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Zeppelin (1971)

  Zeppelin is an adventure film set during the height of the Zeppelin menace in World War I. The giant new German airships float over London at 9000 feet, dropping bombs on the city while flying far out of range of the British fighters or anti-aircraft guns. As a British Army sergeant explains to a group of assembled officers in a demonstration in the film, the Zeppelins not only fly higher than the range of Britain's fighter aircraft, they are also invulnerable to machine gun fire. Ordinary bullets do no more than create a minor gas leak in the outer envelope of the airship. New higher flying aircraft, and incendiary bullets to ignite the hydrogen gas inside the airships and destroy them, are being developed, but they are still months away. Fortunately, British intelligence is about to enjoy a piece of good luck. Geoffrey Richter-Douglas (Michael York) is a British officer working in a desk job in London, with a background both in Scotland and in Germany, where he has an aristocr
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Coogan's Bluff (1968)

By the late 1960s Clint Eastwood had become a bona fide film star. But he was still specifically a western star - that guy from Rawhide and A Fistful of Dollars . Dirty Harry , an orangutan called Clyde and success as an Oscar-winning director were all in the future. Having become a star in Italian-made westerns, Eastwood was lured back to Hollywood for another cowboy film Hang 'Em High in 1967. The year after that he branched out, making a rare war film Where Eagles Dare , playing second fiddle to Richard Burton, and a crime thriller  Coogan's Bluff .  Coogan's Bluff can be seen as a transitional film in Clint Eastwood's career, transferring his early western stardom into the crime film genre. It casts him as a laconic Deputy Sheriff from Arizona, who is usually referred to in the film by just his surname, Coogan. When asked his first name, he typically replies: "How about just Coogan?"

C.E.M.A. (1942): Bringing Culture to the Masses

C.E.M.A. stands for the Council for Encouragement of Music and the Arts. This worthy organisation was a forerunner of the Arts Council, formed during World War II to promote music, art and culture.  The 17 minute documentary short C.E.M.A. was designed to show audiences the kind of cultural outreach work that the Council was doing during WWII, bringing art, music and theatre to the British people. The film was co-directed by the poet Dylan Thomas, who worked on several of these informational shorts during the Second World War. Ironically, given that the film is about the creative arts, the makers obviously couldn't think of an interesting title, which shouldn't have been that difficult. Or maybe they thought that sort of thing would be pandering to the masses. So this film about C.E.M.A. is very unimaginatively titled ... er, C.E.M.A.

Revisiting 'Hollywood England' by Alexander Walker

  Alexander Walker was one of Britain's best known film writers of the late 20th century, the long time film critic for the London newspaper the Evening Standard . He also wrote several books on films, including biographies of Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Sellers, and studies on the silent cinema and the films of Stanley Kubrick. Between 1974 and 2003 he wrote three books covering the British film industry from the very end of the 1950s to the end of the 20th century - Hollywood England , National Heroes and Icons in the Fire .  The first of these books,  Hollywood England: The British Film Industry in the Sixties  (also published as Hollywood UK ), was first published in 1974 and covers the period from 1959 through to 1971, and so deals with a memorable and momentous period for British cinema. 

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

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