hospital, having recently suffered a heart attack. As a result, he has been assigned a strict nurse, Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester), and an even stricter diet outlawing alcohol, cigars and almost any excitement. Unfortunately, that includes taking on any major criminal cases. From now on he must limit his workload and restrict himself to divorce proceedings and minor civil cases. When a solicitor colleague, Mr Mayhew (Henry Daniell), comes to see him with a new client, Sir Wilfrid must of course refuse the case. But, seeing the chance to secretly nab a cigar from Mayhew while his nurse isn't looking, he agrees to see him and his client on the pretext of providing some informal advice.  Mayhew's client is Leonard Vole (Tyron
Recent posts

Rotten to the Core (1965)

This crime comedy begins with three small time criminals - Lenny the Dip (Kenneth Griffith), Scapa Flood (James Beckett) and Jelly Knight (Dudley Sutton) - about to be released from Wormwood Scrubs prison. Their gang's mastermind is Randolph Berkeley-Greene, nicknamed "The Duke" (Anton Rodgers). But he is still on the outside, having provided himself with a cast iron alibi for their last job. On their release from prison, his three accomplices go looking for him so they can claim their share of the proceeds from the robbery. But the Duke's girlfriend Sara (Charlotte Rampling) has some bad news. She tells them that he has died after a long illness, and the money they are owed has all been spent on medical bills. She takes them to the local cemetery and shows them his burial plot. Appropriately enough for a professional crook, his tombstone is inscribed with the words "He took things as he found them". Without their gang's mastermind, Lenny, Jelly and Scar

2021: The Year in Review

It's the end of another year, and so time for the almost traditional Cinema Essentials annual review. Records held at the British Museum show that our first annual review took place in 1856, in celebration of the end of the Crimean War. Unfortunately, we were still waiting for someone to invent moving pictures, so there wasn't that much to write about. Type after me: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy ..." An Amazing Post You May Have Missed We attempted to change to a new email subscription service this year, but it didn't quite work out, so we've had to change back again for the time being. As a result, you may have missed the post on Stanley Kubrick's  The Killing  during the change over, so I'll just mention that now. 

Classic TV: Red Dwarf VIII (1999)

Sci-fi comedy  Red Dwarf returned for its eighth season in 1999. Not always content just to leave things as they are, co-creator Doug Naylor oversaw another major overhaul for this series, Red Dwarf 's last on the BBC. After the single camera experiment of the previous series,  Red Dwarf VIII  sees the show return to the traditional sitcom format of multiple camera studio filming with a live audience. This series sees Lister (Craig Charles), Cat (Danny John-Jules), Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) and Kochanski (ChloĆ« Annett) all return. But it also sees the unexpected return - without much fanfare - of Chris Barrie as Rimmer. Barrie had apparently enjoyed making  Red Dwarf VII  so much that he was persuaded to come back for a full series. Something else returning this time is the mining ship  Red Dwarf  itself, along with its entire crew - the ship having been recreated and the crew brought back to life by the nanobots used to restore Lister's arm at the end of the last series. So t

Classic TV: Red Dwarf VII (1997)

The sci-fi comedy series  Red Dwarf  hit a peak with its new format from the third season onwards. That season saw the series action move from its former base on the mining ship  Red Dwarf  itself to the smaller shuttle craft  Starbug . It retained the three main characters of Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Lister (Craig Charles) and the Cat (Danny John-Jules), but replaced Norman Lovett as the ship's computer Holly with Hattie Hayridge in the same role, and introduced a significant new crew member in the android Kryten (Robert Llewellyn). While Holly disappeared after Red Dwarf V in 1992, the rest of the cast was unchanged until the seventh season in 1997. Kryten (Robert Llewellyn), Lister (Craig Charles) and Rimmer (Chris Barrie) in "Blue" The sixth season, Red Dwarf VI , had ended in 1993 on a cliffhanger, and it would be more than three years until the show's fans would get to see the resolution to that storyline (such as it was) and the revamped  Red Dwarf  that would

The Killing (1956)

The Killing is a classic 1950s heist film and the first major film from director Stanley Kubrick.  The film stars Sterling Hayden as Johnny Clay, the mastermind of a plan to steal $2 million from a racetrack. Among his gang are inside man George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr.), corrupt and indebted cop Randy Kennan (Ted de Corsia) and Mike O'Reilly (Joe Sawyer), a bartender with a seriously ill wife.  Clay also hires two men to create diversions at the racetrack. These are gun dealer and crack shot Nikki (Timothy Carey), who is to shoot the favourite horse during the race, and an old friend, wrestler Maurice (Kola Kwariani), to start a fight at the track.