Skip to main content

Posts

Left, Right and Centre (1959)

This comedy stars Ian Carmichael as Robert Wilcot, a zoologist and explorer turned TV personality, who has decided to run for Parliament. Wilcot will stand as the Conservative Party candidate for the Parliamentary constituency of Earndale. The area was his childhood home and the location of Wilcot Priory, the family seat and current residence of his uncle, Lord Wilcot (Alastair Sim).

Robert Wilcot is confident of his prospects in the election, and doesn't think he will have too much trouble against the Labour Party candidate, a "bluestocking battleaxe" from the London School of Economics. Especially as he can deploy the most potent new political weapon of the age - his television fame. Wilcot had previously swapped zoology and exploration for the life of a celebrity and TV personality on a popular panel game show called What on Earth Was That?

On the train up to Earnley, the biggest town in the area, Wilcot meets an attractive young woman, Stella (Patricia Bredin). They g…
Recent posts

Blue Murder at St. Trinian's (1957)

The Belles of St. Trinian's had been a big box office success on its release in 1954, so the producers Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat decided to follow up with a sequel, Blue Murder at St. Trinian's,something that turned St. Trinian's from a popular comedy film into a long-running series.

The plot of Blue Murder at St. Trinian's is even more convoluted than that of the original film. St. Trinian's has now become such a haven of mischief and mayhem that the army have been called in to take charge and cordon off the school. In command is Thorley Walters as a Major who has been given the task of overseeing "Operation St. Trinians". The Ministry of Education has also found a tough new headmistress to take over, the no-nonsense Dame Maud Hackshaw (Judith Furse), previously the governor of a borstal.

The pupils, though, have other ideas. In the film's most dubious development, the spiv "Flash" Harry (George Cole) is now running the St. Trinian&#…

The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954)

The anarchic schoolgirls and disreputable teachers of Ronald Searle's St. Trinian's cartoons were first brought to the screen in a series of comedies in the 1950s and 1960s. The first film, The Belles of St. Trinian's, was released in 1954 and starred Alastair Sim in a dual role as the school's headmistress, Miss Fritton, and her shady bookmaker brother Clarence.

St. Trinian's School for Young Ladies is an English boarding school in a traditional country house setting, with uniforms, a motto, hockey matches and a semblance of lessons. But the teachers are a mixture of criminals and seedy low lives with barely a qualification between them. The pupils have an alarming tendency for violence and are allowed to run amuck, creating chaos wherever they go and involving themselves in assorted mischief and illicit activities. The school's official motto is In Flagrante Delicto, meaning "caught in the act".

As the headmistress Miss Fritton explains to the new g…

Two Cheers for St. Trinian's!

The St. Trinian's films were an unexpectedly long-running British comedy series, instigated by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat in the 1950s. They took as their inspiration the cartoons of Ronald Searle, showing schoolgirls behaving badly at an English boarding school. In the films that meant beating up their rivals on the sports field, brewing illicit booze and causing a crimewave wherever they went.Between them, Launder and Gilliat managed to make five St. Trinian's films from 1954 to 1980. Yes, there really were five. Not four or three, as some might claim. Or like to think.As a result, St. Trinian's became one of British cinema's big three comedy series, together with the Doctor films (running from 1954 to 1970) and the Carry On films (from 1958 to 1992). The St. Trinian's brand was even strong enough to see it revived for another two films in the 2000s.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963)

It's the height of the Cold War and the superpowers are engaged in a nuclear stand-off. Just one small error, or one mad General, could see the whole world plunged into the horror of a nuclear war.

So it's lucky that there aren't any mad Generals around with a finger on the nuclear button. Well, maybe there is just one. General Jack D. Ripper (played by Sterling Hayden) of the US Air Force. Ripper has become obsessed with communist infiltration and subversion in the United States. Discovering the sinister plot of fluoridation of water supplies, Ripper has decided that this is obviously a corrupt communist scheme directed against America.

Ripper decides that he can't stand by and do nothing any longer, while ordinary Americans are being poisoned. So he has decided to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. He puts his base, Burpelson Air Force Base, into lockdown, orders the removal of all radios as sources of outside information, and tells his me…

Film and TV Inspired by The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery of 1963 was one of the most famous crimes in 20th Century British history. As a result, it inevitably inspired numerous films and TV series, from the factual to the semi-fictionalised to the almost entirely fictional.
At around 3 am on Thursday 8th August 1963, a Royal Mail train travelling overnight from Glasgow to London was halted by a red stop signal near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire. The stop signal was a fake, the signal's green light having been covered with a gloveand the signal wired to show a false red light instead.

12 Lessons from 3 Years of Blogging

Cinema Essentials is now officially 3 years old, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to my loyal readers.

Both of you. :)

If it wasn't for social distancing, then right now I'd be buying you a drink. Or at least thinking of a plausible excuse for why I can't, or making up a story about how I lost my wallet on the bus.

I have to admit, when I first started this website, I never dreamed that I would get thousands of subscribers and earn millions of pounds. Which is just as well, because I haven't. But I have met plenty of friendly, interesting bloggers and been accepted into the film blogging community (I think).

As I've said before, and am now going to tediously repeat, I don't really consider this website to be a blog as such. But it does use blogging software and some of the infrastructure of blogging, and I have learned a little bit about the subject in the last three years. So I'm going to share these amazingly valuable …